Putting counterinsurgency into practice

The World

Shrout is sitting in a long tent with a dozen Iraqi sheikhs. For an hour the sheikhs stand up and make statements thanking Shrout as the de facto governor of this region. What’s a bit strange is that some of these men were probably in on the attempt to kill Shrout a few months ago. This meeting is an attempt to bring the region under control. Shrout tell the sheikhs they are the key. Many of these men are the leaders of Sunni militias that have been on the U.S. payroll. Some of them are essentially former insurgents being paid not to fight. Shrout talks about some of the unintended side effects of paying these insurgents: we had reports of them being in warfare with each other based on greed over the money. Shrout and his cohorts quickly identified Sunni leaders who they say tried to turn the militias into a kind of mafia. In particular one man and his men were starting a smaller government which ran under the Iraqi government in the region, and Shrout started shifting resources away from the man, which prevented the fighters from operating outside their boundaries. This action resulted in direct fire on the U.S. company during a meeting with the Iraqi sheikhs. A U.S. solder killed the Iraqi assailant, but not after six American men shot and two were killed. The entire incident took about 20 minutes. Shrout was ready for vengeance afterwards. Shrout’s officers called him down, quoting the doctrine of counterinsurgency. They engaged in a long investigation which led to several arrests and the dismantling of a criminal organization. The corrupt sheikh’s coalition crumbled and the remaining sheikhs have decided that cooperation is easier than fronting the Americans. The sheikhs explain they’re ready now to cooperate with American reconstruction contracts, but all these contracts are now in the process of being transferred to the Iraqi government. Shrout has encouraged the leaders to start working with the Iraqi government. It’s still not clear they’ve accepted his advice.

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