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General Franks Stability Operations: Personal Reflection

Implemented under President Bush’s service, General Franks Stability Operations had unfortunate consequences for the US military forces, being flawed in strategical planning and immediate execution. Not long after the US Army overthrew the dictate regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, in 2003, General Tommy R. Franks made a decision to reconstruct the initial model of the Baghdad-based military operation. Close examination of General Frank’s statement shows the difficulties associated with planning Stability Operations and forming Combined Joint Task Force 7 (CJTF-7) along with possible ways to address the issue differently.

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Personal Statement on General Frank’s Statement

In my opinion, the post-invasion phase of the Iraqi Freedom Operation has been one of the least well-planned and well-executed American military missions, compared with Somalia (1993) and Lebanon (1983). In his statement, the chief American commander for the Iraq invasion, General Franks, assumed that the major fighting has already come to the end (Wright & Reese, 2008). Rushed and not supported by empirical evidence, this assumption moved the responsibility for the entire military operation to the headquarters.

It is worth noting that General Franks did not take into account that the headquarters were short-staffed and remained under the supervision of the newly appointed three-star general (Rayburn & Sobchak, 2019). To elaborate, the decision to delegate the responsibility for the Iraqi Freedom Operation was made regardless of the opposition from the Army’s vice-chief.

With the headquarters staff unprepared for the assigned array of duties, General Frank’s statement reflected limited knowledge of the responsibilities of senior commanders in Iraq. Though the consequences of General Frank’s decision undeniably reflect the incompetently planned occupation, it is also critical to assess the flawed civil-military relations in the US. As written in the “Doctrine for the Armed Forces of the United States,” the country’s Constitution requires military leaders to follow the orders of the Chief commander by law (United States Government US Army, 2018). Yet, the doctrine does not specify that military leaders are obligated to remain silent when poor operation plans are announced or executed.

Furthermore, military officials can refuse to undertake clearly unwise actions at the expense of their positions. Therefore, I do not consider General Frank’s statement as a predefined failure of Phase IV of the Iraqi Freedom Operation. Instead, the post-decision actions of the military leaders constitute a basis for the argument on the unfortunate inability of the military staff to critically assess the orders given.

Difficulties in Planning and Executing Stability Operations

An obvious underestimation of the Iraqi military forces and leadership contributed to the troubled planning for Stability Operations in the country. As explained by Rapport (2015), the premise of transitional societies is to establish predictable societal boundaries, strengthened by the foundation of new social institutions, reflecting democratic principles. At its core, re-establishing order in a fragile state comes with a wide array of challenges on a way to maintain a safe and secure environment. Therefore, a limited understanding of the original social structures prevented the intentional restricting of the civilian relationship with the Iraqi government.

Due to the flawed statement of the chief commander, the US military forces were unable to enact actions, focusing on the specific institutions in Iraq that provided trust and confidence in the law (Rapport, 2015). When planning for the Stability Operations in Iraq, US Army also did not take into account the potential resistance of the Iraqi government during the establishment of newly designed social structures.

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Examples of such include but are not limited to family structures, foundations of a free press, religious institutions, trade unions, and schools of different educational levels. The lack of comprehensive assessment of the military threat from the Iraqi side led to further complications during the transition period. Failure to maintain stability in the lives of civilians and a lack of immediate attention to the needs of common people in the post-conflict phase signifies the flawed planning process of the US Army.

Novel Personnel Requirements of the Newly Designated CJTF-7

Flawed planning for the Stability Operations in Iraq led to the number of personnel requirements of the newly designated CJTF-7. To start with, there was a severe misalignment between plan and execution, according to the CENTCOM timeline (Wright & Reese, 2008). In other words, the CJTF IV did not adhere to the CENTCOM timeline, constituting a core of the newly designed joint task force. Second, the CFLCC’s ECLIPSE timeline was drastically decreased, leading to the misaligned assumptions and execution, similar to the CENTCOM timeline (Rapport, 2015).

Third, US military forces overestimated the participation of the coalition with only a few countries willing to step in the stabilizing efforts to establish a democratic order in the occupied country (Wright & Reese, 2008). Fourth, rapid transition and accelerated redeployment caught central commanders unprepared, allowing time and space for the Iraqi military dissolution. With the accelerated transition to Phase IV, redeployment of the engaged military forces faced a precipitated standup.

Assisting Commander during the Transition to Phase IV

As mentioned in my statement on the issue before, the flawed transition period to Phase IV is a shared responsibility of the US military forces under General Frank’s supervision. If I had an opportunity to assist the commander in this situation, first, I would intervene with a proposal to carry out a more detailed plan for the stabilization phase of the operation. Instead of developing a hastened formal plan to be put for the approval of the Bush administration, a solid backup analysis of all political and military actors would be suggested (Shi & Scharre, 2016). Second, I would recommend the commander prohibit any possible leaks of strategic information to the media.

In particular, the readiness rates of some divisions and funding needs for particular types of weapons should be kept secretive. Third, I would insist on paying close attention to the newly designed social institutions to avoid the renewal of relationships between Iraqi civilians and the overthrown government. Fourth, I would encourage the commander to order the US Department of Investigation to conduct a thorough undercover analysis of the Iraqi military forces. This analysis would cover weapons and the number of specialized divisions left, tracing the development of Phase I-III. The detailed analysis at hand would likely minimize the possibility of drawing and, most importantly, adhering to irrational assumptions from the side of the US military.

Conclusion

General Franks Stability Operations had several strategic and tactical flaws during the planning, preparatory, and execution stages. As a result, the transition period to Phase IV was complicated with novel personnel requirements of the newly designated CJTF-7. Accelerated transition and rapid redeployment caught central commanders understaffed and underprepared, opening a way for the Iraqi military dissolution. If given an opportunity to assist the commander, I would insist on a more detailed plan, backup analysis, and prohibition of media leakage on strategic information.

References

Rapport, A. (2015). Waging war, planning peace: U.S. noncombat operations and major wars. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

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Rayburn, J. D., & Sobchak, F. K. (2019). The U.S. Army in the Iraq war (Vol. 2). Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute and U.S. Army War College Press.

Shi, K., & Scharre, P. (2016). Phases of war and the Iraq experience. Web.

United States Government US Army. (2018). Doctrine for the Armed Forces of the United States. Scotts Valley, CA: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

Wright, D. P., & Reese, T. R. (2008). On point II: Transition to the new campaign: The United States Army in operation Iraqi freedom, 2003-2005. Fort Belvoir, VA: Department of the Army.

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