The Blog

The "Footprint"...

4:29 PM, Apr 27, 2006 • By DANIEL MCKIVERGAN
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has evidently been too light in some places. From Stars and Strips:

U.S. troops entered Mukhisa and the adjacent town of Abu Kharma on Sunday after hearing that the region is home to foreign fighters, members of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's group and financiers behind roadside bomb and mortar attacks, said Lt. Col. Thomas Fisher, battalion commander....

One obstacle his troops face is that the two towns' contact with coalition forces over the past three years has consisted of three raids, in which hundreds of townspeople were arrested only to be released later, Fisher said.

"When you neglect a town and don't engage the population, the terrorists who are here and the insurgents can tell them anything they want, and they will believe it because there is no one else telling them anything different," he said.

Sounds familiar, unfortunately. It is also why Col. McMaster pushed his "clear and hold" strategy while in Iraq rather than continue what some officers have derisively dubbed "whack a mole" operations.