Lt. Col. Scott  Rutter

Thus, the decision by President Bush to send in 21, 000 more troops is both with and without merit. Why? Because, we have little idea how those 21,000 troops will change the tide of perception. We have not been told that our fighting tactics have changed. We have not been informed about how the U.S. and Iraqi government will stem the tide of Iranians and other extremists coming into Iraq to join the fight. We don’t know how the military role will change. The game plan is unclear, and changes in tactics and strategy have not been included in the public form as an element of this new way forward.

Sending 21,000 more troops to Iraq is clearly an arbitrary number. It could have been 50,000 or more, we don’t know how that number was determined. But what is clear is that sending more troops is an opportunity to set a new course for the direction of the fighting. During the initial phase, Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF 1), there was total focus on destruction of the Regime of Saddam Hussein. We fought hard, aggressively and with limited emotion. I can even remember when a brave soldier was killed in our unit, we waited to have his memorial service—protecting the psyche of the young soldiers, so they would not get mired in the incredible emotions of the moment. That may seem blasphemous and insensitive, but we were fighting a war—life or death. We were determined to beat the enemy, and the more we killed, the faster we would beat him.

We must return to this mindset. While discarding all rules of engagement would be harmful, it is time that the U.S. military focus on winning, place a hiatus on nation building. The U.S. must use every tactic and technology to fight this war and provide support to the Iraqi military. If a lineup was put together of 10 Iraqi men, most American soldiers would be hard pressed to figure out which one was an innocent civilian and which was an “insurgent.” If that lineup included five American soldiers, it would be easy to pick them out. It is time for the U.S. to use deception and aggression to fight an enemy that has no regard for the sanctity of human life. We must upset the balance of their operations, disrupt the supply lines, and prepare each battlefield with reconnaissance elements that blend in with the local community. We cannot do this alone, but together with the Iraqi Army and local community, this can be done.

The risks are great as we turn down this new course. There may be confusion and many civilians killed in the process. When we look back at our history, the great military successes in American history reside in the war of two great armies, clearly identified and playing by the same set of rules. In the 21st century, we should be reminded that there will never be another war like the American Revolution. The enemy will not wear red and stand in straight lines. The enemy lurks in every building, in the marketplace, in the schools, and behind women and children. If we don’t learn to fight this kind of war, our loss in Iraq will only be the first. The global War on Terror requires that we alter this equation and calculate a new solution to win.


Lt. Col. Scott Rutter

Silver Star Recipient Lt. Col. Scott Rutter commanded the 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry, capturing Baghdad International Airport during the combat phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Lt. Col. Rutter is a frequent speaker for Young America's Foundation on college campuses across the country. You can listen to their podcasts here.

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