July 11, 2007

Boots On The Ground - The Information Wars

There are a couple of wars going on now, there is the one in Iraq and the one in Afghanistan, those are shooting wars, wars in which people are killed, wars in which ground is cleared and wars in which there is a concerted effort by Al Qaeda and other islamofascists to manipulate allied thinking and emotions via the press and the internet.

In the case of the latter two , press and internet, the enemy is doing a fair job of presenting for us, a picture that we are "losing" but that is a false picture. The hell that is the islamofascist technique on the ground is well presented by photo journalist Michael Yon who is documenting the war with words and photos that have earned him the title of the gulf war's "Earnie Pyle."

But Yon's truth telling is offset by the representatives such as the AP and Reuters, by the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times just to name a few. There, and from the mouths of most Democrats in Congress, and a few of their "republican" friends tell the story of defeat, demanding withdrawal and this is reinforced by anti-war protesters, left leaning blogs and word of mouth, often distorting or leaving out vital information.

And this is the information war the title of this post refers to. Americans are generally a fairly bright people, often able to sort through the muck and find the nuggets, able to tell the difference between a politician proclaiming he was a hero in a long ago war, and the heroes we see in Iraq such as Brad Kassel. Too, from Iraq, we get personal dispatches, not official ones mind you, but personal dispatches that describe what is really happening and this information doesn't get the play that it should.

Several days ago, I was sent such a dispatch, winding it's way through a multiplicity of forwards until it was sent to a friend of mine, a retired LtCol of Marines who forwarded it on to me. Searching through the internet I found the dispatch published at Small Wars Journal, the blog of a number of authors. According to the "about us" post,

The SWJ Blog is a multi-author blog powered by a coalition of the willing and highly able. In general, SWJ Bloggers are too busy actually doing things to blog about them all of the time. We are one of their many outlets for the work they do. But the new media can be a wonderful thing, and we are honored that they have accepted our invitation to use our hammer when there is a nail out there that they wish to hit on the head with a blog entry.

SWJ Bloggers are free to post what and when they want, without editorial interference. Through their years of professional achievement, they've shown us they merit our trust and this vehicle for their thoughts. By pooling together, we achieve enough volume to keep things fresh for our readers, and we gain a little extra synergy from the huge mountain of talent. But individual contributors are, in essence, writing their own blogs. Our list of “active” bloggers have all indicated their support of our general direction and their ongoing intent to contribute from time to time, but nothing more. They will post when the mood strikes, and when their other commitments allow, on topics of their choice.

And this was the source of the dispatch sent by one Dave Kilcullen, and the dispatch is one piece of information the so called MSM has yet to print. Kilcullen writes:
I’ve spent much of the last six weeks out on the ground, working with Iraqi and U.S. combat units, civilian reconstruction teams, Iraqi administrators and tribal and community leaders. I’ve been away from e-mail a lot, so unable to post here at SWJ: but I’d like to make up for that now by providing colleagues with a basic understanding of what’s happening, right now, in Iraq.

This post is not about whether current ops are “working” — for us, here on the ground, time will tell, though some observers elsewhere seem to have already made up their minds (on the basis of what evidence, I’m not really sure). But for professional counterinsurgency operators such as our SWJ community, the thing to understand at this point is the intention and concept behind current ops in Iraq: if you grasp this, you can tell for yourself how the operations are going, without relying on armchair pundits. So in the interests of self-education (and cutting out the commentariat middlemen—sorry, guys) here is a field perspective on current operations. [I'm one of the commentariat middlemen and I'm not offended]

Kilcullen goes on to say:

When we speak of "clearing" an enemy safe haven, we are not talking about destroying the enemy in it; we are talking about rescuing the population in it from enemy intimidation. If we don't get every enemy cell in the initial operation, that's OK. The point of the operations is to lift the pall of fear from population groups that have been intimidated and exploited by terrorists to date, then win them over and work with them in partnership to clean out the cells that remain – as has happened in Al Anbar Province and can happen elsewhere in Iraq as well.

The "terrain" we are clearing is human terrain, not physical terrain. It is about marginalizing al Qa’ida, Shi’a extremist militias, and the other terrorist groups from the population they prey on. This is why claims that “80% of AQ leadership have fled” don’t overly disturb us: the aim is not to kill every last AQ leader, but rather to drive them off the population and keep them off, so that we can work with the community to prevent their return.

So, is the surge working, are our troops rescuing Iraqis from intimidation? You'll have to read the rest to find out for yourselves. And if, as I suspect by reading this far, you are willing to find out for yourselves, you'll bookmark SMJ. I have.

Posted by GM Roper at July 11, 2007 08:52 AM | TrackBack


If my memory serves, Gen Petraeus recruited LtCol Kilcullen of the Australian Army, who is on loan to our State Department. He (Colonel Kilcullen) has studied the type of ops we're currently facing in Iraq. He has mega "book learnin'" and also has had his boots on the ground in a number of really, really awful small shooting wars in which very similiar situations exist. His expertise is unique and, as you can read, no nonsense.

Great post. The nay-sayers, quitters, run-awayers and surrender nowers will be very, very chagrined when the American military and our allies actually win this fight.

Note: I equate the above as the type that would pay the bully not to beat them up in the school yard. While Chamberlain was actually a good and decent man, the only type policies that Hitler would understand were those of Churchill (not Ward!). The same applies today...or so I believe. Both apply.

Posted by tad at July 11, 2007 08:23 AM

and as expected, they fight just as dirty on the net as on the ground. the Islamic terrorists are animals.

Posted by Douglas V. Gibbs at July 11, 2007 08:34 PM

It's really to bad we can't have bloggers take over the MSM outlets. I think a lot of our thoughts are certainly shared via talk radio but even this is attacked and some are trying to silence it. Our ability to share these dispatches and posts are excellent- we just need more people to read or listen. And yes, polecats take advantage of MSM and the truth if often lost.

I don't know how to counter it any more than I already do. I blog. I talk. I argue. (lol) I debate. I inform. But most of my friends are like me, in their thinking of these things and all things politics and national security. It is the other side, WE need to reach them. The left. Liberals.

Posted by Raven at July 12, 2007 01:40 PM

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