“There’ll Be More Fallujahs to Test U.S. Resolve” Response


     Although the current conflict in Iraq may have some similarities with the U.S. experience in Somalia, one which we cannot afford is that of allowing the actions of a local neighborhood thug to have a governing or directing influence over strategy.  Unfortunately, the similarities are growing more familiar as our use of the military to conduct a manhunt for an individual criminal gathers steam.


     The focus of the military efforts in Iraq should be on the objectives of defense, containment, pacification, and indigenous force training and support.  Defensive efforts should focus on ensuring the security of critical centers and infrastructure against organized efforts of paramilitia.  Containment and limited offensive efforts should focus on limiting the freedom of movement and action of identified concentrations of these same forces and, when resistance is met, their destruction.  Pacification efforts should focus on weapons confiscation and control, humanitarian assistance, and physical infrastructure development.  All of this should be conducted concurrently with an intense and sustained effort of training and support to indigenous forces.  Leveraging off of the stability created by such military actions, fledgling indigenous military, police, judicial, and political forces will be able to develop their required presence, legitimacy and effectiveness.  When the time is ripe through these efforts, those who have committed crimes will be brought to justice.  Barring this route, the military stands to further inflame the passions of the population and swell the ranks of those already hostile to their presence.  Worse, they will become involved in a game to which the conventional rules of war are inadequate, tempting a breach of those rules in order to achieve effectiveness in a mission for which they are an inappropriate means.  Leave man hunts to the law.  Leave justice to the courts.  Leave legitimacy to politics.  Where these structures do not exist they must be created rather than the military assuming their roles.  This is a long process, and we should not fool ourselves into thinking that it will be accomplished by June, or any other arbitrary timetable.  Whether it was right or wrong to attack Iraq is now immaterial.  The country must be stabilized and we, collectively as part of an international community, must be successful in ensuring that occurs.  A realistic view as to the costs required to accomplish this, with continued and increased international commitment to share these costs regardless of past disagreements, is required.  Lastly, patient, wise and appropriate use of military force, always with a view to long term consequences rather than short term expediency and visceral reactions, is required.





H. R. Gielow

LtCol USMC (ret)