ON POINT II: Transition to the New Campaign
The United States Army in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM May 2003-January 2005
The first, the supreme, the most far reaching act of judgment that the statesman and commander have to make is to establish . . . the kind of war on which they are embarking, neither mistaking for, nor trying to turn it into, something that is alien to its nature.
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No one starts a war—or rather, no one in his senses ought to do so—without first being clear in his mind what he intends to achieve by that war and how he intended to conduct it.
—Carl von Clausewitz1
The writing of On Point II was partly driven by the need to begin establishing the historical record of the United States Army in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF). That story is one centered on audacity, courage, and selfless service to the nation. Like previous generations of American Soldiers, today’s Soldiers have earned a place in the pantheon of American heroes. Recording an early account of their actions and sacrifices was a paramount goal of this study.
To be sure, many of the events and complex operations described in this study were captured by journalists and other observers who offered the most immediate accounts of the Army’s experience in Iraq. Over the longer term, the US Army Center of Military History and professional military historians in the academic community will offer interpretations of OIF that are the products of lengthier, more deliberate research and of perspectives sharpened by the passage of time. On Point II has been written to provide a preliminary understanding of OIF that exists somewhere between the journalistic accounts and the scholarly histories.
A more important reason for undertaking this project is to attempt to meet the charge posed by historians since the time of Herodotus and Thucydides some 3,000 years ago—to discern insights from the past that will cast a light, however bright or dim, that might guide today’s leaders into an uncertain future. The challenges in discerning those insights, with so little historical perspective about what are on-going events, are immense. Yet some insights have emerged from this study and the Army must capitalize on them.
The stunningly successful destruction of the Saddam regime fundamentally changed the nature of the Coalition military campaign. Securing the peace and achieving US strategic goals in Iraq, however, required types of military operations that differed from those that had led to the toppling of the Baathist dictatorship. At the strategic level of national policy, this transition also required a different combination of and a greater contribution by nonmilitary elements of national power—diplomatic, economic, and informational. Turning military success into strategic success takes time and is exceedingly difficult, even in the best of situations; Iraq in 2003 was not the best of situations. The rapid military deployment, the early start of the attack, and the quick end of Saddam’s regime precluded the kind of long preparation that, for example, assisted the US Army in the early stages of World War II. Additionally, the tailoring of ground forces to the minimum believed necessary to achieve relatively limited military objectives provided no flexibility for an uncertain and unpredictable environment in Iraq following the attainment of these objectives. Finally, Iraq proved to be less than fertile ground for the planting of new social, economic, and political ideas, which were fundamental tenets of the Coalition’s vision for the post-Saddam order.
The subtitle of On Point II—Transition to a New Campaign—was not idly chosen. Not only does the phrase “transition to a new campaign” accurately capture the Army’s experience in Iraq between May 2003 and January 2005, it embodies what the authors believe is the most significant insight provided by the historical record. That observation looks beyond the rather obvious lesson that military forces must be prepared for the operations that follow success in tactical-level combat missions. The superb Soldiers of the US Army improvised and adapted to unexpected circumstances in Iraq as they have in similar situations for more than 200 years. Far more critical is the planning and preparation that civilian leaders and military commanders must conduct for the transition to operations that follow the decisive combat phase of a campaign. If the Army’s experience in Iraq in 2003 offers any single crucial insight, it is that this type of thoughtful, detailed, and deliberate planning must be done at the highest levels long before the campaign begins if military victory is to be transformed into strategic success.
The difficulty in Iraq in April and May 2003 for the Army, and the other Services, was that the transition to a new campaign was not well thought out, planned for, and prepared for before it began. Additionally, the assumptions about the nature of post-Saddam Iraq on which the transition was planned proved to be largely incorrect. Thus, as the US Armed Forces transitioned in April and May 2003 from Phase III, Decisive Operations, to what was essentially a new campaign that featured full spectrum operations, they did not have the benefit of policies and plans that fully envisioned the transition to guide their operations. CENTCOM’s planned transition to Phase IV operations included only the final destruction of Saddam’s military and paramilitary forces, the search for weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the hunt for terrorists, and limited support to the humanitarian and reconstruction efforts of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA), all in the context of a rapid turnover of sovereignty to a new Iraqi Government. As late as May 2003 the CENTCOM commander planned for the rapid withdrawal of US and Coalition military forces by September as responsibility for Iraq was turned over to the ORHA, to the new joint task force, to international organizations, and to a new Iraqi Government. In line with that thinking was the CENTCOM decision to unexpectedly turn over responsibility for Phase IV of OIF to the V Corps headquarters, designated as Combined Joint Task Force–7 (CJTF-7), and to withdraw its land forces component command, Third Army, from the theater. General Tommy Franks also decided to retire during this time, believing his military service to the nation had been accomplished, much as he believed CENTCOM’s mission to depose Saddam Hussein was at a close.
CENTCOM and Third Army did only the barest planning for Phase IV of OIF. The CFLCC plan for this phase was not formally issued until the start of the ground invasion of Iraq. Few if any commanders at all levels had any idea what their missions in Phase IV were to encompass. Lieutenant General (Retired) Jay Garner and the ORHA, created 20 January 2003, barely had time to build a staff and do a limited analysis of its tasks before it deployed to Kuwait in late March. US civilian and military planning and preparation, even for what was assumed to be a relatively easy and short Phase IV, was inadequate. Though essentially a joint planning process, the Army, as the Service primarily responsible for ground operations, should have insisted on better Phase IV planning and preparations through its voice on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
It is an open question whether senior US civilian and military leaders should have known their optimistic assumptions about the nature of post-Saddam Iraq would prove to be flawed. Many have pointed to official and unofficial prewar studies and predictions of chaos and conflict in Iraq after Saddam was overthrown. Others have pointed to voices in the US Armed Forces and Department of Defense (DOD) who questioned the relatively small number of troops planned for the postconflict phase of OIF. Historians have even questioned the assumption that the Iraqi nation-state was viable, noting its history under Ottoman, British, and Baathist rule as obscuring the underlying sources of friction and disunity—a sort of Middle Eastern version of the former Yugoslavia. It appears that most senior civilian and military leaders failed to review the historical records of military occupations and of Middle Eastern or Iraqi history, and also failed to listen and evaluate outside views about potential weaknesses with their planning assumptions. The intense desire to continue DOD’s transformation to smaller and lighter forces, to implement a perceived revolution in military affairs in the information age, and to savor the euphoria over seemingly easy successes in Afghanistan using those techniques seemed to outweigh searching through the past for insights into the future.
The oft-stated goal of regime change implied some degree of postwar steps to build a new Iraqi Government in place of the Saddam regime. Regime removal might have been a more accurate description of the goal that the design of OIF was best suited to accomplish. The military means employed were sufficient to destroy the Saddam regime; they were not sufficient to replace it with the type of nation-state the United States wished to see in its place. It will also never be known what the course of events might have been had the United States and its Coalition partners simply carried out their plans to quickly leave Iraq. Four key events and decisions made those prewar plans impossible. First, the decrepit state of Iraq’s physical infrastructure was far worse than expected, requiring massive rebuilding to prevent a humanitarian disaster. Second, the collapse of Iraq’s civil governing structures in April and May 2003 placed enormous demands on ORHA, then on the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) and the Coalition
to govern and provide security in Iraq, tasks for which they were unprepared. Third, Iraqi political, ethnic, and religious disunity after the removal of the Saddam regime made the rapid creation of a unity government nearly impossible in the summer of 2003.2 Fourth, the decision in early May to create the CPA, and to have it function for an indefinite period as an occupying power under international law fundamentally changed the political dynamics in Iraq, in the United States, and in the international community.
The CPA’s dissolution of the Baath Party and Iraq’s military and security forces decisively signaled to all Iraqis that the Baathist Sunni domination of Iraq was over. In that sense, the decision successfully generated critical support from the Shia and Kurdish populations in Iraq. Unfortunately, many Sunni Arabs saw CPA Orders No. 1 and 2, and in particular the actual implementation of those orders by a Shia-dominated Iraqi Governing Council (IGC), as signs that they had few prospects for power in a new Iraq. Taken together, these unplanned for “realities” fundamentally changed the nature of the transition required by US and Coalition military forces. By the fall of 2003 Coalition soldiers faced civil chaos, crime, Baathist revanchism, terrorist violence, political disunity, and varying types of ethnic resentment. These decisions and events changed the always complex transition from combat operations to securing the nation’s strategic goals, into a transition from conventional war (and a planned rapid withdrawal) to a multiyear occupation and full spectrum operations.
The practical steps that needed to be taken on the ground by Soldiers and commanders faced with unexpected realities occurred simultaneously or often ahead of the intellectual or planning steps that were required to provide those units with direction and resources. The situation facing Coalition forces in the spring of 2003 evoked the aphorism “if you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” US Army units, commanders, and Soldiers reacted to the varying realities of Iraq based on doctrine and experience. Beginning in late March 2003, they took immediate steps to establish local governance, provide security, begin reconstruction, and seek local support for their actions. US Army commands tailored their operations—ranging from large-scale combat operations and antiterrorist strikes to a wide variety of stability operations—to the particular situations in the various provinces of Iraq. In large measure those reactions were appropriate, at least in terms of their immediate circumstances.
What Coalition forces lacked, however, were the overarching operational and strategic visions appropriate to the new Iraq and the myriad national resources to carry out those visions. The last minute creation, ad hoc manning, and inadequate planning by both the ORHA and the CPA made it more difficult for CENTCOM (and later, CJTF-7) to nest and to coordinate their military operations with the other elements of US national power. The limited involvement by the other departments of the US Government in the difficult work of constructing a new Iraq distorted the postconflict rebuilding effort, placing too much reliance on the military element of power. In this sense, the early 21st century version of the mid-20th century concept of “a nation at war” was tested and found wanting. The hasty changes in the military command and control structure within CENTCOM between April and June 2003, along with the decision to halt the flow of units scheduled to deploy to Iraq, added other transitional challenges to those already underway.
Even before they took command of their respective organizations, the new CJTF-7 commander and the incoming CENTCOM commander clearly recognized that the situation in Iraq did not match prewar assumptions. Army and Marine units throughout Iraq faced unexpected chaos and increasing resistance to US and Coalition objectives, particularly in Baghdad and the Sunni Arab areas of Iraq. In fact, that resistance began to emerge within a few weeks of the toppling of the Saddam statute on 9 April in Firdos Square in Baghdad. Sunni Arab Iraqis staged a protest march against US occupation of Baghdad on 18 April. On the same day, Shia leaders, still in exile in Iran, called for Iraqis to resist the US occupation. Not to be forgotten was the emergence of al-Qaeda terrorists in Iraq—operating independently with their own agenda, but cooperating with former Baathists, Sunni Arab, and Shia insurgents whenever their tactical aims coincided. When Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez took command of CJTF-7 on 15 June and General John Abizaid took command of CENTCOM on 8 July, they were well aware that they faced rapidly escalating and multifaceted resistance to US and Coalition forces.
From this point in the summer of 2003 forward, the story of the US Army in Iraq is that of leaders and Soldiers rapidly making adjustments to accomplish the tasks now required during a complex period of multiple transitions. The institutional Army also needed to “ramp up” to support the ever-expanding demands of the new campaign. The Army launched and is continuing a massive effort to collect, analyze, and distribute lessons learned from its experiences to the recruiting, educating, training, and operating components. On Point II has chronicled this record of transition and change in Iraq. The remainder of this chapter attempts to draw historical insights of immediate use from that record.
Unity of Effort and Unity of Command
The absolute necessity for unity of effort and command stands as one of the clearest lessons to emerge from the historical record of this period of the war in Iraq. Placing great weight on the imperative of unity of command and effort is hardly an original insight; military commanders and theorists through the centuries have emphasized that principle and it is currently a major tenet of US Joint and Army doctrine. Despite that fact, the principle was not well practiced during the first year in Iraq. The US civilian and military chains of command struggled through difficult changes during the critical transition from Phase III to the full spectrum campaign. US unity of command and effort, and hence overall effectiveness, suffered during what was a very important time in OIF.
The difficulties in prewar planning and in the coordination of operations within the interagency effort of the US Government have been chronicled in other studies. Those challenges are not part of the purview of On Point II, except to assess their impact on military operations. The December 2002 decision to give the DOD the lead role in postwar Iraq was in part an attempt to avoid the lack of unity of effort that critics had pointed out in previous US missions in the Balkans and Afghanistan. The potential benefits of that decision, however, were not realized due to interagency friction and to lack of coordination within the DOD. The DOD did not create ORHA until 20 January 2003. The level of prewar coordination between ORHA, other agencies in the US Government, CENTCOM, CFLCC/Third Army, and Combined Joint Task Force–IV (CJTF-IV) was therefore minimal. Garner and his staff secured the eager cooperation of Lieutenant General David McKiernan and the CFLCC/Third Army, but not until after Baghdad was captured. ORHA barely had time to open its offices in Baghdad before it was replaced by the CPA, whose chief had a strikingly different mandate for the US mission in post-Saddam Iraq than that set forth in the limited prewar planning effort.
The Coalition did not announce the creation of the CPA, the sovereign political power for Iraq, or the naming of Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III as its chief until 6 May 2003. Bremer and his advance party arrived in Iraq about a week later and had to take the normal bureaucratic steps to set themselves up as an organization. The CPA had to establish and promulgate numerous policies as an occupying power, and create mechanisms to bring competing Iraqi exile groups and local parties into the political process. At the same time, the CPA needed to coordinate its operations with the operations of the Army’s V Corps (soon to become CJTF-7) headquarters, as that military organization was undergoing its own transition. It was no surprise that the CPA and Coalition military forces in Iraq were not prepared to effectively deal with the enormous problems of post-Saddam Iraq.
The DOD also reconfigured the military chain of command during the middle of this most crucial period. Between April and July 2003, the CENTCOM commander retired and that command pulled the designated land component command for the Middle East (Third Army) out of theater, replacing it with V Corps, a headquarters that had made few preparations for the mission. To add greater complexity to this set of command transitions, V Corps underwent a change of command on 14 June. These new commands had to literally “create” their organizations, establish themselves in their new roles, and grapple with the unexpected emergence of resistance to the Coalition that had fundamentally changed their mission. When it was created in June 2003 as a sub-unified command of CENTCOM, CJTF-7 lacked significant interagency assets, and its relationship with CPA was not clearly understood. The DOD and the Army were arguably too slow in providing CJTF-7 with the additional staff and resources it needed for its responsibilities in Iraq. With the ORHA to CPA transition having just occurred in May 2003, CJTF-7 did not have a fully functioning interagency organization in Iraq with which to synchronize its efforts in June. CJTF-7 also had to assume the additional tasks of integrating the forces of more than 30 nations, each with their own capabilities and limitations, into the new campaign in Iraq. CENTCOM and CJTF-7 ultimately did not have a robust political headquarters with which they could partner and together conduct the coordinated nation-building efforts required in Iraq. Not until June 2004, more than a year later, did the United States put in place the civilian and military leadership structure in Iraq commensurate with the strategic challenge.
The failure to ensure unity of command and effort in the early stages of OIF offers several critical insights for future campaigns. Most important is retaining key commanders and key commands in place during the transition between phases of an operation to prevent the inefficiencies and ineffectiveness seen during the spring and summer of 2003. The Army teaches noncommissioned officers (NCOs) and junior officers never to use terrain that includes an avenue of approach as a dividing line between different commands lest an enemy exploit the fact that no single unit is responsible for the terrain. Similarly, command and control of operations should not be handed off to the nearest available command during the transition between Phase III and Phase IV. The United States should also develop mechanisms to establish unity of command between the senior military headquarters and the senior civilian organization in a theater or country during Phase IV operations. Though they are outside the purview of the Army, these new mechanisms should include new interagency policies and procedures. Both sets of changes should have as their goal the effectiveness, efficiency, and unity of effort needed to turn battlefield success into strategic success.
Phase III and Phase IV Operations*
While planning and preparation for what in 2003 was called Phase III, Decisive Operations, of a joint campaign will always tend to have primacy for Joint and Army planners, it is time to increase the importance of what is now known as Phase IV, Stabilize. Sustained and decisive ground combat is the sine qua non of the US Army. The Army’s operational record from Phase III of OIF, though not without flaws, is superlative. Phase III military operations may be the most intense and dangerous within a campaign, and without a military victory in Phase III, strategic success is impossible. At the same time it must be remembered that the purpose of military operations is to achieve a specific strategic or political objective. As OIF has shown, this phase of operations is ultimately more important than Phase III in securing the end for which military operations were initiated. In spring 2003, however, the DOD and the Army lacked a coherent plan to translate the rapid, narrow-front attack that avoided populated areas whenever possible, into strategic success. Soldiers and commanders at nearly every level did not know what was expected of them once Saddam Hussein was deposed and his military forces destroyed.
Clearly the Coalition lacked sufficient forces on the ground in April 2003 to facilitate, much less impose, fundamental political, social, and economic changes in Iraq. Troop density ratios were on the low end of previous US occupation experiences, much lower than many of the prewar plans for the invasion of Iraq and far lower than previous US and Western counterinsurgency campaigns. These factors were in line with prewar planning for a quick turnover of power to Iraqis and a quick withdrawal of US forces, leaving Iraqis to determine their own political future—options that proved impossible to execute. While CENTCOM and the US Army might not have been expected to plan for a full-blown insurgency of the type that emerged by late 2003, the historical record should have indicated that many more troops would be needed for the post-Saddam era in Iraq.† Key decisionmakers ignored cautionary warnings about the paucity of troops, both official and unofficial, without giving them sufficient review. The Coalition’s inability to prevent looting, to secure Iraq’s borders, and to guard the vast number of munitions dumps in the early months after Saddam’s overthrow are indicative of the shortage. US commanders found it difficult to balance increasing requirements with the units available throughout 2003 and 2004. Furthermore, by the time the Saddam regime fell, most Iraqis had yet to see a Coalition soldier. Unlike Axis military forces and their citizenry in 1945, who had no doubts about their utter defeat and who accepted the imposition of far-reaching political and social changes by the victorious Allies, Iraqis not favorably inclined toward the Coalition’s postconflict goals had much less reason to passively accept fundamental change.
It is too early to pass definitive judgment on the wisdom of the strategic decisions in mid-2004. In that period, the Coalition decided to rely on the Interim Iraqi Government (IIG) to implement a federal solution to Iraq’s political and economic problems and to keep US force levels relatively steady while rapidly building up Iraq’s security forces so they could tackle the internal security problems. By mid-2006, however, it appeared that the dysfunctional qualities of the nascent Iraqi political process, the chronically slow rise in effectiveness by Iraq’s security forces, and the incredibly violent sectarian strife undermined the hopes generated by the success of the Iraqi elections of January 2005 that serve as the end point of this study. What is not open to dispute is that deposing the Saddam regime was far easier than imposing or fostering a new political order in Iraq. One simple explanation is that the Coalition directed far more resources and energy into planning for the former objective than it put into planning for the latter goal.
The concepts concerning postconflict operations are not new to military history or to US military doctrine. Joint and Army commands, nevertheless, have over recent decades rather consistently shown a tendency to ignore them in practice. Joint and Army planning doctrine and processes must be changed to more specifically include planning and preparation for the inevitable transition to Phase IV and the achievement of strategic objectives. The transition to stability operations should begin before the end of major combat operations. Thus, planning must occur nearly simultaneously. Force level or troop density calculations must not simply be an exercise in minimalist thinking based on an alleged revolution in military affairs. Planning must also include an analysis of Phase IV force level requirements at every phase of a campaign. The doctrinal military decision-making process (MDMP) should make this explicit and prevent the sharp division between those phases that allow commands to relegate Phase IV planning to another day or to a follow-on command. Planners must also take into account the historical, cultural, and political factors that will affect national strategy and military operations, particularly Phase IV operations. The Army’s education system must emphasize these principles beginning at the Command and General Staff College (CGSC) and the School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS), and continue it through the Army War College. Army training programs, such as the Battle Command Training Program (BCTP), should include Phase IV planning and operations in their exercises and simulations—not as an afterthought, but as a primary exercise goal.
Mission Requirements and Force Rotations
In some ways, CENTCOM conducted the new campaign in 2003 and 2004 with the resources the Army and the other Services could sustain over time (in terms of types and numbers of units), and not necessarily with what was needed in Iraq to accomplish the mission. It is now common to hear concurrence with prewar estimates that postconflict operations in Iraq would require several hundreds of thousands of troops. Generals Sanchez and Abizaid took steps in June and July 2003 to delay the redeployment of the 3d Infantry Division (3d ID) out of Iraq while they revised the campaign plan and reviewed the issue of force size and composition. In the late summer and early fall, CJTF-7 and CENTCOM coordinated with the Joint Staffs and the Services to determine the size of the OIF II force rotation. Given the Army’s inability to sustain the size of the original OIF I force, much less to increase it, both commanders resorted to selective tour extensions, temporary force size increases for particular operations or events, and the creation of security force capability outside the CPA’s army and police building programs to generate greater numbers of forces. The decisions by the Bush administration in late 2006 to modestly increase troop levels in Iraq in 2007, to change commanders, and to increase the overall size of the Army and Marine Corps could be seen as belated recognition of the problems created by the mixing of roles between the regional combatant commanders and the Services.
The Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986 placed responsibility for the conduct of military operations on DOD’s regional combatant commanders and removed the Service chiefs from direct involvement in planning and conducting operations. The Act was drawn up to address many of the inefficiencies and interservice rivalries so evident in US military operations of the late 1970s and early 1980s. One result of the Act was that regional combatant commanders became responsible for planning operations, determining requirements, and conducting operations, while the Services provide forces and other resources as required. Yet, in this case the size and composition of the nation’s ground forces and force rotation policies appear to have overridden operational requirements.
It may be time for the Army and the nation to examine the very idea of force rotations as the default solution for extended campaigns. The Army’s post-Cold War experience of quick military victories, such as Operation DESERT STORM, and longer peace operations, as seen in the Balkans, has left a legacy with at least three negative side effects. The first is a belief that military campaigns can be conducted without extensive planning for and commitment to the operations that follow successful combat actions. The second is the concept of force levels that attempt to balance operational requirements with troop rotations deemed sustainable over time within existing resource levels. The third is a belief that military operations can quickly achieve national strategic objectives. If extended campaigns are necessary, the ascendant approach suggested that they could be managed as a series of rotational force deployments designed to limit the institutional effects on the Army and the nation while awaiting a political solution followed by a so-called exit strategy.3
While a national mobilization of the sort seen in World War II is unlikely to be needed in the future, the demands placed on the Army and the nation in OIF (and the Global War on Terrorism) call into question whether a military campaign ought to be planned and conducted in a way that does not take full advantage of the total resources of the US military, the US Government, and the nation. In 2003 the military forces were optimized for high-intensity, relatively short duration, conventional military campaigns. Waging protracted irregular war places quite different demands on military forces, and meeting those demands is emerging as one of the key strategic challenges for the United States in the early 21st century. Changes may include the longer deployment of larger portions of the Armed Forces, an increase in the size of the Armed Forces, and a greater national commitment of resources. Deploying military and nonmilitary resources for the duration rather than by rotation would put more resources on the ground, would involve a truly national commitment to victory, and paradoxically, could lead to quicker success.
Related to this issue of troop levels and warfighting requirements are the extensive mobilizations of the Army National Guard and Army Reserve. Both Reserve Components have shouldered a very heavy portion of the load in OIF. The ghosts of 1990–91, when some National Guard units were deemed unready to deploy for Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM, have been exorcised. Guard and Reserve Soldiers have amply demonstrated that they are a fully capable, and indeed, an absolutely essential part of the Army. The Active Duty Army cannot conduct operations for any length of time without participation by the Reserve and the Guard. The price paid by reservists and communities to sustain the long and repetitive mobilizations,
however, may not be sustainable in the future.
The prewar paradigm for use of the Reserves was characterized as “mobilize–train–deploy.” Inherent in this model was the assumption that after mobilization, time would be available for bringing personnel, equipment, and training up to necessary levels before the Reserves were committed. The new construct is now often called “train–mobilize–deploy.” This assumes well-manned, well-equipped, and fully-trained Reserve forces are ready for combat after a rapid mobilization and only limited refresher training. Before 2001 the Reserve Components were often conceived of as a “strategic reserve,” implying occasional use in national emergencies; since 2003 they have been referred to as an “operational force,” implying regular use in all conflicts. The differences between these two paradigms and the implications for the nation are significant. The Congress and the Army will have to provide much more of many things to rely on the Reserve Components in the future—more Soldiers, more modern equipment, more funding, more medical and educational benefits, more support to families, and more ways to support communities and businesses during mobilization periods. The practice of using individual Guard and Reserve Soldiers as augmentees to understrength Active and Reserve units rather than as cohesive units has proven quite problematic and is now avoided wherever possible.‡ Whether the Army, and the country, can continue to rely on its part-time Soldiers to perform frequent, long-duration deployments is an issue with which the military and civilian leadership must grapple. This burden is more difficult to bear in a time during which the vast majority of citizens are called on to do little in support of the war effort.
Doctrine and Training
One of the most positive changes resulting from the US Army’s experience in OIF during this period is the overhauling of the Army’s key doctrinal concepts in light of the current operational environment. Since 2004 the Army has spent considerable resources to update its doctrinal manuals as well as its education and training programs to catch up with realities encountered in Iraq and elsewhere in the war on terror. Two efforts stand out among many. FM 3-24, Counterinsurgency, updated this critical and neglected aspect of the Army’s doctrinal hierarchy when it was released in December 2006. This manual directs Army leaders to use a mix of offense, defense, and stability operations which are tailored to provide security for the population and establishing the legitimacy and effectiveness of the host nation’s government and security forces. The Army’s Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, developed the manual using a process that included input from a wide variety of military and nonmilitary experts.
The 2008 version of the Army’s capstone doctrine, FM 3-0, Operations, employed the context of the Army’s recent experience in Iraq and Afghanistan to offer a more complete and clearly-defined concept of full spectrum operations. The new field manual articulated the idea of full spectrum operations by stating, “Army forces combine offensive, defensive, and stability or civil support operations simultaneously as part of an interdependent joint force to seize, retain, and exploit the initiative, accepting prudent risk to create opportunities to achieve decisive results.”4 The 2008 version of FM 3-0 also called for the synchronized use of lethal and nonlethal actions that are proportional to the mission and the operational environment. This concept eliminated the old, incorrect division between fighting and “everything else,” which in previous doctrine was too sharply delineated. Furthermore, the new version of FM 3-0 clarified the meaning of key concepts such as the spectrum of conflict, explained how operational themes such as irregular warfare assist in setting the basic foundations for campaigns, and established the paramount importance of information operations. Combined with Joint Publication 5-0 that established a revised joint planning process, these key documents demonstrate how the Army has integrated its experiences in Iraq into its overall theory and practice. The improvements to Army and Joint doctrine must now be matched by changes in US Government interagency processes. As both of the key manuals repeatedly state, the military instrument of national power must operate in a broader and well supported strategy if national objectives are to be achieved after battlefield success.
In response to the unexpected realities of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army began revamping its training programs in late 2003 and early 2004. Training at the Army’s Combat Training Centers (CTCs) has been changed to reflect operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The BCTP has been similarly revised. The US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) and Forces Command (FORSCOM) have radically revised individual and unit training programs to conform to the demands of OIF and Operation ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF). They now include anti-improvised explosive device (IED), countersniper, convoy ambush, and a host of other programs designed in response to current battlefield demands. Units deployed to Iraq for OIF II had little if any time to take advantage of what were the still emerging changes in this area. Since OIF II, however, the record of those programs is much improved. The Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO), formed in late 2004 and by 2006 a 300+ person organization with a multi-billion dollar budget, is an example of these efforts. Today, JIEDDO’s three pronged approach—defeat the device, attack the network, and train the force—illustrates the broad-based approaches developed during this transition.5 The “Road to Deployment” concept, developed by the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, is a good model to prepare units for the full spectrum environment. The model provides a systematic process of education and full spectrum training to lead units from notification to deployment and to ensure the Army provides the most current support available. It should be made part of the Army’s new training management doctrine, but it must remain flexible enough to be modified in light of future missions.
The demands of preparing for operations in Iraq have reduced the time available for training on the full range of individual and collective skills. Understandably, many Soldiers and units have not maintained their expertise in the collective tasks required by conventional operations. When the operational tempo for OIF (and OEF) slows down, the Army will have to restore its proficiency in the areas that have been neglected. Given its commitment to the concept of full spectrum operations, the Army must avoid becoming too heavily focused on one part of the spectrum of conflict, because the future tends to deal harshly with military forces whose expertise is one dimensional and backwards looking.
As units began conducting full spectrum operations in Iraq, most leaders at the tactical level found that the gathering and analysis of information became a critical mission for all Soldiers. The Army’s legacy intelligence system, primarily designed for the top-down dissemination of information on a conventional battlefield, became only an adjunct to new processes developed during OIF. The new paradigm that emerged in 2003 and 2004 featured tactical units developing their own actionable intelligence that would then enable other types of operations such as cordon and searches or reconstruction projects. While the Army adapted its signals intelligence (SIGINT) and imagery intelligence (IMINT) systems to the insurgent threat and the noncontiguous battlefield, it was human intelligence (HUMINT) that became the critical source for information that allowed tactical units to attain the objectives in their areas of responsibility (AORs).
This study has demonstrated that in May 2003 the US Army was not prepared to gather or analyze HUMINT on any meaningful scale. HUMINT assets were few in number and resided mainly in the Tactical HUMINT Teams (THTs) spread across Iraq. Pushing these scarce teams down to brigade or battalion level provided some assistance to tactical commanders, but because those teams normally consisted of only three to six Soldiers, their effectiveness was limited. Exacerbating the problems in the formal HUMINT collection process was the barrier posed by language and culture. Almost all units examined noted that the severe lack of Army or contracted civilian linguists created huge obstacles to gathering information.
Given the nature of the Global War on Terrorism, it is highly likely that HUMINT will continue to be the key means of gathering actionable intelligence in the campaigns on the horizon. Since 2003 the Army has revisited its HUMINT doctrine and incorporated lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan in an effort to better prepare military intelligence (MI) Soldiers for future campaigns. The newest version of the Army’s HUMINT doctrine, Field Manual (FM) 2-22.3, Human Intelligence Collector Operations (2006), emphasizes the role of HUMINT managers and coordinators, such as the 2X staff officer and offers guidance and procedures for the THTs working on a noncontiguous battlefield. In 2003 and 2004 HUMINT operations almost always involved interrogations of detainees. In response to the detainee and interrogation abuses in this period, the new doctrine asserts the primacy of the Geneva Convention in establishing norms for the treatment of detainees, adheres to the standards set in the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act, and dictates to collectors the only legal interrogation techniques available for use. FM 2-22.3 also affirms the line that demarcates the roles of MI and military police (MP) Soldiers in interrogation operations, clearly stating that MP Soldiers have no role in preparing detainees for interrogations.
The Army should continue to revise and develop its HUMINT doctrine, including new concepts on the structure and manning of HUMINT teams at the tactical level, the role of the HUMINT (2X) officer and the structure of the intelligence staff section at various levels, and means of addressing the chronic shortage of linguists and interpreters. On a broader front, the Army recognized the role all Soldiers played in gathering vital information in Iraq and in 2005 began training Soldiers for this task through its Every Soldier Is A Sensor program. This initiative is an excellent start to what will hopefully become a systemic approach to training all Soldiers and units in the fundamentals of intelligence collection and analysis.
During OIF, in a setting where full spectrum operations became the norm, detainee operations quickly became one of the most common missions performed by Army units. This study has shown how, as the need for actionable intelligence rose, many tactical units reacted by attempting to gain information from Iraqis soon after they detained them. In fact, by 2004 many leaders at the tactical level had acknowledged that their units established and staffed detainee facilities where they often conducted interrogations. However, this approach did not fit into the Army’s doctrine, which clearly assigned the enemy prisoner of war (EPW)/confinement mission to the MP Corps. Simply put, the demand for information at the tactical level and the shortage of dedicated assets to gather that information rendered doctrine irrelevant. Additionally, the large number of detainees swamped a formal system set up to handle a limited amount of EPWs on a conventional battlefield.
The use of nondoctrinal detainee facilities led to a number of serious problems. As the scale of detainee operations in Iraq grew, it was clear that most Soldiers involved did not have proper training and often lacked clear guidance on how to treat detained Iraqis. In a few cases, this led to situations in which US Soldiers mistreated Iraqis. Most of the confirmed cases of mistreatment occurred at the point of capture, often in the heat of combat. However, a significant portion of the incidents happened at confinement facilities at the brigade, division, or combined joint task force (CJTF) level. The abuses in the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center (JIDC) at the Abu Ghraib Prison fit into this category. As the case at Abu Ghraib demonstrated, in environments where Soldiers lack relevant training, policies are unclear, and leadership uncertain, even dedicated mission-oriented Soldiers can lose their moral compass.
The detainee system that evolved in Iraq in 2003 and 2004 has serious implications for the US Army. If detainee operations of this type are considered part of full spectrum operations, then the Army’s training and education systems must broadly address this mission. The doctrinal division of effort between detention and interrogation, between the MP and MI interrogators, must be maintained. If the detention and confinement mission rests solely with the MP Corps, other issues arise. In a campaign such as OIF, can the US Army field enough trained MP units to handle the large number of detainees that will likely result? The Army has begun expanding the size of the MP branch and establishing more Internment/Resettlement Battalions, which have the doctrinal mission of running detainee facilities. However, any recasting of the MP branch and detainee operations doctrine must deal with the need for actionable intelligence at the tactical level by units conducting operations and having constant interaction with combatants and noncombatants.
The means of preventing further detainee mistreatment appears to be more straightforward. The keys are proper training, clear policies, and the presence of leadership that will enforce established standards. As noted above, in the relatively small number of confirmed cases of detainee abuse these elements were missing. Solid training on the basics of EPW/detainee treatment and enforcement from junior leaders will help prevent abuses at the point of capture. New policy, from the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act to FM 2-22.3, gives Soldiers clear parameters for detainee operations, especially those beyond the point of capture. To ensure these standards are met, commanders should consider selecting senior officers to oversee detainee operations. In 2004 Multi-National Force–Iraq (MNF-I) appointed a major general as the deputy commander for detainee operations and gave him resources to provide oversight of those operations. The formal establishment of similar command or staff positions at lower echelons within Army formations would further strengthen supervision of this critical mission.
Though not a function for which the Army is the lead arm of the US Government, national policymakers and joint commanders must plan for the interface between battlefield operations that generate detainees, and the host nation security forces, judicial process, and civilian detention systems. Soldiers must operate within a legal and doctrinal system of regulations when dealing with detained persons, but they must also work within an operational set of policies, guidelines, and host nation laws specific to the mission. The collapse of the Iraqi Government’s infrastructure in April 2003 meant Coalition forces had no partner in dealing with these thorny issues. In 2002 Saddam threw open the prison system in Iraq, releasing thousands of criminals that added yet another complicating factor to the problem. These challenges are yet another example of many that must be prepared for in advance of the start of military operations.
Training Indigenous Forces
Prior to OIF and OEF, few Soldiers in the conventional Army considered the training of indigenous forces one of their missions. The US Army’s Special Forces have long had this task as a core function. However, as OEF demonstrated in early 2003, even before OIF began, the potential scope of this mission exceeds the capacity of Special Operations Forces. Training and advising foreign soldiers in basic and small unit combat skills is difficult. The experience of the CPA and the Multi-National Security Transition Command–Iraq (MNSTC-I) with training and equipping the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) makes it clear that the mission to rebuild a host nation’s military units, security forces, and infrastructure requires an extremely large and robust program that is supported by many agencies of the US Government. Not until late 2004 did the DOD and the US Government create and begin to resource a program that met Iraq’s security requirements.
DOD’s unit advisory efforts were similarly lacking. The performance of the ISF in 2004 indicates that the size of the Advisor Support Teams (ASTs) were too small to provide the necessary degree of coaching, mentoring, and battlefield determination. Some of the Soldiers assigned to this mission did not have the requisite tactical experience to advise ground units in combat. Training for these teams in late 2003 and 2004 was inadequate, despite improvements made at US training centers and in Kuwait and Iraq. Not until mid-2005 was a comprehensive training program put in place under FORSCOM and MNSTC-I to prepare Soldiers and teams for this most important and dangerous task. Tactical, logistical, and medical coordination between US advisors, their Iraqi units, and US units in Iraq was inadequate during much of 2004. US advisors frequently found themselves without critical aspects of support despite operating near or with US and Coalition forces. These problems were not unprecedented and could have been foreseen. Indeed, these deficiencies in supplies and coordination would have been familiar to Soldiers and Marines who served as military advisors in Vietnam in the 1960s. Still, only in 2005 did MNSTC-I establish the Iraqi Assistance Group to provide coordination between US units and US advisors assigned to Iraqi units operating under the control of Multi-National Corps–Iraq (MNC-I).
The history of the security training programs in Iraq suggest that the Army needs to maintain a core of cadre, doctrine, and training programs of instruction for advising indigenous forces that can be expanded when needed. Special Operations Forces will continue to perform this mission on a regular basis in peace and in war. But when the requirement is to train, equip, and advise the armed forces of an entire nation, the conventional Army must be able to more quickly take on that mission. This is especially true when the strategic goals include fundamental societal change in the region of conflict. The conventional Army has had extensive experience with this mission since the end of World War II; signs suggest that it will be even more prevalent in the future. The establishment in 2006 of the Joint Center for International Security Force Assistance at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, is a step in the right direction. The Foreign Security Forces Training Program, run by the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas, is another positive step—although the use of the cadre of a modular brigade combat team is only a stopgap measure. The Army National Guard and Army Reserve have shouldered much of this burden in OIF (and OEF); they might be well suited to take on this mission and maintain a surge capacity on a permanent basis. Consideration should be given to creating a standing organization with the mission to be prepared to conduct these kinds of large-scale training, equipping, and advising functions.
The “M” in DOTMLPF—Materiel
Operations in Iraq have put an end to the age-old distinction between the front lines and rear echelons. The Army’s equipment must reflect this new reality. The contemporary operating environment includes a 360-degree enemy threat. That threat requires every Soldier and every system to be survivable while performing their primary mission, regardless of how far remote from combat it may be anticipated. The days of unarmored command and logistics vehicles are over. This is not to suggest that every system have the survivability of the M1 Abrams tank, but they must be able to survive a mine strike, artillery shrapnel, and small arms fire. And in the future, units in the Army Reserve and National Guard will need the same level of protection for their equipment as the Active force. The cost in peacetime will be considerable; the cost of not doing so will be unbearable in wartime.
It may be hard to envision another conflict in which the arsenal of democracy will be required to expand production as it did in World War II. It is apparent, however, that the national industrial base must be capable of expanding in critical areas more rapidly. The Army Materiel Command, Army depots, and commercial manufacturers need greater reserve capacity to produce ammunition, personal equipment, vehicles, and other supplies for any campaign lasting more than a few weeks. Their repair capacity must also be expanded. This will require far greater resources in peacetime than Congress has historically been willing to provide.
Command and Control
The vastly increased use of new command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I) systems in OIF is one of many successes for the Army. The Army Battlefield Command System (ABCS [version 6.4 as of this writing]) encompasses a dazzling array of technologies that is constantly evolving—the Force XXI Battle Command, Brigade and Below (FBCB2) System; Blue-Force Tracker; new single channel ground and airborne radio system (SINCGARS); integration of Global Positioning System (GPS) data; and the Command Post of the Future (CPOF) are but a few. Commanders from battalion to corps have credited these systems with a large part of their ability to command and control larger than normal units (some divisions have commanded the operations of seven or more brigades at times) over vast distances. These technologies have reduced fratricide rates to new lows. The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is another success story. Though originally developed for intelligence gathering, the Army quickly adapted UAVs for battle command, and in the case of armed UAVs, to conduct attacks. At the tactical level of war, the Army has successfully harnessed the information age to improve its battlefield performance and should continue to expand those efforts.
Many outside the Armed Forces are unaware of the very restrictive rules of engagement that control the use of deadly force by US troops when engaging enemy fighters. At least some observers would also be surprised about the incredible restraint used by US forces to limit noncombatant casualties and to limit collateral damage to Iraq’s physical infrastructure. Images and stories from Iraq on US operations too often focus on the loss of life and destructive nature of combat. The number of cities destroyed by fighting has been very small, and primarily the fault of insurgents. Part of the failure to understand this must be laid on the Army’s public affairs programs. These efforts by the Army ought to be acknowledged. Nonetheless, more than a few celebrated cases of airstrikes and artillery missions that missed their targets or hit noncombatant targets indicate potential over-reliance on firepower and too much disregard for its imprecision and potential for collateral damage. Increasing precision continues to reduce the likelihood of error, but in stability and counterinsurgency operations, a more careful weighing of costs and benefits is imperative.
The Battle of Ideas
The record of the US Army in the battle of ideas during OIF has been mixed. Perhaps the biggest success has been the use of embedded reporters. A reasonable balance between operational security and media access seems to have been reached after decades of contention since the 1970s. Embedded reporters almost without exception provided accurate news and followed operational security requirements. Their reporting was also generally positive and with a balanced view showed the American people what their Army does in conflict. Nearly every segment of the US population, as well as political leaders from local to national levels, has remained solidly in support of the Army’s Soldiers regardless of their support for operations in Iraq. The Army should work harder with media outlets and journalists, however, to reap the benefits of embedded reporting in full spectrum campaigns like OIF. The complex and often frustrating nature of these operations requires better understanding and communications on both parts.
The Army has not been as successful with its information operations (IO) or public affairs (PA) operations in Iraq. A military force must never underestimate the importance of IO, particularly during Phase IV of a campaign. The proper personnel and plans should be in place before Phase III begins so IO can be used to set the conditions for the inevitable transition. IO considerations should also be made an explicit doctrinal part of all postconflict operations. During the planning process, thought must be given to the potential positive outcomes that can be exploited, and to potential mitigation measures should the operation cause unintended negative effects. Most Army units in this period of OIF have already learned the importance of this practice.
The Army should exploit the IO potential of civil affairs (CA) projects to a greater degree. Simply doing “good things” for the host nation is not enough; those good things must be quickly and widely made known among the general population. Every Army unit at battalion and higher levels must have an organic IO capability. The Army must “grow” officers and NCOs with IO education and experience during peacetime; IO skills are not quickly learned or mastered. The CTCs and the BCTP should make these operations part of every exercise. The rank structure of staff officers in PA, psychological operations (PSYOP), CA, and IO cells in higher-level commands should be examined to ensure those disciplines are properly represented in planning and in operations. The Army placed responsibility for IO doctrine and training on the Combined Arms Center in June 2005, and in December 2005 the US Army IO Proponent (USAIOP) office was created. As of this writing, the best way to organize the work of various IO activities, PA operations, and strategic communications and effects within Army units and commands continues to be debated.6
The intellectual firewall between PA and IO must be restored and maintained. The distinction often made between “white” and “black” special operating forces and their missions may be useful in the case of PA and IO. If the spectrum of IO runs from PA and truth telling, to military deception and falsehoods, or from white to black, then the line beyond which PA personnel are allowed to operate must be well short of where that spectrum begins to blur into gray. The credibility of the Army requires that its PA personnel and pronouncements are known to be accurate and truthful. If a commander decides to synchronize efforts by uniting the PA and IO functions under a common staff element, such as an office of strategic communications, then the commander and his strategic communications advisor must preserve the integrity of the PA part of that office.
Combat Service and Soldier Support
The record of insights from this area, now called “sustainment” in emerging doctrine, are a mix of positives and negatives. The Army deserves credit for improvements to casualty care made before and during OIF. Those improvements include success in training, equipment, and doctrine. Soldiers and medics at the point of injury have access to new blood clotting agents and bandages, tourniquets, and pain drugs. Every Soldier now undergoes more and better training for first-line treatment of casualties. The combat support hospital (CSH) concept has proved itself a life-saving measure. Forward surgical teams and aero medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) from the point of injury to the CSH via the HH-60 Blackhawk has brought better trauma care much closer to the front lines than at any point in history. Combined with the rapid out-of-theater evacuation policy, wounded Soldiers in OIF have a far better chance of surviving their injuries than ever before.
The Army has already recognized the shortfalls in its Combat Service Support Control System (CSSCS)—a suite of communications and automation devices to process and track logistics requirements. Too few combat service support (CSS) units had the GPS-enabled systems needed to provide the total asset visibility required to make distribution-based logistics work. These shortfalls were most evident during the rapid move from Kuwait to Baghdad and beyond, but they persisted. Since the transition to Phase IV, CSS operations have functioned better using the forward operating base system, hub-and-spoke distribution road network, and improved convoy processes. However, the potential benefits of distribution-based logistics have not been fully realized.
Another insight that seems clear is that supplying and transporting the goods on the full-spectrum battlefield is itself a combat operation. CSS units need better communications and automation systems to keep pace with the advances made in battle command and to support units on the full-spectrum battlefield. Without the earlier division of ground operations into the front lines and the rear echelon, logistics units need the ability to plan and conduct combat operations on their own. This requires more survivable equipment, more radios, more GPS enabled C4I systems in more robust headquarters, more armament, and more redundancy in each of those areas. CSS units will have to spend more time training to use this equipment and on their combat tasks than ever before. This will put increased strain on CSS units, which have been made fewer and smaller since the start of the Army transformation efforts in 1999. Combat units also need greater self-sustainment capabilities during rapid mobile operations characteristic of Phase III, and even in less maneuver intensive stability operations.
The Army has made extensive use of contractors in OIF during, and after, the period under study in this book. The sheer size and complexity of the contractor force makes it impossible to give an accurate number of US contractors in Qatar, Kuwait, and Iraq, a problem that is one of the sources of attacks leveled against their use. However, it would not be an exaggeration to state that without civilian contract firms and their workers, the Army could not have conducted OIF. Their roles in preparing equipment for use prior to deployments; in maintaining equipment; in delivering supplies; in operating some command, control, and communications and automation equipment; and even in advising the ISF have allowed the Army to keep its military force levels lower than would otherwise be the case. (Some have even argued that the use of contractors makes is easier for the United States to go to war because it lessens the need to call up even larger numbers of Active and Reserve units.) There is little doubt that the tens of thousands of contract workers, many of them retired military personnel, have performed superbly in OIF. Despite the loss of life and operating with far less support for their families, contractors continue to serve very effectively in the most dangerous assignments.
Among the issues raised by this heavy reliance on contractors is cost (including the potential for waste, fraud, and abuse). The Congress and its investigative arm, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), have launched numerous investigations into charges of waste, fraud, and abuse connected with private contractors. Some Army contracting officers have been charged with abusing their positions to steer contracts toward specific firms. Some critics have also challenged the use of armed security contractors, primarily used by the CPA and Department of State, on grounds of effectiveness, control, and law of war principles. Iraqis make little distinction between the conduct of US military personnel and private security forces whose actions may not be conducted in accordance with stated military objectives, greatly complicating Coalition efforts to preserve unity of effort. The concept of the military as an exclusive profession has been called into doubt in light of the widespread use of contractors on the battlefield. Large salaries offered by contract firms have lured military personnel out of uniform. The impact of all these factors on morale and retention for Soldiers working alongside contractors performing the same or related duties for vastly greater salaries is hard to measure, but real nonetheless.
The amount of effort and resources devoted to the morale and welfare of the Army’s Soldiers in Iraq is considerable. Tours that last 12 months or more take a huge toll on physical fitness, mental health, and personal and family morale. The combat actions in OIF may lack some of the intensity of the Army’s more famous battles; but the constant danger, the nature of combat against unseen foes not fighting in accord with the rules of war, and the difficulty of measuring progress place demands on today’s Soldiers at least as heavy as if not heavier than those born by their predecessors. However, the mid-tour morale leave program has proven to be a success in sustaining Soldier morale and effectiveness, and the many amenities provided by well-equipped forward operating bases (FOBs) provide some relief from the constant strain and danger.
These large FOBs, despised by some Iraqis as American oases in a troubled Iraq, may run counter to operations and counterinsurgency doctrine, which calls for extended interaction with local inhabitants and security forces. Another potential drawback to the immense support provided to American Soldiers is the ever lower “tooth-to-tail ratio” that it causes. The number of Soldiers who operate outside the bases in Kuwait and outside the FOBs in Iraq is much smaller than total deployed force levels would indicate. While the force protection and cultural sensitivity benefits of large FOBs are advantageous, they may well be counterproductive to the overall campaign. (Changes to US basing and operating methods in 2007 may present the opportunity to better evaluate this issue.) The Army must carefully weigh the benefits accrued from its extensive support to Soldiers’ living conditions against the potential loss of effectiveness in these types of operations.
Operations in Iraq since April 2003 indicate that Army education, as opposed to individual task-specific training, should place more emphasis on the humanities, especially on those disciplines that relate to the understanding of other cultures. The term “cultural awareness” has now emerged as a key imperative for the Army as a result of the relative lack of cultural understanding of American Soldiers in the Middle East and Iraq. The Army, and in particular the officer corps, must be better educated about the non-Western world. Precommissioning academic requirements should include required courses in history, international relations, macro-economics, culture, religion, and geography. Every Army officer should be required to speak a second language, with incentives to direct them toward languages from regions of the world deemed most important or most dangerous to US national interests. Beyond the obvious benefit of being able to converse with others, the mental agility and discipline gained from learning another language pays secondary and tertiary benefits. Language proficiency should be considered a prerequisite for commissioning of all new officers, and required over time for serving officers before being promoted to the next grade.
The Army must foster a greater contrarian spirit within the officer corps to avoid group think and naive susceptibility to the latest fads in military affairs. The creation of the so-called Red Team University at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to provide the Army with a core of officers trained to think like an uncooperative enemy, and to challenge plans before they are issued, is a good first step. The use of 360-degree performance evaluations will also help in creating an officer corps more aware of its leadership strengths and weaknesses. Army promotion and selection process must advance those NCOs and officers who demonstrate proficiency at full spectrum operations. The Army should push the rest of the Government to increase the professional schooling and assignment opportunities for Soldiers and civilians to serve in nonmilitary governmental agencies to foster better planning and operational effectiveness.
Soldiers: The Army’s Greatest Asset
The most positive insight to emerge from this study has been the consistently superb combat and noncombat performance of US Army Soldiers and units. Despite all of the challenges and difficulties noted throughout On Point II, the US Army Soldier emerges again and again as the most flexible, determined, and resourceful element in the Army’s arsenal. The bravery, ingenuity, and tactical skill of Soldiers, and the sustained tactical excellence of units in the US Army, are testimony to the soundness of the Army’s recruiting, training, education, and leadership practices. This record of success has been marred somewhat by the dishonorable actions of a tiny, well publicized, fraction of the Soldiers who have served in Iraq. It is to the Army’s credit that those incidents have been or are still being investigated, and that those found guilty of criminal misconduct are being punished. Clearly, much was done right to prepare the Army for its mission in what has become an extended campaign in Iraq. The high level of public support for the Army’s Soldiers from every side of the political spectrum is ample evidence of their well earned respect. The Army must do more to put forth the names and faces of its greatest assets to maintain that level of public support.
The Army’s recent emphasis on inculcating the Warrior Ethos is a positive reaction to the reality of 21st century military operations and shortfalls discovered during the march to Baghdad. The Warrior Tasks and Drills, which are now part of the Initial Entry Training (IET), the Noncommissioned Officer Education System (NCOES), and the Officer Education System (OES) should remain part of the individual training program. The 360-degree threat environment of the contemporary operating environment should put an end to that time-worn epithet for Soldiers whose missions were performed in the rear echelons of the linear battlefield. Every Soldier, regardless of military occupation specialty or rank must be a master of personal and small unit offensive and defensive combat skills.
Few mental exercises are more arrogant, and few have a higher risk of being just plain wrong, than hasty historical judgments about on-going military operations. At the same time, critics often accuse military leaders of fighting the last war, having missed the signs of impending change that will make the future unlike the past. Alongside this (usually exaggerated) criticism is one that accuses hidebound military leaders of planning to fight the next war in a way that they wish it to occur, not as it turns out to be. This chapter of On Point II, indeed the entire study, is an attempt to render those criticisms mute. Military conflicts are rarely, if ever, conducted like their predecessor, nor like the futurists predict they will be conducted. In 1973 the dean of living military historians, Michael Howard, famously stated that it may not matter what doctrine military leaders are working on for they are rarely correct about the future. He continues, “I am tempted to declare that it does not matter that they have got it wrong. What does matter is their capacity to get it right quickly once the moment arrives.”7 It is this mental flexibility, rooted in history but aware of constant change and prepared to quickly adapt to new conditions that must be cultivated in the Army. The US Army has a remarkable history of getting it right over time, and it is in that spirit that On Point II has been written.
1. Carl von Clausewitz, On War, eds. Peter Paret and Michael Howard (Princeton, NJ: University Press, 1976), 88, 579.
2. See Ali A. Allawi, The Occupation of Iraq: Winning the War, Losing the Peace (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007), 91–95, 133–146, 460. As one Iraqi politician has concluded, “The Iraqi political class that inherited the mantle of the state from the Baathist regime was manifestly culpable in presiding over the deterioration of the conditions in the country.”
3. For a recent example of this critique, see Brigadier General (Retired) Mitchell M. Zais, “U.S. Strategy in Iraq,” Military Review, March–April, 2007, 105–108; see also, Richard Hart Sinnreich, “For Military Leaders, It’s Déjà vu All Over Again,” Army, June 2007, 9–10.
4. See Field Manual 3-0, Operations (Washington, DC, 28 February 2008), chapter 3.
5. “Head of Anti-IED Agency Says it’s Been Effective,” Army Times, 21 May 2007, 24.
6. See Colonel Curtis D. Boyd, “Army IO is PSYOP: Influencing More with Less,” Military Review, May–June 2007, 67–75.
7. Sir Michael Howard, “Military Science in an Age of Peace,” Chesney Memorial Gold Lecture, given on 3 October 1973, published in the Journal of the Royal United Services Institute for Defense Studies, 119, 1 March 1974, 7.
*The 2006 version of Joint Publication 5-0, Joint Operations Planning, includes six campaign phases that should alleviate the artificial distinction of the previous four-phase model. They are shape, deter, seize the initiative, dominate, stabilize, and enable civil authority.
†Most senior US commanders, though not all, believed they had sufficient forces in Iraq throughout 2003 and 2004 to accomplish their missions. As this study has shown, this often meant concentrating forces for particular operations in specific regions while accepting risk in other areas and deploying additional forces to Iraq for temporary periods.
‡In December 2004 the Chief of the Army Reserve, Lieutenant General James Helmly, issued a strong cautionary note about the way many USAR Soldiers had been deployed. He decried their use as individual fillers instead of deploying them in cohesive units caused detrimental effects on the long-term readiness of the Army Reserve. The USAR and the ARNG are now undergoing fundamental changes in the way Soldiers are recruited and trained and how units are deployed.
Unity of Effort and Unity of Command
Phase III and Phase IV Operations
Mission Requirements and Force Rotations
Doctrine and Training
Training Indigenous Forces
The “M” in DOTMLPF—Materiel
Command and Control
The Battle of Ideas
Combat Service and Soldier Support
Soldiers: The Army’s Greatest Asset
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