Saturday, January 13, 2007
King George, The Merciless
By Mr. Fish
"BAGHDAD (AFP) - Months after its last plan failed dismally to pacify Baghdad, the United States is pouring another 17,500 troops into the Iraqi capital to put new counter-insurgency tactics to the ultimate test.
Nicknamed "King David" by some within the US military, Lieutenant General David Petraeus, who led the 101st Airborne Division during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, will this year assume overall command of coalition troops in Iraq.
It will be a chance for him to put into practice a new US counter-insurgency manual, which the "warrior-scholar" co-wrote and published last month.
Drawing heavily on the lessons of nearly four deadly years in Iraq, the United States' biggest and deadliest war since Vietnam, the new doctrine challenges accepted practice and tactics long honed by the US military.
"Ultimate success in COIN (counter-insurgency) is gained by protecting the populace, not the COIN force," says the manual.
"If military forces remain in their compounds, they lose touch with the people, appear to be running scared and cede the initiative to the insurgents."
Most American soldiers in Iraq are holed up in fortress garrisons from which they venture only in heavy armoured convoys that send civilian traffic scurrying to avoid getting hurt by US guns or anti-American attacks.
Petraeus criticised the use of indiscriminate force, warning that heavier fire is more prone to "collateral damage" and mistakes, and widens the scope for insurgent propaganda to portray the US military as brutal.
"The key for counter-insurgents is knowing when more force is needed and when it might be counter-productive," the manual says."