08 October 2007

Knowing the Enemy Is Difficult in Iraq

"In a bid to distinguish the recruits from potential militants, the groups have been given vests with reflective stripes, similar to those worn by traffic police in many countries. Others wear brown T-shirts with Iraqi hats similar to those worn by the national army.

Capt. John Newman, 31, of Columbus, Ga., said the soldiers believe they can discern volunteers from the insurgents.

"We've given them their road guard vests," Newman said. "So, he'd better be wearing that vest if I see him carrying an AK-47.""


This is the crux of the matter in war amongst the people: knowing who is who.

Ultimately, the reflective vests won't work - the insurgents will get hold of them.

The tragedy of the shooting of 3 "concerned citizens" could only have been avoided if the soldiers knew their faces.

This is why I advocate taking the surge strategy even further - don't just get the soldiers out amongst the people in small outposts - get them right out amongst the people. Give very junior officers a lot of power and give them budgets. Get them renting houses in the suburbs and eating at local food stalls. Get them working very closely with tribal militias.


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