Douglas Ollivant is a former officer in the U.S. Army, who is currently a senior fellow at the New American Foundation for national security. Entering commissioned service in 1989 as an infantry officer, he then went on to graduate school at Indiana University in 1997. From 1999-2002, he taught at West Point, then spent two years as a student at Command and General Staff College, and the School of Advanced Military Studies at Fort Leavenworth. In June of 2004, he went to Iraq with the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, where he was deployed to Kadhimiyah, Arab Jabour, and Dora in Baghdad, along with Najaf, and Fallujah in Anbar. From October 2006 to December 2007, he served as Chief of Plans for the Multi-National Division Baghdad before and during the Surge. He then went on to be a director for Iraq issues on the National Security Council from March 2008 to July 2009. He then retired from the Army that summer before serving as the senior counterinsurgency advisor to the Regional Command East in Afghanistan in 2010-2011. In 2011, he wrote an article entitled “Countering the New Orthodoxy, Reinterpreting Counterinsurgency In Iraq” for the New American Foundation, which challenged much of the conventional wisdom in the U.S. about the role the 2007 Surge, and American forces in general played in ending the Iraqi civil war. While Ollivant felt that the United States military played an important role in shaping the environment in the country, he argued that it was in fact, actions and decisions made by Iraqis themselves that ultimately changed the status quo. Below is an interview with Ollivant, discussing his theory about what ended the sectarian war in Iraq, and relating it to current events in the country such as the 2011 U.S. troop withdrawal, and the current political crisis.

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