Adam L. Silverman, PhD*
Yesterday reports came in that there were two more bombings in Iraq that killed at least twenty four people. While sporadic violence, if not escalating violence, is to be expected as the various divisions and factions, including the sectarian, continue to jockey for position and resource, the strategic failure that we leave behind in Iraq is directly tied to COL Lang's post from earlier today about Afghanistan.
In November of 2009 COL Lang and I were both panelists and participants at New York University's Center on Law and Security's Counterinsurgency: America's Strategic Burden conference. I was on the first panel on COIN Theory and Applications. COL Lang on a later panel dealing with the history of COIN. Everyone else on my panel had been key contributors to FM 3-24 (Undersecretary of Defense Davidson, Dr. McFate, Dr. Crane, and LTC Nagl)**. I was not part of that endeavor, but have contributed revisions to several related field manuals since then. When LTC Nagl gave his remarks he zeroed right onto the upcoming Iraqi elections. He stated they would go smoothly (they didn't), that when the new government was seated we would be able to negotiate a proper status of forces agreement and that would allow us to keep large numbers of troops in Iraq for an extended period. I was looking out at the audience and I can only say that no description of COL Lang's expression would do it justice. Needless to say, as the WaPo story about the bombing indicates, there will not be an extension of any significant number of US forces under the current government (and I do NOT consider 10K or so to be a significant number if that's the number of forces left to do security force advising) as the Sadrists will bring down the governing coalition. Here's the link to the conference page and there's supposed to be video links that work at the bottom:
(full embarrassment disclosure: I had a Freudian slip in my remarks - I was referring to a French friend whose father had been a French general. She is several years older than me and once got very emotional while visiting and watching a documentary on Vichy France and how they did not teach that in school when she was a girl. While referring to her being older I intended to say: as its not polite to give a Lady's age I do not want to provide a date for her and it came out as "I don't want to date her" my mouth got ahead of the brain...)
* Adam L. Silverman is the Culture and Foreign Language Advisor at the US Army War College. The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the US Army War College or the US Army
** Full Disclosure: I used to work with and for Dr. McFate as she was one of my two supervisors when I served on the PM's staff of the Army's Human Terrain System, the other COL Fondacaro was also a panelist later in the day. Dr. Crane is now a professional colleague at the US Army War College, this event was the first time I met him.