IO Journal - December 2009 - (Page 23)

A Short History of Religious Leader Engagement Operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom Master Sergeant John Proctor, US Army fter major combat opBecause we quickly learned that the erations (MCO) ceased clerics were the most important inforin April 2003, Coalition mation operations (IO) transmitters and Forces (CF) began stabilthat the people trusted them (they were ity operations among a not predisposed to trusting in governpopulation of 26 million ment, no matter how much we pitched people with only 160,000 troops. The democracy), we (religious support teams Baath Party government of Saddam Husor RSTs) were ordered to engage the clersein completely melted down and disics in order to build positive relations. solved all semblance of infrastructure. This directive came from the General OfThe only people left in ficers, not the chaplains. post-MCO Iraq that could MG Petraeus piloted the draw a crowd and issue a program in Mosul with message were the mosque Chaplains (LTC) Ken Brown preachers. This was all and (LTC) Chester Egert. the more critical in urban CJTF-7 quickly recognized areas where tribal politics the effectiveness of the were less important than tactic and adopted it in mosque politics. Baghdad. Task Force (TF) Five days after Bagh1st Armored Division (MG dad fell, the Association Ricardi Sanchez followed of Muslim Scholars in by BG Martin Dempsey) orIraq1 (AMS) began issudered more than 400 religious leader engagements ing fatwas about what The author (l) with Chaplain (RLEs) in Baghdad in 2003 could and could not be (Major) Jim Murphy in alone. CH(LTC) Alvin Sykes done by Sunni Muslims in Baghdad in July 2003. led the historic execution of these RLEs the post-Saddam occupation. Into the as TF 1st AD Command Chaplain. vacuum created by Saddam’s deposition Through RLE operations3 (or as the stepped Iraq’s influential clerics – and Shiite religious leaders began to flex term would later take hold, RLEOs), CF their newly found political muscle as established the first neighborhood adnever before. visory councils (NACs) and district adIn Mosul, MG David Petraeus employed visory councils (DACs). These were the the light infantry forces of the 101st Airfirst halting steps of a nascent democborne Division (Air Assault) in what is racy in Iraq. Our BCT stood up NACs 30 today recognized as a counterinsurgency days earlier than any other unit in OIF (COIN) posture. The 101st operated from largely because of our aggressive RLEOs. platoon and company sized combat outConditions were anything but favorable posts (COPs) while living and patrolling as Sunnis were in no mood to cooperamong the people. This limited insurgent ate with a pro-Iranian Shia majority and activity and maximized human intelliShia clerics frequently dispatched proxy gence (HUMINT) collection. The 2nd Brinegotiators so as not to appear unduly gade Combat Team (BCT), 82nd Airborne influenced by “infidel” foreigners. Division also employed similar tactics in Mosques were frequently used as the Al Rashid District of southern Baghweapons caches, command posts, and codad, in which I participated from April ordination centers for insurgent activity. 2003 through January 20042. To that end, CF began mosque monitoring as a part of our intelligence collection efforts. Originally, mosque monitoring was just a tool to detect which mosques were broadcasting messages through the call-to-prayer (issued five times a day through loudspeakers) that were overt calls to hostile action against CF. As our methods for collecting improved, CF began summarizing the mosque sermons to see what linkages existed between confederated mosques. We focused primarily on Sunni mosques at first because they were the big loser of the regime change operation and were calling for direct action against CF (and in some cases against Shia and Christian ‘collaborators’) no doubt with an eye towards Iran’s designs on Iraq, especially in the south. The mosque is the center of gravity for IO transmission in Iraq4. A news report5 filed by our own Public Affairs Office shows how our BCT dealt with the emerging Sunni insurgency in Baghdad in 2003. In the report, our commander says with a nearly prophetic insight, “. . . (The extremists) have been able to convince large numbers of followers that the issue is a religious one and not a legal one,” [2nd BCT, 82nd Airborne Commander COL] Kurt Fuller said. “How this plays out will more than likely determine the future of the conflict and of Iraq.” “Task Force Falcon is working to reduce the extremists’ influence on the people of Iraq by working directly with local leaders,” Fuller said. Some of that work with local leaders included the religious leader engagements (RLEs) in which our RSTs participated. According to the Deputy Division Chaplain of TF 1st AD6, of the 400+ RLEOs performed by the 6 BCTs in the Baghdad area of operations (AO), ours performed more than any other by a wide margin. As IO Journal | December 2009

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IO Journal - December 2009

IO Journal - December 2009
Contents
Harmony & Chaos: The Principles of China’s Unrestricted Warfare
China’s Public Diplomacy Institution: Its Development, Challenges and Prospects of Its Practice
Information Operations: Not Just a Set of Capabilities
A Short History of Religious Leader Engagement Operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom
Book Review Ideas as Weapons: Influence and Perception in Modern Warfare.

IO Journal - December 2009

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