Restoring Order: The US Army Experience in Occupation Operations, 1865 – 1952

Abstract of my dissertation on US Army occupation operations:

This dissertation examines the influence of the US Army experience in military government and occupation missions on occupations conducted during and immediately after World War II. The study concludes that army occupation experiences between the end of the Civil War and World War II positively influenced the occupations that occurred during and after World War II. The study specifically examines occupation and government operations in the post-Civil War American South, Cuba, the Philippines, Mexico, post-World War I Germany, and the major occupations associated with World War II in Italy, Germany, and Japan. Though historians have examined individual occupations, none has studied the entirety of the American army‘s experience with these operations. This dissertation finds that significant elements of continuity exist between the occupations, so much so that by the World War II period it discerns a unique American way of conducting occupation operations. Army doctrine was one of the major facilitators of continuity. An additional and perhaps more important factor affecting the continuity between occupations was the army‘s institutional culture, which accepted occupation missions as both important and necessary. An institutional understanding of occupation operations developed over time as the army repeatedly performed the mission or similar nontraditional military tasks. Institutional culture ensured an understanding of the occupation mission passed informally from generation to generation of army officers through a complex network of formal and informal, professional and personal relationships. That network of relationships was so complete that the World War II generation of leaders including Generals Marshall, Eisenhower, Clay and MacArthur, and Secretary of War Stimson, all had direct personal ties to individuals who served in key positions in previous occupations in the Philippines, Cuba, Mexico, or the Rhineland. Doctrine and the cultural understanding of the occupation mission influenced the army to devote major resources and command attention to occupation operations during and after World War II. Robust resourcing and the focus of leaders were key to overcoming the inevitable shortfalls in policy and planning that occurred during the war. These efforts contributed significantly to the success of the military occupations of Japan and Germany after World War II.

For more information on this subject and access to the complete dissertation contact me at dimarcol@aol.com.

Book Review: Bullets and Bolos

Bullets and Bolos:  Fifteen Years in the Philippine Islands Fighting Insurgents with the Philippine Constabulary.  John R. White.  St. Petersburg, FL:  Hailer Publishing, 2007 (originally published New York: Century Company, 1928), 348 pages, $29.99.

 Bullets and Bolos is the story of one American’s experience during fifteen years (1901-1916) as an officer of the Philippine Constabulary.  John White’s narrative is a fast paced, interesting and insightful read about how a former American soldier adapts to the challenge of leading foreign indigenous troops in combat.  It almost reads like a novel, but is full of intelligent insights and wisdom regarding an important and complex aspect of counterinsurgency.

 John White’s story begins when he joins the Philippine Constabulary after his service with the U.S. volunteers  during the Spanish American War.  As that war evolves into the Philippine Insurrection, the army mustered the volunteers out.  White elected to muster out in the Philippines and seek service with the growing U.S. civil service.  He first worked as a civilian clerk for the army commissary, but then enlisted as an inspector in the new Philippine indigenous police force –the constabulary.  White describes the highlights of his next fifteen years service commanding Filipino constables as they track and fight insurgents, bandits, and Muslim warriors through swamps, jungle, mountains, and even at sea.  White quickly proved himself to be an exceptionally effective leader, and a string of promotions and more challenging assignments took him to the rank of constabulary colonel and district supervisor.

Read Complete Review Here.

Organizational Culture and Creating Phase IV Competence

The below paper is a historical reflection on one of the factors I believe contributed to the success of post-conflict operations during and after World War II.  Obviously there is not a direct link to Phase IV operations in either Iraq or Afghanistan.  However, I think recognizing that a) the U.S. Army did a very good job with the post WWII occupation and military government missions, and 2) that it was no accident, but rather was largely a function of very smart army officers recognizing the requirement, understanding the scope and demensions of the task, and then putting resources, talent, and time toward mission accomplishment.  The paper doesn’t suggest how to conduct current Phase IV operations or how to ensure we address them adequently in the future.  However, by highlighting that WWII success was a function of operational expereince, professional military education, and mentoring, it suggests what preconditions might need to exist for the U.S. Army to better understand and execute Phase IV operations in the future.

Occupation Army:  Institutional Culture and Successful U.S. Occupation Operations in WWII

The successful post-World War II economic revitalization and political transformation of both Germany and Japan are virtually without precedent in the history of warfare.  However, almost no agreement exists regarding the credit for these successes.  The historiography assigns credit to a variety of factors ranging from the unique character of the German and Japanese people, to the brilliance of General MacArthur, to the magnanimous of the Marshall Plan.  This paper will argue that one of the major reasons for the success of post-conflict operations after World War II was an institutional culture within the U.S. Army that recognized and accepted the absolute criticality of effective post-combat operations to strategic success.  U.S. Army leaders understood that the measure of long-term battlefield success was the ability of the U.S. to shape a favorable post-conflict political environment, and that the army had a vital if not central role in that effort.  This understanding was the result of eighty years of institutional experience in which post-conflict operations and related tasks were an accepted mission.  The army’s history helped foster a culture wherein leaders like Marshall, MacArthur, and Eisenhower placed priority, devoted robust resources, and conducted detailed planning for the occupation of Germany and Japan.  .

The U.S. Army that entered World War II had a distinct culture, which the regular army officer corps most dramatically represented.  The army’s organizational culture evolved from several factors.  The army’s history was a strong influence on the culture.  Also, the interpersonal relationships between army officers and their mentors, friends, and family which ensured that the history was passed from generation to generation was a critical factor. Another factor that effected the culture was the professional education and operational experiences of army officers, particularly in the interwar years.  Examining the careers of three key figures in World War II military occupation operations, George Marshall, Dwight Eisenhower,  and Douglas MacArthur, demonstrates how the components of institutional culture combined to contribute to the success of Army occupation operations in Germany and Japan during and after World War II.

Read the Rest of the Paper Here.

Book review of two pretty good general works on the important general officers of the occupation era: “Not the President’s Men.”

Book Review: Moroland

Moroland, 1899-1906.  America’s First Attempt to Transform an Islamic Society, by Robert A. Fulton (Bend, OR:  Tumalo Creek Press, 2007), 417.

Moroland by Robert A. Fulton is a comprehensive examination of American policy toward and military operations against the Moros of the southern Philippine Islands from 1899 to 1906.  Fulton very effectively covers policies, politics, and military operations.  What emerges from his work is a fascinating tale of brilliance and opportunities lost.  It is a must read volume for anyone interested in a host of contemporary issues including counterinsurgency, clash of cultures, Islamic warrior societies, and nation-building.

Read Complete Review Here.

Visit the Author’s Website Here.

Book Review: Benevolent Assimilation

Benevolent Assimilation:  The American Conquest of the Philippines, 1899-1903,Stuart Creighton Miller, Yale University Press, 1982.

Benevolent Assimilation is one of the most referenced and consulted works on the American – Philippine war.  The book is a well-written general military and political history that falls into the group of new-left histories written during or shortly after the U.S. Vietnam war.  As such, it consciously evaluates the American experience in the Philippines within the context of the perceived American tragedy of Vietnam. Miller’s view is that American success in the Philippines represents the triumph of a world military power over the nationalistic aspirations of an oppressed indigenous population.

Miller’s is an important work to read and understand.  To many, the book continues to represent how the U.S. military repeatied mistakes made in earlier wars in Vietnam.  Currently,  it is also used to illustrate the flawed U.S. policy in Iraq.    For these reasons it is important that military professionals engage with Miller’s history, and are able to compare and contrast his history with the more nuanced, pragmatic, and realistic analysis of John Gates and Brian Linn.

Read Complete Review Here.

The U.S. Army General Staff:Where Is It in the Twenty-first Century?

A couple of years ago LTC Paul Yingling wrote an article entitled “A Failure in Generalship,” very critical of the U.S. Army general officer corps and also blaming the generals for what at the time was looking like a debacle in Iraq. 

Thinking about it, I wrote an article that, while not discounting the failures of many general officers in Iraq, took a different view:

A Myriad of problems plagued the U.S. army in the first few years of operations in Iraq.  At the eleventh hour General Petraeus is leading a new counterinsurgency doctrine inspired “surge” campaign that may save the entire war effort.  However, the question must be asked –why has the war effort of the most sophisticated army in the world come down to a final moment “Hail Mary” pass that is reliant on the genius of an individual commander for victory?  The answer is that the U.S. army has experienced a crisis of command.   Pundits have gradually come to the conclusion that the performance of U.S. generalship and senior leadership has been mediocre at best and at worst largely responsible for the problems associated with prosecuting the war in its initial years.  Recently army Lieutenant Colonel Paul Yingling wrote: “These debacles are not attributable to individual failures, but rather to a crisis in an entire institution: America’s general officer corps.” Yingling’s analysis is echoed by military affairs analysts such as Ralph Peters and Douglas McGregor.  Even Chief of Staff of the Army, General George Casey allowed that “we don’t do as good a job as we need to training our senior leaders to operate at the national level.”  However, mediocre generalship alone does not account for the initial uninspired reactive prosecution of the war.  Also contributing to the inconsistent, and ineffectual prosecution of the war is the absence of a professional corps of general staff officers operating in support of the senior leadership.

Thanks to the Small Wars Journal for publishing this article!
See comments by best selling author and journalist Tom Ricks on the article here.

FM 3-07 and History

The new army stability manual, FM 3-07, Stability Operations, proposes using lines of effort to visualize the execution of stability operations tasks.  Specifically the manual states, “A line of effort links multiple tasks and missions to focus efforts toward establishing the conditions that define the desired end state. Lines of effort are essential in stability operations, where physical, positional references to an enemy or adversary are less relevant. In these operations, where the human dimension typically becomes the focus of the force, lines of effort often work best to link tasks, effects, conditions, and the end state. Lines of effort are essential to helping commanders visualize how military capabilities can support the other instruments of national power.”  The history of U.S. stability operations validates the concept as expressed in current doctrine.  It also offers some insights into the issues and importance of lines of efforts and stability operations in general.

For a presentation at the National Defense University entitled “Lessons of History:  U.S. Transitions in Cuba and the Philippines,” I took the history of two U.S. stability operations and superimposed that history on the LOOs as outlined in FM 3-07.  The results confirmed that, though they did not have a formal doctrine, the leaders of previous intensive stability operations, identified and executed critical tasks that align very closely with current doctrine.

Studying the history a little more closely revealed several important insights into stability operations:

1. The major influence on stability operations policy is domestic politics.  Congressional control of budgets and the ability of the Congress to enact legislation that constrains or sets policy is a major influence on operations.  Most importantly, the popular opinion of the American people, as expressed through their votes, has a strong influence on both the Congress and the Administration.

2. The American experience with stability operations includes both Civil and Military led operations.  There was no obvious difference between the two.  However, historically, the War Department (now DOD) was the lead agency and the civil administrator reported directly to the Secretary of War.  One clear aspect of the historical experience is that there was no ambiguity regarding who was in charge.

3. Insurgent resistance to the stability operation has an important effect.  This effect is not direct.  Historically, the U.S. military has demonstrated a capability to eliminate insurgency.  The important effect is on domestic public opinion.  Insurgency’s most important capability is to influence U.S. domestic politics (see 1. above).

4.  Economics and the economic LOO are extremely important.  It is the key to long-term stability and is more important and difficult to achieve than building the institutions of governance.  The latter are relatively simple to create but will fall apart if they are not supported by a sound economy.  Often, because of U.S. domestic politics, the focus of stability operations is on economic matters that relate to the U.S. economy and diminish the importance of economic issues that relate to the indigenous population.

5.  Cultural understanding is a key to assisting the indigenous population to achieve stability.  U.S. institutions will never be a perfect fit to another culture.  A deep understanding of culture is essential to making the critical decisions required for successful stability operations.  Governance, security, and economic issues all depend on identifying policies and techniques that will work within the context of the unique operational environment.  Leaders have to decide when to leave the culturally accepted method in place; when and how to adapt a unique foreign concept to the culture; and when and how to impose a completely foreign concept on the culture.  Making the right decision is the key to success along the LOOs and cultural understanding is the key to the right decision.

6.  Finally, stability operations are inherently difficult and complex.  Each of the LOOs is related to and dependant on the others for success.  They complement each other and set the conditions for each other’s success.  The amount of time forces are engaged in stability operations permits the tasks within the LOOs to develop.  As the individual tasks are accomplished, time permits their effects to mature and reinforce other tasks.  Rushing stability operations incurs the risk that systems and institutions built as part of the stability operations will erode for lack of support in an immature environment that lacks a cultural history that supports those institutions and systems.

Military versus Civilian Occupation Governors

Historically speaking, who is more successful at post-conflict operations –a military governor or a civilian governor?  Lets look at the record:

Philip Sheridan (Louisiana, Texas, Florida, 1865-1868 ) :/

Leonard Wood (Cuba 1899-1902) :)George

William Howard Taft (Philippine Islands 1901-1905) 🙂

 Charles MaGoon (Cuba 1906-1908 ) :/

Frederick Funston (Vera Cruz 1916) 🙂

Henry Allen (Germany 1919-1923) 🙂

Lucius Clay (Germany 1945-1949) 🙂

Douglas MacArthur (Japan 1945-1950) 🙂

Paul Brenner (Iraq 2003-2005) 😦

Published in: on February 18, 2009 at 2:03 am  Leave a Comment  
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Ending Phase IV Operations

The new Administration will likely oversee the end of U.S. operations in Iraq.  The end has already been set-up by the Bush Administration’s agreement with the Iraqi government to end the U.S. troop presence by 2011.  The only real questions are if the Obama Administration will move the time table up, and exactly what the U.S. presence will be, if any, after the agreed upon withdrawal.  While contemplating the nature of the post-withdrawal presence, DOD planners and policy makers should consider the examples of history.  History shows us that although hasty withdrawal from occupation operations is politically attractive, it is often improperly conceived and fatal to the objectives of the occupation.

Two Cases in point:

In 1877 the U.S. army ended occupation operations in the former Confederate States.  That same year all of the Confederate states reestablished conservative Democratic governments, in large part operated by former Confederates –the same leadership that attempted to secede from the Union and plunged the country into the deadliest war in its history.  For the next 80 years the South was ruled at the local level by the white population which actively governed to keep the former slave population subjugated.

In 1902 the U.S. army ended its post Spanish-American War occupation of Cuba and withdrew all American troops from the new Republic of Cuba.  Four years later the U.S. army returned as the  government in Cuba fell into corruption and was about to be overthrown by a popular revolt.  In 1909 the army left again and the Cubans were left to their own devices.  Republican government was never firmly established in the country which eventually came under the control of the autocratic Batista regime which fell to the Castro revolution.

In both cases the army was withdrawn not because it had completed its mission, but in response to domestic U.S. politics.  What was the army’s mission in occupation?  In the South and in Cuba the mission was achieving the U.S. strategic objective of stable democratic government.  In both cases the army withdrew after putting in place the structure of democratic government.  However, structure was not enough and was quickly  subverted.

 

U.S. Troops in Cuba circa 1902

U.S. Troops in Cuba circa 1902

In the case of the South and of Cuba, the failure of democracy  resulted in long-term adverse effects for the United States.  The Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s ultimately rectified problems in the South.  Cuba remains a problem to this day.

So, as the new administration considers policy in Iraq, it must realize that a premature withdrawal from Iraq will likely result in a failed policy and future problems.  The U.S. has built the structure of democracy in Iraq.  However, Iraq as a society has no experience or tradition of democracy.  For democracy to succeed will require U.S. mentorship, active support, and most importantly, large scale engagement with the Iraqi government.  This can only happen with a long-term U.S. military presence in the country.  Even after hostilities have ceased.  Without time and continued U.S. support to ensure the viability of democracy, Iraq will follow the history of previous occupations, and previous attempts at democracy in the Middle East, and revert to chaos. 

For further reading on the subject of failed U.S. occupations see my paper on the U.S. army in Reconstruction or the following books:

 

 

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