Withdrawing from Iraq: Alternative Schedules, Associated Risks, and Mitigating Strategies

Withdrawing from Iraq: Alternative Schedules, Associated Risks, and Mitigating Strategies

Withdrawing from Iraq: Alternative Schedules, Associated Risks, and Mitigating Strategies

Withdrawing from Iraq: Alternative Schedules, Associated Risks, and Mitigating Strategies

Synopsis

Since 2007, security has improved dramatically in Iraq. The U.S. and Iraqi governments-and most Iraqis-want to see both the U.S. presence there reduced and the Iraqi government and security forces assuming a greater role in providing for public security. The challenge is to effect this drawdown while preserving security and stability in the country and in the region. In response to tasking from the U.S. Congress, RAND researchers conducted an independent study to examine drawdown schedules, risks, and mitigating strategies. They identified logistical constraints on moving equipment out of the country, assessed trends in insurgent activity and the ability of Iraqi security forces to counter it, and examined the implications for the size of the residual U.S. force and for security in Iraq and the region. This report presents alternative drawdown schedules-one consistent with the Obama administration's stated intentions and two others, one somewhat slower and another faster-that are responsive to these factors. It also recommends steps that the United States can take to alleviate anticipated constraints, overcome likely resistance, and reduce the potential risks associated with a drawdown.

Excerpt

Security has improved dramatically in Iraq since 2007; both the U.S. and the Iraqi governments want to see the U.S. presence reduced and have the Iraqis assume a greater role in providing for public security. These developments have brought the United States to a critical juncture in Iraq. The emerging challenge is to continue a withdrawal of U.S. forces while preserving security and stability in the country and in the region. With this in mind, the U.S. Congress provided resources in the fiscal year 2009 Defense Appropriations Act for an independent study to assess alternative schedules to draw down U.S. forces and effect the transition to Iraqi forces providing for the nation’s security. This study assesses the feasibility of three such plans and makes recommendations designed to reduce the risks attendant on withdrawal; these recommendations are, for the most part, relevant whichever drawdown schedule is ultimately met. The analysis supporting this report was completed in May 2009, and the illustrative schedules all assume implementation decisions having been made in time for implementation in May, if not earlier. To the extent that such decisions are made later, the schedules would likely be pushed back accordingly. We recognize that any drawdown schedule that calls for U.S. forces remaining in Iraq beyond the end of December 2011 would require renegotiating the Security Agreement between the United States and Iraq.

The RAND Corporation National Defense Research Institute was asked to conduct this study. This report documents the study findings. It describes alternative drawdown schedules and analyzes how internal Iraqi security and stability and regional political and military issues might affect and be affected by these plans. It should interest senior members of the Obama administration, including policymakers in the Departments of Defense and State, members of Congress, and military planners and operators.

This research was sponsored by the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs and conducted within the International Security and Defense Policy Center (ISDP) of the RAND National Defense Research Institute (NDRI), a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Com-

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.