Thursday, May 25, 2006

Bing in Baghdad

Bing West, for Slate, with the troops:
The Council on Foreign Relations recently published a piece that accused the American military of not adapting in Iraq. That was true in 2003 and midway through 2004, but no reasonable person can walk the streets with a Winski, Davenport, Weston, or Barela and argue that the U.S. military is hidebound today.

The American way of war has historically been to seek out and defeat the enemy army, not to assist a foundering ally. Following in that tradition, through mid-2004 most American units in Iraq were focused on offensive operations to crush an insurgency recruiting from among a million military-age Sunni males. Beginning in 2005, it was Gen. George W. Casey, the Multi-National Force commander, who identified this strategy as shoveling against the tide and redirected the military effort toward training an Iraqi security force. Calm and thoughtful, Casey eschewed the press and met with every infantry battalion to explain the new strategy. The first time I saw Casey was in Ramadi, huddled in a corner with a company commander and a squad leader fresh from a heavy firefight.

"When Gen. Casey visits," Col. Nicholson said, "it's just him and his aide. He lays out his plan and talks about the risks. There's no bullshit."


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