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Harvard Kennedy School (2006)
3 pages


This case tells the story of Major General David Petraeus and the US Army''s 101st Airborne Division in the months following the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, the fall of Baghdad, and the collapse of Saddam Hussein''s government. The case chronicles the 101st during its deployment to Mosul, capital of northern Iraq''s Nineveh province. Besides re-establishing security, General Petraeus and the 101st were prepared - on an interim basis - to take on some administrative functions before handing over to the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). Instead, they found themselves for months the only credible authority in the area, asked in effect to re-establish government, civil society, and a functioning economy. As CPA painfully and slowly got up and running, Petraeus found himself called on to carry out distinctly non-military tasks: arrange elections, re-start the university, open banks, pay public employees, reopen a border crossing to Syria - and more. His chief challenges were to manage the dislocations that attended the dissolution of the Iraqi Army; and to implement a de-Baathification policy. As a leader, General Petraeus resorted to numerous strategies to reach his goals. He also formulated daily working principles, governing his own behavior as well as his commanders and troops, which he felt gave the US a good chance to succeed in the plan to build a new, democratic Iraq. This case looks at how Petraeus, given the hand he had been dealt, employed various leadership styles and approaches depending on the situation. It examines his tactics, and allows students to hear from the general directly about his philosophy of leadership and governing. While the relative success Petraeus created in Mosul proved only temporary, its lessons are provocative. The case can be used in courses or classes on leadership, on crisis management, on military-civilian relations, or peacekeeping operations. It will help students understand the constant operational tension between: (1) central command and officers in the field; (2) civilian and military authorities; and (3) abstract plans and reality on the ground. It will give them a worm''s-eye view of how policy translates into tactics and daily frontline decisions with deadly serious consequences.


International (setting outside US); Leadership; Public administration; National security; Crisis management; Middle East; Military Affairs

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