Is the hug an insurgent strategy working

Much has been made recently of a new approach to counterinsurgency warfare in Iraq that has been dubbed "hug and insurgent." Thomas Ricks' new book Fiasco implies that the US old appraoch in Iraq caused the insurgency, but the new hug an insurgent approach may be a winner.

It is my observation that we looked more like we were winning under the old approach than under the new approach. The new approach has put the troops in more danger and has hurt morale. A recent story quoted a troop as saying they were just going around waiting to be blown up. That does seem to be what the hug an insurgent approach requires.

If you read stories from Ramadi that describe the action, they are mainly about Marines or soldiers in defensevie positions who are dodging snipers and waiting to be attacked, while occassionally going on patrols through neighborhoods. Even the aggressivenes is reactionary. Here is an example of the new approach. There are some who are optimistic about the new approach.

It is certainly hard to say that the approach is working in Baghdad where more troops are being brought in to try the ink blot approach to neighborhood policing. Right now the Fallujah and Tal Afar approach certainly give more immediate signs of success, The metrics of the hug an insurgent approach appear to be much mushier at this point.

I think that one of the problems with this change in strategy is its false premise that the old approach was driving people to the insurgents. This certainly seems to be one of the themes of Ricks' Fiasco.

This may be the most unpopular insurgency in history. It is making war on the people of Iraq instead of the US and the Iraqi government. Classic insurgents attack the governemnt in hopes that it will lash back and alienate the people. In Iraq the insurgents are making war on non combatants and only fight government and US forces in defensive actions when attacked.

The people already hate these guys. All three of the recent elections were votes against the insurgency. People are flooding the tip lines with information on the enemy and his weapons caches. When our forces capture and kill the insurgents, they are cheered by the people in many areas. In fact in most of Iraq the enemy is unable to operate.

I will try to get Fiasco and review it soon.

BTW, I just finished Carlo D'Este's Decision in Normandy which contains a description of the original operation Cobra that Gen. Omar Bradley devised to breakout of the hedgerow or as D'Este calls it the bocage countryside. While it shows some primitive elements of the air land maneuver warfare battle, it had few if any of the elements the critics of Cobra II in Iraq claim were needed. I did learn a lot about a battle I thought I was already familiar with. More than anything the book seems to be a critique of Gen. Montgomery and his failure to meet expectations he had set for his plan in Normandy. My favorite D'Este book is still his biography of George Patton, although his biography of Eisenhower was also good. While it was not a major point of the book, I did come away with a greater appreciation for the value of the deception campaign that fooled the Germans into thinking that Patton was going to lead the major effort with an invasion near Calais. It did have a major impact on the German's reaction to the Normandy invasion in its crucial early days.


  1. I think you are right that the "hugging" approach will not work, and that excessive force did not create our enemy. An evil philosophy animates our enemy, and being nicer to him will not change his philosophy. If I may borrow from Rumsfeld on "success": Nothing defeats the enemy like defeating the enemy.


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