Decisionmaking in Operation Iraqi Freedom: The Strategic Shift of 2007 - The Surge, Good Thinking, Good Luck, Good Timing - President Bush, Political and Strategic Context, al-Qaeda, Islamic Terror
by Progressive Management
Professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction, this unique study in the Operation Iraqi Freedom Key Decisions Monograph Series looks carefully at the 2007 decision to surge forces into Iraq, a choice which is generally considered to have been effective in turning the tide of the war from potential disaster to possible — perhaps probable — strategic success. Although numerous strategic decisions remain to be made as the U.S. military executes its "responsible withdrawal" from Iraq, Dr. Metz has encapsulated much of the entire war in these two monographs, describing both the start and what may eventually be seen as the beginning of the end of the war. In this volume, he provides readers with an explanation of how a decision process that was fundamentally unchanged—with essentially the same people shaping and making the decision — could produce such a different result in 2007. As the current administration tries to replicate the surge in Afghanistan, this monograph is especially timely and shows the perils of attempting to achieve success in one strategic situation by copying actions successfully taken in another where different conditions applied. An argument can be made that victory—success against military foes in war—was an appropriate term in April 2003, when U.S. military forces deposed Saddam Hussein, but a military-only victory was far out of reach by 2007. The goal of victory articulated by Kagan and President George W. Bush perhaps still had merit in galvanizing public support of the war. However, the better goal — particularly by late 2006, when a virulent insurgency and sectarian violence were raging in Iraq's cities — was some semblance of strategic success, which would not come about purely by military action. That success would necessarily include a significant military component, but also required a broader approach that would support Iraq's economic, political, and societal development. Just as victory over Adolf Hitler in World War II required the Marshall Plan to cement the achievements of combat in Europe, the "victory" of 2003 in Iraq would require by 2007 much more than just military force to produce conditions that would ultimately be helpful to advancing American interests in the Middle East. The military component of the 2007 effort to achieve a positive result in Iraq became popularly known as "the surge." In this second volume of the Strategic Studies Institute's Operation IRAQI FREEDOM Key Decisions Monograph Series, Dr. Steven Metz covers this critical decision in the Iraq war, but correctly posits that the surge was only part of a broad strategic shift that produced the success — still tenuous — of 2008 and beyond. In doing so, Dr. Metz debunks some of the "surge triumphalism." In this view, the surge was almost solely responsible for the improvements in security that enabled the emerging positive results in Iraq. General David Petraeus—the man whose name became synonymous with the surge — sees it differently. General Petraeus, who led the surge of troops into Iraq in 2007, freely admits that the success of the surge was due to a confluence of factors. Those factors include Iraqis tiring of both Sunni and Shi'a extremists, Iraqi Security Forces achieving at least limited capacity to provide security, and the U.S. military's growth in tactical and operational prowess in counterinsurgency. Dr. Metz argues that a "perfect storm" of conditions, accompanied by "good thinking, good luck, and good timing," were what allowed the success of the strategic shift that he describes. Dr. Metz may give short shrift to President George W. Bush's resolve and to the skill that General Petraeus and other senior leaders brought to the surge—or the strategic shift—but he presents a solid case against using the surge as a model for future operations, including in Afghanistan.