View Full Version : Planning Lessons From Afghanistan and Iraq

05-19-2006, 02:54 PM
From Issue # 41 (2nd Quarter 2006) of the Joint Force Quarterly - Planning Lessons From Afghanistan and Iraq (http://www.smallwarsjournal.com/documents/collins.pdf) by COL Joseph Collins, USA (Ret.).

For planners and bureaucrats, Afghanistan and Iraq appear to present a puzzle. In Afghanistan, on one hand, we had little time for planning; we did lots of innovative things on the cheap; our relatively small, international force has taken few casualties; we have had great local and international support; and we are, by most accounts, on the way to a good outcome.

On the other hand, in Iraq, we had over a year to plan; our national policy has been expensive and often unimaginative; a relatively large, primarily American force has taken over 18,000 casualties, most of them in the so-called postconflict phase; we have had severe problems with local and international support; and the outcome, although looking up, is still in doubt.

A wag might conclude from the above that Americans should avoid planning at all costs. It brings bad luck, stifles creativity, and interferes with our penchant for achieving success through our normal standard operating procedure: the application of great amounts of material resources guided by brilliant improvisation and dumb luck.

While the wag’s conclusion is flawed, problems in planning indeed contributed to serious shortcomings connected with Operation Iraqi Freedom. With 3 years of hindsight, it was clear that these shortcomings included ineffective planning and preparation for stability operations, inadequate forces to occupy and secure a country the size of California, poor military reaction to rioting, d looting in the immediate postconflict environment, slow civil and military reaction to a growing insurgency, and problematical funding and contracting mechanisms that slowed reconstruction failure to make effective use of former Iraqi military forces...