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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


CJTF-7 in Retrospect

Despite the many shortcomings of his command’s organization, Sanchez remained extremely proud of what his staff and subordinate commanders were able to accomplish in those early weeks and months, believing they prevented a bad situation from becoming disastrous by their determination, hard work, and patriotism. Three years after that long summer, Sanchez reflected on their contribution: “As ugly as it was and as difficult as it was, it was their individual efforts, their ingenuity, their adaptability, and it was the leadership that just went out and said, ‘hey, this has got to be done. We will figure it out.’”128

It is clear V Corps was not properly augmented to serve as a CJTF on 15 June 2003 when it assumed responsibility as CJTF-7. Initially a tactical headquarters from March to May 2003, by June V Corps found itself faced with the tasks of transforming into a joint and combined task force, developing a new campaign plan, planning force levels for what would become known as OIF II, and conducting operations at all three levels of war. Making matters more difficult was that all of these missions had to be done while working with an evolving CPA organization and with the IGC which had no clear vision for the future of Iraq. Looking back on this period in 2006, Wojdakowski, the CJTF-7 deputy commander, summarized his thoughts, “Although the Corps did a great job, I think, on converting to a CJTF staff . . . we lost something in the translation from the day we took over until we reached our full capability in running such an immense operation.”129

By late spring of 2004 Lieutenant General Sanchez felt he had the staff structure and experienced personnel in place to perform most of these tasks at an acceptable level. But in reality, it was not until the creation of MNF-I in late spring of 2004 that the Coalition resolved the mismatch between the command structure and the enormity of the military requirements in Iraq. Several years later, General McKiernan, commander of CFLCC during the invasion of Iraq, noted the debilitating impact of the changes in command structure as well as the shortcomings of the CJTF-7 organization and concluded that they resulted from a larger failure—a lack of planning: “We had all these transitions of organizations and command and control [CENTCOM, CFLCC, and V Corps] on top of a transition in the campaign, Saddam to post-Saddam. That is not how we would plan normally.”130 From this experience, McKiernan drew the obvious but salient conclusion, “What is the lesson learned out of all that? You have to put as much effort into the back end of the campaign as you do into the front end.”131

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

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