Learning From Iraq: Counterinsurgency in American Strategy
ARMY WAR COLL STRATEGIC STUDIES INST CARLISLE BARRACKS PA
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When the United States removed Saddam Hussein from power in the spring of 2003, American policymakers and military leaders did not expect to become involved in a protracted counterinsurgency campaign in Iraq. But it has now become the seminal conflict of the current era and will serve as a paradigm for future strategic decisions. The United States has a long history of involvement in irregular conflict. During the Cold War, this took the form of supporting friendly regimes against communist-based insurgents. After the Cold War, though, the military assumed that it would not undertake protracted counterinsurgency and did little develop its capabilities for this type of conflict. Then the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, forced President George W. Bush and his top advisers to reevaluate the global security environment and American strategy. The new strategy required the United States to replace regimes which support terrorism or help bring ungoverned areas which terrorists might use as sanctuary under control. Under some circumstances, such actions could involve counterinsurgency. Iraq was a case in point. It has forced the U.S. military to relearn counterinsurgency on the fly.
- Unconventional Warfare