Archive for Thursday, February 23, 2006

Fort’s commanding general helps develop new strategy

February 23, 2006

— After he led the 101st Airborne Division into Iraq's Ninevah province in spring 2003, Lt. Gen. David Petraeus found himself facing a challenge that couldn't be fixed with guns or artillery.

He had to keep the economy running.

And he had to try to prevent the collapse of Iraqi civil society.

"There's no field manual on most of this stuff," said Petraeus, whose efforts to keep pay flowing to Iraqi government workers is profiled in the March issue of Esquire. "There's no field manual that tells you how to run an election, or to help convince a local bank manager to use the money he saved to pay the salaries of government workers."

Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, reportedly will become the commander of U.S. military forces in Iraq.

Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, reportedly will become the commander of U.S. military forces in Iraq.

Such incidents, Petraeus said, show why 21st century officers will need more than battlefield savvy. They'll also require the nation-building skills of a city manager or a diplomat, and the creativity to help the Army win the peace that follows war.

"What we say now is that there's a tremendous mix - you have to find the right balance of 'kinetic' and 'non-kinetic' operations," Petraeus said. "Kinetic being the lethal use of military force, and non-kinetic being, if you will, the 'softer' side of it."

It's Petraeus' job to develop those officers. Since September, he's been commander of Fort Leavenworth's Combined Arms Center, which develops war-fighting doctrine and trains senior Army officers. Before that, he oversaw troop-training for the post-Saddam Iraqi army.

One way the Army will create creative-minded officers, he said, is by expanding opportunities for hundreds of them to attend civilian graduate schools. That means Fort Leavenworth is building stronger relationships with area universities, helping develop postgraduate "security studies" at Kansas State University, and signing an agreement with the University of Kansas in 2004 to exchange faculty and students on topics regarding language training, cultural immersion and other national security issues.

KU and Fort Leavenworth also cosponsor the "Peace, War and Global Change" seminar on the KU campus in Lawrence.

"We're doing projects, sort of as we find things that meet the two sides' needs," said Paul D'Anieri, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at KU. He said about a half-dozen Fort Leavenworth officers were seeking graduate degrees in Lawrence "at any one time."

The education will be handy; so will the experience of being around smart people with a different point of view - something Petraeus said doesn't always happen inside the military.

Evolving doctrine and training at Fort Leavenworth will also be key, he said.

"It becomes very much an engine of change for our Army," Petraeus said of Fort Leavenworth's efforts. "That change is, in fact, helping our Army be better prepared for what it is doing downrange, and for future contingencies."

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