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By Michael Yon (Independent journalist/photographer)

A self-financed, self-taught combat journalist and photographer whose reports from the field have won him a wide following, Michael Yon joined an American unit as it crossed the line of departure for the second phase of The Surge and headed for Diyala province and the al Qaeda stronghold of Baqubah. (See Kagan for background on U. S. strategy.) Thirty days later, with the town secured, Yon described an Army effort to begin rebuilding its political infrastructure and put more of its security into the hands of the Iraqi Army and local leaders.

In this role, perhaps best suited to a Foreign Service Officer, Colonel Townsend, commander of the 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, practiced American diplomacy as he negotiated a set of rules with Sunni insurgent leaders now become "Baqubah Guardians" and then won their formal commitment to support and defend Iraq's constitution and fully cooperate with its Shi'ite-dominated government. Dealing with local and tribal leaders is not an entirely new role for Army and Marine commanders at all levels, but it has become vitally important to U. S. efforts to bring security and political stability to Iraq. Because Townsend allowed Yon to sit in on the meeting, without camera or tape recorder, readers gain a rarely reported insight into the methods of the current U. S. strategy.

But one town in one province, though formerly a very dangerous one, Buqubah nevertheless represents what The Surge seeks to accomplish in Baghdad and the belt of towns that once fed terrorists and their bombs into the heart of Iraq's capital city.

Reviewed by James Abrahamson
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Title Annotation:
Author:Abrahamson, James
Publication:American Diplomacy
Article Type:Brief article
Date:Jul 31, 2007
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