Monday, March 10

Athens to their Rome.

For the last few years, we've heard quite a bit of bleating about how British troops are fundamentally better suited to the Iraq War than them lumbering Yanks, what with our lads' experiences of having nice cups of tea in Northern Ireland and their thugs' basic idiocy and inability to do anything other than kill. Pish, of course.

So this piece by Captain Pete Hegseth is pertinent:

Al Doura, Baghdad — As I step out of the humvee into the street, I have two facts in mind: I’ve been here before; and this time, I don’t have a weapon.

....

The entire time, we have only nominal security. It was disconcerting at first — I would never have come here unarmed two years ago — but the commander I’m walking with eases my concerns: the people are our security. The neighborhood residents trust the Americans, as well as the “Sons of Iraq” (or CLCs, as the Army calls them: Concerned Local Citizens) — local residents who provide security for the neighborhood. In a place where al-Qaeda dominated just eight months ago, today they couldn’t buy a bag of popcorn.

The unit’s commander — Lieutenant Colonel James Crider — clarifies the new situation in Doura, “We made a deliberate attempt to engage the people and soon enough, when they realized we weren’t going anywhere, that’s when they started talking to us.”

Beginning in June, while bullets were still flying, Crider’s squadron held sit-down meetings with every family in Doura, walking house-to-house over the course of several months to forge personal relationships. This approach — combined with a 24/7 presence in the neighborhoods — eventually crippled al-Qaeda. LTC Crider notes, “Al-Qaeda had no idea who was ratting them out, because we went into every house.” The relationships they fostered from these meetings provided intelligence that allowed the unit to detain al-Qaeda members who were thriving on American ignorance and hiding in plain sight. One of Crider’s lieutenants adds, “It was a battle of intel — and we won.”


Note that the British Army has not managed this sort of success in Northern Ireland to this day, and they've had decades to practise. Just try a bit of substitution: "The squadron held sit-down meetings with every family in Belfast, walking house-to-house over the course of several months to forge personal relationships. This approach — combined with a 24/7 presence in the neighborhoods — eventually crippled the IRA." It doesn't sound even vaguely believable. None of our IRA strongholds have turned into former IRA strongholds.

The most telling aspect of our conversation is where it takes place — on the street, out in the open, and among Omar’s fellow residents. He is not afraid, and vows to fight al-Qaeda if they ever return.


We're supposedly at peace here now, but good luck finding a young man in an IRA area willing to chat with an army officer in public in broad daylight.



It's hard to know who to trust less.

(I made this comment on Gary's blog earlier, but I'm going to give myself a hearty pat on the back and propose that it was a good comment, hence worth repeating here.)

I'm never quite sure which is the bigger problem with the EU: that the unelected Commission gets to overrule Parliament, or that the Government gets to bypass the electorate by falsely claiming that the Commission has overruled Parliament.