Reach for the Sky

In the Times today there is a story about one of the greatest British counter-insurgents, Emma Sky. Military commanders describe the Arabic-speaking, British Council official as a modern-day Gertrude Stein.

Now working for General Ray Odierno, the diminutive, Left-wing Sky initially got to know the 6 foot 5 inches warrior when they both worked in Tikrit immediately after the 2003 invasion. In between her stins in Iraq, she served as British General David Richard’s adviser in Kabul. Since about 2007 –- when Sky took her current post as a key aide to the MNF-I commander — no British official, including successive British ambassadors in Baghdad, has been as influential on US counter-insurgency policy or, indeed, on US Iraq policy.

Last year,  Sky published an article for RUSI called Moving Beyond Counter-Insurgency Doctrine, a must-read for counter-insurgency devotees and anyone who wants to understand US Iraq policy medio-2007.

Whenever she finishes her assignment in Iraq, the British government would do well to immediately (create and) offer a post as the Defence Secretary’s Special Adviser for Counter-Insurgency, from where she will be able to bring many of the lessons from US operations in Iraq into the British military and bureaucracy — something that is sorely needed.