I’m going to be part of a briefing discussing the successes of our team in Iraq. The most important part of my brief is not a body count, or a prisoner count but the use of all assets to form a larger strategy for our area.
It’s easy to “hit” targets. It’s easy to arrest or detain lots of people. The hard part is to “hit” the right targets and change the situation on the ground.
Kinetic operations can destroy the enemy. Sometimes that’s the best and most efficient way to fight a war. But sometimes it’s not that simple. Sometimes there is no enemy army to fight, instead there are multiple groups of people taking advantage of a situation for personal gain.
In this situation “killing them all, and letting god sort them out” doesn’t work well. In fact it doesn’t work at all. These groups in some way support the local populace. Winning this kind of war involves removing a bad support system and replacing it with one of good.
Popular support is often based on survival. Who they support is more about who will ensure their own survival.
That is why foreign policy cannot continue to be so uncertain. Sometimes you must live up to your promises.
An interesting fact is that SF teams are both the most conservative units in the military and also the most liberal in their ideas and approaches. It’s hard to explain this. Maybe they’re really more Libertarians.