Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Electricity

Captain's Quarters is discussing what can be done in Anbar province to root out the insurgents. He talks about some successes we have had there lately. Like winning over something like 25 of 31 tribal chiefs. The Captain quotes this from the New York Times:

Currently, the American military is continuing its “clear, hold and build” policy: pushing insurgents from key towns, sending in Iraqi and coalition forces to maintain security and trying to rebuild local governments and businesses. Despite the return of some insurgents, the military points to successes in cities like Falluja. But troops can’t begin to secure other important towns like Ramadi, Haditha and Hit.
The first two items on the list are correct. The third is correct too in a general sort of way.

What I think though is that the Americans are not building all the right things.

In the book Night Draws Nearby Anthony Shadid about the war and the first two years of occupation the most critical deficiency is explained on page 159 of the paperback edition:
The Americans had failed to account for the state of Iraq's infrastructure, aged, decrepit, and worn down by more than a decade of sanctions. For weeks, the capital's two antiquated power plants were barely running, and the long blackouts in searing heat that began towards the war's end remained the norm. Every thing followed from electricity, the conerstone of modern life. With electricity went water, sanitation, air-conditioning, and the security brought by light at night. With electricity went faith in what the Americans, so powerful in war, were prepared to do after.
With electricity goes Iraqi morale. Unless you do business in an open air market, electricity is critical to improving the business climate.

So what would I do? Make improving the electrical grid a key point in improving security. We don't need more troops as the NYTs article points out. What we need is engineers, technicians, linemen, and plant operators. We need construction crews that can erect electrical towers and string wires. In the Army that would be engineering battalions and the US Army Corps of Engineers. In the Navy/Marines it is the Sea Bees. In the Air Force it is the Air Force Civil Engineers.

Why a mostly military contingent? Because there is still a war on.

We need to be like General Electric - progress (in infrastructure) must be our most important product. Every thing else that we desire flows from that. It is not all we must do but it is a critical item on the list.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Quiet and Hidden News of Iraq, Update and More
Paul

Olddeadmeat said...

Your post coincides well with the advice of several generals in this article http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/news/special_packages/galloway/15453716.htm
Money quote from the article:
"Most of the officers, however, agreed that the administration has relied too heavily on the military and shortchanged economic and political efforts in Iraq."

See this article as well about the Anbar province:
http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/news/special_packages/iraq/third_anniversary/15530081.htm
"Chiarelli said that when he asks governors and local officials what would help most to reduce the violence, "their number one answer, the thing they always tell us is, `Find jobs for the angry young men.'"

Things to make you go hmmmm.