tv Book TV After Words CSPAN November 27, 2009 2:00pm-3:00pm EST
the large questions that surround all this, however, are in the inning to their permanent. it is a question that transcends book, "darkness at noon," when it was translated into french, the zoo and the infiniti. what is the role of the individual with regard to society? is it social good only? is it the large social good that we should be looking out for? is there something sacred actually sacred and unique about the individuals? these are great recurrent themes of the world literature. they are great recurring themes. these books and i think it'll be problems that will be sticking with us for a very long time las.. .
. >> it's to help us as americans understand the relationship between military operations on the ground, and the strategic decisions that our policymakers make here in washington. it's an interest that i've had for a long time. particularly because i taught for five years at the united states military academy. and raised a in that amount, five years of young leaders who served in iraq, who have also served in afghanistan, and who have made an important contribution to the military of the nation. >> host: absolutely. i'm sure you've seen many of them. >> i have to say it's the most
humbling and exciting experience to go into a theater of war and to see someone who you last saw as young cadet in command of soldiers. in fact, i had quite an experience going to visit a very good student, someone whom i had mentored very closely in may 2007 when he was commanding a company in southern baghdad. and i have to say, to see him in command, was as i said, one of the most humbling experiences. it really is unusual for a civilian to be able to see the fruits of teaching officership. >> host: right in the heart of it, southern baghdad. we will get to that. i think in reading this book, if i was a casual observer, i would still have no idea the extent to which you yourself were involved in the surge. you detach yourself well within the book. probably because you're a humble
person. if you would explain for future readers, what was your roll in putting this together. it's more than just an academic exercise. you didn't build this in an ivory tower. share your experience. >> i was an early supporter of the surge. as i began to watch the politics here in d.c. and understand that a lot of the military that were overgoing in the surge were not well understand here in d.c. i began to write ongoing operational narratives of the events in iraq. and i became very privileged to be able to go to iraq, i traveled there seven times since may 2007. and in order to be able to learn from general petraeus, who is the first to invite me. and also to provide analysis to him about the way in which the military operations were transpiring. the relationship to iraqi poll p
ticks, and then their relationship, obviously, torsion politics. and so i have had the privilege of traveling first to see general petraeus, and then odierno and getting to assays the military operation at three to four months intervals over the course of the past two years. >> host: sure. i think that's important component of the book. having read it. you can get caught up in statistics and themes. i've seen photos of you walking, and to see it and sense it and a feel it adds value to the book. i want to get into -- dive into the an ex an ex -- nexus of the surge. it's violence. but if you look at 2006, the bombing occurred in february. the study group at home was developing what it deemed to be
a more nuance plan for the future of iraq. rumsfeld resigned in 2006. as this idea was coming along, your understanding of this militarily. where did it originate from? how is the surge idea? the implementation, where did it originate? how was it actually implemented? there was a big question. how was it advocated? >> over the course of 2006, because the violence in iraq was escalating and because the military operations that we in the united states an the iraq forces were conducting were not actually achieving positive effects on the ground. i think many here in washington and perhaps also those in baghdad were quite frustrated with the course of the war. and we saw over the course of 2006 the president bush convene a number of meetings to try to figure out what the best way
forward would be, including the meeting at camp david in june 2006. followed by a number of other discussions with his senior commanders. but it really was not until november of 2006 that the result of multiple assessments started to come into the white house. on the one hand the iraqi study group which proposed really with drawing from iraq, expecting the training goal for the iraqi security forces, among many other suggests that it had. then the national security council also needs. it's reports, i think the commanders on the ground rendered reports. and finally think tanks here in washington made a large contribution by thinking through the problem independently of government agencies. and suggesting different possibilities for success. and so the surge i think was worn in that environment -- born
in that environment, and came a recommendation, not only to add forces but to change strategies. and i think that the idea of the adding forces and changing strategy came in part from the military. and from the development. counterinsurgency that general petraeus had overseen. and as importantly, the idea of the way the battlefield was developing, developed by general odierno, the second in command in iraq, at that time, serving for general casey, since he was responsible for designing the operation, and had as his mission to make a rapid transition into the security forces under the degrading conditions, i think that he very fundamentally rethought what was needed in theater. it made representations up that happened to coincide with some of the others being developed in
washington. >> i guess that's sometimes. i don't understand the complete timeline. people associate petraeus and the surge. was it petraeus in the manual and doctrine coming to the top? or was the need for the surge and the need for the right man for the job? >> that's a question that i'm not sure i can answer. but what i would say is it's important to remember that the army is thinking and adapting institution. and our armed forces at the junior levels and mid grade levels and seen at the senior levels understood that it was not succeeding in iraq over the course of 2005, 2006. >> host: now you mention for the first time, and obviously understand it well, that the surge is much more than an increase in troops but a change in strategy. a quick point, the name of the surge, do you like it being characterized as the surge? or do you think -- is it history just captured as such. and that's what we're going to do within. >> i'm afraid that we're stuck
with the surge. i'm extra stuck now that it's the title of my book. it was a change in strategy and doctrine that was reflected in military thinking. and it was implemented really for the first time beginning in the january 2007 timeframe. but i think although general petraeus was certainly the right man for the job, and the new doctrine was important. we also have to remember that the origin of the surge predated his arrival. and that general odierno who is now the commander of the u.s. forces in iraq was then as i said number two in command serving general casey. he had an important role to play both in requesting the force that is came in, the surge of five brigades, and then also in figuring out how to use them in order to secure baghdad and to feed al qaeda in iraq. >> talk to me about general
o'corn know. i think he personified the shift in thinking. he was at times criticized. he doesn't winning the hearts and minds according to some. and then later on he becomes, as i believe you and some other calls it the operational architect of the surge. in many ways, the name behind the scenes, but there was -- was there a mind shift or mindset change that brought him from the conventional commander in 2005 and 2007 to your chief counterinsurgent in 2007. was that indicative of the thinking in the army throughout. >> i think he's clearly a learning general. and it is exceptionally agile in the way that he thinks. i didn't know him back in 2003 and 2004. and i've not been able to make an evaluation of the criticism levied against him for being too
connectic, as the army likes to term. using too much force to accomplish objectives. but what i can say is that he's certainly evolved as the war developed into general officer who knew how to combine some of the elements of conventional war and thinking about conventional war with some of the elements of counterinsurgency. and then in addition a very savvy understanding of iraqi politics. and how the military actions would affect iraqi politicians. and how to use that really to accomplish our strategic objective, which we're not simply to make sure that iraq was peaceful. but also to make sure that it was on the political path that would favor a long-term relationship with the united states. >> sure. i think within that much of what is misunderstood about the surge that it was change in counter
insurgency strategy. if you look at -- you lay this out in the book. the connectic operationed increased in 2007 and 2008. talk to me -- what does -- for those watching what had heard the term the surge but don't know the explanation, what is it? what was the surge? how was it implemented? and what effect did it have? you wrote a book on it. on the military history. if you were to sum it up in two minutes. understand that connectic piece, what was the surge? >> it was not only an increase in forces, but the fundamental change in strategy. for the first time, they attempted to defeat the insurgency. that was not the goal of u.s. strategy in the past years. on the contrary, our aim has been to hand them off to the iraqi, and simply train and
equip them efficiently so that we could transition responsibility for fighting the war to them. so now we have the surge. it is an increase in forces. it's a change in doctrines. focusing on protecting the population. and then a change in strategy focused on defeating the insurgency by protecting the people. making sure that they could no longer intimidate them. making sure that the people would realize that their interest lie first with america's forces and then with the government of iraq. they didn't have a way of influencing them. we had a very sophisticated in baghdad and around baghdad in order to be able to secure the population. we can talk in length about that. > host: absolutely. we're going to delve into one neighborhood. first i want to talk about insurgence. as a military officer, you know
no plan served first contact. the enemy always has a vote. on the sectarian violence, on the violence, who did we deem -- who was the most dangerous? what was the enemy? >> i think we in the united states from reading the press had an impression that a lot of the violence in iraq was random. there were so many neighbors at war that it was really difficult to understand why a car bomb was going off in a particular neighborhood. and it looked randomly violent to us. on the contrary, there were groups fighting one another for control of baghdad. the chief enemy group that was insighting the greatest degree of violence was the of course al qaeda in iraq. which was affiliated with other
former insurgent groups and provided them with some expertise, some funding, and some leadership that they wouldn't otherwise have had. al qaeda in iraq was responsible for the major car bombs and suicide bombs and the attacks. what they were trying to do was establish control of the suburbs, and protect from those into the city in order to make sure that they had control of the sunni population in baghdad. baghdad being a mixed city where they had lived together. now fighting al qaeda was a group of shiite militiases, including the army that was originally commanded by -- over the source in 2005, 2006, 2007
that was influenced by iranians that would force. their special forces and agencies. which was training, equipping, and leading the shiite militiases in act of violence both against the government, against the u.s. forces, and against the population. what the shiite militiases wanted to do was expand from the neighborhoods in baghdad, which had been poorer neighborhoods into the areas of baghdad where the sunni had lived that were generally problem prosperous, and establish control over baghdad by displacing the sunnies. what we saw as a lot of violence and sparks was a contest and al qaeda for control of neighborhoods. because the sunni population, which was not well protected by the shiite armed forces in iraq or by the u.s. forces at that
time was looking for protector and turn to al qaeda in iraq to protect them against the predations of the shiite militiases. that's how we got the kinds of sectarian conflict that we saw in baghdad. and in surrounding areas of baghdad. >> sure. you mentioned the iranian influence. you got a chapter in the book about the iranian proxy war. i don't know if we are going to get to that. but the chapter is one of the best reads, if not the best on understanding the incredible level of influence that iran had in iraq and continues to have in iraq. i'd like to talk about that in the end. but to turn to al qaeda, you talk about the book that a map was found south of baghdad that detailed the handwritten note that detailed their strategy. and you talked about it twofold. first that it informed what it gave us the intelligence we needed to sort of create an informed plan to squeeze al qaeda, and not only in the city but also in the surrounding baghdad.
another interesting piece. you talked about it. you referenced it was media coverage. and as someone who dealt a great deal of sort of talking about this. it was always difficult to education plain what's happening, why is it happening, what is the violence? is it sectarian, what type of violence is it? and you mention that it's been tough to cover this war. not because of bias, necessarily, or because of spin, just because how do you measure an inventional war where there is not a front. where you can't talk about, advancing on the enemies. you can't -- and we didn't use body counts and that isn't sufficient. you suggested that maybe a president that would stand up and say we found the map. this is the enemies plan. correct me if i'm mischaracterizing it. this is the enemies plan. we are going to adapt accordingly. i think that was an interesting thing to look at the book to message the war where there is no front. my question to you is how do you -- and this is a little bit
until the weeds, how do you balance the tactical needs of sort of secrecy and the intelligence with the need to inform and keep the public informed? a map like that would have useful. but how do you let the enemy know that you have their map and you know their plan? >> that's a great question. in the certain sense, you don't want to give the information that would it to understand what our operations were going to be or lead it to know that you understand it's run initial. -- vulnerability. with that said, our generals were constructing a plan to secure baghdad. although we need to preserve operational secrecy, particularly in order to secure the lives of our soldiers on the ground. but what also see is there's a
silence that proceeds specific military operation is important, our commanders are generally very straightforward in what they provide in order for us, the american public to understands a war n and a conflict campaign. and so although we did not learn right away that general odierno's team had found that map that al qaeda had sketched, in order to show the way it intended to surround baghdad, converge on it, and filter into popular neighborhoods. what we did know was that general odierno and his team had a plan to secure it from the inside. and also into the sanctuary areas around baghdad that al chi coo was operating in. actually, we knew that as a february 2007. almost a very beginning of the plan. >> speaking of al qaeda and
infull tradition, i want to take an opportunity to dive into the neighborhoods. the neighborhoods that we entered into. readers are going to get a chance to touch on a lot of them. all of them are unique and have enemy subset. but withth i want to talk about rasheed. i spend some time both as a soldier and journalist in east rasheed during the surge and after it. and i saw the progress that kurded. there's specifically an area called adora. give me a summary on what that area is like, that brigade, ricky gibbs, who i had a pleasure in meeting, sort of the situation he had, and what he was tasked with doing in that area. >> the story of rasheed, which is in southern baghdad is a fascinating story. and no one story is em bromatic of the surge. > host: sure.
>> but ricky gibbs oversaw rasheed. he has really two sets of interacting problems. on the east side of rasheed, he had a large sunni population that was really intimidated by al qaeda. and they really can get al qaeda within baghdad. there was a major al qaeda leadership cell in dora where you've had the privilege of serving and being that was essentially projecting for elsewhere into the city of baghdad. but also conducting some very devastating attacks against sunni problemlation, and the small pockets of the shiite population that was left on the west sides. on the other side, city-sized neighborhood. >> host: how many people? >> i can't remember.
>> host: i think it was 700. it's a sizable amount. >> it really is. it's very dense population there. on the west side of his neighborhood there were shiite pockets as well as sunni pockets. and there are militiases that were coming in, replacing the sunni, and working in conjunction with the iraqi national police, which at that time was mostly shiite and which was at that time, corrupt in order to blend rashed answer cleanse them of the sunni population. and cal chi da would attack against the shiite militias groups and the national police. and then the national police would conduct attacks. and so what we had was a neighborhood divided, a neighborhood where there was sectarian, and a neighborhood where al qaeda had dug in. when i say dug in, i really
think that that viewers should understand that al qaeda in iraq had essentially four to five several city blocks, not just city blocks, several steps of city blocks. really, i mean if we were to talk here in d.c., it would have dewpoint and logan, and some of the corridors. if we were in talk to new york, it might be from flat iron down to the northern -- >> -- >> host: i'd rather be audiotape by the bankers than the politics. >> exactly, exactly. they are sizable piece of terrain. al qaeda had so much freedom of movement. because it was not challenged enough by u.s. forces and because the iraqi security forces couldn't stay there. that they had four to five of the areas with deep buried id
such that think had a multilayer bunker system extending out in concentric reign, so that it was very difficult for any u.s. or iraqi forces to get in and penetrate the neighborhood. that became a challenge when it became time. >> and casualties went up at beginning of the surge. we only have three or four minutes. as we pushed into those neighborhoods, violence did increase. a lot of u.s. casualties, especially in the book, i think almost 15% of u.s. casualties were in dora. >> precisely. because our troops had to go into neighborhood such as dora that had been held by the enemy for so long, fighting through the enemy defenses in order to remove the sanctuary area from the enemy. and then stay there to protect the population. >> host: you talk about staying and protecting the population. on the local front, what are the
fundamentals of the surge an the neighborhood levels? what is ricky gibbs, what is his brigade. what are they going on the street block to block to implement the fundamentals of the surge. >> i'm going to talk here about my former cadet, now major jim kersy. one of the folks at my institute, the institute for the study of ford, who serves with him in dora. what they did was go to house to house to house and talk to people. and figure out who was living there and how long they'd been living there, who their neighbors were, what kinds of families were there. and just building a trust relationship between themselves and the population so that over time that population would feel comfortable enough telling where where the bad guys where. they spent day in, day out working on securing the
population through that trust and confident by going into every single house in the neighborhood while they cold -- controlled. while searching for id, maintaining control on the street, and going after high value targets, key leaders or major suicide war vehicle bombs. >> which is to bring in full circle, there was an increase because of that. but it was more precise. >> precisely. one the things that i've learned, interviews that i've done for a documentary on the surge was that our commanders were very careful about who it is that they arrested, and how it is that they found the bad guys. it takes about 60 to 90 days in one of those neighborhood going door to door before the population even thinks about about trusting you. >> host: interesting great stuff. as we know, there are a couple of other dynamics to the surge
which we will touch on next. we're going to go to a quick break and be right back. >> "afterwords" and other programs are available for download at pot -- podcast. we'll have more in just a moment. >> did you know you can view the programs online. go to booktv.org. type the name of the author, book, or subject into the search area in the upper left-hand corners of the page. select the watch link. now you can view the entire program. you may also view the featured programs and recent tv to find the recent and featured
programs. >> "afterwords" continues. >> and we're back to book tv here with dr. kimberly kagan. she was practitioner of the surge. we wrapped up talking about that dora. what is dora like today? explain to readers what the human effect the surge was in a neighborhood like dora? >> i had the privilege of traveling to dora both in may 2010 -- 2007 and then returned in february of 2008 to an area where there had been regular executions and corpses that built up in the late 2006 period. when i got to the same neighborhood, i walked out of the vehicle with lieutenant
colonel jim. and i was greeted by school children who had been playing on the playground. they were playing in an area where they could not have been outside when i had last been there in may 2007. because they would have been shot. and they would have been killed. so it was amazing to see them out there. out there with their parents. they came running up to our convoy. they came up to me and started hugging me and talking with me. we walked down the street in dora talk to a variety of shopkeepers. all the shops were open. at the end of the day, when it was getting dark, when it would have been extremely scary to be on the streets. the street lamps came on. the whole neighborhood was out. and we ended up having small feast in the home of one of the
leading folks in that neighborhood who had worked with u.s. forces. so i stood on the thought where sectarian killings had occurred. and i was standing there in the dark, safe as can be. >> host: i think that's what gets lost. what keeps people like me and you so passionate about it. there is a real human effect and a real human impact of men, women, and children no longer afraid, open, day and night, living their lives, hoping for a better life. that's what it's all about. >> a lot of them were there because our u.s. forces came in and protect the them. that's why they are alive today. >> host: it's an interesting argument that more troops equal more violence. in fact, more troops have equals less violence. i want to talk about metrics. not just in dora but throughout iraq. i know when i served, i would visit and there would be a list of all of the attacks that
occurred that days in different areas. it felt impossible at the time to understand who was attacking who and for what reason, tribe, sunni, shiite, sort of a true mixing bowl of different allegiances. in the book, you do an incredible job of laying out who's attacking who, and why, and what the intent and reaction was to the u.s. or iraqi effort. how do you sort through the hundreds and thousands of attacks that occur on the monty basis and really understand whether it's sunni radical attacks a tribal member or attacking other tribal. how do you pick that apart? how much did it drive operations? >> fascinating question. the first thing to know receive
it made it possible to identify which group was actually conducting the attack. so when the suicide bomb went off, or a car bomb went off, or truck bomb of the vehicles on the ied as they call them in the theater. that was the significant weapon of al qaeda in iraq. and that's how we knew that they were there. on the other hand, certain kinds of attacks like the explosively formed projectile, which is a really lethal exemployeive device -- that was the significant weapon of the shiite. and not just shiite, generally, but the shiite militiases that were trained and funded by the iranians. because that's a weapon that came from iran. we know that by the way it was manufactured. that said, one of the things that i found fascinating in may 2007 is how much our commanders
on the ground commanders such ricky gibbs, colonel david sutherland, actually knew about the people who were fighting in their areas. they knew the tribal members. they knew the community leaders. they knew who was preaching at what mosque. it became a richly textured environment full of small groups competing with one another for power and influence. and i think that experience was incredibly enlightening, and really helps me to bring the book in a way that captured nuance of the tribal dynamics, the political dynamics, and then the competition between al qaeda and the shiite militias. >> sure. which it certainly does. i know when i was there, when you are driving and spending very little time, you were the prominent locations and maybe some the leaders. getting to know the second and
third level is what changed the game. it's a game changer. i want to play a little got you. i want to read a section from the book. i want to take on a couple of counterarguments that say the surge is effective. but i'm not certain it was the only ingredient. to quote general odierno, i believe he noted, explaining the reduction in violence, the significant has been the subject of much debate. it's attempting us who are connected to exaggerate. butt same token within it's a not easy to say that the positive trends have come about because we paid them off or came here or because they decided to announce a cease fire. they ignore the key variable. the coalitions change in strategy, and our employment of surge forces. many will look at you and say, yes, it was wonderful. but the awakening happened in
2006. long before we sent surge troops. and it was those concerned citizens. those sons of iraq, those heavens and hundreds of thousands who we paid, took on al qaeda, pushed them out, and changed the game. the troops were there. that's all wonderful. it was the awakening. what would you say to that? >> it was certainly important. it be begin before the surge forces. what i think is interesting about the question is that although we had an awakening inon bar, the question not why did it originate there one but why did it spread to other areas of iraq? i think we must understand that actually the surge of forces had much to do with why the onbar awakening got to be experted from ramadi into area such as baghdad or the areas south of baghdad that had also been al qaeda in iraq safe havens and
sanctuaries. i think there are several reasons why the surge of forces helped. first it was a distribute policy. general petraeus and general odierno to try to figure out how to bring that onbar model into areas where there were either multiple tribes or multiple steps. so they looked to that model and tried too figure out how to apply it. anded resource of the commanders on the ground so that if they found some sort of tribal connection that they felt would help the population turn against al qaeda, they could actually take advantage of that. second, our forces actually went in and protected areas. and of course it's really as our forces come in and start protecting people and change the way in which our enemies are thinking about the relative balance of power between al qaeda in iraq, and u.s. forces.
that we start to see some folks think that it would be in their interest to serve with the u.s. forces and against al qaeda in iraq. so in baghdad, and in southern iraq, what we find is the clearing operations and the holding operations that our forces undertook actually permitted some of the chase and community leaders to turn against al qaeda. and that the dynamic was very much troops first, shake second. >> host: because as you note in the book, january bar had risen up before. there are other tribes that attempted to rise up and take on al qaeda enemy that was becoming increasingly brutal in tactics. but i think it is laid out well how u.s. commanders short of saw that opportunity, i believe odierno went out and met with the tribal leader and did his best to expert this grassroots
movement. >> he did. general petraeus did, and general odierno also looked at what was going on in northern iraq. it was an alternative model. just to figure it out. >> host: i know there are some sons of iraq from the onbar. how did it get exported to the shiite and not just the sunni movement. >> there were, of course, areas where the militiases were intimidated the population. areas, for example, the east of -- just the east of baghdad where colonel wayne was working with mixed sunni and shiite populations. and trying to diminish the influence of these shiite militiases. she was able to it recruit shiite to serve will be the sons of iraq in order to protect the population against militiases. likewise, colonel mike garrick who was serving south. although it was predominantly
the sunni movement, because that was the area that had been most violent and most contested. what we saw was that anyone can participate, and that our commanders were quite flexible in trying to figure out who would work be them against the insurge. >> well, speaking of the shiite areas, al-sater gets the word. it might be be in my best interest to continue fighting. i'll head out and tell them to lay down their weapons. what -- first of all, that had a dramatic effect on the drop in violence. why if we take them on head on in the past. certainly can take them on conventionally. would the serve have been successful? >> that's a really great question. i think before we say that
al-aster had his militiases say down their arms, you have to understand two things. first, yes, he had his militiases lay down his -- lay down their arms. and there was a drop in violence. particularly in february and march as the shiite militiases tried to figure out what we were doing in baghdad. but the iranian backed groups who's membership overlapped with al-sater were still fighting the u.s. forces. and they were fighting as aggressive will with the formed projectiles in baghdad and the areas south of baghdad. one of the changes in policies that came with the surge that general petraeus and odierno enacted, we weren't going to go after al chi dpa in iraq. we were also going to go after shiite militias groups that did not lay down their arms. so they began to target friends
of al-sater. and the leaders of these iranian-backed group coming to arrest the main leader of the group and his brother who was responsible for killing u.s. soldiers south of baghdad in january 2007. and so it's the sustains campaign against these psi identity extremist that actually takes it so that al-sater doesn't have an a organization to turn to. and to capability to fight. and so as he loses that capability, and as he conducts some actions or actions that are attributed to him that really harm the population. the population slowly turns against him. when he lays down arms, it's hard because he doesn't really have the capacity to use force anymore. >> host: sure.
now the killing of sater is in the circle. we with kicked away a lot of the top nebraskas. to what extent does prime minister maliki -- that was an important moment in iraqi politics. the type of moment that we were hoping to induce is create the opportunities for political progress. and maliki stepped out, and became a little bit more aggressive. so what extent though in taking on was maliki involved in that. was that a u.s. effort that tugged him along? >> i think he was actually instrumental in the decision to take on al-sater. that policy was a policy change that really enabled him to do things that general casey and they could not do over the course of 2006. it's actually in november of
2006 that maliki makes the decision. he does so, because sater withdraws support from the government and pulling his party out of the parliaments. leaveing maliki in really quite a bad place. and leaveing him willing to it talk to and able to talk to the other shiite parties had had helped him became prime minister. and it's really an interesting, almost year-long process by which maliki becomes increasingly involved with the other shiite parties and the kurdish parties. and increasingly less dependent on al-sater. >> host: each reaching out to sunni. >> yes. and tolerating the suns of iraq. that was something that he was uncomfortable with early on. really as we goes into january and february of 2008, he's in a
very different position. he's in the position of strength. and he's also in the position of strength vis vis-a-vis the other party and the supreme counsel sill. he leveraged that by going after the remaining safe havens in sadder city. >> what is the effect of the surge. how dramatic is it once the surge left sadr city? >> i was in iraq late july of 2009. there was a day when there were zero attacks. i think that's quite impressive for those of us that saw 2007 when attack levels and violence
levels were so high that, you know, in an area like rasheed, there were 900 attacks in month, in the month of april and may. so we're going down to attack levels that are small. even though we see some attacks still conducted by al qaeda in iraq, the al qaeda in iraq network has been degrated if not dismantled. they no longer have the sanctuary area that they did in baghdad, in areas of north of baghdad, and even toward mosel that they had in 2007. that's because of the campaign that odierno law firmed to case al qaeda out of their safe havens and chase them in the farrest concerners of iraq. >> going forward, what do you think now being the greatest threat to iraq stability? the arab -- kurdish split in the
north? continuing violence? what threatens the future of iraq today? >> a lot of the future is in question because there's so much political debate within iraq about what the future of iraqi should look like. the good new is it has been political debate. there are political candidates who stand up and have a different decision and the votes on the platform and division. there's still room for attention. i think the arab with the attention or perhaps what we might say is some of the attention between the prime minister and the idea of centralized authority in iraq anded idea of research no, ma'am authorities in iraq. that's a question that is very fragile and that requires a great deal of attention. it's one that could go violent.
i know the commanders on the ground are worried about that. a return of al qaeda in iraq. they have support for the shiite and militiases groups. although they entered the group that the iranians have supported traditionally. they have entered into the political negotiations. they have the political future for that group. but that remains to be scene. i think a lot will hinge on the january 2010 when iraq sees the new parliament. that parliament chooses the next prime minister of iraq. what a great thing when we're talking about the politics of iraq rather than the battlefield. thankfully, due to the great work and planners of folks like yourself. but the effect of that is iraq short of dropped off the radar.
there isn't as much attention. they are drawn down. and most people in the united states see him on a glide path. the focus is snapping toward afghanistan. i know the book is about iraq, but certainly the principals and actions that were put into place successfully should be applicable to afghanistan. i know 7:a part of the assessment team. you sent four to five weeks shifting through the situation as it exists there. counterinsurgency is indeed a set of principals. as many have made very clear, the situation is dependent everywhere you go it's going to be dynamic situation. how do you see the principals in iraq applying that you laid out militarily in this book applying to fight in afghanistan? >> let's start we recognizing
sort of the important differences between iraq and afghanistan. first that the unsurge si in iraq was urban insurgency. the insurgency in afghanistan is primarily rural. and, in fact, afghanistan's population is largely rural. and, of course, the complexity of the tribal slips within afghanistan make most areas look homogenous. all of that said, there are so many similarities. because what we have in afghanistan is an insurgency, an expression of violence against the government of afghanistan. if we look at the conditions on the ground, i talk the way in different areas of iraq have to adapt. the first thing that we know is that it's vital to protect the population.
that doesn't change if we are operating in a rural area, compared to an urban area. >> have you done that? >> no, we haven't done that very large in afghanistan. there are small units and places where that's been done. but sadly, i think the taliban in the south have been able to intimidate through the threat of the use of force. we have not been able to protect the locals against the threat of the worse. the difference that the taliban in afghanistan is not conducting violence attacks against civilians casualties than presumably having learned some lessons from iraq.
it's probably going to take forces that are going to take an important change. the second thing that we haven't done that we did successfully in iraq is partner our units, american forces, coalition forces in this case with the afghanistan national army. what we see in afghanistan although the army units have training teams with them, we don't see the same kind of day day-to-day partnership that our units in iraq had. whenever i went to iraq, i would visit any unit brigade, battalion, even a company level, i met their iraqi partners. i don't have that same in afghanistan. so it's vital that we start connecting operations side by side with the afghan national army. so that they become as effective as quickly as possible. so we grow the army.
are there enough members? a key component of iraq is while we were suppresses is partner with the iraq forces, they were stepping into the neighborhood. there were 500,000 plus members of the iraq for security forces. i know there aren't that many in afghanistan. are we on our way to get willing? >> that will require a change of policy. i think that commanders on the ground are trying to surge to 134,000 afghan national army soldiers by end of 2011 at latest. that's really a fraction of what a country of that -- it's a fraction of what that country needs. because it's much larger than iraq. but we haven't really had that afghan surge.
it is an amazing part of the iraq story that the iraq forces really did surge in number and change in quality. and it's something that we at institute for the study of war have studied. and general dubik who was the demander -- commander of the training in iraq, recently written about. that's posted on our web site, moreunderstanding.org. we have to search the afghan security forces in order to make sure that there are enough. we haven't done that yet. >> host: that's a new point. understandingwar.org. which is your web site. you're doing work as we speak on afghanistan. which remains relevant. just as the work that you did contributing to iraq was relevant at the time and history. enough troops. >> no, probably not. >> i think -- >> how many do we need? >> that i don't know. i'm thankful that they have a team that's assessing the very technical requirements for how
many troops do we need in order to secure the key population areas? i think what we saw in iraq is very telling. that there is a relationship between how many grew from and how secure an area is. and we made a mistake in our iraq strategy in 2004, 2005, and 2006 by thinking that u.s. forces because they were foreigners were anti-bodies to the iraqis. and that they were reject them. what's important here is that the -- that was u.s. forces and the coalition force that is are on the ground are actually doing something for the people of afghanistan and iraq. actually securing them. and so we really need to get some greater force density in some important areas. and presumably general mcchrystal to make that recommendation. >> we have two more minutes.
not an easy one to answer. i'm not presuming that we won in iraq. but we are on a path to successful conclusion there. can we win in afghanistan the same way that we can win in iraq. >> i do think that we can win in afghanistan. because what we are facing is an insurgency. and it is the challenge no doubt. because we have to make sure that the population feels safe and secure. and ensure as we did in iraq that the government can function well. that it provides to its people the key services of governance, security, for one justice for another. and i think that that's something that we've known that we can do. it takes time, it takes patience, it take the the enormous skillset of the american officers and soldiers who are serving. and ultimately, of course, it takes just enough luck to make everything work out in the timely fashion. >> host: well, kim,