"...The idea is to get the Iraqis to run their own cities but most of the old leaders are gone, and the new ones are like throwing babies to cow udders. Many just don’t know what to do, and in any case, most of them have no natural instinct for it. So our soldiers are mentoring Iraqi civil leaders, which is a huge education for me because I get to sit in on the meetings. The American leaders tell me what they are up to, which amounts for free Ph.D. level instruction in situ: just have to be willing to be shot at. (The education a writer can get here is unbelievable.) Meeting after meeting—after embeds in Nineveh, Anbar, Baghdad and Diyala—I have seen how American officers tend to have a hidden skill-set. Collectively, American military leaders seem to somehow intuitively know how to run the mechanics of a city.
Watch video of LTC Johnson in action at a meeting with Iraqi Army officials to plan for the delivery and distribution of diesel fuel, another commodity formerly under al Qaeda control.
I have wondered now for two years why is it that American military leaders somehow seem to naturally know what it takes to run a city, while many of the local leaders seem clueless. Over time, a possible answer occurred, and that nudge might be due to how the person who runs each American base is referred to as the “Mayor.” A commander’s first job is to take care of his or her forces. Our military is, in a sense its own little country, with city-states spread out all around the world. Each base is like a little city-state. The military commander must understand how the water, electricity, sewerage, food distribution, police, courts, prisons, hospitals, fire, schools, airports, ports, trash control, vector control, communications, fuel, fiscal budgeting, fire, for his “city” all work. They have “embassies” all over the world and must deal diplomatically with local officials in Korea, Germany, Japan and many dozens of other nations. The U.S. military even has its own space program, which few countries have.
In short, our military is a reasonable microcosm of the United States – sans the very important business aspect which actually produces the wealth the military depends on. The requisite skill-set to run a serious war campaign involves a subset of skills that include diplomacy and civil administration."