Dissecting the Surge with Gian Gentile

Today, over at Antiwar.com, Kelly Vlahos has a profile of Colonel Gian Gentile.  Col. Gentile is a critic of the now-accepted wisdom that the Surge in Iraq was a success and that counterinsurgency strategy, or COIN, is the universal panacea to America’s military problems.  According to its supporters, such as Lt. Col. John Nagl — co-author of the military’s new counterinsurgency manual How to Eat Soup with a Knife — counterinsurgency strategy will aid the U.S. military in “transforming societies” (i.e. nation-building).

Gentile disagrees. The reduction in violence that Iraq experienced in 2007 came not from the additional five brigades that made up the “Surge,” but instead was a product of two events:  1) The unilateral cease-fire declared by Moqtada al-Sadr’s Madhi Army in 2007; and 2) The decision, in 2006, to begin paying former members of the Sunni insurgency to not attack U.S. soldiers:

“I don’t think the fundamental issues that have divided (Iraq) have been resolved. I think what we have done over the last year is frozen those issues in place, but we haven’t resolved them,” Gentile charges. “I think, what you are seeing with the increasing attacks today, are the emergence of those differences again,” he said. Pointing to recent reports that the Sunni Awakening, now abandoned by the Americans to the hostile Shia authority, are becoming restive, he said, “I think there may be some cooperation there — some cooperation between Sunni and al Qaeda elements there.”

The entire article can be read here.

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