March 24, 2008

Taking Advising Seriously

I have made no short shrift of my belief in the need for, at minimum, taking seriously selection, training, and employment of combat advisors.

I have dealt with in a previous post the reasons that even brigades designed for full spectrum operations will be unable to develop effectively as advisor units.

The most compelling logic for the need to develop a long-term advisor capacity while at the same time developing capable regular forces for the information age is simple. In conflicts among the populace, only forces derived from the populace will ultimately be able to prevail. This is one reason for the disparity in outcomes between counterinsurgency efforts led predominantly by government forces and those led by outside powers.

Recent polling data on Iraqi opinions suggests just how important advisors are if we are to succeed even as we continue to short shrift advisor service.

How are our maneuver brigades doing in the battle for public confidence?

79% of all Iraqis polled said they had little to no confidence in US forces. 72% of all Iraqis polled oppose the presence of Coalition forces in Iraq. 61% of Iraqis believed that US force presence in Iraq makes security worse, although only 38% want us to leave now. 53% believe that security in areas where US forces operate is worse than in other areas. 42% of Iraqis still feel that attacks on Coalition Forces are acceptable, although this is down by 15% from a year ago.

And, how, on the other hand, do they feel about an advisor mission which helps to train, man, equip, and employ Iraqi forces?

76% of Iraqis would like to see a continued US role in training the Iraqi Army.

Kind of makes me think that effective, trained advisors might not be a bad hedge for the future--especially given that the number of advisors currently needed in Iraq and Afghanistan exceeds all Special Forces operators in the US Army.