The 1-12 CAV civil-military operations (CMO) toolkit includes the ability to support reconstruction efforts in the following areas; economic, education, electricity, health care, humanitarian assistance, irrigation, security, sewage, transportation, trash, water. 1-12 CAV’s CMO have varied widely throughout the deployment in terms of both number and type of operations conducted. The CMO summary below is subdivided into systemic issues (security, corruption, fuel), a timeline demonstrating how the CMO focus has shifted throughout the deployment, and a special topic (PDS food shipments).
Systemic issues are defined as larger complex issues that do not have easy to implement or short-term solutions at 1-12 CAV’s level of operations.
From the CMO viewpoint all humanitarian and reconstruction missions were treated as combat operations due to security concerns. This was not always the case, as prior to 1-12 CAV assuming Baqubah civil affairs teams had significantly higher freedom of maneuver and were able to conduct missions without a security escort. The deteriorating security situation in the final months of 2006 affected both CF activities as well as the activities of the local government. Kinetic operations interrupted almost all civil services and prevented the majority of government employees from showing up for work. OPERATION ARROWHEAD RIPPER significantly improved the security situation in Baqubah, allowing the government of Iraq to begin services once again, the sustainability of this tenuous peace remains to be seen.
Another systemic issue in Baqubah has been organized corruption along sectarian lines. In their drive to expand into Sunni dominated areas, Shia Iraqis have used their majority position in government in Baqubah to stop or hinder essential services in Sunni areas. The Shia in Baqubah have systematically denied electricity, propane, food, and gasoline to Sunnis and to areas dominated by Sunnis. In one example of organized corruption, an entire PDS food shipment was diverted to the Shia dominated Hwayder neighborhood, rather than being distributed evenly or fairly throughout Baqubah.
In December of 2006 the Iraqi Minister of Oil, a Kurd, cut 60% of the fuel shipments to Baqubah and redirected them to Kurdistan. This was compounded by the Bayji refinery running below capacity or not at all due to lack of electricity. Electricity was cut by power suppliers in Iran due to payments from the Baqubah government being far behind schedule.
Prior to and during OPERATION ARROWHEAD RIPPER, the battalion conducted a handful of fuel escort missions from the Bayji refinery into Baqubah. The main purpose of these missions was to provide fuel specifically for essential government services, such as the local ambulance service.
When 1-12 CAV arrived in Baqubah in the fall of 2006, the official unemployment rate was 40%, the Diyala Province had been suffering from a critical fuel shortage, and many neighborhoods were suffering food shortages due to the inaccessibility of the Public Distribution System (PDS) system.
As the security situation deteriorated beginning around the end of November 2006, these issues only worsened as government services were brought to a virtual standstill. The battalion was unable to materially assist in restarting basic services due to significant resources committed to the kinetic fight. From November 2006 to about April 2007 the battalion’s CMO effort was focused mainly on quick/simple projects such as trash pick-up and HA drops (distribution of food, blankets, toys, etc.).
Below are additional details for some of the CMO issues in the battalion’s AO during this time period:
a. Diyala had not received any diesel fuel in 55 days with local government offices closing for lack of fuel
b. Hospitals began reducing services due to the fuel shortages.
c. Restricted the use of ambulances.
d. Official fuel rationing began with the first priority of diesel going to the Ministry of Defense.
e. The black market was the only source, and the price was increasing to the point that it was becoming impossible for the average person to buy.
2. Many doctors transferred out of Baqubah.
3. PDS Ration System
a. Inaccessible to many people due to the location of distribution points not available to certain sects.
b. ISF with CF oversight necessary to secure movement of goods from central warehouses to local distributors.
a. Due to security concerns both faculty and students unable to attend local schools depending on their ethnicity and religion.
b. Local militias order many schools closed or order that females are not allowed to attend.
c. As security began to deteriorate many insurgents utilized schools as bases and as fighting positions, inhibiting these locations from being utilized for their intended purpose.
a. As extremists began to attempt to establish Islamic laws, many women were threatened and told not to work. As the make-up of many bank staffs was mainly women, many banks were not able to provide sufficient service to Baqubah.
b. Delays (months) in delivery of government paychecks due to bank robberies and hijacking of money shipments.
June & July 2007 (OPERATION ARROWHEAD RIPPER)
At the beginning of June 2007 all basic city utilities had become disrupted or had stopped all together. Sewage systems have been disrupted by IEDs and lack of utility maintenance. Government fuel supply continued to be lacking throughout the province. Telephone service was inconsistent throughout the AO. A few local medical facilities were still functioning (though not fully) due to security issues and religious based killings. Little was known about local schools or any details about due to an inability to conduct assessments because of the security situation. The most pressing issue at the time was a water shortage which was expected to continue at least through the summer.
The overall CMO plan for OPERATION ARROWHEAD RIPPER was to be conducted in two phases. The first phase called for immediately restarting essential services (with a high priority on water), securing key resources (PDS Warehouses and gas distribution points), and conducting assessments with an initial focus on SWET assessments (sewer, water, electric, trash). In terms of immediate effect projects, the focus was on quick trash removal and on HA food drops. The second phase, to begin based on conditions on the ground, was to focus on getting government services and utilities operational and beginning projects based on the assessments conducted during phase one. A special CMO focus during both phases was to provide humanitarian care to Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) and on conducting IDP Release Valves at key locations around the OPERATION ARROWHEAD RIPPER security cordon.
At the beginning of the operation the process of restarting essential services was highly methodical and detailed with a hands-on approach. The process involved substantial hand-holding on the part of coalition forces; this was due in part to apprehension/fear on the part of local Iraqis, hesitation to provide service to neighborhoods of another sect, and also a simple lack of adequate knowledge, skills, and abilities. Below are a few examples of the level of detail and control exercised by coalition forces in jump-starting essential services:
All ambulances and drivers are photographed and entered into a tracking system. Before dispatch all ambulances was provide a route plan and itinerary through coalition forces in order for passage through checkpoints to be granted. Ambulances were searched at all checkpoints and there are numerous examples non-wounded insurgents attempting to escape coalition forces inside of ambulances.
Although officially controlled by local Iraqis, coalition forces track food shipments by truck, the destination and contents of each truck is centrally controlled. In the beginning of this process several shipments were caught moving directly from Shia controlled warehouses in Baghdad to Shia controlled areas of Baqubah. This process was stopped and food shipments were first escorted to centrally located warehouses in Baqubah, then distributed evenly by population density. Initially, some additional food shipments were directed towards areas where operational cordons prevented locals from purchasing food supplies at local markets. There is even an example of 3-2 SBCT Deputy Commanding Officer (DCO) personally escorting 90 local national food trucks from Baghdad to Baqubah. The food was available and allocated to Baqubah but held up by both sectarian bureaucracy and by security concerns, some drivers claiming that they only feel sufficiently safe with a CF escort and not with an ISF escort. Part of the escorted shipment (lentils and tomato paste) were part of a shipment that was supposed to be delivered in 2006, nearly 8 months earlier. Below are some of the food related assessments conducted:
1. Mill assessment. Mill locations plotted, managers contacted and interviewed, sources of grain logged in order to identify upstream issues, other issues and status recorded and reported. Mills are considered highly important to the task of creating self-sufficiency for Baqubah.
2. Public Distribution System (PDS) System. All elements of the system identified and tracked down to the lowest food agents in individual neighborhoods. The food system is also an important part of self-sufficiency, by working to rebuild the system from the ground up, part of the intent was not only to restart the system but also to create a system fairly balanced between all ethnicities and religions in the city.
Like all other CMO areas of focus the Baqubah fuel issue was tackled with a high level of detail as well as command guidance from coalition forces. All fuel distribution points were identified, plotted, and key individuals contacted and tracked. A fuel distribution plan was created which prioritized distribution to essential government service vehicles, medical facilities (and ambulances), and water treatment facilities. Within these major areas of priority, sub-priorities were created such as directing fuel shipments to the water pumping stations that have gone the longest without fuel (at one point the pumping stations in the Buhriz neighborhood actually shut down for a few days, temporarily leaving Iraqis in that area without potable water).
In terms of getting fuel to Baqubah, regular fuel convoys from Bayji Oil Refinery restarted in July (benzene, kerosene). Initially coalition forces were required to force Iraqis to begin fuel shipments in the proper quantities and at the right times. Later the process of personally escorting fuel shipments to Baqubah was passed to the Iraqi Army with coalition continuing to track.
Once in Baqubah coalition forces assisted the local government in fair distribution based upon the distribution plan by identifying fuel distribution points and making sure that these sites were utilized. One of the problems encountered were legal issues that precluded government fuel from being dispensed at private stations. This issue was dealt with by utilizing specified distribution points rather than either public or private gas stations, fuel trucks were made to rotate between the different points based upon population density and need (as opposed to religious orientation).
Water was a severe shortage item especially during the hot summer months during the main clearing phases of OPERATION ARROWHEAD RIPPER. Initially water distribution operations were conducted in the most severely affected areas. Another immediate project that was conducted was the emergency delivery of chlorine to both the Chubianat water treatment plant north of Old Baqubah, to the Tahrir water treatment plant, and to the water treatment plant in Buhriz. These chlorine shipments executed by coalition forces literally arrived in the nick of time as Chubianat plant was completely out of chlorine. This would have left the entire Old Baqubah neighborhood out of a source of potable water.
Next, two medium term projects were begun to dramatically increase the water supply available in the city. First, sites were identified, contracts approved, and construction begun on nine water wells in the neighborhood of Buhriz. Second, a battalion effort was conducted to identify and clear blockages in the main irrigation canal originating in the Diyala River Valley and water to the entire area. This project was a battalion effort that even involved aerial reconnaissance due to numerous blockages the entire length of the canal. Many of these blockages were man-made, created by Shias as a population control measures to divert water away from Sunni neighborhoods downstream from the water source. The end result of this project was increased the water levels to downstream populations from zero to several feet and thirty truckloads of debris were eventually cleared from the canal.
A tertiary project line was identifying malfunctioning water pumps and broken water pipes. These issues were identified as non-immediate and notification was given to the Iraqi government for work at a later date. What is important to take away from this observation is to see the high level of guidance given to a malfunctioning government.
In terms of electricity, coalition forces logged specific locations of all sub-stations, transformers, and electrical line breaks and passed this information to the DG of Electricity. Getting all of these malfunctions fixed turned out to be a huge project. For example, 40 broken transformers were identified in the Mufrek and Khatoon neighborhoods alone. Coalition forces monitored government of Iraq ESS teams moving through neighborhoods and tracked the progress of repairs.
As evidence of both the level of guidance given by coalition forces and the lack of manpower available to the Iraqi government, it was necessary for maneuver units to specify whether electrical transformers were ground or pole mounted in order to assist the Iraqi ESS teams in completing their work. It was a considerable effort for maneuver units to combine a kinetic mind-set with a CMO mind-set; however, pin-pointing of locations where services were broke greatly helped in orienting the focus of the Iraqi teams.
With only 10% adequate trash removal service and no curbside pick-up in the city of Baqubah, part of the OPERATION ARROWHEAD RIPPER’S CMO plan involved cleaning up trash and rubble. This was a two part process that began quickly with companies being given money to start neighborhood cleaning teams. In the Buhriz neighborhood $5/day was paid for locals to immediately begin cleaning their own streets.
The second part of this process involved standing up the municipalities branch of the local government to begin clearing trash piles on their own. While neighborhood cleaning was conducted, coalition forces simultaneously identified, assessed, and cleared a path to the city dump near FOB GABE. Also identified were priorities for government cleaning (areas where heavy equipment were needed) and government essential services teams were directed initially directed exactly when and where to clear trash piles.
All banks were temporarily closed during the month of July due to kinetic operations and many already had significant battle damage and reduced hours from months of intense fighting, many of these attacks were specifically directed at the banks by insurgents. Coalition forces assisted with security and with mission planning for several ISF led money shipments from Baghdad. Money shipments were previously monthly affairs, but with the heavy fighting during previous months and frequent attacks on both money shipments and on banks themselves, many government employees and ISF had not been paid in several months.
Government paychecks finally did make their way to local banks but several bank managers still did not feel safe distributing funds. Members of the coalition Provincial Reconstruction Team finally set up a temporary money distribution operation based out the joint CF/ISF Government Center. When funds were finally disbursed around August many contractors had been waiting over a year for payment of services rendered.
IDP Release Valve
Though not technically a reconstruction type CMO mission, IDP release valve operations were conducted at selected sites around the cordon erected during OPERATION ARROWHEAD RIPPER in order to allow for non-hostile Iraqis to leave the battlefield in a controlled and humane manner. At these sites Iraqis were entered into the BATS/HIIDEs system in order to assist in screening for insurgents. Pre-packaged meals and water were provided, and at some sites in west Baqubah, Porta-Potties were set-up for sewage disposal. Every effort was made to allow for quick screening and movement of Iraqi nationals for medical reasons.
August 2007 (Post OPERATION ARROWHEAD RIPPER)
During the main clearing phases of the operation virtually all economic activity in the cordon areas ceased, except for humanitarian aid distribution. As the cordons in various neighborhoods have lifted, economic activity improved to a level well above that seen prior to the operation. There remains much work to be done; basic services are not fully restored or at sufficient levels, unemployment remains high, and many government workers still need to return to work. But with the initial-quick trash and humanitarian projects, the significant coalition “guidance” on medium-term projects (highlighted above), and with the sustained low levels of violence after the operation, all categories of reconstruction and economic indicators are improving.
One of the major issues currently holding up further Iraqi control of their own reconstruction efforts is funding. For example, Baqubah is authorized 1,000 municipal workers. Yet, only 300 are able to work now because of no budgetary funding. Even if there were money to pay workers and overhead, any vehicle driver must be authorized first by the Ministry in Baghdad, which requires potential drivers to take a lien out against home or property.
Below are a few of the larger projects that have been either completed or that are on-going since the end of OPERATION ARROWHEAD RIPPER:
1. Citrus insecticide spraying project. 6,000 hectares of citrus trees were treated and 400 local Iraqis were employed in the spraying effort.
2. Date Processing Plant project has restarted and construction is underway.
3. Progress began as is continuing on 50 greenhouses around Baqubah. These greenhouses will allow farmers to use their land year-round.
4. 20 sheep dip tanks delivered which will allow herdsmen to treat their herds in order to limit pest infestation.
5. Honey drying equipment project.
6. Returning the Baqubah silo and mills to operation.
7. USAID’s Community Stabilization Program (CSP). Will focus initially on projects that employ large numbers of local males between the ages of 16-25. As the short-term reconstruction projects are completed, CSP will then deploy vocational training and micro-grants to small businesses. Note that all NGOs and NGO-like organizations had previously ceased all operations in Baqubah due to security concerns.
The large projects listed above were not necessarily spearheaded or conducted by 1-12 CAV; these projects are worth mention in order to give specific examples of progress made in the city of Baqubah. During the time period prior to OPERATION ARROWHEAD RIPPER only simple trash pick-up and HA drop CMO operations were conducted. During the operation simple projects were still conducted, but there was also a heavy focus on getting the government back to work on essential services. The large and complex projects listed above show the evolution of progress made in Baqubah from a CMO perspective throughout the deployment.
Public Distribution System (PDS)
The Iraqi Public Distribution System (PDS) is the largest public food program operating in the world. All Iraqi citizens and foreigners resident in Iraq are entitled to receive the PDS food basket.
Consumers pay a nominal price of 250 ID per month, entitling them to receive a basket of goods including: 9 kg of wheat flour, 3 kg of rice, 2 kg of sugar, 0.2 kg of tea, 1.5 liter of vegetable oil, 1 kg of dried whole milk, 1.5 kg of dried beans, 0.15 kg of iodized salt, 0.25 kg of soap and 0.5 kg of detergents. Families with children below one year also receive baby food and other infant supplies.
*The above excerpt is from Attachment 7 – Public Distribution System (PDS) FAQs. See this attachment for additional details on the PDS program.
Being tasked to identify local agents and to understand the PDS distribution system has been a substantial challenge for maneuver units; however, understanding the PDS system is critical to an understanding of population dynamics in Baqubah and assisting in reconstruction efforts. 29 million Iraqis are supposed to receive the PDS food basket per month and 60% of Iraqis depend on this basket for their very survival. Currently PDS food shipments are not possible without CF support.
The PDS system is centrally organized from Baghdad and is completely corrupt along every step of the distribution system from JAM control of food warehouses in Baghdad to Shia sheiks with government connections controlling food agents at the local level in Baqubah. Even when food shipments do arrive at the proper locations, prices will vary by neighborhood and over time. The price is supposed to be fairly static and set at a nominal 250 ID per month.
The provincial system suffers from atrophy- both physically- in terms of facilities and structure, and in terms of leadership. The atrophy is manifested in:
1. Poor awareness of warehouse operations
2. Poor accountability of PDS stocks and failure to disburse them to proper agents.
3. Loss/Destruction of PDS records (particularly in Baqubah) as they related to local agents and stock requirements. (PDS Office used to be in Tahrir)
4. Total loss of communication between Baghdad and Baqubah impacting current operations and future operations planning.
CF support is currently required for the following:
1. Coordinating convoys to Baghdad to pick up PDS rations, flour and rice.
2. Registering new agents and releasing/updating ration cards.
3. Tracking the status of distribution within Baqubah.
4. Coordinating the necessary actions to have government trucks move rations to the proper warehouses in Baqubah.
5. Restoring and re-staffing PDS-related offices in Baqubah.
6. Improving the facilities and operations of the PDS warehouse in Baqubah.