Michael Yon: Lets surge some more

#1
HERE
Michael Yon said:
Let's 'Surge' Some More
By MICHAEL YON
April 11, 2008

It is said that generals always fight the last war. But when David Petraeus came to town it was senators – on both sides of the aisle – who battled over the Iraq war of 2004-2006. That war has little in common with the war we are fighting today.

I may well have spent more time embedded with combat units in Iraq than any other journalist alive. I have seen this war – and our part in it – at its brutal worst. And I say the transformation over the last 14 months is little short of miraculous.

The change goes far beyond the statistical decline in casualties or incidents of violence. A young Iraqi translator, wounded in battle and fearing death, asked an American commander to bury his heart in America. Iraqi special forces units took to the streets to track down terrorists who killed American soldiers. The U.S. military is the most respected institution in Iraq, and many Iraqi boys dream of becoming American soldiers. Yes, young Iraqi boys know about "GoArmy.com."

As the outrages of Abu Ghraib faded in memory – and paled in comparison to al Qaeda's brutalities – and our soldiers under the Petraeus strategy got off their big bases and out of their tanks and deeper into the neighborhoods, American values began to win the war.

Iraqis came to respect American soldiers as warriors who would protect them from terror gangs. But Iraqis also discovered that these great warriors are even happier helping rebuild a clinic, school or a neighborhood. They learned that the American soldier is not only the most dangerous enemy in the world, but one of the best friends a neighborhood can have.

Some people charge that we have merely "rented" the Sunni tribesmen, the former insurgents who now fight by our side. This implies that because we pay these people, their loyalty must be for sale to the highest bidder. But as Gen. Petraeus demonstrated in Nineveh province in 2003 to 2004, many of the Iraqis who filled the ranks of the Sunni insurgency from 2003 into 2007 could have been working with us all along, had we treated them intelligently and respectfully. In Nineveh in 2003, under then Maj. Gen. Petraeus's leadership, these men – many of them veterans of the Iraqi army – played a crucial role in restoring civil order. Yet due to excessive de-Baathification and the administration's attempt to marginalize powerful tribal sheiks in Anbar and other provinces – including men even Saddam dared not ignore – we transformed potential partners into dreaded enemies in less than a year.

Then al Qaeda in Iraq, which helped fund and tried to control the Sunni insurgency for its own ends, raped too many women and boys, cut off too many heads, and brought drugs into too many neighborhoods. By outraging the tribes, it gave birth to the Sunni "awakening." We – and Iraq – got a second chance. Powerful tribes in Anbar province cooperate with us now because they came to see al Qaeda for what it is – and to see Americans for what we truly are.

Soldiers everywhere are paid, and good generals know it is dangerous to mess with a soldier's money. The shoeless heroes who froze at Valley Forge were paid, and when their pay did not come they threatened to leave – and some did. Soldiers have families and will not fight for a nation that allows their families to starve. But to say that the tribes who fight with us are "rented" is perhaps as vile a slander as to say that George Washington's men would have left him if the British offered a better deal.

Equally misguided were some senators' attempts to use Gen. Petraeus's statement, that there could be no purely military solution in Iraq, to dismiss our soldiers' achievements as "merely" military. In a successful counterinsurgency it is impossible to separate military and political success. The Sunni "awakening" was not primarily a military event any more than it was "bribery." It was a political event with enormous military benefits.

The huge drop in roadside bombings is also a political success – because the bombings were political events. It is not possible to bury a tank-busting 1,500-pound bomb in a neighborhood street without the neighbors noticing. Since the military cannot watch every road during every hour of the day (that would be a purely military solution), whether the bomb kills soldiers depends on whether the neighbors warn the soldiers or cover for the terrorists. Once they mostly stood silent; today they tend to pick up their cell phones and call the Americans. Even in big "kinetic" military operations like the taking of Baqubah in June 2007, politics was crucial. Casualties were a fraction of what we expected because, block-by-block, the citizens told our guys where to find the bad guys. I was there; I saw it.

The Iraqi central government is unsatisfactory at best. But the grass-roots political progress of the past year has been extraordinary – and is directly measurable in the drop in casualties.

This leads us to the most out-of-date aspect of the Senate debate: the argument about the pace of troop withdrawals. Precisely because we have made so much political progress in the past year, rather than talking about force reduction, Congress should be figuring ways and means to increase troop levels. For all our successes, we still do not have enough troops. This makes the fight longer and more lethal for the troops who are fighting. To give one example, I just returned this week from Nineveh province, where I have spent probably eight months between 2005 to 2008, and it is clear that we remain stretched very thin from the Syrian border and through Mosul. Vast swaths of Nineveh are patrolled mostly by occasional overflights.

We know now that we can pull off a successful counterinsurgency in Iraq. We know that we are working with an increasingly willing citizenry. But counterinsurgency, like community policing, requires lots of boots on the ground. You can't do it from inside a jet or a tank.

Over the past 15 months, we have proved that we can win this war. We stand now at the moment of truth. Victory – and a democracy in the Arab world – is within our grasp. But it could yet slip away if our leaders remain transfixed by the war we almost lost, rather than focusing on the war we are winning today.


Mr. Yon is author of the just-published "Moment of Truth in Iraq" (Richard Vigilante Books). He has been reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan since December 2004
 
#2
I read this and also watched Petreaus when he sat at the committee. I have a great deal of respect for the man's capabilities as a leader.

One thing I did not like that he did is explain his position. I understand he is in a very tough position by trying to appear neutral before any of his "potential" new bossed but some of the answers he was giving were insane.

The conditions for withdrawal will be met when the conditions are met??

I know he has a doctorate but he needs to explain at a 5th grade level why he can't say on tv aired around the globe what the conditions for leaving would be. He needed to remind the oh so smart senators that giving them the conditions also gives the enemy an exact roadmap as to what they need to do to cause us to *not* meet those conditions.

I think he needed to educate them a little more on what OPSEC is and why it exists and why they need to be held just as accountable to it as any other involved in military ventures.
 
#3
The problem with the Iraq situation is that it has a 'domestic baggage' handicap. It is an unpopular war, with the added dimension that it was started by using a false premise of WMD. Having said all that, it does not alter the fact that the US and ourselves are there to do a job. It is not just a simple question of pulling the troops out, so beloved by politicians seeking popularity during an election year.

There are serious matters to consider. The Iraqi people themselves and the economic interests of those people and ourselves in the West. What would happen to those US and UK companies engaged in economic reconstruction and development, if the troops were pulled out for political expediancy? I think the situation would descend into a form of civil war, with the loss of all the allies had done since the invasion. This would be a terrible set-back and alter the geo-political situation in the area.

Gen. Petraeus has got a tough job and he is trying to be diplomatic when dealing with politicans, especially in public view. They can 'grandstand', like Hillary Clinton, who would say anything to get elected, but is meaningless in reality.

We should be in for the long haul, if required, unless the politicans sell their morality and commonsense for the sake of power at the ballot box.
 
#4
I like these fragments

A young Iraqi translator, wounded in battle and fearing death, asked an American commander to bury his heart in America.
...
The U.S. military is the most respected institution in Iraq, and many Iraqi boys dream of becoming American soldiers.
...
As the outrages of Abu Ghraib faded in memory – ... American values began to win the war.

Iraqis came to respect American soldiers as warriors who would protect them from terror gangs. But Iraqis also discovered that these great warriors are even happier helping rebuild a clinic, school or a neighborhood.
...
Then al Qaeda in Iraq ... raped too many women and boys, cut off too many heads, and brought drugs into too many neighborhoods...
Excellent.
 
#6
Seriously. who read this article with a straight face..?
Although Gen P, has achieved good things. The Iraqis havent started worshiping Americans..not yet(will they ever?). This is the kinda reporting id expect from fox news et all.
 
#7
I think you have to take the PERSONAL viewpoints of the Iraqi troops he quotes as they are. If you see your mentors act as you wish you could, perform as you could, and protect your fellow nationals as you could, of course you would look up in admiration. This in no way contradicts with the general negative Iraqi opinion of the US.
 
#8
pvtePile said:
Seriously. who read this article with a straight face..?
Although Gen P, has achieved good things. The Iraqis havent started worshiping Americans..not yet(will they ever?). This is the kinda reporting id expect from fox news et all.
Not read much Michael Yon, then?
 
#9
Belt_Twit said:
pvtePile said:
Seriously. who read this article with a straight face..?
Although Gen P, has achieved good things. The Iraqis havent started worshiping Americans..not yet(will they ever?). This is the kinda reporting id expect from fox news et all.
Not read much Michael Yon, then?
Read this one... and I like my news Without the massive helping of shove it in your face patriotism.
 
#10
You'll also note that he mentioned the arrogence of the Administration in the early stages of the war that helped alienate the powerful players (like the Sheiks and Iraqi Army).

Since you don't seem to have read much of Michael's work, you should know some things. In 2005, he accurately described Iraq as being in a Civil War. This put him on the receiving end of several right wing pundits who didn't want to hear it. In 2006, he went to Afghanistan, and reported on Helmand while Camp Bastion was still being built. He warned that the Taliban had regrouped, and that Allied forces in Southern Afghanistan were underequipped and undermanned, and that some outposts looked vulnerable to being over-run by the Taliban (it was not long before the Taliban spring Offensive). When American pundits called the Squaddies in Basra cowardly surrender monkeys, Michael reported on the combat they were seeing, about the conditions they worked in, and about the progress that those underappreciated soldiers had made. He's also published some worrying articles about corruption in the Iraqi National Police.

Michael Yon is a friend of ARRSE (the article I wrote for him on ARRSE is down at the moment, but I'm working on getting in touch with his webmaster). I personally found this article a little heavy handed myself, but I know he's reporting based on what he's seen on the ground. He doesn't have a monopoly on truth, and this article should not be taken as the gold standard, but it is not to be ignored.
 
#12
I'm always open to new insightful reporters who know what they are talking about. I would like to recommend Robert Fisk's the War for civilisation. A must read if we try to begin to understand whats happening and why.
 
#13
I would not trust Fisk to know the truth if it bit Him on the leg and wouldn't let go. He reports what the arab nations tell Him without bothering to check the facts.

An example of His reporting skills came in the last Israeli/Hezbollah conflict when He reported about Israel using DU and a secret aluminium bomb.

This led to the UN releasing a statement saying that there was NO evidence of Israel using DU
 
#14
pvtePile said:
Belt_Twit said:
pvtePile said:
Seriously. who read this article with a straight face..?
Although Gen P, has achieved good things. The Iraqis havent started worshiping Americans..not yet(will they ever?). This is the kinda reporting id expect from fox news et all.
Not read much Michael Yon, then?
Read this one... and I like my news Without the massive helping of shove it in your face patriotism.
I would encourage you to read his reports from Basra.
 
#15
If,God forbid,Hilary Clinton is elected as the 44th President of the United States and impliments what she has been on about in Iraq,that is to commence to pull out US combat troops,this will have the effect of handing over Iraq to Al-Qaida and/or the Iranians on a plate.

The other Democratic contender,Barak Obama appears to have a similar agenda,but I'm not sure how far he is prepared to act in withdrawing troops from Iraq.

If Iraq does fall to Al Qaida,what will happen to the Gulf states and the price of oil?.

Be scared,be very scared if Hilary Clinton becomes the 44th President of the United States.
 
#16
parapauk said:
Is that sarcasm Serg?
Parapauk, I suspect that real surname of michael Yon is Andersen.

A young Iraqi translator, wounded in battle and fearing death, asked an American commander to bury his heart in America.
Do I believe it? Of course.

A young Iraqi translator was wounded in a battle and fearing death was approached by American officed who calmed the translator:

Officer: If you die then you would be decorated by "the Purple heart".
Translator: F...ing c..., sh.. eater, push this h... in your a.... and go to the he..
Doctor: What has he said? He is too weak. His voice is inaudible.
Officer: He wishes that in the case of his death, his p...le heart would be buried in America.
 
#17
You're only jealous Sergey, because no-one wants their heart buried in Mother Russia.

Our Kim doesn't count because He didn't have much choice, really.
 
#19
to be honest its like the article is written for the home front 'feel good' factor,
i'v not read much by yon, so i have no real right to be critical, i'll have to read more of his stuff.

Chief Joseph - is it poss of you to post some links to material of his please??

pvtePile said:
I'm always open to new insightful reporters who know what they are talking about. I would like to recommend Robert Fisk's the War for civilisation. A must read if we try to begin to understand whats happening and why.
seconded.
this book is a must on your shelf.
 
#20
Le_addeur_noir said:
If,God forbid,Hilary Clinton is elected as the 44th President of the United States and impliments what she has been on about in Iraq,that is to commence to pull out US combat troops,this will have the effect of handing over Iraq to Al-Qaida and/or the Iranians on a plate.

The other Democratic contender,Barak Obama appears to have a similar agenda,but I'm not sure how far he is prepared to act in withdrawing troops from Iraq.

If Iraq does fall to Al Qaida,what will happen to the Gulf states and the price of oil?.

Be scared,be very scared if Hilary Clinton becomes the 44th President of the United States.
If you believe this is a possibility you really haven't been keeping up on current events. Read this post for an idea of what's really going on:

http://www.arrse.co.uk/cpgn2/Forums/viewtopic/t=94037/start=20.html

What I do view positively after Maliki's rash roll of the dice is that things are coming to a head. A final reckoning within the fractious Shi'a is inevitable. Having ethnically cleansed most of Baghdad of Sunni the alliance that created the current sectarian government is fragmenting.

Maliki and Iran's main man al Hakim are increasingly at odds. Having been pushed further towards Qom by "The Surge" His Chubbiness now rises. The aging Shi'a exile elite that was sheltered from Saddam's savage rule mainly in Qom and Damascus must face the gather forces of crude Iraqi nativism the mumbling fat boy personifies. They all know clock is ticking for Shi'a hegemony in Iraq. Real unity must be found in a few short years or they may lose all.

The Sunni insurgency has shed much of it Hobbesian hopelessness. Largely purged of non-nationalists there's a new unity in the tribal councils as they focus on the approaching US draw down and plan the rout of the hated "Persian" enemy in the Emerald City.

The Iranians have been gifted with strategic gains since the fall of Saddam that surely far exceed even their messianic expectations. They would now consolidate their power. They desire a stable but weak Iraqi satellite. They hope to spread Khomeini's dismal revolution Westward towards al Qods. Creating a new bulwark against the Zionist crusader. They greedily eye Arab mineral wealth and the power that would bring them. In the past five years we've seen that Qom's fine Florentine hand gives Iran a decisive advantage over our vastly more powerful but bumbling masters in shaping possible outcomes but this contest will finally be decided by Iraqis not the foreigner.

As with Kurdish politics it now all spins round control of energy resources. The fates of Basra and Kirkuk will draw the political map of the land of the two rivers.
 

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