Divide and rule – America’s plan for Baghdad and the role of integration

An editorial piece in the left-leaning Independent in the UK documents a new plan for security in Baghdad that will have at least 9 of the 30 districts walled off, gated, with US-Iraqi joint forces controlling security within and between them. ID cards will be issued for each resident, and will be necessary to enter or leave. One of the possibilities within these gated communities is organizational integration of military and civiilan activities. The argument is based on a a reading of the new army Field Manual on counter-insurgency which:

While not specifically advocating the “gated communities” campaign, one of its principles is the unification of civilian and military activities, citing “civil operations and revolutionary development support teams” in South Vietnam, assistance to Kurdish refugees in northern Iraq in 1991 and the “provincial reconstruction teams” in Afghanistan –

This is a cross-fuctional integration. Why would it be a good design? If the task needs of these units or teams require the sharing of tacit infomration, if they have to jointly solve problems with uncertain or unknown solutions, if innovation is a priority. What are other reasons to pursue cross-functional structure?

Why would it be a poor design? Will the effectiveness of both be compromised by being joined? The author suggests that it is not as similar organizational designs failed for the French in Algeria and the Americans in Vietnam. I don’t know the specific history of these, but it is easy to see how the desire to be open and engage with people for civilian projects would be a t odds with the security and fighting concerns of the military.

There is a larger question, hard to divorce from our own domestic politics, of whether the larger gated community idea would work. But, it represents a kind of differentiation of civilian authority and space. Would this also decentralize decision-making for military adn police forces? For various insurgent groups?


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Filed under Iraq, Military, Org Design

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