Petraeus on Goldwater-Nichols & Private Security Contractors

General Petraeus offers gives more proof that he is the right man for the job in his prepared answers to his Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) confirmation hearing this morning.  

When asked about the Goldwater-Nichols Act and its implications for improved civilian control and oversight of the military, along with the better coordination within the military establishment, Petraeus answered on the need for the next step of civil-military jointness in counterinsurgency (a not unfamiliar request, see last paragraph here):

The integration of joint capabilities under the Goldwater-Nichols Act has been a success. Our military forces are more interoperable today than they ever have been in our nation’s history. This achievement has been remarkable. The next step is to ensure the ability of the military and civilian departments to work closely together. Counterinsurgency warfare requires a total commitment of the government – both military and civilian agencies – and unity of effort is crucial to success.

One of the most pressing needs is for the creation of interagency doctrine for the prosecution of counterinsurgency and stability operations. The State Department Bureau of Political-Military Affairs has taken initial steps toward this end. During a conference hosted jointly by State and OSD, I proposed several actions that could help foster greater interagency capacity, and I recently seconded two majors from Fort Leavenworth (awaiting the start of the next School of Advanced Military Studies course) to the State Department to work this issue. Beyond development of doctrine in this area, there is discussion on creating an interagency Center for Complex Operations, which would be an intellectual clearinghouse for ideas and best practices in the many facets of irregular warfare. This appears to be a low-cost, but high-payoff, action that the Committee should consider supporting.

On the “surge” and employing the revised counterinsurgency doctrine in Baghdad, Petraeus includes private security contractors in the equation to supplement the surge:

Forces currently in or moving to Baghdad should be sufficient to conduct effective counterinsurgency operations given the anticipated political-military situation and planned phased operations.

The recommended force ratio is a “rule of thumb,” distilled for simplicity’ssake from numerous complex cases of counterinsurgency operations. These cases may differ significantly in terms of geography, urbanization, or enemy strength.

The counterinsurgency doctrine clearly states that host nation police and army forces are a key part of the equation, as are special operating forces and other security elements. Baghdad is a city of roughly 6 million people, so a 1:50 ratio of security forces to population would be equal to roughly 120,000 counterinsurgents. Iraqi Army, Police, and Special Operations Forces, together with the U.S. forces currently on the ground or deploying to Baghdad in the months ahead, total approximately 85,000 – though, to be sure, not all of those are of the same levels of effectiveness, and some of the Police undoubtedly are of limited effectiveness. However, we do not necessarily have to secure every part of Baghdad at once – this can be done in stages – and will have to be done that way given the way the forces are expected to flow into Iraq. Beyond that, tens of thousands of ministry security forces and tens of thousands of civilian (often third country) contracted guard forces protect key sites in Baghdad (including, for example, the US Embassy, MNSTC-I HQs, the Ministry of Oil, etc.) that MNF-I and the Iraqi government would otherwise have to detail soldiers or police to protect. These forces, again, number in the tens of thousands – and although by no means all are of high capability and some are undoubtedly compromised, they do secure hundreds of sites that otherwise would require coalition or Iraqi military or police forces. Thus, with the addition of all five U.S. brigades under orders to reinforce Baghdad and the Iraqi Security Forces either in Baghdad or headed to the city, there should be sufficient military forces available to achieve our objective of securing Baghdad.

As far what the media and politicians and public are focusing on as the General begins implementing a long overdue (3yrs overdue) plan,

People who have spoken with Petraeus recently said he believes that politicians and journalists have put too much emphasis on the increase in troop numbers and too little on his intention to use them differently. Their top priority will be protecting the Iraqi population, following counterinsurgency doctrine laid out in a new Army manual, which he oversaw, that says “the people are the prize.”

I really need to go back and compare the 11 Steps I threw together before the President’s speech with what’s transpired since then.

(Hat tip to CS and Abu Aardvark)