Peacekeeping: City Planning As A Weapon


April 1, 2006: In Iraq, combat commanders quickly realized they were fighting a different kind of war after Saddam was overthrown three years ago. In the Summer of 2003, the new commander of the 1st Cavalry Division, in Baghdad, saw that he had an urban battle on his hands. So he made some serious changes in the way the division was organized. He took his artillery commander, who was essentially unemployed, since the artillery did very little shooting, and made him "City Planner." The guy's job was to produce a map of the city's infrastructure, to include water supply, electrical grid, sewer system, garbage collection, routes, etc., including status reports on what was and what wasn't working and where.

This data was then compared to insurgent activity. It turned out that the insurgents were most active in areas that were the least well served; no electricity, no running water, garbage uncollected, sewers backing up into the streets, and so on. In response to this, the division initiated a "civic action" program, which included a massive PR campaign. While the division commander went around kissing babies and making speeches, he tasked the "city planner" with fixing these problems and developing the infrastructure, in coordination with troop sweeps. Major sewer construction projects were undertaken, along with other very visible repairs. As the infrastructure improved, support by the local folks for the terrorists and Saddam diehards declined.

There's some good material on how this all worked out at articles/A58770-2004May26.html




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