Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Things Continue to Improve

More great news from Iraq:

October is on course to record the second consecutive decline in U.S. military and Iraqi civilian deaths and Americans commanders say they know why: the U.S. troop increase and an Iraqi groundswell against al-Qaida and Shiite militia extremists.

Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch points to what the military calls "Concerned Citizens" — both Shiites and Sunnis who have joined the American fight. He says he's signed up 20,000 of them in the past four months.

Meanwhile Minnesota's Pete Hegseth, in a column criticizing Army Lt.-Gen. Ricardo Sanchez' recent assertion that Iraq is a "nightmare," explains why:

The new counterinsurgency approach - namely, to take territory from al Qaeda, hold it, secure it and empower tribal sheiks to work together and rebuild their communities - finally provides an effective "counteroffensive" to the chief tactics of al Qaeda militants and Shiite death squads.

America's enemies in Iraq, radical insurgents living and fighting among the general public, understand that they can't continue their fight without capitulation from ordinary Iraqis. Finally, after almost four years, the U.S. military understands this as well.

Whereas we used to emphasize overwhelming firepower (even when I was there in 2006), we now emphasize firepower as a last resort. Whereas we used to rush to the scene after the violence occurs, we're now there to repel it or deter it altogether.

Hegseth says to call it a "surge" is simplistic and does not do justice to the changes in strategy and tactics implemented by General Petraeus. Interesting stuff.

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