57. It is difficult to measure how successful the
MNF-I's counter-insurgency operations have been. Certainly MNF-I
faced very difficult conditions. The indigenous security apparatus
had evaporated or was dismantled and MNF-I did not have a history
of contacts with local institutions and inhabitants. Dr Rod Thornton,
a British counter-insurgency expert, wrote to us that British
forces went into Iraq 'cold' in counter-insurgency terms:
Wherever one looks in terms of the Army's counter-insurgency
experiencefrom Cyprus to Malaya and from Palestine to the
Naga Hillsthere would be an extant police force and public
administrations run by fellow-countrymen. There would be people
who knew how to run the countries and how best to deal with the
indigenous populations. Intelligence would be available, there
would be a high degree of cultural awareness, and there would
be many people who spoke the local languages. In essence, all
the Army had to do was to use its military muscle in aid of a
civil power who would know how to target such muscle. Hence, British
counter-insurgency operations normally ended in success (with
the obvious exceptions of Palestine and Aden for their own particular
58. The fact that the invasion of Iraq was controversial
and that many countries in the international community did not
support the war or the post-war stabilisation efforts, even after
the passage of UNSCR 1546, also meant that the insurgents were
encouraged in their belief that they could be victorious. Dr Thornton
contrasts this with previously successful counter-insurgency campaigns
such as in Cyprus and Malaya. He wrote to us:
the way the Army dealt with the insurgency
then was helped immeasurably by the general impression given that
whatever the rebels did the British, as a great power, would prevail.
The rebels, short as they were of weapons and ammunition, realised
that they could not match an implacable foe who could simply bring
in from abroad more and more men and materiel.
One of the great tools used by counter-insurgency
forces in the past is the message that 'we are more powerful than
you and we will outlast you'. Such a message brings indigenous
people to your side and away from that of the rebel because they
can see which way the wind is blowing and where the future lies.
But with Coalition governments pointing out that troops would
be withdrawn as soon as possible it becomes very difficult for
the population to throw in their lot and provide assistance to
foreigners who may be here today, but gone tomorrow (the problem
in Aden in 1967).
A number of analysts have argued that these unfavourable
circumstances were made worse by the Coalition's approach to its
59. First, counter-insurgency theory highlights the
need for an "appropriate" use of military force.
General Houghton told us that there are:
enduring principles in relation to counter-insurgency
which are familiar ones, and that is that there is not a straightforward
militarily attrition-based approach to defeating it, it is the
treatment of the symptoms of it, whether or not they are based
on political aspiration, on the economy or a desire for a better
life and those sorts of things.
Many Iraqis have been angered by the levels of force
frequently used by US soldiers in response to attacks and civil
disruptions. The more Iraqis there are who have a negative image
of the US presence, the greater the risk that otherwise uninvolved
Iraqis will either cooperate, support, or sympathise with anti-Coalition
insurgents. Colonel Langton described the US Army as relying "heavily
on war-fighting as being the cornerstone of its doctrine and has
found it hard to lower its profile at times when it might be considered
prudent to do so".
He added that "a flexible approach is crucially important
in counter-insurgency where (as has been said) the collective
mind of the population is the territory to be captured, and where
it is vital that civilians on the 'battlefield' are assured that
we share the risks with them".
60. The operation to dislodge insurgents from Fallujah
has been criticized by some analysts as an example of the weakness
of the US approach. As the International Crisis Group wrote:
the devastation of city infrastructure,
failure to immediately resettle and compensate civilians fleeing
impending hostilities, the use of tactics reminiscent of Israeli
ones to most Iraqi minds, and the indiscriminate handling of all
men between the ages of fifteen and 55 during the offensive risk
both further alienating the town's citizens (supposedly among
the intended beneficiaries of the operation) and being used by
insurgents as propaganda tools in the battle for hearts and minds
(purportedly the principal target of any counter-insurgency war).
61. In his submission, Dr Thornton wrote:
One may be able to trace all the subsequent problems
the Americans had in Fallujah to a particular incident where US
forces displayed a singular lack of restraint. Just after the
war itself had finished and when there seemed to be no opposition
in Fallujah, US Marines opened fire on a crowd outside their barracks
who were peacefully protesting over a fairly trivial local matter.
The fact that many unarmed people were killed can be said to have
turned the whole of Fallujah against US forces. Down the line
and months later US forces had to move into Fallujah to root out
the insurgents who had set up base there. The destruction of that
city in the process is redolent of an attitude during the Vietnam
War. To paraphrase an officer from that time, 'we had to destroy
the city in order to save it'.
62. More recently, increased efforts have been made
to integrate the military and the civilian aspects of the counter-insurgency
campaign. In his submission, Colonel Langton wrote the following:
One aspect of this work should look at how best
to profit from successful military operations in a timely fashion
so that the civil population sees advantage in what has just occurred,
and to give the Coalition more than just a tactical success.
63. He told us that in his view the military plan
should have been accompanied by a "civil reconstruction plan
able to be activated as soon as possible after military operations.
"This", he wrote, "is all part of prising the population
away from any nascent insurgency".
64. This seems to have been appreciated in MND (SE)
where we heard from General Rollo and Mr Howard how the political
process, coupled with the threat of military action, increasingly
pacified Shia-based elements of the insurgency such as al-Sadr
and the Mahdi Army. General Houghton told us: "
attempt to have an approach which is multi-faceted and has lines
of operation with the military only supporting those which are
to do with politics, good governance, economic reform".
65. General McColl similarly told us how the integration
of the military and civilian aspects of the campaign had been
prioritised even in MNF-I's headquarters following the change
of both civilian and military command in the summer of 2004. He
... I particularly make the point that when General
Casey arrived and Ambassador Negroponte arrived they were very
clear that an integrated campaign which wrapped together the security
line of operation, the governance line, the economic line and
the information line, was absolutely critical. In fact, when General
Casey arrived, part of our initial conversations was a comparison
of the way operations were conducted in Vietnam and the way in
which they were conducted in Malaya and the lessons that could
be drawn from that and the requirement for this kind of integrated
approach. He set in train a set of work, in which British officers
were centrally involved, to produce a campaign which did wrap
together all of those lines of operation and, indeed, which integrated
with the Iraqisbecause of course the Iraqis were critical
to this as well.
66. A second strand of criticism has maintained that
MNF-I has not cooperated sufficiently with the Iraqi Security
Forces, especially the police. As Chief Constable Paul Kernaghan,
ACPO's Coordinator on International Policing, told us: "In
any overseas country the people who will provide the policing,
be it what we would call routine policing or counter-insurgency
policing, have to be the local officers. That is the key".
We discuss this issue further below (see paragraphs 154-170).
67. Professor Cordesman has argued that that the
US military were unprepared at the senior command level for counter-insurgency
operations, and especially for developing any serious partnership
and interoperability with the new Iraqi forces. Even when cooperation
took place, little effort was made to expand the Iraqi participation
to the higher-level decisions. In particular, we were told in
Iraq that little or no intelligence was passed from the Coalition
to the Iraqi security forces.
68. Mr Howard admitted this had been a problem. He
told us: "The issue of sharing intelligence is obviously
a potentially sensitive one".
General Rollo also agreed that intelligence-sharing had not been
optimal: "That is an area which, I was quite clear, we needed
69. We heard from MoD how British forces in the south
were trying to address this problem. The Iraqi National Guards'
Divisional headquarters have now been co-located with the MND
(SE) divisional headquarters. General Rollo told us:
over the last two months that I was there,
there were an increasing number of operations where we were working
jointly. For instance, if we were doing search operations we always
wanted to have Iraqi police with us, and if an arrest were to
be made then ideally we wanted an Iraqi to arrest somebody. But
increasingly we produced more integrated operations, not only
between us and the Iraqis, where, for instance we might provide
a cordon and an element of Iraqi police would do the search, but
also to get the Iraqi forces to work with each other: so you would
have Iraqi police doing a search, with the National Guard doing
the cordon, and we would be further out or just in over-watch.
That feeling of mutual competence, both between them and us, andfrankly,
much more important for the futurebetween the police and
the National Guard, takes time to build and we had a number of
joint training programmes designed to build it.
70. He went on to explain how he had sought to share
intelligence with the Iraqi Security Forces without compromising
confidential sources or methods:
... we put in place mechanisms to share intelligence.
Part of the joint OPS for us was a section where intelligence
could be produced, stored and analysed.
71. The third criticism has been the Coalition's
perceived 'militarisation' of the counter-insurgency campaign.
It has been argued that lessons from other counter-insurgency
campaigns should have militated against giving the Iraqi Army
the primary role over the Iraqi Police Service. In June 2004,
General Houghton explained to us how the Interim Iraqi Government
saw the different security organisations and their respective
roles in the counter-insurgency campaign.
It is quite clear that they see their police
force as more of a communitybased force, clearly to be the
front end of what one might call routine crime and protecting
in terms of the core responsible for the delivery
of security domestically they still see a leading and primary
role for their army.
72. Mr Howard indicated that this position was shared
by the Coalition, telling us that the role of the police was to
provide "general security, general policing" and that
MNF-I were not developing the IPS's "ability to counter insurgency".
On the other hand, Major Lincoln-Jones has argued that "one
of the Northern Ireland milestones was the transition from Army
to Police primacy in the campaign".
Similar lessons were 'learnt' in Kosovo and Bosnia & Herzegovina
where the army has worked very closely with the security services
in targeting the nexus of criminals and para-military forces,
but this has not happened in Iraq. The IPS have not been trained
in the necessary investigative techniques. We were told that when
insurgent attacks take place, no crime-scene investigations follow
and little or no forensic capabilities currently exist within
the IPS. Naturally, one needs to exercise caution against directly
transferring counter-insurgency "lessons" across different
cultures and campaigns, but there appear to have been number of
valuable lessons that could have informed the Coalition's policies
73. We commend British forces for their approach
to counter-insurgency in their areas of operations. We are convinced
that their approach has been a contributing factor in the development
of the more permissive environment in southern Iraq, which has
resulted in relatively little insurgent activity. We do, however,
remain concerned about a number of tactics employed by MNF-I generally.
We urge MoD to use its influence to affect MNF-I's posture and
approach. We also encourage MoD to ensure that the Iraqi civilian
powers are given a prominent role in the counter-insurgency campaign.
Finally, we emphasise and endorse the need to combine politico-economic
and military strands of the counter-insurgency campaign. We have
been told that this approach was adopted following the appointments
of General Casey and Ambassador Negroponte,
but we are concerned about the state of civil-military cooperation
in the counter-insurgency campaign preceding their appointments,
i.e. from May 2003 until June 2004 when Ambassador Bremer was
head of the Coalition Provisional Authority.