Friday, August 31, 2007

And this is how to build a good reputation

General David Petreaus has had three major operational responsibilities and commands in Iraq. The current theatre leadership for the surge/escalation strategy is the most prominent. However he built his reputation as being at least competent and successful on his previous two commands. The first was as commander of the 101st Air Assault Division during the invasion and then during the first year of occupation. His division was responsible for north central Iraq, with Mosul as the most populated city and the greatest potetnial flash point. His second command in Iraq was to oversee the training, equiping and organization of new Iraqi security units, military and national police.

North-central Iraq was quieter than Anbar and greater Baghdad during the first year of the occupation. This was held up as a success story. However Mosul fell apart in November and December 2004 as insurgents from Fallujah and Anbar removed themselves from a division sized US offensive and overran the nascent and interim governing capacity that had been installed by the Screaming Eagles. They were able to successfully shatter the counter-insurgent force's credibility that the counter-insurgent force could provide reliable security. Also occurring concurrently in the same area of operations was the decimation of the northern oil export network.

The Iraqi national government security forces were also the responsibility of Gen. Petreaus and his team. Recently the GAO (via Kevin Drum) reported that six battalions of the Iraqi Army are fully combat capable. My guess is that these battalions are disproportionally Kurdish in composition. This is a doubling of the number of fully capable battalions since July, 2005, so at this geometric doubling rate of two years, we should see the entire Iraqi Army considered capable in another nine years or so.

The New York Times is reporting massive failure of achieving an Iraqi national police force that is not an extension of Shi’ite militia activities that the commission is actually recommending scrapping the force and starting over again.

The commission, headed by Gen. James L. Jones, the former top United States commander in Europe, concludes that the rampant sectarianism that has existed since the formation of the police force requires that its current units “be scrapped” and reshaped into a smaller, more elite organization, according to one senior official familiar with the findings. The recommendation is that “we should start over,” the official said.

And these are the deliverables from past relevant experience that have earned Gen. Petreaus a good reputation --- a total failure of the police force, minimal expansion of Iraqi Army units that are capable of indepedent operations, and previously seeing the center of gravity of his AOR overrun by insurgent groups that were able to shatter a year’s worth of perceived progress. If this set of deliverables is what produces a good reputation, I wonder what is needed for a bad reputation.

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