Part of the strategy used in the surge was and is to keep what has been taken. Focus on control in the areas already held. Take limited new ground with bites large enough to swallow and have a higher probability of being able to hold it permanently. As you become more confident, you can take more chances. The enemy can’t match our resources. The enemy is also in an unenviable position. They are fighting in a desert environment so the battles must be fought in the cities. The cities can be isolated by control of the countryside, so outside help in the form of reinforcements and munitions can be interdicted.
The pressure from each isolated battle will dry up the reserve of resources in that enclave. If unable to reinforce and re-supply, the position will starve and eventually, collapse. This concept can be applied on the strategic level as well.
The U.S. has committed itself in Afghanistan and Iraq. Following the strategy above, the U.S. would stay in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the same time, the U.S. will look for new opportunities to engage hostile ‘insurgents’ in open battle once Iraq is more subdued. Syria and Iran come to mind. It would be far to quick to attempt ‘regime change’ on either today. Iraq needs to be under better control. Eventually however, the governments of Iran and Syria must go.
Before the war against terrorism is over, the governments of Iran and Syria will have been changed. I find it very difficult to believe that these changes will occur without warfare. Right now, the losses that the U.S. and Iraqi armies are inflicting in exchange for losses that we are enduring in Iraq are working in our favor. Bin Lauden himself has said that they (the Arab world) will back the stronger horse. Terrorism can’t defeat our armed forces in open battle without ‘official’ government support. We need to keep the pressure on. The problem is that the losses our military has inflicted can be made good.
Hundreds of millions of honest Muslims can produce an army far larger than what we currently field. Not that these governments will declare war, but many within this population honestly believe in at least some of the causes that the jihadists are fighting for. I use the example of the good Germans and good Japanese who were caught up in World War II. They fought for evil, yet they were good people. They fought for their way of life. We can expect to see more of this within the Arab world, even if the U.S. prevails in Iraq and Afghanistan today.
This war is far from over.