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Winning the Hearts and Minds While Winning the War

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History has shown that the political climate of the citizens effect not only how we wage war, but also can effect the outcome of the conflict. Winning the hearts and minds of the people can be more difficult that winning the war. We will look at a few comparisons in military history that show how essential the support of the local populace is in liberating another county or even with our own citizens while engaged in an unpopular war.

Winning the Hearts and Minds While Winning the War

In some ways the war in Iraq parallels the war for American independence. Although both the British and the United States has a huge economic and military advantage over their advisories, the British saw its army destroyed by the Colonial Army and the Iraqi insurgents has been a thorn in the side of the United States.

At the beginning of the Iraq war, the number of U.S. combat troops deployed was kept to a minimum. There were just not enough troops on the ground to adequately protect the Iraqi civilians from insurgent attacks. The British also hope to win the conflict with a minimal force, but the geographical size of the colonies made this impossible. In both cases as soon as the occupying forces departed the area, the local militias would quickly enter and would punish those persons who cooperated with those forces. (In Many Ways the War in Iraq Resembles the War for American Independence, 2009, p.1).

There are also similarities in the thought that there would be widespread support from the Iraqi people once Saddam Hussein was defeated. Many of the Iraqi people feel that the United States is an occupying army instead of a liberating one. The British in turn felt there were enough British loyalists in the colonies to suppress any Colonial uprisings.

In the beginning of the War for American Independence, the Continental Army was no match for the British regulars. The Continental Army and the local militias adapted their strategies to conducting purposeful retreats and hit and run tactics. Iraqi insurgents have also found that it is suicidal to engage U.S. troops directly and resorted to indirect attacks, such as ambushes and Improvised Explosive Devices. (In Many Ways the War in Iraq Resembles the War for American Independence, 2009, p.2).

Other similarities include that both the United States and Britain had to project their power overseas. Both countries also had other military commitments going elsewhere and could not devote all of its resources toward these current wars.

United States efforts in Afghanistan and the British efforts in the Southern Colonies

The primary key to the efforts in both of these wars comes down to tactics and how the local citizens respond to the insurgents. During the War for American Independence, the British occupiers looted, burned and tried to force the Colonists into staying loyal to the Crown. In Afghanistan, the Allied forces know that they can't force the Taliban to surrender just through force of arms and overwhelming might, but by convincing the Afghans that we will not desert them for a Taliban retribution, by building a legitimate governance and convincing them that we are not trying to create a colony though endless international control.

In both the British and Afghan campaigns, persuading politicians and the nation's peoples that a fight overseas is worth the blood and money can be a hard sell. (The British Southern Campaign in the Revolutionary War: Implications for Contemporary Counter Insurgency, 2006, p.20).

A sustained combat force drains the countries economies and a prolonged campaign lowers the moral of its citizens. The British concern during the Revolutionary War was based primarily on financial concerns compared to the United States concern over the loss of American service men and woman as well as civilian contractors.

During the Revolutionary War, the British chose to use military force alone to quail the local militias. By using this hard handed approach, this drove many more of the citizens that where loyal to the Crown and many of the undecided over to the Colonial forces. In contrast, the Allied forces in Afghanistan are working with the local government to increase the countries infrastructure by building more roads, schools and increasing the quality of life the citizens of Afghanistan. This and convincing the Afghan citizens the Allied forces are there to help provide security from the Taliban



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