Appraising “The Surge”


This video above was sent to me this morning in a note from the Washington Post‘s Tom Ricks who said “I particularly like the video they did on one captain’s counterinsurgency campaign.”
tom ricks.jpgI agree with Ricks that Captain Samuel Cook and his Crazyhorse Troop showed remarkable sense in changing what were failing heavy-handed counterinsurgency methods into something far more effective. The opposite of this strategy can easily be seen in two award-winning films that benchmark what was going on before officers like Captain Cook and another favorite of mine, Captain Jon Powers (who recently ran and lost in a Democratic primary for a New York House seat), began changing the game on the front line of contact with Iraq’s civilians. One of these was Michael Tucker’s Gunner Palace and the other Alex Gibney’s Taxi to the Dark Side.
The Surge is still controversial, and I look forward to reading Tom Ricks’ assessment of it — and why the surge, per se, mattered so much. One of the questions I look forward to exploring is why a “change in tactics” (i.e., using any of the sensible tactics Captain Samuel Cook used in the video above) required a greater deployment of troops.
I’m hoping that Ricks breaks down the numbers game and distinguishes it from the change in approach to achieving counter-insurgency objectives.
A two-day, multi-part installment starts today in the Washington Post titled “The Generals’ Insurgency: The Story Behind the U.S. Troop Surge in Iraq” that derive from Tom Ricks’ new book The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-2008.
— Steve Clemons


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