Behind the Surge's Success
It has become axiomatic to point to many different reasons for Iraq's improved security situation -- the presence of more U.S. troops, the completion of Iraq's ethnic cleansing campaigns, demographic changes, and political deals with Sunni and Shiite leaders calling for an end to their violence.
Of all these, the political deals seem most significant. We never had enough troops in Iraq to impose security and order, even with the 30,000 or so troops added with the surge. The political deals enabled us to reduce the violence through diplomacy -- something we had not been able to do with force.
In this month's Military Review, Army Col. Sean MacFarland and Maj. Niel Smith tell the inside story of this diplomatic effort. MacFarland commanded the Army brigade that operated in Anbar in 2006. He is widely credited with initiating the unorthodox strategy that led to the "Anbar Awakening" and leveraging certain events and political shifts to forge a lasting political bargain in Anbar. Smith commanded a company in Anbar under MacFarland and now works at the Army's counterinsurgency center at Fort Leavenworth. Their story is worth reading to better understand where we're at today in Iraq.
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