LEARNING TO ADAPT: A big

LEARNING TO ADAPT: A big meme last week was that the Iraqi’s unconventional tactics surprised Rumsfeld et al (although these corrections suggest that maybe they weren’t that surprised). My guess is that next week’s meme will be about how coalition forces are adapting to these adaptations. This story suggests that coalition forces are quickly moving ...

By , a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast.

LEARNING TO ADAPT: A big meme last week was that the Iraqi's unconventional tactics surprised Rumsfeld et al (although these corrections suggest that maybe they weren't that surprised). My guess is that next week's meme will be about how coalition forces are adapting to these adaptations. This story suggests that coalition forces are quickly moving down the learning curve in Basra: "United States forces, preparing to invade Baghdad, praised 'impressive' British tactics. 'In Baghdad, we will definitely use a lot of the effective techniques and utilise some of the larger strategic lessons we learned in the British efforts over Basra,' a senior military official said. Two examples of unusual yet successful soldiering in the past two days have drawn admiration from US Central Command operations chiefs. British 7th Armoured Brigade troops - the Desert Rats - deliberately allowed residents to loot a Baath Party headquarters near Basra within minutes of the office's capture and search. 'Normally we would stop looting because it's a sign that things have got out of control and that law and order has broken down,' said Captain Alex Cartwright. 'But in this case we decided that to allow it would send a powerful message: that we are in control now, not the Baath Party.' In another incident, when an Iraqi colonel was fatally shot in his vehicle, British troops found a thick wad of cash. Instead of handing it in to officers, the troops decided to dole the cash out to local youngsters."

LEARNING TO ADAPT: A big meme last week was that the Iraqi’s unconventional tactics surprised Rumsfeld et al (although these corrections suggest that maybe they weren’t that surprised). My guess is that next week’s meme will be about how coalition forces are adapting to these adaptations. This story suggests that coalition forces are quickly moving down the learning curve in Basra: “United States forces, preparing to invade Baghdad, praised ‘impressive’ British tactics. ‘In Baghdad, we will definitely use a lot of the effective techniques and utilise some of the larger strategic lessons we learned in the British efforts over Basra,’ a senior military official said. Two examples of unusual yet successful soldiering in the past two days have drawn admiration from US Central Command operations chiefs. British 7th Armoured Brigade troops – the Desert Rats – deliberately allowed residents to loot a Baath Party headquarters near Basra within minutes of the office’s capture and search. ‘Normally we would stop looting because it’s a sign that things have got out of control and that law and order has broken down,’ said Captain Alex Cartwright. ‘But in this case we decided that to allow it would send a powerful message: that we are in control now, not the Baath Party.’ In another incident, when an Iraqi colonel was fatally shot in his vehicle, British troops found a thick wad of cash. Instead of handing it in to officers, the troops decided to dole the cash out to local youngsters.”

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner

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