E-mail from a military academic (with the acronyms to prove it!):
Well said; I directed my students to NRO to read your post (I’ll probably hear about that from some of the more delicate flowers on the faculty). I am Jonah’s anonymous “military academic” from an earlier post and couldn’t agree with you more. While everyone seeks to an easy answer in a single factor (more troops, disbanding of the army), the point is these things are hard and take time to do them right. We had a false start in 03 and early 04 (remember the Fallujah Brigade), and we have certainly made some things harder on ourselves than they needed to be. Institutionally, pre-OIF, none of the services (apart from the SOF types) really spent much effort on COIN or what we’re doing now with the Iraqi armed forces, “foreign internal defense” (normally a SOF mission). We’ve had it right for at least 18 months now, and the results reflect hard-won experience on the part of our troops and the countless hours of training provided the Iraqis, including that given their officers and NCOs. Developing effective and competent officers and NCOs is the long pole in the tent but again, our strategy is paying off.