Explaining the surge's successes
Wednesday, September 22, 2010 at 12:04AM
Thomas P.M. Barnett in Citation Post, Iraq, SysAdmin, US Military

WSJ weekend interview with General Odierno, once the poster boy for a shoot-em-up Army ill-suited for SysAdmin work, now the longest serving general in Iraq and the poster boy for COIN done well enough.

Good quotes:

[The surge] shows we learned to adapt, to change.  We changed our organization, we changed how we were equipped, and we changed how we did our operations--all while in contact [with the enemy].  That's an incredible feat.

 

In 2007 I would go out and Americans would show up in a community where they hadn't been in a while. For the first three days, no one would talk to any of the Americans.  But as soon as they started setting up their base—usually meaning they put T-walls around a couple buildings—[Iraqis] would come out of the woodwork. Why? Because when they saw the T-walls go up they knew it was gonna be somewhat permanent, that [the Americans] were going to stay . . . not just gonna come through here for a few days and leave us and we'll be slaughtered.

 

Everybody I talk to, I mean every political leader, every military leader, every citizen—and if you're there living and reading their newspapers and what they're saying—it's very clear they want to be their own country. They don't want anybody—the United States, Iran, anybody—telling them what to do.

 

A strong, democratic Iraq with a developing economy could really be a game-changer in the Middle East.

 

It's going to be three to five years [after 2011] for us to figure out if this is going right and if it's what we want. There's a real opportunity here that I don't think the citizens of the United States realize. I really truly believe there's an opportunity we might never get again.

Good interview.

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