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US Military Had Different Strategy Ahead Of Iraq War

The number of US troops in Iraq has never topped 160,000 and currently stands at about 144,000, with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld arguing that a large US "footprint" in Iraq could be counterproductive. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Maxim Kniazkov
Washington (AFP) Nov 5, 2006
Four years before armored columns moved into Iraq, the US military produced a secret blueprint for what it saw as a successful occupation of the country, but many of its key elements have never seen the light of day.

The newly declassified plan, obtained by the National Security Archive and released to the public Saturday, calls into questions repeated assurances by President George W. Bush that he strictly follows recommendations by US generals in his quest for success in Iraq.

"I trust our commanders on the ground to give the best advice about how to achieve victory," the president told reporters late last month.

But the plan drafted by the US Central Command in June 1999 as a result of interagency wargames contained a set of recommendations that got mysteriously "forgotten" once Operation "Iraqi Freedom" got under way.

More than 70 experts from the Defense and State Departments, the Central Intelligence Agency and the White House, who took part in the wargames dubbed "Desert Crossing", believed it would take at least 400,000 US troops to stabilize Iraq following the removal of the government of Saddam Hussein, the document showed.

The intervention, they insisted, must be "swift, large-scale, and decisive."

Instead, the number of US troops in Iraq has never topped 160,000 and currently stands at about 144,000, with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld arguing that a large US "footprint" in Iraq would be counterproductive.

The plan also called for "co-opting and cooperating with Iraqi forces" that would not display hostility toward advancing US and British troops.

However, then-US administrator in Iraq Paul Bremer disbanded the Iraqi military soon after the April 2003 fall of Baghdad, a decision he now says he regrets.

The invasion, according to the blueprint, was also to be backed by massive infusions of economic and humanitarian aid.

"If food and drinking water cannot be distributed, if reconstruction progress does not provide incentives to refrain from renewing hostilities, or if minorities perceive that the social system will not protect them, then peace may be lost," the document presciently warned. Many key reconstruction projects remain stalled to this day due to a lack of security, according to US auditors.

Success in Iraq, US military planners reasoned, would also be predicated on two major diplomatic breakthroughs, none of which ever materialized: a new start with Iran and an Arab coalition in support of the invasion.

Given Iran's strong ties to the Iraqi Shiite community, "the United States and its coalition partners should take steps to engage Tehran in a productive fashion wherever possible and ensure that at a minimum Iran does not support counterproductive activities in Iraq," the document recommended. "These steps include diplomatic overtures and appropriate force protection activities."

Some officials, according to the plan, even suggested lifting economic sanctions against Iran slapped in the wake of the 1979 US hostage crisis.

However, tensions between the United States and Iran only heightened since the beginning of the war because of a tense standoff over Tehran's suspected nuclear weapons program. The US secret plan also called for securing Arab coalition partners, saying it "was considered necessary for the legitimacy of any intervention."

Arab support, though, remains lackluster.

The blueprint also warned about the danger of Kurdish separatism in northern Iraq and the possibility that Turkey might decide to intervene militarity to ward off the formation of an independent Kurdish state.

And it predicted that even under an optimistic scenario, the United States would remain involved in Iraq "for at least 10 years."

Source: Agence France-Presse

Related Links
Iraq: The first techonology war of the 21st century

US Will Continue Full-Speed Ahead in Iraq Says Cheney
Washington DC (AFNS) Nov 06, 2006
The United States will go "full-speed ahead" in implementing the strategy in Iraq and won't be swayed by political pressures or "because it's hard going," Vice President Richard B. Cheney reaffirmed today.







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