Winning the Peace

The Requirement for Full-Spectrum Operations

Major General Peter W. Chiarelli, U.S. Army
Major Patrick R. Michaelis, U.S. Army

Download the PDF Download the PDF

You [military professionals] must know something about strategy and tactics and logistics, but also economics and politics and diplomacy and history. You must know everything you can know about military power, and you must also understand the limits of military power. You must understand that few of the important problems of our time have, in the final analysis, been finally solved by military power alone.

—John F. Kennedy1

For the last 3 decades serving as an Army officer, the traditional military training model prepared me to win our Nation’s wars on the plains of Europe, or the deserts of the Middle East. I envisioned large, sweeping formations; coordinating and synchronizing the battlefield functions to create that “point of penetration;” and rapidly exploiting the initiative of that penetration to achieve a decisive maneuver against the armies that threatened the sovereignty of my country. But in Baghdad, that envisioned 3-decade-old concept of reality was replaced by a far greater sense of purpose and cause. Synchronization and coordination of the battlespace was not to win the war, but to win the peace. Penetration did not occur merely through synchronization of the battlefield functions, but that and more: local infrastructure improvement; training of security forces, understanding and educating the fundamentals of democracy; creating long-lasting jobs that would carry beyond short-term infrastructure improvement; and, an information operations (IO) campaign that supported the cultural realities of the area of operations.

The proverbial “point of penetration” for the 1st Cavalry Division and the coalition occurred on 30 January 2005. Millions of eligible Iraqi citizens, from across the sectarian divides, triumphed over a fractured insurgency and terrorist threat in a show of defiance never before seen across the Middle East. The purple index finger, proudly displayed, became a symbol of defiance and hope. The Iraqi people proved to the world their willingness to try democracy in whatever unique form evolves.

Task Force Baghdad’s campaign to “win the peace” in Iraq has forced us, as an instrument of national power, to change the very nature of what it means to fight.2 Although trained in the controlled application of combat power, we quickly became fluent in the controlled application of national power. We witnessed in Baghdad that it was no longer adequate as a military force to accept classic military modes of thought. Our own mentality of a phased approach to operations boxed our potential into neat piles the insurgent and terrorist initially exploited.

We found that if we concentrated solely on establishing a large security force and targeted counterinsurgent combat operations—and only after that was accomplished, worked toward establishing a sustainable infrastructure supported by a strong government developing a free-market system—we would have waited too long. The outcome of a sequential plan allowed insurgent leaders to gain a competitive advantage through solidifying the psychological and structural support of the populace.

Further, those who viewed the attainment of security solely as a function of military action alone were mistaken. A gun on every street corner, although visually appealing, provides only a short-term solution and does not equate to long-term security grounded in a democratic process. Our observation was born not from idealism, but because it creates the essence of true security, protecting not only our soldiers, but Iraq, the region, and, consequently, our homeland.

On 3 August 2004, following a tenuous cease-fire agreement between Task Force Baghdad and the forces of Muqtada Al Sadr in Shi’a-dominated Sadr City, over 18,000 city residents went to work for the first time earning sustaining wages by rebuilding the decrepit infrastructure that characterized the 6- by 8-kilometer overpopulated area located on the northeast corner of Baghdad.

For the first time, visible signs of the future emerged with clear movement toward a functioning sewage system, a functioning fresh water system, electricity being wired to every house, and trash being picked up out of the streets. Those performing the projects were residents from Sadr City. The extraordinary effort by the leaders and soldiers of Task Force Baghdad to synchronize the elements needed to implement the “first mile” projects within Sadr City were to pay big dividends not only to the people of Sadr City, but to the force protection of the soldiers of Task Force Baghdad.

But on 5 August 2004, 72 hours after an entire city had been mobilized to improve their infrastructure, Muqtada Al Sadr’s forces attacked. He broke the fragile 6-week-old cease fire and mounted an offensive against coalition forces.

The jobs in the northern two-thirds of Sadr City stopped. The repair to infrastructure stopped. The question is: why?

Multi-National Division-Baghdad (MND-B), Task Force Baghdad, at its zenith a 39,000-soldier, 62-battalion coalition task force centered in and around Baghdad, conducted a relief in place with the 1st Armored Division on 15 April 2004. This relief in place was midstride of an unforeseen 11-day-old multiparty insurgent uprising that left many soldiers injured or killed and rocked the foundation of Task Force Baghdad’s campaign to achieve decisive results in the influential center of gravity of Iraq.

But the task force, through adherence to an overall thematically based commander’s intent, maintained orientation on a well-founded operational campaign plan balanced across five integrated conceptual lines of operations (LOOs). Each LOO was tied to a robust IO capability (equating to a sixth LOO), moving incrementally and cumulatively toward decisively accomplishing the ultimate goal of shifting Baghdad away from instability and a fertile recruiting ground for insurgents, to a thriving modern city encompassing one-third of Iraq’s population. Baghdad had to be secure not only in its sense of self-preservation, but its economic future had to be led by a legitimate government that radiated democratic ideals across Iraq. This article examines Task Force Baghdad’s approach and methodology in implementing full-spectrum operations.

Operational Art in an Urban Environment–Baghdad

With the mass migration of humanity to cities and the inability of developing nations to keep abreast of basic city services relative to growth, discontent erupts. Such conditions create advantageous conditions ripe for fundamentalist ideologue recruitment.

Baghdad, a city about the size of Chicago in population density, and Austin, Texas, in landmass, divided through the center by the Tigris River, is, like many overpopulated yet underdeveloped cities, subdivided into neighborhoods with distinct demographic divergences, reliant on a social system of governance based on tribal and religious affiliations, and interconnected by modern lines of communications and technology. The neglect by Saddam Hussein and the gray period following initial coalition combat operations created those “ripe” conditions in Baghdad.

The Demographic Battlespace

In accurately defining the contextual and cultural population of the task force battlespace, it became rapidly apparent that we needed to develop a keen understanding of demographics as well as the cultural intricacies that drive the Iraqi population.3 Although tactically distinct in scope, density, and challenges, we operationally divided the populace into three categories that help define the battlespace: anti-Iraqi forces, supporters, and fence-sitters.

Anti-Iraqi forces. The first group defined as insurgents (and terrorists) were those who cannot be changed, who cannot be influenced, and who, although politically and ethnically different in scope, had essentially the same desired endstate—to perceptually delegitimize the current Iraqi Government and drive a wedge between the Iraqi populace and coalition forces.4 Through forcing a demonstration of the inability of the government to bring security, projects, hope, and prosperity to the city of Baghdad and greater Iraq and increasing the psychological distance between coalition forces and the Iraqi populace through increased limited use of force, they turn the populace to accept their message.5 Their aim is disruption for political gain; their organization is cellular based and organized crime-like in terms of its rapid ability to take advantage of tactical and operational gaps. Iraqi insurgents take full advantage of the Arab Bedouin-based tribal culture so important to understanding the battlespace. They target the disenfranchised neighborhoods that see little to no progress, recruiting from those who see, through the insurgent, basic services being fulfilled, societal leadership, safety being provided, and ultimately, direction given.

When the insurgent achieves his goal, the methods of resistance among the populace take a spectrum of forms ranging from avoidance to sympathetic obliviousness or passing of information to direct attacks against coalition forces. Intimidation of the people, in particular, those who work for the coalition, public sector employees, and government officials is a technique used quite effectively. The insurgents are small in relative size and cellular in design operating normally off of intent, but their effect can and does achieve tactical and operational significance. It takes few insurgents specifically targeting a small group of select individuals to achieve resonance across a large portion of the population.

In an effort to describe the effect, a corollary would be the effect the D.C. Sniper had on the Capital and Nation in 2002. Fear gripped the city and the Nation, producing a paralysis that had a quantifiable effect on the economy. Every white van was suspect. People feared stopping at gas stations and parking at retail establishments because they could be the next victims. Multiply this 100-fold and you can understand the effect and role anti-Iraqi forces have from an intimidation perspective on the populace.

What made our challenge completely different from any other our military has endured is the unique variable of international terrorism. Terrorist aims do not lie with the interests of the Iraqi populace but, rather, global objectives played out on the world stage through manipulation of media and the resonance associated with a “spectacular event.”

Direct-action killing or capturing the terrorist was (and is) the only option to immediately mitigate their strategic effect. We also chose an indirect approach, through co-option of the populace using information operations, to deny the terrorist physical and psychological sanctuary in an effort to thwart their objectives.

Supporters. The second demographic consisted of supporters who represented the coalition force base of support throughout neighborhoods, districts, and the government. The supporters see the future of Iraq through cooperation with the currently established Iraqi Government and coalition forces. The reality is that, when queried, most supporters preferred the removal of coalition forces from Baghdad and Iraq, but they simultaneously recognized the relative importance of the security provided and the flow of funding from these contributing nations to the short- and long-term future of Iraq.

While a large majority of Iraqis do not like the presence of coalition forces, during a February 2005 Baghdad survey, the question was posed as to when coalition forces should leave Iraq. In the Task Force Baghdad area of operations, 72 percent of those polled stated that only after certain security and economic conditions were met would it be appropriate for coalition forces to leave. This clearly demonstrated to the task force that although the Iraqi populace inherently did not like the presence of coalition forces in their country, they understood the value of that presence and the need to first establish certain conditions before withdrawal began.

Fence-sitters. Finally, we had those on the proverbial fence. We considered the fence-sitters as the operational center of gravity for both Task Force Baghdad and insurgent forces. They are the bulk of the populace, and they are waiting to decide who will get their support. From the intelligentsia to the poor and uneducated who have little or no hope, the fence-sitters are waiting on clear signs of progress and direction before casting their support.

The fence-sitters become the base from which power is derived. Strong evidence exists that suggests Muqtada Al Sadr’s attacks against coalition forces in early August 2004 were initiated because of the visible signs of progress manifested by the number of projects and local labor force hires that threatened his scope of power and ability to recruit fighters within the Shi’a population.

Insurgents can clearly influence the fence-sitters by attacking visible symbols of government services and provoking government repression, both of which discredit the legitimacy of the government. In a further demonstration of potency, the insurgents then step in and provide a shadow government.6

In one example, insurgents attacked electrical distribution nodes outside the city of Baghdad and severely limited the already overworked electrical grid, knowing the Iraqi populace abhorred attacks on infrastructure. The insurgents deftly placed blame for the “lack of power” squarely on the impotence of the fledgling Iraqi Government and supporting coalition forces, citing the historical truth of power always being available under the Saddam regime.7

During the coordinated insurgent uprising in April 2004, Muqtada Al Sadr, as one of his first acts, gained control of the electrical substations in Sadr City. By providing uninterrupted power, something not seen since the fall of Saddam Hussein, he was able to sway support. A shadow government able to provide services, with governance by religious decree and enforcement by Sharia courts, Muqtada Al Sadr was able to provide a viable, attractive alternative to the coalition. Together, the Iraqi Government and the coalition must send clear signals of their own, directly targeting those waiting for direction through a full-spectrum campaign that mitigates the insurgent base with visible and tangible signs of progress within a legitimate context.


Right or wrong, the fence-sitters (and the population as a whole) believe that because America put a man on the moon, it can do anything—and do it quickly. When we fail to produce because of lack of authority, shortage of resources, or bureaucratic inefficiencies, they believe it is because we, as a coalition, do not want to fix it. Therefore the alternative becomes clear.

From Task Force Baghdad’s perspective it was clear: shape operations for decisive results by optimizing the support of those who see through the coalition a future; kill, capture, or disrupt the insurgents and terrorists by denying influence and sanctuary; and, finally, decisively engage the operational center of gravity for insurgents and coalition forces—those on the fence—through promotion of essential infrastructure services; establishing a capable, legitimate government; and creating opportunities for economic independence through a free market system.

The Balanced Approach: Full-Spectrum Operations

Tackling the task of executing multiple operational themes into a full campaign plan, the task force defined through contemporary, historical, cultural, and doctrinal analysis and through observation and collaboration with the 1st Armored Division, critical conceptual lines of operations oriented on truly demonstrating in Baghdad, as the coalition center of gravity, viable results to achieve the campaign objective.8 What became clear to the task force during mission analysis and mission preparation was that to achieve the operational goal the task force had to simultaneously work along all five equally balanced, interconnected lines of operations. What also became clear was that the traditional phased approach, grounded in U.S. doctrine, might not be the answer; rather, an event-driven “transitional” approach might be more appropriate based on a robust set of metrics and analysis.9

Combat operations. Combat operations, the foundation of our skill set, was oriented on targeting, defeating, and denying influence to the insurgent base throughout the area of responsibility through lethal use of force. Precision analysis of insurgent networks, logistics, financing, and support, integrated with tactical human intelligence and national-level collection and exploitation assets, helped shape the effect desired by disrupting insurgent and terrorist capabilities across the task force.

The tenaciousness of U.S. soldiers in taking the fight to the enemy cannot be emphasized enough. One hundred sixty-nine soldiers from the task force lost their lives, and over 1,900 were seriously injured in moving Baghdad toward sovereignty. But even in the execution of combat operations, they balanced the effect across the other lines of operations and cultural empathy. Understanding the role of our actions through the eyes of the populace was a critical planning, preparation, and execution factor.

Train and employ Iraqi security forces (military and police). The migration of training and equipping foreign internal security forces from the unconventional to the conventional force presented challenges and opportunities to task force leaders. Following the April 2004 uprisings, the task force had to create a police force of about 13,000 men and a military security force approaching two brigades, and provide the requisite staff and resources to assume areas of responsibility. The task force then had to integrate these forces into planning and executing full-spectrum operations.10

Over 500,000 hours of dedicated training by an embedded advisory staff, who lived, ate, and trained with the Iraqi Army, resulted in over 3,000 Iraqi missions executed independent of coalition presence in and around Baghdad. This critical step in the progress toward establishing full independence was accomplished through a robust advisory system where the division embedded over 70 full-time military advisory teams per Iraqi battalion over the course of the deployment. Resourced down to the platoon level, the advisers leveraged the cultural importance of relationships to the Arab people to build trust and rapport and to create momentum toward a truly professional military force. These forces were trained to conduct counterinsurgency operations 24 hours a day, as opposed to the culturally desirable strike-force model.

A critical step toward validation of this training and equipping strategy (which continues today) manifested itself through transfer of authority of large swaths of the most contentious neighborhoods of downtown Baghdad to an Iraqi Army brigade in early February 2005.11 Under the watchful eye of task force leaders, the brigade operated as an integral team member contributing to the battlespace situational understanding through integration into the task force C2 system.

In addition to training and equipping Iraqi Army forces, the task force also conducted task training and resourced the Iraqi Police Service (IPS).12 Although still lacking in sheer numbers and throughput for training (basic estimate is that about 23,000 are needed to properly police the streets of Baghdad), the symbolic and practical importance of a robust police force to the people of Baghdad was abundantly clear: 72 percent of the local populace stated there was a direct correlation between their sense of security and the presence of the IPS.13

One of the challenges associated with training and equipping the Iraqi Police Service centered on the Ministry of Interior’s view toward application of police forces. There have always been traditional Middle East tensions between defense and interior ministries, and Iraq is no different. If given leeway, the propensity is to establish police “strike forces” that conduct blitz operations rather than operate as the “cop on the beat.” Although coalition vetting and recruitment of Iraqi police throughout the deployment was on par to achieving the level needed to support a city of from 6 to 7 million, the reality was that many of those recruits, after graduating from one of the two academies, were siphoned off to support strike-force operations or into an already over-populated police bureaucracy. This practice severely hindered the desired need of the Baghdad populace for established local security. The complexity of managing and resourcing the Iraqi Army and, to a greater extent, the Iraqi Police Service, both of which exist within an Arab-style chain of command, operationally under task force control yet subject to the whims of the ministries who own them, presented numerous leadership and engagement challenges for those tasked with overwatch.


The previous two LOOs (Combat Operations and Train and Equip Iraqi Security Forces) are two missions that we, as a military force, are extremely comfortable conducting. Our training and doctrine reinforce the simple, direct-action approach to accomplishing military objectives. With a firm grasp of the complexity of the Arab culture and the value placed on extreme concepts of “honor above all,” the task force concluded that erosion of enemy influence through direct action and training of Iraqi security forces only led to one confirmable conclusion—you ultimately pushed those on the fence into the insurgent category rather than the supporter category. In effect, you offered no viable alternative. Kinetic operations would provide the definable short-term wins we are comfortable with as an Army but, ultimately, would be our undoing. In the best case, we would cause the insurgency to grow. In the worst case, although we would never lose a tactical or operational engagement, the migration of fence-sitters to the insurgent cause would be so pronounced the coalition loss in soldiers and support would reach unacceptable levels.

To understand how this limited view of operations will never contribute to a total solution, it is important to understand that the Arab and Iraqi culture is grounded in extreme concepts of the importance of honor above all, so much so that “lying” to defend one’s honor is a cultural norm—something that we, with our Western value set, cannot comprehend, is accepted.


One prime example that demonstrates this concept, which has been repeated numerous times over the last 12+ months, occurred in the southern Al Rasheed district of Baghdad. In May 2004, on the death of approximately 100 potential IPS recruits at a police station targeted by terrorists using a car laden with explosives, an amazing thing happened: on the following day there were over 300 potential recruits standing tall, ready to join the Iraqi Police Service—not out of nationalistic feelings, but to “honor those who have fallen.” Tribal, religious, and familial honor drove a new batch of recruits to defend the honor of those killed—and this was not an isolated occurrence. This clear understanding of cultural norms directly applied to our actions when planning, preparing, and executing all operations.

We operated many times on limited intelligence in order to defeat insurgent activity and exercised extreme moral judgment when targeting potential insurgent sanctuary. By integrating the Iraqi Police Service and Iraqi Army into all of these operations, we put Iraqis front and center as a clear indicator that Iraq is in charge of Iraq. But the cultural reality is that no matter what the outcome of a combat operation, for every insurgent put down, the potential exists to grow many more if cultural mitigation is not practiced. If there is nothing else done other than kill bad guys and train others to kill bad guys, the only thing accomplished is moving more people from the fence to the insurgent category—there remains no opportunity to grow the supporter base.

Cultural awareness and an empathetic understanding of the impact of Western actions on a Middle East society were constantly at the forefront of all operational considerations, regardless of the complexity. Clearly, traditional methods of achieving ends in Baghdad, as the Iraqi center of gravity, were severely lacking. The situation was much more complex. The task force could win engagements by killing or capturing an insurgent emplacing an improvised explosive device, and it could win battles by targeting, disrupting, and killing off insurgent cells. But it could only win the campaign if the local populace revealed insurgent and terrorist cells and, accordingly, denied sanctuary.

Cultural awareness and understanding how insurgents gain support from the center of gravity became the important campaign consideration. From this, the task force adopted the next three nontraditional lines of operation to achieve sustainable gains across Baghdad and greater Iraq.

Essential services. When U.S. forces liberated Baghdad, it was a city with virtually no traditionally functional city services, although there had been far-reaching plans dating back to the early 1980s to update decrepit city services (relative to projected growth). But Saddam Hussein’s orientation on Iran during the 1980s and Kuwait during the early 1990s, followed by U.N.-imposed economic sanctions and his propensity to build self-serving monolithic creations to himself, caused Baghdad to become a city lacking basic services even as the population grew.

As the “first among equals” line of operation, opportunities for direct infusion of visible and tangible signs of progress with repair (or creation) of basic first-mile city services through use of local contractors and labor (creating jobs) became a critical component of the task force campaign plan to deny the insurgent a base of support, thereby leading to enhanced force protection. Creating symbols of true progress by establishing basic local services and providing employment within neighborhoods ripe for insurgent recruitment directly attacked the insurgent base of support.

The task force’s understanding of the importance of establishing essential city services came from analysis of enemy actions in relation to current infrastructure. Cell congregations, red zones, and anticoalition, antigovernment religious rhetoric originated from those areas of Baghdad characterized by low electrical distribution, sewage running raw through the streets, little to no potable water distribution, and no solid waste pickup. Concurrently, unemployment rates rocketed in these extremely impoverished areas and health care was almost nonexistent. A direct correlation existed between the level of local infrastructure status, unemployment figures, and attacks on U.S. soldiers. The findings were an epiphany to the task force—this was about force protection. These were breeding grounds for anti-Iraqi forces. The choice was to continue to attrit through direct action or shape the populace to deny sanctuary to the insurgents by giving the populace positive options through clear improvement in quality of life.

The division dedicated the expertise of the engineer corps (enhanced by a robust preparation phase of training with the Texas cities of Austin and Killeen) and established a cooperative effort with the University of Baghdad to identify, fund, and work with local government officials, contractors, the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to provide the essential services critical to demonstrating those visible first-mile signs of progress in areas most likely to produce insurgent activity.14

Most of the task force commander’s actions were weighted toward shaping funding to support the tactical commander’s desired infrastructure-repair effort. The U.N. had estimated the total bill for rebuilding the infrastructure of Iraq at about $60 billion. In late 2003, the administration signed into law an $18.4 billion supplemental dedicated to infrastructure improvement for Iraq. The distribution of monies was heavily weighted toward large capital projects, such as landfills, sewage and water treatment plants, and electrical-generation plants, and relied on other donor nations to fund projects that connected large-capital projects to local neighborhoods.


The failure for these funds to be immediately provided created the need to reprogram portions of the $18.4 billion supplemental to affect the immediate signs of progress at the local level, or what we considered the “first mile.” Concentrating on local-level infrastructure repair led to an abrupt realization of the complex interconnectedness and balancing act of maintaining a functioning city system. Sewage, water, electricity, and solid waste removal all exist below the noise level of normal city life.15 In reality, there is a vast city-planning effort that keeps services flowing and balanced. Many areas of Baghdad never had these basic services to begin with. This compoundedthe dilapidated nature of the already existing but un-maintained and un-synchronized systems. If solid waste was not removed, it would clog the sewage lines, which would back up and taint the water supply. Further, that same sewage would probably have no place to go if the sewage lift stations were not working because the electrical grid was not functioning. Large swaths of Baghdad were left with raw sewage running freely through the streets, piles of garbage, a polluted water system (where there was any at all), and intermittent electricity.

The sudden emergence of large numbers of infrastructure rebuilding jobs when funding came available denied the insurgents their power base in Sadr City.

The restructuring effort of already programmed funding moved swiftly to effect immediate local results across the most desperate areas of Baghdad, coupled with hiring local labor. This effort achieved a two-pronged result: it provided a job alternative to the locals who had no job, and it produced visible signs of progress in their neighborhoods. Earning from $5 to $7 a day to feed your family became a viable alternative to $300 a month, payable at the end of the month, to fire rocket-propelled grenades at U.S. forces. And, there is no sewage running through the streets of your neighborhood.

In Al Rasheed, a capital-level project became a local labor success. In building the southern Baghdad landfill, we saw a hiring opportunity. Instead of using advanced machinery to dig the landfill, employing a minimal number of workers, the task force worked closely with the firm designated to manage the project to mobilize the local economy. Working through local tribal leaders, the project hired up to 4,000 local laborers at from $5 to $7 per day, using handheld tools, to help create the landfill. This meant that the approximately 4,000 people, who on average supported a household of from 10 to 15 people, factoring in the additional 0.5 more service-oriented jobs per job created as economists proclaim, potentially took out of the insurgent base a pool of about 60,000 men.

It took another 10 weeks of intense fighting to bring Muqtada’s forces to the concession table in Sadr City. By the time he conceded, he had dug deep into the well of the local populace for a fighting force. Average approximate ages of fighters had sunk to 13-15 years.


But rather than 6 weeks to completely mobilize and begin local-level infrastructure projects, the division had prepared by coordinating with local- and national-level contractors, local government, and the U.S. mission to implement an event-driven plan that would have up and running, within 72 hours of a cease-fire being implemented, over 22,000 jobs oriented on local infrastructure repair within the most lacking areas of the city that correlated to the power base of Muqtada’s lieutenants. The quickness of execution and the visible infrastructure projects that were immediately recognized by the local populace took away the power base from the insurgents.

The task force had given the populace another option. During the 10-week period of fighting from early August to mid-October 2004, attacks against the coalition topped out at 160 a week. From the week following the cease-fire until the present, they averaged fewer than 10.

In mid-February 2005, over 200,000 residents of Sadr City awoke to the first running water system the city had ever seen. Built by local labor, the system created a psychological divide between the insurgents and the fence-sitters. It created another option, and it gave hope. Across Baghdad, infrastructure repair became the immediate impact theme that set conditions for long-term security.

Will Muqtada Al Sadr or his lieutenants attack again? Probably. But the support for the attacks will be waning at best and will not last if infrastructure improvements continue and progress is matched alongside the other LOOs. He will have to go elsewhere to find true support. The people just will not support a resumption of large-scale violence in the face of clear signs of progress.

Governance. Integral to infrastructure improvement was the promotion of both the legitimacy and capacity of the Iraqi Government to govern on behalf of the populace. The government’s ability to “secure and provide” targeted the shadow-government attempts of the insurgent.

In Baghdad, tribal and religious influences date back thousands of years and are coupled with the subjugation of the Iraqi populace over the previous 35 years and the inherent Middle East culture of corruption (by Western standards). Each presented a unique set of challenges in educating and transitioning to a government reliant on democratic ideals.

The method set in motion to create an ability for the local and national government to govern and to develop legitimacy within the eyes of Iraqi citizens, was through reinforcement of the Coalition Provisional Authority-emplaced neighborhood, district, and city advisory councils. Project funding provided by the $18.4 billion supplemental was conditionally approved by local government representatives as part of a full-fledged effort to force legitimacy and build local government capacity with assistance and guidance from the coalition and the U.S. mission in handling the administration of government.

Advisory assistance from the task force internally created the governance support team (GST). Under the leadership of the division’s chief engineer, and created from an array of city planning and contracting expertise within the task force, the GST provided the connecting tissue between the U.S. mission; nongovernmental organizations (NGOs); task force leaders; and local, city, and national Iraqi Government entities. The Amanat and Baghdad Governate were forced to expand to develop the capacity to manage and resource the project process, subsequently developing legitimacy in the eyes of the populace.16

All levels of command were intimately involved in educating and mentoring the emerging Iraqi federalist-based, democratic system. In many instances there was a degree of unlearning that needed to occur. Although the population despised the rule of law under Saddam Hussein, it was the only model they knew, and they were prone to fall into patterns of governance reminiscent of that regime. Careful structuring, checks and balances, training, and funding help instill democratic, rather than autocratic, ideals.

Economic pluralism. We cannot create a sustained economic model by creating essential service jobs alone—these last only as long as the contract is open, and although they create spinoff, they are not enough to promote a mature economy. This line of operation—economic pluralism—with the previous four, is the most sequential in terms of execution. We created “economic incubators” in each neighborhood, with heavy investment in goods and services where we helped provide (through coordination with the government) the physical space, funding, and education on how to create a business plan. We brought together those who needed loans with those who gave loans and located spaces where businesses could be situated. In this manner, we launched the process of creating the conditions for a true free market.

The 1st Cavalry Division and Baghdad government restored the Abu Nuwas Park along the Tigris River in order to demonstrate a return to normalcy in the city and spur business activity in the area, August 2004.

Most large metropolitan areas are concerned with bringing in investment and opportunity by “gentrifying” city centers and creating business parks. One example of successful investment was Abu Nuwas, a district of Baghdad along the Tigris River across from the International Zone. The area, formerly a park district, was closed by Saddam Hussein in the 1990s and later used as a forward operating base during Operation Iraqi Freedom I. The mayor of Baghdad asked for help in restoring Abu Nuwas as a symbol of the return of Baghdad to normalcy. His secondary goal was to use the area as an incubator for business generation. The division, coupled with the local Iraqi Government, began restoring the park, which resulted in some amazing consequences. Within the first month of restoration, local fish restaurants and markets began to populate areas adjacent to the riverside park, which sparked other service-oriented business endeavors to spring up in support of the park and local restaurants. This one example of an incubator was a model in helping create conditions for long-term growth across all neighborhoods in Baghdad.

Another example is the agricultural facet of the Iraqi economy. Our estimate was that the area around Baghdad, if resourced and irrigated, could easily feed all of Iraq. But the antiquated farming methods were only providing for 25 percent of the country’s needs, forcing imports of most foodstuffs. Although the $18.4 billion Iraqi supplemental did not provide for any agricultural improvements, we were able to import, through reprogrammed funding, over 2,000 tons of grain, fertilizer, and feed. Immunizations, coupled with rejuvenating the irrigation apparatus around Baghdad, created conditions for economic independence.

Promoting economic pluralism by working closely with NGOs and through the local government’s identification of potential areas of exploitation (simultaneously working toward achieving the objective for the governance LOO, legitimizing their purpose) and basic business practices and methods, we helped local and city governments create business centers and warehouse districts and develop the capacity for the city to sustain economic development with limited foreign investment well beyond our departure.

One of the looming indicators of economic progress (and the inability of the fledgling government to keep pace) was the length of the wait at gas pumps. There were only about 109 gas stations within Baghdad, and normally, only a fourth to a half of the pumps were actually operational at any one time. Lines of people waiting for fuel were relatively short in the early stages of the task force campaign, but by the time we conducted our relief-in-place with the 3d Infantry Division, waiting lines had grown to unmanageable lengths and people were waiting for hours to purchase fuel. Paradoxically, the increase in wait times was a positive sign of economic growth: it indicated that the purchasing power of the common Iraqi had grown. Conversely, it was a troubling sign that the Iraqi-controlled distribution mechanisms could not keep pace with growth. The result was long lines and an entrepreneurial (or contraband) system of gas being sold on the street.

We tracked closely the price of goods and services throughout Baghdad and looked hard at average wages. If there was a demand for higher wages based on basic supply and demand, it was a definite sign of economic progress.


The last three lines of operations—essential services, governance, and economic pluralism—coupled with aggressive counterinsurgent operations and training and equipping Baghdad’s police and security force, produced an integrated, synergistic approach to accomplishing objectives within the Task Force Baghdad Campaign Plan. We restructured the staffing functions and headquarters to achieve a capacity that equally weighted each line of operation against the other. The importance of an economic engagement could trump a combat engagement if it was deemed more important to achieving the division’s ultimate campaign objective. This became an education process across the division in mentally shifting from that which we were comfortable with (combat operations and training) to a far broader set of critical tasks.

A robust set of measures of effectiveness, relying on the Balanced-Scorecard approach, allowed the division to gauge, through each line of operation, whether we were meeting campaign objectives or, based on environmental reality, needed to shift or change to reflect current reality. This allowed a transitional rather than a phased approach to the campaign plan that allowed nontraditional approaches to campaign accomplishment to have the same weight as traditional methodologies.

Information operations. A significant reality of the task force campaign is that it is fought on the local, national, and international stages. The actions of soldiers and leaders and their efforts on the ground can resonate at a strategic level in an instant. Shaping the message and tying that message to operations is as important, if not more so, to the desired individual effect as the previous five lines of operations. Understanding the effect of operations as seen through the lens of the Iraqi culture and psyche is a foremost planning consideration for every operation.

The speed of understanding the media cycle is as important at the local level as it is on a global scale. On the night before the successful elections of 30 January 2005, a crudely fabricated rocket landed in the international zone, killing two U.S. citizens. The news rapidly moved across the media landscape and created an impression of instability toward the election within Baghdad, greater Iraq, and the world at large. (From our polling data we knew over 90 percent of Baghdad’s citizens got their news about the election from television.)

Moving swiftly and using targeting-pattern analysis, the task force was in the right place at the right time to observe the launch of the rockets on tape. Detaining the insurgents, quickly declassifying the footage, and releasing it to the media outlets within hours of the event helped calm local and global fears—an IO event that leveraged a successful combat operation through integration of the public affairs apparatus designed to counteract the exact effect the insurgents were attempting to achieve.

In many ways, the manifestation of the five lines of operations by enhancing information operations became the indirect approach to targeting the terrorist threat. We knew visible signs of progress, an understanding of the uniqueness of governance through democracy and a federalist system, and the creation of jobs in concert with training Iraqi security forces and directly combating insurgent activity could in essence reduce and freeze insurgent influence and recruitment by creating an irreversible momentum. But, only through co-option of the people of Baghdad and Iraq could we defeat the international terrorist threat.

Through use of our IO venues we not only radiated the accomplishments of the fledgling Iraqi Government but also provided causal proof of the inability of the Iraqi populace to move forward toward democracy because of terrorist actions. In addition, we provided an anonymous venue to give information to the coalition through which to directly target terrorist, insurgent, and criminal activity in the face of intimidation.17

The full spectrum of information operations within the task force ranged from consequence management before and after conducting direct action to the education of the intricate complexities of a democracy, local safety announcements, and infrastructure status, to a Command Information Program. What was the message? How would it be received? How can we influence and shape the message to support the action? And vice versa: how can we influence and shape the action to support the message?

To target the operational center of gravity, information operations, in concert with actions, rose to a level of importance never before deemed necessary, and it was well known that the insurgents knew the value of an information operation executed at the right opportunity. Unless coalition-initiated projects were methodically thought through and publicized, insurgents would claim credit for the results, using posters, graffiti, or even sermons to inform the people they were the ones responsible for improvements.

Our Changing Role from an Operational Perspective

It is no longer sufficient to think in purely kinetic terms. Executing traditionally focused combat operations and concentrating on training local security forces works, but only for the short term. In the long term, doing so hinders true progress and, in reality, promotes the growth of insurgent forces working against campaign objectives. It is a lopsided approach.

The reality is that there are cultural mechanisms at play that demand a more integrated plan. No longer is it acceptable to think sequentially through stability operations and support operations by believing that if you first establish the security environment, you can work sequentially toward establishing critical infrastructure and governmental legitimacy then drive toward economic independence.

From an organizational perspective, the Army has successfully created the most modern, effective set of systems for rapid execution of combat operations on the planet. We can achieve immediate effects through command and control of our organic systems. What we have not been able to do is create the systems and processes to execute the nonlethal side as effortlessly as combat operations. Our own regulations, bureaucratic processes, staff relationships, and culture complicate the ability of our soldiers and leaders to achieve synchronized nonlethal effects across the battlespace. Our traditional training model, still shuddering from the echo of our Cold War mentality, has infused our organization to think in only kinetic terms. This demands new modalities of thinking and a renewed sense of importance to the education of our officer corps.

Critical thinking, professionally grounded in the controlled application of violence, yet exposed to a broad array of expertise not normally considered as a part of traditional military functions, will help create the capacity to rapidly shift cognitively to a new environment. We must create an organization built for change, beginning with the education of our officer corps.


Our strategic environment has forever changed. It demands a realignment of the critical tasks needed to be successful as a military force. Those critical tasks must be matched to how we execute the tools of national power from a structural and cultural perspective.

The move toward modularity is of prime importance to the future of our force, yet advocating radical surgery to mission requirements might not be the optimal solution. The 1st Cavalry Division was able to rapidly make the change from a traditional armored force and focus quickly on a new environment because of the adaptability of soldiers and leaders who had developed the necessary leader skills and team comfort based on training fewer, rather than more, training tasks. Concern arises when you diffuse the valuable, nonreturnable resource of time by increasing the number of tasks to be trained. In the case of an uncertain future, less might be more.

From the perspective of asset allocation, this same move toward modularity, without considering its full effects, could hinder the immediate operational resource needs of a unit of employment (UEx) headquarters. The full-spectrum campaign approach forces the imperative of achieving balance across multiple lines of operations. This predictably will cause shifts in the main effort, but the force multipliers, traditionally located at the division (now the UEx), are no longer readily available and, instead, are committed Unit of Action (UA) assets. The friction of reallocation through mission analysis then slows the tempo needed to achieve operational balance.

Our joint doctrine requires phased operations, which leads us to believe there is and always will be a distinct demarcation between major combat operations and stability operations. It would be helpful if the insurgents and terrorists we encounter would follow the same doctrine, but they have not in Iraq, and they will not in the future. Transitional indicators associated with the full spectrum of operations weighed against a campaign plan tailored for the environment might be a better method of conflict evolution. We should consider paraphrasing Clausewitz: full-spectrum operations are the continuation of major combat operations by other means.

This campaign’s outcome, as the outcomes of future similar endeavors will be, was determined by the level of adaptation displayed and the intense preparation by the small-unit leader. Field grade and general officers became a supporting cast who existed to provide guidance and to resource the needs of small-unit leaders. Whether it was money, training, intelligence, or access to information in a usable format, our junior leaders could win engagements that, collectively, could offset the goals of adversaries who were comfortable operating within our decision cycle based on their flat organizational structure and communications methods.

Even our own C2 systems and process, oriented on providing clarity above, had to be turned upside down to focus on providing the tip of the spear with the information and actionable knowledge needed to determine the best course of action within the commander’s intent, guidance, rules of engagement, and law of land warfare. Doing this was effective in mitigating and offsetting—on a collective scale—the consequences of our own anachronistic cultural hierarchy against the networked, flat, viral nature of insurgents and terrorists.

Although arming small-unit leaders with knowledge so they can determine the right course of action is the correct procedure, there was rarely (if ever) one decisive operation that would unequivocally shift the currents of change toward certain victory. Rather, it was the net effect of many microdecisive actions performed along all interconnected lines of operation that left the indelible mark of true progress. Transition along the interconnected lines of operations began with acknowledging that it was a battle with multiple indicators and multiple conceptual fronts.

A decisive, exhilarating “win” along one of the lines of operations would only create a salient to be predictably eroded by the insurgent. The broad collection of small, decisive victories along all the lines of operations, supporting each other in a delicate balance of perception and purpose, would move the campaign toward positive results.

The campaign plan executed by Task Force Baghdad created the conditions to keep our soldiers safe and our homeland sound. Although we train and are comfortable executing wide sweeps through the desert, warfare as we know it has changed. The demographic progression toward large urban areas and the inability of local governments to keep abreast of basic services breeds cesspools for fundamentalist ideologues to take advantage of the disenfranchised. Using our economic strength as an instrument of national power balances the process of achieving long-term, sustainable success.


The election of 30 January 2005 was the “point of penetration” in accomplishing U.S. objectives in Iraq. Accurately expressing in words alone the culmination of emotions that rippled throughout Task Force Baghdad that incredible day is simply impossible. Every soldier in the task force who witnessed democracy in action will forever look at the simple act of voting in a different way. But, as I reflect on the last year, I am concerned about the “exploitation” phase through the shaping and immediate targeting of the remaining funds associated with the $18.4 billion supplemental and other donor-nation contributions. How you target that funding is just as important as getting the funding. Within Task Force Baghdad, we were still short funding of approximately $400 million to accomplish what was needed to achieve the same effect encountered in Sadr City, Haifa Street, Al Rasheed, Al Soweib, and other areas across all of Baghdad to completely isolate insurgent influence.

Many people question why a military force is concerned with infrastructure repair, governance, and economic pluralism: why not rely on the state, USAID, and NGOs? It comes down to a simple answer of capacity relative to the situation. The U.S. military is built to create secure conditions. But true long-term security does not come from the end of a gun in this culture; it comes from a balanced application of all five lines of operations within a robust IO apparatus.

It is easy to advocate a lopsided approach of physical security before infusing projects, economic incentives, and governance for short-term political gain or bureaucratic positioning. But true progress, in the face of an insurgent threat that does not recognize spans of control or legalistic precedence (yet takes advantages of those same inefficiencies of organizations designed for another era), should be weighed against accomplishing the mission and protecting the force by using a more balanced, full-spectrum, transitional approach.

It is time we recognize with renewed clarity the words of President Kennedy, who understood “that few of the important problems of our time have, in the final analysis, been finally solved by military power alone.”18


  1. President John F. Kennedy (remarks to the graduating class of the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, 7 June 1961), on-line at </>, accessed 18 July 2005. (Updated link:
  2. Mayor Tamimmi, discussion with MG Peter W. Chiarelli, Abu Nuwas District, Baghdad, July 2004.
  3. During the deployment to Baghdad, over 22,000 soldiers went through training on cultural awareness, which became an integral part of any operation. During the ramp-up to Ramadan, the division enacted a full-spectrum command information operations campaign to create understanding and empathy for the religious event.
  4. Bard O’Neil, Insurgency & Terrorism: Inside Modern Revolutionary Warfare (Dulles, VA: Brassey’s Inc., 1990). O’Neil defines categories of insurgents across seven objectives: anarchist, egalitarian, traditionalist, pluralist, secessionist, reformist, and preservationist. When talking of insurgents, we run the spectrum from anarchist to pluralist. The current foreign terrorist element in Iraq can be characterized through an anarchist objective. Anarchists do not necessarily fit the traditional description of insurgent as we discuss them. Although in size and scope they are relatively small, the effects they achieve resonate on a strategic scale.
  5. A clear example of limited use of force is the vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, or suicide car bomb. Limited use causes citywide suspicion. Coalition forces are forced to interact with the Iraqi populace from a defensive posture, effectively driving a psychological wedge between the people and the protectors.
  6. O’Neil, 82.
  7. Saddam Hussein routed all power in Iraq toward the capital. During the early days of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), equity became the mantra across Iraq, cutting back normally accepted electrical expectations across Baghdad.
  8. U.S. Army Field Manual (FM) 3-0, Operations (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office [GPO], 2001), 5-33.
  9. Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton, The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action (Boston, MA: Harvard Business School, 1 September 1996). The task force implemented Kaplan and Norton’s balanced-scorecard methodology to track and update multiple LOO-specific metrics as a way to analytically gauge by LOO where the task force lay along the spectrum of operational success criteria.
  10. Iraqi Armed Forces work for the Minister of Defense; Iraqi Police Service works for the Minister of Interior.
  11. As of February 2005, there were seven operational Iraqi Army battalions and one Iraqi Army brigade under the operational control of the U.S. task force brigade. The task force used a building-block approach, coupling a robust adviser team with each element, using U.S. mission-essential task list assessments to track progress and skill-set-specific command post exercises to attain proficiency.
  12. In January 2005, the Iraqi National Guard was renamed the Iraqi Army by the Iraqi Interim Government.
  13. Task Force Baghdad resourced the Baghdad city-wide survey, January 2005.
  14. The task force prepared to become fluent in these unmilitary-like tasks by studying the complexity of managing a large southern U.S. city. We examined how a city plans, prepares, and executes the services we consider “a right” rather than a privilege. We laid those plans on top of a fully functional model of the cultural norms of the Arab people, the current status of Baghdad services and government, and the networked strategy and actions of the insurgent and terrorist influence.
  15. The task force also concentrated on hospitals, schools, communications, and emergency response networks.
  16. Amanat is the title of the Baghdad city hall.
  17. The division established a TIPS hotline through the local cell-phone network to allow anonymous reporting. The IO campaign to support this had a refrigerator-magnet effect ubiquitous to the entire population: it was always there in the background.
  18. Ibid, Kennedy.


Major General Peter W. Chiarelli, U.S. Army, is the commanding general of the 1st Cavalry Division. He received a B.S. in political science from Seattle University, an M.P.A. from University of Washington, and an M.A. in national security strategy from Salva Regina University; and he is a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC) and the National War College. He has served in various command and staff positions in the continental United States (CONUS), Germany, Belgium, and Iraq.

Major Patrick R. Michaelis, U.S. Army, is the operations officer of the 1st Squadron, 7th U.S. Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division. He received a B.A. in history from Texas A&M University, an M.P.A. from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and is a graduate of CGSC. He has served in various command and staff positions in CONUS, Germany, Bosnia, and Iraq.


Back to Top

July-August 2005