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FRED KEMPE: Welcome to the Atlantic Council. I’m Fred Kempe, president and CEO. I’m particularly happy that we’re hosting this meeting today. It’s an area where the Atlantic Council has done some work in the past. And it’s an area where we’re going to do a significant amount of work in the future.
Title: “Hard Lessons: What Iraq Can Teach the U.S. and Our Allies about Future Stability and Reconstruction Operations.” For me, you can’t start something like this without quoting Santayana and Nietzsche.
So first of all, we all know the cliché: “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” So we’re going to try to learn from history today so we are not doomed to repeat it. Though we seem to do a lot of that.
And then Nietzsche is more down my alley: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” So let’s hope Iraq makes us stronger, although there’s also been significant amount of bloodshed, as well. But perhaps if we had approached things a little different – might have been handled somewhat differently.
We’ve assembled a terrific panel: Stuart Bowen, special inspector general of Iraq reconstruction, thank you very much, Stuart; and Frank Kramer, vice chair of the Atlantic Council and former assistant secretary of Defense, who’s done a lot of work in this area. So it’s my pleasure to welcome you both here. And thank you for taking your time.
Just a couple of things: In 2006, the council released a report that you can find on our Web site that offered suggestions about how NATO should handle stabilization and reconstruction missions. And – I can’t say that all those pieces of advice have been taken and implemented – but we’re working at it still.
And in early 2008, our strategic advisors group, cochaired by General Jim Jones and the former Norwegian Defense Minister Kristin Devold, warned of the international community’s failings in Afghanistan and called for enhanced emphasis on civilian efforts in governance reform. And that has actually turned out to be the backbone of the Obama administration’s new strategy for Afghanistan.
More recently, because we see this as a future area of endeavor in all sorts of ways, we will pursue it under our new South Asia center. And we’re soon going to be standing up – probably launching in September – the Michael Ansari Center for Atlantic-African Partnership, which will also work on these issues.
That’s all for me. I will only say there are books – that you either took on the way in or you can take on the way out – for free at the Atlantic Council. And you can also purchase them if you wish on Amazon.com as well. But this is a very good book – well-written, well-argued. I think it’s an important book and I hope we will hear about some unpublished thinking behind some of the findings here in the book, as well.
Let me turn over, at this point, to General Brent Scowcroft, former national security advisor to Presidents Ford and Bush, Sr. He’s, of course, chairman of the Atlantic Council’s international advisory board. As always, General, it’s a pleasure to have you with us. (Applause.)
LT. GEN. BRENT SCOWCROFT: Thank you very much, Fred. It’s great to be here. I think this is a very important meeting because I think we have a chance now to avoid the catastrophes that we have undergone in the past – and that is failing to learn from experience, especially if it is an unpleasant experience. We tend to think, well, that’s behind us; we’re never going to do that again. And it’s kind of a mindset.
And this is not the same as Vietnam, but it’s the same in the attitude. After Vietnam, we said, collectively – all of the stovepipe – never again. So we tore up everything we had learned about Vietnam, except, God bless him, General Petraeus. And so we had to learn all over again. And we’re in danger of doing the same thing; the mistakes in Iraq have begun to be perpetrated in Afghanistan. It’s different, it’s different.
We’ve got to learn from our experiences. And there is no better person to teach us, in this case, than Stuart Bowen. I mean, he has taken a microscope to the problems of reconstruction in Iraq. And I’ve had the great pleasure of discussing them with him. And this is a guy who’s not just pontificating; he knows what he’s talking about. And we’d better learn.
And as I say, this is much broader than just a specific thing. Defense Department is going through a whole struggle now with the budget. In Gates’ terms, are we going to prepare for the wars we are likely to fight or the ones we would like to fight? And this is an issue that goes with us over and over again.
The kind of thing we’re talking about now is a messy, difficult, complicated task. We don’t like it. So as soon as we finish one, the instinct is, that’s gone; we’re never going to have to do it again, so let’s focus on the things we really like to do.
As I say, Stuart Bowen is uniquely qualified to do this. And I’m delighted that he has taken it on as more than just an IG, but as a mission. Stuart has been special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction since 2004. Prior to that, he was inspector general for the coalition provisional authority. And so he has been responsible for looking at exactly what we’ve done, what’s gone well, what’s gone badly. He reports both to the secretaries of State and Defense, and reports directly to the Congress.
His book, which I highly recommend to you, “Hard Lessons,” gives an excellent account of the experience to date. And I think you will find it valuable this morning to hear what he has to say. Following his remarks, our good friend, vice chairman of the Atlantic Council, Frank Kramer, will offer a commentary.; suggestions about how NATO and other partners can, with us, learn to better prepare for stability and reconstruction operations.
Frank brings tremendous background to it. He was assistant secretary of State for international security affairs for five years, beginning in 1996. And has had several tours at the Pentagon. After Frank’s commentary, as Fred says, he will moderate the question and answer session.
And I would say only one thing about Nietzsche: that does not destroy us doesn’t always make us stronger. It gives us another chance to face destruction again. (Laughter.) Stuart, welcome.
STUART BOWEN: General, thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you, General Scowcroft, for those kind words. And thank you, Fred, for having us today, and, Frank, for being here today.
Speaking of Nietzsche and talking about tearing up what we’ve done before, as General Scowcroft was talking with regard to Vietnam, reminds me of something that Dr. Fukuyama told me when we spoke on “Hard Lessons” at SAIS. He said the U.S. approach to contingencies over the last 50 years has been Freudian; that is, we get through it and then we do everything we can to repress and forget what happened. Unfortunately, that means we don’t learn our hard lessons.
And that, as the general said, is why SIGIR has focused on not just doing audits – we’ve done 300 of them; you know of the stories – not just doing investigations. We’ve got 20 convictions, a lot of people in prison for the fraud they committed. But focusing on learning the lessons, improving how we’re doing in Iraq for the last five years and I believe that we’ve been able to do that.
I’m glad to see Damon Wilson here, who – I was in a senior position over there. We worked regularly with Damon and his counterparts and colleagues in the embassy in 2006, 2007, to steward the taxpayers’ money better. Because that’s what an IG is about. But it’s not enough just to try and fix what’s in front of you, as I’ve learned, and as “Hard Lessons” explicates. It’s about helping the United States government – executive and legislative branch – address an existing problem.
The hardest lesson from Iraq – and it’s frankly the hardest lesson from Afghanistan – and that is, there is no structure within the United States government established to manage in an integrated fashion complex contingency operations. That is what the very diverse spectrum of individuals I interviewed in carrying out “Hard Lessons” all agreed upon. In fact, it’s, perhaps, the only point that they came to agreement on; that there isn’t the resources, there is not the doctrine, there wasn’t the exercise, and thus, there wasn’t the preparation for the kind of undertaking the U.S. pursued in 2003 in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And that became very clear to me – the challenge of what was going on in February 2004. The coalition provisional authority, in its last quarter of life, was trying to do its job with, really, a chaotic set of circumstances; a security situation that was breaking down and a structure that was inadequate. And I was walking the halls during my first visit there in February 2004. Two people in front of me, one turned to the other – my first day there – I heard her say, well we can’t do that anymore. There’s an inspector general here. (Laughter.) And that told me that this was going to happen. (Laughter.) You know, explicating in letters writ large what Secretary Rumsfeld had told me right before I left, and that is, you have taken on an impossible job. It hasn’t been impossible – it’s been a challenge.
But it was impossible for the CPA to carry out the mission to which it was assigned because of the lack of structure. There is no structure establishing to manage complex contingencies, thus there aren’t adequate resources. And there is the need, as we say in the final published chapter of this book.
There was a recommendation chapter that we didn’t include, and that’s what I’m here to speak about. What we say is there’s a need for focused executive level management below the executive office of the president to prepare for and carry out complex contingencies. This is not a new observation and it’s not something that the government hasn’t been grappling with.
General Scowcroft has grappled with it. And there’s an extensive history – Frank grappled with it, he just was telling me, in the ’90s in Bosnia. Presidential Decision Directive 25 – May, 1994 – started to lay out a U.S. approach to managing that contingency. But, again, it itself was ad hoc and required improvements, presidential management.
Decision Directive 56, called Managing Complex Contingency Operations, proposed a whole series of reforms, some of which got implemented, some of which didn’t. But all of which disappeared in 2001 with the issuance of NSPD-1 in the Bush administration.
Thus, in Iraq, the president had to improvise in providing a structure. National Security Presidential Directive 24 put the Defense Department in charge of the entire reconstruction program. That was quite a momentous shift in the planning that had been going on for Iraq. And, indeed, as we point out in “Hard Lessons,” it was viewed by the other agencies as, quote, a hostile takeover, unquote. And that directive was issued January 20, 2003.
Two months later, 60 days later, we’re invading Iraq. And the president asked Jay Garner to get ready to run the country. You know, do what Lucius Clay did with, basically 50 days of preparation and no office and no staff. Again, another impossible task, thus leading to the CPA. Didn’t work so well.
NSPD-36, a year later – 15 months later – shifts it back over to the State Department. Ambassador Negroponte, you’re in charge of the reconstruction program, but – capital B-U-T- here – the money is over at the DOD. It’s being managed and approved for reconstruction by the secretary of the Army. Did Ambassador Negroponte have control over how that money was being spent? No. We had advisory control.
There was a lack of unity command – that’s the core issue – which weakened unity of effort, exacerbated and certainly ultimately swallowed up, by the collapse of the security situation. The government – the executive branch, the NSC, the president – was watching this and responded. But I think because of the security situation and because of the lack of structure and the Freudian approach – the lack of history – those responses to-date have been adequate. But let me just list them quickly.
SCRS – the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization – was created in July of 2004, a month after National Security Presidential Directive 36, ostensibly to try and provide a basis for responding to the lack of structure. But, again, it was just a presidential directive. It didn’t receive the funding it needed. It wasn’t authorized under a statute. And it didn’t really take off. It focused not on Iraq and Afghanistan. It focused on Cuba and other things because of the lack of resources. And so it didn’t appreciably change the U.S. approach.
The Department of Defense stepped forward, as General Petraeus testified in March – this past March – before House Armed Services. DOD saw the challenges of reconstruction, stepped up because there was no one else doing it. And they had the resources. And thus, stepped forward. And programs evolved out of it – like the Commander’s Emergency Response Program.
But as the Pentagon responded to what it saw in Iraq and Afghanistan, I think an extraordinary evolution in DOD doctrine occurred very quickly – embodied by DOD Directive 3000.05 – the stability operations directive that Secretary Rumsfeld approved in November of 2005.
And it has resulted in a fundamental change in Army doctrine. The Army Field Manual is about offensive and defensive ops. It’s now about offensive, defensive and stability ops. And how that is going to be realized, as Under Secretary Flournoy told us yesterday, is still under consideration, which makes today’s discussion – the containment discussions about how we reform our approach to contingencies – highly relevant.
The Congress responded – I think in its most notable fashion ever – last October regarding contingencies by passing the Reconstruction and Stabilization Civilian Management Act of 2008, essentially statute-izing SCRS, the office that I was talking about earlier, at the State Department. It wasn’t funded and didn’t really engage in Afghanistan and Iraq. But it still hasn’t received the resources it needs. And, interestingly, nothing in that statute talks about what that office should do to integrate stability operations with the Department of Defense.
And this is the core problem: a problem of Balkanization being perpetuated by solutions that, themselves, are Balkanizing. DOD 3000.05, the stability op doctrine, it’s an excellent doctrine; excellent resources and has achieved a great deal of good. But not in interagency fashion.
This latest act giving the State Department charge of stability operations – not much has flowed from it. A total of 75 million put forward – that’s nothing to get this going to operationalize an entity at the State Department to manage these sorts of operations. But most importantly, there’s been no real integration.
So that’s the word I want you to remember from my brief remarks here today; that there’s a need for integrating the U.S. government’s approach to protecting our interests abroad – because that’s what this is about – in contingency settings.
There’s been 15 contingencies since World War II. Dr. Fukuyama is right. We repress and forget. But we can’t now, partly because these contingencies don’t go away. We’re in the seventh year of an Afghan contingency and the sixth year of an Iraqi contingency. And when I briefed “Hard Lessons” at Camp Victory in February and at the embassy – a lot of diverse responses. One theme, again: lack of structure, lack of unity of command; thus, lack of unity of effort.
Sure, there have been a lot of improvements along the way – hard-won improvements; innovations like the Commander’s Emergency Response Program. But have they meaningfully effectuated structural change that will improve how the United States engages in future contingencies? The answer is no, not yet.
They are part of the body of evidence, though, compelling reform. And I think there are five approaches to reform – plausible approaches. And let me run quickly through them and then we’ll get to the response and Q&A.
One, put the DOD in charge; 3000.05 – they have the resources. The evolution has already occurred over there and, frankly, in a contingency, security is the number-one issue. Makes sense. However, it would require a statutory development that ensures that the economic and political components of a contingency are properly integrated. And that’s the weakness. And the other weakness, of course, is the experience in Iraq of NSPD-24, where DOD was in charge. And it didn’t turn out so well.
Second, put State in charge. Essentially, what the Reconstruction and Stabilization Civilian Management Act of 2008 does and the challenge there is it requires a fundamental enormous evolution of state departments so that they become operational in such situations. It’s not a traditionally operational entity – huge hill to climb there.
Third, Jim Dobbins and Andrew Natsios favor this idea: Make USAID a Cabinet agency. Tell them, you’re in charge of contingencies; bring it all together. The problem there of course are the preponderance in certainly the early stages of contingencies belong to other departments so for that to work, it would take years of development I think.
Fourth, I call status quo plus, in other words just have the Congress and the agencies seriously engage in regulatory development of what is necessary to accomplish complex contingency operations and that means telling the Department of Defense, the Department of State and USAID and any others that, you know, what you have to do to prepare in advance and providing those resources.
Congress is much more prone to appropriate to uniformed agencies rather than the civilian and so part of status quo plus would be recognizing that the appropriation needs to bolster, as Secretary Clinton has said, the capacity of nonuniformed personnel to participate in supporting contingency. That is sort of what is going on now in a piecemeal fashion but it’s not coordinated.
Fifth and the one I like is something new: innovate. Develop an entity to manage contingencies whose full-time job would be sort of like an international FEMA is to prepare for disasters, the challenges of failed or failing states short of full-scale conflict, managing them, bringing the resources together in one place – say, something called the U.S. Office for Contingency Operations. It would reorganize existing access sort of like the DNI reorganization did to bring them together so that they operate in an integrated fashion to address this Balkanization problem that is endemic in the current response.
It would be organizationally joint. It’s the kind of jointness realized in Goldwater-Nichols. You know, a rough analogy but similar in the sense that there was a long-standing problem that the Congress finally addressed after Grenada and Haiti in 1986 requiring the departments to operate in a more integrated fashion. And results have been generally good from that effort. The USOCO, U.S. Office for Contingency Operations, would report to State and Defense. That is what my office does; I report to both secretaries and it is because of the interagency nature of our work had been successful.
Most importantly, though, prepare. Establish doctrine. Get the resources. Develop the personnel. Develop the IT systems. We’ve done six audits of the IT system over there and despite continual findings, the latest iteration is a 70-percent solution. So 30 percent, you don’t know how the money’s been spent – just out of the box, notwithstanding whether it was wastefully spent.
Single funding point – this would provide a place to avert the continuing battles. I realized just this past spring over who gets the contingency spring. There were arguments between SASC, Senate Armed Services Committee, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the appropriations committees over who should get the preponderance of money that’s going to do rebuilding and recovery efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. And finally, a place that would be perpetually devoted to preparing, exercising for contingency operations.
What would this give you? First, speaking in IG terms: accountability. You’d have a place to go to ensure and check and advise and improve on the potential accountability problems inherent in a contingency operations. It would reduce waste. Waste has certainly been the largest problem of the $51 billion – the most generous foreign aid package in U.S. history that we’ve given to Iraq over the last five years. Waste has been the problem and the fraud has been egregious and makes headlines but frankly, the fact that it was ad hoc all the way for the first few years meant that hundreds of millions were lost to waste.
And third: outcomes, something that we focus on. You propose a program, you fund it, you seek to execute it – what do you get for it? We didn’t get nearly as much as we want but part of that is we didn’t know what we wanted frequently. The outcomes weren’t well-defined because we didn’t have doctrine, we didn’t have personnel, we didn’t have systems, we didn’t have accountability, we didn’t have unity of command and thus we lost unity of effort.
So those are the challenges in front of us and I’m thankful to the Atlantic Council, to Fred and General Scowcroft and Senator Hagel to whom I used to regularly report when I got back from Iraq. I’m leaving on my 24th trip in a little under a month for Baghdad. And so let me close with just sort of my thoughts on where are we now because Iraq’s out of section A of the newspapers but it is by no means – should by no means be forgotten at this moment because of the challenges that are there.
First, some good news: I think that oil exports are going up and thus the prognostications of financial collapse were premature. Nevertheless there are challenges that – you know, we brought democracy to Iraq. We also brought deficit spending. They had their first deficit budget this year but they have the reserves necessary and most importantly, they have the third-largest oil resources in the world known – possibly could be first. Anbar has – Baram Sala’s fond of saying there’s 100 billion barrels out in the West that they haven’t found yet.
If he’s right, the country has the potential to prosper if they can reconcile the second significant issue I think that’s out there and that’s the Kurdish-Arab split. You’ve read in the papers that the problems are mostly in the North in Mosul, around Kirkuk. And this is where the Kurds and the Arabs are in very much disagreement about rights to oil and definitions of sovereignty.
The Kurdish provincial elections are coming up in the next week. There are elections for the Maliki government. The problem is the first test next January. So electoral issues are going to define this but Stefan de Mistura, the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq director, released a report six weeks ago underscoring in 502 pages that the challenges that the Kurdish-Arab problem presents.
And make no mistake, there are two Iraqs. If you’re an Arab and you want to go to Kurdistan, you hit the green line, you’ve got to show papers. And the border guard at the green line will more than likely turn you away. That’s a relatively unknown and rather shocking fact about life inside Iraq.
The security situation of course, which is the pall under which the entire Iraq experience has been realized is much better on an average level, you know, since the surge – that’s clear. But I’ve got 35 people in the green zone. You know, I lost one last year, had five wounded the year before. Now, the threats continue that the indirect fire still is around and just six weeks ago, the deputy director of the Iraq Transition Assistance Office was killed by an IED down at Fallujah. So it is by no means a safe place to operate and that is why multinationals continue to resist entering the market.
Last piece of good news is this quarter, sixth consecutive record electricity output post-war, post-2003. And that’s because we’ve invested a lot of money in the electricity sector. It’s partly because Minister Kareem actually qualified for his job and I think has integrity. And I think those are key elements for the success of any democracy: leaders that have integrity and are qualified for their positions. Iraq has a long way to go before it can safely say that its government meets those standards.
So, went on a little longer. My apologies. But thank you all for listening and I look forward to your questions. Thanks.
MR. KEMPE: Stuart, that was terrific. Going to pass it to Frank now and you’ve actually given him something quite concrete to respond to. And so I look forward to your comments, Frank, and particularly your response to what seemed to be your favorite of your five approaches.
FRANK KRAMER: Right. First of all, thank you, Stuart. That’s a terrific set of suggestions and analysis. And I had the opportunity to download “Hard Lessons”, which is a long thing. I read the last three chapters so I have some knowledge to where Stuart was going but I think he did a great job for us.
What I’d like to do is elaborate a bit on what he said and perhaps even go a little beyond it. From my perspective, I think it’s fair to say that what we’ve learned from Iraq and what we’ve learned from Afghanistan and others is that we don’t do particularly well in irregular conflicts. In fact, I would say we do rather poorly. I want to focus on why that is, what we might do about it and does the international community really have a role in practice as opposed to theory on doing something about it.
With respect to the why question, it seems to me that there are at least three I would call the deficits that we face when we go into a new situation. The first I would call an assessment deficit. We don’t really know what it’s all about. This is not surprising as these are failing and failed states. They have cultures that we’re not familiar with, history, political arrangements, ethnic sets of issues, demographics and the like. We come to learn it. I think it would be fair to say that the militaries in Iraq now are very knowledgeable. But in the beginning, the assessment was not particularly good and that’s true each time we go in. So number one: an assessment deficit.
The second I would call a synergy deficit and it’s along the lines of what Stuart was talking about. We talk about all elements of national power but we really don’t know how to put all the elements together. We stovepipe them rather than integrate them. We don’t really know how to make military work with nonmilitary security, with governance, with economics and vice versa.
The third deficiency I would suggest we have is what I would call a partnership deficiency. And what I mean by that is we know at the end of the day it’s about the host nation. We have to transfer power to a reasonably effective host nation that can support its population, have adequate governance. But we really don’t know how to work with, train, mentor, understand the host nation how and when to transition.
So we’ve got these three major deficits. Part of the problem is organizational but I think part of the problem is substantive. We have actually an expertise deficit. Who really understands, for example, how to generate an effective market economy while violence is ongoing? Who really understands the interaction of local, central government and what choices you’re really making, you know, not just in the abstract but how the politics intersect with the legalisms?
Those are issues I think we really need to think a lot, lot harder about it. And because each of these activities – and when I say activities, each of these complex contingencies tend to be sui generis, you know, because they range from peacekeeping to counterinsurgency to hybrid war because even in a single country, there are different sets of issues. Stuart just highlighted the issue of Kurd versus, if you will, the rest of Iraq. We don’t really have a concept of strategies.
Let me give a specific example: We know in virtually every one of these countries that the problem of corruption will exist in a substantial way. But as far as I’m aware – and I’m happy to be corrected – we don’t really have a doctrinal – if you want to call it that way – or a general approach to anti-corruption. We just sort of live with it and we don’t really know how to do it. We need to think about how to handle those sets of problems.
So those, from my perspective, are what I would call the deficiencies. You know, what would be an appropriate strategy? Well, I 100 percent agree with the point about: we need structure. And there’s no daylight between Stuart and myself. I just want to add a few things. And one – yeah, I’ve already said. I really would say that one really needs to start with a much better assessment process. We really do need to understand the cultural – we would need to understand the power relationship in a country – what I might call the rules of the game. Who really is in charge? Who are the influencers? How do they interact? Some will be governmental; some will not be governmental. What’s that all about?
We need to know: is it really going to be a permissive environment – that is to say largely non-violent? Or a highly violent environment – non-permissive or something in between? We need to say to ourselves, is this really a humanitarian operation, which really is short-term and it’s all about us giving resources to keep people from, if you will, getting cholera or is it really a stability operation, which is going to be nine, 10, 17 years where the whole name of the game is transfer capacities to these countries so they can operate themselves? And we need to continue that assessment process because things will change over time.
That brings me to the second one, which I would call need for what I call adaptive strategy. Time phasing and changing what you’re doing over time is terribly important. It won’t be the same all the time. Things will happen and you will have to respond and presumably, if we’re doing any good, the host nation will get better and needs to take charge more and more. We need as we do that, therefore, to have time-phased goals. It’s not very helpful in my opinion to decide that Afghanistan’s going to be Switzerland.
That allows you simply to do two things: one, you don’t really give any guidance whatsoever. So anything is okay. And the second is, they have very limited resources. They have usually a human capital deficit, if you will – not enough expert people, some terrific but not enough. They can’t deal with everything. And so you need to think, what is it that’s important to prioritize and then you need to say to yourself, I’m – you know, we all have heard, you know, what’s counterinsurgency about? Well, it’s about supporting the population. At the same time, we need to transfer power. Well, those two sometimes actually come in conflict.
If you want to support the population, maybe the outside people can do it better. But if you want to transfer power, you let the host nation do it. You know, we’ve all read “Lawrence of Arabia.” It’s better to let them do it themselves even if they don’t do it perfectly. But if they’re not doing it perfectly, you know, that means something. So that conflict needs to be dealt with.
The third point I think is we need to resource the strategy. Stuart made the point – I completely agree – when we put the military in field, we resource them. Pretty much no question about it. We put other people in the field, we don’t resource them. It’s a joke. How can you say to yourself you’re going to have a national strategy, all elements of national power and not resource all elements of national power?
The good news is actually that the other elements are not so expensive. Generating governance, building human capital, even a jobs program doesn’t come close to how much it costs to put the military in the field. The most costly parts probably are things like training police, training military and the like. But even on a relative basis, although they are expensive, they’re not nearly as expensive as maintaining, if you will, several brigades forward.
The harder part of resources is having adequate expertise. It’s not enough to go out, be smart and really want to do the right thing. After a year, you’ll become an expert and you’ll do pretty well. What you may have seen in the newspapers recently, General McChrystal’s talking about changing out the heads of the PRTs, which have – 100 percent of American PRTs tended to be Navy and Air Force officers who have great expertise in operating ships or flying airplanes and who don’t have so much expertise cross-culturally. And he’s considering in putting in special operations officers because they have the cross-cultural expertise.
But we need cross-cultural expertise for all these areas and we need substantive expertise. I’ve already mentioned, then, who really knows how to generate a good market economy while there’s violence going on? Or how do you deal with corruption? We need to think about that. It’s not enough to have the right organization. You have the wrong organization, you lose. You have the right organization, you still need the substance.
Can the international community help on this? Well, the short answer is analytically, of course. They could help us provide adequate military forces. NATO could do that. It’s doing somewhat in Afghanistan. They can help develop governments. The OSCE, the EU have great capacities along those lines. They could help on other areas – police training and the like. They can help on economics.
So in theory, the international community is perfectly positioned. But in fact, to the extent that there’s lack of unity of effort and balkanization in the U.S. government, we look terrific, you know, we’re the Red Sox compared to the Nationals. The international community are the Nationals. They are finishing last. And it’s not for a lack of good faith. It really comes in substantial part because of a lack of organizational effort.
And so my suggestion in that area is that we really do need to think not only about restructuring in the U.S. but structuring internationally. And I would suggest you have to think about what do you do prior to a contingency, what do you during a contingency and how do you work out in the field. Prior to it, I think the U.S. should try to organize with, I would say, major agencies out there – some U.N., the international financial institutions, maybe the top seven donors and sit down and plan and talk about who’s going to do what and how do we do it and where would we operate.
They ought to agree and then during a contingency, have a contact group. It doesn’t have to be called a contact group but a group that regularly meets and then generates a leadership arrangement for the whole group. It could be the famous Paddy Ashtown, the czar who’s in charge, it could be something else but an agreed upon leadership arrangement is critical.
And then out in the field, there needs to be what I would call a joint taskforce. You cannot have separation of military, nonmilitary security, economics and governance and expect it’s just all going to come together. And we can’t expect, if you will, President Karzai to do it all. He’s struggling to get his government up and running. So I think we need to bring all that together.
The difficulty, of course, is what many people call political will. I mean, NATO by way of example – there are thousands of people associated with NATO one way or another who know perfectly well what I just said that we don’t really have relevant results. Plenty of people over in the European Union who understand that. There are people at the U.N.
The question becomes, can we find the political will to bring it together to create these structures and then develop these organizational – these substantive expertise? It’s not a technical problem, although it’s technical; it’s a political problem. And for that, I think we know that the administration’s pushing hard in the right direction but they have to in my opinion not only push at the interagency level, that is to say within the U.S., but they have to push internationally. And they haven’t quite gotten there, understandably because they’re dealing with the specifics.
So let me leave it at that. I wholly subscribe to what Stuart has said. I commend the book to you. It’s not only substantively great; it’s well-written. And I look forward to any questions.
MR. KEMPE: Thank you, Frank. That just gets us off to a terrific start. Both of your presentations were fantastic. Raised a lot of questions. I’m just going to start with a quick question to each of you and then pass it to the audience after that. And we have plenty of time for some good question and answer.
First of all, the Red Sox I don’t think ought to be our goal if you look at their winning championships over a large number of years and I hope the international community isn’t too insulted by the comparison to the Nationals. Also, I just wanted to say one thing. It was great, Stuart, that you tipped your hat to Damon. Damon Wilson and his team put on this event but also in general will be taking the lead on these sorts of issues. And then where Susan now was leading our South Asia program as if not the leading expert in town then certainly one of the top two on the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and on the Pakistani military. So we really have ability here to do some good work.
First of all, I want to ask Stuart: In terms of lessons learned, do you see that we’re learning our lessons in anything that we’re doing in Afghanistan? In other words, has anything been translated and do you see things that you’re writing about here affecting something on the ground? And then my question for Frank is if he could tell me whether he thinks Stuart’s idea of starting something totally new is the right one – in other words, not to put DOD in charge, not to put State in charge but to innovate and start, you called it an international FEMA. And within that maybe Stuart can also go a little bit deeper in what he thinks the chances are of somebody actually doing that. Why don’t we start with you.
MR. BOWEN: With respect to the feeding of hard lessons in Afghanistan, I think we’ve been learning our lessons organizationally from both experiences and applying them to both over time. For example, PRT started in Afghanistan – military-driven, 80, 85 percent staffed by greensuiters, came to Iraq and eventually became about 80 percent staffed by civilians and the admission changed a little bit. Now that particular approach to PRTs has fed back ironically into Afghanistan.
The challenge here, of course – we’ve been talking about strategic solutions. It’s about how the United States structures itself to manage complex contingency operations. That’s going to take time. It’s going to be incremental and it could have some impact on what’s going on in current contingencies but it’s really a long-term solution. But the tactical solutions I think on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq have been both in programmatic areas like the PRT and in contracting.
You know, we had a rather low bar, you know, to come up from in both places. When you ad hoc it, you end up choosing approaches that are wasteful and saying we’re going to do a twelve $500 million dollar design-build contracts to do whatever we decide to do once we get on the ground and figure out when shooting stops is a bad way to steward taxpayer’s dollars. Okay, we’ve learned that one; that’s not a hard one to learn. But, more importantly, evolving out of those painful lessons I would call them has been the joint contracting command in Iraq and Afghanistan. And at least for the DOD, a recognition of the need to strategically revive the contracting capacity at the Pentagon – the contingency contracting capacity. Contingency contracting reform – lesson learned in Iraq applied to Afghanistan.
And then the second question was – I’m sorry. With respect to –
MR. KEMPE: Well, let me go first to Frank on your response to the international FEMA and then basically in a way, your response to his response. Is this doable.
MR. KRAMER: The short answer is I think that it’s the right answer and I would go at it myself as follows. I think we need what I would call a joint taskforce approach – an approach that combines the military and the civilian enterprises. And within the civilian, I include non-military security, I include economics and I include governance.
I don’t think that we’ll get it exactly right in the first shot, so I – since I’m a DOD brat so to speak – I would do what the department often does, which is actually create it as a joint taskforce. And I would probably start with creating it as a joint taskforce for Afghanistan because then you have a concrete problem and you don’t become like SCRS, which is in theory great but in practice irrelevant.
I think the sets of issues would go to getting top-notch people put there and so you have to have the departments willing to part, so to speak, with their best. And you could do that on a first-shot one-off because that usually works pretty well but then if you’re going to keep it going, you have to actually put that in the promotion pattern. And that’s actually what we found in the Goldwater-Nichols era that unless you required people to be so-called joint, the best people stayed with their service.
The other part that would be I think the most difficult because I think what I’ve said up to now and I think what Stuart has said up to now really actually could be done by the president, if you will, on his own authority would be getting the Congress to buy in. The money in Congress is – as we all know, everyone in this room knows – is sliced up by department and sliced twice – the authorizers and the appropriators. And they’re not very happy about changing that approach. And I think it’s just absolutely necessary to not lose congressional oversight because I don’t mean that at all. But for the Congress to give a joint taskforce greater flexibility and use of funds and then create an appropriate oversight mechanism.
MR. BOWEN: I think that Congress does need to act because, as my brief history pointed out, presidential directives live as long as they’re not superseded. And so Presidential Decision Directive 25 and 56 went away with National Security Presidential Directive 1 signed by President Bush. And there were a lot of things in 56 as you know that I think were institutionally sound and would’ve carried forward some of the lessons of Bosnia perhaps to Afghanistan and Iraq that just went away whereas Congress can act obviously in a more permanent fashion.
But it needs to when it does so act wisely evidenced by the Reconstruction and Stabilization Civilian Management Act of 2008, which by the way was Title XIV of the National Defense Authorization Act. So you can tell by that it was a deal. You know, it didn’t come out of the normal course of events and it was impending as Biden-Lugar for a while.
And I think that it itself, by trying to statutize SCRS without any money, is stuck in its tracks and misses out on I think the greatest amount of progress, another step down – a DOD directive, 3,000.05 civility operations. These are pieces – it’s confusing, it’s very complex. There’s lots of acronyms and different agencies acting in response to the problem. I think the FEMA idea makes sense – international FEMA. And I think the analogous process is how homeland security, government affairs, senate committee approached the DNI reorganization – identified a problem, various groups doing similar things not communicating with one another, need to put somebody in charge to force them to communicate. Tell them in law that they must communicate. I’m not an expert on the effects of that but I think the process is a smart one and similarly as we reform this, you know, I think we start with a joint taskforce and then the ball goes over to Congress to permanize and integrate an approach.
MR. KEMPE: All right. I’ll turn to Arnaud first and then I’ll get around and if you can identify yourselves when you ask your question. Let me just say, we will put a transcript of this also up on the Web and we’ll put a reader’s guide to the acronyms. So anything that you miss here, we’ll put that up. But in the meantime, we’ll also try to avoid acronyms that we think are a little bit too esoteric. So, yeah.
Q: Arnaud de Borchgrave, CSIS. Mr. Bowen, talking about acronyms you mentioned one during your presentation: SIGAR?
MR. BOWEN: Yes.
Q: And I understand that SIGAR has discovered one horror story after another in Afghanistan but they don’t get reported to Congress. Do you know why?
MR. KEMPE: And you can also tell the audience what SIGAR is?
MR. BOWEN: The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction created a year ago – 15 months ago – to essentially do in Afghanistan what we’ve been doing in Iraq for five years. Late in the game as Arnie Fields who is the SIGAR has said, Afghanistan – $32 billion already spent. And if you think about it in these terms – and we spent $51 billion in Iraq – their budget this year is about $50 billion. Afghanistan we spent $32 billion. Their budget this year is $700 million. So just the throw weight, power or the impact of the money there is quite significant and that, I think, increases the need for strong oversight, which is missing. So it’s no surprise that Arnie Fields is initially finding these things.
We’ve actually sent our auditors to support him and they put out their first audit on the security issue a month ago and more are coming. As those audits are produced – I mean, the way an IG reports is through audits that gets submitted to the Congress. I think part of it is just the process of executing the audits and putting them out. Observation alone is not fact. The GAO – Government Accountability Office – has something called a yellow book and ensures that when an IG speaks that he or she can support through sound evidence what we find and so it’s going to take time. But those stories will be told and just given the framework I gave you, it’s not going to be a good story.
Q: Timothy Towell, a retired Foreign Service officer. I came in the State Department in the Kennedy administration. I worked with Colonel Brent Scowcroft in the ’60s to save this Western Hemisphere from godless communism. So I have a historical viewpoint and I thought that presentation was absolutely fabulous about how to reorganize – I took notes – reorganize and get coordinated for the first time in history to take on challenges of this complicated globe.
But in listening to this, I ask myself the questions – and I’m a Republican – gee whiz, I heard that the people that won this election were going to stop doing the Cheney-Bush gendarme of the world game. We’re not going to not only solve everything in Afghanistan and Iraq but what about Somalia, what about Honduras, what about North Korea, what about Georgia – we were off at the Olympics not paying attention then. Are we back – once those guys that talked about change got into Brent’s old office – I would love that office in the White House – got over to the Pentagon which is very exciting just to walk in the door and get lost in the rings – are they now getting the old-fashioned worldview and we’re going to be in the business of running the world and paying for it forever.
MR. KEMPE: And let’s not forget the Democrats did Bosnia – but that’s another issue.
MR. BOWEN: Well, it’s a great question. It raises an important point. What is a contingency operation and why? And a contingency operation is another way the United States protects its interests abroad. Their spectrum – first of all, I mean, there’s pre-conflict, conflict, contingency. We know who’s in charge here. Your friends at Foggy Bottom. The State Department keeps us out of conflict. When we don’t get there, General Scowcroft’s friends at the Pentagon are the best ever at prevailing and as a matter of fact, the period now is very short to at least military victory.
But over here, we don’t really know who’s in charge. That’s what this whole meeting’s about. That’s what this book’s about. That’s what our experience in Iraq is about because it’s fundamentally interagency. And then addressing this part, there’s a spectrum of how we prepare, which is your question and that is, over here is colonialism and over here is complete international laissez-faire, which we were perhaps in 2001 we were closer to this end. And there was a predisposition to know nation-building so to speak.
The right place is somewhere in here and that’s what these experiences are teaching us I think in Iraq and Afghanistan: where is that right place? It shouldn’t be over here. Long history teaches it can’t be here. I think that’s why there is room for innovation – because it’s new ground; it’s a new approach. But it’s all about protecting our interest abroad in an appropriate fashion that doesn’t signal, hey, we’re waiting for your state to fail so we can come in and rebuild your police.
But, at the same time, if your state fails, good luck. You know, those are not the approaches. Here is – when necessary, we will have a doctrine, resources, people, effort, command that’s ready.
MR. KEMPE: Please.
Q: Thank you, Fred, very much. Good morning, Mr. Bowen. I’m Tom Trimble with Science Applications International and I have a two-part question for you. Part one: With the drawdown of U.S. and coalition forces from urban areas in Iraq, is there a discernible concomitant U.S. State Department or interagency, USAID increase in presence that is indeed discernible.
And, part two, if there is, are you able to influence, coordinate and harmonize that transition from your vantage point?
MR. BOWEN: No, I can’t harmonize, coordinate, maybe I’ve influenced it through hard lessons already. But the real story, of course, in Iraq, is reconstruction cavalier is over. And we’re in capacity building which, of course, is AID’s bailiwick. AID will continue to be there long after we’ve withdrawn from Iraq. But the amount of money being invested – appropriately – is much, much lower, which means programs like the local government program and the community-assistance program are smaller versions of what they used to be and LGP phasing out.
Nevertheless, given that corruption is – as Frank was talking about – is a problem, we called it the second insurgency in Iraq; it’s a problem in the region: baksheesh. It’s part of the culture. It’s a generational thing. We’re going to need, thus, a generational multilateral support effort to encourage movement towards less corrupt practices. And that’s AID’s bailiwick but I think, as we pointed – and to answer your question, five audits on this issue; we don’t have a plan; we don’t have an approach to helping Iraq solve the holes in their boat, financial boat, that are caused by corruption.
But I think, finally, final point, lesson learned on AID we didn’t have in 2003, 2004 in Iraq enough personnel that had area expertise, that had capacity-building experience that were Arabists at AID to go in and help. And, as a result, the contracting did what it did and it was not optimal.
MR. KEMPE: Which also gets to Frank’s assessment issue – and I find one of the most striking things you talked about is this whole balance between waste and fraud. And, yes, we lose a lot to fraud and have written about it a lot, but waste is –
MR. BOWEN: Is the problem.
MR. KEMPE: Is the problem. Please.
Q: My name is Bob Beecroft. I’m with MPRI, soon to go back to the State Department. Like Tim Towell, I’m a Foreign Service brat as opposed to a DOD brat. But I spent four years in Bosnia and Herzegovina. And I’d just like to come back to the point that you’ve been making.
To continue the battle of the quotations, when I was teaching at the National War College, we taught Clausewitz, something else that General Scowcroft knows a lot about. Two quotes: “The first, the supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgment that the statesman and commander have to make is to establish the kind of war on which they are embarking. No one starts a war – rather no one in his sense ought to do so – without first being clear in his mind what he intends to achieve by that war and how he intends to conduct it.”
Now, if you substitute the word “contingency” for “war,” this is what concerns me a little, that there seems to be an assumption that the system is the solution. The system really, to me, reflects unity of policy, coherence and buy-in, which gets to the point that Frank was making.
So I just wonder if we can’t look at this more as an issue of contingencies of choice versus contingencies of necessity. The hand off between Bush 41 and Clinton and then the hand off between Clinton and Bush 43 – we seem to wipe the slate and start over. And I’m not sure whether even the solution that Mr. Bowen is offering of a kind of a super FEMA would do the job if we don’t agree on certain basic tenets about what we are about in these contingencies. And we haven’t reached that yet.
MR. BOWEN: Well, I’m glad you quoted Clausewitz because we did too on page 333. (Laughter.) And, you know –
MR. KEMPE: I don’t think they allow those books to be published without a Clausewitz –
MR. BOWEN: Exactly right. It’s a premise. And we said, if war, as Clausewitz said, is an “extension of politics by other means,” so too is relief and reconstruction and extension of political, economic and military strategy. And I think that’s sort of the intellectual core of why I think the United States government must take on restructuring or – no, not restructuring – structuring its approach to complex contingencies because there is no structure.
And, speaking of quotations, it’s a long book; you don’t want to the whole thing; it’s just too long. But I would recommend to you the epigraph to the chapters which capture the spirit of the whole book and are drawn chiefly from my interviews with the senior officials.
And I’ll just give you one snippet: Chapter one: Planning Begins. General Powell said to me when I interviewed him in February of 2007, I had no idea what CENTCOM was planning and I had no idea – absolutely no idea – what the Joint Chiefs of Staff were planning. I do know that the political guidance they were getting from Rumsfeld, the NSC and the White House was, you’ve got about three months to get the Iraqi government up and running.
Just a little snippet of his recollection about what was going on in 2003, five years earlier before he said that. And it’s just sort of exhibit X for the need to find a structure because the lack of knowledge, the lack of communication, the lack of understanding ultimately diluted our unity of effort.
MR. KRAMER: Bob, I think we all love Clausewitz and I’ve got a draft article here and I quoted the same thing. And the point about what are you trying to do I think is critical. And the difficulty, I think, if we’re going to call these contingencies, is it’s not an on-off switch. Historically – not 100 percent – but at least historically, the U.S. tend to think of war as on-off: we want it, we don’t; unconditional surrender, World War II; U.S. grant, et cetera, et cetera.
These are not that way. And, particularly when what we’re trying to do, I think, is to create some adequate stability so that the country can manage itself but it won’t be perfect when we, if you will, leave – at least in this phase – as Stuart said, we won’t leave entirely: continued diplomacy, continued developmental efforts and the like.
And there’s, in my opinion – and I’ve said it before; I’ll just repeat – there is an absolute lack of realism in setting goals. The Afghan compact is a classic example. I mean, it is a wonderful compact and any country in the world could aspire to it. But Afghanistan is not going to reach it anytime soon. Ashraf Ghani, he wrote a thing called a 10-year framework for Afghanistan for the council, gives you a much more prioritized approach and I think time phasing, prioritizing in and among goals is absolutely crucial. But it’s hard to do when you say, in substance, I’m really not going to do everything; I’m going to do “good enough,” in quote. And what is good enough is a political choice.
MR. KEMPE: Thank you, Frank. And I do think Ashraf is one of the deepest thinkers on these issues, too. And he’s done it in two or three of the local languages at much greater length. So that’s the kind of thing you need in terms of local partners.
Q: Leonard Oberlander, consulting international liaison. Mr. Kramer, I paid particular attention, raised my eyebrows a little bit – positively – when you spoke regarding the assessment process and some of the deficiencies. And you referred to knowledge and understanding of the culture and the power on the ground, the time-phasing goals. And these come from assessment results and lessons learned and supporting the population and the transfer of power.
The assessment, the way I see it, starts with good field guides, country field guides that are produced regardless of whether there is conflict or not. And these field guides, being the information to start with, then are followed by the assessment process where teams of political sociologists, statistical experts, language translators and cultural anthropologists and so forth have to work together on teams, collegially, to produce the assessments which are then used for making adjustments in time phasing and setting priorities.
I want to ask your view on this in the context of the larger system and what Mr. Becroft said because one example I have in mind that was successful in this regard, in the assessment process, was the post-Korean conflict when President Park Chung-hee was president of Korea in the middle and late 1960s. There were assessments done of military civic action in rural South Korea. These assessments showed what worked and what didn’t work. They probably came to your office.
And an example of one instance that didn’t work, for example, is the working with the Korean – the American Army working with the Korean army and farmers – teaching them farming techniques that were more modern and using more modern fertilizers, chemical fertilizers and so forth.
The assessment showed this didn’t work. It was difficult for the farmers to adjust; it didn’t work economically and there was an adjustment made in the military civic-action program not to continue that.
MR. KEMPE: Yeah, I think let’s pull the question out of that.
Q: Yeah. And that’s it. My question is basically, are there some aspects of the past that have worked and therefore we should just grab them – and also the process.
MR. KEMPE: Thank you, yeah.
MR. KRAMER: Number one, the concept of continuous assessment I think is critical. What is really happening? My background, unfortunately, perhaps, is I’m a lawyer so I’m repentant. But you can always make lawyer’s arguments as to why one thing is better than the other and write them down. It makes a big difference whether it really works on the ground. I have another hat where I work with corporations and you create a business strategy. And if you find you’re not making money, you change that strategy. Now, I think that the folks – our people in Iraq and in Afghanistan, especially the people on the ground, if you will, at the brigade level and lower, have been very good at that. But they came in reasonably un-knowledgeable and then really have changed. I mean, the difference between what people knew in 2003, say, in Iraq, and what they know now is all the difference in the world.
So you want to start off with not only, if you will, the books and the writing, but also what I call fingertip feel. I mean, we used to have military who were in their 25-year career or so, 30-year career – would spend 17 years in Europe. They really understood Europe, or Korea, for that matter. We want to take advantage of all that knowledge. And the United States, collectively, has enormous knowledge. And even the government. But not only the government.
So my short answer is, number one, let’s figure out a way to take advantage of all that’s out there. Human contact as well – business, NGOs and the like. There will be some – depending on what the contingency is that we may have more or less.
And second, per your suggestion, really look at what’s happening and not just say, well, you know. Ask our guys, make it part of their job to say, is it really working or not. And if it’s not, let’s recalibrate.
MR. KEMPE: I mean, this is the Atlantic Council, so let me ask both of you a question. We’re in Afghanistan – we’re in Afghanistan with our allies. There is a new strategic concept for NATO being written. A lot of the things we’re talking about that have to be done; NATO does not really have a mandate to do. Is NATO the place to do this and build another theme that’s NATO connected? Is it NATO-EU, is it US-EU, is it United Nations of some sort? We’re talking a lot about what the U.S. ought to do, but obviously if the U.S. is the only country that does it, that doesn’t help us all that much, either. So what’s the message for the Euro-Atlantic community in this?
MR. KRAMER: Well, again, as you know, Fred, the code words these days in NATO are “comprehensive approach,” which, I think, means the same as all elements of national power. And again, as you and I say, plenty of people in NATO understand the point.
One of the things that’s interesting is when you go to NATO as an institution, the actual NATO institution, it has certain mandates. And it, historically, if you will, is a military organization with a very defined mandate vis-à-vis the Soviet Union. Many people have now talked about the importance of it becoming a security organization with a much broader mandate. I agree with that.
And the question is, how broad, and are we going to choose to use NATO? What’s NATO really all about? General Scowcroft has asked this question publicly. I’ll just defer to him as – it’s the right question – what is it going to be? The fact that the French are rejoining the integrated military structure probably makes it a lot easier to do more in NATO than otherwise.
But there are other entities that are terribly important. NATO has a working relationship with the U.N. and key UN organizations, the OSCE, in some instances, the European Union, and many nations actually provide – so when one talks about NATO, it’s important to not be sloppy about it. You mean NATO the institution, or do you mean just the countries in NATO in all of their manifestations.
And then, for the most part, but not entirely, these activities happen away from the European continent. And so one has to immediately think about engaging with both – not only the particular place, the host nation – but the countries involved. The administration recently had a set of conferences associated with these kinds of issues, inviting Iran – it was in early April – with respect to Afghanistan.
So I think we can do a lot as a trans-Atlantic group because these activities have great impact on us, and I think we need to figure out how to engage the rest of the world as appropriate so it wouldn’t only be trans-Atlantic.
MR. KEMPE: A joint NATO-EU stabilization command in Brunssum or somewhere? Is this an idea worth pursuing or should one –
MR. KRAMER: In my opinion, I think a joint approach – I would probably use that word rather than command. And I would say to myself that I know that the European Union, again, as a sovereign entity, has a lot of resources but not total power over foreign affairs. You would need to include Nations as well as the Union. But that’s a long way of saying, basically, yes.
MR. KEMPE: The two institutions plus the nations, which is an argument that you’ve been making on different levels here.
MR. BOWEN: I’m not an expert on this but my sense about NATO is doing anything through NATO is challenging because of the number of voices at the table. That doesn’t mean multi-lateralizing our understanding as we seek to structure our approach to complex contingency isn’t important. And as I said when I briefed Stefan De Mistura on this, he said, I’ve been doing this for decades; this is the right way to go, and we want to engage.
And so I think there will be a receptivity at the U.N. on this issue. And given where these contingencies happen and the U.N.’s inevitable engagement in all of them, and certainly in various ways at the outset as to how they unfold – before we even get to any of those points – having a dialogue or engagement or however it’s realized with the U.N. And ultimately taking advantage of their experience and expertise would enhance any sort of new structure that would manage contingencies.
MR. KRAMER: General Scowcroft, can I impose upon you on this? I know you’ve done some thinking about it. Please.
LT. GEN. SCOWCROFT: I think this is a very important question. And yeah, we always refer to Paddy Ashdown. Why did Paddy Ashdown work? It was part personality and it was part organization. He was put in charge and he executed. We’re looking for a Paddy Ashdown for Afghanistan. It’s interesting to speculate what would have happened in Iraq had the U.N. contingent not been destroyed and the U.N. withdrawn from Iraq.
It seems to me, we ought to be searching for the broadest kind of framework we have to get others to buy-in to our operations. The U.N. – right now it’s pretty feckless. It doesn’t necessarily have to be.
Short of that, NATO-EU – we haven’t figured out how to deal with NATO-EU very well yet, except Paddy Ashdown. But I think we ought to search for ways – we need an internal structure but we also need an international structure because this is not a U.S. gendarme operation theoretically. This is dealing with the world of the future, which are these complex countries; countries failing, countries in conflict, countries coming out of conflict.
We have a national interest but the world community has an interest in dealing with them. So I think the broader we can reach out, the better. But we’ve got to get our house in order domestically first.
MR. KRAMER: Absolutely. I think we have time for one more question. Please, in the back, thank you.
Q: Thanks. Doug Ollivant. I have a two-part question. First, for Stuart: How much of the waste that you discovered was actually waste – fraud is fraud and that’s another thing altogether – was actually waste? And how much was deliberately diverted to bribe local power brokers by people on the ground? So in other words, if we were able to get Congress to give us a lined item for bribe the local power so you can operate, what percentage of the gross would that need to be?
And then, second, we talked about this skills set. How do we get it rewarded? Let’s assume that you get your agency but it’s going to be fed by State and DOD. When I look at the people around Petraeus, they seem to be leaving the Army – you know, John Nagl is across town, Pete Monsoor’s out at Ohio State – I don’t know State well enough to comment, although I note anecdotally that Damon Wilson is here and no longer in government. How do you get the –
MR. KEMPE: Highly effective, I must say, as well. (Chuckles.)
Q: – core of your officers to reward this skills set?
MR. BOWEN: Good questions. Well, first response to your first question – one man’s bribe is another man’s Sons of Iraq program, you know? And I think the reality is that security issues will drive smartly the expenditure of money that will bring people into the security structure one way or another that will reduce causalities U.S. and otherwise.
There’s no underestimating the effect of the Sons of Iraq program to the success of the surge. Taking 100,000 Sunnis off the battlefield is just absolutely key to our success in 2007. But how does it apply to Afghanistan? I’m not an expert there, but the reality is that supported warlords sometimes have safer provinces. That’s sort of what goes on there. But I don’t know the details.
Q: Buying the poppy crop?
MR. BOWEN: Or subsidizing movement to another crop. I mean, those are important steps. So there are all sorts of strategic uses of our investment that could reduce waste, to get back to your point. Our 300 audits and inspections, three-quarters of them document that. And, the Khan Bani Saad prison never will hold a prisoner – $40 million up in Diyala gone.
Ginger Cruz, my deputy, just came back from Iraq two days ago; visited Chamchamal, a good prison, well built, unlike Khan Bani Saad, but empty because the training hasn’t been done. And so there are all sorts of places along the continuum where the lack of a structure, the lack of coordination, the lack of effective planning – why we’re here today – have real world, on the ground, costly – literally costly – consequences in blood and treasure.
And I think that, you know, this is not a perfect solution by no stretch. There are a lot of weaknesses; there still will be waste; it’s inevitable in a contingency situation. And working out the details of managing wisely – our money on the ground in a contingency – is when the work begins after you restructure.
MR. KRAMER: Let me just make two points. First, in Stuart’s book – and I think I’m accurate on this – one of your published recommendations is a quicker contracting process. And I think that, to me, that’s terribly important because speed of action, I think, really makes a huge difference in these activities. So one change is, I think, you need to try and get the money out there.
MR. BOWEN: If I could just inject, the CPA never got to spend the Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund because it took the life of the CPA to get it contracted.
MR. KRAMER: And it might be that when you go fast, you’ll make some mistakes. But I think that’s a tradeoff that you’d probably choose to make for the most part.
The second part about how do you reward people, I mean, that’s a question we always have. But I think one of the things that is true is that you put certain requirements into the promotion process, if you will. If you are seeking to have people spend their time in these kind of complex contingency operations, they basically have to check the box. A lot of people will do it anyway. But, again, it’s very much what was done with respect to Goldwater-Nichols, and there’s been a huge culture change. And then, people find that they want to do it and then that becomes the place to be. So with that, let me end.
MR. KEMPE: Thank you. Thank you, Frank. Just by way of closing, I’m not going to try to sum up, but I want to thank General Scowcroft and Frank Kramer and Stuart Bowen. What we try to do at the Atlantic Council is we try as hard as we can to bring the best practitioners in, not only on stage but also in the audience.
We want to go deep. We don’t want to just glance and go quickly over the surface. I think we’ve done that. And we want to focus on issues that are absolutely crucial to the U.S. and Europe going forward. And I think there’s probably no more crucial issue than how this now gets applied to Afghanistan, Pakistan and far beyond that, of course, as well. So thank you so much to you. This was a terrific session.
Transcript by Federal News Service, Washington, D.C.