I didn't get an opportunity to ask my question of Secretary Rumsfeld yesterday. I had two questions in mind-- the first was very much an "inside baseball" question pertaining to my specific work, the second about Iraq. I couldn't decide which question was best, but alas, I ended up not getting a chance to ask either of them.
Anyway, in hindsight, I'm really kicking myself for not getting the opportunity to ask my second question, which would have went something like this:
Mr Secretary, General Myers. . . Last night, the President again explained our strategic objective in the war in Iraq: a stable, democratic Iraq free of terrorist violence.
My question is, how can we best measure our progress towards our strategic objective at an operational level? In other words, how can the American people judge for themselves whether we are winning? Do we count the frequency of attacks, body counts, weapons counts, terrorists and insurgents killed or captured, or is there some other, more valuable objective metric that can be provided?
Judging progress toward victory in a counter-insurgency is an age-old problem. My worry is that, for all the worthiness of our strategic objective in Iraq, our leaders have no consistent idea of what constitutes victory at the operational level of this war. Without these metrics, we are unable to judge the long-term efficacy of our tactics, or whether we are any closer today to achieving our strategic objective in Iraq than we were two years ago.
That is what concerns me most, and if the Secretary and the Chairman have a sound answer for this question, I sure wish they'd share it with the American people.