Having lost the civil war, many Sunnis were suddenly desperate to switch sides — and Gen. David Petraeus was eager to oblige. The U.S. has not only added 30,000 more troops in Iraq — it has essentially bribed the opposition, arming the very Sunni militants who only months ago were waging deadly assaults on American forces. To engineer a fragile peace, the U.S. military has created and backed dozens of new Sunni militias, which now operate beyond the control of Iraq's central government...
A Trashed Doctrine
This situation puts the US military in a difficult position, one that goes deeper than being caught on the horns of dilemma (as in: caught between supporting "former" insurgents or government forces). The improvised theory that led the US military to fund the insurgency (the "Awakening") has transformed the US Counter-Insurgency doctrine (COIN) -- a document was so carefully prepared and announced with such fanfare -- into a mere pile of paper. Why? Because we have abandoned the doctrine's binding assumption: that everything we do in counter-insurgency should increase the legitimacy of the host government. Essentially, the abandonment of our doctrine means that the US military is now completely adrift in Iraq without a counter-insurgency roadmap.So, what happens next? If you analyze this development through the perspective of Boyd's OODA loop, we can conclude that the US military has lost one of its primary sources of orientation (here's an excellent PowerPoint from Chet Richards that details the OODA loop). At a core process level, here's what we can expect to see:
- Non-cooperative centers of gravity will form. Without a common source of orientation, different parts of the US military (and all other arms of the US government operating in Iraq) will begin to gravitate to conflicting approaches based on alternative interpretations of what the correct path is.
- Slower decision making. Decisions will be more difficult to make and once they are made, they will be more difficult to implement (organizational resistance). Paralysis may emerge as events evolve (open warfare between police and Awakening militias, pressure to withdraw US forces due to political changes, etc.) since a way forward isn't defined.
- A failure to correctly analyze unfolding events. Without effective orientation, critical information will often be ignored and/or misinterpreted. Surprises will become more frequent.
NOTE: Thanks to Chet Richards.