Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Now, with the surge, “this is going to be completely different,” predicts General Keane. In the past, he says American and Iraqi forces could take only the first step of the three-stage strategy called “clear, hold, build”. They would clear insurgents out of parts of Baghdad. But the Americans lacked the numbers, and the Iraqis lacked the ability, to “hold” these areas, let alone rebuild them. With the promise of substantially more troops—five more American brigades in Baghdad to add to the four currently there, and the promise of 18 (smaller) Iraqi army and police brigades—General Keane says American forces will not only clear neighbourhoods of insurgents, but also stay behind and make sure that economic development follows immediately. Had these sensible tactics been followed in 2003, admits the general, the Americans would not be facing their current troubles. Still, he insists, it is not too late to change.

The man charged with implementing the new policy is General David Petraeus, who replaces General Casey. A former commander of the 101st Airborne Division that was deployed to Mosul, General Petraeus took charge of setting up the Iraqi army. He later led the training centre in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, from where he co-authored the new American counter-insurgency field manual, published jointly by the army and marines last month.

The author of this plan and the man who trumps James Baker, Lee Hamilton, George H W Bush and every other realist and internationalist is Frederick Kagan from the American Enterprise Institute

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