Kagan: The surge is working

Not Fred Kagan, the AEI scholar who co-authored the surge strategy on which the military’s own plan is based, but Robert Kagan, author and WaPo columnist. There’s not much new here and arguments can certainly be made the other way, but it’s getting some buzz around the ‘sphere and good news is always welcome. So here you go. Sample:

A greater sense of confidence produces many benefits. The number of security tips about insurgents that Iraqi civilians provide has jumped sharply. Stores and marketplaces are reopening in Baghdad, increasing the sense of community. People dislocated by sectarian violence are returning to their homes. As a result, “many Baghdadis feel hopeful again about the future, and the fear of civil war is slowly being replaced by optimism that peace might one day return to this city,” the Fadhils report. “This change in mood is something huge by itself.”

On the flip side, more stuff that we already know:

The US army is lagging behind Iraq’s insurgents tactically in a war that senior officers say is the biggest challenge since Korea 50 years ago…

In Vietnam, the US was eventually defeated by a well-armed, closely directed and highly militarised society that had tanks, armoured vehicles and sources of both military production and outside procurement. What is more devastating now is that the world’s only superpower is in danger of being driven back by a few tens of thousands of lightly armed irregulars, who have developed tactics capable of destroying multimillion-dollar vehicles and aircraft…

The military is also hampered in its attempts to break up insurgent groups because of their ‘flat’ command structure within collaborative networks of small groups, making it difficult to target any hierarchy within the insurgency…

The remarks were made by senior US generals speaking at the Association of the US Army meeting at Fort Lauderdale in Florida and in conversations with The Observer. The generals view the ‘war on terror’ as the most important test of America’s soldiers in 50 years…

Other officers said coalition rules of engagement were being used against the forces fighting the insurgency. ‘They know when we can and cannot shoot, and use that against us,’ said one officer, reflecting the comments of US soldiers in the field. Another said recent video footage of an ambush on a convoy, posted on the internet, was evidence that insurgents were filming incidents to teach other groups about American counter-measures.

Update: 58 killed in attacks today, including 31 in a car bomb in Baghdad.