Former Special Forces officer Col. Frank Sobchak (USA, Ret.) discusses the lessons the Army can learn from the Iraq War, and what it means for the future of counterinsurgency operations.
While it’s been more than 15 years since the Iraq War started, there are still lessons to be learned from the conflict. Former Special Forces officer Col. Frank Sobchak (USA, Ret.) is co-author of a study on the Iraq War published by the Army War College. He told Government Matters that the conflict showed that the difficulties presented by counterinsurgency are an issue that shouldn’t be forgotten. “People who are still within the military have told me that we’ve kind of returned to 1973 and that the Iraq War is old news. There’s a premise that in order to reinforce the new, we have to forget the old… I worry that all of these lessons that we have learned are going to be replaced by a new focus on great power conflict,” Sobchak said. “The challenge comes from two areas. First is that the enemy always has a vote. Our opponents, for example Daesh, the Islamic State, other violent extremist organizations, they haven’t gone away. They haven’t decided to quit. They’re still out there. That threat still exists. Secondly, even within great power conflict, nation state versus nation state conflict, in the areas where we have the advantage over those other nation states… they are going to try to challenge us asymmetrically. They are not stupid. They are not going to hit us straight on where we have a symmetric advantage over them. Many of the tactics that were used in the Iraq War, whether it be proxies, militias, or manipulation of elections, those same tactics and procedures will be used in the grey space.”