Wednesday, July 2, 2008

New Army report highlights early failures during Iraq War

The U.S. Army has released a new self-critical report on the failures in the early days of the Iraq War. From CNN:
The 720-page report compiled by the Combat Studies Institute at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, details the effects of having too few coalition troops on the ground when the reality after the fall of Baghdad was "severely out of line" with the anticipated conditions.

Previous experience "should have indicated that many more troops would be needed for the post-Saddam era in Iraq," historians wrote in the report, "On Point II: Transition to a New Campaign."

"The coalition's inability to prevent looting, to secure Iraq's borders and to guard the vast number of munitions dumps in the early months after Saddam's overthrow are indicative of the shortage," the study found.

About 150,000 U.S. and allied troops were in Iraq after the invasion, at a time when war planners were assuming that Iraq's government would remain functional after Hussein's ouster and that there would be no mass insurgency.

"These factors were in line with prewar planning for a quick turnover of power to Iraqis and a quick withdrawal of U.S. forces, leaving Iraqis to determine their own political future—options that proved impossible to execute," the historians wrote in the report released over the weekend.

"We had the wrong assumptions, and therefore, we had the wrong plan to put into play," Gen. William Wallace, who commanded the Army's V Corps during the invasion, told the authors.

But some of the most critical decisions were made between May and August 2003, which some participants called a "window of opportunity that could have been exploited to produce the conditions for the quick creation of a new Iraq."

Among those decisions were the frequently criticized dissolution of the Iraqi army and the order that barred former members of Hussein's Baath Party from public life as well as the change in plan over the joint headquarters.

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