|Major Bob Bevelacqua|
The recent onslaught of car bombing attacks and suicide bombers in Iraq has many military planners in strategic think tanks scratching their heads. First and foremost, we must recognize this tactic is nothing new, Al Qaeda did not invent them; a brief review of history in the Middle East puts this argument to rest. The issue of stopping, reducing or protecting us against these attacks rests squarely on the shoulders of the communities that allow them to happen.
|" The key to success in Iraq is embracing the Iraqi population, winning their hearts and minds and in effect, putting us out of a job. "|
Securing a neighborhood is not the responsibility of the police or military; it is the responsibility of the civilians that inhabit it. What makes a suicide attacker so effective? His ability to assemble the device, select a target and deliver the device to the target while operating in and amongst the civilian population. Imagine what would happen if every civilian acted like the passengers on Flight 93 or the plane that the ‘shoe bomber’ was on? This method of using the civilian populous to create a stable and secure environment is nothing new either – just ask the men at the Special Forces Warfare School at Ft. Bragg.
The key to success in Iraq is embracing the Iraqi population, winning their hearts and minds, and in effect, putting us out of a job. One of the strongest weapons in the Special Forces arsenal is their ability to understand and use cross cultural communication skills – not just language, but appreciating the culture and using it to gain a tactical advantage. There exists in Iraq a tribal system that is as old as the Book of Genesis. What is the one true power that has withstood the test of time, tyrants and war? The sheiks of Iraq. The sheiks command the respect of their people because they provide protection, solace, financial support, and love. For this the sheiks are rewarded with a value that you can’t buy from or force on people — it's called loyalty. If we win the support of the sheiks and leverage the powerful influence they have over their own people, suicide attackers, Al Qaeda operatives, Saddam loyalists and any other would-be assailants would have an extremely hard time operating in Iraq. Every street corner would have eyes, every warehouse, bridge, and oil pipeline would be under observation. Not by a guard wearing a uniform, but rather a loyal subject to their sheik. Is this hard to understand or even believe? Sure it is. That is because we do not understand the Middle Eastern culture or their mindset. That's the crux of our problem in Iraq and the Middle East.
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Major Bob Bevelacqua is a former U.S. Army Green Beret who works with the WVC3 Group in Reston, Va., an elite security group that provides homeland security services, support, and technologies to government and commercial clients.
Bevelacqua has a 17-year history of worldwide military experience, including combat in the Gulf War; riot control during the L.A. riots; a peacekeeping mission in Haiti, security assistance missions in West African countries; and numerous anti-drug missions on the U.S. border with Mexico.