Why the Iraqi Resistance to the Coalition Invasion Was So Weak (Project Air Force)

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Treacherous Conditions in the Taiwan Strait. Overall, average visibility is 1. By October, that is reversed. This is the best-case scenario for the PLA. But an island docile and defeated two weeks after D-Day is not a guaranteed outcome. One of the central hurdles facing the offensive is surprise.

The PLA simply will not have it. The invasion will happen in April or October. Easton estimates that Taiwanese, American, and Japanese leaders will know that the PLA is preparing for a cross-strait war more than 60 days before hostilities begin. They will know for certain that an invasion will happen more than 30 days before the first missiles are fired. Each of these has already been prepared for a potential conflict.

Long underground tunnels—complete with hardened, subterranean supply depots—crisscross the landing sites. The berm of each beach has been covered with razor-leaf plants. Chemical treatment plants are common in many beach towns—meaning that invaders must prepare for the clouds of toxic gas any indiscriminate saturation bombing on their part will release.

This is how things stand in times of peace. As war approaches, each beach will be turned into a workshop of horrors. The path from these beaches to the capital has been painstakingly mapped; once a state of emergency has been declared, each step of the journey will be complicated or booby-trapped. To understand the real strength of these defenses, imagine them as a PLA grunt would experience them. Like most privates, he is a countryside boy from a poor province. He has been told his entire life that Taiwan has been totally and fatally eclipsed by Chinese power.

He will be eager to put the separatists in their place. Yet events will not work out as he has imagined. In the weeks leading up to war, he discovers that his older cousin—whose remittances support their grandparents in the Anhui countryside—has lost her job in Shanghai. All wire money transfers from Taipei have stopped, and the millions of Chinese who are employed by Taiwanese companies have had their pay suspended.

By now, the PLA has put him in a media blackout, but still rumors creep in: Yesterday it was whispered that the hour delay in their train schedule had nothing to do with an overwhelmed transportation system and everything to do with Taiwanese saboteurs. Tomorrow, men will wonder if rolling power outages really are just an attempt to save power for the war effort.

Blast by terrifying blast, his confidence that the Chinese army can keep him safe is chipped away. The last, most terrible salvo comes as he embarks—he is one of the lucky few setting foot on a proper amphibious assault boat, not a civilian vessel converted to war use in the eleventh hour—but this is only the first of many horrors on the waters. Some transports are sunk by Taiwanese torpedoes, released by submarines held in reserve for this day.

Airborne Harpoon missiles, fired by Fs leaving the safety of cavernous, nuclear-proof mountain bunkers for the first time in the war, will destroy others. The greatest casualties, however, will be caused by sea mines.

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Minefield after minefield must be crossed by every ship in the flotilla, some a harrowing eight miles in width. As he approaches land, the psychological pressure increases.

Why the Iraqi Resistance to the Coalition Invasion Was So Weak | RAND

At this stage, his safety depends largely on whether the Chinese Air Force has been able to able to distinguish between real artillery pieces from the hundreds of decoy targets and dummy equipment PLA manuals believe the Taiwanese Army has created. The odds are against him: As Beckley notes in a study published last fall, in the to Gulf War, the 88, tons of ordnance dropped by the U. But if our grunt survives the initial barrages on the beach, he still must fight his way through the main Taiwanese Army groups , 2. This is an enormous thing to ask of a private who has no personal experience with war.

This sketch makes sense of the anxiety the PLA officer manuals express. They know war would be a terrific gamble, even if they only admit it to each other. Their passion betrays their angst. They understand what Western gloom-and-doomsters do not. Costs favor the defense: It is much cheaper to build a ship-killing missile than it is to build a ship. But if this means that the Chinese army can counter U.

In an era that favors defense, small nations like Taiwan do not need a PLA-sized military budget to keep the Chinese at bay. No one needs to hear this message more than the Taiwanese themselves. In my trips to Taiwan, I have made a point of tracking down and interviewing both conscripts and career soldiers. One set of questions prompted by OIF experiences concerns the decision-making process about whether to go to war and if so, how to do so. Key issues include the rigor of the inter-agency debates, the effectiveness of the provision of "best military advice" to key decision-makers, and the thoroughness of congressional oversight in general.

Another set of questions raised by OIF concerns balancing roles, responsibilities, resources, and authorities among U. Government civilian agencies, including deployable capabilities, should be enhanced; and that the modalities for coordinating and integrating civilian and military efforts in the field should be improved. The President's drawdown and transition announcement left open a number of operational issues that U.

The Obama Administration transition policy generally calls for a diminishing U. During the formal occupation of Iraq, from to , the coalition was responsible for all facets of Iraqi public life. In the early post-occupation days, the coalition's general approach was to do everything possible to get Iraqi institutions up and running, limited primarily by resources and personnel available to implement the efforts.

As Iraqi capacity grew, the role of Iraqi civilian and military officials and institutions shifted, to various degrees, from sharing responsibilities to leading, with some support or back-up from the coalition. By , U. The debates addressed both the U. A number of U. One former brigade commander in Iraq, from this school of thought, argued, "It's time to let go," and added the observation: "The coalition has a very difficult time having the restraint and discipline to refrain from intervening.

Some officials countered that, given the shrinking U. President Obama's drawdown and transition policy prescribes the withdrawal of all U. Further, in March , the Obama Administration announced plans to withdraw a total of 12, U. Counterinsurgency COIN theory emphasizes the importance of conducting operations "by, with and through" host nation forces; and helping to build such forces when their capacity or capabilities are not adequate. From the outset, the organization and focus of the coalition's efforts to train, equip, and mentor the ISF varied across the battlespace of Iraq, depending on the conditions on the ground, the level of development of the locally based ISF, and the availability of coalition forces for training missions.

A key operational consideration, looking ahead, is how to accomplish the ISF training mission as U. The "standard" approach to training the ISF has been the use of embedded "transition teams" that typically live and work with a host nation unit. One key point of variation over time has been the size of these teams. Transition teams working with the Iraqi Army, for example, typically included between 11 and 15 members, depending on the size of the Iraqi unit they embedded with. Marines, consistently used larger teams, with between 30 and 40 members. In , as the basic operational capabilities of the ISF grew, the use of embedded transition teams shifted toward higher-level ISF headquarters, including brigades and divisions.

The substantive efforts of the teams also shifted, from basic skills like patrolling to leadership and enablers. For example, teams working with the Iraqi Army increased their focus on staff functions and logistics, and teams working with the Iraqi Police increased the emphasis on specialized skills like forensics. In effect, transition teams work themselves out of a job, as their host nation partner unit improves.

The U. While logistics experts in the U. Military Police MPs generally do not have the requisite specialized policing skills and have thus relied on collaboration with civilian International Police Advisors, who have been in short supply. In addition to transition teams, coalition forces throughout Iraq have made substantial use of various forms of "unit partnering," in which coalition maneuver units work side-by-side with Iraqi units of equal or larger size.

Commanders on the ground have stressed the value of unit partnership, as a complement to the use of embedded teams, as an effective way to "show" rather than just "tell" ISF unit leaders how they might most effectively organize their headquarters, lead their troops, and manage staff functions. Coalition forces have also provided substantial support to the "capacity-building" of the key security institutions of the Government of Iraq—the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of the Interior, and the Counter-Terrorism Bureau.

Coalition officials have stressed the growing importance of maximizing such capacity-building efforts while Iraqis are still receptive to receiving such training. With appropriate leadership skills, they argued, Iraqi senior leaders in the security sector could make substantially greater and more effective contributions to the development of the ISF, gradually reducing the need for U. Coalition commanders have also underscored the importance of utilizing the right U.

The Obama transition policy for Iraq underscores the importance of the ISF training and advisory effort, naming it one of the three missions of the U. The increasingly smaller U. One issue may be the ability of the U. On the other hand, over time, ISF units are expected to rely increasingly on their own capabilities for such support.

A related issue may be the ability of AABs to continue the practice of providing mentorship through close relationships with equivalent Iraqi units. One option, under the AAB footprint, might be a transition from a relationship of "partnership" to one of "liaison" with less senior U. By early , many U. Top U. This phrase refers to establishing a security presence in cities and towns, including small command outposts of U. That presence, commanders have noted, allowed ongoing collaboration between U. In , before the terms of the U. Looking ahead, one option is that some U. The Agreement required the establishment of a committee structure to elaborate more detailed implementing instructions; by February , such a structure of committees and sub-committees, including Iraqi and U.

In a December letter to the force, regarding the new Agreement, GEN Odierno noted that the new environment would "require a subtle shift in how we plan, coordinate, and execute missions throughout Iraq," and that new rules of engagement would be issued. In practice, according to commanders on the ground, before the Security Agreement went into effect, the vast majority of U.

Further, most of those operations were already "combined" with Iraqi forces. These transitions had been facilitated by the Provincial Iraqi Control PIC process, in which, by decision of the GoI in consultation with MNF-I, lead security responsibility for a given province was transferred to Iraqi control, based on assessments of security conditions and local ISF capabilities.

Another common practice, before the Security Agreement, was that the GoI granted approval in advance for U.

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The use of warrant-based arrests—now required—was already frequently practiced in As of early , U. One U. BCT commander, based in Qadisiyah province where the 8 th Iraqi Army Division is headquartered, stated: "We do all of our operations … by, with and through the Iraqi security forces. They're all joint. Anybody that we detain, we detain with a warrant. Concerning the use of Iraqi air space, the Security Agreement stated: "Surveillance and control over Iraqi airspace shall transfer to Iraqi authority immediately upon entry into force of this Agreement".

It added a caveat: "Iraq may request from the United States forces temporary support for the Iraqi authorities in the mission of surveillance and control of Iraqi air space. In addition, that training has focused, first of all, on skills relevant to the ongoing counter-insurgency COIN fight, such as moving troops and supplies, and providing some ISR. In late , U. The Security Agreement did not address a parallel concern related to operational coordination: Iraqi coordination with U. Article 22 of the Security Agreement described provisions for detainee operations. One set of provisions placed tight constraints on the circumstances under which U.

The Security Agreement mandated that U. In anticipation of a more stringent new detention regime, throughout , MNF-I carried out a detainee release program, releasing detainees to their homes and communities whenever possible. As of late November , U. In many cases, for the detainees it held, the coalition lacked releasable evidence with legal sufficiency in Iraqi courts. Scrupulous collection of evidence—such as photographs, diagrams, eye-witness accounts—common in civilian law enforcement, was not always an integral part of coalition combat operations in Iraq.

Such legacy detainees could pose real security threats to the Iraqi population, or to the coalition, commanders warned. Some coalition officials and outside observers also expressed concerns that the GoI adjudication of legacy detainee cases, whether or not legally sufficient evidence exists, might evince a sectarian bias—in particular, a tendency to treat Shiite Arabs more leniently than Sunni Arabs. In January , Iraqi and U.

At the first such transfer, Iraqi officials had warrants for 42 of the 1,; they chose to keep about 70 others for further investigation; and they planned to release the remaining persons to their home communities at a rate of about 50 per day. Some detainees have expressed fears that they may face harm if they return to their home communities, as part of the new release process; in those cases, the GoI reportedly agreed to help them resettle elsewhere. Over the course of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the balance of U.

Looking ahead, as U. As a rule, the military has played the preponderant role in OIF, including in non-traditional fields such as governance and reconstruction. As of , the U.

As MNC-I officials noted, "Our job at Corps is to establish the connective tissue between the center and the provinces. Some commanders continued to facilitate the reopening of small businesses—and to use the number of reopened businesses as a metric of economic progress—while others decided to "give back," that is, "not spend," their Commanders Emergency Response Program CERP funds, in order to encourage Iraqis to budget and spend their own money.

As security conditions on the ground in Iraq improved, civilian and military officials all pointed to increased opportunities for civilian assistance initiatives, particularly capacity-building at all levels. As one U. In theory, one option, as U. In , some key steps were taken to amplify U.

Embassy Baghdad and at the Department of State noted that it was likely that peak PRT staffing levels in Iraq had already been reached. In , the Embassy—in response to direction from Congress—began working on "PRT strategic drawdown" plans. In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee in January , describing future plans, Secretary Gates noted: "The plans that General Odierno has developed in conjunction with Ambassador Crocker foresee that as we consolidate our forces, we would also consolidate our PRTs … so that the two would be stationed together and our forces would be in a position to continue to protect the civilian element.

Good test cases are already available, in Najaf and Karbala provinces, for the ability of PRTs to function without a substantial co-located U. In May , the personnel of the PRTs for Najaf and Karbala provinces, who had been operating from a remote base in Hillah, in Babil province, relocated to their respective areas of operation. In Najaf, for example, in late , the PRT, including a diverse team of civilian experts and a small U. Army transition team that worked with the local Iraqi Army battalion and a small U. In early , U. Over the course of OIF, the role of contractors supporting the operation has varied in both scope and scale.

While some substantive requirements for contractor support may diminish, others could increase. For example, one of the three pillars of the mission of Advise and Assist Brigades, after August , is to provide force protection to U. As of early , that function was performed, in many cases, by private security contractors. At the same time, requirements for some specialized contractor skills—for example, training and advisory support to the ISF — may increase as the U.

Another factor shaping the role of contractors may be explicit U. The Directive noted that commanders should seek to replace them, where possible, with Iraqi contractors, and added, "As we transition more responsibility and control to the government of Iraq, it's time to make this change. A third factor shaping the role of contractors may be decisions stemming from provisions in the U. S-Iraqi Security Agreement that mandate, "Iraq shall have the primary right to exercise jurisdiction over United States contractors and United States contractor employees.

Government "term employee" status. For example, members of Human Terrain Teams—small teams of academic social scientists who support military units by engaging with the local population and "mapping" population characteristics and trends—were employed as contractors by BAE Systems. But in early , reportedly in response to concerns about jurisdiction, the jobs were shifted to term appointments under the Department of the Army.

One of the key operational issues with great potential impact on costs is the future disposition of U. Several factors, in combination, are likely to shape equipment disposition decisions:. A number of tools are available to Congress to help shape U. For example, the Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year stated that no funding appropriated pursuant to authorizations in the Act could be used "to establish any military installation or base for the purpose of providing for the permanent stationing of United States Armed Forces in Iraq," or "to exercise United States control of the oil resources of Iraq.

Congress may also make some funding contingent on achievement of certain milestones. For example, in the Supplemental Appropriations Act, P. Another tool is holding oversight hearings, to ask Administration officials to account for the progress to date on policy implementation. Strategy and Operations and the Way Ahead. Congress may also shape policy by establishing reporting requirements. This report is designed to support congressional consideration of future policy options for the war in Iraq by analyzing strategies pursued and outcomes achieved to date, by characterizing current dynamics on the ground in Iraq, and by identifying and analyzing key strategic and operational considerations going forward.

The report will be updated as events warrant. Major topics addressed include the following:. The Administration's decision to launch Operation Iraqi Freedom had antecedents stretching back to the Gulf War and its aftermath. In the 's, the United States shared with other countries a concern with the Iraqi government's weapons of mass destruction WMD programs. Iraq had demonstrated a willingness to use WMD against its neighbors during the Iran-Iraq war, and against its own citizens, as it did, for example, against Iraqi Kurds in Halabja in Before they were withdrawn in , U.

The northern "no fly" zone, Operation Northern Watch was designed to protect the Iraqi Kurdish population in northern Iraq and international humanitarian relief efforts there. These containment measures were periodically marked by Iraqi provocations, including troop build-ups and attempts to shoot down allied aircraft, and by allied responses including attacks on targets inside Iraq. Also during the late s, a policy climate more conducive to aggressive action against the Iraqi regime began to take shape in Washington, D.

For many U. Reflecting those concerns, the first National Security Strategy issued by the Bush Administration, in September , highlighted the policy of preemptive, or anticipatory, action, to forestall hostile acts by adversaries, "even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy's attack. Throughout , the stated position of the Administration was to aggressively seek Iraqi compliance with U.

Security Council Resolutions concerning the inspections regime, while holding out the possibility of U. On November 8, , following intensive negotiations among its "Permanent 5" members, the U. Security Council issued Resolution In it, the Council decided that Iraq remained in "material breach" of its obligations; that the Council would afford Iraq "a final opportunity to comply"; that failure to comply would "constitute a further material breach"; and that in that case, Iraq would "face serious consequences.

This language, though strong by U. While the Iraqi government eventually provided a large quantity of written materials, the Administration deemed Iraqi compliance to be insufficient. The Administration chose not to seek an additional U. Resolution explicitly authorizing military action under Chapter VII, reportedly due to concerns that some Permanent Members of the Council were prepared to veto it. The Administration's intent to take military action against Iraq was formally made public on March 17, , when President Bush issued an ultimatum to Saddam Hussein and his sons to leave Iraq within 48 hours.

As the Prussian military theorist Karl von Clausewitz wrote, war planning includes articulation of both intended goals and how they will be achieved. To meet that intent, the Administration planned—though apparently in unequal measure—for both combat operations and the broader range of operations that would be required on "the day after" regime removal. The Administration's short-term goal for OIF was regime removal. In his March speech, President Bush declared that in the longer term, the United States would help Iraqis build "a new Iraq that is prosperous and free.

Over time, the Administration's longer-term strategic objectives were fine-tuned. In the November National Strategy for Victory in Iraq, the Administration stated the long-term goal for Iraq this way: "Iraq is peaceful, united, stable, and secure, well-integrated into the international community, and a full partner in the global war on terrorism. In January , at the time the "surge" was announced, the White House released an unclassified version of the results of its late internal review of Iraq policy.

That document states: "Our strategic goal in Iraq remains the same: a unified, democratic, federal Iraq that can govern itself, defend itself, and sustain itself, and is an ally in the war on terror. In January , in its regular quarterly update to the Congress, the Department of Defense DOD used almost the same language, with additional words to reflect the new security agreement: "The goal of the strategic partnership between the United States and Iraq remains a unified, democratic and federal Iraq that can govern, defend and sustain itself and is an ally in the war on terror.

To support the stated U. From a military perspective, there are theoretically many different possible ways to remove a regime—using different capabilities, in different combinations, over different timelines. The Gulf War, for example, had highlighted the initial use of air power in targeting key regime infrastructure. The more recent war in Afghanistan had showcased a joint effort, as Special Operations Forces on the ground called in air strikes on key targets.

Key debates in OIF major combat planning concerned the size of the force, the timelines for action, and the synchronization of ground and air power. According to participants, throughout the planning process, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld played an active role, consistently urging the use of a streamlined force and a quick timeline. At issue in the OIF planning debates was not only how to fight the war in Iraq, but also—implicitly—how to organize, man, train and equip the force for the future.

For military planners, the guidance to use a streamlined force reflected a fundamental shift away from the Powell Doctrine, named after the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which stressed that force, if used, should be overwhelming. The planning effort started early. Just before Thanksgiving, , President Bush asked Secretary Rumsfeld to develop a plan for regime removal in Iraq, and Secretary Rumsfeld immediately gave that assignment to the commander of U.

The planning effort for combat operations was initially very "close hold," involving only a few key leaders and small groups of trusted planners at each level. As the effort progressed, the number of people involved grew, but key elements of the plans remained compartmentalized, such that few people had visibility on all elements of the plans. The starting point for the planning effort was the existing, "on the shelf" Iraq war plan, known as , which had been developed and then refined during the 's. That plan called for a force of between , and , U. When General Franks briefed Secretary Rumsfeld on these plans in late November , Secretary Rumsfeld reportedly asked for a completely new version—with fewer troops and a faster deployment timeline.

That plan called for very early infiltration by CIA teams, to build relationships and gain intelligence, and then the introduction of Special Operations Forces, particularly in northern Iraq and in Al Anbar province in the west. The main conventional forces effort would begin with near-simultaneous air and ground attacks.

The force would continue to grow up to about , troops. Later in the spring of , CENTCOM and subordinate planners developed an alternative plan called "Running Start," which addressed the possibility that the Iraqi regime might choose the war's start time through some provocation, such as the use of WMD. Air attacks would go first, and as ground forces flowed into theater, the ground attacks could begin any time after the first 25 days of air attacks.

The ground war might begin with as few as 18, ground forces entering Iraq. In the summer of , planners developed a so-called "hybrid" version of these two plans, which echoed key elements of the "Running Start" plan—beginning with an air campaign, and launching the ground war while other ground forces still flowed into theater. Specifically, the plan called for: Presidential notification 5 days in advance; 11 days to flow forces; 16 days for the air campaign; the start of the ground campaign as ground forces continued to flow into theater; and a total campaign that would last up to days.

This plan, approved for action, continued to be known as the "" plan even after the numbers of days had changed. The ground campaign would begin with two three-star-led headquarters—U. Army V Corps, and the I Marine Expeditionary Force—and some of their forces crossing the line of departure from Kuwait into Iraq, while additional forces continued to flow into theater. Meanwhile, the 4 th Infantry Division would open a northern front by entering Iraq from Turkey.

The number of forces that would start the ground campaign continued to be adjusted, generally downward, in succeeding days. On January 29, , Army commanders learned that they would enter Iraq with just two Divisions—less than their plans to that point had reflected.

At that time, V Corps and its subordinate commands were at a training site in Grafenwoehr, Germany, rehearsing the opening of the tactical-level ground campaign at an exercise called "Victory Scrimmage. The V Corps Commander at the time, then-Lieutenant General William Scott Wallace, reflected after the end of major combat in Iraq: "I guess that as summer [arrived] I wasn't real comfortable with the troop levels. Most observers agree that the Administration's planning for "post-war" Iraq—for all the activities and resources that would be required on "the day after," to help bring about the strategic objective, a "free and prosperous Iraq"—was not nearly as thorough as the planning for combat operations.

For the U. In theory, civilian agencies would have the responsibility for using political, diplomatic, and economic tools to help achieve the desired political endstate for Iraq, while the Department of Defense and its military forces would play only a supporting role after the end of major combat operations.

But by far the greatest number of coalition personnel on the ground in Iraq at the end of major combat would be U. A number of participants and observers have argued that the Administration should have sent a larger number of U. Ambassador L. Asked what he would have changed about the occupation, he replied: "The single most important change—the one thing that would have improved the situation—would have been having more troops in Iraq at the beginning and throughout.

A logical fallacy in the number-of-troops critique is that "How many troops do you need? By many accounts, the OIF post-war planning process did not provide commanders, before the start of combat operations, with a clear picture of the extent of their assigned post-war responsibilities. A primary focus of the interagency post-war-planning debates was who would be in charge in Iraq, on "the day after. Before making such decisions—in particular, what responsibilities would be carried out by Iraqis—the Administration cultivated Iraqi contacts.

Based on months of negotiations, in conjunction with the government of the United Kingdom, the Administration helped sponsor a series of conferences of Iraqi oppositionists, including expatriates and some Iraqis—notably Iraqi Kurds—who could come and go from their homes. The events included a major conference in London in December , and a follow-on event in Salahuddin, Iraq, in February During the same time frame, the Departments of State and Defense were locked in debate about post-war political plans for Iraq.

The State Department supported a deliberate political process, including slowly building new political institutions, based on the rule of law, while, in the meantime, Iraqis would serve only in advisory capacities. Through the second half of , the State Department's "Future of Iraq" project brought together Iraqi oppositionists and experts, in a series of working groups, to consider an array of potential post-war challenges.

While a tacit goal of the project was to identify some Iraqis who might serve in future leadership positions, it was not designed to produce a slate of leaders-in-waiting. However, some of the ideas it generated did reportedly help operational-level military planners refine their efforts, and the project might have had a greater impact had more of its output reached the planners.

A "real" Iraqi leadership with real power, some officials believed, might find favor with the Iraqi people and with neighboring states, and might shorten the length of the U. In the fall of , no clear decision emerged about the role of Iraqis in immediate post-war Iraq. Discussions among senior leaders apparently focused on the concept of a U. However, no agreement was reached at that time about what authority such a body would have, what its responsibilities would be, how long it would last, or which Iraqis would be involved. In January , Administration thinking coalesced around a broad post-war political process for Iraq, captured in what was universally known at the time as the "mega-brief.

The "mega-brief" process would include creating a senior-level Iraqi Consultative Council ICC to serve in an advisory capacity; dismissing top Iraqi leaders from the Saddam era but welcoming most lower-ranking officials to continue to serve; creating an Iraqi judicial council; holding a national census; conducting municipal elections; holding elections to a constitutional convention that would draft a constitution; carrying out a constitutional referendum; and then holding national elections. It was envisaged that the process would take years to complete.

The "mega-brief" approach—which gained currency just as U. Military commanders and planners typically base operational plans on policy assumptions and clearly specify those assumptions at the beginning of any plans briefing. For OIF planners, the critical policy assumptions concerned who would have which post-war roles and responsibilities. OIF preparations reversed the usual sequence, in that military planning began long before the key policy debates, let alone policy conclusions.

During their planning process, military commanders apparently sought to elicit the policy guidance they needed by briefing their policy assumptions and hoping for a response. General Franks wrote later that as he briefed this to the President, he had in mind the Bonn Conference for Afghanistan. Unable to determine what Iraqi civilian structure they would be asked to support, the military sought to elicit guidance about the coalition's own post-war architecture and responsibilities. According to General Franks, the CENTCOM war plans slides briefed to President Bush and the National Security Council on August 5, , included the intentionally provocative phrase, "military administration," but no decision about post-war architecture was made at that time.

Two months later, the OIF plans slides included, for the first time, a full wiring diagram of the coalition's post-war structure, describing post-war responsibilities in a "military administration. This chart still failed to prompt a decision, although Office of the Secretary of Defense staff reportedly spent the ensuing weeks considering "High Commissioner" candidates, just in case. By late , in the absence of detailed policy guidance, military commanders at several levels had launched "Phase IV" planning efforts, to identify and begin to prepare for potential post-war requirements.

His more comprehensive effort—known as Eclipse II—benefitted from close connectivity with its sister-effort, CFLCC's combat operations planning, but lacked direct access to the broader Washington policy debates. In addition to lacking policy guidance about post-war roles and responsibilities, these operational-level planning efforts lacked insight into key aspects of the current state of affairs in Iraq.

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For example, planning assumed that Iraqis, in particular law enforcement personnel, would be available and willing to resume some civic duties on the "day after. He quickly brought on board a team of other retired Army general officers to serve in key leadership positions. Participants included the fledgling ORHA staff, representatives of civilian agencies that would contribute to the effort, and representatives of the military commands—long since deployed to Kuwait—that would become ORHA's partners.

Those ORHA efforts would commence in each area as soon as major combat operations ended. The most important constraint was time—the civilian agencies were not organized or resourced to be able to provide substantial resources or personnel by the start of major combat operations. ORHA's command relationships with other Department of Defense bodies were initially a topic of dispute.

The coalition force was both joint—with representatives from all the U. SOF, in turn, had also entered Iraq before the formal launch. Among other missions, SOF secured bases in Al Anbar province in western Iraq, secured suspected WMD sites, pursued some of the designated "high-value targets," and worked closely with Iraqi Kurdish forces in northern Iraq—the pesh merga —to attack a key stronghold of the designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, Ansar al-Islam. The visible public launch of OIF took place on March 20, , shortly after the expiration of President Bush's hour ultimatum to Saddam Hussein and his sons see above, "Ultimatum to Saddam Hussein".

By early , the plans called for beginning with a short air-only campaign, followed by the ground invasion. However, late-breaking evidence gave rise to stronger concerns that the Iraqi regime would deliberately destroy its southern oil wells, so the timing of the ground forces launch was moved up, ahead of the scheduled air campaign launch. Then, even closer to launch time, the CIA obtained what seemed to be compelling information about Saddam Hussein's location—at Dora Farms near Baghdad. In the early hours of March 20, just as the ultimatum expired, a pair of F fighters targeted the site.

That attack narrowly followed a barrage of Tomahawk missiles, launched from ships at key leadership sites in Baghdad. That night, coalition ground forces crossed the line of departure from the Kuwaiti desert into southern Iraq. The following day, March 21, , brought the larger-scale "shock and awe" attacks on Iraqi command and control and other sites, from both Air Force and Navy assets.

Early Iraqi responses included setting a few oil wells on fire, and firing a few poorly directed missiles into Kuwait, most of which were successfully intercepted by Patriot missiles. The strategy was a quick, two-pronged push from Kuwait up through southern Iraq to Baghdad. V Corps was assigned the western route up to Baghdad, west of the Euphrates River. From a tactical perspective, for both the Army and the Marines this was a very long projection of force—over kilometers from Kuwait up to Baghdad, and more for those units that pushed further north to Tikrit or to Mosul.

Those long distances reportedly strained capabilities including logistics and communications. The Marines were assigned the eastern route up to Baghdad—with more urban areas than the Army's western route. The basic strategy still called for a quick drive to Baghdad. To limit casualties in the large urban area, rather than enter the city immediately in full force, the Division used a more methodical elimination of opponents, combined with outreach to the population to explain their intentions.

IMEF supported the Division's use of a slow and deliberate tempo. After several weeks of gradual attrition, the Division pushed into Basra on April 6, The main IMEF force encountered some resistance as they pushed north, in particular at the town of Nassiriyah, a geographical choke-point. At Nassiriyah, "there were a number of things that seemed to hit us all about the same time, that dented our momentum," LtGen Conway later noted.

There, the Marines suffered casualties from a friendly fire incident with Apaches.

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As widely reported, the Army's th Maintenance Company lost its way in the area and stumbled into an ambush, in which some personnel were killed and others, including PFC Jessica Lynch, were taken hostage. The area was blanketed by fierce desert sandstorms. And the Saddam Fedayeen put up a determined resistance—"not a shock, but a surprise," as LtGen Conway later reflected. Evidence suggested that additional Iraqi fighters, inspired by the ambush carried out by the Fedayeen, came from Baghdad to Nassiriyah to join the fight.

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In the west, the Army faced a longer distance but a less-populated terrain. The 3ID rapidly led the western charge to Baghdad, moving speedily through the south and reaching Saddam International Airport on April 4. The division launched its first "thunder run"—a fast, armored strike—into Baghdad on April 5, and the second on April 7. The purpose of the first, according to the Brigade Commander in charge, Colonel David Perkins, was "to create as much confusion as I can inside the city.

The st followed the 3ID up the western route through southern Iraq, clearing resistance in southern cities and allowing the 3ID to move as quickly as possible. Soldiers from the st faced fighting in key urban areas—Hillah, Najaf, Karbala. Just after mid-April, the division arrived and set up its headquarters in Mosul, in northern Iraq. Like the Marines, the Army was somewhat surprised by the resistance they encountered from the Saddam Fedayeen. LTG Wallace apparently caused some consternation at higher headquarters levels with his candid remarks to the press in late March: "The enemy we're fighting is different from the one we'd war-gamed against.

They began their mission by securing an airfield so that cargo planes carrying tanks and Bradleys could land. Once on the ground, the rd , working closely with air and ground Special Operating Forces and with Kurdish pesh merga forces, expanded the northern front of OIF. Initial coalition plans had called for the heavy 4 th Infantry Division 4ID to open the northern front by crossing into Iraq from Turkey.

The intended primary mission was challenging Iraqi regular army forces based above Baghdad. A more subtle secondary mission was to place limits on possible Kurdish ambitions to control more territory in northern Iraq, thus providing some reassurance to the Government of Turkey and discouraging it from sending Turkish forces into Iraq to restrain the Kurds. By early , 4ID equipment was sitting on ships circling in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, waiting for an outcome of the ongoing negotiations with the Turkish government.

But on March 1, , the Turkish parliament rejected a proposal that would have allowed the 4ID to use Turkish territory. Iraqi opposition fighters made a very limited contribution to coalition major combat efforts. Before the war, the Office of the Secretary of Defense had launched an ambitious program to recruit and train up to 3, Iraqi expats, to be known as the "Free Iraqi Forces.

Ultimately, the number of recruits and graduates was much lower than originally projected. Most graduates did deploy to Iraq, where they served with U. After some discussion, agreement was reached and a U. In early April, Chalabi and fighters stepped off the plane at Tallil air base in southern Iraq. The forces were neither equipped nor well-organized.

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Accounts from many observers, in succeeding months, suggested that some members of the group engaged in lawless behavior. Two days after the second 3ID "thunder run," this event signaled for many observers, inside and outside Iraq, that the old Iraqi regime had ended. Consistent with the war plans from "Generated Start" onward, U.

The 4 th Infantry Division 4ID , diverted from its original northern front plans, had re-routed its troops and equipment to Kuwait. According to the planning, the 1 st Cavalry Division 1CD was scheduled to be next in line. However, in April , Secretary Rumsfeld, in coordination with General Franks, made the decision that 1CD was not needed in Iraq at that time—a decision that apparently caused consternation for some ground commanders. As soon as it became apparent that the old regime was no longer exercising control, widespread looting took place in Baghdad and elsewhere.

Targets included government buildings, and the former houses of regime leaders, but also some private businesses and cultural institutions. Leaders of the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad reported, for example, that "looters had taken or destroyed , items of antiquity dating back thousands of years. The first was held on April 15, , at the ancient city of Ur, near Tallil air base, and the second was held on April 28, at the Baghdad Convention Center.

Participants include expatriate opposition leaders and Iraqi Kurds, together with a number of in-country community leaders who had been identified by the CIA and other sources. The sessions focused on discussion of broad principles for Iraq's future, rather than specific decisions about Iraqi leadership roles. He stated, "In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.

Saddam Hussein was captured later, on December 13, , by units of 4ID, outside his hometown Tikrit. This Report uses the term "post-major combat" to refer to the period from the President's announcement of the end of major combat, on May 1, , to the present. This period has not been monolithic—it has included evolutions in national and military strategy, and in the specific "ways and means" used to pursue those strategies on the ground, as described below.

From a political and legal perspective, the major marker after May 1, , was the June 28, , transition of executive authority from the occupying powers back to Iraqis. From a military perspective, the period after May 1, , has included a continuation of combat operations as well as the introduction of many new missions. From the time of regime removal until June 28, , the coalition was formally an occupying force. Shortly after the end of major combat, in May , the United Nations Security Council recognized the United States and the United Kingdom as "occupying powers," together with all the "authorities, responsibilities, and obligations under international law" that this designation entails.

As the deadline for the "transfer of sovereignty"—June 30, —approached, U. Agreement was reached to reflect the terms of that presence in the unusual form of parallel letters, one from U. Those letters were appended to U. Security Council Resolution , issued on June 8, That U. Resolution reaffirmed the authorization for the multi-national force and extended it to the post-occupation period—on the grounds that it was "at the request of the incoming Interim Government of Iraq.

Some of the early U. Resolution and the appended letters made clear that the command-and-control relationship between the Iraqi government and the multi-national force would be strictly one of coordination, not command. The Resolution called the relationship a "security partnership between the sovereign Government of Iraq and the multinational force. Both letters described coordination modalities to help ensure unity of effort.

Both stated the intention to make use of "coordination bodies at the national, regional, and local levels," and noted that multi-national force and Iraqi officials would "keep each other informed of their activities. The document addressed issues including legal immunities, communications, transportation, customs, entry and departure, for government civilians and contractors as well as military forces.

Issued by the legal executive authority of Iraq at the time, the Order was to remain in force "for the duration of U. Resolution mandates including subsequent Resolutions, unless rescinded or amended by Iraqi legislation. The final U. In requesting that authorization, in a letter appended to the UN Resolution, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki made clear that it would be the final request by the Government of Iraq for an extension of the current mandate.

Since the declared end of major combat operations, the formal relationships among U. The period of formal occupation was characterized by multiple, somewhat confusing relationships. The command relationship between the two, debated before the war, was never clearly resolved during the very short duration of their partnership on the ground in Iraq. In early May , President Bush announced his intention to appoint a senior official to serve as Administrator of a new organization, the Coalition Provisional Authority, which would serve as the legal executive authority of Iraq—a much more authoritative mandate than ORHA had held.

On May 9, , Ambassador L. Paul "Jerry" Bremer arrived in Baghdad with a small retinue, to take up the assignment. Later, in fall , the White House assumed the lead for coordinating efforts in Iraq, and Ambassador Bremer's direct contacts with the White House became even more frequent.

On June 15, , the headquarters of U.

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  6. CJTF-7 itself was a combined force, including a UK Deputy Commanding General, and many key staff members, as well as contingents, from coalition partner countries. As a rule, those representatives maintained direct communication with their respective capitals. CPA, too, was "combined," including a senior UK official who shared the leadership role, though not executive signing authority, with Ambassador Bremer, and who maintained a regular and full channel of communication with the UK government in London.

    On June 28, , at the "transfer of sovereignty," the Coalition Provisional Authority ceased to exist. The new U. Embassies around the world, it simply represented U. It includes some Department of Defense civil servants, and it is supported by civilian contractors. Army General Raymond Odierno. The MNF-I staff is an ad hoc headquarters, including senior leaders and staff provided individually by the U.

    MNC-I is built around a U. Army Corps. In each rotation, the Army Corps staff is augmented by additional U. When U. Its senior staff positions were filled by Colonels; those senior positions were only gradually filled by General Officers over the course of summer and fall The boundaries of the divisional areas of responsibility have shifted somewhat over time, to accommodate both shifting security requirements and major changes in deployments by coalition partner countries. The total number of U. Since then, the number has varied greatly over time, in response to events on the ground, such as Iraqi elections, and to strategic-level decisions, such as the surge.

    The peak surge level of U. As of February 1, , the total number of U. Their departure left 14 U. Well before the surge, by many accounts, the demand for forces in Iraq had placed some stress on both the active and reserve components. The operational benefits of maintaining continuity, and keeping forces in place long enough to gain understanding and develop expertise, competed against institutional requirements to maintain the health of the force as a whole, including the ability to recruit and retain personnel. An additional challenge was that pre-war assumptions only very incompletely predicted the scope and scale of post-war mission requirements, which meant in practice, especially early in OIF, that individuals and units deployed without certainty about the length of their tours.

    Army V Corps, for example, was not specifically given the mission, before the war, to serve as the post-war task force headquarters, let alone a timeline for that commitment. As the press widely reported after the end of major combat operations, some members of the 3 rd Infantry Division 3ID , which had led the Army's charge to Baghdad, publicly stated their desire to redeploy as soon as possible. Major General Buford Blount, the 3ID Commanding General, commented: "You know, a lot of my forces have been over here since September, and fought a great fight and [are] doing great work here in the city.

    But if you ask the soldiers, they're ready to go home. Sometimes, changes in the security situation on the ground—rather than anticipated political events like Iraqi elections—have prompted decisions to extend deployments. The earliest and possibly most dramatic example took place in April The young Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his militia, the Jaish al-Mahdi Mahdi Army , staged uprisings in cities and towns throughout Shi'a-populated southern Iraq, just as the volatile, Sunni-populated city of Fallujah, in Al Anbar province, simmered in the wake of the gruesome murders of four Blackwater contractors.

    The 1 st Armored Division 1AD , which had served in Baghdad for one year, and was already in the process of redeploying, was extended by 90 days—and then executed a remarkable series of complex and rapid troop deployments to embattled southern cities. In early , in an effort to provide greater predictability if not lighter burdens, the Department of Defense, under the leadership of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, announced new rotation policy goals.

    Active units would deploy for not more than 15 months, and return to home station for not less than 12 months. In April , partly in anticipation of some reduction of stress on the force from the redeployment of the surge brigades, President Bush announced that active component Army units deploying after August 1, , would deploy for 12 months, rather than The President also recommitted to " Since its inception, OIF has been a multinational effort, but the number, size, and nature of contributions by coalition partner countries has varied substantially over time.

    Four countries provided boots on the ground for major combat—the United Kingdom, Australia, and Poland, in addition to the United States.