Monday, July 09, 2007
Iraq troop surge - motivation and frustration
One of the soldiers inside the CH-47 Chinook helicopter screamed as we take off for a nightly air assault mission south of Baghdad. The soldiers are looking to capture suspected insurgents, people they claim were involved in bombing an American patrol base close by, killing two US soldiers and wounding several others.

First Lt. Matt Sheftic is a squad leader and was in charge of the raid at one of the suspected insurgent's houses. “You know these guys are like the mafia, they don't keep stuff in their house for the most part. So we have to look real hard to find different components and what not,” Sheftic tells me, as we kneel in cover in front of the house, while the other soldiers are detaining and questioning those inside.

In a shed next to the to the main building, they find the evidence they are looking for: Ladders, pickets, and razor wire, stolen from the destroyed American patrol base only a month before. “This will be enough to put this guy away for a long time”, one soldier
tells me and adds, “this raid is already a success.”

The raid highlights some of the successes US troops have been achieving, but also some of the frustrations they still face.

Since the increase in U.S. troops levels in and around Baghdad, this unit has been freed up to conduct operations against suspected insurgents, they have been on 14 in raids just the past three weeks. The constant US interference keeps the insurgents on the move. It deprives them of the possibility to move around freely and regroup, as they can never be sure the house they are in won't be raided soon, and that makes planning and orchestrating attacks against coalition forces and against the civilian population much more difficult.

But the soldiers we talked to say they¹re not sure the gains they are making now will really last. Their work here resembles police and FBI investigations more than it does military operations. A lot of time is spent collecting evidence against the suspected insurgent commanders to try to build a case that will hold up in Iraqi courts. But very often the cases get thrown out and US soldiers see insurgents they know have planned and conducted attacks against coalition forces back on the streets only days after they were taken into custody.

The lower level commanders don't like to talk politics. They say they're not sure whether the operations they're conducting and the losses they're taking are really making a difference. One platoon commander tells me that in his area there are three groups of people: Insurgents, those that support the insurgency, and those that don¹t support the insurgency but are so afraid that they look away and refuse to work with or even talk to coalition forces. “How do you deal with that, how many operations does it take to weed them out,” one commander asks and adds that he believes it could take many years to make a difference in Iraq.

Do the US forces have that much time?

No soldier I talked to would comment on that. Most say it's up to politics and the American people to decide which way to go - the troops are just here to do their job.

-- From Frederik Pleitgen CNN International Correspondent.
Everyone know that the surge is not working because it will take years and years to show any progress here. No one but the troop that are over here on the ground can see that this plan of more troops did not change a single thing. Everyday you here of someone being killed or wounded. When will Washingtion realize Iraq is a lost cause. We are spending 12 Billion dollars a month over here, just a waste of money, money that can be spending back at home. We are spending so much money here and our own troops in the JSS in bagdad live in places that look like abandon buildings. We go a week or so with no showering while the insurgents or siting at home taking showers, watching t.v., making bombs and laughing at how stupid we are for being here. We caused this place to be unstable. I don't blame them we came into there country destablized it, destroyed homes, property, and caused harm to innocent people and we seem to wonder why they want to fight us. This place will never be stble until we pull out of here and stop being in a middle of a civil war a war that we no longer have a need to be in.
But the American people did decide which way to go! We voted in another political party to start the withdrawal of troops in Iraq.

The people spoke; now it is up to the Bush administration to listen. I realize the "surge" goes on but the American people hate the killings, kidnapping and our soldiers in harm's way.

Do the US forces have that much time? Yes, unfortunately as long as President Bush is still in office.
I know all Sunni Muslims are not Al Quada, but all Al Quada are annoyed Sunni Muslims. Insurgents are all others. But what the hell is a “secret cell terrorist”?

Please give us a break and explain things the way they really are.
The recent failed "surge" in Iraq combined with the inability to find a political solution to the sectarian violence and civil unrest in Iraq has left U.S. without a viable strategy to move forward. Here are the options:

1. troop withdrawal: this would inevitably lead to civil war and a massive refugee crisis which as recent history illustrates almost always results in genocide; Al Qaeda would continue to grow stronger in Iraq and w/out the presence of U.S. forces could resume its global terrorist efforts; Spill over: region wide destabilization -central players being Syria, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, Israel

2. further escalation: more civilian casualties; further alienation of the West in the region; thus, broadening the appeal of fundamental ideologies; As a result creating a long term self sustainable insurgency - i.e. Israel\Palestinian crisis (Al Qaeda would become and Iraqi equivalent to Hamas)

Also consider:
Low popular support for the war is the government’s best defense against Al Qaeda attacks on U.S. soil; as long as the people want the troops to come home and the government continues its policies, Al Qaeda is too smart to do anything that would rally support for the war.

The only proven effective weapon against an insurgency (real or perceived) is genocide –just ask Pol Pott, Hitler, Stalin, the Timorese, the people of Darfur, Rwanda, Bosnia, Kosovo + Chechnya or any Native American.

The Bush doctrine has left a political paradox -both options are correct and both options will result in catastrophic failure. Now decide for yourself!
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