A Strategic Necessity

By Dubik, James M. | Army, July 2009 | Go to article overview

A Strategic Necessity


Dubik, James M., Army


Last month, in "Iraq: Three Operational Movements, but No Symphony," I argued that the current counterinsurgency task in Iraq is to deny irreconcilables the chance to make a comeback. I also argued that preventing their resurgence requires a new mix of force, primarily political and generated by an Iraqi government seen to be increasingly proficient at delivering public goods and services to all elements of Iraqi society, and an economic force generated by Iraqi private-sector jobs. Secondarily, the mix includes security force applied by the Iraqi security forces. The Coalition's main task, therefore, is to assist in creating and sustaining this new mix long enough to "dry up" the conditions that benefit a resurgence by the irreconcilables. Such assistance would be the decisive task that drives home strategic success.

This same strategically decisive task applies not just where we are fighting counterinsurgency campaigns (in Iraq and Afghanistan) but also where we seek to prevent an insurgency from developing. Insurgencies rarely grow where governments capably deliver goods and services relatively equally to all sectors of their citizenry and where local economies provide sufficient jobs that are available relatively equally. In addition, insurgencies rarely grow where internal security forces operate effectively within the rule of law.

The global insurgents we are fighting - al Qaeda and its network of loose affiliates - seek out strategically beneficial conditions. The larger global counterinsurgency task, therefore, is to beat them to the punch: Structure a global counterinsurgency strategy that first identifies these potential "laboratories" for insurgencies, then combines the right mix of security and nonsecurity reform and development programs. In strategically key areas, we and our allies should do this before insurgencies take root, which is cheaper and easier than attempting this during a counterinsurgency fight or afterward, and which is in our national and collective strategic interests.

The need for such capacity building is obvious - not just in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also in those places where al Qaeda's ideology is attractive and could take root or, worse, is already taking root. Our ability to meet this need does not lie with any U.S. governmental agency or department, nor with any similar agency in an ally's government, but in a combination of governmental agencies and multiple not-for-profit and for-profit organizations, corporations and agencies in our country and others.

Each of these organizations aims at a small aspect of the larger problem, executing specific agricultural, educational, public works, financial and business projects consistent with its charter. …

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