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ON POINT II: Transition to the New Campaign

The United States Army in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM May 2003-January 2005





Part I

Setting the Stage


Chapter 2
The US Army's Historical Legacy of Military Operations Other Than War and the Planning for Operation IRAQI FREEDOM

 

Conclusion

As an institution, the US Army in 2003 had the experience, training, and doctrine to deal with many of the challenges posed by PH IV operations in Iraq. The Army’s experience with unconventional missions in the last decades of the 20th century had prepared many American Soldiers for the type of chaotic and decentralized stability and support operations that characterized most unconventional campaigns. To be sure, these recent experiences did not include the mounting of a major counterinsurgency campaign, and that would lead to difficulties in 2003 when it became clear to many Soldiers that operations in Iraq would not closely resemble the missions in Bosnia or Kosovo. Nevertheless, there existed within the American Army a strong base of knowledge and practice that provided the basic foundation for operations after Saddam’s regime fell.

Despite its extensive history with stability and support operations, this chapter has shown that the Army has often given less emphasis to stability and support operations than is prudent. The institutional tendency to focus on the conventional aspects of a campaign at times led to the creation of plans for PH IV operations that were poorly conceived and poorly coordinated. Many of the same shortcomings that weakened the plan for postconflict operations in Panama in 1989 emerged in the preparation for OIF. In the planning for Iraq, that tendency affected how much effort CENTCOM and CFLCC placed on the creation of the PH IV plan as well as how much attention tactical commanders and staffs were directed to give to the postinvasion phase of the operation. Had some of the considerable energy, focus, and resources of the overall prewar American effort been redirected toward preparing for PH IV, it is possible that CENTCOM, CFLCC, and the US Army could have been better positioned once major combat ended to begin the exceedingly difficult mission of creating stability, fostering legitimacy, and rebuilding a shattered nation. Moreover, had the US military’s planning and preparation for PH IV in Iraq been more complete, the Army would have been able to leverage its powerful collective campaign experience in Panama, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo much more fully, and almost certainly reduced the difficulties in the transition to full spectrum operations.

 


Chapter 2. The US Army’s Historical Legacy of Military Operations Other Than War and the Planning for Operation IRAQI FREEDOM





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