Revisiting the 2007 Surge in Iraq

Dr. Anton Minkov, Dr. Peter Tikuisis


The 2007 surge in Iraq is considered one of the most significant military events in recent history given that it coincided with a marked decrease in violent attacks. However, revisiting “significant activity” (SIGACT) data reveals that violence had generally peaked before the surge. This study presents also an examination of other factors that might explain the earlier decline in violence, before the surge was even announced. It is difficult to pinpoint the trends that were most prominent, but they all likely contributed to a shift in the momentum of the security situation in the fall of 2006, before the surge was even announced. Thus, our analysis suggests that the surge was an unnecessary gambit. This paper aims to caution strategic policy decision-makers against misinterpreting the efficacy of surge capability in a complex and dynamically changing security situation.

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JMSS is a publication of the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.

JMSS gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.