Sunday, November 25, 2007

Local Surge

One advantage of the surge is that we truly smacked down the enemies in Iraq and have continued to pursue them with the extra US and Iraqi troops. The enemy has not been able to run and then easily prepare to reinfiltrate back to where they were driven out.

Certainly, we've seen some smaller bombings in Baghdad recently, reflecting the enemy's efforts to strike there, but their infrastructure and resources to terrorize Baghdad have been seriously reduced--perhaps irreversibly so.

In Diyala province, we will pile on:

Col. David Sutherland, commander of the 3rd Brigade, acknowledged concerns that the withdrawal of U.S. troops could lead to a reversal of a decline in violence but said the transfer of the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, will actually result in more troops in the province northeast of Baghdad.

"Although our redeployment is part of the downgrade of the troops across Iraq, their presence allows more boots on the ground in the province," he said.

Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, said the increase would be about 2,400 troops due to repositioning but he stressed that the overall U.S. force in Iraq will be reduced by 5,000.

And don't forget that even as the jihadi enemies have fled the Baghdad region for points north, this has not resulted in a surge of enemy attacks in those areas. Regarding Diyala itself:

Significant acts of violence have dropped more than 68 percent province-wide since troop buildup began in April, with 200 reported by Nov. 20 compared with 464 in all of October and 1,051 in May.

This eases the worry that our withdrawal will lead to the reversal of our gains. Even though Diyala is a point of particular concern, we see solid gains in security here, too.

Iraqis still have to hold these gains in the long run, as I noted early in the full surge:

This direct American help in the securing aspect is what is different. And in the end, we can't do this for very long. In the long run, the old strategy of relying on the Iraqis to secure the population must be resurrected. Hopefully, our surge disrupts the enemy enough and secures the population long enough for the Iraqis to become good enough for the job and for the population to feel safe enough to reject the terrorists, death squads, and insurgents.

Iraqis are turning on the various enemies as they see Iraqi and US forces chasing the enemy. Further, even as Iraqi forces get more numerous and better trained and equipped, we have successfully addressed the other side of the equation by atomizing the enemy and increasing the Iraqi security forces' advantages over the enemies. It has taken time to get here, but we seem to have finally made it with different trends finally converging.

A benefit of our broad success across many areas in Iraq that has reduced enemy attacks dramatically is that even as we reduce overall US troop strength in Iraq, we can still add troops to areas that are troublesome. So we can still remain on offense and pursue the enemy.