Archive for Monday, August 25, 2008

Panel reflects on Iraq transition

August 25, 2008


The U.S. Army is taking a close look at the decisions made in planning and implementing the war in Iraq and what happened during the nation-building effort that followed.

That process and its discoveries are outlined in a recent book, "On Point II, Transition to the New Campaign," which was discussed Sunday at Kansas University's Dole Institute of Politics. The book focuses primarily on the two years after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

"That was our job to make sense of," said Don Wright, a historian at the Army Combat Studies Institute at Fort Leavenworth, who co-authored the book.

The book was not intended to place blame. "Explain what happened but let the reader decide," Wright said.

The study was also a chance for the Army to learn the lessons of Iraq sooner rather than later, said Kevin Benson, a retired colonel who was involved with the war planning and now teaches at the fort.

"If you are going to be retrospective, it has to be immediately useful," he said.

Disbanding the Iraqi Army and the de-Baathification of Iraq's bureaucracy were decisions that had significant effects on the growth of the insurgency against coalition forces, the book concludes. The Baath Party was Hussein's political movement.

But the U.S. military went into Iraq with too small of a force to deal with the aftermath of the fall of Baghdad, said Adrian Lewis, a KU history professor and director of a KU-Fort Leavenworth program, who also took part in the discussion.

The Army also was operating in an atmosphere fostered by then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that a small force with high-tech weapons was all that was needed, Lewis said. He said the Army was too small to adequately meet its commitment in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Soldiers and Marines at the infantry level, however, made what proved to be the right decisions in trying to engage the populace and begin the nuts and bolts of rebuilding the country, Wright and Benson said.

More than 200 people attended the discussion, including Mission Hills resident Mark Anderson, who said he just took a commission as an Army lieutenant. He said he wanted to read the book, as well as an earlier one called "On Point I."

"Any information about the future, what went wrong in the beginning and how we can fix it, I'm open ears," he said.

The book can be downloaded for free at


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 5 months ago

For a good understanding of the Keystone Kops disaster that BushCo inflicted on Iraq, read this book-- Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone by Rajiv Chandrasekaran

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 5 months ago

Well, please enlighten us then, karl, since you apparently went, and therefore know all there is to know on this topic.

wagenseil 9 years, 5 months ago

Note that in response to a screw-up, the military commissioned a very thorough and generally critical analysis and made their results available to the public. Can one imagine any other large organization -- for example Sprint, Fanny Mae, KU in response to their ever-declining national academic rankings (yeah, yeah, I know they are doing great as a sport franchise...), etc -- doing the same?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 5 months ago

The military knows that they have a very powerful constituency of defense contractors who will make sure they have more than adequate funding, no matter how much belly-button gazing they do, especially since the next time a president wants to go to war, this study will be deep-sixed if it affects the warmongering in the least.

Karl Rubis 9 years, 5 months ago

Bozo, were you even at the speaker and heard what they said? You truly don't know what you are talking about.

JHOK32 9 years, 5 months ago

I've got a panel discussion for them.....get the hell out of Iraq before anymore of our brave kids get their brains blown out for record big oil profits! How's that for a strategy?

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