Thursday, September 4, 2003

previous entry | main | next entry | TrackBack (1)

Now this is managing

A perfect follow-up to today's post on Bush's management of the Iraq situation comes in the form of this New York Times story on the job Major General David H. Petraeus is doing commanding the 101st Airborne in Northern Iraq. [Petraeus, Petraeus... that name sounds familiar--ed. I've blogged about him before.] A few nuggest from the story suggest the kind of management skills necessary to get results:

A five-day trip through the 101st Division's large area of operation showed that American military, not the civilian-led occupation authority based in Baghdad, are the driving force in the region's political and economic reconstruction.

The ethnic makeup of the north — a diverse blend of Arabs, Kurds, Turkoman and tribes — is less hostile to the American presence than the troublesome Sunni triangle around Baghdad, although it has the potential for ethnic strife. But that only partly explains the military's relative success here.

Other elements are the early deployment of a potent American force large enough to establish control, the quick establishment of new civil institutions, run by Iraqis, and a selective use of raids to capture hostile groups or individuals while minimizing the disruption to local civilians.

Another factor has been an American commander who approached so-called nation-building as a central military mission and who was prepared to act while the civilian authority in Baghdad was still getting organized.

An Army general who holds an advanced degree in international relations from Princeton, General Petraeus was steeped in nation-building before he arrived in Iraq. He served as the assistant chief of staff for operations for SFOR, the international peacekeeping force in Bosnia. His division is also well suited for its mission. Unlike an armored unit, it has lot of infantry soldiers — nearly 7,000 — to conduct foot patrols and stay in touch with the local population. It also has 250 helicopters to travel across northern Iraq.

"We walk, and walking has a quality of its own," the general says. "We're like cops on the beat."....

The 101st has also established an employment office for former Iraqi military officers, found grain silos for local farmers and trained the local police.

In some cases, like the creation of an internal Iraqi security force, the 101st developed policies that Mr. Bremer's authority only recently embraced.

"If there is a vacuum in the guidance from Baghdad or from Washington, Petraeus will study the situation and take action," said Gordon Rudd, the historian for the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, the civilian authority in Iraq before Mr. Bremer's appointment....

The 101st Division's sense of mission is swiftly apparent at General Petraeus's command center inside a Mosul palace.

"We are in a race to win over the people," reads a sign. "What have you and your element done today to contribute to victory?"

Obviously, the art of management at Bush's level is slightly different than at Petraeus' level. Still, the general's clear definition of the mission and willingness to take action should resonate in the White House.

posted by Dan on 09.04.03 at 04:49 PM


Here we have Paul Wolfowitz, in Senate testimony from July 29:

Mr. Chairman, in the north we saw another success story, led by General David Petraeus and his troops of the 101st Air Assault Division, who arrived in Mosul on the 22nd of April, I would note, after liberating Najaf and Karbala in the south. Over the next 30 days, they put together an impressive list of accomplishments. In my written testimony, I have some 20 of them. I won't take your time; you can read them.

What I would like to mention, though, is just one example of the kind of imagination and ingenuity that his troops are doing. We took a walking tour of the center of Mosul with an Army company responsible for security in that area. And security is a serious business. They, a few weeks ago, captured seven terrorists, I believe mostly foreigners, holed up in an apartment in the town square. Since getting rid of those people, it's been stable. But they go around in full body armor and guns at the ready.

But as we were passing a line of butcher shops, the company commander, Captain Paul Stanton (sp), told me a fascinating story about how they had dealt with a problem involving the town's meat cutters. It seems that the butchers were slaughtering their animals on the streets and dumping the carcasses in front of their shops. To get this rather unsanitary problem under control, our soldiers organized a civic association of butchers so that they would have an authoritative institution with which they could deal. This was something unheard of in prewar Iraq. In the old regime, organized associations weren't allowed. For this purpose, they weren't necessary. If there was a problem dumping carcasses in the street, you simply shot a few butchers and the rest got the point.

We deal differently. And when I heard this imaginative solution, I jokingly asked Captain Stanton (sp) if they taught him that at West Point, and of course he said no.

He said they'd had to figure that out as they went along. But of course, that something that Americans, including our wonderful soldiers, have in their fingertips is something that they bring from the civic culture in this country to help build a civic culture in Iraq.

Just to note that their good work has not gone unnoticed.

posted by: Tom Maguire on 09.04.03 at 04:49 PM [permalink]

I read that NYT story on General Petraeus and it was indeed a pleasure to read about somebody actually getting it right in Iraq. Perhaps he should be made the Viceroy....

posted by: Ritu on 09.04.03 at 04:49 PM [permalink]

Here is a guy that 'gets it'. Toss out Bremer and his bureacrats and put him in charge.

posted by: Mark Buehner on 09.04.03 at 04:49 PM [permalink]

Post a Comment:


Email Address:



Remember your info?