Patterico's Pontifications


How to Win in Anbar: An Idea with Proven Results

Filed under: General,Real Life,Terrorism,War — Patterico @ 9:18 pm

You want an idea about how we can win the war?

There’s one here. It’s a Power Point presentation . . . with stick figures. And it’s very powerful. (Via Allah.)

The creator of the presentation was Captain Travis Patriquin, who died with Maj. McClung. (I linked Michael Fumento earlier but will link the same post again here. He has more on Captain Patriquin in his post, and you should read it.)

I’ll let you in on a big part of the secret: cooperate with local sheiks who want to work with us.

Here’s the thing: it’s not just a good idea. It actually works.

For proof, I’m going to turn over the mike to Teflon Don of Acute Politics, who tells us that this approach is actually being used — and it’s working:

A local sheik came to the Army unit in charge of the sector he lived in, announced his desire to fight the insurgents, and asked for help in doing so. He was received with some healthy skepticism- many people in this part of the world will say whatever they think you want to hear in order to profit from you. To demonstrate his commitment, he organized his militia and began to attempt to quell some of the violence in the sector. Within days, indirect fire attacks against US bases from his area dropped to nearly zero over the next three weeks, from a former rate of multiple attacks per day. IED attacks and other insurgent activity was also down. By all appearances, this sheik was a legitimately good guy, stepping forward and doing his best to bring peace to Ramadi. Those appearances were confirmed three days ago when the local insurgents mounted an all out campaign to kill or humiliate the sheik, his family, and as many of his fighters as they could find.

The sheik got the help he had asked for before he began his pro-government activities. Coalition operations are still ongoing, so I’ll leave it to the news to reveal the details (if they deign to do so). Suffice it to say that we grabbed some very bad men, found some bombs and some arms caches, and generally repaid the favor he did us. The military has failed both allies of chance and longstanding friends in conflicts past. This time, I was proud to see we did the right thing.

As Teflon Don has said elsewhere:

If “Stay the course” isn’t the answer, neither is “Set your course across the Atlantic”.

Amen, brother. Captain Travis Patriquin had an idea that just might work. In fact, Teflon Don’s post shows that it can work.

I hope Captain Patriquin’s idea doesn’t die with him.

22 Responses to “How to Win in Anbar: An Idea with Proven Results”

  1. […] Update: Patterico points to a milblogger who says Patriquin’s idea works. […]

    Hot Air » Blog Archive » Powerpoint: How to win in Anbar Province in 18 easy steps (d4224a)

  2. Alaa, the blogger, agrees with you and the major. He’s had several interesting posts on the subject.

    Patricia (824fa1)

  3. Propping up the local hereditary leaders seems like the exact opposite to bringing democracy to Iraq.

    We should have held local elections before the national elections…

    Neville Chamberlain (80a4fa)

  4. The “CPT’s idea” is not a new idea. It is the sort of thing that we do all over the world. What do you think EUCOM CAT teams do when the respond to a random third world bruhaha? They fly in with greenbacks, figure out who to bribe and get to it. The CPT’s idea may have benefit. I’m not sure if it is sufficient, though, to achieve our aims (I don’t think we will acheive our aims…so we need to start reducing them…and figuring out how to get out in the least bad manner.)

    That you see this as a new idea, are not aware of it as an option, 3.5 years into the war, troubles me. It shows that you have no feeling for the possibilities. Have a typical American naivete and failure to gather intelligence and do analysis.

    The stupid shall be punished. We’re getting hammered. Do the math.

    TCO (5e2e67)

  5. That you see this as a new idea, are not aware of it as an option, 3.5 years into the war, troubles me. It shows that you have no feeling for the possibilities.

    No, the point is that we have not been doing it — 3.5 years into the war. But it looks like we’re starting to, and that seems to be a good thing.

    Patterico (de0616)

  6. Captain Patriquin has read Colonel Nagl’s book. Too bad Bremer didn’t. I just wish Jay Garner would write one so I could figure out why he was dismissed and Bremer came in. Garner was highly successful with the Kurds and has recently described a program that sounds a lot better than what we have been doing.

    Mike K (416363)

  7. TCO:
    Huh? This tight interaction with the locals has been going on for a while now. The point of the blog post was “it was a good day”, not “Hey, check out this new concept!”

    Go over to Michael Yon’s site and start reading the archives. The interaction with the locals, both religious and secular, have been a big focus of the military effort almost from the get-go.

    Darkmage (4de99c)

  8. 7. Agreed, that we have been doing it. It’s an obvious concept. Like I said EUCOM teams do this all the time. Heck JTF relief forces do this. (Although it’s a lot easier to figure out who to b**be if you know the language and the history and the players.)

    I know Yon’s site. If Yon were discussing this it would be in a context of familiarity with the concept. On this site we have:

    “You want an idea about how we can win the war?

    There’s one here…” headlining the discussion.

    And then the post does not refer to earlier discussion by Patterico of this concept. Does not refer to the plusses and minuses of b**bing tribal leaders, etc.

    My case still stands, that we lack sophistication. State and CIA are full of second-raters. The 1000-man US embassy in Iraq has 6 fluent Arabic speakers? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!? The Chair of the House Intel committee does not understand that Sunni is orthodox in Islam? I don’t have a problem with us being stupid. We just shouldn’t be surprised if we get our fingers jammed in the door for beind stupid. Heck, we should just avoid doors (nation-building).

    TCO (5e2e67)

  9. Part of the problem with language skills is the attitude of middle east studies programs that are opposed to anything we do there and which teach anti-Americanism instead of Arabic to DoD folks who need it. The Harvard prof who taught Abizaid was punished for taking money from the government. We should take the money that goes to these programs and expand the Defense Language Institute. When the FBI had wiretaps on an Arab speaking group in California, who did they get to listen and translate ? Two Special Forces sergeants. It’s in Kaplan’s book, Imperial Grunts. We had better start building these skills. We will need them badly.

    Mike K (6d4fc3)

  10. Americans have a long history of lousy language skills (not just Arabic) in roles (intel, diplomacy) where it would benefit them. 3.5 years post invasion and 5 years post 9-11, there has been plenty of time to get suitable instruction arranged. We are not talking Navaho code talkers here. We are (as usual) lazy and low-standard on this issue.

    TCO (5e2e67)

  11. Look at that, realism works.

    actus (bb04e2)

  12. Well now let’s see. TCO says: “…typical American naivete and failure to gather intelligence and do analysis…The stupid will be punished…We are getting hammered…we lack sophistication…State and CIA full of second-raters…I don’t have a problem with us being stupid…we should just avoid(nation building)…We are (as usual) lazy and low-standard on this issue.” Gosh Mr. Science, why don’t you tell us what to do now instead of just insulting us. A superior being such as you (are you French?) could afford, couldn’t he, to help us out a little? But please be specific though, there are too many generalists out there as it is. You know, lazy, naive, stupid, unsophisticated, second-rated Americans.

    Fred Beloit (a6b662)

  13. Fred:

    1. Don’t get your feathers ruffled. “The more you sweat in peace, the less you die in war.”

    2. I don’t want to give you a plan as I think you (or leadership) learn more from trying to think through how to solve problems yourselves, then if you are handed everything as step by step procedure. But seriously, we are not talking rocket science here. This is a management problem that any leader should be able to develop and execute (improving a competency of an organization).

    3. Uno specifico: 100% of the US embassy in Iraq should have a working Arabic proficiency. All outward facing personell and all analysts (need to be able to soak in the culture) should have fluency. It’s been 3.5 years! We did not just fly in! And there was a long build up before the war! And we got hit on 9-11, 2001! Plenty of time to train people. And if the existing numskulls are too dumb to pick things up, plenty of time to pay the $$ and hire better people.

    4. This is an existing problem, noted throughout the Cold War, and something that other countries do better at. You (we) CAN do better.

    TCO (7f1fd5)

  14. The marine corps has been working closely with the “sheiks” in Husaybah/al Qaim for over a year now, and violence has dropped drastically. What the marines have done there is supposed to be the model for dealing with al Qaeda in all of al Anbar

    senorlechero (360f45)

  15. […]      This has been a rough couple of weeks.  A week ago Tuesday, we got word that an F-16CG had crashed in Iraq, and the pilot, Maj Troy Gilbert, was officially listed as "Duty Status – Whereabouts Unknown."  As I checked the news this morning, I saw that they’d finally listed him as KIA.  I didn’t know Troy very well, I only ran into him a handful of times this past summer at Luke AFB when I was in the TX course.  He was Gen Rand’s executive officer or director of staff, something like that.  I had to coordinate with him the one time I flew with the General.  He was a decent guy and a brother Viper driver, and for those reasons alone we in the F-16 community will miss him.  He is survived by his wife and five children.      The big, bad surprise was when I phoned home this morning and my Mom asked "Did you know CPT Travis Patriquin?" I immediately knew what had to have happened.  Travis was killed a day and a half ago fighting in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, he was in a HMMWV that was hit by an IED.  He is survived by his wife and three children.  I confirmed the news via a friend who was close to the scene.      Travis and I were stationed in Friedberg, Germany together, he was S-3 (Operations Plans) and I was the Air Liaison Officer for the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division.  Travis had just left Special Forces, and had participated in Operation ANACONDA in Afghanistan in 2002.  When I found that out, I mentioned a couple of my buddies had flown missions there; he told me that if I pointed them out to him, they’d never buy drinks as long as he was around.      Travis and I went through several pre-deployment exercises together, including at least one at Hohenfels and one at Grafenwoehr.  After talking with him for awhile, we learned that we grew up about two miles away from one another, so there we were in the middle of the training areas in Germany, 5,000 miles from St Louis, talking about our adjoining school districts’ rivalries.  He moved over from the S-3 shop before the Hohenfels rotation to take over S-5 (Civil Affairs) from my other buddy Paul M.  He stuck with that job downrange.  I’ll include some links to various articles about him at the end of the post.     I don’t meet very many people who impress me very much anymore.  Travis was one of those few.      Shortly before the brigade departed for Iraq, Travis and I spoke to one another for awhile.  The thing I’ll remember most is when he explained that having been special forces, he could ‘Stare down’ almost any other Army officer, especially in an armored unit.  He apparently was making it a point to size up everyone else around him when he arrived in Friedberg.  He wouldn’t tell everyone what he’d been doing before arriving in Germany, he just liked to keep it his own private secret that he had been special forces, while all the other folks around him were ordinary "Ground-pounders."  He said he remembered introducing himself to my deputy "Tank" and me, and asking what we did.  He said his ego quickly deflated when he found out Tank and I were fighter pilots!      Travis may not have been a fighter pilot, but he was a warrior of another sort.  He may not have had the eyes of a hawk and the reflexes of a cat.  But like a fighter pilot, he had the moxie to look for a career path that would intentionally put him into harms’ way a long way from home with only a handful of his buddies to fight their way in and fight their way out, the guts to do it, and the patriotism to love doing it.      Rest well, brothers! You’ve done everything you could for us.  I hope to carry the torch as well as you did.  **********    Links to relevant articles:  An Army of Run (by Benjamin Cheever in Runners’ World), Return to Ramadi (by Michael Fumento in The Weekly Standard), and ********** 11 Dec 2006 Update:   I deleted a link to a news clip from the Chicago Sun and replaced it with one from Stars & Stripes.  For any visitors after this date, it will be transparent.  New Links:, good writeup, interview with the family.  KSDK, shorter writeup.  Randuwa, superb words, thanks! Chicago Tribune, decent writeup.  ********** 13 Dec 2006 Update:  More for Travis:  BLACKFIVE (recommend you scroll down and check out Travis’ PowerPoint show about Ramadi).  Michael Fumento (contains some detail of the IED attack).  Michelle Malkin (quick photo of Travis’ Desk)  See the comments section for this entry, too.  Thanks, Daniel and Matthew; you have company in your grief, from Ramadi to Germany to Japan to St Louis; the Good Lord only knows where else! **********14 Dec 2006 Update:  More on Travis:  Cop The Truth, thanks!  Shreveport Times (Great city, a bunch of us went there after flying into Barksdale on our T-37 cross-country flight).  Patterico’s Pontifications, great stuff, with links to other good milblogs.  American Heroes’ Memorial post.  DefenseLink.  USA Today.  ********** […]

    Chris Penningroth’s Weltanschauung » Blog Archive » A Short Memorial to Two Fallen Brothers (5294be)

  16. […] I’m not prepared to jump on the party train just yet, as I don’t think things are going as well in Iraq as they could or should be. However, I think Donelson’s observations suggest something important here: measuring success in Iraq by the institution of a highly centralized government, instead of the success of people at the individual level is highly suspect. Allowing people to govern themselves at the local and regional level seems to promise greater rewards in the long (and possible near) term, as it likely based on the ingrained cultural norms that offer a trusted means of living and working together without the outside influence of a Baghdad government, much less a coalition-backed government. [UPDATE: See, e.g., this proposal for winning the War (via Patterico)] If security can be provided from outside forces long enough to allow local councils, etc. to develop, maybe success in Iraq is more obtainable than appears at first blush. Certainly the facts on the ground regarding Iraq’s economy challenge the presumption that establishment of a centralized government is what’s necessary right now, since it would appear that the economy is the one thing with which the government (as it is) has very little hand, and it’s thriving! […]

    A Second Hand Conjecture » A Question On “Winning” The War (f55714)

  17. Captain Travis Patriquin – “An American Martyr”…

    RE: Blackfive – Great in the Woods – Godspeed Captain Travis Patriquin (December 11, 2006) RE: Patterico – How to Win in Anbar: An Idea with Proven Results (December 11, 2006) RE: Michelle Malkin – The Patriquin Plan–now in video…

    BLACKFIVE (72c8fd)

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    basset hound (ead634)

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