I love good news.
Surge Successful By Any Measure
WASHINGTON — The surge in Iraq has been a success by any measure, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said during a news conference July 23.
The policy, announced by President Bush in December 2006, pushed additional brigades in to Iraq to provide a security umbrella so the Iraqi military could build and the country’s government could grow.
The surge has allowed Iraq to make improvements from security, political and economic standpoints, Morrell said. The last of the five surge brigade combat teams recently left Iraq.
“By every metric that we measure violence in Iraq, there has been a dramatic improvement from where things were before the surge,” Morrell said. “I’ll just point to one, and that is [that] in July of last year, we had 79 U.S. [servicemembers killed in action] in Iraq. We have four thus far this month.”
The dramatic security gains have provided room for political and economic successes. “You name it, it is happening in Iraq,” Morrell said. “Do you want to talk about political gains? We’ve had basically all the major benchmark legislation passed.”
There were, of course, other factors at work in the security improvement, Morrell said, but the surge and the change in U.S. counterinsurgency strategy made all else possible. The “Anbar Awakening” that allied formerly insurgent Sunni Muslims with the coalition and influential Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s cease-fire were other factors, he said, but he noted they didn’t happen independently of other events.
“If we think that Sadr acted in a vacuum, I think we’re kidding ourselves,” Morrell said. “There clearly was political and military pressure which caused him to make a decision to have his troops stand down.
“But we benefitted from it, no doubt,” he continued. “There’s no question that the awakening in Anbar, the cease-fire by Sadr, simultaneous to the surge, has helped the overall security situation in Iraq.”
It is important to realize that the real success of The Surge wasn’t just about more troops, it was a shift in tactics and counterinsurgency strategy. (This is the key point in Michael Yon’s book Moment of Truth, by the way.) I think the media has kind of simplified the surge into a numbers game, making it seem like Bush was just throwing more soldiers over there to fix a blunder. In reality, the new strategy – outlined by General Petraeus – required more troops to pull off. The military deserves huge credit here for adapting, figuring out what would work, and getting the job done.
Of course, there are a few people for whom this may not seem like good news: