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Research Report

Choosing Victory A Plan for Success in Iraq: PHASE II REPORT

Frederick W. Kagan
Copyright Date: Apr. 25, 2007
Pages: 66
OPEN ACCESS
https://www.jstor.org/stable/resrep02995
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 3-4)

    Victory in Iraq remains both possible and necessary. Since President George W. Bush’s announcement in January 2007 of a change in U.S. strategy and the deployment of additional military and civilian resources to support that new strategy, the situation in Iraq has begun to improve in many important ways. U.S. and Iraqi forces together have attacked both Sunni and Shiite terrorists and militia groups, including conducting sweeps of Sadr City and other Shiite areas in Baghdad that the Iraqi government had previously declared off-limits. Militia killings dropped during the first months of increased security operations as U.S. and Iraqi forces...

  2. (pp. 4-7)

    On January 10, 2007, President Bush announced a new approach to the war in Iraq. He implicitly abandoned the strategic priority that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Generals John Abizaid and George Casey had given to transitioning responsibility for security in Iraq. He instead embraced the mission of bringing security to the Iraqi people as the top priority for U.S. forces in that war-torn land. He designated a new team to execute that strategy, including Robert M. Gates as secretary of defense, Admiral William Fallon as U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) commander, and General David Petraeus as commander of Multi-National...

  3. (pp. 7-8)

    In December 2006, the Iraq Planning Group (IPG) at the American Enterprise Institute conducted an exercise to determine the strategy and force size needed to reestablish security in Baghdad. Its January 2007 report recommended changing the mission of American forces in Iraq from transitioning to Iraqi control to bringing security to the Iraqi population. It recommended adding five new Army Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs) and two new Marine Regimental Combat Teams (RCTs). It also recommended moving most coalition forces off of their forward operating bases and into positions among the population, along with such reliable Iraqi Army forces as could...

  4. (pp. 8-9)

    The change in American strategy in Iraq from preparing for the rapid transition to Iraqi control to establishing security in Baghdad and throughout the country affects every aspect of American operations in Iraq, both civilian and military. All coalition personnel working on Iraq—both in country and in the United States—must reevaluate the assumptions under which they are proceeding to ensure that their efforts are aimed directly at supporting the essential objective of the current campaign, the establishment of security in Iraq.

    This reevaluation particularly affects the establishment of priorities among desirable goals. To take two examples that will...

  5. (pp. 9-51)

    Although planning for the war in Iraq began in 2002, the first efforts to plan for postwar reconstruction began the following year with the creation of a small number of specialized task forces. President Bush signed National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) 24 in January 2003 (two months before the war began), giving the Department of Defense (DoD) responsibility for managing Iraq following the invasion. Reconstruction and economic assistance programs had traditionally been regarded as the province of the State Department. NSPD 24 put DoD in control of this effort ostensibly in order to ensure unity of command. DoD, however, does...

  6. (pp. 51-59)

    The United States has made enormous efforts over the past three years to create an effective Iraqi Army and police force in hopes of turning the conflict over to the Iraqis and withdrawing most American military forces rapidly. The achievements of this effort are impressive: starting from scratch, the United States, Iraq, and coalition allies have trained and equipped more than 134,000 soldiers in the Iraqi Army, most of whom are now either involved in security operations in Baghdad and elsewhere or preparing to enter the fray. The Iraqi government, assisted by the coalition, has also fielded about 200,000 police...

  7. (pp. 59-61)

    The limiting factor in many of the proposals outlined above is the ability of the Iraqi government to spend its own money effectively. This governmental incapacity is frequently remarked upon, but it is coming increasingly to the fore now for a particular reason. The coming year will see the effective end of the U.S. reconstruction effort in Iraq. Virtually all of the American money allocated to reconstruction programs will have been spent, and the president has not asked for any more such funding. Reconstruction from the 2003 war is complete—oil, electricity, food, sewage, and water system capacities are all...

  8. (pp. 61-64)

    Of the many differences between the current conflict and Vietnam, one of the most noticeable is that very few Americans are directly involved in the conflict or feel connected to it, either positively or negatively. The fact that the U.S. military is an all-volunteer force has meant that only those who have chosen to join the colors and their families and friends—a very small percentage of the population—are engaged in the struggle. Hopes for American success in this war or future wars rest with the quality of the all-volunteer force, and although it is clear that the ground...

  9. (pp. 64-65)

    The United States cannot afford to lose the war in Iraq, and victory is still within reach. Mistakes made in the first few years of this conflict have not rendered success impossible any more than did errors in the first years of the U.S. Civil War or World War II. The plan now being executed by General Petraeus is a new approach to this conflict based on time-tested principles of counterinsurgency, suitably adjusted for the conditions of sectarian conflict in Iraq, and it is already yielding promising early results. Establishing and maintaining security throughout Iraq is an essential precondition for...