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Col. McMaster's "Clear and Hold" Strategy

1:54 PM, Mar 13, 2006 • By DANIEL MCKIVERGAN
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If you didn't catch it last night, 60 Minutes profiled the operations of the 3rd Armored Cavalry, commanded by Col. H.R. McMaster, in Tal Afar -- a city that had literally been taken over again by al Qaeda before the 3rd moved in. The transcript may be found here. McMaster points out that it's "clear" we didn't put enough troops on the Syrian border to stem the terrorist flow into Tal Afar. This aided al Qaeda efforts to infiltrate the city (U.S. forces had kicked them out in 2004 but then effectively withdrew). Once retaken, al Qaeda terrorized the local population, killed those who had collaborated with the Americans in 2004, and turned the city into an operational base to launch attacks around Iraq. While McMaster's "clear and hold" strategy (in which, the colonel explains, the population is "secure[d] so that political development [and] economic development can proceed") has been successful in Tal Afar, his unit will soon rotate out of Iraq.