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Governor Sarah Palin Visits Alaska's Troops

Out of the Cities

"So, Grim, you're just back from Iraq... what does it mean that we're 'out of the cities?'"

It means that the ISF -- especially the Iraqi Army, and the National Police -- are the first line of defense for urban Iraqis.

"Will it work?"

No.  The ISF know what they have to do, but they don't want to do it yet.  They're a proud people, and though they've been well-trained, they believe they know their country better than we do.  So, they're going to be bullheaded at first, which will leave seams that AQI and others will exploit.

That means you should expect to see a spike in mass casualty attacks for a while.

"So this is all doomed?"

Not exactly.  The fact is that only the Iraqis themselves can "win" the counterinsurgency campaign.  We've taught them the techniques, but now they have to decide to do it. 

They need to fail to learn -- Thomas Barnett once said that our own army only learns when it fails, and that may well be true of any large organization.  Plus, whereas the IA are Shi'a-led, the NP are the only part of the apparatus that wasn't de-Baathified -- which means they need to learn to work together, and are likely to do it only under fire.

Expect to see them fail, because they have to fail to get over the next step.  The thing to watch is whether they learn.  They know what they have to do; the time has come to see if they will do it. 

My money's on them.  They just need a good whack to the head, now that they know the weight is on their shoulders.