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Divide and rule – America’s plan for Baghdad and the role of integration April 11, 2007

Posted by Jordi in Military, Organizational Design.

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?



1. Ken Larson - April 12, 2007

I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak.

Politicians make no difference.

We have bought into the Military Industrial Complex (MIC). If you would like to read how this happens please see:


Through a combination of public apathy and threats by the MIC we have let the SYSTEM get too large. It is now a SYSTEMIC problem and the SYSTEM is out of control. Government and industry are merging and that is very dangerous.

There is no conspiracy. The SYSTEM has gotten so big that those who make it up and run it day to day in industry and government simply are perpetuating their existance.

The politicians rely on them for details and recommendations because they cannot possibly grasp the nuances of the environment and the BIG SYSTEM.

So, the system has to go bust and then be re-scaled, fixed and re-designed to run efficiently and prudently, just like any other big machine that runs poorly or becomes obsolete or dangerous.

This situation will right itself through trauma. I see a government ENRON on the horizon, with an associated house cleaning.

The next president will come and go along with his appointees and politicos. The event to watch is the collapse of the MIC.

For more details see:


2. Charley S - April 18, 2007

Overall, I beleive that the integration efforts of politicians and military officials in Iraq is a good goal. On the strategic level of operations this is what is needed to succeed in an extremely complex environment which most would argue is even more complex than we faced in Vietnam. I’m not entirely sure how walling off sections of city will make this possible. If anything I think this action will further the divide between politicians and the military who has the responsibility of securing areas outside the gates. Ideas like this failed in Vietnam because they were easily infiltrated by insurgents which I would predict right now in Iraq.

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