View Full Version : Surge is working, but that is only half of the story

09-07-07, 11:09 AM
Surge is working, but that is only half of the story
By Hooah Mac

Promoted by AE because this first-hand narrative of the last year in Iraq complements Jeff's work as a refreshing alternative to conventional wisdom of the armchair variety.

This is one of the updates I promised you all now that I am home and safe and sound.

A couple of notes: First of all, I will comment less on news stories or specific statistics, and more on processes and impressions as someone who was there. I do this because the other information is all out there to be had, and the one thing I can enlighten with is my perspective. Second, there are many things which I wish to tell you, and which would greatly enhance your understanding, and likely your support, of the war in Iraq, but I cannot reveal because of classification.

I served 14 months and 6 days on active duty with a Sustainment Command. 11 months and 16 days of that at LSA Anaconda, a.k.a. Balad Air Base, a.k.a. "Mortaritaville". It is a very large base located to the north and west of Baghdad. The Army and the Air Force share the base. For more information about the base, www.globalsecurity.org/mi...lad-ab.htm is fairly accurate.

When I arrived in Iraq in August of 2006, there was no "surge". However, we were making continual progress in security, training of Iraqis, and the political process already. One thing that struck me from the beginning was the number of local Iraqis that would come to the base regularly and give information to the Coalition forces stationed there. They always asked for things in return, but not as you would think. The sort of thing they asked for was a relocation of them and their families. Definitely understandable when they were ratting out vicious killers that lived nearby.

Part of my job involved watching the daily briefing that our Commanding General received concerning everything in Iraq that had anything to do with logistics. I saw continuous reports on caches found, AIF(Anti-Iraq Forces...what we call the bad guys) captured and killed, and successful operations.

Then in November, the Democrats won control in Washington, D.C. I do not believe that people voted Republicans out of office because they were against the War in Iraq, although it was a consideration. The Iraqis did believe it though. Overnight, people went into hiding; the Iraqis that supported us, told on the bad guys and were working towards a better Iraq. They thought the U.S. was leaving, a thought that terrified the average Iraqi that I talked to. It took time and effort to reassure them and resume relationships. By and large, Iraqis are glad we removed Saddam, they want peace and security for their families, and they want us to STAY until their government can safeguard them without our help.

Throughout the first 3-4 years in Iraq, the singular strength of the American military was at work. Our military provides an amazing level of flexibility and autonomy down to the lowest levels of leadership. We started with one overall strategy, which didn't fit the situation. Criticism aimed at this is pointless, since nobody knows how to do something perfectly the first time it is tried. Local commanders had that flexibility though, and they used it, as different units tweaked the strategy continually as they found things that worked.

The "surge" wasn't a radical overnight shift from the way we did things to the way we ought to have done them. Rather, it was the result of people, GEN Petraeus included, looking at what worked, what didn't work and how it all fit together and sending that out to all the local commanders. 5 more Combat Brigades made a significant difference, but it would have been useless to add those additional Brigades before they were able to be used effectively.

Toward the end of my tour, the number of successful AIF attacks spoken of in the briefings had shrunk, the success of our people in battles was ever increasing, and in some parts of Iraq that we had essentially been avoiding we were now seeing regular reports of military successes. By the time I left just a month ago, Mortaritaville is no longer a fitting name for LSA Anaconda.

While I am just a simple Sergeant and am not trained in a war college on classic strategies of war, the battle in Baqubah shortly before I left Iraq should go down in history as a nearly unparralleled piece of military genius. It is also a culmination of all the hard work Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines have been doing since March of 2003.

These are just my thoughts. Take them or leave them, argue as you will. There is one thing on my mind every day since my return home. There are still brave men and women, my brothers and sisters in the Army family, who are still in Iraq. As I write this, some of them are undoubtedly seeking cover from a mortar attack. Some of them are kicking down doors, not knowing what they face on the other side, but doing it willingly, professionally and with honor. They deserve our support, and our unwavering commitment to honor their service by completing their mission.

www.redstate.com/blogs/hooah_mac/2007/sep/06/surge_is_working_but_that_is_only_half_of_the_stor y