The Myth of the Iraqi Surge

We are enduring the fallout today, of the myth that the Iraqi “Surge” was successful…along with the myths surrounding the withdrawal of US forces. These events, lived by the men and women on the ground….have become political memes, myths and talking points…without substance or experience from those who employ them. Having served 15 months in Baghdad during the Surge, I can attest to the sentiments of the author of this article…as well as the whitewashing that continues to this day.

CFR’s three guests — retired Gen. Raymond Odierno, former commander of Multinational Forces in Iraq and now a senior adviser to JPMorgan Chase; Meghan O’Sullivan, former deputy national security adviser under president George W. Bush; and Christopher Kojm, former senior adviser to the Iraq Study Group — had remarkably similar views.

No dissenting voices were included. All three had been enthusiastic promoters of the surge in 2006–2007 and continue to market the myth of its success. While recognizing the unmistakable failure of the post-surge American effort in Iraq, each still firmly believes in the inherent validity of that “strategy.”

I listened for more than an hour waiting for a single dissenting thought. The silence was deafening.

………………………….

In an orgy of killing in Baghdad and many other cities, the two main sects ethnically cleansed neighborhoods, expelling each other into a series of highly segregated enclaves. The capital, for instance, essentially became a Shiite city. In a sense, the civil war had, momentarily at least, run its course.

In addition, the U.S. military had successfully, though again only temporarily, convinced many previously rebellious Sunni tribes to switch sides in exchange for money, support and help in getting rid of the overly fundamentalist and brutal terror outfit, Al Qaeda in Iraq.

For the time being, AQI seemed to the tribal leaders like a bigger threat than the Shiites in Baghdad. For this, the Sunnis briefly bet on the United States without ever fully trusting or accepting Shiite-Baghdad’s suzerainty. Think of this as a tactical pause — not that the surge’s architects and supporters saw it that way.

America’s man in Baghdad, Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki, was already in the process of becoming a sectarian strongman, hell-bent on alienating the country’s Sunni and Kurdish minorities. Even 60,000 or 90,000 more American troops couldn’t have solved that problem because the surge was incapable of addressing, and barely pretended to face, the true conundrum of the invasion and occupation — any American-directed version of Iraqi “democracy” would invariably usher in Shia-majority dominance over a largely synthetic state.

The real question no surge cheerleaders publicly asked, or ask to this day, was whether an invading foreign entity was even capable of imposing an inclusive political settlement there. To assume that the United States could have done so smacks of a faith-based as opposed to reality-based worldview — another version of a deep and abiding belief in American exceptionalism.

From MAJ Danny Sjursen  at War is Boring

 

The End of an Era

As a former Army Pathfinder, this hits close to home…I’m sad to see the capability and tradition officially case it’s colors.

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Capt. Steven J. Orbon, the commander of F Company, 2nd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, and Herbst, the company first sergeant, cased the unit guidon as a final act for the 82nd Airborne Division’s pathfinder company.

“For many, today is a sad one,” Orbon said to an audience that included family, friends and veteran pathfinders whose service dated to 1957.

The deactivation was part of a larger Army transformation that saw other pathfinder units shutter last year and also marked the end of other small and specialized units known as long-range surveillance companies. But it won’t end the pathfinder story, the captain said.

“It is simply the closing of a chapter,” Orbon said.

The company included paratroopers as well as rangers, jumpmasters and experts in fast-rope insertions and extractions, he said. Among their ranks they counted expert rappellers, climbers, scuba divers, medics, snipers, switchblade operators and the 82nd Airborne combatives champion.

Read the rest here….

A Simple Thank You

No moving stock photo, no Facebook meme, no yellow ribbon. Just a heartfelt thank you.

Thank you to my Brothers and Sisters…my Comrades-in-Arms. Thank you to some for chewing the same dirt and dodging the same IEDs that I did. Thank you to those who did so much more than I did. Thank you to those who stood ready and willing, but weren’t called. And thank you to those who kept the home fires burning and the homesteads safe while your loved one was away.

A simple thank you to those who know, who endured…..who remember…..and who honor.

Where is Tyler Skluzacek’s White House invitation?

Tyler Skluzacek was in sixth grade when his dad, Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Skluzacek, spent a year in Iraq. When he returned home, Tyler noticed something different about him. He suffered from night terrors.

Tyler said:

“Your dad just disappearing for a year and coming back a little bit different and seeing his Army buddies and them coming back a little bit different, too. … I have a real personal connection to the PTSD problem.”
Now a senior in college, Tyler says he wanted to “try to create something that will help [his dad] sleep better.”

So he did.

This is the spirit of America.