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Inside the Ring
James Russell, a former Pentagon official turned professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, has a new book on the 2007 surge in Iraq, presenting a new troop-level perspective on what turned the conflict around.
Mr. Russell criticizes former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his staff for a failure to plan properly for a post-invasion insurgency. In the process, the author seeks to set the record straight.
The conventional storyline is that an increase in troops, plus the counter-insurgency strategy of Gen. David Petraeus, combined to turn a lost war into a winning one.
His research shows that unit commanders at all levels began devising their own counter-insurgency tactics in country, as Gen. Petraeus and former President George W. Bush approved an overall new war plan in 2007 in Washington.
Brigade, battalion and company commanders were forced to invent-as-they-fought because the 2003 invasion lacked any plan to conduct counter insurgency (COIN) operations, reports special correspondent Rowan Scarborough.
“This book argues that this proficiency grew iteratively and literally from the ground up in the field and proceeded in parallel with the rear-echelon efforts to produce a new COIN doctrine,” Mr. Russell writes.
One example: An Army unit in Ramadi, a hotspot for Sunni unrest in Anbar Province, used census patrols to developed their own house-by-house list of residents and compiled it in Microsoft Access software.
“The database provided enhanced situational awareness for the unit throughout the sector and successfully helped target the insurgent network in south-central Ramadi,” the book states.
“The idea for the database came from one of the unit’s company commanders, and subsequently became an organization [standard operating procedure] during the deployment.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.
He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.
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