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The Joint Campaign Plan

A strategy for stability in Iraq.

12:00 AM, Aug 2, 2007 • By RICHARD S. LOWRY
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Lieutenant Shawn Mercer, a Public Affairs Officer for the coalition commanding general in Anbar Province, Major General W. E. Gaskin, told me in a recent correspondence, "On July 7th, about 200 municipal leaders and professionals gathered for the Anbar Covenant, or 'Promise of the People' Conference in Ramadi, hosted by the Alwani Tribe. They all pledged to fight al-Qaeda and they pledged to support the Coalition." They pledged to rebuild their society and to do it all through the Iraqi government and the rule of law. And the Marines pledged to provide a protective umbrella until the people are able to maintain their own security. On the next day, Mercer continued, "the Albu Issa tribe hosted tribal and municipal leaders for the Thawr al Haq, or 'Uprising of the Right,' conference in Fallujah." Again, "this gathering was held to build cohesiveness and celebrate unity with Coalition Forces and the provincial and national governments. Attendees pledged to fight terrorist forces across Iraq." Even with an ever-present al Qaeda threat, the cities of Anbar are all now relatively safe places to live and work.

Still, success in Iraq is anywhere but certain. It is dependent on the Iraqis coming to the realization that they can't achieve their goals through fighting and that the competing forces are Iraqi first and Sunni, Shia, Kurd, and Christian second. If this weren't enough, General Petraeus is working to bring peace to Iraq with a limited number of forces and a timeline that is much shorter than he would like.

The new Joint Campaign Plan addresses all these issues and its implementation will attempt to return stability to the Iraqi government and people. Colonel Boylan is quick to caution, "There are no absolutes in this endeavor, but rest assured we are all in, and are and will do all that we can to ensure continued progress for a successful conclusion."

Richard S. Lowry is the author of Marines in the Garden of Eden. He served in the U.S. Navy Submarine Service from 1967-1975.