- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 16, 2003

The Pentagon’s policy-making shop is getting internal criticism for failing to predict the ongoing guerrilla war in its planning for a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, military officials say.

The officials, who requested anonymity, also said the intelligence community failed to paint a full picture before the war of the sorry state of Iraq’s infrastructure and basic services such as drinking water and sewage treatment.

Much of the inside-the-Pentagon criticism is directed at Douglas Feith, the undersecretary of defense for policy, who has coordinated postwar planning.

“Feith’s star is falling,” one Pentagon insider said of the Georgetown University-educated lawyer who worked in the Reagan administration. This official said Mr. Feith pushed to make Saddam’s suspected weapons of mass destruction the No. 1 rationale for going to war on March 19. That argument has suffered as search teams have failed to find any such weapons.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is said to be unhappy with the administration’s rosy predictions for post-Ba’athist Iraq. But, as is his custom, he presents a united front with the administration.

The defense chief did acknowledge last week that at least one critically important prediction did not come true.

“There were some people who were quite optimistic that there would be a surrender of their army in a formal way,” he said on the Public Broadcasting Service. “In fact, what happened was they didn’t surrender. The intelligence was not perfect on that. They bled into the countryside.”

Mr. Rumsfeld did not cast blame on himself or on any particular aide. “Some people, as I say, did leave the impression that their view was that. My view was I didn’t know. And I didn’t ever give optimistic suggestions because I knew I didn’t know.”

Mr. Feith said in a statement to The Washington Times:

“There have been many impressive accomplishments in Iraq in the four and a half months since major combat operations ended. Our plans for the war and the reconstruction produced good results and headed off a lot of serious problems that could have arisen.

“Many good, dedicated people throughout the U.S. government were involved in various aspects of reconstruction planning. They have solid grounds for gratification that their work has contributed to important successes in Iraq.”

Pentagon officials told of rushed prewar planning last winter, as one arm of the policy shop made post-Saddam blueprints of which others had no knowledge. Some nondefense agencies simply skipped planning meetings. While the war plan went off with few snags and produced a quick victory, the “Phase IV” plan was not solidly in place when Baghdad fell April 9.

Mr. Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz are taking the most heat publicly from the press and Democratic members of Congress. The White House, meanwhile, says President Bush fully backs the defense secretary.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, told Mr. Wolfowitz at a hearing last week: “It’s clear that the Bush administration was not ready for what took place after the Iraqi regime collapsed. … We were unprepared, totally unprepared, for what’s happened out there in Iraq in terms of giving adequate protection for American troops.”

Mr. Wolfowitz answered that “there was an enormous amount of preparation, and there’s a stunning list of successes that our military and their civilian counterparts have accomplished. … We need to project confidence, and we have every reason to project confidence because we’ve done a fantastic job.”

Gen. Richard B. Myers, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, added, “I think we have done the planning, Senator Kennedy, for our troops.”

But a secret report for the Joint Chiefs of Staff last month gave a low grade to planning for Phase IV.

“Late formation of DoD [Phase IV] organizations limited time available for the development of detailed plans and pre-deployment coordination,” said the report, prepared by the chiefs’ planning arm, the Joint Staff. “Command relationships (and communication requirements) and responsibilities were not clearly defined for DoD organizations until shortly before [the war] commenced.”

The report, a copy of which was obtained by The Times, said the interagency process of coordinating the postwar plan with other federal agencies “was not fully integrated prior to hostilities.”

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