How to tell you are in real trouble . . .
Officers With PhDs Advising War Effort
By Thomas E. Ricks
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 5, 2007; A01
Gen. David H. Petraeus, the new U.S. commander in Iraq, is assembling a small band of warrior-intellectuals — including a quirky Australian anthropologist, a Princeton economist who is the son of a former U.S. attorney general and a military expert on the Vietnam War sharply critical of its top commanders — in an eleventh-hour effort to reverse the downward trend in the Iraq war.
Army officers tend to refer to the group as “Petraeus guys.” They are smart colonels who have been noticed by Petraeus, and who make up one of the most selective clubs in the world: military officers with doctorates from top-flight universities and combat experience in Iraq.
Essentially, the Army is turning the war over to its dissidents, who have criticized the way the service has operated there the past three years, and is letting them try to wage the war their way.
“Their role is crucial if we are to reverse the effects of four years of conventional mind-set fighting an unconventional war,” said a Special Forces colonel who knows some of the officers.
But there is widespread skepticism that even this unusual group, with its specialized knowledge of counterinsurgency methods, will be able to win the battle of Baghdad.
“Petraeus’s ‘brain trust’ is an impressive bunch, but I think it’s too late to salvage success in Iraq,” said a professor at a military war college, who said he thinks that the general will still not have sufficient troops to implement a genuine counterinsurgency strategy and that the United States really has no solution for the sectarian violence tearing apart Iraq.