[T]he "surge" was more than an infusion of reinforcements into Iraq. Of greater importance was the change in the way U.S. forces were employed starting in February 2007, when Gen. David Petraeus ordered them to position themselves with Iraqi forces out in neighborhoods. This repositioning was based on newly published counterinsurgency doctrine that emphasized the protection of the population and recognized that the only way to secure people is to live among them. . .
The arrival of additional U.S. forces signaled renewed resolve. Sunni tribal leaders, having glimpsed the dismal future in store for their people under a regime controlled by al-Qaeda in Iraq and fearful of abandonment, were ready to throw in their lot with the coalition. The surge did not create the first of the tribal "awakenings," but it was the catalyst for their expansion and eventual success. The tribal revolt took off after the arrival of reinforcements and as U.S. and Iraqi units fought to make the Iraqi people secure.
Over time, in areas where there were insufficient forces to provide security, U.S. commanders extended contracts to Sunni (and some Shiite) tribes that volunteered to stand up against al-Qaeda in Iraq. These payments ensured that tribesmen could feed their families until the economy recovered and services improved. Payments generally followed the commencement of tribal rebellions and were not, as some claim, their cause.
As U.S. units established smaller outposts and destroyed al-Qaeda havens, the area under Iraqi and coalition control expanded. Security improved dramatically after the last surge units arrived and the Multi-National Corps-Iraq, under Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, commenced a relentless series of operations to drive insurgents out of their long-held sanctuaries.
Improved security led to greater Iraqi confidence and lessened the need for, and acceptance of, Shiite militias that for too long held sway in many neighborhoods. When the Mahdi Army instigated a gun battle in Karbala last August that forced the cancellation of a major Shiite religious observance, the resulting public pressure compelled Moqtada al-Sadr to declare a unilateral cease-fire. Without the improved security conditions created by the surge, this cease-fire would not have been declared; nor could it have been observed, because the militia would still have been needed to protect Shiite communities from terrorist attacks.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
General Petraeus's former XO, Peter Mansoor, in Sunday's Washington Post: