Presentation: How to Win the War in Al Anbar
The next paragraph is a summary of the presentation given at the Latrun V conference, for the complete presentation please contact us and we will be happy to send it to you.
When I took my brigade to Ramadi in Iraq in 2006 I did not go there with a plan to create a Sunni Arab awakening. My plan evolved while I was there to an extent I was lucky, I was in the right place at the right time and happen to be doing the right things to allow this awakening to occur.
About 400 years ago in England named John Lock and he wrote something that I basically used my counter and insurgency doctrine: "be sociable with them, they would be sociable and be formidable with them they will not."
I did not have enough combat power of my own with one brigade to pacify a city the size of Ramadi which was about a half a million people and I needed additional combat power and it wasn’t to come from the Iraqi army,
Sheikh Sitar Bazia Aborisha who was the leader of the awakening in Anbar province near Ramadi.
By being sociable with Sheikh Sitar, that allowed us to generate additional combat power in the form of indigenous forces and those indigenous forces allowed us to be formidable with the others.
In early 2006 we were tearing a lot of our off ramping combat power and General Burton talked about yesterday he first went to Kuwait before he was called for into Iraq. When I was in Iraq I kept hearing about how I was going to start sending battalions home in the middle of the fight and the catch phrase at that the time was "we will stand down as the Iraqi stand up." Translated into Arabic that roughly sounded like: "good luck with Al Qaeda, we're leaving", and they therefore were very reluctant to partner with us because once we were gone they knew Al Qaeda was going to come around and saw their heads off if they would seen as being friendly with the coalition forces do many of the locals remain neutral at best or actually helped the enemy.
We had to walk a fine line but we also had to make sure that our deeds matched our words and that required a certain amount, we told the Sheikh that we would not, not only that we would not abandoned them but we showed them that we were willing to move off of our large forward operating bases and take the fight to the enemy, into the enemy safe havens.
When I got to Ramadi with my brigade, Ramadi was basically in the hands of the enemy, there was only one combat outpost where the governor of the province lived, in the center of the city and all the U.S. forces were on the outside. Visiting that government center in the center of the city was kinda like visiting the Alamo in down town Stalingrad or something like that, the city was absolutely decimated, most of the buildings were bombed out shells and you had a marine rifle company that was defending the government center against all comers and that's really was the extent of our presence in the city so we had to go back into that city and secure the population, so we ended up building about 25 combat outposts, both in the city and in the tribal areas around the city.
To be reassure and to prove to the tribe we were willing to take the fight to the enemy and furthermore, we weren’t just sitting on this combat outposts, we were getting out of our tanks and Bradlies and doing this amount of patrols and meeting with the people and every night we would go to their homes and do senses patrols to find out who lived there and what kind of car they drove and, so forth and so on, whether they republicans or democrats, where they went to school, who their favorite team was that kind of information build a data base for us but it also allowed us to know who our neighbors were and let them turn to us, not at this crazy guys inside tanks that fire point black into the sides of buildings but that we were human beings too and we wanted to partner with them.
We began as process of developing these combat outposts that were manned initially by Iraqi army and then eventually Iraqi police, we developed the Iraqi police and the transition from recruiting to training.
They wanted to trust the police, they wanted to know that the police were their uncles, cousins, brothers and sons and in that way they would never turn on them and so the police didn’t have to go to Rustamia or someplace else to train and then they were sent to Bazra or Mosul, they stayed right at home and that was very powerful for them.
In early September a group of Sheikhs led by a very young Sheikh, Sheikh Sitar came to us and said: "we're ready to work with you now." In the past they have tried to work with the Sunni insurgence against Al Qaeda and against us at the same time and it didn’t work. Now they said: "you know what? Lesson learned, we're going to work with the coalition, the coalition is the strongest tribe and we want to ally ourselves with you." Recruiting tripled over night; we began to set up the neighborhood watches.
BG Sean MaFarland with the ILWS BG (IDF Ret.) Gideon Avidor
BG Sean MacFarland - Bio
Brigadier General Sean MacFarland is the Deputy Commanding General for Leader Development and Education of the US Army Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He is also the Deputy Commandant of the Command and General Staff College there.
He graduated from the US Military Academy in 1981.
Among his key assignments: A cavalry officer in the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Deputy Regimental S3 during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Operations Officer of 3rd Squadron, Executive Officer of 1st Squadron, in Bosnia, Commanded 2d Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, Chief of Future Operations for CJTF-7 in Baghdad, Iraq, Operations Officer of V Corps, Commanded 1st Brigade Combat Team in Iraq, Chief of the Iraq Division, Plans and Policy Directorate of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the “surge”, Commanded Joint Task Force North.
BG MacFarland is a graduate of the CGSC, the SAMS and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. He hold a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering at Georgia Tech.