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ON POINT II: Transition to the New Campaign

The United States Army in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM May 2003-January 2005

Part II

Transition to a New Campaign

Chapter 4
Leading the New Campaign: Transitions in Command and Control in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM


V Corps Becomes CJTF-7

In May 2003 Generals Sanchez and Abizaid began considering the magnitude of the challenges facing them and their Soldiers as the situation in Iraq evolved. Key among those challenges would be transitioning V Corps into a CJTF. Recognizing that direct support to the CPA was perhaps the most important of his roles, Sanchez decided to locate himself and a small command element in Baghdad with the CPA. Sanchez’s deputy, Major General Wojdakowski, directed the CJTF-7 main CP from its location in Camp Victory near the Baghdad International Airport on the western outskirts of the capital. Given the rapidly changing military command structure in Iraq, and the changing nature of US strategic policy for postwar Iraq, deciding where to place critical command elements was just the first task in what would become a Herculean effort.

Army doctrine in 2003 indicated that a corps headquarters like V Corps could serve as a joint task force (JTF) or combined joint task force (CJTF) if properly augmented with personnel and resources. A corps headquarters was the Army’s highest tactical headquarters and normally functioned at the tactical and operational levels of war. Once it became a CJTF, however, the corps had to operate at the tactical, operational, and theater-strategic levels of war. Once augmented, Army doctrine also held that the corps might have responsibility to create a campaign plan if one does not exist.95 CENTCOM, which retained authority for strategic matters throughout the Middle East and parts of Central Asia, also had the responsibility for augmenting the V Corps staff so that it could carry out its missions in Iraq at all three levels of war.

General Franks’ guidance to quickly redeploy the CENTCOM Forward CP in Qatar and the CFLCC headquarters in Doha, Kuwait, made the huge task of transitioning V Corps to CJTF-7 even more problematic. The confusion was so great that a week before turning over command of V Corps, Lieutenant General Wallace notified the CFLCC commander that the transition would have to be delayed unless CENTCOM finalized and fleshed out the Corps’ Joint Manning Document (JMD), the table of organization that authorized the positions on the joint staff. The temporary solution was to leave selected CFLCC personnel behind to augment V Corps. This move increased V Corps’ manning levels from 50 percent to 70 percent of the JMD by 15 June 2003.96 But the numbers were still small, the personnel were often rather junior in rank, and no command expected the CFLCC augmentees to remain in theater beyond 45 days. Even before they took over, it was clear to Sanchez and his deputy, Wodjakowski, that the V Corps staff would not have the proper structure, size, or sufficient rank to fully handle its role as a CJTF. For Wojdakowsi, one of the most glaring gaps was the absence of general officers in the principal staff positions. He explained the problem in the following way:

To put it in perspective, I think the Combined Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC) had six general officers in it. When [CFLCC] left on 15 June 2003, there was one general officer in the [CJTF-7] command post and that was me. When I left there on 1 February 2004, we had a little get-together a couple nights before we left and there were 19 general officers there. . . . So we had to elevate the corps staff up to a CJTF staff.97

The V Corps staff eventually grew from its initial strength of some 280 officers and noncommissioned officers (NCOs) to nearly 1,000 by early 2004. But this expansion occurred slowly.

The initial JMD, completed by CFLCC, provided V Corps with only three general officers—the normally assigned three-star commander, two-star deputy, and one-star chief of staff. This contrasted sharply with CFLCC, which had general officers as the principals in most of its staff sections. As the new command emerged and it became clear that he would need senior staff officers, Sanchez reached out to the Coalition partners for assistance and recalled that some of the best thinkers and planners in the early days of CJTF-7 were the dozen or so officers who joined his staff from the British, Canadian, and Australian Armies.98 Still, there was a shortage of staff officers, a weakness that Lieutenant General Wallace had recognized and tried to address before he left command of V Corps in June 2003. Wallace requested a team from the Joint Warfighting Center (JWFC) in Suffolk, Virginia, to do an assessment of the CJTF-7 JMD.99 While that team eventually assisted in the expansion and refinement of the JMD, CJTF-7 would continue to experience difficulties in obtaining the authorized number and type of staff officers throughout 2003 and well into 2004.100

By mid-June 2003 it was clear to the V Corps commander that the numbers of billets on the JMD and the rank of officers assigned were only the most obvious challenges facing CJTF-7. The new command also had to assemble the proper mix of capacity, capability, and collective experience required for its staff to serve competently as a Coalition headquarters and to operate at the tactical, operational, and theater-strategic levels of war. Sanchez recalled one glaring example of the obstacles the Corps faced in finding experienced planners for the Corps CJ5 Plans section:

Within 2 days after I took over as the CJTF-7 commander, I asked the C5 [Plans section] to ‘Bring me your roles and functions for review.’ Now this was a theater strategic headquarters and the Chief came back and told me ‘Well, we do future [military] plans.’ That was it! At this point we had to go back and completely rework the staff structures over the summer months to be able to document the skills necessary to handle the normal functions of a C5 at the theater-strategic level. This included strategy and policy, force generation, Coalition operations, political-military affairs and all other aspects of a combined, joint theater strategic headquarters.101

The initial CJTF-7 JMD called for a 21-person CJ5 Plans staff; on 7 June it was filled with only 9 personnel, lacking the full colonel to lead it and a number of other key positions. The JMD also called for only a two-person planning staff to liaise with the CPA in the Green Zone, anticipating that the CPA’s capability for planning would be far more robust than turned out to be the case.102 In addition, the V Corps staff had no strategic communications cell, nor was there a strategic communications plan at CENTCOM for V Corps to use as guidance for its own operations.103 The staff was also heavily weighted with Army personnel instead of being truly joint. The initial JMD, for example, did not include a Coalition Air Operations Center (CAOC) to handle the complexity of joint air operations in Iraq.104

CJTF-7 began working with CFLCC and CENTCOM to amend the JMD, adding general officers and staff positions to meet the demands placed on the new headquarters. CJTF-7 started this assessment in early July 2003 and submitted its first written requests to upgrade the JMD to CENTCOM in August 2003. The DOD and the Armed Services, however, reacted slowly to approve and fill the personnel requirements of that new manning structure. Major General Thomas Miller, who became the CJTF-7 Chief of Operations (CJ3) in July 2003, stated his staff was “understaffed rather significantly and in a state of constant personnel instability” through 2003 and early 2004.105 The instability that Miller noted was partly a result of joint and Coalition staff officers arriving on short tours:

I would say that the healthiest that [the CJ3 Operations staff] ever got was probably at about the 50 percent mark, but you never sustained that more than 30 to 40 days because of the turnaround ratio you had amongst the various services. As an example, the Air Force [colonels] that served as the C3 Air, in a year I had 7 of them. They were all great officers, don’t get me wrong, but they were only there for 60 days, some even 30 days, or some 120 days. It was very, very difficult, in my opinion, to deal with that turbulence.106

Miller concluded, “The JMD, in my opinion, never matured fully until about the spring of 2004” when CJTF-7 was on the verge of transitioning to a completely new command structure.107

CJTF-7’s Intelligence staff section (CJ2) had its own challenges, some of which were related to the larger JMD issues. The V Corps Intelligence staff was designed for the conventional war the Coalition had just fought. It lacked a Joint Intelligence Center, which has the capacity to conduct human intelligence (HUMINT) collection and analysis, a “Red Team,” and other key assets that are necessary to conduct intelligence operations at the operational and strategic levels of war. Many of these agencies and resources had left when CFLCC pulled out of Iraq. Major General Barbara Fast, who became the chief of the CJTF-7 Intelligence staff section in July 2003, described the situation that summer:

When CFLCC departed, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) HUMINT assets and the US Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) assets departed, as well. The remaining DIA assets were part of the Iraqi Survey Group (ISG) and designated to find WMD [weapons of mass destruction]. These were the designated, experienced assets on which we rely for some of our more sophisticated HUMINT operations. This left only CIA assets, also limited initially in number, and our tactical HUMINT assets which were not as capable in numbers or experience.108

Sanchez recalled that his intelligence officers were very smart and dedicated, but “their instinct, their forte . . . what we had trained these kids for was to go out and fight a conventional fight and they were pretty damn good at it. But now we were completely lost in a totally different operational environment and we were really struggling.”109 The V Corps intelligence staff was accustomed to building briefings that used red unit icons to precisely depict conventional enemy formations such as those they faced during the drive on Baghdad. As CJTF-7 intelligence work progressed, the briefings to Sanchez would soon use overlapping circles and amorphous clouds to imprecisely depict shadowy insurgent groups, terrorists, criminal gangs, and sectarian militias.110 This type of analysis took time to learn and perfect.

More problematic for the longer campaign was that like the CJ3 section, the CJ2 staff never grew to meet the operational demands for information and analysis. Major General Fast continued to have a difficult time filling the positions in her section throughout the first year of the campaign: “We didn’t have an adequate number of people to begin with for intelligence operations in general. We built a Joint Manning Document (JMD) in the early fall of 2003, but even as I left Iraq in 2004, we were still only at about 50 percent strength. So we never had the assets that we required.”111 The CJ2 staff also spent considerable time addressing security and classification considerations, to include training, for intelligence personnel from 19 Coalition countries. These tasks diverted the officers on the staff from more pressing operational requirements.

The shortage of personnel in the summer and early fall of 2003 meant that the CJTF-7 staff would often have to cease work on one project to shift effort in reaction to an emerging crisis or opportunity. Major General Miller, the CJ3, noted that given his small staff, he made the choice to spend little time on the theater-strategic and operational-level issues, concentrating instead on the tactical level:

Quite frankly, the day-to-day fight, the turmoil of transition . . . and all the other unforeseen tasks (Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, Police, Iranian Mujahedin-e Khalq forces, etc.), and then the enormous task of orchestrating a force rotation OIF I to OIF II, completely consumed the undermanned staff (CJ3). So as a result of that, I would have to say that the tactical situation and associated current operations tasks received the bulk of our attention, especially within the CJ3.112

Miller also noted that some of the critical cells within the CJ3 could not focus on their mission because unanticipated taskings sometimes pulled them away from their core requirements. For example, in the summer and fall of 2003, Miller essentially had to shut down the CJ3 Effects cell so the officers who made up that cell could concentrate on coordinating the training of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps (ICDC) and Iraqi police forces. As Miller later stated, “There was not anyone else to do [the Iraqi police/ICDC mission].”113 The other staff sections within CJTF-7 had similar problems simultaneously working at all three levels of war.

By July 2003 Sanchez had convinced the Acting Army Chief of Staff, General Keane, to provide major generals for the CJ2, CJ3, CJ4, and CJ5, along with supporting staff officers. However, those decisions took time to implement. Sanchez noted that adding the general officers to the staff did not address all of the critical shortcomings in his organization, “You would get the general officer, but the skill sets underneath them, the staff officers underneath them, didn’t have the experience or the capacity to be able to work the actions that were so critical during those periods. That doesn’t really evolve to a point where I would say you are near effective until the late spring of 2004.”114 Again, turnover of key personnel made the situation even more difficult. Lieutenant Colonel Wesley Odum, a V Corps plans officer, recounted that he worked for six different chiefs in the CJ5 Plans section between July and November 2003, some of whom were American and others who were from the Coalition nations.115

Chapter 4. Leading the New Campaign: Transitions in Command and Control in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM

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