Monday, August 16, 2004

Franks on planning for the post-war period

Overview

My post on August 6 presented a preliminary discussion on the planning for the occupation and reconstruction phase of the war. Here’s what I said on August 6:
In the August 9 issue of Time, Franks is the recepient of the weekly "10 Questions." The third question starts out with "In your book, you absolve yourself, President Bush, and Secretary Donald Rumsfeld of inadequate postwar planning." Well, I agree that Franks is not responsible for the "inadequate" postwar planning. That was not his job. However, as I will explain in a later post, the ultimate responsibility for that planning lies with the National Command Authorities, of which there are two: George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld.
Actually, this is the first of two “later posts.” These two posts will explain why I feel Franks’s “absolution” of Bush and Rumsfeld is contradicted by other statements by Franks and the official campaign planning doctrine of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This post discusses what Franks has said about the planning for the post-war period.

What Franks had to say

As stated in the New York Times article about the book, “General Franks writes that he and his staff discussed the postwar phase in Iraq ‘throughout our planning’ for the war itself.” However, Franks was not put in charge of the reconstruction effort. That job went initially to retired Army Lt. General Jay Garner (and there will be a great deal more about Garner in subsequent posts). Garner was chosen to head the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA), created on January 20, 2003, as part of the Defense Department. Franks writes (on p. 423) that Donald Rumsfeld called him to ask if he thought Garner could handle the job. Franks said, “Jay could do it if you trust him...and if he could get the right support from every agency of the U.S. government. That’s going to include levels of funding unheard of since World War II.” (emphasis added). According to Franks, Rumsfeld then said, “He’ll be your subordinate, but he’ll be my man in Iraq.”

On designating Garner as the reconstruction leader, Franks says (p. 424) “Naming Jay Garner was a good first step. Washington would be responsible for providing the policy–and, I hoped, sufficient resources–to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people: jobs, power grids, water infrastructure, schools, hospitals, and the promise of prosperity.” (emphasis added).

On p. 423, Franks describes what Garner did after getting the job: “Jay and his team spent countless hours with the CENTCOM staff and the key planners on the Joint Staff and in OSD (Office of the Secretary of Defense), hammering out processes and procedures that would place U.S. Army civil affairs specialists in Iraq.” (emphasis added). Notice that all the “key planners” Garner met were Pentagon officials. No one from the State Department. No one from the CIA. No one from USAID. Notice also what was being “hammered out”–the placement of civil affairs specialists. That is crucial, but does that equate to planning how to supply the “sufficient resources to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people” that Franks identified? Civil affairs specialists are undoubtedly part of that process, but where is the planning for the equipment and personnel to get the electric grid working? How are civil affairs specialists going to provide jobs and water infrastructure?

Franks also describes on p. 525 some of the problems Garner faced before the war. “Before the war had begun, Garner had spent weeks walking the corridors of Washington, hat in hand. He needed people and money. But he could only suggest a hypothetical situation: If the United States went to war, could your department provide...? No experienced bureaucrat would refuse a hypothetical request. They would meet it–with hypothetical resources, vague promises that cost their department nothing in terms of funds or personnel.” Gee, that doesn’t sound like “the right support from every agency of the U.S. government.” You would think that such an important task–the reconstruction of Iraq–demands that help be provided. I mean to say, does it not make sense that you at least need to try to have as many pieces in place as possible before the war starts? You would think that someone, somewhere in the Bush administration could at least engineer some sort of behind the scenes gathering of help. From what Franks is saying, that did not happen. Why? I have a theory that needs to be discussed elsewhere, but here is a related question: if it became public that the administration was seeking and getting commitments of resources for the reconstruction of Iraq, would that mean that the decision to have a need for reconstruction, i.e., a war, had previously been made? Ah, but let us once again move forward...

Did Garner find what he needed in the corridors of Washington? From p. 524, here’s how Franks recalls a discussion with someone on his staff, J-5 director of planning, Rookie Robb:
Rookie was discouraged. In several concise sentences, he summarized his concerns about Phase IV, Post-Hostility Operations:

ORHA was understaffed, with fewer than two hundred officers and technical experts on the ground.

They were badly underfunded, and their mission was not clear to everyone on the team.

“Jay Garner is going into this situation badly handicapped,” Robb said. “His organization is behind. They haven’t gathered the financial support and resources they require. And Jay doesn’t have the kind of open checkbook he’ll need to immediately rehire the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis put out of work by the Coalition.”
Well, looks like the answer is not just “no,” but “Hell, no.”

Garner was to be Franks’s subordinate, so maybe CENTCOM, Franks’s command, could help out. And once again, I must say “maybe not.” Franks writes on p. 525 that “CENTCOM had many capabilities–engineering skills and equipment, medical teams, and Arabic-speaking civil affairs specialists. But we had neither the money nor a comprehensive set of policy decisions that would provide for every aspect of reconstruction, civic action, and governance.” (emphasis added).

Franks also discusses some of what he said to senior administration officials before the war regarding planning for “Phase IV.” After I had written all of the above, I found a post (“Assessing Blame for Post-War Iraq”) on another site. The author is Phillip Carter, a former Army officer who has some actual experience in these matters (as opposed to me). Carter notes that Franks writes on pp. 351-352 about an OPLAN (operational plan) briefing he gave to Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, and others in late December 2001:
It was understood that the final phase, Phase IV--post hostility operations-- would last the longest: years, not months. ... The endstate of Phase IV included the establishment of a representative form of government in a country capable of defending its territorial borders and maintaining internal security, without any weapons of mass destruction.

I was aware that Phase IV might well prove more challenging than major combat operations... (emphasis added).
Carter’s analysis of this briefing included the following:
You have to have sat through a few OPLAN briefings to understand why this is significant. Here, Gen. Franks briefed the President and the NSC principals that Phase IV entailed significant strategic and operational risk, and that there was no good solution yet for Phase IV. Yet, the discussion afterwards focused entirely on WMD, Scuds, issues with allies, and other issues focused on Phase III. No one asked Gen. Franks about Phase IV; it seemed like an afterthought...This passage implies that Gen. Franks was aware of the problem, but his bosses weren't[.]
I have to say that Carter is more critical of Franks than I am being, and I encourage everyone to read all of Carter’s post because–to be frank–I am citing the portions of his post which most support my view. And that includes a discussion by Franks on another briefing to Bush and the National Security Council principals in August of 2002:
My final chart was potentially the most important: PHASE IV STABILITY OPERATIONS.

“The Generated and Running Starts,” I explained, “and the Hybrid Concept all project Phase III ending with a maximum of two hundred and fifty thousand troops in Iraq. We will have to stand up a new Iraqi army, and create a constabulary that includes a representative tribal, religious and ethnic mix. It will take time.

And well-designed and well-funded reconstruction projects that put large numbers of Iraqis to work and quickly meet community needs — and expectations — will be the keys to our success in Phase IV.”
(emphasis added by me). Again, Carter includes more of Franks’s description, and Carter presented more analysis than this:
Seriously, one can start adding up all of the implicit assumptions in these statements by Gen. Franks, and figure out exactly why the Phase IV plan went so poorly. For starters, there's no discussion of initial security needs, or initial needs for law and order. Second, there's no discussion of institutional responsibility for the key reconstruction projects described as being so essential — something we know now well in the crack between State/USAID and Defense.
Go back to what I said about the “key planners” with whom Garner met. Combining Carter’s analysis with mine, it seems that even though more than three months before Garner came on board Bush and others were told by Franks about some of the basic things that would have to be addressed by reconstruction efforts, not only was there no discussion of institutional responsibility at that time, but there was no thought given to it in the time that passed until Garner arrived, for, as I noted, planning on how to deploy civil affairs specialists does not address who is going to take care of the electricity and water and how that is to be done.

Franks does not paint a pretty picture about the planning for the “Phase IV Post-Hostilities Operations.” However, he attributes much of the problems in post-war Iraq to factors other than the planning, but that is not what this post is examining. This post is examining the planning for the post-war period. Franks’s statements can be put in three categories. First, the reconstruction effort was to be controlled by the military. Second, ORHA was underfunded and understaffed. And the third category gets to the real heart of the matter for me. For reasons that will become clear, I call it the “NCA factor.” Here are the statements from Franks’s book that fit the NCA factor:
“And well-designed and well-funded reconstruction projects that put large numbers of Iraqis to work and quickly meet community needs — and expectations — will be the keys to our success in Phase IV.”
Garner would need the support of every agency in the government.
“Washington would be responsible for providing the policy[.]”
CENTCOM never had a comprehensive set of policy decisions.
ORHA’s mission was not clear to everyone on the team.
So who in “Washington” was responsible for these matters? Well, as explained in the next post, according to the official campaign planning doctrine from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that would be George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld.

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