Mar 1 at 3:03pm by David Tate
Ok… I can’t take it anymore. Surge this, surge that. Whatever. Ever since the surge of 2007, as the Battle of Baghdad was raging, the media has had a penchant for this word and it is making me dizzy.
Let us get this straight because history needs to know what is, and what isn’t, a military surge. The media is back with this darling of a word and I’m going to get them to make this right.
surge |sərj|noun - a sudden powerful forward or upward movement, esp. by a crowd or by a natural force such as the waves or tide : flooding caused by tidal surges.• a sudden large increase, typically a brief one that happens during an otherwise stable or quiescent period.
Simple as that: ”A sudden large increase, typically a brief one that happens during an otherwise stable or quiescent period.”
The fact is, in regards to military surges, there have been three large scale surges, in either Afghanistan or Iraq, since either war began. What we face today in Afghanistan 2009, is actually an escalation and it needs to be recognized as such.
escalate |ˈeskəˌlāt|verb [ intrans. ]increase rapidly : the price of tickets escalated | [as adj. ] ( escalating) the escalating cost of health care.• become or cause to become more intense or serious : [ intrans. ] the disturbance escalated into a full-scale riot | [ trans. ] we do not want to escalate the war.
Surge of 2004
The first true surge during the war in Iraq and Afghanistan came in spring 2004 in Afghanistan. At that time, the coalition was struggling to get security into place for the upcoming election, which would be Afghanistan’s first, free presidential election in its history.
One province that had seen no real coalition presence was the south central Taliban hub or Oruzgan Province; a major opium producing region that is the birth place of AQ #2 Mullah Omar himself.
US Marines from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) landed there in early March, continuing military operations (and northern Kandahar Province) through the month of July. When the Marines left, they were replaced by an Army unit that was already in country, which started the process of turning it into the Provincial Reconstruction Team, as well as the center of operations for the Dutch-led task force, TF Oruzgan.
22nd MEU was in Afghanistan for roughly six months before being pulled out and not replaced by an additional unit, qualifying this event as a surge.
Surge of 2007
In early 2007, President Bush announced his intention to launch a surge into the war in Iraq that would prove to be the death blow for Al Qaeda in Iraq during the pivotal Battle for Baghdad that had been underway for some time. The surge he ordered would see the troop numbers swell 30,000 to more than 160,000 troops, a wartime high.
At least 10,000 of those troops had extended tours of 15 months and were not replaced once those tours were up. I would qualify this as a sustained surge, because the fact is, post-surge levels are at 150,000, down just 12,000. Subtract that from the 30,000 surge and you see what was replaced. That number is now shrinking daily as the US finally shifts focus to Afghanistan.
Surge of 2008
In late spring of 2008, the 24th MEU landed in Kandahar and launched a massive assault on the Taliban’s logistic base, Garmsir, in the southern Helmand River Valley. After almost five straight weeks of fighting, the battle slowed, as frontlines set in and many of the regions residents returned to their homes and bringing life back to the pivotal District Center.
When the Marines were pulled out of southern Helmand, they were relieved in place (RIP) by British and Afghan forces as USMC 2/7 continued to set the foundation for the Special Purpose Marine Air/Ground Task Force (SPMAGTF) which is currently in place.
Why This is Now an Escalation Phase
Once additional Marines (2/7) augmented the 24th MEU (surge force), this conflict escalated in troop numbers which set the American level at a wartime high of 33,000. This force eventually became the SPMAGTF.
3/2 Marines are currently preparing a prolonged RIP with the current combat element of the the task force, 3/8 Marines, which will sustain the Marine presence in Helmand and Farah Provinces.
With President Obama’s authorization of 17,000 additional troops, plans are now underway to send the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB), which will permanently add approximately 8,ooo additional Marines to the mix currently fighting in southern Afghanistan.
Surge of 2009?
The surge of 2009 is the addition of troops that are coming in relation to the August election. For instance: Germany is sending an additional 600 troops in time for the election. If those troops are pulled after the election, those troops would be “surge” troops.
Currently, the 22nd MEU is once again out and about, cruising around the world to a destination(s) unknown. The current good odds bet on my chart would see the 22nd MEU landing in Helmand Province for a renewed push, south of Garmsir, to continue where the last combat MEU left off. If they are not replaced after 4-5 months of combat ops, they too would be a surge force.
However, there is a school of thought that suggests the MEU cycle is about to go into a steady Afghanistan replacement format, which would make that another escalation of boots on the ground (unless it is something already built into current plans but has not been released).
So in a nutshell, the current “surge” actually started with 24th MEU in spring 2008, was augmented by USMC 2/7, becoming an escalation in force when they were replaced by the current SPMAGTF in November of last year.
There’s my pitch. The surge is out, an escalation is in as a new catch word. Whataya think?