Indeed an incredible tug of war.
The Bush Administration says we're in Iraq until final victory but refuses to define "final victory", meaning indefinitely (aka forever).
Author's sidebar comment: At the next Presidential news conference, it would be wonderful to see a gutsy journalist step up and ask "President Bush, please in detail, define final victory. What does that look like?", and continue to challenge him on the expected ambiguities in the response until the American people finally get a real answer.
Therefore then, what do we do? The answer: Something between what the President wants and what the American people expect; defining "final victory" as achieving maximum safety of troops, yet still attaining optimal geographic positioning to strike terrorists.
How does that translate into action?
Strategically, we "Withdraw and Redeploy (WAR)" to remote in-country bases - far away from Iraqi urban centers. From there, we can then tactically "Strike and Withdraw (SAW)" terror and insurgent targets. Call it the "WAR-SAW" Plan.
I reference 3 relevant prior articles, the first addressing a complete (and honorable) withdrawal framework; the second highlighting the rapidly evolving terrorist threat and a need to strategically shift to Matrix Warfare; and the third the prognosis for civil war in Iraq.
"3 for 1 and Done" Withdrawal Framework:
Turnkey Terror and Matrix Warfare:
Civil War in Iraq:
This new article presents a subset of those outlined strategies - spotlighting the new tactical "Strike Doctrine" component of Matrix Warfare, obviating occupation and replacing it with a "strike and withdraw" approach to destroying terrorist command and control infrastructure.
The author is on record as noted in previous articles recommending an immediate, honorable, liberation based "3 for 1 and Done" withdrawal exit strategy/plan from Iraq. Of course, we would never leave entirely. Iraq indeed is a strategic geographic location to attack terror command and control and after sacrificing almost 3,000 American lives to get there, we must now effectively exploit and leverage this new access point in our War on Terror as a cornerstone Strike Doctrine launch point.
The key becomes how to best leverage that new strategic geographic positioning advantage to optimally serve the War on Terror, while also minimizing target practice on our troops. That means withdrawing to remote locations and then providing surgical strike support to both the front line Iraqi Security forces and too independently striking other terror targets both within and outside Iraq (Iran?, Syria?, others?), vis a vis leads from the intelligence community. The big difference in this strategy as opposed to the Bush Doctrine, is that once we attack, we promptly withdraw back to strike bases and prepare for the next target. In fact, we don't stay put after we hit.
The tactical paradigm shift then is allowing us and not Al Qaeda Inc, to determine where the next engagement/attack will occur, the antithesis of the current situation. In doing so, stealing a page from their own guerilla hit and run tactics playbook, itself stolen from the Viet Cong's. The added benefit, it makes IED's, modern day combat's state of the art booby trap and the major cause of dead US servicemen in Iraq, obsolete, as respects inside Iraq anyway.
For us then, the strategic "WAR" component of the new strategy is to substantively move away (geographically distance ourselves) from the major urban population centers. This will achieve three objectives: 1) Gets our forces substantially out of harm's way, 2) With no local "occupation" forces to provide fuel for militants to rally the locals, those factions (and not the US) will then be burdened with coming up with the answers to their constituents need for public service and economic improvement, very similar to what the Israelis have burdened Hamas with effectively doing in Gaza City, and 3) It will too immediately pressure (force to action) the UN-centric international community, including the Arab world to intercede; participation which has been critically needed but to date conspicuously inconspicuous.
We can't completely leave the country because Iraq would quickly dissolve into a pre-9/11 Afghanistan like environment with terror camps popping up all ever and further exacerbating the global terror problem. We therefore resume our primary mission - counter-terror, establishing major strategic "terror strike bases" (an integrated network able to strike any part of the country or region quickly) in relatively remote locations throughout Iraq - there but not seen, yet within effective strike distance to the major expected terror strongholds - the cities.
From these bases, the tactical "SAW" component of the strategy will be executed; the bases being equipped with hi-tech, lightning "strike and withdraw" (SAW Teams) or aka per previous article - CGTG (counter global terror guerilla) terror assault teams that would use sophisticated global electronic and local human intelligence to zero in and quickly take out any terror command, control or strongholds taking root. We therefore contain/manage the problem, yet keep our forces substantially out of the "city quagmire" shooting gallery situation, as well as putting the burden on the Iraqi government/people themselves and international community for intervening to support peace, general infrastructure and public services.
The Afghanistan situation is probably a first generation pilot proxy for how this might ultimately work; SAW being a second or third generation rendition. We are not spread throughout the country like we are in Iraq, defending every city and town. Instead, we are located at large remote bases like Bagram, using it as a launch point to conduct what I'll coin as quasi "SAW missions". We've not cured the terror problem but converted it to chronic, able to quickly squash any new terror infrastructure of emerging significance before it becomes so. It's like dealing with a cockroach infestation. You'll never completely get rid of them, but with the right mitigation measures, you can reduce it to a manageable problem.
In conclusion, we need to address the fundamental Iraqi question. How to avoid another Vietnam yet still make substantive headway in the War on Terror. The answer is to get out of the urban centers, yet still remain in country to aggressively exploit that costly and hard fought attained strategic positioning and the associated regional counter terror mission/opportunities. The "WAR-SAW" strategy/tactic combination gets us back on track, putting the full focus on counter-terrorism, and not building, governing, policing and securing a country, particularly one that neither wants nor will allow that to happen.
In other words, finally putting the term "WAR" in a constructive context, and getting back to what we do best - engaging "SAW" to target and destroy terrorists.
And for the savvy 2008 Presidential candidate who gets and champions WAR-SAW, they'll get my vote too.
Author's Note: If civil war in Iraq is avoidable, which does not appear to be the case with our in country omni-presence, "WAR-SAW" then ironically becomes the necessary stepping stone to that determination (or not).