INTEL DUMP

News analysis and commentary from Phillip Carter -- now located at http://www.intel-dump.com

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Wednesday, March 31, 2004
 
Atrocities in Fallujah
Iraqi insurgents kill American contractors, then defile and display their bodies

Iraqi insurgents escalated the war of violence and images today by attacking a U.S. government contractor convoy in Fallujah, extracting the bodies of the killed Americans, and defiling them in full view of the mob and media present. In images reminiscent of Somalia, the mob towed one body throughthe street, burned others, beat one with a metal pole, and strung up two full corpses and other body parts from a bridge across the Euphrates. Also today, five Army combat engineers who were attached to the Marines also killed by an IED, according to the LA Times. (Correction: I double-counted the IED casualties earlier today due to conflicting reports.)

Every major news outlet -- NYT, WSJ, CNN, WP, LAT -- is running this as their top story right now, and they all have the graphic images displayed on their respective websites so you too can see the horror. Here's how Edmund Sanders of the LA Times described events in Fallujah:
The two burgundy SUVs were attacked at a stoplight with small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades around 9:30 a.m. in Fallouja, a Sunni Triangle city about 35 miles west of Baghdad and the scene of some of the worst violence since the beginning of the American occupation a year ago.

Iraqis threw rocks and bricks at the cars, and mutilated some of the bodies with shovels and poles. At least two bodies were dragged behind cars through the streets and taken to the Euphrates River, where they were hung from a bridge.

Chants of "We will kill the Americans" sounded in the street.

For hours there was no military at the scene; the few Iraqi police seen did not stop the events.
CNN added these gory details about the treatment of the Americans' bodies after the attack:
Cheering residents in Fallujah pulled charred bodies from burning vehicles and hung them from a Euphrates River bridge.

Crowds gathered around the vehicles and dragged at least one of the bodies through the streets, witnesses said.

Residents pulled another body from one of the cars and beat it with sticks.
Finally, Jeff Gettleman of the New York Times puts the attack in the context of recent U.S. operations in Fallujah:
... [American] generals have been saying that their main focus in the conflict has shifted to Islamic terrorists who they believe to have been responsible for many suicide bombings and other attacks on the Iraqi police, civilians and foreigners. These attacks, they say, have effectively carried the Iraqi conflict into a new landscape that makes the fighting here part of the worldwide war on terrorism.

But today's events at Falluja indicate that the war may not have changed as much as the generals have suggested.

The fact that the attack on the civilian vehicles occurred in Falluja, an overwhelming Sunni city that is the most volatile stronghold of support for Mr. Hussein, and that it followed a 10-day offensive by United States marines aimed at gaining effective control of the city, suggested that the current war may, in practice, be an extension of the conflict that began last year.

Capt. Chris Logan of the Marine Corps said today that the city was becoming "an area of greater concern."

He added: "This is one of those areas in Iraq that is definitely squirrely. The guerrillas in Falluja are testing us. They're testing our resolve."

In a modulation of their assessments in recent days, the generals had begun to say that there may be a merging of diehard loyalists to Mr. Hussein and Islamic militants, with the two groups at least loosely coordinating their attacks.
Analysis: Capt. Logan is certainly right about one thing: this attack is designed to test American resolve. Insurgents and terrorists around the world have incorporated the lessons of Mogadishu into their doctrine. Indeed, they have an almost religious belief that they can win if they inflict grievous and gory casualties on American soldiers. Such a strategy is designed to undermine our national will; it assumes that we don't really have the stomach for this fight or its cost, and that we will pull out at the first sign of adversity. Unfortunately, the U.S. did that once. And like it or not, our enemies learned from Beirut and Mogadishu that they could prevail using similar tactics in the future. (See this interesting article on America's history of casualty aversion from the Naval War College Review.) But I don't think we will turn tail and run here. We have invested far too much in Iraq in terms of spirit, blood and treasure -- we will not cede victory to these bandits and reward them for their atrocities.

At the tactical level, this attack may have destroyed one American convoy. But news of this attack, and the Iraqi mob's behavior, has likely reached every American and coalition soldier now serving in Iraq. Just as the news of the Malmedy massacre during WWII enraged U.S. troops and gave them a reason to fight harder, so too will this event. I don't want to suggest for one minute that American troops will commit an atrocity to respond in kind. This isn't Vietnam, and our junior officers and NCOs are too professional to let that happen. But you can bet that every American fighting man and woman in Iraq feels the rage from this incident, and their leaders will now seek to focus and apply that rage constructively to dismantle and destroy every remaining part of the Iraqi insurgency. Payback will be swift, severe and certain.

The hardest part of any counter-insurgency operation, as Army LTC Gian Gentile and MAJ John Nagl have observed, is properly calibrating force to destroy the insurgency without losing the hearts and minds of the civilian population. The challenge for American commanders in Iraq will be to devise an appropriate response for this incident that effectively targets and kills the Iraqi insurgents without causing too much collateral damage. For what it's worth, there is enough anti-American sentiment in Fallujah that we don't have that much to lose there, and thus a heavy-handed approach will not risk much. However, I am confident that American planners are working on this problem right now.

More to follow...

Update I: I corrected an earlier lead paragraph where I indicated two separate IED attacks which killed five Marines and five soldiers. Those two attacks were actually just one attack, which killed five Army engineers attached to the Marines in the Sunni Triangle.

Update II: Neil King and Greg Jaffe add some more context to the incident in Fallujah today in a story that will appear in tomorrow's Wall Street Journal. Specifically, the WSJ article reports on the implications of this attack for the government contractors now working with U.S. government agencies to rebuild Iraq.
For now, the administration is sending a mixed message, issuing billions of dollars in contracts and encouraging companies to join in reconstruction while warning Americans against traveling in Iraq on their own and requiring contractors to provide their own security, which the government pays for. Army and Marine officers, for their part, are debating what tactics hold the most hope for gaining control of the seething Sunni Triangle area to the north and west of Baghdad.

Contractors have been increasingly on edge as violence escalates against foreign workers. Yesterday's attack, on a main street in the tense town of Fallujah west of Baghdad, is the latest in a series of assaults that has left more than a dozen foreign civilians dead over the last month. Five U.S. soldiers also died yesterday when a bomb exploded beside their convoy west of Baghdad.

"We're all very concerned about this incident, and we're taking every precaution we can," said Erin Kuhlman, a spokeswoman for California-based Parsons Corp., which is now working on electrical and construction projects in Iraq. Like other contractors, she declined to provide specifics on precautions.

* * *
The murdered contractors were security guards from a closely held North Carolina company, Blackwater Security, that relies heavily on retired U.S. soldiers and intelligence operatives, especially from Delta Force and special forces. The men were working under a U.S. government contract to protect food shipments to the Fallujah area, the company said in a statement. The names of the victims weren't released pending notification of relatives.

* * *
One Bush official, who declined to be identified, said that "because of the gruesome nature of this" the administration now expects "renewed requests from contractors for more funding and more help on security. That seems unavoidable at this point." Such desires are even more likely because the latest round of rebuilding contracts means that hundreds more U.S. civilian workers are supposed to begin streaming into Iraq in coming weeks.
In government contract terms, those requests are called "changes". (Finally, a government term that makes intuitive sense.) It is very likely that major contractors and smaller subcontractors will request a change to the terms of their contract to cover the increased costs of security for the more threatening environment in Iraq. The government basically has no choice here -- either it supports the contractors here, or faces the likelihood that the contractors will walk away from their work. Ultimately, these changes will add to the cost of the Iraqi rebuilding effort, both in terms of money and time. Additional security measures will impede rebuilding efforts by limiting the exposure of contractors to situations where they can be secured. For example, instead of 5 food convoys, you might now see 1 or 2 being run.

Though American taxpayers will pay the bill, it is the Iraqis who will suffer. The deteriorating security situation will disproportionately hurt contractors, relief agencies and non-governmental organizations much more than it hurts the military. The US Marines and US Army can adjust to a more threatening environment much more easily than these civilian agencies can. And it is these civilian agencies that do the majority of good for the Iraqis. The tough task now is to convince the Iraqi population of this fact, so that they take the lead in stopping their own insurgent brethren.

 
New reservist civilian employment program announced by DoD

The Pentagon announced today that it would require all reservists to register in its Civilian Employer Information database. The new database will pull information from reservists about where they work, what skills they have, and what they do in order to aid the deployment process and help DoD and other federal officials interface with civilian employers about mobilizations.
Guard and Reserve members are required to register information about their civilian employer and job skills, in order for the department to meet three different requirements defined in law. The Department of Defense is required to: give consideration to civilian employment necessary to maintain national health, safety and interest when considering members for recall; ensure that members with critical civilian skills are not retained in numbers beyond those needed for those skills, and; inform employers of reservists’ of their rights and responsibilities under the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act.

The goal is to populate and maintain an employer database with 95 percent accuracy of the Selected Reserve and 75 percent accuracy of the Individual Ready Reserve.
Analysis: Ideally, we'd have had this program in place in Sept. 2001, because it would have been enormously helpful for DoD to have visibility of this stuff as it has mobilized 300,000+ reservists since then for the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq. But given some of the issues (such as reemployment problems upon redeployment) now surfacing with respect to reservists, this is a good step. The first step when solving any problem is to gather more information, and this program will ideally gather lots of information about reservists and their civilian employment. I hope that the Pentagon continues to work this issue once it has the information, developing policy ideas and options to better manage the reserve force with this information.

In the wake of the past two years' reserve mobilizations, a number of academics and policy officials have speculated about the proportion of reservists who work as civilian first responders, or the proportion of reservists who work in other critical areas. The idea was that we might be doing harm to our civilian consequence-management community by calling up so many reservists, and a number of news accounts surfaced from small towns where the police or fire department was decimated by a mobilization. This program will tell us once and for all what the ground truth is about that problem, and it should enable the Pentagon to develop better policies for managing this problem so that its federal mobilizations don't harm the anti-terrorism readiness of state and local governments across America.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004
 
Winning hearts and minds in Afghanistan: I missed it earlier today because I was focused on other projects, but David Rohde has an exceptional article in today's New York Times on the efforts of one light infantry company in the mountains of Afghanistan to win the allegiance of the civilians who live there.

 
A new exception to the 4th Amendment: The AP reports that the Supreme Court has issued a ruling in United States v. Flores-Montano, holding the government may search, dismantle and inspect gas tanks of individuals driving into the United States at border checkpoints without any particular probable cause about that individual or car. The decision effectively expands the existing regulatory exception to the 4th Amendment, and it also limits the privacy expectations (in a 4th Amendment sense) of individuals in public spaces. "The government's interest in preventing the entry of unwanted persons and effects is at its zenith at the international border," Rehnquist writes for a unanimous court.

More to follow...

 
Another exodus of the military's 'best and brightest'
America's special operations community may soon lose many of its operators

In what seemed like another world, I wrote about the junior officer and NCO exodus that was affecting America's Army in 2001 and early 2001. Simply put, this exodus had the potential to strip the military of many of its best junior officers, and was being driven by a frustrating Army bureaucracy and better opportunities on the outside. Mark Lewis and Don Vandergriff also wrote on the subject, describing the effects on the Army of what appeared to be a serious attrition problem among Army lieutenants and captains.

That problem has been overtaken by events since Sept. 11. But today, Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker report in the NY Times that America's special operations forces may be facing an exodus of their own. This exodus is being driven by an unbelievably high operational tempo (OPTEMPO), coupled with economic opportunities on the outside driven by demand abroad for American special ops training and personnel.
Senior enlisted members of the Army Green Berets or Navy Seals with 20 years or more experience now earn about $50,000 in base pay, and can retire with a $23,000 pension. But private security companies, whose services are in growing demand in Iraq and Afghanistan, are offering salaries of $100,000 to nearly $200,000 a year to the most experienced of them.

The Central Intelligence Agency is also dangling such enticing offers before experienced Special Operations personnel that the Pentagon's top official for special operations policy, Thomas W. O'Connell, told a House panel this month that intergovernmental poaching "is starting to become a significant problem."

Evidence of a drain of seasoned Special Operations members, including elite Delta Force soldiers, is largely anecdotal right now, but the head of the military's Special Operations Command, Gen. Bryan D. Brown of the Army, is so concerned about what he is hearing from troops in the field that he convened an unusual meeting of his top commanders in Washington last week to discuss the matter. "The retention of our special operating forces is a big issue," General Brown said.

* * *
One of those senior noncommissioned officers who chose to leave the Army for a private security job in Baghdad paused for a few moments on Monday to describe his decision, but requested that his name be withheld. After enlisting just over two decades ago, he received Airborne, Ranger and Special Forces training. At the end of 20 years of service, he received an offer to go to Iraq to guard public officials and help train local Iraqis to do the same.

"It wasn't that I minded the op-tempo or the deployments, that's why I joined," he said about the pace of operations. "But after putting in my time, I had this chance to make three times the money, and some of the guys are making even more than that."

Seasoned enlisted troops and officers have always offered skills that make them attractive to civilian employers, including military contractors, security companies and military consulting firms. Military personnel experts are cautioning that longer and more frequent deployments are threatening the ability of all the armed services to retain many of their best and brightest.
Analysis: First, let's be clear about what's happening here. There is no data which presently indicates there is a special ops exodus underway. The NYT is reporting on the basis of a few anecdotal examples, and the sense of the Special Operations Command's top generals that an exodus may happen as its operators return from overseas. So, the first thing is to gather data about what's going on here, and to make policy based on that data.

The second thing is that we should not be too worried about a natural level of attrition in our military, even in our special ops units. Every soldier is valuable, and that's even more true of these guys because of their training and experience. However, we have an all volunteer military, and our system is designed to accomodate a reasonable level of attrition. Often, it's better to let guys get out if they're feeling disenchanted or overused, because they may be less than motivated about future missions. I do think it's a problem if the special ops community loses its best soldiers, but there's no evidence yet that this is happening. So I go back to point #1 -- we need to see what the actual attrition numbers say, because this may just be natural post-deployment attrition. (Stop loss policies have prevented attrition in these units for a while, so it may even be natural to expect a surge right now.)

Third, I think it's interesting to note that the CIA is one of the leading employers taking personnel away from military special ops. That's probably a net positive thing for the United States, because presumably, these guys (and a few women too) are being hired to rebuild America's "human intelligence" ("HUMINT") capabilities in the CIA's Directorate of Operations. The CIA desperately needs these operators' experience to build more reliable and robust HUMINT capabilities -- the kind of capabilities that can gather the intel we need about emerging threats in the 21st Century.

Finally, I think we should be very careful as we go about expanding special operations -- which includes everything from Delta Force and the SEALs to Army Civil Affairs -- in order to meet the demands of current and future operations. The key to special ops success is people; they wholeheartedly endorse the John Boyd saying of "People, Ideas, Hardware -- in that order!" Special operations puts an enormous amount of resources into its people, and into building its units into the most professional and effective teams imaginable. Expanding special operations too quickly will almost certainly affect the quality of the special operations community, and that would be a very bad thing. It might make a lot more sense for the Army, for example, to make more of its units "special operations capable" like the Marines presently do with their MEUs prior to deployment. Similarly, it might make more sense to give Army units more full-spectrum capability in the area of low-intensity combat and stability operations, rather than standing up more Civil Affairs units and Special Forces units. The right answers are not necessarily apparent, and it may not be wise to simply throw money at the problem.

 
New banner ads at latimes.com: "New careers come to those who speak Arabic -- U.S. Army: click here for more". This ad banner is running on the top of the latimes.com home page in bold black/gold colors with arabic script behind the text of the ad; it's also featured prominently on story pages inside latimes.com. The Army generally doesn't do MOS-specific recruiting like this (except for recruiting JAGs in law schools, doctors in med schools, etc)., so it struck me as interesting.

Monday, March 29, 2004
 
Legislative update: government contractors may
soon be sanctioned for failing to take care of their reservists --
Citizen Smash lobbies for legislative proposal to aid reservist-employees

Last week, I wrote a note describing the disturbing treatment of Oregon National Guardsman CPL Dana Beadine by Securitas Corporation, following CPL Beaudine's redeployment from Iraq as a combat-wounded veteran. The essence of the story was that CPL Beaudine suffered injuries in combat, to include a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, and his civilian employer displayed a startling unwillingness to take care of him after his discharge from active duty. Even the Department of Labor thought that CPL Beaudine was being mistreated in this case, yet the employer stood firm. The detail that stood out to me, and to several other mil-bloggers, was that Securitas was the holder of several major government contracts. It seemed incongruous and unjust that a government contractor should be allowed to break the law, mistreat a reservist, and profit from taxpayer money.

One of my readers now deployed to Iraq suggested that there ought to be a law proscribing such war profiteering by recalcitrant government contractors. I agreed, and wrote the following note:
Update II -- Memo to Congress: One of my readers now deployed to Iraq had an excellent suggestion -- why not amend federal law (and/or the Federal Acquisition Regulation in the CFR) to provide for suspension or debarment (or both) as penalties for government contractors who violate the USERRA or SSCRA protections for their employees who are mobilized as reservists? I think this is a great idea, and I hope that some Congressional staffer reads Intel Dump and recommends this to his/her boss. I don't think we should reward this kind of bad corporate behavior with government contracts and the money from American taxpayers. Congress already attaches all kinds of conditions to the receipt of taxpayer money, and it seems like proper treatment of reservists should be one of them.
Several of my MilBlogs colleagues -- including Citizen Smash, Donald Sensing, BlackFive, GreyHawk, and others -- added their voices to the fray. But Citizen Smash (who himself served in OIF as a reservist) took the issue one step further. At a recent event in San Diego, he cornered Congresswoman Susan Davis and her legislative aide on this issue; here's what happened.
When she had finished speaking, she opened it up for questions. The first guy she called on asked, "Is there any way we can get Bush impeached?"

As the Congresswoman was busy dodging around that one, I made my way over to Todd.

"Todd?"

"Yes?"

I introduced myself. "Can I bend your ear for a minute about a veterans’ issue?"

He immediately brightened. "Sure! Let’s walk over this way. How can we help you?"

"It’s not me, specifically, it’s more of a general issue." I very briefly summarized the Securitas case, and the subsequent online discussion regarding contractors abusing their returning reservists. "So the question is, if we currently withhold funds from universities that refuse ROTC and military recruiters, why can’t we do the same to corporations that don’t fulfill their obligations to returning reservists?"

I could see the lightbulb go on over his head. "Hey, you’ve got a good point there."

I continued along that line, explaining that I had searched through the acquisition regulations, as well as some Department of Labor information, and couldn’t find anything like what we had envisioned. "I don’t think it exists, to be honest," I concluded, "But it should..."

"And you know," he responded, "It wouldn’t be difficult to get something like that passed right now."

* * *
FINALLY the forum broke up, as Davis announced that she had another function she had to attend. At this point, I had already maneuvered myself to her right flank, immediately between her and the parking lot.

She turned to Todd, who directed her attention towards me. "This man has something to discuss with you," he told her.

I smiled, shook her hand, and gave her my name. "I’m a reservist, and I just got back from the Middle East last August," I began.

"Oh, thank you for your service!"

"Your welcome, Ma’am. I’d like to talk to you briefly about a veterans’ issue – it will only take one minute."

"Sure."

I quickly summed up the proposal. When I mentioned the parallel between our proposal and the current policy towards educational institutions and ROTC, her eyes lit up. I sensed that she had fully grasped what I was proposing, and she was already mentally writing a floor speech in support of such a bill.

"I know you’ve got to get going,” I told her, “but I want to thank you for taking a minute to listen to my idea. I’ll fax the details to Todd on Monday."

"No, I should thank you," she replied. "I think we’ve got a sure-fire winner here..."

And that, my dear readers, is how representative democracy is supposed to work.
Here's what you can do: If you support us on this issue, please write to your representative in Congress to make your voice heard on this issue. I think this one cuts across party lines, so write to your representative regardless of his or her party. Let them know that you support the full rights of reservists to reemployment under federal law, and that you don't want your taxpayer dollars going to corporations who mistreat their reservist-employees. Also, write your state legislators too, because plenty of reservists work for state and local government contractors, and they need legal protection too. In an ideal world, we'd have nothing but good corporate citizens, and there'd be no need for this kind of law. Indeed, I believe that most American corporations do the right thing when it comes to their reservist-employees. Yet, there are companies out there that don't do the right thing, and it adds insult to injury when we allow those companies to profit from taxpayer money.

 
Thanks again for your support: I greatly appreciate the generous donations that so many of you have made to Intel Dump in the last week. Whether you gave $1, $5 or $25, I appreciate your vote of confidence and will do my best to return your investment in the coming weeks and months. I have raised enough so far to purchase server space and the domain name www.intel-dump.com, which will eventually become the new home for this site. However, I need additional support to facilitate this site's move and several other upgrades that will allow me to maintain Intel Dump. If you read my site and think it's worth as much as a daily newspaper, magazine, or even a magazine subscription, I would greatly appreciate your financial support. Thanks!

Also, I plan make several changes to the site once it gets established, in order to make it more readable and more visually appealing than what my current server and software allows. If you have any suggestions in this area as a reader or blogger, please let me know. Or, if there is content that you'd like to see me provide, please let me know that too.

 
"Sitting national security advisers do not testify before the Congress"
Update: Unless the White House says it's okay for them to do so after a public furor erupts

National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice invoked the time-honored principle of executive privilege yesterday in defending the White House's decision not to allow her to testify to Congress or the 9/11 commission. (Thanks to Tapped for the pointer to this quote)
"Nothing would be better, from my point of view, than to be able to testify. I would really like to do that. But there is an important principle here ... it is a longstanding principle that sitting national security advisers do not testify before the Congress."
For what it's worth, this principle is something that Presidents on both sides of the aisle agree with, starting with President Eisenhower and moving forward. As a general rule, the President's decisionmaking staff cannot be forced to testify before Congress. (Past NSAs have voluntarily testified though.) I agree with this rule, because I think it safeguards the national security process and increases the candor of those people giving advice to the President -- both political appointees and professionals.

However, two obvious questions emerge.

- First, Ms. Rice has said that she would step down as National Security Adviser by the end of 2004, either by virtue of an administration change or of her own volition. After that happens, she will no longer be a "sitting" adviser to the President. Will she then testify before the 9/11 commission, or another body such as the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence?

- Second, it is a well-settled principle that no adviser to the President can be compelled to testify before Congress; such compulsion is considered to violate the executive privilege. But there is no such legal rule against voluntary testimony before Congress, either in open or closed session. Thus, Ms. Rice misstates the rule in her comments on CBS. The absence of compulsion would remove the major separation of powers problem here. Presumably, this commission is supposed to be bigger than politics. (Yeah right) If the White House supports the goals and objectives of the 9/11 commission, so much so that it will volunteer the President himself to testify in closed session, why not allow the NSA to testify too? If we're all on the same team, trying to prevent another 9/11, what's the right thing for the White House to do here?

Update: The White House has answered that the right thing to do here is to let the National Security Adviser testify in public, under oath, before the 9/11 commission.
The decision was conditioned on the Bush administration receiving assurances in writing from the commission that such a step does not set a precedent and that the commission does not request "additional public testimony from any White House official, including Dr. Rice," White House counsel Alberto Gonzales said in a letter to the panel.

Subject to the conditions, the president will agree "to the commission's request for Dr. Rice to testify publicly regarding matters within the commission's statutory mandate," Gonzales's letter stated.

"The president recognizes the truly unique and extraordinary circumstances underlying the commission's responsibility to prepare a detailed report on the facts," Gonzales added.

Congressional leaders, Gonzales noted, have already stated that this would not be a new precedent.


 
A very interesting First Amendment case study in Iraq
CPA officials shut down an Iraqi newspaper, citing "incitement"

Actual incitement cases in the U.S. -- where some legislature criminalizes speech that advocates crime -- tend to be rare these days. After the Supreme Court's ruling in Brandenburg v. Ohio, most legislatures realized that these speech restrictions would have a really tough time in court. Prosecutors now target some of the same conduct with other statutes, such as conspiracy statutes and inchoate crimes, in order to accomplish the same goal of preventing extremist groups from acting on their ideologies. Nonetheless, the issue remains, and occasionally comes up in court.

Now, it appears that incitement law has made an appearance in Iraq. According to the LA Times, the U.S. Coalition Provosional Authority has decided to close a newspaper run by a popular anti-American cleric because it thinks this newspaper is inciting violence against coalition troops.
It was unclear why officials chose this particular moment to close the paper, but one senior coalition official said the publication had been warned several times before Sunday. "This is not the first time. We've given them a chance to retract and clean themselves up," the official said. "But if they continue to spew vitriol, well?. "

The occupation administration has had an ongoing battle with Sadr that extends far beyond the pages of his newspaper.

Sadr, who is in his early 30s, has routinely denounced the occupation in his Friday sermons and has sought to raise his own militia, the Mehdi Army. Initially a ragged collection of unemployed youths, it has become increasingly organized, and Sadr now has militias operating in several southern cities, including Nasiriya, as well as Baghdad's Sadr City, home to more than 1 million Shiites. U.S. officials have been closely tracking Sadr's efforts to expand the corps.

The coalition has also forced government officials and security forces in the city of Najaf to shut down an illegal court convened by Sadr and a private prison where he was believed to be torturing some of the people sentenced by his court.

* * *
Al Hawza newspaper was closed Sunday morning when dozens of U.S. soldiers arrived at its offices in Baghdad, ordered the staff out and locked and chained its doors. Troops handed the paper's editor, Sheik Ali Yasseri, a letter from Bremer alleging that the paper had breached an order issued last year that bans the incitement of violence.

"They told us they would arrest us if we did not leave. They said our articles incite people against America," Yasseri told Reuters news agency outside the paper's office.

The weekly paper, whose name refers to the students of the Shiite clerics based in Najaf, is read primarily by followers of Sadr. Its circulation is thought to be well below 50,000. Under Bremer's decision, it is banned from publishing for two months. Another breach of the anti-incitement order would result in jail and a $1,000 fine, the letter said.
Analysis: My First Amendment law professor, Eugene Volokh, is surely the better person to comment on this story. Obviously, American constitutional law doesn't directly apply to this case in Iraq. But considering that we are trying to export the rule of law generally to Iraq, and that we want to build a lasting democracy in that nation, I wonder if we might reconsider our instincts here to suppress the presses. Dissent -- even dangerous dissent -- often serves a valuable role in free societies by letting dissident groups blow off steam peacefully. Moreover, the best test for bad ideas is to let them fight for airtime in the marketplace of ideas, as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes observed in his famous Abrams v. United States dissent:
. . . Persecution for the expression of opinions seems to me perfectly logical. If you have no doubt of your premises or your power and want a certain result with all your heart you naturally express your wishes in law and sweep away all opposition. To allow opposition by speech seems to indicate that you think the speech impotent, as when a man says that he has squared the circle, or that you do not care whole heartedly for the result, or that you doubt either your power or your premises. But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas -- that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out. That at any rate is the theory of our Constitution. It is an experiment, as all life is an experiment. Every year if not every day we have to wager our salvation upon some prophecy based upon imperfect knowledge. While that experiment is part of our system I think that we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death, unless they so imminently threaten immediate interference with the lawful and pressing purposes of the law that an immediate check is required to save the country. . . . [250 U.S. at 626]
That said, I can see substantial security interests at stake here, and I can certainly understand the motivations of the CPA authorities who made this call. It's entirely possible that the prohibition of this speech meets the test from Brandenburg, and that even in America the authorities would be able to outlaw this newspaper as a brand of incitement. Clearly, it doesn't help the security situation in Iraq to have a firebrand publishing doctrine and operational edicts in a newspaper, and it's even worse if this newspaper is actually being used to religiously sanction and order attacks. I'm sure the CPA authorities are cognizant of the blowback potential here, and the risk that this move may actually incite more protest and violence. But I think they probably assessed that risk as less than the risk of letting this newspaper continue to publish, and made their decision accordingly. Was it the right call? Only time will tell. Perhaps this will be one of the first legal issues for the nascent Iraqi court system to decide.

Update I: Jack Balkin, a constitutional law professor at Yale Law School, has a note on this incident, complete with an excerpt from the part of the Iraqi Constitution dealing with free speech.

 
New trends in the Al Qaeda threat
Global terror network demonstrates new features in Madrid operation

Monday's Wall Street Journal (subscription required) carries a very provocative article about the tactical and operational changes apparent in Al Qaeda's Madrid operation, and how they represent a more advanced and lethal terror organization. (I wish I could excerpt the entire thing, but federal copyright law won't allow that.) The essence of the story is that Al Qaeda has evolved again, into a more decentralized, less predictable, less hierarchical terror network that retains some operational capability to strike at Western targets abroad.
Evidence in the Madrid train bombings points to the participation of a new breed of Islamic holy warrior, unfettered by many of the religious and ideological constraints that defined Islamic terrorism in the past.

These Islamist warriors -- schooled in the North African doctrine known as Takfir wal Hijra and trained by Afghan veterans of al Qaeda -- think, recruit and operate differently from traditional Islamist networks. For Europe, that makes the threat particularly acute. The Takfir movement is strongest in Morocco and Algeria, the primary sources of Muslim immigration to Western Europe. Takfiri theorists openly advocate using immigration as a Trojan horse to expand jihad, or holy war.

* * *
Many elements common to the suspects in custody for the Madrid bombings so far, investigators say, bear hallmarks of the ultrafundamentalist Takfiris or their close cousins, the Algerian-based Salafists. These include the use of petty crime and drug trafficking to raise funds, the recruitment of women, and operatives who adopt a Western lifestyle to keep a low profile. The virulent brand of Takfiri Islam makes all-out armed jihad an obligation for all true believers; even apostate fellow Muslims are fair game.

* * *
As Osama bin Laden's control over terror networks has been disrupted, new radicals operate at the fringes of his movement. Many of his core beliefs, especially his anti-American animus, are being superceded by broader interpretations of global jihad. Instead of just apostate Muslim regimes or U.S. interests, jihad is being expanded to include virtually everyone outside the sect. That leads many antiterror specialists to say the Madrid bombings may represent a change for Islamic terrorism. "This is al Qaeda 2.0," says Jonathan Schanzer, a terrorism specialist at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Immigration is a key way to extend the radical ideas into Western Europe. One Takfiri scholar, Abu Basir, wrote in 2001 that "jihad and immigration go together...the one cannot be achieved without the other."

* * *
Unlike previous generations of radical Islamists, who attracted police attention by their long beards, public proselytizing and orthodox postures, the newer generation of holy warrior blends in better. They are encouraged to lead a double life in the ultimate pursuit of jihad, according a German intelligence report.

"Outwardly they pretend to lead a modern lifestyle," says terrorism expert Magnus Ranstorp. "But deep inside they adhere to a pure medieval strain of Islam." Many Takfiris shave their beards and avoid mosques for security reasons. "Recruits conceal their true beliefs until the time is right," Dr. Ranstorp says.
Analysis: There is a lot of great material in this article; I recommend buying today's Journal in order to read the whole thing. As I said above, the essence of the story is that Al Qaeda's offshoots have evolved into something different -- and potentially more dangerous -- than the Al Qaeda that attacked the USS Cole and conducted the WTC/Pentagon operation.

The decentralization of Al Qaeda is an especially important development because of its implications for U.S. policy. Until now, American counter-terrorism policy has focused mostly on decapitating and dismantling the Al Qaeda organization proper -- the parts that used to reside in Afghanistan, the parts that conducted the 9/11 attack, and any parts that had a footprint on U.S. soil. If there are now Al Qaeda-inspired affiliates in Spain, the Philippines, Algeria, and other places, that calls into question our entire decapitation/dismantling strategy. What purpose would it serve now to capture Osama Bin Laden? It would not impede the operational effectiveness of these splinter groups one iota. At best, it will remove some of the spiritual and operational coherence which has enabled this global terror network to remain viable. But I think it's more likely that it will have only a tangential operational effect, and that there are more than enough lieutenants willing to carry on OBL's guidon.

The moves to secular tactics, techniques and procedures also represent an important trend. We saw this with the 9/11 hijackers, and it enabled them to blend into U.S. society for so long to conduct their pre-mission training and reconnaissance. This trend has several implications. Primarily, it means that we must reevaluate our indicators of terrorist activity, and look deeper into backgrounds and connections. That may eventually necessitate some sort of Total Information Awareness-like program capable of non-obvious relationship analysis. Or it may require redoubled efforts to penetrate this world with HUMINT assets; something which has eluded Western intelligence agencies for decades.

Stories like this one paint a fairly bleak picture of the enemy, but it is one we must understand nonetheless. The enemy of terrorism will not go away anytime soon; there will likely be no end to the global war on terrorism. Terrorism is a methodology that small groups and states will use to asymmetrically attack large states and powerful interests. Its success hinges on the ability of the terrorists to see opportunities, develop TTPs, and to strike before states can develop appropriate countermeasures. The key, for us, is to develop institutions capable of observing this threat, assessing it, and reacting on a faster timeline than the enemy. Building large agencies like the Department of Homeland Security won't cut it. We have to create new models of organization and action that combine intelligence, analysis, decisionmaking and action.

 
L.A. chapter of the Nathan Hale Society: We had our first meeting last night near Beverly Hills and spent the better part of the time discussing American "grand strategy" -- what it is, what it ought to be, and what it's not. As you can imagine, the discussion ranged from the war in Iraq to U.S. foreign aid policy to conceptual discussions of what a grand strategy actually is. The discussants brought a good mix of backgrounds and experience to the table, and it was a very interesting evening. Our next discussion is scheduled for April 25, with possible topics including intelligence reform, North Korea, and democracy promotion. If you're interested in learning more, surf over to chapter president Robert Tagorda's site, or e-mail him.

Sunday, March 28, 2004
 
Good and bad news from the "band of sisters"
WP survey of military families paints a mixed picture for military retention

Tom Ricks reports on the front page of today's Washington Post that a sizable percentage of military spouses are having doubts about continued service by their husbands or wives in uniform. The survey was conducted by The Post in conjunction with the Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard, and it talked to more than 1,000 military spouses on ten separate installations. Mr. Ricks' lengthy article discusses the survey's findings, and includes many actual responses from military spouses; it also discusses some of the ways the military plans to mitigate this issue in the coming months and years. One point that quickly becomes evident is that military spouses don't speak with one voice:
Large majorities of Army wives said that coping with their spouses' deployment had been a problem, but that they were proud of their service to the country. Many resented media coverage that portrays them as not handling it well. "It's not fair to us, or to the guys over there, to say that we're all having nervous breakdowns, because we're not," said Holly Petraeus, wife of the commander of the 101st Airborne.

* * *
While half of the spouses rated their own morale as high, less than a third rated the morale of the families around them similarly.

And even though they feel at least somewhat supported by their nonmilitary countrymen, the spouses do not feel particularly well understood by them -- not even by their own extended families. With the community of wives living on and around Army bases offering an attractive alternative, this generation has broken the long-established pattern of going back home for the duration of a husband's deployment.

"We have become a sorority of separation," said Anne Torza, wife of an Apache attack-helicopter pilot in the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, "and I wouldn't give up my sisters for anything. You know that 'band of brothers'? We're a band of sisters."
The story also included a really interesting discussion of the way that technology has affected this issue. Military spouses in previous wars had nowhere near the information flow as those in OIF -- especially from e-mail and embedded reporters.
Technology -- not only 24-hour news, but also e-mail -- has kept this generation of spouses extraordinarily close to their husbands' lives. But that, they have discovered, is a mixed blessing. The Iraq deployment has been the U.S. military's first war fought in an interconnected environment, in which even front-line soldiers generally have access to e-mail and the Internet. "It's the 'kitchen table to the battlefield' war," Morgan said. "Something happens -- between cable news, the cell phone, the Internet, e-mail -- it goes back and forth instantly."

That speed can be vexing: Almost every wife seems to have gotten a predawn call telling her to turn on the television because the "crawl" on the bottom of the cable news screen was reporting that a soldier had been killed in the region of Iraq where her husband was posted.

To squelch rumors sparked by such reports, the Army has had each unit's Family Readiness Group quickly transmit information on events in Iraq. "When something happens, the phone tree lights up, so you're not sitting there watching TV trying to figure out if your husband is hurt," said Kristin Jackson, whose husband is a mechanic in the 101st Airborne.
One other trend in the responses was the perception of a civil-military gap among military spouses. This is very interesting for military scholars like me, because it's one of the pitfalls inherent in an all-volunteer force where the burden of service is not universally or equitably distributed. It also has significant social, economic, political and cultural implications, both for the military and for civil society.
... military wives see a gap between themselves and the civilian world. About 90 percent of spouses said they were satisfied with the respect the American public shows soldiers. But Davis, wife of the 101st Airborne Division lieutenant, spoke for many when she said: "The farther away you get from post, the less understanding there is."

Often, the spouses see good intentions thwarted by a lack of comprehension. Desaree Venema, whose husband has been gone for a year as a senior sergeant in the 4th Infantry Division, said that in her nonmilitary neighborhood, residents have been supportive, shoveling snow and babysitting her daughters "when I have a bad day." But when they complain about a spouse having to go on a week-long business trip, she said, "I just about have to draw blood from my tongue" to stop from shouting at them.

"It's wonderful to put the red, white and blue Dixie Cups in the chain-link fence to show patriotism, but you need specific tools," said McConnell, the Fort Carson youth services coordinator. Civilians sometimes will say things such as, "It's good your dad can e-mail you because it shows he's alive," unaware of how scary it will sound to a child -- especially when the e-mail breaks down, said Mary M. Keller, executive director of Military Child Education Coalition, a nonprofit group.
Ultimately, Mr. Ricks comes back to the basic policy issue undergirding this story: will military families push their men and women in uniform to leave the service when their term is up? On this point, the data is inconclusive. Many families think there will be a problem with military retention, but when pressed on this point in terms of their family, they seem less adamant about leaving the service.
About 76 percent of those polled said they believe the Army is heading for personnel problems as soldiers and their families tire of the post-9/11 pace and leave the service.

And yet, the same percentage said that, knowing what they know now about the Army, they would do it all over again.

What those numbers reflect, said wives and other Army insiders, is that the Army is adapting to the post-9/11 world. "We're seeing a harder Army come out of this," full of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, said Lt. Jason Davis, the husband of Meg Davis.

"The reenlistments that we'll see will be good ones," the Iraq veteran said. "These guys are experts, and they know what they're getting into."

A strong minority of military wives want no part of that frequent-flier life.

About half of those polled said they expect their spouses to reenlist, and that they will support the decision. But about three in 10 said that they are certain their spouses will get out -- and that they want that to happen.

If those numbers prove true, "that's a good news story for the Army," said Master Sgt. J.D. Riley, a Pentagon expert on enlisted personnel issues. Currently, he said, about 50 percent of soldiers leave at the end of their first term.

The greater worry is that more seasoned soldiers -- especially the senior sergeants who are the backbone of today's Army -- will start leaving in unusually large numbers, as they did during the latter part of the Vietnam War. It is too early to tell if Iraq will provoke such an exodus, but some Army experts are concerned by internal Army data indicating morale problems among troops serving there.
Analysis: So, the conclusion to be drawn from this story is that there is an issue here, but that the Army needs more data before it can establish exactly what is going to happen as a result of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Anecdotal reports from the field indicate that redeployed units have not experienced an exodus of soldiers or officers as some have predicted, and that the majority of exiting soldiers have been those kept on active duty involuntarily through "stop loss" policies. Indeed, other surveys of military morale conducted by the Army have shown fairly high levels of job satisfaction and reenlistment intentions, although there is a significant gap between responses from active-duty soldiers and reservists.

Mr. Ricks does a good job of reporting on family support groups, but I think this point deserves some more emphasis. A major reason the military is doing well here is because it has learned how to deal with family issues in the 1990s. In the first Gulf War, the Cold War-minded military did a less than stellar job at managing these kinds of issues, and it did not have the benefit of institutionalized processes like the Family Readiness Groups in every company and battalion-sized unit. However, the Army learned during the deployments of the 1990s how to manage these issues, as well as a host of other deployment-related issues, and the result is that it now has a pretty good system. It will never be perfect -- deployment is necessarily hard on families, and there is no way to minimize the emotional and physical strain on familymembers from the actual separation and risk involved. But by forming "band[s] of sisters" (and brothers) for military spouses around the country, the military has gotten a lot better at taking care of its families at home while it fights abroad.

Saturday, March 27, 2004
 
Marines find violence in Fallujah
Engagements test the 'kindler, gentler' Marine strategy planned for Iraq

Before leaving for their second rotation in Iraq, the leaders of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force from Camp Pendleton said they were going to do things differently from the Army. They would use more kindness and diplomacy; less armor and firepower. The edict issued from the top brass was "First, Do No Harm." Now, the Marines have deployed to Iraq, and taken responsibility for one of the baddest towns in the country: Fallujah. There, they have encountered stiff resistance from Iraqi insurgents who seem hellbent on perpetuating chaos and undermining U.S. efforts to create a civil government in Iraq. The Los Angeles Times reports that the violence in Fallujah is becoming the crucible for the Marines' tactics in Iraq:
FALLOUJA, Iraq — U.S. Marines on Friday engaged in their first major military confrontation since returning to Iraq, as a daylong series of firefights left one Marine and 18 to 20 insurgents and others dead, according to military and hospital officials.

At least five of the dead were civilians, including an 11-year-old boy and an ABC television network cameraman.

Twenty-five Iraqis and three Marines were injured, the officials said, in the gunfire that took place during an intensive operation by the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Camp Pendleton. The operation, which included armed searches and roadblocks, began several days ago, residents said, but burst into public view Friday.

* * *
[The Marines] said no tanks or heavy artillery were used.

The Marines said they believed at least one group of 12 to 36 men was fighting them, in contrast to smaller groups usually seen since the end of major combat.

* * *
The violent confrontation seemed certain to test the credibility among Iraqis of the Marines' motto for their second tour of duty in Iraq, which officially began last week: "First Do No Harm."

It appeared instead that the Marines, like the U.S. Army units that served here before them, were being drawn into a cycle of violence. Insurgents attack the U.S. military; the military responds with overwhelming firepower; and revenge-seeking relatives of wounded or slain civilians become more sympathetic to the insurgents.

Fallouja residents said the American show of force would backfire.

"Two days ago it was like a battlefield here," said an Iraqi traffic policeman who declined to give his name as he directed cars around the many roadblocks. "But today I hear our Iraqi guys have taken their revenge."

Some bystanders said the Marines did not yet understand the culture of Fallouja and nearby river towns. The area is deeply tribal, its close knit population as much rural as urban, making it an easy place for insurgents, many from the local community, to find safe haven.

There is also a growing current of radical Sunni Islam and an almost reflexive hatred of Westerners. City walls are covered with graffiti that say it is "halal," or lawful, to kill Americans.

The western end of the so-called Sunni Triangle area, which includes Fallouja, Ramadi and Khaldiya, has proved difficult for the Americans to control for more than short periods. Local police, who are often viewed as collaborators of the U.S.-led occupation, also have had trouble maintaining order.
Analysis: The Marines have a long an illustrious history of dealing with small wars, as chronicled in the recent book Savage Wars of Peace by Max Boot. (For more, see this note, this note and this note.) The Marines' infantry-centric organizations can also be quite good at dealing with these kinds of situations, provided they have the training in low-intensity combat and peacekeeping ops (and the 1 MEF Marines got that during their pre-deployment ramp-up.) However, the essential challenge still remains: when to use firepower, and how much to use. The calibration of firepower is the hardest challenge in any counter-insurgency operation. In response to the Marines' statements about their "kindler, gentler" approach for Iraq, LTC Gian Gentile wrote in the Washington Post that it would be much tougher than they thought to get this right. Similarly, Army MAJ John Nagl (now serving in Iraq) has written some brilliant stuff on counter-insurgency warfare which focuses on this problem, and its difficulty. None of this means that the Marines won't be able to do it. Only that this is really difficult stuff -- "graduate level stuff" as one general I know used to put it.

It will take time, and mistakes, for the Marines to adjust to the Iraqi operational environment and to learn how to properly calibrate their use of force for that situation. We should expect more Fallujah-type battles in the near future, and we should not be surprised if the Marines err on the side of force because that is the natural tendency of combat units when they are attacked. However, as this mission matures and the Marines gain situational awareness about their battlespace, I would expect to see a gradual lowering of tensions in this area, accompanied by a reduction in violence. In other words, the violence this week in Fallujah is not a setback -- it's cyclical in nature, and to be expected.

Update I: Matt Rustler passes on a letter from the CG of the 1st Marine Division, Maj. Gen. James Mattis, over at his blog Stop the Bleating. It's always interesting to read the writings of the commanders in Iraq, to try and get inside their head.
Letter to All Hands,

We are going back in to the brawl. We will be relieving the Magnificent Soldiers fighting under the 82nd Airborne Division, whose hard-won successes in the Sunni Triangle have opened opportunities for us to exploit. For the last year, the 82nd Airborne has been operating against the heart of the enemy's resistance. It's appropriate that we relieve them: When it's time to move a piano, Marines don't pick up the piano bench—we move the piano. So this is the right place for Marines in this fight, where we can carry on the legacy of "Chesty" Puller in the Banana Wars in the same sort of complex environment that he knew in his early years. Shoulder to shoulder with our comrades in the Army, Coalition Forces and maturing Iraqi Security Forces, we are going to destroy the enemy with precise firepower while diminishing the conditions that create adversarial relationships between us and the Iraqi people.

Read the rest...


Friday, March 26, 2004
 
Looking for a few good corporate citizens

One of my regular readers wrote me to ask if I would publicize those good corporate citizens who do well by their reservists, in reference to my note about one bad corporate citizen who was apparently mistreating a returned reservist in blatant violation of federal law. My answer: absolutely! If you have a good news story to share about a company treating its reservist-employees right, please let me know. And when you do, please send a copy of your e-mail to Donald Sensing, Citizen (formerly LT) Smash, and Glenn Reynolds.

The Pentagon's National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) has constructed a list of good corporate citizens on this issue. Amazingly, it includes Securitas, the company alleged to be mistreating CPL Dana Beaudine, although it doesn't say whether they offer additional benefits like continued civilian pay after mobilization or health benefits. The other observation I have about this list is that it appears to disproportionately include public employers (states, cities, etc.)

Nonetheless, if you have a good news story, please let me know.

Update I: A friend wrote me to let me know that the Dow Jones Corporation, parent company of the Wall Street Journal, has a fairly robust military leave policy on the books.
We want to let all our employees know that Dow Jones will support those who are called into military service, or who voluntarily enlist in uniformed military service. The Company will ensure that you are not disadvantaged upon your return to work and you will suffer no discrimination or retaliation because of your service. Our current corporate policies regarding Military Leaves of Absence are summarized here for your reference.

[Signature omitted]

The Company will grant a Leave of Absence when an employee enlists or is called to active duty by any branch of the U.S. military. As explained in more detail below, when you return to work following a period of military service, you will be returned to your former job, or you will be placed in a job comparable to the one you held before your Leave, at the salary level that you would have achieved had you not taken the Leave of Absence. You will not lose eligibility for any employee benefits as a result of Military Leave.
At first glance, this goes beyond the legal requirements of the SSCRA and USERRA. The part about voluntary enlistments is especially notable -- it supports those reservists who might volunteer for mobilization because of patriotism or other motivations; it also supports employees who might choose to enlist for the first time. My friend at the WSJ didn't tell me about any examples of Dow Jones doing a good job, but I imagine there have to be some. It doesn't surprise me to see a media corporation doing the right thing here; they're probably more sensitive than other corporations to public relations issues.

Any other good corporate citizens out there? Let me know.

 
Rumsfeld on Primetime Live: For those of you who missed it last night, ABC's PrimeTime Live did a very interesting special on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his "Rumfeld's Rules". The piece was somewhat flattering, although it included some pointed criticism from former DoD officials and senior military officers like former Army Sec. Tom White and retired LTG Greg Newbold. The Pentagon's press office has a full transcript of the show available online. Here's an excerpt from one of the more interesting segments of the show:
MR. MCWETHY: Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney are close friends of 30 years, but it did not start that way. When they first met, Rumsfeld was a young congressman; Cheney a graduate student who wanted an internship.

VICE PRES. CHENEY: He looked on me, and I think properly, as an airy-headed academic and I looked on him as a very arrogant, young, abrasive member of Congress and the interview literally lasted about 20 minutes and I left.

MR. MCWETHY: That time Cheney did not get the job. A few months later when Rumsfeld left Congress to work in the Nixon White House, he finally hired the eager young Cheney.

VICE PRES. CHENEY: I walked into his office. He sat at his desk and never looked up. He never said, do you want a job, or I’d like to have you come to work for me; just you’re congressional relations. Now get the hell out of here.

MR. MCWETHY: What was he like as a boss?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: He was probably the toughest boss I ever had, but he probably taught me more than anybody I ever worked for. He was very demanding. He didn’t have a lot of time to say thank you or good job. The reward for doing a job well was you got more work.

MR. MCWETHY: Rumsfeld’s style has not changed in 30 years.

LT. GEN. GREG NEWBOLD: Very challenging boss.

MR. MCWETHY: For two years under Rumsfeld, Marine Corps Lieutenant General Greg Newbold, now retired, directed operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

He is also described as abusive and brash. Is he?

GEN. NEWBOLD: Oh, absolutely. I think that’s an accurate description. I’m not sure he would use it, but absolutely.

SEC. RUMSFELD: I tend to be impatient, so there’s no question but that from time to time I help people understand the difference between good work and poor work.

GEN. NEWBOLD: If the environment’s intimidating and suppressive, if it demeans, people tend to clam up.

MR. MCWETHY: According to Newbold and others, the secretary bullied many in uniform, even four star generals and admirals, as he led the Bush administration’s charge toward war. Iraq, he said, was armed with weapons of mass destruction and Iraq was a haven for the very same terrorist group that attacked the U.S. on September 11th.

SEC. RUMSFELD: (From tape.) If you’re asking are there al Qaeda in Iraq, the answer is yes there are. It’s a fact.

THOMAS WHITE (FORMER SECRETARY OF THE ARMY): It clearly was a war of choice. We had not been able to establish that there was an imminent threat.

MS. MATTHEWS: The threat was certainly distorted and exaggerated in dozens and dozens and dozens of statements from the president on down.

MR. MCWETHY: Critics say that you and your advisors exaggerated the importance of the intelligence prior to going into Iraq. Yes? No?

SEC. RUMSFELD: False. When I spoke, I quoted generally public unclassified Central Intelligence Agency analysis and you’ll find my remarks are not terribly – (audio break) – came out of people in the past administration who said essentially the same things.

MR. CLARKE: The question is, was there an imminent threat to the United States? And the intelligence did not support that.

GEN. NEWBOLD: I think Saddam Hussein was a paper tiger.


 
A sad end to a warrior's story

A while back, I relayed the story of Dwayne Turner, an Army medic who was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom. His actions clearly demonstrated courage under fire. This guy was no hero in the sense that everyone who goes and does his job is a hero -- he really went above and beyond to take care of his buddies in the best tradition of a combat medic.
"I didn't figure myself a hero. I just wanted to make sure everybody came home," Turner said after the medal and 101st Airborne coin were presented to him. "Nobody was going to die on my watch."

Before the firefight in a suburb about 30 miles south of Baghdad, the Iraqis near the U.S. convoy were being friendly as usual, Turner said. But the scene quickly turned violent, and the soldiers were attacked with grenade and small-arms fire.

Responding on instinct, Turner went into action and repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire as he treated wounded soldiers. He was struck by AK-47 bullets in the arm and leg and was hit by shrapnel.

"When we got hit, guys were going down, and I was the medical guy on the scene. It was a split-second decision," he said.

During the 25-minute attack, Turner tended to the wounded until he finally had to be stopped. He was about to pass out from blood loss, said platoon leader Sgt. Neil Mulvany, who treated Turner's injuries.

"He risked his life to save 16 other soldiers," Mulvany said. "That's a hero in my book."
Unfortunately, there's more to the story. In the award ceremony, a friend of mine noticed that Turner had no rank on his collar -- which would mean he was an E-1, an unusual rank for someone with his time in service. Now, the AP reports why he was wearing E-1 rank: he was busted for going AWOL and smoking pot, and on his way out with a general discharge:
The smile he beamed at the medal ceremony masked months of problems he says he had since returning home with battle wounds: a suicide attempt along with flashbacks and nightmares so bad he resorted to binge drinking to fall asleep.

"I kind of felt like I was blowing in the wind pretty much," said Turner, 23, of Indianapolis, who was an Army medic.

After going AWOL for two days and smoking marijuana while drunk, he said he got a general discharge from the Army rather than an honorable discharge.

That means he is not eligible for at least $40,000 in college funding he expected to receive. The Army also demoted him from specialist to private before his discharge.
Analysis: This is a really hard case in my opinion, and I'm sure it was hard for his commanders to handle too. On the one hand, you have a bona fide hero -- a man whose actions under fire earned him the nation's third-highest award for valor, and who many of his buddies think saved their lives in combat. Those are big things in the warrior community. On the other hand, going AWOL is a serious offense in the military; so is smoking pot. Both threaten to undermine unit cohesion and effectiveness; the drug use may put his buddies at risk. Pvt. Turner's commanders took a middle road here -- they didn't court martial him, as they could have. Instead, they probably gave him non-judicial punishment, a rank reduction, and a discharge for his conduct. I probably agree with that course of action, although I disagree with the character of his discharge. These incidents were serious, but I think his actions in combat merit a more honorable characterization of service. The rules for administrative actions exist largely for a peacetime Army, and I don't think they give guys like this enough credit for what few of us have the courage to do. If it were up to me, I would've tried to get this guy an honorable discharge so that he could keep his veterans' benefits. A discharge is supposed to reflect the totality of a soldier's service -- not the one incident that results in the discharge. In this case, I would've tipped the scales towards an honorable discharge.

Thursday, March 25, 2004
 
The mother of all contractual disputes: This front-page story in Friday's Wall Street Journal (subscription required) chronicles the massive insurance dispute which has arisen out of the ashes of 9/11, where billions of dollars are stake over the meaning of the word "occurrence". The whole issue may be decided on the basis of what contractual form was in effect at the time. The stakes are huge -- one interpretation will generate a $7 billion payout; the other a $3.55 billion insurance payout -- a loss for WTC leaseholder Larry Silverstein may kill several of the current WTC reconstruction ideas. Keep your eye on this case... it will have a huge impact when it's ultimately decided or settled.

 
"The problem is, when everything is a priority, nothing is."

Mark Kleiman quotes some comments from Amy Zegart, one of his faculty colleagues at the UCLA School of Public Policy, regarding the prioritization of intelligence about terrorism in the Bush Administration. Prof. Zegart knows quite a bit on this subject, having written the excellent book Flawed by Design on the national security process, and having had Condi Rice for a thesis adviser, among other things. She has this astute observation about the national security process, and what happens when you fail to establish clear priorities for the intelligence community:
... The Commission asked the wrong question. Was terrorism a priority? Of course it was. The real question is how many other priorities both administrations were confronting. I'll tell you: too many. Clinton wrote a Presidential Decision Directive in 1995 that sought to establish clear priorities for the intelligence community. There were so many in the top tier, they actually divided them into Tier 1A and Tier 1B. But it gets better (or worse). There was also a Tier 0, apparently for the very very very top priorities. Note to self: when you can't list priorities with regular numbers, you haven't really made priorities.

As time passed, priorities were added to the list but old ones were never removed. By 9/11, the National Security Agency had roughly 1,500 formal requirements, and developed 200,000 "Essential Elements of Information." I'm not making this up. See the Congressional Intelligence Committees' Joint Inquiry Report, December 2002, p.49. Intelligence officials told Congressional investigators that the prioritization process was "so broad as to be meaningless."

This is not new. For the past 50 years, there have been more than 40 major studies about the intelligence community. A common theme among them has been the spotty and fleeting attention policy makers have given to setting intelligence priorities. One former senior intelligence official told me that during the Cold War, he was asked about the state of the Soviet economy exactly once, when the Secretary of Defense wanted to convert rubles to dollars for a budget presentation to Congress.
Analysis: Absolutely, positively, right on the money. I haven't had much experience at the upper echelons of the national security community, so I'll take Prof. Zegart's word for the applicability of this logic to the National Security Council. However, this is a fundamental principle of intelligence operations at the tactical level as well -- if you prioritize too many things, then you prioritize nothing. And if you don't establish priorities for intelligence collection and analysis, your scouts and analysts will work very hard on a lot of disparate things that may or may not add up to a complete and accurate picture of the battlefield. Our observer/controllers used to tell us on the 4ID plans staff that we should have no more than 10 priority intelligence requirements for the division -- those things the general absolutely had to know in order to defeat the enemy. In theory, the same principles of simplicity should apply at the national strategic level too, although with much greater consequences and implications.

 
The cost of Operation Iraqi Freedom for the Brits

The London Daily Telegraph (registration required) reports today on testimony by the Chief of Defence Staff that Britain's Army will not be ready to mount another major combat operation for five years because of what it has expended in spirit, blood and treasure to fight with America in Iraq. Like the U.S. Army, the British Army has been stretched to its limits by its worldwide deployments -- many in support of the global war on terrorism.
Gen Sir Michael Walker told the Commons defence committee that the Army in particular would not be able to recover from operations in Iraq until 2008 or 2009.

"I think we have already accepted that we cannot do another large-scale operation now," he said. "We are unlikely to be able to get to large-scale much before the end of the decade, somewhere around 08 or 09." The claim goes much further than Adml Sir Michael Boyce, his predecessor, who said at the end of the war that the Armed Forces would not be ready for another such operation until the end of this year.

The Army has been stretched to breaking point by its involvement in the war on terrorism and a series of operational commitments in the Falklands, Cyprus, Sierra Leone, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland.

Sir Michael said the Army was still reconstituting units from the Iraq conflict and at the same time undergoing reorganisation.

He told the MPs that if he was asked to send the same number of troops to another troublespot urgently he would have to tell Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, that "something will have to give".
I think we can take this estimate at face value -- the British senior military leadership has a reputation for candor, especially when testifying to Parliament, and this report tracks what I've read in other sources. But it gets worse, according to the Daily Telegraph:
The problems have already affected the deployment of extra troops to Afghanistan to back up the American-led hunt for Osama bin Laden. Defence chiefs have been considering sending 1,400 commandos and paratroopers to support the SAS and US special forces' operation in Afghanistan.

Operation Mountain Storm is led by Task Force 121, which is made up of US and British special forces units and has been ordered to capture bin Laden before the US presidential elections. But Gen John Reith, Chief of Joint Operations, has warned Sir Michael that the British troops could not be committed to the hunt for bin Laden for more than six months.

One of the two units being considered for Afghanistan, the Royal Marines' 40 Commando, was due to be sent to Basra, so if it goes to Afghanistan another infantry unit will have to be sent in its place.
Analysis: So, America's closet ally has also paid a high cost for Operation Iraqi Freedom in addition to the cost in blood. One of my smart colleagues thinks this is an example of incurring security related costs in pursuit of the war in Iraq, and I agree. As he says: "Sure, Britain is safer in the sense that [Saddam Hussein] did pose some measure of threat. The question is about cost - unit of security gained per unit of effort expended. If they really can't fight again for 5 years, that is significant strategic risk. Since we are their allies, presumably their risk is our risk."

Right. The cost of the war in Iraq shouldn't just be measured in terms of dollars or lives spent -- it should also be seen as an expenditure of American military power that precludes the expenditure of American (and allied) military power for other purposes. It's like you've got a six-shooter and several targets -- if you're smart, you pick the most threatening targets and shoot them first, and as accurately as possible, to conserve ammo for future targets and hopefully to survive. America and her allies have a finite military capacity, just like the bullets in a revolver, and if we shoot up our bullets at one target (Iraq), we will have less to shoot at others (e.g. Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, Indonesia, the Philippines, the tri-border region of South America, etc.) Ultimately, this means that the U.S. may be less secure in the future for expending its military capacity on Iraq today.

Query: We know what the British are saying about their future capacity to conduct major combat operations -- what are the American projections on this issue? Assuming we can eventually leave Iraq, how much time will the U.S. military need to consolidate, reorganize and reconstitute before it's ready to fight again? My hunch is that it will take less time, because of the rotational readiness systems being adopted in the Army and the pressure to get redeployed units ready for the next OEF/OIF rotation. But the question remains -- what will the long-term readiness cost be of Operation Iraqi Freedom?

More to follow...

 
Major U.S. military realignment planned

Bradley Graham has a really good report in the Washington Post today about the planned realignment of American military units and bases overseas. In total, he reports that roughly half of America's 71,000 troops in Germany may come home to the states -- and that our Cold War-era bases in Germany may be shifted within Europe to Romania and other nations more receptive to the U.S. and more strategically situated. As you can imagine, this plan has massive political, strategic and operational implications for the U.S., its allies and its enemies.
Under the plan, which is nearing approval, smaller, relatively spartan bases would be established in Romania and possibly Bulgaria, and designed for the rapid projection of U.S. military power against terrorists, hostile states and other potential adversaries.

Farther east, in Central Asia, bases in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan that were established in 2001 to support the war in Afghanistan would be preserved as training sites and as staging areas that U.S. forces could use in emergencies.

In Asia, about 15,000 troops out of a total presence of about 100,000 would be withdrawn, mostly by streamlining administrative staffs of the U.S. military commands in South Korea and Japan, the officials said. But much of that reduction could be offset by a buildup of personnel and aircraft in Guam and the possible stationing of another aircraft carrier battle group in either Guam or Hawaii, the officials said. The Pentagon plan also calls for new training and staging areas in Australia and expansion of military ties with Singapore and Thailand.

U.S. officials have said before that they intended to eliminate a number of large, full-service Cold War bases abroad and construct a network of more skeletal outposts closer to potential trouble spots in the Middle East and along the Pacific Rim. But neither the proposed size of the reductions in Europe and Asia nor details about locations of the new sites were previously disclosed.

The realignment would amount to a dramatic change in how U.S. forces are positioned around the globe. Some of the troops now overseas would be brought home, while vital equipment would be dispersed more widely to enable more nimble dispatch of forces. Another major objective, officials added, is to deepen military ties and joint training with a greater number of allies in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Africa and Southeast Asia.
Analysis: There are lots of things at work here, and it's hard to tell which one is really driving this change. The first and most obvious driver is cost. It's very expensive to station U.S. forces overseas, particularly in an advanced Western country like Germany where the cost of living is relatively high and the costs of doing business are also high. It costs a lot (either hundreds of millions or billions) more to keep American forces there than it would cost to keep similar units in the U.S. It used to be that you could justify this cost because these forces were "forward deployed" -- you knew where they would fight, and accepted these costs because they got these units close to the battlefield. But after the end of the Cold War, our military has started to transition away from being a forward deployed force to an expeditionary force -- and we never know where we're going to deploy next. Thus, it may make much more sense from a cost standpoint to find the most efficient place to garrison our troops (inside the United States), and then to purchase additional strategic lift assets like C-17 aircraft to fly them wherever they need to go on a moment's notice.

Efficiency is related to cost, and it's also driving this move. The garrisons in Germany and South Korea require a huge amount of institutional overhead and force structure. Shifting from the Cold War garrison model to the "lilypad" model will eliminate the need for large logistical and infrastructural systems in those locations. Consider South Korea. The 2nd Infantry Division (minus its 3rd Brigade) is stationed there, complete with its division headquarters, aviation, artillery, and other support assets. To support one infantry division of roughly 15,000 soldiers, we have a total force package on the Korean peninsula of 37,000. Granted, much of this exists to support follow-on forces from CONUS that would deploy to Korea for a contingency. But a lot of these forces could be eliminated by changing the nature of the South Korea garrison to either a rotating brigade-sized deployment model, or a pre-positioned equipment model. The same concept applies to Germany, except that there are more combat forces in Germany and proportionally more support units as well.

The second major driver is probably politics. Without getting into the details, Germany and the U.S. do not have the warmest and fuzziest relationship right now. This will pass... but there may come a day when Germany might not allow U.S. troops to even deploy from its soil to a war they don't approve it. (Not likely, but possible) More importantly, there has been a gradual tightening of restrictions on American forces over the past generation in Germany. Whereas they could once maneuver freely around the countryside, they now must stay in small maneuver areas that barely can contain a battalion task force, let alone two brigade-sized units in a force-on-force engagement. Gunnery has been restricted; so have the activities of Army and Air Force aircraft. Overall, Germany has become less hospitable to American forces, and the net result is that American forces in Germany have a tougher time training for combat than their stateside peers. Politically, nations like Romania and Bulgaria going to be much more receptive -- at least initially. They will welcome American bases (and dollars) with open arms. And the greater power differential between the nations will ensure that these other nations do less to impede U.S. military activity than Germany.

Finally, the third driver behind this shift is related to the first -- a need to create a more expeditionary model of basing that supports deployments, not large forward-deployed units. The current model of basing in South Korea (especially) and Germany (less so today) was designed to fight sequels of wars in those two locations. Trying to consolidate units for training or deploy them from those locations is like trying to pound a very square peg into a very round hole. A shift to a "lilypad" model of basing would presumably place a premium on deployability. New bases would be built around seaports and large air transport facilities. Major consideration would (or should) be given to future hotspots, and also to overflight permissions and other tricky details that could frustrate future operations in 10-30 years. The idea is to create a military infrastructure to support an expeditionary military, instead of the current situation where we are trying to use a Cold War military infrastructure to support an expeditionary force.

What are the risks? The first and obvious one is cost. Though this plan will achieve some net efficiencies, it's not entirely clear that it will cost less in the short-term or long-term to pursue this option. The success of the lilypad model hinges on other expenditures, such as the purchase of strategic lift capability and the short-term construction of new bases in CONUS and overseas. Those equipment and capital expenditures will run into the tens of billions of dollars, and it's unclear how long it will take to balance the ledger under what we would've paid for the current Cold War model of basing.

The second major risk is security. A lilypad model may be more vulnerable to terrorist attacks, particularly during critical deployment times, because there are less forces at these bases to secure them and because they're more dispersed. Say what you will about the ponderous Cold War basing model -- it certainly left spare manpower with which to run force protection operations. Additionally, we will be throwing away generations of cooperation with the German polizei and South Korean national police. I know first-hand just how valuable these relationships can be for passing criminal intelligence and preventing future threat operations.

The third risk is political -- this plan may not fly in Congress. There are a myriad of reasons why Congress may torpedo this plan. In theory, the members should embrace it -- more bases = more money in their districts. But there may be significant disruption too, especially if DoD proposes to cut some stateside bases in order to make this plan work. (Schumpeter would probably justify that as "creative destruction", but it's still a tough sell politically.) Also, the purchases of C-17 and C-5 aircraft will be hard to get through Congress unless the Pentagon kills other costly projects to offset the multi-billion cost of buying more strategic lift. While I personally think that's a good trade, it's going to be a very tough fight politically.

Update I: The Pentagon tried to spin this issue as uncertain today, and still subject to a great deal of change. In a press conference, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld backed off the story as reported by The Post, putting things in a much less categorical way. Here's an excerpt from the Q&A:
Q. My question is, under the proposed realignment of forces that you advocate and the Pentagon is sending up to the White House, there is talk about moving troops out of Europe and moving them to Central Asia and taking down -- going down some forces in the Pacific. But there's nothing in there that we know about, about possibly withdrawing U.S. forces from South Korea. Would you like to withdraw U.S. forces? If so, how many and when?

SEC. RUMSFELD: We started almost three years ago, at the president's request, to look at how our country was arranged around the world in terms of bases and force structure. After the Cold War ended, troops were reduced but generally left where they were. And where they had been and where they are today was basically in a status defense mode, arranged to fight a war where they were. The chances of their fighting a war -- for example, a tank battle in Germany -- today are so modest that it calls for a review of how we're arranged.

We are doing that. We've got wonderful people doing an excellent job. We've talked to our friends and allies around the world and we've established certain principles.

One principle is that we clearly do not want to want to bring all of our forces home. We want to have a presence in various parts of the world because it has a healthy deterrent effect. It has the effect also of enabling us to train and work with our friends and allies around the world so that we can function in a combined and joint manner in the event we're called to take actions.

A second principle has been that we really want our forces where they're wanted. We don't want to be in places where it's not terribly hospitable.

Third, we have to be arranged with understandings with the countries where they are such that we're able to use our forces for whatever the taxpayers of the United States may need them for. We can't have one Defense Department for one country and another for another country and another for the American people. We need to be able to be located in a way that, since we can't know where the next problem will be, we can't -- we're much better at assessing what the capabilities are that we'll have to deal with than where the precise threat might come from; therefore, we have to be arranged flexibly so we can move wherever we may need to go.

The next principle was that we'd have to have those kinds of agreements with countries. So any speculation in the press that you see thus far is speculation, because what we now have is a template where we feel we have options as to what we could do.

One of the things will be to bring forces -- some forces home. There's no question about that. We want to reduce the number of permanent changes of station, the costs that that imposes on our people. We'd like, to the extent that's no longer necessary to have people posted overseas, to reduce stress on families so that, for example, the spouses that work won't be having to change jobs every five minutes, or kids that are in high school don't have to be jerked out as frequently and moved to some other place as often as has been the case in a typical military career.

We're now at the point where we're going to begin talking to those countries directly. And we won't know what we want to know until we have talked to them and gained a better understanding of what they're willing to do and how they're willing to arrange our agreements and understandings with them in a way that fits the needs of our country. To the extent we talk to two or three about where we might be located, we obviously would arrange ourselves where the best arrangement was for the American people and for our friends and allies. We have choices.

And we feel that the process has been very professional. It's excellent. It's going to be tied eventually to -- for example, we could not have a BRAC in the United States, which we need -- that we must have, everyone estimates, maybe as much as 20 percent excess facilities for our force structure -- we could not do that unless we had a look worldwide and brought home those people who ultimately ought to be here.

So we're in that process. It's being undertaken, I think. And I -- let me put it this way. Let's say we go to the next step and we find out where our first choice is in each part of the world, and then whether or not that works, and then we go to our second or third choice and whether that works. Then we'd have to look at the cost. And we'd probably want to phase it over a period of time, where we would take a certain amount of military construction expense over a period of years. My guess is it would take, oh, a number of years to roll this out.

So it's a big thing, it's an important thing, we're going to be much better off arranged -- much better arranged as a country. And I think it'll be a good thing for the armed forces. It'll reduce stress on the armed forces. And I'm just very pleased with the professionalism of the work that's been done.

Q. Can you give us a sneak preview on South Korea?

SEC. RUMSFELD: No, no, no. We want to talk to our friends and allies before we start drip --

(Cross talk.)
And there's more, specifically related to the realignment of forces in Korea and what that might do to the strategic balance there--
Q. Would you tell us, sir, how it will affect the security of South Korea against the military threat from North Korea?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Sure. Let me take it in two pieces. South Korea has a gross domestic product that possibly is 25 or 30 times that of the North. It has a highly capable armed force. It is a partner and an ally and a friend of the United States, and we have worked cooperatively with them under the U.N. umbrella for the better part of 50 years -- and that's a good thing.

We are going to make no changes in the U.S. force posture that would be to the detriment of any of our friends or allies. What we're going to have to do, however, is to begin to think in different terms, in a different context.
Analysis: I happen to agree with the Secretary here; you don't want to do things that tip the strategic scales in the wrong direction simply for the sake of efficiency. Korea is a special place, and there are smart operational planners in the Pentagon who understand the balance of terror there as well as I do. Even though South Korea may have 1/2 million men under arms, it still needs us for symbolic and political protection, if not actual combat power. And we should be careful in pursuing this strategy too quickly, because haste will undermine old alliances and create opportunities for our enemies.





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