The tip line metric in Iraq

Michael Yon:


Statistics in reports about faraway places can blunt the reality of what those numbers mean. But when it is a bomb in a road you are about to drive on, it takes on a whole new cast, as I found yet again when I spent most of May in Anbar Province.

I visited a former labor camp nicknamed “Coolie Village," or what remained of it, after a truck bomb locals attributed to al Qaeda had flattened it. Not surprisingly, the anger and frustration in response to this mass murder helped the villagers overcome their fear of the thugs who had taken hold of their community.

In mid-May, 2007, the Iraqi Army and Police had conducted a “Combined Medical Exercise" in the village of Falahat, and Iraqi doctors saw about 200 villagers. Two days later, the Iraqi Police opened an outpost at the old Falahat train station. That was just about the same time I was driving out to stay with a small team of Marines who were assigned as “MiTT 8" (Military Training Team 8.)

The men of MiTT 8 were living with their Iraqi protégées in filthy shipping containers on a highway. Several months ago they were attacked by a car bomb. But at about 9 a.m., while I was traveling to their location with Marines in a Humvee, some Falahat villagers went to the new police station to report the presence of a culprit they knew was placing bombs on the road.

It happened that quickly.

Within mere days of opening the station, people spoke up. The Iraqi Police (some of whom freely admitted to having been recent insurgents) called the tip into the Iraqi Army living with the Marines of MiTT 8. Our Humvee pulled up to the small MiTT 8 compound, where we met Staff Sergeant Rakene Lee, who was dressed for combat, and who was to take the Humvees and lead the mission to the suspected bomb site. The Iraqi Army was already blocking the road.

The patrol I was with had nearly run into an IED, except for a tip from Iraqis in another village, making what could have been my last dispatch.


This is but a brief excerpt in a long report inside the surge in Iraq. I chose it because it is a good demonstration of how the surge has made a difference in Iraq. By putting the troops in with the people to protect them, we get the intelligence we need to not only avoid enemy IEDs, but to find the enemy and destroy him. That is what we have been doing and switching over to some of the plans proposed by Democrats would be huge mistake equal to the mistake of withdrawing.

If you want to see a leading indicator of how a counterinsurgency operation is going, look for the statistics on the tip line. The media's favorite metric, violence, is at best a lagging indicator. Right now that lagging indicator is confirming al Qaeda's defeat.


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