Monday, October 05, 2009

Bifurcated command in anti-insurgency

Eight questions for Thomas Ricks | Democracy in America | "I think the US military essentially shirked the grandiose mission they were given in Iraq, which was to transform Iraq into a beacon of democracy that would change the whole Middle East—"drain the swamp", as the Bushies used to say. The generals looked at that mission and said, consciously or not, "That's crazy! We don't do revolutionary operations!" What do you do when the mission is insane? I think you should quietly retire, as indeed a couple of generals did—Gregory Newbold and John Batiste. But those were exceptions. Most of the senior commanders involved instead re-defined the mission as "stability operations", because they were comfortable with that. But while they were trying to bring stability to Iraq, Ambassador Paul Bremer was trying to bring revolutionary change, by dissolving the Iraqi army, banning Baathists from public life and trying to establish a free market. So from the very beginning, the American civilian effort in Iraq was undercut by the military’s approach. This sort of friction, resulting from a bifurcated command structure, with no one in charge of the overall effort, still surfaces from time to time."