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August 29, 2007

"The Crocodile Dundee Factor"

Kevin E. Dayhoff

September 15 is fast approaching. That's when Gen. David H. Petraeus will give his report to Congress on the progress in the war in Iraq.

General Petraeus has become a household name in America as the military mind tapped to head-up President George W. Bush's new way forward - or "surge" initiative announced in January.

Even though most people are well aware of General Petraeus, one wonders how many are aware of the work of Dr. David Kilcullen.

Any definitive discourse as to why the current military efforts in Iraq are successful must include some knowledge of Dr. Kilcullen, an Australian counterinsurgency expert.

In a recent article in "The Australian," Rebecca Weisser wrote that when the invasion was initially planned, Dr. Kilcullen said: "Iraq is going to be a lot harder than you people seem to think, based on 20 years of experience doing it and studying it. It's going to take a lot more than you seem to be willing to commit."

She also reports then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said: "Kilcullen didn't know what he was talking about."

Fast forward to last November, Secretary Rumsfeld resigned, and "Kilcullen's friend David Petraeus was appointed commander of the multinational force in Iraq. Petraeus and Kilcullen had shared the same views on Iraq since 2003 and Petraeus asked Kilcullen to be his senior adviser," wrote Ms. Weisser.

Perhaps, at a later time, with 20/20 hindsight, some time might be well spent discussing the missteps of then-Secretary Rumsfeld, Ambassador L. Paul Bremer, the head of the "Coalition Provisional Authority" from May 11, 2003, to June 28, 2004, and Paul Wolfowitz, deputy secretary of defense from 2001 to 2005.

It was from April 9, 2003, to June 28, 2004, after the initial success of the overthrow of the murderous regime of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, when the wheels came off the cart for the U. S. military efforts in Iraq.

On April 9, 2003, the statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled and the gates of hell were opened as the Iraqis celebrated by looting, literally and figuratively, the very fabric and foundation of their country.

Administrator Bremer and Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz followed-up by experimenting with the affects of anarchy by disbanding the Iraqi Army, which was predisposed to working with the Americans, and the deBathification of the country's bureaucracy.

The disastrous results were no indigenous security and no one available to run the wastewater treatment plants, much less run local government, keep the lights on, or maintain the oil infrastructure. Not wanted by our team, the disenfranchised formed the insurgency team.

It did not have to happen. If people like Col. H.R. McMaster and former Australian Lt. Col. Kilcullen and General Petraeus had had a meaningful voice in the specialized counterinsurgency aspects of the Iraq campaign from the beginning, it would not have happened.

Thucydides said in 404 B.C., in his History of the Peloponnesian War: "When people enter upon war they do things the wrong way round. Action comes first, and it is only when they have suffered that they begin to think."

Well, by January 2007, the time to think was way overdue for a war that had precipitously deteriorated into a very different conflict since May 1, 2003, when President Bush landed on the USS Abraham Lincoln in a Lockheed S-3 Viking and announced the end of major combat operations in Iraq which had begun on March 19.

But as September 15 draws nearer, do not rigidify in preconceived notions that the war is not winnable, or you will share the egg on your face with our country's Democratic leadership and the mainstream media.

The facts on the ground indicate that stabilization efforts in Iraq are increasingly successful, and unless the forces of destabilization are able to win the war by playing politics in the United States, the efforts in Iraq can be successful.

If you would like to know why - and get past the simplistic superficial analysis of the mainstream media and the situational politics of expediency - take the opportunity in the next several weeks and familiarize yourselves with the work of Dr. Kilcullen.

He earned his doctorate from the University of New South Wales, studying the affects of "guerrilla warfare on non-state political systems.," which emphasized the anthropological causes of - and remedies to - conflict.

His doctoral dissertation is titled, "The political consequences of military operations in Indonesia 1945-99: a fieldwork analysis of the political power-diffusion effects of guerilla conflict."

(Of a fascinating coincidence, remember Paul Wolfowitz was United States Ambassador to the Republic of Indonesia in the middle of this period, 1986-1989.)

Then read "Complex Warfighting," which he wrote in 2003, "Countering Global Insurgency," written in 2004 and "Counterinsurgency Redux," from 2006, in which he began in earnest to question "the relevance of classical counter-insurgency theory to modern conflict."

However, it is his "Twenty-Eight Articles: Fundamentals of Company-Level Counter-insurgency" (now adopted as Annex A to FM 3-24, the U.S. Army's new doctrine) that is the cutting-edge work.

In a war that I informally refer to as the "Hyperlink" War, it is the Internet that facilitates coordination between jihadist cells in far-separated global theatres of terrorism. And, just as importantly, allows the enemy to read our press as easily as we can.

Interestingly "Twenty-Eight Articles" did not first gain traction as a war-fighting strategy in the Middle East, along formal lines of hierarchal chain of command.

According to these new protocols of a hyperlink war, Dr. Kilcullen said that his "Twenty-Eight Articles" "started life (in April 2006) as an email that was sent to the junior officers that had asked for advice. Then a few generals found out about them, started sending them out, and within a few days they went viral around the U.S. military, the State Department, the CIA ."

When General Petraeus reports to the nation, keep Dr. Kilcullen in mind, and you'll understand why the presentation could be sub-titled, "The Crocodile Dundee Factor."

Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster: E-mail him at:

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