New U.S. commander in Iraq pushes 'hearts-and-minds' over 'search-and-destroy'

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
By JIM KRANE - Associated Press Writer
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - (AP) The new U.S. general who
runs the Iraq war plans to pursue a strategy aimed at improving Iraqis'
quality of life to undercut the support base for the insurgents among disaffected Iraqis.
Army Lt. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, who became the No. 2 commander in Iraq last week, told The Associated Press in an e-mail that he would employ across Iraq many of the strategies he used to quell uprisings in Baghdad when he led the Army's 1st Cavalry Division in 2003 and 2004.
Counterinsurgency experts have long urged the Pentagon to pursue a more nuanced style in Iraq, saying the U.S. preference for "search and destroy" offensives had squandered time and sent new recruits to the guerrillas.
Many said Chiarelli's maverick methods from 2004 are now being seen as prescient, dovetailing with a rethinking in Washington of U.S.
counterinsurgency strategy.
"He knows the terrain, he knows the problems and he understands the solutions," said Rand Corp. counterinsurgency expert Bruce Hoffman. "He's bringing the right vision, but this is the vision that should've been brought three years ago."
In the Shiite Muslim slum of Sadr City in 2004, Chiarelli's troops fought street battles with insurgents while simultaneously trying to install sewer and water lines.
"It was not uncommon for the 1st Cavalry Division to be engaged in intense urban combat in one part of the city, while just a few blocks away we had units replacing damaged infrastructure," Chiarelli said.
The tactic led to grassroots pressure on the Shiite rebels to end their resistance. Sadr City residents today credit American forces with modest improvements. But many believe the neighborhood's calm owes more to the entry into politics of militia leader Muqtada al-Sadr.
Chiarelli, 55, a Seattle native, succeeded Lt. Gen. John R. Vines at the helm of the Multi-National Corps-Iraq that comprises 150,000 troops from
27 countries.
He also said U.S. troops will transfer more battle duties to Iraqi troops.
Future offensives, he said, "will increasingly be precision, intelligence-based operations with the Iraqis in the lead."
More U.S. Army Military Police will be embedded in Iraqi police units "as we focus effort on putting the police in the lead for domestic security," he said.
The new MP mission is expected to be one of the most dangerous in Iraq, since Iraqi police have been relentlessly targeted by insurgents.
Chiarelli said American units would be "exposed to some hazards that are unique to policing" but that it was unclear whether U.S. trainers were at higher risk than other front-line troops.