Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Petreas, Counterinsurgency from the Ground Up

General Petreas offers up his lessons learned from soldiering on Iraq, by reference in testimony this week and in a Military Review article from this time last year:

A summary of points:

  1. Don't do too much with your own hands.

    Citing T.E. Lawrence observation, "Better the Arabs do it tolerably, than you do it perfectly." Lesson lost in so many ways in the Bremer-Rumsfeld era.
  2. Act quickly, because every Army of liberation has a half life
  3. Money is ammunition
  4. Increasing the number of stakeholders is crtical to success
  5. Analyze the cost-benefits before each operation [remove more bad guys than create]
  6. Intelligence is the key to success
  7. Everyone must do national building ["Civil Affairs" is not enough]
  8. Help build institutions, not just units
  9. Cultural awareness is a force multiplier
  10. Success in counterinsurgency requires more than just military operations
  11. Ultimate success depends on local leaders
    [This offers some simple, but profound observations about the primacy of individual courage and morality/fairness.]
  12. There is no substitute for flexible, adaptable leaders
  13. Especially during counterinsurgency operations, a leader's most important task is to set the right tone.
    [Some heavy words in this section ... ]

Last, citing a 1986 article by General Galvin:

an officer's effectiveness and chance for success, now and in the future, depend not only on his character, knowledge, and skills, but also, more than ever before, on his ability to understand the changing nature of conflict."

I worry that our fascination with Patreaus puts a target on his back, recalling that the head of the Scorpion Brigades got targeted and this from Ricks at the WaPo:

Perhaps most important, Army insiders say they expect Petraeus to show a very different style from his reserved predecessor, Gen. George W. Casey Jr. "You are going to see a much more active command style than Casey," said one officer who has worked with both men. "Petraeus will be out walking the streets, visiting units and firing up both his Iraqi and coalition forces with his personal attention."

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