Friday, January 26, 2007

Quadrillage & The New "Gated Communities" Pt. I

The Bush Administration actually does have a plan for taming Iraq. They, and I, have just been too scared to tell you what it is. The creation of "Gated Communities" (euphemism du jour) is an updated, Americanized translation of "Quadrillage," a tactic the French employed heavily in Algeria and had begun to employ in Indochina. Pat Lang over at Sic Semper Tyrannis has a community of high-quality commenters hotly discussing this topic. A quicker boil-down on counterinsurgency "best practices" follows below.

Occupations provoke insurgencies, and an insurgency is an invisible army, or a defeated army which has become so, melted almost inseperably into a civilian population. Regardless of counter-insurgency tactics applied in the last century, and there were a wide variety of them, insurgents won almost every time against foreign occupation forces: 147 out of 149 times, as calculated by Israeli Defense Forces instructor Martin van Creveld. I would probably dispute the 149th instance (the British in post-WWII Malaysia) if I knew more about it, as others have. Yet there were many successful counter-insurgency efforts before the modern age, and if you care to include domestic dictators as counter-insurgents,
there were many successful efforts in the 20th century as well. Interestingly, van Creveld doesn't count Israel's occupation of Palestine in his calculation.

The 148th case is an example of successful employment of population removal, which just barely made it into the 20th century count. In the late 1800s, the Boers (white farmers) in the Transvaal (South Africa) rebelled against England. The British sent troops, which were beaten senseless by the farmers. These actions are known as The Boer Wars. England was defeated in the First Boer War, but then gold was found at Johannesburg in 1885, and the conflict got hot again. Regime change was tried, it failed, and war was declared. It devolved into guerilla warfare. Tired of getting killed and run ragged by farmers who were excellent shots, well-supplied and horse-mounted on their home territory, the British devised a few simple, brutal expedients. Whatever prisoners they captured, they sent to camps overseas. They followed a "Scorched Earth" policy, systematically burning the farms. Then they took the wives and children of the farmers, put them into concentration camps, and starved them. Rumors of routine rape were widespread. 25% of the women and children died. The farmers surrendured, South Africa became part of the British Empire, and London was draped in diamonds and gold. The British would also intern a large, sympathetic population in "The Malayan Emergency," Kreveld's 149th example, but did so for the purpose of bribing and not brutalizing them. Possibly the purest example of population-removal was applied by US forces in the late nineteenth century against tribes in the American West, which proved to be a nearly permanent solution.

Now, let's combine the concept of population removal with quadrillage. Quadrillage, or quartering, is to divide an insurgency into sections, allocate a garrison in each section and back it with domestic troops. The section is closed off and swept for insurgents with an overwhelming number of home-grown troops. Combat-age males are killed or forcibly removed, as is anyone who shows support for them. If they cannot be dislodged or be made to surrendur, the buildings which shelter them are levelled to the ground. All villages and neighborhoods in the section are turned into ghettos, and residents who enter or leave must show the required papers. Bribes are given in return for reporting suspiscious activities, and transgressors are "turned" into spies. The idea is for indigenous forces to provide the muscle, to "stand up so we can stand down," and for the occupying forces to provide the firepower. Should an insurgency re-emerge which threatens to overwhelm the garrison, a central strike force is called in to crush it. The houses of suspected of harboring insurgents are blown up. The French used this method all over Algieria in the late 50's, and managed to temporarily quiet insurgent activity and largely secure its border with Morocco, which had supported the FLN (National Liberation Front). Roughly a million Algerians died in five years, the vast majority non-combatants who never touched a weapon.

So in Iraq, as the now-promoted and congressionally confirmed ground commander General Petraeus states in his new field manual FM 3-24 DRAFT, insurgent-supporting population will be selectively removed as necessary, either eliminated or held in distant, secure locations. Areas of garrison responsibility will be assigned to insurgent quarters until security is established in each, rebuilding projects will be undertaken to employ local residents and jump-start the economy, and the path to pacification will be ensured. The video above provides an idea of what the policy will look like on a routine, daylight basis.

In Part II, I'll outline why Petraeus is not the genius he is thought to be , and why his plan probably isn't going to work.

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