I've been reading the discussion on our SOFA negotiations with Iraq, and thinking about what the means for Security Force Assistance. I did not start out to write a long post, it just came out that way as I got deeper into the what I htought "sustainable security" meant with regard to Iraq. Anyway, I thought it might be worth discussing so here it is:

Greater stability in Iraq is a supporting policy goal of our desire for greater stability in the Middle East. Iraq has the potential to add to greater ME stability, or to detract from it. Key to greater stability in Iraq is sustainable security of the sort that accounts for its ability to defend itself against all enemies foreign and domestic. To do this a state requires a security sector that has accountability and oversight and is resistant to the abuse of power. It needs to assist the political leadership in considering the threats to its sovereignty and support the development of the ends, ways and means required to realize its domestic and foreign policy objectives. The security sector must fit the political, economic and cultural environment in which it is to operate. It must develop systems and processes which not only meet the requirements of the moment, but help set the course for meeting enduring requirements.

There is much in the news about our future security negotiations with Iraq, and whether our positions are impinging on their sovereignty, or impeding their ability to govern, etc. Maybe we need to discuss where we are in the movie with regard to sustainable security of the type that could facilitate more stability. I think there are several questions that might be useful in considering how our SFA (security force assistance) efforts (from advising to IMET, and from internal to external defense) can best help them achieve sustainable security. These are the same types of questions we go through ourselves when drafting our strategic security documents. Maybe it is worthwhile to try and consider Iraq’s pursuit of its security as if we were faced with their security issues. I am not saying impose our U.S. values on Iraq – I mean just given some of the geo-political issues they face.

1) What are Iraq’s interests & supporting objectives (short and enduring)?
2) Who would oppose those interests and why?
3) Of those who would oppose their objectives, why would they?
4) What do their enemies see at risk with regard to their own interests and objectives? Why?
5) How would they oppose Iraq’s interests? Would they oppose Iraq in a competitive, non violent (meaning everything short of violence), or would they oppose them through war (everything from IW to conventional)?
6) What does Iraq have in terms of resources, access, etc. that potential enemies might see of sufficient value as to go to war to obtain it (resources, security, access or denial of access, etc.)?
7) Who can be counted among Iraq’s allies? Why? What do they bring to the table?
8) Are their potential allies with like interests who remain formally uncommitted? Why?
9) What are the gaps in Iraq’s ends/ways/means equation that prevent Iraq from achieving its own goals of sustainable security while preventing others from achieving those goals which threaten it?

Question 10 is one that might concern us with regard to our own interests, objectives and SFA efforts, and how they match up with Iraq’s.

10) How do our current and future actions and efforts better enable Iraq to achieve its security goals while satisfying our own interests and objectives?

How best do our objectives and those of Iraq reflect something satisfactory for the U.S., Iraq, and the broader regional and international states and actors who have legitimate interests in Iraq’s future,? We need to consider it from multiple perspectives in terms of suitability & feasibility for the most relevant participants to get sustainable security. One of the things that I’ve been thinking about is the difference between securing yourself against four categories of threats: internal domestic; internal but foreign supported; external but domestic supported; and purely external threats. The four categories represent different combinations of threats and require different things from a state’s security sector. It is not meant to be along the specificity of the U.S QDR quad chart – this is meant to be more generic.

For the last few years the immediate threat has arguably come from the first two categories (internal domestic; internal foreign supported), our military efforts in support of Iraq have been geared toward combating those forces directly and in building Iraqi security forces in capabilities and capacities that can take over that effort (our by, with and through efforts). We have also been engaged in the Iraqi security sector in terms of the development and reform of those ministries and supporting institutions which provide accountability and oversight toward sustainable security. We have also assisted Iraq in development & reform of the economic and political sectors (reform should not be seen here as imposition of our values – just the reformation of things with the purpose of congruence in the objective environment as negotiated between Iraq and the United States). These efforts have become part of our FID & COIN operations, and our broader strategy.

But what about as we look down the road? The second category (internal but foreign supported) has been altered to include Iranian support, intimidation and interference, and because the interest have become more contested they have become linked to the third category (external but domestic supported). Linked in terms of how others see Iraq connected to their own interests and objectives. We continue to make progress in assisting Iraq with resisting this category through our development of the security, economic and political sectors – our BPC efforts. Between Iraq, and its allies (the U.S. and broader coalition) and there is evidence that sustainable internal domestic security is achievable. I’m not saying it’s a done deal, in fact I’d argue that it is reversible if we withdrew our support in a manner that did not fully consider the consequences of the action and did not account for the range of effects such an action would have.

One of the issues we must help Iraq consider is how to transition their security sector in a manner and at a time that allows them to address all four categories with assistance that meets their needs while not impairing their sovereignty. What direction and scope should our SFA activities take as we move from a focus on FID to one focused on deterring regional aggression and ultimately to one of fostering security cooperation between partners with like interests? Questions such as how soon can the Iraqis (with our assistance) develop committed, competent, capable, and confident police and other domestic services so that the military and supporting intelligence services can better assume those roles the state requires to defend it from external aggression? With the establishment of events that marks the ability to transition the Iraqi Military, the question arises of what type of SFA activities best support those Iraqi and U.S. policies with regard to not only Iraq, but the region, and how do we implement them with an eye toward sustainability? For our own requirements, what type of demand signal does the send in terms of SFA? And will we have the resident capabilities and capacity to assist Iraq? If we don’t do we develop them, or do we turn to another partner with interests coincide with ours and Iraq’s, and who now at a time where Iraq’s operating environment may be more politically accommodating is willing and capable of providing SFA? Are their other alternatives which meet both Iraq’s interests and ours?