The Los Angeles Times today has a story, new to some old to others, on getting Iraqis to participate in government, as well as giving them something positive to do. The U.S. has created Concerned Local Citizen groups, or CLC, around the country. Going by different names here and there, CLC’s give locals the opportunity to fill gaps in security but more importantly, to become part of the solution. In some areas, they have been instrumental in pushing out al-Qaeda, not because AQ was killing Americans, but because AQ and the Iraqis didn’t get along (which, if you check your program, has been part of our messaging for a while).
The important ‘twist’ to Peter Spiegel’s report is the transition from security to reconstruction.
…U.S. officials have begun a pilot program to develop a civil service corps to employ the men.
"We’ll teach them skills, like repairing pipes, electricity, sewage," [day-to-day commander in Iraq, Army Lt. Gen. Raymond T.] Odierno said. Still, officials aren’t certain such programs can absorb the huge numbers of the concerned local citizens.
The last sentence is important for two reasons. Note the focus on SWET: sewage, water, electricity and trash, the basic services necessary for civil life. The military hard proof that focusing on SWET reduces insurgent attacks. General Stone has talked (raw transcript here) about the need and pressure for a New Deal-style employment option, which would extend this across the board.
As I wrote before, we must focus on the reconstruction efforts if we are to win the struggle. Those who think surgical kinetic strikes are all that is necessary are smoking something.