Embracing Evolution Post-Iraq : A response to 'Counterinsurgency Concepts: What we learned in Iraq' by General David Petraeus

People who create, acquire and transfer knowledge, and are given the freedom to use their initiative and experiment with new ideas, characterise learning organisations. These organisations understand and respond to their environment, are open, candid and flexible, have smart leaders and continually adapt. Over six years in Iraq, the US Military has become a learning organisation, making sizeable changes in order to succeed. This has not been without cost, but, as General Petraeus justifiably asserts, the gains have been substantial.

That statement is based on my own experiences, working in the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad in 2003, and recently as one of General Petraeus' Divisional Commanders based in Basra, between August 2008 and April 2009. I wanted to touch on two areas in which, if the learning continuum is to lead to evolution, a significant shift might be necessary: first, looking through the lens of the people, rather than through the enemy; and second, whole-of-government approaches towards security and stability challenges.

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