Wednesday, July 23, 2008

NPR Interview with Ret. Lt. Col. John Nagl

The Iraq War created a deep division within America’s military. When the U.S. went into Iraq it was prepared to fight a conventional war against an opposing military. After Saddam’s forces were defeated however, the U.S. was faced with terrorist attacks by Al Qaeda in Iraq, a Sunni insurgency, and Shiite militias. Some U.S. officers recognized the new environment and began pushing for a counterinsurgency campaign. It took years, but the U.S. military eventually turned around their thinking.

A counterinsurgency campaign is completely different from a traditional war. Force is not as important, the population is. The main goal is to separate the population form the insurgents so that they not longer have a base of support.

Retired Lt. Col. John Nagl was one of those early American officers to see the different situation the U.S. faced in Iraq and urged a change in tactics. Nagl served in Iraq from 2003-2004 in Anbar province, and then went on to train U.S. advisers headed to the Middle East. He also helped edit the military’s counterinsurgency field manual. He was interviewed yesterday, July 22 on National Public Radio’s Fresh Air. He talks about a wide ranging number of issues from whether the military gave an honest evaluation of the difficulties the U.S. would face in Iraq after the invasion, to how he employed counterinsurgency methods during his tour, to what to do with prisoners, etc.

Here’s the link to the interview:

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