Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Iraq Reconstruction Hearing 12-05-2007

By Lydia Vickers
The Hearing started out with LOTS of comparisons to VietNam. Ironically they kept mentioning that they two conflicts really did not have that much in common.
It was mentioned that one of the retired generals who was on the panel lost his own grand daughter in a fire fight in Afghanistan in 2005. He has 6 other family members in the service at this time.
The discussion focus on using PRT's (provisional reconstruction teams) which are civilian. In Afghanistan the PRTs are run by the military. In Iraq it's different, they work outside of the military. There are also embedded PRTs who work directly with the government (in both countries).
The goal is success without military force. Excellence is winning war without fighting (a bit confusing since "war" is fighting?)
Hard power is military and soft power is political.
The panel was working on what they call a National Counter-Insurgency plan. The idea is to win the ground fight then forward deploy U.S. Ambassadors to work with the local people. Secure, Build and Hold.
Discussion again return to VietNam and Congressional members continued to say "but we didn't win in VietNam" - The question being, why do we want to follow that protocol when it did not work? The answer was, the plan worked to beat the Viet Cong but did not stop the North Vietnamese army from winning.
Discussion continued to explain micro loans and grants that are helping the economy in each country. The Sunni insurgents who are now working with PRTs in Iraq, again, outside of the military.
Some of the challenges are: geography, transportation and assets. Security restrictions hinder the PRTs efforts. No one owns PRTs and no one explained who controls them. Again, they are many private companies working together as PRTs.
The panel reported that success today and in other wars (Kosovo and Bosnia for instance) will need civilian workers with larger numbers in the State Department.
One congressman (sorry, I didn't get names) asked how can we help our troops assimilate to civilian jobs. Rather than build up a working military they prefer (now) to build up civilians to support the military. Civilians will share information with the troops
The question was asked, again, if the reconstruction teams did so much good, why did we still lose the war in VietNam? It was explained that the idea was to win over the hearts and minds of the people to beat the VietCong BUT, we couldn't stop the North Vietnamese from attacking.
One suggestion was that we need cross training in languages. The panel did not feel that the military could accomplish this and civilians would be used instead. No one explained why we can't train our military men and women to speak new languages.
PRTs are directly linked to the counter insurgency effort with a short term, high impact plan directly supporting the military command, but not under military command.
The goal is to rebuild the local government, return the rule of law and reconstruction of the infrastructure. Embedded PRTs continue to work directly with the counter insurgency.
Question - in the international effort, why aren't we sharing and learning. Discussion at the higher levels is not filtering down. The State Department does not answer to Congress. The military does not answer directly to Congress.
Question - why aren't we learning from these past lessons? It appears that the Department of Defense feels most passionately and the civilian agencies need to step it up to catch up.
There was some discussion about "military force" VS "military forces" and that military force cannot be the face of our foreign policy. It was mentioned what a fantastic job our military did during the Tsunami a few years ago. That is the example we should try to duplicate.
Discussion - Iraq is the 3rd most corrupt county in the world. It is accepted that 1/3 of all reconstruction money in Iraq disappears or is stolen.
Question - do we have to accept this? Answer - yes. Prime Minister Malaki calls it the 2nd war in Iraq (against corruption and graft).
Many 3rd world countries have this problem because the government employees are not paid very well so they cheat. In Iraq they are paid very well though. Still government officials in high positions are still on the take. Some of the money is also ending up with other countries and even with people from our own country. It appears that no one has an answer to this problem.
The panel would like to focus on post conflict stabilization - which is impossible until there is some stabilization. Deployment rather that employment of force.
The panel mentioned that Churchill said we can't have military success without civilian support.
Congress asked "when will we learn from history?" We are using a program in Iraq and Afghanistan which was written for peace missions like Kosovo. Again, how can that work while conflict continues in these countries.
Question - why doesn't the State Department have an interest in building and stability as much as the military does.
Answer- the State Department is small and underfunded. When they have to take people out of one job into another there are usually no replacements. The military is larger. Diplomats are trained to prevent problems and "cave in when the problems start".
Note: Behind me in the room was a huge picture of a battle in Viet Nam, bloody, a bomb blowing up and a shirtless soldier shooting at the enemy. The picture behind the representatives was of a military parade in WWII. Opposite walls had a huge fighter plane and a group of tanks.


Anonymous said...

Lydia, you just put out the highlights of the meeting that you want to. This is by no means a comprehensive report of the meeting and what was said. You would not make for a good journalist. You get an F!

Eileen Coles said...

An F for FREEDOM. Thanks Lydia for letting those of us with a clue know what's going on!

Anonymous said...

No, F is for FAILURE. As in what Code Pink is as an organization.

Pinky Pinkster said...

Anonymous, instead of making comments without substantiation, why don't you point all of us to a comprehensive report of the meeting. Lobbing insults is not helpful.

Anonymous said...

The point is not ti refer you to comprehensive coverage, it is to let you know the comments reported were cherry picked.

Eileen Coles said...

Coming from you, anonymous, that means less than nothing. Back up your accusations with substance or STFU. You probably weren't even there, you're just running your stupid mouth again as usual.

Anonymous said...

Okay Eileen, you are right, the meeting only lasted two minutes and the article above details every detail! NOT

Pinky Pinkster said...

Well, I'd think you would want to direct all of us peace patriots to the true and complete transcript of this event. Were you there? Do you know the complete story? Please, enlighten us.

Really, I love the whole NOT thing! It's just so clever!

Eileen Coles said...

Don't hold your breath, Pinky. These people aren't in the enlightenment business. The phrase "light 'em up" is interpreted by them to involve either guns or cigarettes.

Anonymous said...


LaFajita said...

Speaking of high jinks and tomfoolery -

For anyone up at the House of Pink who might be sleeping and hasn't heard about this yet --

Capitol Police officer Karen Emory, 36, of Waldorf, MD, was arrested and charged with setting a fire in a ladies restroom in one of the Congressional Office buildings (unspecified in article). This was the latest in a series of suspicious fires.

Maybe they should fire the Capitol Police and hire the Pink Police, as they have done nothing more malicious than public works beautification. That, and making their voices heard by people who would rather not hear them. Col. Ann, I hope to see you out in the World soon.

Side Note: has anyone heard from Tighe and Medea?

Anonymous said...

Well, the cap. pd officer was only indicted for one fire. There are still six others that are unsolved.

Anonymous said...

Code Pink LIES. Two of them posed as media to gain entry to a hearing at Congress. What a bunch of phony ass holes with all their lies and staged outrage and phony events designed for their petty propaganda. I hope these useful idiot Hugo Chavez supporters got arrested.

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