Ending the U.S. War in Iraq: The Final Transition, Operational Maneuver, and Disestablishment of United States Forces-Iraq (Usf-I)

Ending the U.S. War in Iraq: The Final Transition, Operational Maneuver, and Disestablishment of United States Forces-Iraq (Usf-I)

Ending the U.S. War in Iraq: The Final Transition, Operational Maneuver, and Disestablishment of United States Forces-Iraq (Usf-I)

Ending the U.S. War in Iraq: The Final Transition, Operational Maneuver, and Disestablishment of United States Forces-Iraq (Usf-I)

Synopsis

Over the course of the U.S. engagement in Iraq, the U.S. military managed hundreds of bases and facilities and used millions of pieces of equipment. The military not only was involved with security-related activities but also assisted in political and economic functions the host nation government or other U.S. departments would normally perform. A 2010 assessment identified that responsibility for 431 activities would need to be handed off to the government of Iraq, the U.S. embassy, U.S. Central Command, or other U.S. government departments. Ending the U.S. war in Iraq would also require redeploying over 100,000 military and civilian personnel and moving or transferring ownership of over a million pieces of property, including facilities, in accordance with U.S. and Iraqi laws, national policy, and Department of Defense requirements. This book looks at the planning and execution of this transition, using information gathered from historical documents and interviews with key players. It examines efforts to help Iraq build the capacity necessary to manage its own security absent a U.S. military presence. It also looks at the complications that arose from uncertainty over just how much of a presence the United States would continue to have beyond 2011 and how various posttransition objectives would be advanced. The authors also examine efforts to create an embassy intended to survive in a hostile environment by being entirely self-sufficient, performing missions the military previously performed. The authors draw lessons from these events that can help plan for ending future wars.

Excerpt

In March 2003, the United States and its coalition partners began Operation Iraqi Freedom. The military campaign leading to the destruction of Saddam Hussein’s military, the capture of his seat of power in Baghdad, and many other tasks associated with the invasion phase of the operation were complete by April 30; a mere six weeks after the start of the war.

As military history demonstrates, wars rarely end as first planned, for reasons that may not have been considered when crafting war plans. For example, war changes a country’s internal political and social dynamics, affecting its internal security, economic development, and governance. In addition, countries and nonstate actors that were not part of the initial conflict may pursue their own interests in ways that bring new challenges to ending a war. Further, the initial political goals may expand in light of changing situations on the ground, causing major shifts in the military campaign.

From the beginning to the end of a war, all participants operate under a cloud of uncertainty. Military leaders and national security experts use history as the foundation of their professional knowledge. Military history is primarily concerned with facts, figures, and lessons learned about how to fight and win battles and campaigns. However, the history of war suggests that how a war ends is at least as important as how it is waged in establishing a given postwar environment. Despite this importance, military practitioners, strategists, and historians sometimes pay less attention to understanding how wars end than how they are fought.

This book is the product of a two-year RAND Corporation effort not only to create a historical record of the retrograde of military forces and the transitions that occurred during Operation New Dawn (OND) but also to provide an independent and objective analysis including key insights and recommendations on how to end largescale military operations. In collaboration with the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, the United States Forces–Iraq (USF-I) provided RAND access to plans, operations orders, internal staff deliberations, strategic and operational assessments, and a host of other contemporaneous information on how U.S. forces completed, transferred, transformed, or terminated all activities being conducted in Iraq. In addition, a RAND research team spent two weeks in Iraq in 2011, interviewing the leaders and staffs of both Embassy Baghdad and USF-I.

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