Six Simple Ideas to End the War on Terrorism in Iraq
As Combat Advisors, even at the highest levels, we have been training soldiers how to do many things. One of the things we have had to work hard at is getting military leaders to think freely. After 35 years or so of iron fisted rule by Saddam Hussein it is hard to get people, particularly Iraqi officers, to think outside the box. Recently, a room full of these officers got together to plan for an upcoming exercise.
Under the Saddam regime rather than doing a lot of involved planning, they usually put out vague orders with a general idea of the end result and gave it the ol’ Insha’Allah. (God Willing) If it worked, great, you lived! If it failed, nice knowin’ ya.
However today, the Iraqi military leadership embraced the Western idea of military planning. They put out a well thought out brief with lots of pictures with circles and arrows and paragraphs on the back of each one (Alice’s Restaurant reference) depicting what each picture was about. They used PowerPoint, had laser pointers, and were extremely professional. As each slide was presented there was head nodding, chin rubbing and note taking. Everyone was impressed. The war is almost over. The Americans are to be gone for good. A sense of pride was in the air noticed by everyone in attendance.
Like any good briefer should do, he asked one final question, “Does anyone have any questions?” For a fleeting moment there was silence. It was the kind of silence at the end of a meeting where people actually have the chance to think, “Whew, no one is asking a question.”
Like proud parents at a school Christmas pageant we were glad we attended, but ready to go home. Just as we began to gather our things and head to our Humvees, someone actually had a question. This question led to a discussion and this discussion led to the free thinking flow of ideas.
This is a good thing. However, culturally, when one leader has a good idea and it’s listened to, all the other leaders feel they must be heard.
Here were the top 6 proposals of the day that will clearly defeat terrorism in Iraq:
- We should have garbage motorcycles [to clean the streets]. (I know. Me too. I don’t know what a garbage motorcycle is either.)
- We need to make sure the people are protected. (It’s not a wrong idea but wasn’t that why we were at the meeting in the first place?)
- Don’t worry about keeping the water in the water tanks sanitary, the heat of the day will keep the water clean and safe. (I don’t even know what to say about this one.)
- We should keep medicine in the ambulances. (Seriously, do we really have to spell this out?)
- We should use the military vehicles for securing the area. (Not wrong, but did someone else say we were using them for something different? If so, I missed that one.)
- The terrorists should pack their luggage and leave. (Really? This is your plan? Do they need help packing?)
And so with these little gems floating about in people’s heads, the meeting ended. There were a lot of mixed feelings, rolling of eyes, and a general malaise about the whole thing. We grabbed our gear and left.
One more day closer to home.