The "Johny-Come-Lately" MSM Awakening
McCain isn't backing down from his claim the surge started when he said it did, countering Dem attacks. "McCain said Army Col. Sean MacFarland started carrying out elements of a new counterinsurgency strategy as early as December 2006. At issue are McCain's comments in a Tuesday interview with CBS. The Arizona senator disputed Democrat Barack Obama's contention that a Sunni revolt against al-Qaida combined with the dispatch of thousands more U.S. combat troops to Iraq to produce the improved security situation there. McCain called that a ‘false depiction.’”It is a false depiction. The decision to commit a troop surge didn't simply happen in a vacuum.
Thanks to milblogs, I was aware of the beginnings of the Anbar Salvation Front months in advance of MSM, although my first mention of it as such appears to be in May of 2007 (according to my category labeling). Steve Schippert's article in April of that year always stood out in my mind as well as for his description of Sheikh Sattar, who Eli Lake described as perhaps "the most important man in Iraq".
Schippert brings to attention the following video, put together by "the Godfather of Milblogging", Greyhawk of Mudville Gazette.
Greyhawk, whom I have long referred to as the Godfather of Milblogging, has done a fantastic job of crafting an easily digestible video series for the purpose of contextualizing the rise of Iraqi tribesmen and the Anbar Awakening and the decisive demise of al-Qaeda in Iraq and the forfeiture of their Anbar province epicenter.
He describes the context for the battle of Sufia as follows:
In November, 2006, what would come to be known as the “Awakening Movement” was still growing and still tentative, as two groups (US and local Iraqis) were just discovering whether they could actually work together. In the States, Democrats had just won the congressional elections in part on promises of a “new direction” in Iraq. Nothing whatesoever was certain about the future of that nation or the US presence there.
AQIZ (al Qaeda in Iraq) was not yet defeated in Ramadi (much less all of Anbar) and were determined to impose their will on the citizens there. A promise of “amnesty” for the sheiks who had turned against them had expired at the end of Ramadan, and they were about to make an example of one tribe on the ourtskirts of Ramadi.
As Major Niel Smith (writing in tandem with his commander, Col Sean MacFarland) explains briefly, at the time of the discovery of the attack an American unit (Lieutenant Colonel Charles Ferry’s 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry) was about to deploy on another mission. They turned on a dime and headed for Sufia (this is no easy task - one could spend longer explaining the difficulties to those unfamiliar with the process than it took the Army to overcome them) even as air assets were called in for support.And that’s what caught my eye back in November, 2006 when I said “this is big.” That was based just on the MNF-I press release, the media wouldn’t have recognized this for what it was, and they were quite busy ignoring the greater awakening movement anyway. Those who’ve spent any time in a TOC in Iraq (yeah, that’s a great number, I know…) will grasp this for what it was: Risk with a big cap “R” and HIGHLY “Succesful COIN” in all regards. The payoff was commensurate with that risk; the awakening survived and thrived, the surge helped it spread beyond the confines of Ramadi, and there are thousands of Americans and Iraqis alive today because of the decisions made then and there.
A brief history and timeline of the Sunni Awakening and the Surge:
It should be required viewing by all, and forwarded to all of your contacts. It's a far more comprehensive timeline history than what the media has provided us with.
Also read: The Battle of Sufia
Please take the time to thank Greyhawk, personally.
Hat tip: Steve Schippert
Cross-posted at Flopping Aces
Also, check out the updates to my post below.