May 1, 2007  

Occupation doctrine

THANK YOU FOR ANOTHER DYNAMITE ISSUE OF AFJ. I was particularly interested in how the articles by Joseph J. Collins, Frank Hoffman, Christopher Griffin, Ralph Peters and Maj. Timothy T. Tenne tied together [April]. They all point to, as Peters correctly identifies, our need to update our doctrine for occupation.

That doctrine necessarily should flow from the lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan. But it is not clear that we have captured those lessons, which is the first step to writing the doctrine.

I have before me an interesting book published by the Army’s Center of Military History. It is titled “Civil Affairs: Soldiers Become Governors,” by Harry L. Coles and Albert K. Weinberg. Part of the “United States Army in World War II” series, it was an attempt to pull together lessons learned from the Allied occupation in Europe. I do not think there is any such publication being written today on Iraq or Afghanistan.

Some attempts were made during the Coalition Provisional Authority year to capture lessons (many echoed by Peters), but they were underresourced (CPA lessons learned) or focused on military (Joint Forces Command) and financial activity (special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction). As the Army learned in World War II, occupation is a civil activity that can be run by military officers. However, most voices today call for more interagency participation in occupation. Unfortunately, without a dedicated study about all the occupation players, any new doctrine on occupation can only fall short of what we need.

Thank you for highlighting the need for this effort in your publication. If the right people are listening, we’ll examine how we occupied most recently in Iraq (Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, CPA, Embassy?), pull in lessons from the past (World War II and Korea), and do it much better next time.

Tedd Ogren

Burke, Va.