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Archive for January 13th, 2007

Saturday, January 13th, 2007


Via email, Dave Dilegge let me know that The Small Wars Journal has begun its own blog , which featured a post, “A Framework for thinking about Iraq Strategy“, by LTC David Kilcullen, a special adviser to the Department of State and an expert on counterinsurgency warfare. An excerpt:

This is a model, not a strategy. That is, it is a systematic oversimplification, designed to clarify an extremely complex, rapidly-changing reality. It does not tell us what to do in Iraq, but is a basis for evaluating options. It is wrong – all models are – but applied tentatively, with skepticism, and with constant and rigorous “ground truth” from first-hand observation in theater, I have sometimes found it useful.

….The “Four Problems” concept

In essence, the model suggests that Iraq comprises four strategic problems:

an underlying nation-building problem, resulting from the fact that Iraq is a weak and fragile state, and three overlapping security problems that sit “above” that underlying problem, and make it harder to get at it. The three problems are:

Terrorism – that is, the presence of terrorist entities including (but not limited to) AQI who seek to exploit the situation in Iraq to further extremist or trans-national aims

Insurgency – the (primarily Sunni) rebellion against the new post-Saddam order in Iraq, including rebellion against both the coalition presence and the new Iraqi government, and

Communal Conflict – including sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shi’a elements, and ethnic conflict between Kurds, Arabs and other ethnic groups.

These three security problems overlap: incidents may involve elements of more than one dimension – for example, some terrorism is “pure” AQI activity, while other terrorist acts are insurgent-motivated, and yet others incorporate a sectarian dimension. Most incidents in fact include elements of two dynamics, or all three. You might think of the three problems as a Venn diagram of overlapping circles, each constantly changing in size, with any incident able to be plotted somewhere within the interaction of the three dynamics – terrorism, insurgency and communal conflict.

It is a post of high quality and significant length which you can read in full here. Kilcullen references Iraq as a “wicked problem”, a subject I have blogged about previously for those interested in the term.

If I may make a suggestion, one element that needs to be added for clarity’s sake is some sort of “about us” that is germane to the blog rather than the SWJ as a whole. Who is/are/will be the regular bloggers at the SWJ Blog ? Dave Dilegge promises a varied stable of contributors so I’m looking forward to making SWJ Blog a regular read.

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