Security Studies Program Seminar

After Saddam: Prewar Planning for Postwar Iraq

Nora Bensahel
Senior Political Scientist, RAND Corporation

October 4, 2006


I. Overall timeline

II. Outline of Presentation

•  Military and Civilian Planning Effort
•  Task Force IV
•  Humanitarian Planning

III. Military and Civilian Planning Effort

A. Military

1. Core assumption that someone else (other than military) would handle Phase IV

2. Tommy Franks raises concerns about potential for “catastrophic success”

a. Rapid win that leads to the disintegration of the Iraqi regime

b. No organized planning effort to follow up on Franks' professed concern

3. Military planning for P IV incomplete at best

a. CENTCOM OPLAN on Iraqi Reconstruction – very little guidance for CFLCC, because still being drafted when major combat ended

b. CFLCC Plans try to plug the gaps in CENTCOM guidance
-- Cobra II
-- Eclipse II

4. Belated recognition of shortcoming of postwar plans does not lead to 11 th hour rework; instead military takes the “too late to go back now” approach to the flawed plans

B. Civilian

1. OSD – Dominant player that won most interagency fights

2. State

a. Minimal role in planning

1) Not included in DOD scenario planning

2) Future of Iraq study was a compilation of working papers not an alternate plan

•  Academic study drawing on input of exiles

•  13 working groups

•  Study did identify many of the problems that would emerge later in Iraq

•  No mention of resources or prioritization – clearly not a plan in this sense

b. USAID the most active component

IV. Task Force IV

A.CENTCOM Internal Look Exercise reveals major gap in postwar planning

B. CJCS takes unprecedented step of setting up a Standing Joint Force HQ to handle the problem (Dec 02)

C. Very small outfit

1. 58 military personnel

2. Brigadier General in charge

D. Problems with integration and chain of command

1. Organizational orphan

2. Inadequate staffing to handle scale of problem

3. Difficult relationship with CENTCOM/CFLCC

•  Spurned by CENTCOM

•  Deploy to Kuwait in mid February 03

4. Difficult relationship with ORHA – competing for mission, resources, qualified personnel

E. TF IV disintegrates from within

1. BG and principal deputies leave

2. TF begins to collapse

3. Formally disbanded in Mar 03

•  Some personnel absorbed into CENTCOM

•  Some personnel absorbed into ORHA

4. NO institutional memory; no effective use of products

F. TFIV as the wrong organizational response to the right problem: failures of CENTCOM planning identified, but could not be solved by an organization created by CJCS



A. Established in Jan 03 as lead agency for Phase IV

B. Very little time to plan and prepare

1. Two months before start of major combat

2. Time consumed in hiring and deployment preparations

C. Military heavy staff

1. Garner heads the team and staffs with serving and retired military

2. Hard to get civilians to deploy – therefore default to military

D. Ministerial Advisory Team concept

1. ORHA planned to take out the top political operatives of the Iraqi ministries

2. Replace the senior leadership with three man team

•  U.S. Senior Adviser

•  Iraqi Expatriate with relevant experience in functional area

•  “Last Iraqi Standing” – the most senior Ministry official not tainted by direct association with the regime

3. ORHA assumes that Ministries will continue to function under this new management scheme

E. February 2003 Rock Drill at NDU raises important and unanswered questions

1. Who provides security for ORHA?

2. When does ORHA move into country?

3. Questions from Tom Warrick (State, Future of Iraq) lead Garner to hire him onto the ORHA staff

•  Rumsfeld tells Garner to fire Warrick

•  Rumsfeld cites authority of his superiors

F. Command relationships problematic

1. CFLCC tells ORHA to stay in Kuwait

2. McKiernan wants to let ORHA in on Victory +120 days

3. ORHA had intended to roll in behind forces as they moved north

G. ORHA moves into country 17-21 April 03 to find completely unanticipated situation

1. Widespread looting

2. Collapse of all ministries

3. No major humanitarian flows

H. Garner notified (24 April, 3 days after his arrival in Baghdad) that he will be replaced

I. No effective cooperation between Garner and Bremer during transition

VI.  Humanitarian Planning

A. Much more detailed and successful planning effort, despite the fact that it was done by the same interagency working group that was responsible for reconstruction planning

B. Superior planning for humanitarian issues was the result of its significance to the CFLCC maneuver plan

1. Other postwar issues nebulous

2. Humanitarian flows, on the other hand, would constitute a major obstacle to the execution of Phase 1-3

3. Therefore, humanitarian plans receive lion's share of attention

C. No real humanitarian crisis erupted to put these plans to the test

1. Swift advance, precision engagements, and non-use of WMD mean that population movements were minimal

2. No real test of plans


IV. Why was the US so unprepared for this?

A. Unchallenged assumptions

1. Most military planning based on explicit assumption testing

2. No “branches and sequels” in the postwar plans

3. Rumsfeld mystery

•  Rumsfeld has a reputation for relentless questioning of staff assumptions

•  Why did he not behave in this fashion on this set of issues

B. Ineffective interagency coordination

C. Security was not acknowledged as a postwar task

1. Administration sees the operation as a liberation, not an occupation

2. If it is a liberation, then there is little need for an enforcement force

VIII. Lessons

A. Wars do not end when major combat ends

B. Ground forces will have to take on stabilization missions

C. Eliminate the operational phase concept



A. What about the decision to dissolve the Iraqi Army?

1. IZ Army did collapse at the end of the conflict

2. But ORHA was in the process of trying to recall and pay the army

3. Garner envisioned using the army as a reconstruction force

•  Keep soldiers off the street

•  Keep them on the payroll

4. CPA (Bremer, Wolfowitz, Slocombe) decide to reverse this process

B. Would better planning have mattered? Would doing all the things outlined here have changed the outcome?

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