Who was the enemy? part 1

Update: See part 2, for a fuller discussion…

(Kinda botched this post. Got all ‘rambley’, and didn’t get to the point… I feel like starting over, but will leave this up for now…)

This is a surprisingly difficult question. From the experts, you’ll commonly hear the answer, “Well, it’s complicated.” I’ve used that myself a few times. And its true, as far as it goes. Counter-insurgency warfare is anything but simple, and the Iraq War was radically un-simple. It was… well… complexity on steroids.

masked fightersOne of the big critiques coming from the press and think-tank crowd (then and now), was that the Bush Administration, Rumsfeld’s Defense Department and the U.S. military writ large didn’t have enough subtlety to understand who we were fighting in Iraq.  And that’s true in absolute terms.  In 2003, American politicos, the generals, the combat troops and the intelligence agencies, didn’t understand the nature of the “enemy” in Iraq.

But no one else did either…

And that’s what the critics don’t ever admit. In relative terms, they were just as clueless, and had nothing to offer.

By 2004, it was easy to see that there was a growing insurgency (actually several) despite Rumsfeld’s stubborn insistence otherwise. Certainly everyone on the ground in Iraq knew it. But just saying there were insurgents about, and that there seemed to be different groups of them, was easy. Any idiot journalist could say that.

But really understanding who they all were, and what their goals and differences were, and how to stop them? Yeah, that was the hard part. And in 2004 and 2005, a lot of people–intelligence officers, strategy advisors, operations planners, commanders–were working hard to figure that out. (see Net v Net for my own modest contribution)

(more soon…) 





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