Why Liberation Never Felt So Good & Other Glorious News From Bush’s Forever War
There are 796 more reasons why the folks who declared the Surge a success should hang their sorry heads in shame. That is the number of Americans (52) and Iraqis (744) killed during the month of April in an uptick in violence that was going to occur sooner or later because the Surge has not been a “success” by any appropriate use of that term.
As I noted back on February 1 and has been noted by others far more sage than I am since then, war is not a linear thing, but rather something that ebbs and flows in stops and starts. This is especially true in Iraq, which is why the military gains of the Surge were not only temporarily, they were illusory.
Spencer Ackerman, one of those sage heads, references OODA, a jargony mouthful coined by Air Force Colonel John Boyd, to make the point. OODA stands for “Observation / Orientation / Decision / Action,” and the bottom line is that the combatant who can achieve a faster OODA than his enemy can disrupte his enemy’s OODA Loop:
Ackerman explains that:
“At the risk of saying something disputable, from 2003 to mid-2007, the insurgencies in Iraq had faster OODA Loops than the U.S. did. That’s not to say that there weren’t discrete tactical successes: there were, and lots of them. But those developments are coterminous with the concept of the Loop — you adjust and inflict pain on the enemy; but the enemy does so faster and more powerfully. Once Operation Phantom Thunder (the Surge) began in the late spring of 2007, lots of people on the right and on the fake-left declared, without using Boyd’s term, that Petraeus and Odierno had finally broken the enemy’s Loop.
” . . . what Petraeus and Odierno actually did — and it is not a small achievement — was disrupt the insurgencies’ Loops more than any other U.S. commanders were able to. They kept the insurgencies in a state of confusion for months and prevented successful orientation. But the rise in U.S. and Iraqi civilian casualties demonstrates that the insurgencies’ Loops have now closed. To cash it out, the U.S. military under Petraeus and Odierno bought as much calm as possible, and Iraq has been so horrific for so long that half the horror could seem like paradise to the hopeful American. But even with half-the-horror, no strategic goal was achieved. And no strategic goal can be achieved now that the insurgencies’ Loops have closed.”
Ackerman further notes that by any definition there cannot be victory in Iraq, only mitigation. To which I would add, 100 years of mitigation in John McCain’s case.
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