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Planning Without History or Cultural Perspective

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Technical Report,01 Jun 2014,31 May 2015

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US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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In October 2001, less than a month after 911, the US Defense and State Department started to study Iraq as a likely adversary in the Global War on Terror. For a year, the State Department organized over 200 expatriate Iraqi professionals into seventeen working groups to look at life in Iraq after Saddam Hussein. These Iraqi participants understood the realities and the cultural dynamics involved with such an endeavor unfortunately, their recommendations and cautions went unheeded. In the ensuing conflict and reconstruction efforts, it became clear that State and Defense Department leaders and planners made three key mistakes which directly affected the outcomes of Iraqi reconstruction. First, the compartmentalized pre-war planning efforts did not enable unity of effort. Second, the military planners ignored cultural aspects of planning provided by the State Department, which then allowed incorrect planning assumptions to promulgate. Finally, the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance lacked State Department expertise due to parochialism. Ultimately the lack of understanding about Iraqs cultural diversity and social construction caused US operational planners to apply an improper developmental training model to stand up and employ indigenous security structures. Additionally, operational decisions heightened the security dilemma between ethnic and religious groups. In Iraq, newly independent groups assessing neighboring groups as a threat after the collapse of central government characterize this security dilemma. What one group does to enhance its security causes reactions that are perceived as offensive and thus threatening. The security dilemma between ethnic and religious groups inside the Iraqi Security Forces ISF impeded the development of a cohesive state and ultimately severely affected their ability to operate effectively against the Islamic State in Iraq, and the Levant ISIL.

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