US counterinsurgency expert: Israel can raise awareness of threat of premature Iraq pullout
Lt.-Col. (ret.) John Nagl to 'Post': "A precipitated American withdrawal could be a catastrophe."
By YAAKOV KATZ
Israel could play a larger role in raising awareness of the threats that lie in a potential premature US withdrawal from Iraq, one of the authors of the American military's counterinsurgency field manual said last week.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post ahead of his first visit to Israel on Sunday, Lt.-Col. (ret.) John Nagl said that Israel could be helpful in explaining its perspective on the potential threats that will accompany a US withdrawal from Iraq.
Last year, the IDF designated Iraq as a threat that could develop over the next decade following a US withdrawal. Israel is concerned that, following a withdrawal, Iran will try to solidify its control over Iraq, a move that could lead to Sunni-Shi'ite fighting and possible regional instability.
"A precipitated American withdrawal could be a catastrophe for the people of Iraq, the region and the US," Nagl said in a phone interview from his home in Washington DC. "That is why it is very likely in my eyes that an American commitment to the security of Iraq will be required for a number of years - [likely] in an advisory commitment capacity and as a counter-terror commitment."
Nagl is coming to Israel to speak at a conference hosted by the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies called "Counterinsurgency and the Challenge of Global Terrorism." He is currently a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and, according to several media reports, is a possible candidate for a mid-level political position in the Pentagon.
Based on the counterinsurgency manual written by Nagl and other officers, the US implemented the plan called the "surge" in Iraq which saw the deployment of tens of thousands of additional soldiers but also the establishment of joint US-Iraqi security stations. The manual work was led by Gen. David Petraeus, current commander of the US Central Command.
"There are respected voices that could be heard and we are not hearing that this is in everyone's interest - getting a regional perspective what it means to have Iraq that is stable," he said.
Nagl said that the IDF's current plan of allowing US-trained Palestinian forces to deploy in West Bank towns was in line with the surge plan.
"Counterinsurgency is rarely won by foreign forces," he said. "The troops of the host nation - in this case the Palestinians - have a greater degree of credibility that the foreign forces almost never achieve."
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