By John A. Cote MSSI, CPP
President Bush’s New Iraq plan met with resistance the moment it was unveiled to the world. A Washington Post-ABC News poll showed that 52 percent of Americans disapproved of the plan with 61 percent not agreeing to the increase of 20,000 troops in Iraq.
What could be so wrong with this new plan?
The United States had tried and failed twice at curbing the violence which is spiraling out of control all across Iraq. What is so different this time? Provincial Reconstruction Team or (PTR) is at the central core of the new Iraqi Plan. The team is not a new device.
PRT was created from the early Coalition Humanitarian Liaison Cells established during Operation Enduring Freedom in early 2002 in Afghanistan.
The U.S. government learned a great deal from these teams working throughout Afghanistan, as stated in the report by the United States Institute of Peace titled The U.S. Experience with Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan, Lessons Learned. The lessons included:
- Improvisation is not a concept of operations.
- Stability operations are not a game for amateurs.
- Spend and build is not a strategy for development.
- PRTs are military, not development, organizations.
- Silence is not a public information program.
President Bush wants to take many of those civilians working in the protective womb of the Green Zone and place them throughout the country so that they can be seen by the people as trying to help them with the restoration of their country.
This sounds like a great idea but if you read the lessons learned report of the PRT’s in Afghanistan you will see they were not successful in the restoration of security to their geographic areas, they only had a security element for the force protection of the PRT’s themselves. This is not going to improve the security situation in Iraq. I am afraid that taking these people out into the country is only going to increase the number of targets for the insurgents. It was not so long ago when the television screens across America were showing the beheading of Americans who came to Iraq to help bring peace and democracy to the war torn country. All the Insurgents need to do is take just a handful of civilian hostages or worse and you will see calls for the immediate withdraw of these PRT’s.
It should be the Iraqi troops that are increased. The U.S. should drastically reduce the number of troops in Iraq. The use of special operation forces as a force multiplier for the Iraqis should be implemented. What many people don’t realize is that when the United States routed the Taliban in Afghanistan there were no more than 200 U.S. ground forces in country. The reason for this is the use of these special operation forces.
These special forces units can blend in with the Iraqi troops making it much harder to target U.S. troops. Currently, it is very easy to identify an American who is out with an Iraqi patrol, this is not good.
The United States needs to slowly withdraw its footprint across the country and let Iraqis take on more responsibility for their own destiny. By adding more than 20,000 troops the U.S. is increasing its footprint which is the exact opposite of what we need to do to allow them to fight their own wars.
John Cote is a terrorism and security analyst currently living in the Czech Republic. Cote holds a master’s degree in Strategic Intelligence from American Military University.