SIRIUS: The Strategic Issues Research Institute
Benjamin C. Works, Executive Director
1515 Jeff Davis Hwy #408 * Arlington, VA 22202
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SIT-Rep 03-08-07 August 7, 2003

Iraq & “Transformation”


The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) and Interim Governing Council IGC) continue to make some progress on transforming Iraq to a constitutional society, but with bumps along the road. Iraq has restored relations with the UN, but the Arab League voted this week to deny recognition to the IGC, since it was not elected into office.

In the Sunni Triangle, north of Baghdad, US forces continue to actively pursue Saddam and his confederates, while attempting to snuff out resistance cells of the Fedayeen Saddam. A reduction in American casualties in the last week may be the product of improved convoy procedures as well as the blanket effort to smother the guerrilla cells. It is too early to tell. But America has the resources to better protect ground convoys, using its helicopter fleet and various sensors, and can reduce the amount of ground traffic, north of Baghdad, by increasing the use of C-130, and other transport flights by jets and helicopters.

But LtGen Ricardo Sanchez, our commander in Iraq has had to admit this week that our anti-guerrilla sweeps in the Sunni Triangle have, indeed, been heavy-handed and are being viewed by most Iraqis as oppressive: we just do not understand well enough and widely enough, how to deal with the Arab tribal culture. Well, there are answers, and easily digestible ones, too.

First and foremost, every soldier deploying to Iraq should get an indoctrination seminar that includes a screening of the director’s cut of “Lawrence of Arabia,” and a post screening discussion. That film addresses all important elements of the Arab culture, including hospitality, courtesy and intertribal blood feuds. Officers should be encouraged to read Lawrence’s “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” (available at B&N or Amazon).

For further insight, commanders would do well to read John Bagot Glubb Pasha’s “War in the Desert” (on fighting Wahabi raiders in Southern Iraq 1929-30) and “A Soldier with the Arabs” (The Arab Legion 1939-56), then track down Major CS Jarvis’ “Arab Command: The Biography of LTC FC Peake Pasha,” about the foundation of the Arab Legion as a constabulary force in Trans-Jordan from 1920-39. On constabulary matters, British Major General Sir Charles W Gwynn published “Imperial Policing” in 1934. It is a primer containing “The Nature of the Army’s Police Duties,” “Principles and Doctrine” and 10 live-fire case studies between 1919 and 1931. These books are out of print and have long since been discarded by US military libraries. They can be found through and the Defense Department would do well to arrange new editions for course work at the JFK Special Operations School, National Defense University and the Army/Navy War Colleges. Copies of some of these books continue to lurk in some state library systems and can be borrowed out.

One anecdote about accountability comes from Jarvis’ book:

"Up in the extreme north of Trans-Jordan, a British official, short of funds, police, officials and everything that goes to form a government, evolved an ingenious system by which he formed four separate and independent districts which were normally most hostile to each other. By this arrangement he could preserve peace and public security by threatening any recalcitrant district with an attack by the others. This system worked like a charm, and as long as this official was in power, harmony reigned."- Maj CS Jarvis, Arab Command; the Biography of LTC FG Peake Pasha; Hutchinson & Co: London, 1942; p. 66

Finally, commanders should read Peruvian economist Hernando DeSoto’s “The Mystery of Capital” and, if really curious about the art of reconstruction under fire, “The Other Path.” These deal with structural economic reform of developing societies as an alternative to revolutionary movements such as Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path).

Dueling Imams: The Shiite South

An ambitious scion of one leading Shiite family claiming descent from The Prophet, Hojatoleslam Moqtada al-Sadr, continues to promote his self-serving campaign against American occupation and secular Constitutionalism. Sadr, still in his twenties and in the junior-most ranks of the Shiite clergy, has recruited several thousand young hotheads from Baghdad’s Sadr City borough, but has to truck them down to Najaf, home of Shiite scholarship, to make a splashy demonstration for the cameras of the Arab networks.

In contrast, Hussein Khomeini, 45, a midlevel cleric and grandson of the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran’s clerical tyranny, has come out squarely for America and for secular government. Young Khomeini in interviews with several papers affirmed that his countrymen would, if necessary, accept U.S. military intervention to liberate their nation.

"In Iran the people really need freedom, and freedom must come about. Freedom is more important than bread," he told The Washington Times. "But if there's no way for freedom in Iran other than American intervention, I think the people would accept that. I would accept it, too, because it's in accord with my faith."

Mr. Khomeini left Iran, ostensibly on a religious pilgrimage to Shi'ite holy sites in Najaf, Karbala and Baghdad, but his statements indicate he will stay in Najaf until the Constitutional crisis in Iran is resolved by a revolution of rising expectations. In his Shiite view, the people of his faith are benefiting and are grateful: "I see day by day that the country is on the path to improvement," he told the Washington Times. "I see that there's security, that the people are happy, that they've been released from suffering."

Meanwhile, we note sadly that beastly Taliban-Al Qaeda gunmen have taken to assassinating pro-government Imams in the mosques of Kandaher, killing three loyal clerics last month.

Notes From the Field:

Word comes that more of our troops, if not all, are now getting hot food and some in-country Rest & Recreation (R&R) at sites set up by their division headquarters. What the Army and its contractors cannot yet provide, soldiers scrounge, while one friend recently mailed a 95-pound air conditioner to his son, a captain “at the front” in Beiji. Other families are doing the same. Such is our 21st Century.

In the 4th Division, soldiers grumble about their R&R center, housed in Saddam’s Tikrit Palace. The Division HQ scooped up the palaces closest to the swimming pool and visiting soldiers are billeted two miles away and have to walk to the pool in “full battle rattle.” But they get some good food and rest; showers and the basics. In contrast, up in the 101st Divisions Area of Operations in the Kurdish north, Major General David Petraeus has made himself one of the brightest stars in this campaign for campaigning and more so, for his postwar efforts in establishing elected governing councils in Kirkuk and Mosul, and for his efforts to provide amenities to his troops. He has opened the 101sts R&R center in Dahuk (Dohak) a Kurdish city on the Turkish border, with a lively consumer goods market and a “5-star” hotel. Petraeus is working to get every platoon a refrigerator as another basic morale building amenity.

Meanwhile, in the absence of field sanitation and in the sweltering heat, our soldiers have become masters of developing new field expedients, often resorting to products developed for our womanly consumers: baby wipes for cleanliness, panty hose to protect sensors and other equipment from sandstorms, and panty liners under their helmets to soak up the sweat. In a more esoteric application of improvisation, young soldiers learn that they can improvise pepper gas using a smoke grenade and a few Tabasco sauce packets that are a standard condiment in their Meals-Ready to Eat (MRE’s).


General Peter Schoomaker stepped out of retirement and was sworn in as the Army’s 35th Chief of Staff on Friday, August 1st. He will be tasked with the Herculean job of smartening up an ossified Army establishment, as it reluctantly goes about the business of transforming itself for expeditionary warfare and “fourth generation” warfare against non-state terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda. It is a daunting task and though there are many hands willing to assist in this work of transformation, few of us expect it will be entirely successful: we remain cautiously pessimistic.

Strategists often talk of four “generations” of warfare: the 1st Generation were the limited “Lace Wars” of European Monarchs seeking to “adjust” the then-balance of power and map of Europe. The French Revolution introduced the “Armee en Masse” and 2nd Generation “Total War” of Conscription and the Industrial Age. 3rd Generation warfare is characterized by maneuver, as opposed to wide-front slugfests, and was practiced with great success by Washington and Sherman in their earlier campaigns. Now guerrilla warfare and “Low Intensity Conflict” (LIC) have been elements in North American war fighting since the 1st Generation French and Indian Wars. Today’s war on Terrorism, “4th Generation warfare” is guerrilla warfare and terrorism, with our latest technology and communications added to the mix and with non-state groups practicing terrorism to advance esoteric ideological goals or, as with Al Qaeda, a malign misanthropy cloaked in theological trappings.

Increasingly, ideological, ethnic and religious terrorist groups ally themselves with transnational Mafia elements to ensure funding and logistical support. This is true in Colombia, where FARC and ELN have co-opted a hefty chunk of the cocaine trade and of Al Qaeda’s complex relationships with the Albanian gangs behind the KLA and Kosovo Heroin Mafia, and their Chechen allies, as well.

The American campaign against Taliban in Afghanistan was almost entirely 4th generation special operations, and 3rd generation maneuver including the Northern Alliance warlord “armies” and the insertion of a Marine expeditionary force into the vicinity of Kandahar. In the Iraq campaign, the US used a combination of 3rd generation maneuver warfare to take Baghdad, and 4th generation special operations in the North, to freeze large elements of the Iraqi Army facing Turkey and the Kurds. In the post-war reconstruction phase, the US finds itself using a combination of conventional and unconventional forces to defeat a sputtering 4th generation resistance that resorts to ambush, sabotage and, just today, a terrorist car bomb attack outside the Jordanian Embassy.

The point of transformation is to package lethal combat forces capable of defeating 3rd generation and 4th generation opponents on a rotating schedule of readiness so that you always have a third of your force ready to deploy on no notice, while another third trains up for deployment and another third completes its deployment. Of the four uniformed services in the Department of Defense (the Coast Guard falling within Homeland Security), the Army has done the least to transform itself for future roles and missions, and has the greatest inclination towards a moribund status quo of preparing for “second generation” attritional warfare –full frontal war, if you will. By contrast, Marine General Al Gray, based on intellectual work by civilian analyst Bill Lind and a host of younger officers, including Mike Wyly and Gary (GI) Wilson, transformed the Marine Corps towards “3rd Generation” maneuver warfare and 4th Generation counter-insurgency warfare, in time for Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Under Gray, the Marines transformed from being “the knuckle-draggers” of the armed forces, into the most intellectual branch. The Navy has practiced a rotational readiness program for its expeditionary Carrier Task Forces since the Cold War, while the Air Force effected its transformation to Expeditionary warfare in the aftermath of Desert Storm.

What is Transformation?

We’ll be hearing a lot more about transformation, so what does it mean? In fact, the overarching concept encompasses an across the board array of initiatives. First and foremost, it requires a new mind-set; the willingness to explore acting creatively, at every level of strategy, logistics, procurement and administration. And to succeed, it requires that the process include substantial changes in how Congress handles defense budgeting. Again, most importantly, transformation depends on the mindset of those tasked to execute; and we have a fine example in General Schoomaker, a veteran of the Iran Hostage rescue debacle at “Desert One,” in 1980, who spent most of his subsequent career helping to build our special operations capabilities.

The problem remains that Congress is inclined to meddle too much in military affairs, the source of much pork, spread around their districts. Further, in Congress’ ability to launch investigations and to approve or derail promotions of general officers, they inject a fear factor that encourages risk avoidance and inertia. Since the Vietnam war, this fear factor has smothered the armed services and built a culture where officers too often practice “force protection” and cover-your-ass procedures out of fear for their careers, rather than out of a genuine respect and love for the troops they command.

Donald Rumsfeld, no stranger to a tough wrestle, has begun to address the transformation of relations with Congress and we wish him every success in that.

We’ll be exploring the many issues involved in “transformation” in future issues, but they involve several excellent books, which the reader is encouraged to refer to for rich detail. These books include (not to exclude other recent works):

  • Colonel Douglas Macgregor’s forthcoming “Transformation Under Fire” (to be published next month and building on his current work “Breaking the Phalanx), These deal with reworking the Army’s combat brigades into a rotational system, and with establishing permanent Joint Standing Task Force Commands to direct the battlespace. (Joint denotes operations involving systemic cooperation by two or more of our uniformed services).

  • Major Donald Vandergriff’s “The Path to Victory,” which explores implementable alternatives to the Army’s antiquated individual personnel system, a legacy of industrial expert Frederick Taylor, and which treats all soldiers as gypsies and man-as-interchangeable machine.

  • Major Donald Vandergriff, et al; “Spirit, Blood and Treasure” an anthology on transformation for maneuver warfare and 4th generation campaigning.

  • Robert Coram’s Biography: “Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War,” about a little-known Air Force officer who redefined a comprehensive strategy for our time and who fathered the concept of operating “inside the enemy’s decision cycle,” a phrase heard often during briefings during Operation Iraqi Freedom.”

  • James P Wade et al; “Shock and Awe.” (Available over the internet at: Wade sought to modernize the German blitzkrieg concept of “Sturm und Drang” (Storm and stress) to an information age armed force practicing rapid maneuver warfare.

For now, the Army will wrestle with smoothing out a rotation of forces into Iraq as a means of moving towards transformation: in doing this, they will be developing tailored combined arms force packages, exposing a badly designed armored car to live-fire service and rotating two beefed-up National Guard Brigades for a twelve-month tour of duty.

The most interesting development is the battle group being formed at Fort Bragg, to take over from the 3rd Infantry Division, next month. It comprises a brigade of the 82nd Airborne augmented by the following: a battalion of Green Berets, a battalion of MPs, a Civil Affairs Battalion, engineers and a small task force of Abrams tanks and Bradley armored infantry. This is a hunter-killer as well as a constabulary and security team. They will have the ability to continue the hunt for Saddam and his guerrilla minions. What’s good about this task force, is that they can build cohesion at Fort Bragg even before they deploy, and “wargame” how these disparate components can operate smoothly as a team in the field. Ossified as the conventional Army became in the years since Desert Storm, our forces are comfortable with this sort of task force building and will have the chance to practice it further.

As to the National Guard: On July 26, Army officials announced that the 30th Infantry Brigade from North Carolina and the 39th Infantry Brigade from Arkansas were alerted to deploy to Iraq. The 30th Infantry Brigade will be augmented with an infantry battalion from the 27th Infantry Brigade, New York ARNG. The 39th Infantry Brigade will be augmented with an infantry battalion from the 41st Infantry Brigade, Oregon ARNG.

Now for the ugly reality of Army procurement. Recently retired Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki was by many reports of those who knew him, a good commander and man. But he became obsessed with an eight-wheeled monstrosity as a “transformational” platform, and begat the LAV-3 “Stryker” (LAV-Light Armored Vehicle). In May 2001, SIRIUS published a SIT-Rep on how bad that vehicle is. Subsequent surveys by other critics find even more defects in a grossly over-priced program. With respect to Iraq, the vehicle is highly vulnerable to fatal attacks by the rocket propelled grenades that are being fired at our troops daily. One hit and the entire crew inside a Stryker will be “hamburger all over the highway.” General Schoomaker is widely expected to spike the Stryker Brigades program (Gen Shinseki envisioned mounting 6 of our 33 combat brigades in these conveyances) and redistribute these as transports for smaller units, mostly in the National Guard.

© Copyright 2003 by Benjamin C. Works - SIRIUS

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