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CALL Newsletter 04-13
Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)
CAAT II Initial Impressions Report (IIR)

Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)
CAAT II Initial Impressions Report (IIR)


Three times as many U.S. Soldiers were killed since the end of hostilities in May 2003 as were killed during combat operations. Combat operations and force protection operations remain as relevant and critical during Phase IV as during Phases I-III.

A multitude of challenges face Army forces presently in and out of theater. Our models of how to man, equip, and train the force for offensive operations do not link up across the board when dealing with stability (and support) operations. Our current doctrine deals with a linear battlefield and unified phases of operation. Our Soldier skill sets are focused on the primary mission; conversely, on-the-job training is being used today in theater to prepare Soldiers to plan and execute missions that were looked at before as secondary or tertiary.

Great advances are being made in understanding cultural issues at local levels. Battalion- and company-grade officers are challenged to understand and manage issues dealing with the Iraqi people with little or no training to support their decisions. A highlight to the tenacity of these Soldiers is their ability to overcome a lack of training in understanding to execute political and strategic objectives.

Current Iraqi sentiment has evolved from personal relationships between Coalition Soldiers and Iraqi citizens. Because these relationships differ from location to location and person to person, it is hard to correlate events and actions with relationship successes or failures. An armor task force commander in Baghdad described his methodology as that of plotting and measuring everything: "After a positive or negative event, he would have his staff evaluate all actions they had conducted before, during, and after the event. This would allow him to correlate activities with outcomes and develop TTP (tactics, techniques, and procedures) for future success." While not all actions provided equal measures or correlating events, this methodological approach helped establish a base line of comparative success for his task force. It allowed him to utilize the Army approach of BDA (battle damage assessment) in regard to stabilization and support operations. This task force was very in tune with the local Iraqi populace in their area of operation. A bond was built and cultivated over many months resulting in a trust between the military and civilian population. As a result of this established relationship, a new anxiety has developed due to the impending transfer of authority (TOA). The local leaders inquired about the replacement force and their capability to "be as good" as the current command. The incumbent task force felt it imperative to pre-build success in established events so that the new command could capitalize on their past positive efforts. Obviously all of the effort and work to continue positive momentum would be conducted by the current command. The local population would see the new command arrive and continue to demonstrate success from the start due to the seamless transfer of authority. This is an example of a positive exchange and establishes a template for future relief in place (RIP) operations that guarantees support from the local community.

While thankful for the removal of the former regime elements (FRE), to include Saddam Hussein, the local populace has a short memory of their past lives. They tend to be focused on the current issues and have a reasonable need for communication. Language barriers pose a difficult task for all levels in this effort. A missed intent in local negotiations can mean future significant problems in dealing with other issues. A poor communication effort may alienate a local company commander and cause significant problems in future community negotiations. It is imperative that communications be clear and effective and that all concerned are aware of its implications.

In the Iraqi Operational Environment (IOE), success in civil administration requires an understanding of Iraqi religious and tribal institutions and their relationship with the secular forms of government inherent to democracy and proposed by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). Furthermore, U.S. plans and practices cannot be successful in the absence of a knowledge and understanding of Iraqi sentiments and perceptions. This is all the more important given the high turnover of CPA personnel and the lack of regional expertise held by the majority of Coalition military and civilians in Iraq. Although nominally running Iraq, maneuver commanders are generally not trained in the complexities and subtleties of the area. This has resulted in some U.S. practices serving to alienate common Iraqis who initially supported the Coalition. To partially rectify this, some OIF units have sent division and brigade commanders and staff to Jordan to receive instruction on how to operate effectively in Arab/Muslim Iraq. Despite the excellent work done by numerous Soldiers to make parts of the information operations (IO) campaign work effectively, Phase IV IO is executed sporadically in OIF. A vertically integrated, horizontally synchronized IO campaign simply does not appear to exist.

Some U.S. units understand and use the concepts of setting objectives, developing themes, and setting measures of effectiveness (MOE). Others do not understand the process and therefore are just conducting operations without any measure of success or failure. Some commanders use tactical psychological operations (PSYOP) teams (TPTs) as a reactive measure when negative second or third order effects occur. Most IO battle drills are reactionary in nature.

U.S. commanders grapple with the concept of information operations across the range of military operations. While some affirm that this is an IO fight and that it should be the priority for Coalition efforts, others believe that IO is not an option, but that offensive operations should be the main effort of this stability operations phase.

IO doctrine does not meet the needs of commanders in an operational environment for a variety of reasons discussed in the IO chapter. IO does not seem to be integrated into the Army's Officer Education System (OES), Warrant Officer Education System (WOES), or Non-Commissioned Officer Education System (NCOES) on a consistent or standardized basis. Furthermore, IO does not appear to be incorporated into most collective training events, either as a doctrinal component of collective training or as a component of training assessment.

Soldiers are performing functions vastly different from those on which they have trained; this continues to be a challenge. This is prevalent with almost every MOS in the theater. All Soldiers are being asked to perform infantry missions/operations for which they have received very little training. They have had to learn through an on-the-job training program that has little room for forgiveness, but it has become their dominant routine. The challenge to hone their skills for successful mission accomplishment has been formidable. The performance of combat engineers is a perfect example. They are continuing to conduct their primary missions of mobility, counter-mobility, and survivability but now include direct infantry tactics required by operations such as cordon and search and move to contact. Route clearance, improvised explosive device (IED) detection, elimination of captured ammunition, and unexploded ordnance disposal have also become primary missions. The shortage of trained explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) personnel and EOD detachments has made the engineers a force multiplier in this area of operations. Engineers in one brigade combat team (BCT) have detonated over 80,000 tons of unexploded ordnance (UXO). Their vertical and horizontal skills are being employed to satisfy requirements in support of combat operations and host nation building. Remarkable performances are being realized throughout theater. Negotiation skills and management of funds now become a requirement at the company command and higher levels. Young commanders are contracting for construction and materials and beginning projects that will assist in future community relations. These types of skills are not trained in the traditional officer and noncommissioned officer school systems. On-the-job training has become the norm. The only hesitancy relates to the personal desire to accomplish the process "right." A young company commander described his experience in acquiring materials for road and bridge construction. Because the local population knew that culvert pipe was required for the project, the price escalated. Upon questioning the vendor, it became apparent that local family needs, combined with community requirements, caused the temporary inflation. Everyone was trying to line their pockets because they felt no one was paying attention.

Commander's emergency response program (CERP) funds were provided to commanders to allow them to make improvements in their communities that will have a direct and positive impact. Some have completed school improvements; others purchased equipment for the civil defense forces or local police departments. Others were able to hire garbage collectors or improve roads in and around town. Because of the flexibility offered by this system, commanders can listen to their district or neighborhood advisory counsels and spend their funds in areas that will have the most positive effect. In many cases the goals attained may not be closely associated with the national strategic plan, but the benefits derived paved the way to better human understanding and relations.

Weapons of terror are still the method of choice for the opposition. IEDs and vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIED) are the weapons of choice. These devices and methods of employment are becoming increasingly sophisticated. The terrorists utilize TTPs of their own. They are watching and monitoring traffic patterns and looking for the obvious: regularly scheduled convoys or troop movements. They seem to have minimal intelligence on key visitor movements. The devices being used are better disguised, continually improved, and detonated with more precision. Current methods include the use of remote devices (car remotes and garage door openers). The trigger mechanisms are now being delayed for maximum effect. During one particular event, the terrorist detonated an IED, injuring a Soldier. Knowing his comrades would be quick to respond to the injured troop, he waited for additional Soldiers to show up and detonated a second explosion which produced multiple injuries. These methods have a large psychological effect on our troops. They need to be able to respond to a wounded comrade but are slowed by the possible impact of moving too quickly.

Our Soldiers are becoming more aware of their surroundings and different signs. As one commander coined, look for "the absence of the normal or the presence of the abnormal." This situational awareness can save lives and provide valuable intelligence that might help eliminate a terrorist threat.

It is impossible to prepare for mortar and rocket attacks. Knowing the locations of bomb-proof bunkers is probably the most important deterrent. Most attacks occur between 1800 and 2400 hours because the terrorist can work under the cover of darkness but not be noticed because other personnel are still moving around. Most attacks are inaccurate. Most of the mortar and rocket devices are launched through PVC pipes laid on sloped berms and pointed in the direction of known Coalition force locations. They can be fired individually or in volleys. Coalition forces have been very successful in vectoring launch locations and apprehending the launch personnel. Supplying, maintaining, and sustaining the force has presented new and interesting opportunities and challenges in this theater. Water requirements are based on camp population and other water demands based on services provided. A BCT under the current Force XXI is unable to store and distribute water by virtue of its MTOE. Their solution was to create the "camel rack."

High saline content in the raw water has posed challenges in the operation of the reverse osmosis water purification unit (ROWPU). The lack of an adequate supply of repair parts and chemicals has had an impact on mission accomplishment. To facilitate receipt of repair parts, many units were able to acquire the parts at home station and have them shipped via the postal service. This method circumvented traditional logistics channels but guaranteed delivery of parts and supplies critical for mission accomplishment. It appears that the automated systems supporting logistics have been stretched to their capacity.

Table of Contents
Compendium of Phase IV Operational Efforts in Iraq

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