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10/18/2007

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WMK

Critics of the Bush war policy and plan (justifiably) argue that the administration ignored the actual context on the ground in Saddam's Iraq and, driven by a singular vision, marched ahead. Now the situation is reversed. The opinion piece in question, written by former Army Captains, captures to a degree the situation in Iraq between 2003 and 2005 (with one exception in 2006).

"This column was written by 12 former Army captains: Jason Blindauer served in Babil and Baghdad in 2003 and 2005. Elizabeth Bostwick served in Salah Ad Din and An Najaf in 2004. Jeffrey Bouldin served in Al Anbar, Baghdad and Ninevah in 2006. Jason Bugajski served in Diyala in 2004. Anton Kemps served in Babil and Baghdad in 2003 and 2005. Kristy (Luken) McCormick served in Ninevah in 2003. Luis Carlos Montalván served in Anbar, Baghdad and Nineveh in 2003 and 2005. William Murphy served in Babil and Baghdad in 2003 and 2005. Josh Rizzo served in Baghdad in 2006. William "Jamie" Ruehl served in Nineveh in 2004. Gregg Tharp served in Babil and Baghdad in 2003 and 2005. Gary Williams served in Baghdad in 2003."

Their view no doubt represents memories of experiences as intense as any soliders but that was a much different war. The war in late 2007 is very different from their war in terms of strategy, tactics, the specific enemy, and most importantly, the nature of the interaction with a growing segment of the population.

If an argument is going to be made about the continued policy in Iraq we would all do well to base it on current conditions not just history.

J.

"If an argument is going to be made about the continued policy in Iraq we would all do well to base it on current conditions not just history."

WMK - History? You make it sound like these captains are talking about the first Gulf War in 1991. The Surge(TM) may have temporarily helped settle Baghdad down, but you cannot say authoritatively that the conflict has turned the corner. The situation has not changed significantly in two years, nor have the tactics or the specific enemy. All that changed was the number of troops and the arrival of a more politically sensitive general officer.

if you look at my blog post on the same subject (http://armchairgeneralist.typepad.com/my_weblog/2007/10/army-captains-s.html),
you'll find a link near the bottom of the post by a soldier who WAS there in 2007. Read it. He's not very optimistic about moving the ball forward, and I'll bet he has lots of company. The war hasn't changed at all, it's still an insurgency - the only thing that's changed is who's on "our side" today (but maybe not tomorrow).

WMK

J. I have no doubt that there are a lot of folks who can point to what has not changed since early summer 2007, however the overwhelming weight of data and opinion amoung soldiers in Iraq says they are in the minority. I speak to a LOT of soldiers who are in theater and who have retured during the past few months. The overwhelming opinion is that on the whole there has been a significant change in Iraq. This is still an insurgency, this is still a war, and it is not over yet. Ask anyone who has served in this kind of combat zone and they will tell you that, at the tactical level, that being shot at erases all distinctions of intensity of war or sense of relative safety. Ask any beat cop from a dangerous part of a large US city town about the crime situation in city as a whole and I suspect you will get a pretty negative picture. The cop is not wrong in the narrow sense but he is also far from the best source of information for the overall situation. If you don't want to see what changed in the last 8 months then any source of information is as good as any other. The strategy is fundamentaly different and it is in part responsible for a very positive shift in the conditions across the country. All I am saying is that making decisions on what should be done (to include when and how to depart) should not be based on dated and narrow opinions. For a very clear articulation of the current strategy and why it is making a difference see http://www.iht.com/bin/print.php?id=7807571 (Dave Killcullen interviewd by Charlie Rose)

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