Posts Tagged ‘Salinas’
November 23rd, 2009 at 12:04 pm
New Application for Counterinsurgency in California?

The California city of Salinas is ready to give counterinsurgency a try because the gang problem is out of control.

In the space of 11 days this year, seven people were murdered in Salinas. Each killing, like the record 25 homicides the previous year, spilled from the gang warfare that this summer pushed the homicide rate in the city of 140,000 to three times that of Los Angeles. Residents retreated indoors at night, and Mayor Dennis Donohue affirmed his decision to seek help from an unlikely source: the U.S. military.

Since February, combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have been advising Salinas police on counterinsurgency strategy, bringing lessons from the battlefield to the meanest streets in an American city.

“This is our surge,” said Donohue, who solicited the assistance from the elite Naval Postgraduate School, 20 miles and a world away in Monterey. “When the public heard about this, they thought we were going to send the Navy SEALs into Salinas.”

Not quite. But the lessons learned from General David Petraeus’ successful counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq include the importance of creating trust between citizens and law enforcement. As in Iraq, the people most affected by the violence are suspicious of those charged with protecting them. Changing that dynamic is essential in order to achieve victory. And in order to change the dynamic, Salinas is going to need more boots on the ground so that police can cover more ground while building stronger relationships in the community.

Who knows; maybe if this domestic surge works as well as the one in Iraq, the Obama Administration might stop dithering and go for the win in Afghanistan.