Counterinsurgency Field Manual

Baghdad, Baqubah, Basra and Iraq in general have by no means settled down and become peaceful. Roadside bombs are killing American soldiers, suicide bombs are massacring Iraqi civilians and police. But some progress is being made, as is evidenced by the broad truce that was declared three months ago between US forces and one of our fiercest enemies, the Mahdi Army, lead by Moqtada al-Sadr.

I believe this is, in a big way, due to the effects of General Petraeus’ new Counterinsurgency doctrine, as laid out in the Counterinsurgency Field Manuel that he co-authered with Lt. General Amos, Lt. Colonel Nagl, and many other military and civilian authorities. Anyone who has taken the time to groan at the abysmal failures of the “war on terror’s” first five years and wondered what could possibly make it all right should take a look at this book. It’s available at Barnes & Noble, Borders,, everywhere, and it’s the Doctrine that will save our nation — if anything can — not only from the terrible humiliation of defeat, but from the dangers that such a failure will present to American interests around the globe, and perhaps here at home.

This summer, US soldiers engaged the Mahdi Army in fierce, relentless, street-to-street battles in Sadr City for months, but never lost sight of the fact that they were battling a human enemy, one that could be reasoned with, negotiated with and, eventually, come to terms with. And that is precisely what happened. When it became clear to Moqtada al-Sadr that American forces were in his neighborhoods to stay, and that they were actually doing less harm and more good to the civilians in the area than his own forces, the US commander extended an offer for a political, not a military, truce which Sadr could not refuse. And the truce has held, for three months now. Even as the U.S. Army and the Mahdi Army battle other enemies in other parts of the country, Sadr City now takes time to rebuild itself under the cooperative protection of both.

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