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Concerned Local National (CLN) Summary

I.  Overview

The fundamental premise put forth by General Petraeus O/A 13FEB07, that “we cannot kill our way out of an insurgency; we must get the tribes and populace on our side,” is the ideological basis behind the Concerned Local National (CLN) Program. The first official guidance to the 1-12 CAV concerning a CLN program in Baqubah came on 16APR07 (FRAGO 21 to OPORD 07-02 (OPN Orange Justice)).  Prior to this time 1-12 CAV did not partner with indigenous forces in any formalized or official capacity.  SOF operating in Baqubah did conduct counterinsurgency operations with extra-governmental forces in Baqubah prior to this time; however, it is impossible to characterize the nature of this engagement from this vantage point.


It is also difficult to characterize exactly what a CLN is, as the multitude of tribes, sub-tribes, external groups, and simple criminals are highly diversified in the Baqubah area.  CLNs have also been referred to as Concerned Local Citizens (CLCs), Baqubah Guardians (BGs), Temporary Local Security Forces, Sunni Resistance Groups (SRGs), Home Guard, The People’s Committee, Local Patriots, Neighborhood Watch, and Neighborhood Guardians in various official and unofficial communications. 


CLNs are also highly diversified in terms of their operating structure.  Most seem to be former AIF that have rejected AQIZ and as such were already organized to some degree prior to our formalization of the CLN program.  Within eastern Baqubah alone each of four company AOs contains CLN programs that are all distinct from the other and some of which contain sub-distinctions by sub-neighborhood.  For example, in the area north of Old Baqubah concerned local nationals are led by local leaders (Sheikhs and Mukthars).  In Old Baqubah the CLNs are more appropriately characterized as local thugs or gangsters with two dominate gangs, one in the east and one in the west.  These gangs battle over “turf” between each other and also engage in frequent altercations with the local ISF.  In Tahrir the company commander is working to consolidate several smaller groups into one or two main groups, while in the Shifta neighborhood of Tahrir we have not to date seen a strong CLN movement take shape.  In contrast, in the primarily Sunni neighborhood of Buhriz, we see local CLNs/BGs getting along well with the primarily Shia ISF and even assisting displaced Shia families relocate back into their former homes.


From the 1-12 CAV perspective the major difference that we draw is the distinction between CLNs and BGs.  CLNs are any member of various groups that are now opposing AQIZ influence in their neighborhoods.   A BG is a CLN that has formally registered with coalition forces (i.e. taken an oath, agreed to our rules of operation and recognition, and been entered into the BATS/HIIDEs system).


From the start the use of indigenous forces has been a controversial process within the 1-12 CAV AO and their have been both successes and failures in the evolution of this program.  The battalion’s internal hesitancy / controversy with the CLN program was largely due to interpersonal difficulties in intimately reaching out to militias who were once our adversaries.  Controversy aside, the major positive effect of the CLN program has been the sharp drop in all types of SIGACTS across the AO including casualty numbers, IEDs detonated / found, and frequency / duration of direct contact.  On the other hand, the inclusion of, in effect, unregulated militias into the ranks of the ISF has been predictably problematic.  Frictions / failures during implementation of these programs will be discussed in detail below, the current strategic concern about the CLN program is its’ long-term sustainability.


II.   Current Status


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Baqubah Guardian Standards (Published 6AUG07)

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Note: In practice there are no universal CLN uniform standards.  BGs fulfilling CF administered security contracts are required to wear a reflective vest or belt while on duty.

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III.          Tools For Engagement

Official Reconciliation Tools from division FRAGO 415 (Updated Reconciliation Guidance)


Available Tools

  1. CERP (Humanitarian assistance and road projects)

  2. CERP (Critical Infrastructure Protection)

  3. CERP (Security Service Contracts)

  4. CERP (Micro-grants)

  5. Micro Rewards

  6. Small Rewards

  7. Large Rewards

  8. Rewards Program – Info. For FF/HVI/Cache

  9. Rewards Program - For observed security improvement.  (Cannot be used for lethal assistance.)

  10. Intel sharing with reconcilable groups

  11. Detainee Release (BDHA)

  12. Detainee Special Release (TIF)

  13. Key Leadership/Key Communicator engagements

  14. Defensive Equipment to groups outside GoI

  15. Public acknowledgement of relationship/support of reconcilable group

Unavailable Tools

  1. CERP for projects that benefit CF/ISF or that only provide an incidental benefit to the Iraqi populace

  2. Weapons or Ammo to non-GoI groups

  3. Conducting Offensive/Defensive Ops w/reconcilable groups

  4. (TST MSNs, Patrols, etc)

  5. Providing training to Non-GOI groups that’s considered kinetic, lethal or offensive in nature.

  6. Police Support Units (PSU)

The main tool utilized by 1-12 CAV has been the use of security contracts to temporary employ CLNs in policing their own communities.  The execution of these programs has been with the emphasis that these are temporary programs.  CLN groups are specifically told that their performance will assist in determining possible hire as local IPs.  In conjunction with this main effort there has been a gradual public acknowledgement of relationship / support of CLNs.

1-12 CAV Personalized Versions of Provided Financing Tools:


1.  All CLN security contracts are paid monthly contingent upon acceptable performance.  Week 1 is an informal inspection by coalition forces, Week 2 is a formal inspection by ISF, and during Week 3 payments are disbursed.  This has worked well because it has integrated a checks-and-balances system into the contract process, allowing soldiers to manage CLN expectations and set standards.  The formal inspection by ISF serves to reinforce the idea that CLNs are publicly acknowledged but are still not above the law.

2.  Wages have been based upon a percentage of standard ISF wages, $7/day for a worker and $10/day for a supervisor.  The wages were specifically designed to be less than standard ISF wages in order to encourage CLNs to become part of the official security structure.


3.  Sites selected for CLN security contracts have all been secondary sites not already protected by ISF.


IV.         Historical Timeline


The CLN concept in Baqubah has evolved from one line in a speech by General Petraeus in February, to a few key tasks in OPERATION ORANGE JUSTICE in April, to a well thought out and complex program nested within the current overall concept of “Reconciliation.”  For the full timeline of official OPORDs and guidance from higher see Attachment 2 – Concerned Local National (CLN) Timeline.  A brief timeline with key developments highlighted in red font is provided below. 


Note how the authority to directly interact with indigenous forces and the authority to reward indigenous forces financially changes over time. 


Note: 5-20 IN’s initial operations and the early phases of OPERATION ARROWHEAD RIPPER are conspicuously absent from this timeline.  Most operations around the March-June timeframe were still kinetic clearing operations designed to set the conditions for Reconciliation later on.

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V.  Sustains

After nine months of sustained enemy contact and heavy losses in both personnel and equipment the main positive aspect of the CLN program is its ability to sustain the low levels of enemy activity after OPERATION ARROWHEAD RIPPER.


Local security by CLNs appears to be more self sustaining than the more purely kinetic operations attempted during the first 10 months of the deployment.  GOI forces external to Baqubah and, in the case of IPs, being composed mainly of Shia, could not maintain peace after major kinetic clearing operations.


Below is a list of CLN program sustains, the order does not represent a ranking system:

  1. Reduction in violence in our operational AO in the areas where local groups are cooperating with us against extremists.

  2. 3JUN07, assessment made that AQIZ had been completely eliminated from Tahrir.

  3. In terms of IED defeat, a shift from a cataloging IEDs discovered mindset to securing the population; thus, discouraging the event before it occurs.

  4. Wedge driven between local indigenous forces and AQIZ.

  5. Military aged male Iraqis often find AQIZ attractive because they have a lack of other options.  Temporary security contracts help hold them over until they are able to secure an ISF job or other GOI position.

  6. Temporary security contracts and micro-rewards to reward those who affect security in a positive way.

  7. AQIZ pushed out of neighborhoods by CLNs.

  8. CLN programs are a more sustainable route to maintaining victory over AQIZ as opposed to solely kinetic operations.

  9. Continue to find and reduce IEDs through gathering HUMINT (there are numerous examples of locals and / or CLNs, identifying or digging up IEDs for coalition forces).

  10. Former AIF are “fixed” and therefore targetable (Example: Haji Saad)

  11. 3AUG07, BG leadership, self-policing of CLN ranks, taking away weapons and firing individuals who steal, etc.

  12. Biometric Matches, fingerprint matches between HIIDEs input and prints taken from SSE.


VI.         Improves


Below is a list of CLN program improves, the order does not represent a ranking system:


Lethal Mis-identifications

  1. 7APR07, A Sunni Insurgent Group masses 40-60 PAX in order to drive AQIZ out from their village.  AWT engages, 30 Sunni Insurgent EKIA, the remaining PAX stack arms and surrender to AWT until a ground force arrives.  This SIGACT occurred before the earliest FRAGO concerning CLNs was issued to the battalion, and the new COIN engagement criteria had not yet been fully developed or disseminated.

  2. 16JUL07, SAF on supposed AIF resulted in 2 CLN KIA and unknown number of WIA.  In storyboard in OPSUM and after AH6 meeting with CLNs, they recognized they were in the wrong in carrying weapons while not wearing the proper uniform.  The CLNs also reported as not having the proper uniform (at the time: brown t-shirt, roster number, reflective orange survey tape above the bicep), so they were given white engineer tape to make headbands and armbands until the prescribed uniforms became available.

  3. 12AUG07, shots fired from GC at CLNs during DPM of Iraq visit, no BDA, soldiers told to proceed with more caution before engaging targets due to the development of the CLN program.

 Other Improves

  1. 3AUG07, 7 BGs wearing black ski masks and brown t-shirt/PT belt uniforms speed away from CP after stealing money from locals.  CLNs/BGs have the potential to be corrupt just like any other forces.  It is possible that non-reconcilable groups were disguised as CLNs in order to conduct this theft.

  2. CLNs hired in Kanaan, but Kanaan IP Chiefs did not understand that CLNs hired on as IPs must guard their own neighborhoods, this is fundamental to the enduring value of the program.

  3. ISF (IP in particular) tensions

     a.  IPs have a Shia sectarian agenda to attempt to maintain 

         control in Diyala; thus, they are hesitant to hire former Sunni

         militia-members to the IP force.

     b.  IPs attempt to wrongly discredit CLNs.

     c.  For some ISF, our support of the CLNs is taken as a lack of 

         faith in their abilities.

  1. Funding issues: Treat them too well or pay them too much, and they may not aspire to become part of the official structure.

  2. BGs may think that they are above the law.  Several groups have attempted to set up their own extrajudicial court systems, complete with judges, sentencing, and executions.

  3. Who do you trust?  In June the CLNs were initially used as sources to help identify and rid communities of AQIZ.  Now (OCT) different groups point at one another and claim the other is AQIZ.

  4. Allowing them to operate in the open focused their attention first on AQIZ but now on other local forces they don’t like.  In other words, the violence has been redirected and temporarily reduced, but lasting peace has not yet been achieved.

  5. Many CLNs can’t leave Baqubah for fear of the contract on their heads for driving out AQIZ.  This is not sustainable for long-term development.

  6. Many CLNs were heavily involved in anti-CF activities prior to development of the CLN program

        a.  Lasting friction between local legitimized militias and the 

        official government.

  1. Some CLN groups have non-violent sects (those that support the CLN program) and retaining sects that continue to support violent activities against CF.

  2. Some CLNs refuse to submit to the BGs/HIIDEs process out of mistrust of CF intentions.


VII.       Coordination / Employment TTPs


The current CLN program was established with initial city clearance by CF and ISF utilizing CLNs as scouts/sources to identify AQIZ members and cache and IED sites.  Former militia members were hesitant or unable to conduct kinetic operations against AQIZ, but were prepared to organize preliminary neighborhood watch programs once they were certain that AQIZ had been driven out.  ICW leaders of 1920’s, definitive AOs where each “home guard” group operates were established and plotted on FBCB2.  In addition, radios were exchanged in order to have communications with the CLNs in order to be able to clear ground for ground and AWT engagements.


The current program is essentially run at the Company level; the Company Commander is responsible for running the program at his level in his respective AO.  The BN CDR engages CLN leadership as a “show of force” if needed, or to assist in matters that may need higher levels of attention such as arranging a CLN/BG meeting with the Mayor, IP Chief, etc.  Companies have the option of distributing local use cell phones in order to facilitate coordination with CLN leaders in their respective AOs.  Temporary Local Security Contracts are also administered at company level.


Registration & Tracking


Attachment 3 - Concerned Local National Tracking Guidance


VIII.     Future / Outstanding / Long-term Issues


1.  National reconciliation and continued CLN legitimization.  CLNs and other Iraqi citizens are accepting more responsibility for their security at local levels.  In order to continue this process and facilitate sustainable reconciliation the Shia majority must begin to integrate the Sunni minority into the official (ISF) security structure.  ISF recruitment drives must continue to target CLNs with the potential for legitimate GoI service.  If CLNs are not further legitimized as IPs or IAs then the potential exists for the CLN program to disintegrate back into the tribal warfare that existed only a few short months ago.


2.  What are the CLNs true intentions?  How can we leverage CLNs to produce long-term self-sustaining security?  If CLNs have utilized our recent reconciliation in order to facilitate their own mafia-like power grabs from AQIZ, and they are not really interested in long-term peace, then our continued use of this program must be weighed to determine whether or not the risk is manageable.


3.  Continued support of CLNs undermines the official ISF structure.  There is a rising friction between the official government and these militias. Many members of these militias were engaged in anti-Coalition activities previous to their CLN membership.  Continued emphasis needs to be placed on fostering peaceful relations between ISF and recently legitimized insurgents.


4.   In religiously and ethnically mixed areas such as Baqubah the reconciliation process is more difficult.  Will CLNs who have become IPs be given special treatment (i.e. not fired or disciplined for poor performance) based on an IP Chief’s desire to not appear sectarian?  Will forces begin to have token/marginalized CLN/IPs within their ranks?


5.   AQIZ will eventually try to re-infiltrate Diyala through integration with the CLNs just as they have infiltrated the ISF.  No hard evidence of this yet, but highly probable.

Continued command emphasis is necessary to ensure front-line soldiers continue to reach out to groups who were once our adversaries.  This process will take continued dedication, persistence, and increased sophistication by all of our soldiers.  This may be ameliorated with the arrival of a new unit that does not have the same negative contact history in Baqubah

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