Frederick Kagan: Says US is undermining the Mahdi militia





... Lt. Gen. William E. Odom (Ret.), who advanced counterinsurgency efforts nearly 40 years ago in Vietnam, is wary of the silence.

“Sure, those guys are going to get out of the line of fire,” he said of the Mahdi. "They'll wait and see what happens and then design a way to come back and attack the U.S. position with tactics more favorable to them.”

Yet the calm in Sadr City it is the first sign of an unofficial, albeit uneasy truce between the U.S military and the militia that first attacked American positions in 2004. Frederick Kagan, a military expert with the American Enterprise Institute who authored a blueprint for the surge into Baghdad earlier this year, said the latest sequence of events may be cause for optimism.
“We have not been allowing (the al-Mahdi Army) to lay low. We have been picking off the leaders in their senior organization. We have established a joint security station" in Sadr City, he said. “That means we are operating on their home turf and tripping their networks.”...

Kagan said he believes al-Sadr is losing face with his people by not being there, creating opportunities for Shiite leaders who are more amenable to working with the central government and the United States....

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