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Thread: Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq

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    Default Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq


    The May 2006 DoD quarterly report to Congress has been posted - Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq.

    Here is an American Forces Press Service article on the report:

    Iraqi Progress Report Cites Successes, Challenges Ahead
    By Donna Miles
    American Forces Press Service


    WASHINGTON, May 30, 2006 – The Defense Department's latest quarterly report to Congress on progress in Iraq cites continued momentum on the political, economic and security fronts and evidence that those attempting to derail it are failing, senior defense officials told Pentagon reporters today.

    DoD delivered "Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq" to Congress today. The report, the fourth of its kind, evaluates political stability, economic activity, the security environment, and security force training and performance.

    The report highlights what Peter Rodman, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, called a major milestone: the formation of Iraq's permanent new democratically elected government. "It is the culmination of the democratic process we have been helping the Iraqis develop since we got there," he said.

    This unity government, formed May 20, represents a true success story for Iraq, Rodman said, noting the trend toward more Sunni Arab participation in the political process.

    Delays in establishing this government left Iraq "in limbo" for a few months, Rodman acknowledged. This void may have been a factor in the violence that escalated following the Golden Mosque bombing in Samarra, and caused temporary economic setbacks by delaying economic reforms, he said.

    But with the government process now on track, the Iraqis are working together to overcome the obstacles it faces, Rodman said.

    Despite persistent efforts, the enemies of the new government are failing in their efforts to derail the political progress, incite large-scale ethnic or sectarian violence, and alienate the Iraqi people from their democratic process, he said.

    Air Force Lt. Gen. Victor "Gene" Renuart, the Joint Staff's director for strategic plans and policy, said it's important not to downplay the impact of extremists and terrorists. "It's still dangerous and violent there," he said.

    Violence remains concentrated in four of Iraq's 18 provinces, particularly in the Anbar province. But Renuart noted "substantial improvement even in the toughest locations."

    Iraq's security forces are increasingly taking the lead in counterinsurgency operations and taking control of their own battlespace. "Iraqi forces are increasingly putting an Iraqi face on the counterterrorism operations, and they are doing it well," Renuart said.

    As of mid-May, 111 Iraqi army and special operations battalions are conducting counterinsurgency operations, up 9 percent since the last progress report to Congress. In addition, 71 Iraqi battalions are leading operations, some independently, and 51 battalions now control their own battlespace.

    The number of trained and equipped Iraqi forces continues to grow, topping 263,000 at mid-month, the report notes. This includes almost 118,000 soldiers, sailors and airmen, an increase of 11,000 since the February progress report, and more than 101,000 police, up almost 19,000 since February.

    These security forces are becoming increasingly multi-ethnic and "beginning to represent the ethnic balance in the country," Renuart said.

    Iraq's government is focused on getting militias off Iraq's streets, and Saddam Hussein regime loyalists "are becoming a largely irrelevant entity," Renuart said. The biggest remaining threats are terrorists and foreign fighters, he said.

    Iraqis are growing evermore confident of their security forces, as reflected by the increase in intelligence tips since 2005, Rodman noted.

    Economically, Iraq is still experiencing ups and downs but shows a general trend toward macroeconomic stability, Rodman said. Its currency remains stable; debt is decreasing; and foreign exchange reserves are well above targets, according to the stability report.

    In addition, international support continues to help rebuild the economy.

    But Rodman noted "disappointments" in the electricity and energy fields. The availability of electricity remains largely unchanged from the past progress report. Oil production and exports are still below targets, but high oil prices have helped offset revenue losses, the report notes.

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    From CSIS, 2 June 06:

    Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq: "Fact, Fallacy, and an Overall Grade of "F"
    If the US is to win in Iraq, it needs an honest and objective picture of what is happening. The media can provide some of this picture, as can outside experts and scholars, but only the US government has the resources and access to information that provide a comprehensive overview of the situation.

    The quarterly report to Congress issued by the Department of Defense, “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq,” is supposed to be a key document to achieve this goal. Like the State Department weekly status report on Iraq, however, it is deeply flawed. It does more than simply spin the situation to provide false assurances. It makes basic analytical and statistical mistakes, fails to define key terms, provides undefined and unverifiable survey information, and deals with key issues by omission.

    • It provides a fundamentally false picture of the political situation in Iraq, and of the difficulties ahead. It does not prepare the Congress or the American people for the years of effort that will be needed even under “best case” conditions and the risk of far more serious forms of civil conflict.

    • The economic analysis is flawed to the point of where it is actively misleading.

    • No meaningful assessment is provided of the success and failures of the US aid effort, and no mention is made of the corruption and mismanagement in the aid effort.

    • There is no meaningful analysis of oil developments, budget and revenue problems, and future needs for aid.

    • The threat analysis is fundamentally flawed, serious understates the level of civil conflict, and fails to provide a meaningful risk assessment.

    • Very real progress in the development of Iraq regular forces is exaggerated and the need for major continued support and aid is largely omitted.

    • The basic problems in the police, justice system, and governance that represented a major threat and risk are omitted to the point where the analysis is so distorted as to be useless.

    The US cannot afford to repeat the mistakes it made in Vietnam. The strategy President Bush is pursuing in Iraq is a high-risk strategy for Iraq. If it is to have any chance of success, it going to take bipartisan persistence, and sustained US effort. This requires trust, and trust cannot by built without integrity.

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    Default Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq

    Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq - August 2006 DoD report to Congress.

    This report is divided into three sections. The first section, “Stability and Security in Iraq,” describes trends and progress toward meeting goals for political stability, strengthened economic activity, and a stable security environment in Iraq. The second section, “Iraqi Security Forces Training and Performance,” describes progress in the training, development, and readiness of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), including the forces of the Ministry of Defense (MOD) and the police and paramilitary forces of the Ministry of Interior (MOI). The third section, “Transition,” describes the transfer of security responsibility from Coalition forces to the Iraqi government, including prerequisite conditions and criteria for assessing the readiness of provinces to assume responsibility for security.

    A classified annex to this report provides data concerning security force training and performance and addresses possible U.S. military force rotations.

    The information in this report is made available with the assistance of many departments and agencies of the U.S. Government, the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I), and the Government of Iraq. The report complements other reports and information about Iraq provided to Congress and does not replace them. The intent of this document is to report on the measures of stability and security specified in Section 9010…

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    Default Assessing the Pentagon's Assessment

    Cordesman's response, published 5 Sep 06. As is usual with "working drafts" from CSIS, the document is full of typos, but it is a good read in conjunction with the original document posted above by SWJED.

    The Aug 06 Quarterly Report: Progress but Far from the Facts the Nation Needs and Deserves
    If the US is to fight "long wars" against asymmetric opponents, particularly wars where political and ideological perceptions are as important as the facts on the ground, it is vital to have an honest assessment of how well its strategy and tactics are performing and of the problems and risks it faces. Spin and exaggeration can motivate for brief periods but not for sustained conflicts. Ethnocentric or xenophobic statements can only mislead. Claiming success before it is achieved is a recipe for losing credibility and support at every level. The same is true of understating problems and risks...

    ExecSum

    The broad summary of strategy does not identify the need to shift US strategy to deal with the growing risk of civil conflict, the failure to reach a new political accord, and commit US troops to preventing sectarian and ethnic conflict and concentrate on the "battle of Baghdad." It essentially restates the President's strategy speeches in the fall of 2006. (pp. 1-2)

    The analysis of Political Progress ignores all of the practical problems in choosing the Iraqi government, in making it work, and the problems that must be solved in the future. It is little more than an exercise in lying by omission. (pp. 2-3)

    The Economic Activity analysis remains over-optimistic rubbish. The economic impacts of the insurgency and sectarian and ethnic violence are not mentioned. No discussion is made of unemployment and underemployment, sectoral economic problems, distribution of income, the impact of ethnic and sectarian cleansing, and the failures in the aid effort discovered by the Special Inspector General for Iraqi Reconstruction. No US official with a shred of integrity could sign off on this text. (pp. 2-3)

    The Security Environment section does a far better job than previous reporting of warning about the scale of sectarian and ethnic strife and that the primary threat in Iraq has evolved over time from terrorism to insurgency to civil war. It does serious understate the risks of Kurdish actions that could divide the country, and the failures of the Maliki government, focusing almost solely on extremists and the Mahdi (Sadr) militia. (pp. 3-4)

    The Iraqi Security Forces section makes all the usual claims about the readiness of the Iraqi Army, but provides no assessment of problems and risks. The major weaknesses and shortcomings in the Iraqi security forces, police forces, and paramilitary forces are totally ignored. The need for years of additional US military, advisory, and aid support is not mentioned. (p. 4)

    The Transition section refers to a historical milestone that does have some importance. It makes no effort, however, to describe the true readiness and capability of the Iraqi forces involved, the level of continued US support required, the problems in provincial police and security forces, or the problems in transferring real authority to Iraqi forces throughout the country. (p. 4)...
    (10 pages of more detailed analysis of the assessment follow)

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    Here's the November 2006 Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq Quarterly Report
    Just the ExecSum runs to three-and-a-half pages, so I only pulled out these base-line numbers:
    ...In the past three months, the total number of attacks increased 22%. Some of this increase is attributable to a seasonal spike in violence during Ramadan. Coalition forces remained the target of the majority of attacks (68%), but the overwhelming majority of casualties were suffered by Iraqis. Total civilian casualties increased by 2% over the previous reporting period. 54% of all attacks occurred in only 2 of Iraq’s 18 provinces (Baghdad and Anbar). Violence in Iraq was divided along ethnic, religious, and tribal lines, and political factions within these groups, and was often localized to specific communities. Outside of the Sunni Triangle, more than 90% of Iraqis reported feeling very safe in their neighborhoods. Still, concern regarding civil war ran high among the Iraqi populace....
    Of course, CSIS has a follow-up, dated 22 Dec 06:

    The DoD Quarterly Report on Stability and Security in Iraq: The Warning Indicators

    This time Cordesman has followed a different format - he's excerpting whole sections of the report, and inserting his comments in italics at the pertinent places in the narrative. It makes for an interesting read, but for clarity's sake I recommend reading the DoD report in its entirety before going over the CSIS paper.

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    Default Credibility is the COG for the political and moral

    I'm working my way through the "The Sling and the Stone" by COL Hammes, and it struck me that there is definitely a parallel between the Vietnam War and OIF. COL Hammes was expanding on how the U.S. focused on military victories, while the Vietnamese focused on political victories. First they eroded the political will of the French, then the Americans. Now I'm taking some liberty with COL Hammes' interpretation, but not much. He added that the Tet offensive was a complete failure, and basically broke the back of the Viet Cong, they were never an effective force again. Following that, the Easter Offensive by North Vietnamese regulars was soundly defeated, and furthermore the S. Vietnamese people, for the most part, supported their government during this offensive. Yet despite these victories, after years of the administration and military misleading the American people, the American people simply lost faith in their government. This was furthered along by Watergate and Nixon's resignation, so President Ford had no political power to persuade Congress to aid S. Vietnam when NV launched their next major offensive. To think we "may" have been a few weeks away from victory if we simply provided the promised logistical and air interdiction support.

    Beyond a doubt our current administration has lost credibility with the American people (in both red and blue states) based on its inept management of the war. First there were no WMD, then the premature claim to victory, then denial that there was an insurgency, then there was no civil war, not to mention not having a plan for phase IV, and the list goes on. The point is that even if we are now making progress, America's will is eroded, not so much by the enemy, but by our own executive branch.

    If there is a lesson in this that we obviously failed to learn in Vietnam, it is that we must be completely honest with the American people. They haven't lost patience, they lost faith. I think the President needs to replace several key leaders (the SECDEF was a good start, but not enough), and the new leaders in the administration must be allowed to maintain their credibility so the American people will give them the manuever space needed to get us on the right track.

    The first report on stability measures coming out with Mr. Gates in charge of DoD needs to be brutally honest, and it should caveat where the report may be "unintentionally" misleading. We have two key fights now, one in Iraq, and second winning back the faith of the American people.

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    Default NIE: Prospects for Iraq’s Stability: A Challenging Road Ahead

    Iraq at Risk of Further Strife, Intelligence Report Warns - Washington Post.

    A new National Intelligence Estimate depicts an Iraq involved in a multi-faceted struggle among religious groups and sects and says that without a sharp reversal in the violence and changes among the Shiite, Sunni and Kurd leadership, the situation could further deteriorate. The estimate, which represents the views of all elements of the intelligence community, presents a much grimmer picture of the situation in Iraq than the Bush administration has acknowledged in the past...
    New U.S. Intelligence Report Says Iraq Situation Could Worsen - VOA.

    A new report by U.S. intelligence agencies warns that unless the situation in Iraq is stabilized, the nation could slide into chaos and be divided into warring ethnic states.

    The report is part of a declassified version of a National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq issued Friday in Washington.

    It says the term "civil war" accurately describes key elements of the Iraqi conflict. But it says that term does not adequately portray the complexity of what is going on in Iraq, with Shia-on-Shia attacks, al-Qaida-linked and Sunni insurgencies, and widespread criminal violence.

    The intelligence report says that if Iraqi troops backed by U.S.-led coalition forces could reduce sectarian violence, Iraqi leaders could begin the process of political compromise. But the report cautions that Iraqi leaders, given what it calls the current "winner-take-all attitude," would be hard-pressed to achieve any results over the next year...
    Intelligence Report Predicts Spiraling of Violence in Iraq - NY Times.

    A much-anticipated assessment of Iraq by America’s intelligence agencies describes a worsening cycle of chaos in the country, and predicts that the sectarian strife will continue to fracture the country without bold actions by Iraqi politicians.

    And even if violence is diminished, prospects for a political reconciliation in the country are dim “given the current winner-take-all attitude and sectarian animosities infecting the political scene,” the assessment warns...
    National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq - Washington Post pdf file of released unclassified report.

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    Default National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq

    Here are the Key Judgements from of the new National Intelligence Estimate about Iraq’s future that was released yesterday. The report, most of which remains classified, is titled “Prospects for Iraq’s Stability: A Challenging Road Ahead” and is dated January 2007. Italic emphasis is from the report.

    Key Judgements:

    Iraqi society’s growing polarization, the persistent weakness of the security forces and the state in general, and all sides’ ready recourse to violence are collectively driving an increase in communal and insurgent violence and political extremism. Unless efforts to reverse these conditions show measurable progress during the term of this estimate, the coming 12 to 18 months, we assess that the overall security situation will continue to deteriorate at rates comparable to the latter part of 2006.

    If strengthened Iraqi Security Forces (I.S.F.), more loyal to the government and supported by coalition forces, are able to reduce levels of violence and establish more effective security for Iraq’s population, Iraqi leaders could have an opportunity to begin the process of political compromise necessary for longer term stability, political progress, and economic recovery.

    Nevertheless, even if violence is diminished, given the current winner-take-all attitude and sectarian animosities infecting the political scene, Iraqi leaders will be hard pressed to achieve sustained political reconciliation in the time frame of this estimate.

    The challenges confronting Iraqis are daunting, and multiple factors are driving the current trajectory of the country’s security and political evolution.

    Decades of subordination to Sunni political, social, and economic domination have made the Shia deeply insecure about their hold on power. This insecurity leads the Shia to mistrust U.S. efforts to reconcile Iraqi sects and reinforces their unwillingness to engage with the Sunnis on a variety of issues, including adjusting the structure of Iraq’s federal system, reining in Shia militias, and easing de-Baathification.

    Many Sunni Arabs remain unwilling to accept their minority status, believe the central government is illegitimate and incompetent, and are convinced that Shia dominance will increase Iranian influence over Iraq, in ways that erode the state’s Arab character and increase Sunni repression.

    The absence of unifying leaders among the Arab Sunni or Shia with the capacity to speak for or exert control over their confessional groups limits prospects for reconciliation. The Kurds remain willing to participate in Iraqi state-building but reluctant to surrender any of the gains in autonomy they have achieved.

    The Kurds are moving systematically to increase their control of Kirkuk to guarantee annexation of all or most of the city and province into the Kurdistan Regional Government (K.R.G.) after the constitutionally mandated referendum scheduled to occur no later than 31 December 2007. Arab groups in Kirkuk continue to resist violently what they see as Kurdish encroachment.

    Despite real improvements, the Iraqi Security Forces (I.S.F.) — particularly the Iraqi police — will be hard pressed in the next 12-18 months to execute significantly increased security responsibilities, and particularly to operate independently against Shia militias with success. Sectarian divisions erode the dependability of many units, many are hampered by personnel and equipment shortfalls, and a number of Iraqi units have refused to serve outside of the areas where they were recruited.

    Extremists — most notably the Sunni jihadist group Al Qaeda in Iraq (A.Q.I.) and Shia oppositionist Jaysh al-Mahdi (J.A.M.) — continue to act as very effective accelerators for what has become a self-sustaining inter-sectarian struggle between Shia and Sunnis.

    Significant population displacement, both within Iraq and the movement of Iraqis into neighboring countries, indicates the hardening of ethno-sectarian divisions, diminishes Iraq’s professional and entrepreneurial classes, and strains the capacities of the countries to which they have relocated. The U.N. estimates over a million Iraqis are now in Syria and Jordan.

    The Intelligence Community judges that the term “civil war” does not adequately capture the complexity of the conflict in Iraq, which includes extensive Shia-on-Shia violence, Al Qaeda and Sunni insurgent attacks on coalition forces, and widespread criminally motivated violence. Nonetheless, the term “civil war” accurately describes key elements of the Iraqi conflict, including the hardening of ethno-sectarian identities, a sea change in the character of the violence, ethno-sectarian mobilization, and population displacements.

    Coalition capabilities, including force levels, resources, and operations, remain an essential stabilizing element in Iraq.


    If coalition forces were withdrawn rapidly during the term of this estimate, we judge that this almost certainly would lead to a significant increase in the scale and scope of sectarian conflict in Iraq, intensify Sunni resistance to the Iraqi government, and have adverse consequences for national reconciliation.

    If such a rapid withdrawal were to take place, we judge that the I.S.F. would be unlikely to survive as a nonsectarian national institution; neighboring countries — invited by Iraqi factions or unilaterally — might intervene openly in the conflict; massive civilian casualties and forced population displacement would be probable; A.Q.I. would attempt to use parts of the country — particularly Al Anbar Province — to plan increased attacks in and outside of Iraq; and spiraling violence and political disarray in Iraq, along with Kurdish moves to control Kirkuk and strengthen autonomy, could prompt Turkey to launch a military incursion.

    A number of identifiable developments could help to reverse the negative trends driving Iraq’s current trajectory. They include:

    - Broader Sunni acceptance of the current political structure and federalism to begin to reduce one of the major sources of Iraq’s instability.

    - Significant concessions by Shia and Kurds to create space for Sunni acceptance of federalism.

    - A bottom-up approach — deputizing, resourcing, and working more directly with neighborhood watch groups and establishing grievance committees — to help mend frayed relationships between tribal and religious groups, which have been mobilized into communal warfare over the past three years.

    A key enabler for all of these steps would be stronger Iraqi leadership, which could enhance the positive impact of all the above developments.

    Iraq’s neighbors influence, and are influenced by, events within Iraq, but the involvement of these outside actors is not likely to be a major driver of violence or the prospects for stability because of the self-sustaining character of Iraq’s internal sectarian dynamics.

    Nonetheless, Iranian lethal support for select groups of Iraqi Shia militants clearly intensifies the conflict in Iraq. Syria continues to provide safe haven for expatriate Iraqi Baathists and to take less than adequate measures to stop the flow of foreign jihadists into Iraq.

    For key Sunni regimes, intense communal warfare, Shia gains in Iraq, and Iran’s assertive role have heightened fears of regional instability and unrest and contributed to a growing polarization between Iran and Syria on the one hand and other Middle East governments on the other.

    But traditional regional rivalries, deepening ethnic and sectarian violence in Iraq over the past year, persistent anti-Americanism in the region, anti-Shia prejudice among Arab states, and fears of being perceived by their publics as abandoning their Sunni co-religionists in Iraq have constrained Arab states’ willingness to engage politically and economically with the Shia-dominated government in Baghdad and led them to consider unilateral support to Sunni groups.

    Turkey does not want Iraq to disintegrate and is determined to eliminate the safe haven in northern Iraq of the Kurdistan People’s Congress (K.G.K., formerly P.K.K.) — a Turkish Kurdish terrorist group.

    A number of identifiable internal security and political triggering events, including sustained mass sectarian killings, assassination of major religious and political leaders, and a complete Sunni defection from the government have the potential to convulse severely Iraq’s security environment. Should these events take place, they could spark an abrupt increase in communal and insurgent violence and shift Iraq’s trajectory from gradual decline to rapid deterioration with grave humanitarian, political, and security consequences. Three prospective security paths might then emerge:

    - Chaos leading to partition. With a rapid deterioration in the capacity of Iraq’s central government to function, security services and other aspects of sovereignty would collapse. Resulting widespread fighting could produce de facto partition, dividing Iraq into three mutually antagonistic parts. Collapse of this magnitude would generate fierce violence for at least several years, ranging well beyond the time frame of this estimate, before settling into a partially stable end-state.

    - Emergence of a Shia strongman. Instead of a disintegrating central government producing partition, a security implosion could lead Iraq’s potentially most powerful group, the Shia, to assert its latent strength.

    - Anarchic fragmentation of power. The emergence of a checkered pattern of local control would present the greatest potential for instability, mixing extreme ethno-sectarian violence with debilitating intra-group clashes.

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    Default Blogs on the NIE

    NIE on Iraq: A Turning Point - Threats Watch.

    Today the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released the Key Judgments of the updated National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq. Contrary to the early interpretation of the report from some quarters it does not close the door on success.

    A successful surge – or the broader idea that a political solution can only take root if there is a clamp-down on violence – will not be a waste of time or effort. Of course combat-related caveats to the viability of the best laid plans still apply.

    Addressing the political issues in Iraq the Key Judgments are more news than intelligence: Shi’a are suspicious of the Sunni and of us; Sunni don’t like their change in status and worry that Iranian influence will only make their situation worse; the absence of mini-Titos makes progress difficult as factions-of-factions tend to complicate the political process; and the Kurds are about the only ones who have their act together enough to make something substantial happen for them and theirs...
    NIE Not New - ZenPundit.

    The much disputed Iraq NIE key judgments summary was released in an unclassified PDF version with a description of changes in analytical methodology. These were mildly interesting to me but any intel wonk types hoping for the addition of bold, untried, new analytical techniques is going to be disappointed. What was added should help enhance clarity for non-professional readers and make any artificial, imposed, analytical consensus look more...well...marginally artificial and imposed.

    As for substance, the document is remarkable for its lack of surprises. There are complaints that the NIE has not taken into account the results of a successful surge campaign on Iraq. That is true, but the surge is a tactical manuver by the U.S. military that will not change the underlying strategic dynamic among Iraqi factions. It would simply create a zone of decreased conflict level and a breathing space for a negotiation of a political solution, it is not a political solution in itself. Someone actualy has to take advantage of what a successful surge provides...
    U.S. a Bystander in Iraq, According to DNI - Westhawk.

    ... The next logical step for Admiral Fallon would be to get an assessment of the situation in Iraq. He should ask the highest authority, the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for assembling the work products of the entire U.S. intelligence community. Today, the DNI delivered his report on Iraq. Unfortunately for Admiral Fallon, soon to be responsible for Iraq and beyond, there doesn’t seem to be, by the U.S. intelligence community’s reckoning, much “realistic” or “practical” remaining for the U.S. in Iraq.

    By the DNI’s reckoning, it appears as if the U.S.-led coalition force in Iraq is a minor bystander in the drama described in this intelligence estimate. The current U.S. strategy is to dampen down violence in Baghdad for a long enough period to allow the Iraqi government to become stronger and gain respect. But it seems there is little chance that the Shia and Kurds will issue enough concessions to induce Iraq’s Sunni Arabs to accept Iraq’s new governing reality, Shi’ite and Kurdish control. The DNI’s scenario for a political happy ending in Iraq seems highly improbable...
    NIE: It's A Civil War - Captain's Quarters.

    The intelligence community released its National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq yesterday, a nine-page document that the Washington Post correctly characterizes as "bleak". It adopts the term "civil war" for the ongoing conflict in Iraq, and at the same time notes that the term doesn't do justice to the myriad of conflicts active in the country at the moment. However, it also warns about the effect a withdrawal would have on the region...

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    Default Feb 07 Jane's Intelligence Review

    The current JIR has a good piece on Iraq's near-term outlook titled: Losing Ground: The Future of Central Government in Iraq. It consists of a situation summary, and then, using their country risk modelling methodology, they lay out three potential scenarios for '07. Scenarios one (Unitary Iraq) and three (Government Collapse) they rate as low on the probability scale, with scenario two (De-Facto Partition) being most likely.
    ...the government is highly unlikely to regain a monopoly of violence in 2007 no matter how successful its development of the Iraqi Army. The key dynamics are not between the government and the militias or the insurgents, but arguably between the various armed sub-state groups themselves. The multinational presence will slowly draw down in 2007, but not significantly enough to end the sense of an occupation. Instead, the key effect of withdrawal is likely to be to exacerbate sectarian and factional grievances that have been restrained to a degree since 2003...
    If you can get access to a copy of JIR, it makes for an interesting read.

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    ...and now the latest, 2 Mar 07, update:Measuring Security and Stability in Iraq

    No ExecSum this time, so I'm pulling a piece from the section on the overall security environment:
    ...The conflict in Iraq remains a mosaic and requires maximum flexibility on the part of the Coalition and the GOI to uproot the main drivers of violence in different areas of the country.

    • The conflict in the north is characterized by sectarian tensions, insurgents and extremist attacks, and competition among ethnic groups (Kurd, Arab, Turkomen) for political and economic dominance, including control of the oilfields centered around Kirkuk. Violence remained focused primarily in and around the northern cities of Kirkuk, Mosul, and Tal’Afar, where ethnic competition for power is exacerbated by violence from Sunni extremists.

    • Violence in Anbar is characterized by Sunni insurgents and AQI attacks against Coalition forces. AQI and affiliated Sunni extremists are attempting to intimidate the local population into supporting the creation of an Islamic state. However, in a positive development, these efforts are provoking a backlash among some tribal figures and Sunni insurgent leaders, who are encouraging local opposition to AQI, particularly in ar-Ramadi. Local Sunni sheikhs are leading this opposition and have strengthened recruiting efforts for local police forces.

    • Violence in Baghdad, Diyala, and Balad is characterized by sectarian competition for power and influence between AQI and JAM, principally through murders, executions, and high-profile bombings. AQI and JAM elements rarely clash directly; most of their reciprocal violence is against Shi’a
    and Sunni civilians through high-profile bombings or campaigns of sectarian cleansing.

    • The conflict in the southern provinces is characterized by tribal rivalry; factional violence among the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI)/Badr Organization, the Office of the Martyr Sadr/JAM, and smaller militias for political power; and attacks on Coalition forces....

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    Here's the June 2007 Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq Quarterly Report
    ....Overall, it is too early to assess the impact of the new approach. For the period covered by this report, the additional forces to support the new approach were not fully in place, and those that were had only a limited time to conduct operations. In addition, new initiatives such as enhanced PRTs and focused efforts to improve GoI budget execution and rule of law remain in their initial stages. On the political front, reconciliation is a top priority. Economically, further provision of goods and services by the GoI that benefit the Iraqi population is required. Progress will depend on Iraqi follow-through on their commitments made as part of the new approach; the actions of insurgents, militia and terrorists to disrupt reconciliation will be a key challenge to the Iraqi government’s ability to fulfill its commitments....
    Again, CSIS has a follow-up, dated 20 Jun 07:

    Still Losing? The June 2007 Edition of Measuring Stability in Iraq
    The latest Department of Defense report on “Measuring Stability in Iraq” attempts to put a bad situation in a favorable light. It does not disguise many of the problems involved, but it does attempt to defend the strategy presented by President Bush in January 2007 in ways that sometimes present serious problems. More broadly, it reveals that the President’s strategy is not working in any critical dimension....

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    Default Related

    22 June Washington Post - Iraq Deaths Don't Mean Failure, Pace Says by Josh White.

    The recent rise in U.S. troop deaths in Iraq is the "wrong metric" to use in assessing the effectiveness of the new security strategy for Baghdad, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said yesterday in a news conference with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

    Despite military reports to Congress that use numbers of attacks and overall levels of violence as an important gauge of Iraq's security status, Gates and Pace told reporters at the Pentagon yesterday that violence is not a useful measure of progress. Setting the stage for mandatory reports to Congress in September, both officials said violence could go up in the summer months as troops try to give the Iraqi government time to set the country on the right track...

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default General’s Iraq Progress Report Has Competition

    24 June NY Times - General’s Iraq Progress Report Has Competition by David Sanger and Thom Shanker.

    Last month, Congress set a deadline for the American commander in Iraq, declaring that by Sept. 15 he would have to assess progress there before billions more dollars are approved to finance the military effort to stabilize the country. The commander, Gen. David H. Petraeus, said in recent days that his report would be only a snapshot of trends, strongly suggesting he will be asking for more time.

    But even before he composes the first sentences of the report, to be written with the new American ambassador in Baghdad, Ryan C. Crocker, the administration is commissioning other assessments that could dilute its findings about the impact of the current troop increase. The intent appears to be to give President Bush, who publicly puts great emphasis on listening to his field commanders, a wide range of options.

    The assessments are likely to conclude that the Iraqi government has failed to use the troop increase for the purpose the president intended, to strike the political accommodations that he said would stabilize the country. That and other views expected in the various reports could also provide some rationale for beginning a reduction of troops in Iraq under conditions far short of the “victory” Mr. Bush, for the past four years, has said was his ultimate goal. He has used that word with far less frequency recently...

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Prospects for Iraq’s Stability

    Prospects for Iraq’s Stability: Some Security Progress but Political Reconciliation Elusive

    Update to NIE, Prospects for Iraq’s Stability: A Challenging Road Ahead

    August 2007

    National Intelligence Estimate Key Judgements and News / Blogs Links at Small Wars Journal...

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    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Default Quarterly Report on Stability and Security in Iraq

    As always, a half step forward but never as much as desired.


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    Default

    ...here's the expected CSIS followup, 20 Dec 07:

    Progress in Iraq: The December Report on Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq
    ....It seems unfair to criticize the report for presenting a favorable view of many risks and issues. It does so more objectively than in the past, and it is a document issued by a government at war. The detailed content of the report is also considerably more objective in highlighting problems and risks than the executive summary, and focusing on the most political part of the document is no way to judge its overall content.

    There are, however, several areas that deserve special attention. Some are positive, but others highlight the need for US time, patience, and resources, and for a US effort that can be sustained in an election year and into the next Presidency.....

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