USMC: Anbar Province Lost

From the Washington Post:

The U.S. military is no longer able to defeat a bloody insurgency in western Iraq or counter al-Qaeda's rising popularity there, according to newly disclosed details from a classified Marine Corps intelligence report that set off debate in recent months about the military's mission in Anbar province.

The Marines recently filed an updated version of that assessment that stood by its conclusions and stated that, as of mid-November, the problems in troubled Anbar province have not improved, a senior U.S. intelligence official said yesterday. "The fundamental questions of lack of control, growth of the insurgency and criminality" remain the same, the official said.


[T]he memo says, "from the Sunni perspective, their greatest fears have been realized: Iran controls Baghdad and Anbaris have been marginalized." Moreover, most Sunnis now believe it would be unwise to count on or help U.S. forces because they are seen as likely to leave the country before imposing stability.

Between al-Qaeda's violence, Iran's influence and an expected U.S. drawdown, "the social and political situation has deteriorated to a point" that U.S. and Iraqi troops "are no longer capable of militarily defeating the insurgency in al-Anbar," the assessment found. In Anbar province alone, at least 90 U.S. troops have died since Sept. 1. [Emphasis Mine]
This memo was first reported on in August when it was widely read in national security circles, though at that time it was described as "grim" but it's contents weren't made public.

The report illustrates the situation faced by Iraq's Sunni population. In power under Saddam, the Sunni minority's leaders have either left Iraq out of fear or been assassinated. Unlike the Shiites and Kurds in the north, the Sunnis find themselves without oil revenues and a concerted effort by the Shiite dominated government to withhold pay for civil servants and Iraqi troops in Al Anbar has left Al Queda in Iraq as the default power in the Governate.

Col. Peter Devlin, "a senior and seasoned military intelligence officer with the Marine Expeditionary Force" who authored the report, states that "without the deployment of an additional U.S. military division -- 15,000 to 20,000 troops -- plus billions of dollars in aid to the province, "there is nothing" U.S. troops "can do to influence" the insurgency."
Al-Qaeda itself, now an "integral part of the social fabric of western Iraq," has become so entrenched, autonomous and financially independent that U.S. forces no longer have the option "for a decapitating strike that would cripple the organization," the report says. That is why, it says, the death of al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in June "had so little impact on the structure and capabilities of al-Qaeda," especially in Anbar province.
Devlin offers the creation of a Sunni paramilitary protection force or the creation of a Sunni state as a possible way to stem the violence.

* * * * *

This is what happens when you invade a country with no plan to secure the nation after you've defeated a dictator that has held together a nation of disparate factions that have a long history of violent confrontation.

This is what happens when you invade a country with no understanding of the culture or history of the people of that nation. If you assume that the people will react the way you would react, you're asking for things like this to happen.

This is what happens when you invade a country with thousands to few troops to secure the peace so that the Secretary of Defense can make an ideological statement about how the future of the U.S. Military is as a 'light & flexible' force.

This is what happens when you invade a country for false reasons without the support of the world community.

And thousands and thousands are dead. Many thousand more are injured.

And for what?

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