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Thread: Army Buried Study Faulting Iraq Planning

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Army Buried Study Faulting Iraq Planning

    Army Buried Study Faulting Iraq Planning - Michael Gordon, New York Times

    The Army is accustomed to protecting classified information. But when it comes to the planning for the Iraq war, even an unclassified assessment can acquire the status of a state secret.

    That is what happened to a detailed study of the planning for postwar Iraq prepared for the Army by the RAND Corporation, a federally financed center that conducts research for the military.

    After 18 months of research, RAND submitted a report in the summer of 2005 called “Rebuilding Iraq.” RAND researchers provided an unclassified version of the report along with a secret one, hoping that its publication would contribute to the public debate on how to prepare for future conflicts.

    But the study’s wide-ranging critique of the White House, the Defense Department and other government agencies was a concern for Army generals, and the Army has sought to keep the report under lock and key.

    A review of the lengthy report — a draft of which was obtained by The New York Times — shows that it identified problems with nearly every organization that had a role in planning the war. That assessment parallels the verdicts of numerous former officials and independent analysts...

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    Nice coincidence. RAND just happened to release this new study, the same day that NYT article about the older report was published:

    Counterinsurgency in Iraq (2003 - 2006)
    .....As of spring 2007, when field research for this monograph was completed, Iraq appeared to have slid from insurgency into civil war. The U.S. failure to focus on the protection of the Iraqi population in the preceding four years had contributed significantly to the subsequent increase in insurgency and sectarian violence. In the security vacuum that ensued, Iraqi citizens were forced to engage in a Faustian bargain—often looking to bad actors for protection—in order to survive. The failure of the United States and the Iraqi government to subdue the Sunni insurgency and prevent terrorist acts—punctuated by the 2006 destruction of the Golden Dome—produced an escalation of Shi’a militancy and sectarian killing by both militia and police death squads.

    However, by early 2008, when this monograph was published, the security situation in Iraq had started to stabilize due to a number of factors: a Sunni reaction to al Qaeda excesses, a pullback of Shi’a militias from anti-Sunni violence and confrontation with coalition forces, a decrease in externally supplied armaments, and strides made by U.S. and Iraqi forces in gaining control of important areas in the country, including western provinces such as Anbar and parts of Baghdad. It should be noted that as of this publication date, it is still not clear how the political-security situation in Iraq will eventually turn out. In particular, the authors maintain considerable doubt as to whether Iraq can reconcile the divisions between the Sunni, Shi’a, and Kurdish elements of the population. Nevertheless, the reduced level of violence as of early 2008 was an encouraging development.....
    Complete 136 page paper at the link.

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWJED View Post
    Army Buried Study Faulting Iraq Planning - Michael Gordon, New York Times
    This also interesting in that the RAND Report predated both Gordon and Trainor's Cobra II and Rick's Fiasco. by some 6 months or so.

    Tom

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    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jedburgh View Post
    Nice coincidence. RAND just happened to release this new study, the same day that NYT article about the older report was published:

    Counterinsurgency in Iraq (2003 - 2006)

    Complete 136 page paper at the link.
    They released an unclassified version; the classified one was leaked.

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    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    This also interesting in that the RAND Report predated both Gordon and Trainor's Cobra II and Rick's Fiasco. by some 6 months or so.

    Tom
    It's 2500 pages. The full thing was finished within the last year.

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    Council Member Abu Suleyman's Avatar
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    Default Conspiracy or not, this is a trend

    Regardless of the means and manner of the release of this information, it highlights an important problem. Communication is not what it should be in the Department of Defense (DoD), and even on a larger scale within the government. The over-classification of materials is just one problem. This particular study is like many dozens, and perhaps hundreds of other things that was not discussed or implemented in the military.

    Whether there is some hidden cabal (unlikely), personally self interested burying or bureaucratic inertia, this study and the information within it did not get circulated to the appropriate people, and has not entered into the discussions on the topic. I have not read the whole text yet, and I hope to be able to, but irrespective of what it may say, it surely has at least a single perspective which would add to the overall conversation about military strategy and planning.

    I believe this to be a trend in our military and government. So much focus is placed on TTP's, and not enough is placed on strategy. There are seemingly thousands of organizations (CALL, COE's, ASWG, etc.) for the dissemination of Blue and Red TTP's, but war is not won by TTP's. War is a strategic venture, even a small war. Without comprehensive examination, and painful reformation, and in some cases formulation of strategy, we will not win.

    It is no coincidence that we are largely successful at the tactical level (tragic casualties not withstanding), and in spite of our military might, have not yet been successful at the strategic level. Over-classification is an excuse. The bigger problem is few are talking no one is listening even when people are talking.
    Audentes adiuvat fortuna
    "Abu Suleyman"

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