A Military Perspective on the Anbar Awakening

A fascinating 20-minute video from MilBlogs TV describes how American forces cooperated with and supported the early stages of the Anbar Awakening, a key factor in the turnaround in Iraq.

It’s not a completely happy tale — the American captain and the local sheik who played central roles in the cooperative effort both were ultimately killed. But near the end of the video is a helpful explanation of the reasons for success:

“The tribes represent the people of Iraq, and the populace represents the “key terrain” of the conflict. The force that supports the population by taking the moral high ground has as sure an advantage in COIN [counter-insurgency] as a maneuver commander who occupies dominant terrain in a conventional battle.”

This is why I’ve never believed the advances made in Iraq are going to be temporary, and disappear with the end of the surge. The irony is that the success of the surge will probably benefit the candidate who opposed the tactic. The better things get in Iraq, the less concerned people become about the idea of Obama as Commander in Chief.