Unlike the final report released by the Iraq Study Group (ISG), which called on the U.S. to shift primary anti-insurgency efforts to the Iraqi Government, the Plan released by the American Enterprise Institue’s Iraq Planning Group recommended a much more direct and forceful approach: an immediate counter-insurgency effort known as “clear, hold, build.” This strategy has already been used with success in some areas of Iraq, but a lack of adequate troops caused the plan to fail when it was first deployed in Baghdad in Operations Forward Together I and II. Other than this failure in Baghdad, which had little to do with the plan itself and more to do with the execution of the plan, the “clear, hold, build” strategy has been extremely effective.
“Clear, Hold, Build” takes place in for phases, each one critical to the success. Here is how it works:
- Phase I is mainly preparation. This phase will begin upon the President’s announcement of the strategy and ends once all necessary forces and equipment are on the ground in Iraq.
- Phase II is centered around intelligence building, American and Iraqi forces already in Baghdad would gather intelligence on the enemy in the area about to be cleared, including the estimated strength and size of the enemy. This information is then passed to the American forces who will be involved in the operation.
- Phase III, also known as “clear” will begin the actual military operation. This section will require American forces, aided by Iraqi troops, to cordon off sections of Baghdad, using roadblocks, checkpoints, and other means.Troops will then move block by block, house by house, searching for weapons and other illegal activities. Munitions will be seized and those possessing them will be arrested. Once every building has been cleared, the operation will move to the fourth and final phase.
- Phase IV, also known as “hold and build” is the final phase in a successful execution of the “clear, hold, build” strategy. Once every building has been cleared, American troops will take up residence in temporary military headquarters, disguised as civilian buildings. American troops, once again aided by Iraqis will work to gain the trust and respect of th local populations. Finally, the forces on the ground will work to restore basic services, namely Sewer, Water, Electricity, and Trash removal. American forces will remain in all cleared neighborhoods, keeping the area secure until Iraqi forces are able to take over and hold the areas by themselves.
More information on this strategy can be found in the AEI’s report, titled “Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq.” See my previous post for a link to the report’s website.