Bending the Third Rail
Because We Should, We Can, We Do
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Pop Quiz
Preznit Bush has begun a new program in Baghdad whereby soldiers are being billetted in the population. Small outposts of soldiers embedded with Iraq "soldiers" are going to be springing up thoughout Bagdad neighborhoods.

Here's your question. What do the soldiers call these outposts?

Answer: Alamo's.
Blogger Lynne said...
The British billeted soldiers with the colonists in the 1700s... right before we kicked them out of the country in our revolution. But since Bush is a "C" student, I'm sure he doesn't know that.

Blogger Lynne said...
Just read an article in The Atlantic Monthly called Streetwise. (full article available for subscribers).

Soldiers billeted in the population is nothing new. It was done in Vietnam. It is also one of the recommendations in the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study group report. It has worked (so far) in Al Qaim, a transit point for foreign fighters who followed the Euphrates Valley to Ramadi and Fallujah.

It would be nice if we had the manpower to implement this nationwide, but we don't. We just don't.

Blogger GreyHair said...
You make a good point that it is commonly done and has worked. But here's something to consider. When it has worked, it's been in small enclaves with overwhelming force. As soon as the force is gone, things revert. Paetraus was quite successful with this tactic .... on a small scale ... which is why everyone is hailing him as a savior.

As you point out, it would take an enormous presence to carry that sort of tactic out, which we don't have. But on the other hand, even if we did, then having 3-500,000 troops occupying the country would be a serious political problem, not to mention expensive (in many ways). We would simply be a colonial power occupying a country which would not fly for long.

The problem here is not the tactics, it's the strategy. Bush's strategy (despite the chronic misuse of the term by the punditocracy) has not changed and it's what is failing. The strategy of using military force to solve the political problem of the real boundaries of Iraq is a failure. One symptom of that failure is that the Iraq army is not loyal to Iraq, but to it's sectarian groups. This is why billetting the troops within the population is a mistake. American troops embedded with Shiite loyal militiamen (in the guise of the Iraqi army) located in Sunni regions to keep peace is an invitation to becoming an "alamo". And if the militiamen that are embedded are Sunni militiamen (in the guise of the Iraqi army), then the American soldiers had better watch their backs while sleeping .....

This is why this "new" tactic is doomed to fail. Until the political problem of the real, true, boundaries of the nation of Iraq are settled, we're simply neutral parties stuck in the middle of a civil war.