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[casi] U.S. rushed post-Saddam planning

U.S. rushed post-Saddam planning

By Rowan Scarborough

    A secret report for the Joint Chiefs of Staff lays the blame for
setbacks in Iraq on a flawed and rushed war-planning process that "limited
the focus" for preparing for post-Saddam Hussein operations.
    The report, prepared last month, said the search for weapons of mass
destruction was planned so late in the game that it was impossible for U.S.
Central Command to carry out the mission effectively. "Insufficient U.S.
government assets existed to accomplish the mission," the classified
briefing said.
    The report is titled "Operation Iraqi Freedom Strategic Lessons Learned"
and is stamped "secret." A copy was obtained by The Washington Times.
    The report also shows that President Bush approved the overall war
strategy for Iraq in August last year. That was eight months before the
first bomb was dropped and six months before he asked the U.N. Security
Council for a war mandate that he never received.
    Senior U.S. officials, including Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz
and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, conceded in recent weeks
that the Bush administration failed to predict the guerrilla war against
American troops in Iraq. Saddam loyalists and foreign fighters have killed
more than 60 soldiers since May 1, mostly with roadside bombs and
rocket-propelled grenades.
    The Congressional Budget Office projected yesterday that the demands of
troop rotations globally will leave the Pentagon without any fresh Army
units for Iraq in 2004 unless tours are extended beyond one year.
    The Joint Chiefs report reveals deficiencies in the planning process. It
says planners were not given enough time to put together the best blueprint
for what is called Phase IV - the ongoing reconstruction of Iraq.
    The report does not name any individual. Most war planning was conducted
by Gen. Tommy Franks at U.S. Central Command; the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
under the direction of Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman; and the Pentagon
policy-writing shop led by Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith.
    "Late formation of DoD [Phase IV] organizations limited time available
for the development of detailed plans and pre-deployment coordination," the
report says. "Command relationships (and communication requirements) and
responsibilities were not clearly defined for DoD organizations until
shortly before [Operation Iraqi Freedom] commenced."
    In fact, the Pentagon was forced to scrap its original plan for
rebuilding as violence increased against U.S. forces and basic services were
slow to resume. L. Paul Bremer, a former ambassador, was tapped in mid-May
to take over as Iraq's American administrator.
    On the weapons search - the prime reason Mr. Bush cited for going to
war - the Joint Chiefs report states: "Weapons of mass destruction (WMD)
elimination and exploitation planning efforts did not occur early enough in
the process to allow CentCom to effectively execute the mission. The extent
of the planning required was underestimated. Insufficient U.S. government
assets existed to accomplish the mission."
    The initial search by military teams found no weapons at sites
identified by the CIA and other intelligence agencies before the war. The
Pentagon then replaced those teams with an overarching "Iraq Survey Group,"
which received additional expert personnel and new intelligence assets.
Former U.N. weapons inspector David Kay is leading the search for weapons of
mass destruction.
    The report said the planning was poor because "WMD
elimination/exploitation on a large scale was a new mission area. Division
of responsibility for planning and execution was not clear. As a result
planning occurred on an ad hoc basis and late in the process. Additionally,
there were insufficient assets available to accomplish the mission. Existing
assets were tasked to perform multiple, competing missions."
    A Pentagon spokesman declined yesterday to comment specifically on the
    "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
    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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