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U.S. rushed post-Saddam planning
“We always look closely at everything we do to find ways to improve and do better,” the spokesman said, “and Operation Iraqi Freedom is no exception. As to specifics of the lessons learned, it’s still a draft document and classified, so it would be inappropriate to comment on that.”
The report, labeled “final draft,” suggests that combat commanders, such as Central Command, establish permanent cadres of specialists on weapons of mass destruction. It also recommends that each operational plan contain a section for dealing with such weapons.
On planning for the post-Saddam period, the interagency process, such as between the Pentagon and State Department, “was not fully integrated prior to hostilities.” Before the war, “Phase IV objectives were identified but the scope of the effort required to continually refine operational plans for defeat of Iraqi military limited the focus on Phase IV.”
The report also provides a classified timeline of events from September 11 leading to war. It says that on Aug. 29, 2002, Mr. Bush “approves Iraq goals, objectives and strategy.”
Three months earlier, the Pentagon began a series of war exercises called “Prominent Hammer” to judge whether the force could win in Iraq and still maintain a deterrent in other theaters, such as South Korea. On Nov. 24, Gen. Franks, the Central Command chief, presented Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld with “six major tasks for success.” Central Command held a major war game Oct. 4 and 5 to test Gen. Franks’ plan.
The timeline also showed that the Bush administration stayed in close contact with Israel about its plans. In mid-February, “key Israeli leaders” received a briefing on the war plan. Shortly thereafter, CentCom began sharing information in Tel Aviv via U.S. European Command, whose area of responsibility includes the Jewish state.
The report states that the study looks at “the big issues — strategic perspective,” as opposed to lessons-learned reports that examine many tactical issues.
The report awarded three grades. The worst was “capabilities that fell short of expectations or needs, and need to be redressed through new initiatives.” Getting this low grade were the postwar planning and the search for weapons of mass destruction, as well as the mix of active and reserve forces, and the troop deployment to the region.
The next grade was “capabilities that demonstrated effectiveness, but need enhancement.” Public affairs, special-operations forces, finding bombing targets and tracking the whereabouts of friendly troops received the grade.
The highest marks came under the category of “capabilities that reached new levels of performance and need to be sustained and improved.” Joint service warfare, a key war-fighting requirement of Mr. Rumsfeld, got this high grade, as did global war-gaming.
The report also gave high marks to bombing “time-sensitive” targets. In the 2001 Afghanistan war, the report says, Gen. Franks and Mr. Rumsfeld had to approve the target list. But in Iraq, the command improved guidance and procedures so that commanders could launch strikes when targets emerged.
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