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The Iraq Report

From "New Way Forward" to New Commander.

11:00 PM, Feb 28, 2007 • By KIMBERLY KAGAN
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This report, the first of a series, describes the purpose, course, and results of coalition military operations between January 10, 2007, when President Bush announced a change in U.S. strategy in Iraq, and February 10, when General David Petraeus replaced General George Casey as overall U.S. commander in Iraq. It describes operations in Baghdad, in the villages and towns around the capital, and in Diyala province to the northeast. All of these operations preceded the Baghdad Security Plan now getting underway. Some of them were aimed at preparing for that operation; others were independent undertakings responding to local opportunities or challenges. This report describes in detail and evaluates significant combat on Haifa Street in Baghdad, and clear-and-control operations south of Baqubah in Diyala province, placing these operations within the overall strategic context of the struggle. It discusses coalition efforts to disrupt al Qaeda networks in Iraq, the probable effects of those efforts, and the integral relationship between those efforts and efforts to stem sectarian violence. This report also briefly addresses the evidence for at least tacit Iranian support for Sunni insurgents in Diyala. Subsequent editions of the Iraq Report will be published at www.weeklystandard.com approximately every two weeks, and will chronicle and analyze ongoing coalition military operations both in Baghdad and throughout Iraq.

To download the complete report in PDF form, click here.

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Introduction


On January 10, 2007, President Bush announced that he would commit more American forces to Iraq, particularly to Baghdad, to secure the population of the capital city. This update places the unfolding Baghdad Security Plan, Operation Enforcing the Law, in context by reviewing the military operations that U.S., Coalition, and Iraqi troops conducted in the month before it began. This background information is necessary for understanding the changes that may occur as a result of the Baghdad Security Plan. Only then can we evaluate that plan's effect on Baghdad and Iraq, and its relationship to the larger U.S. mission in Iraq.

To evaluate a military plan, it is necessary to look at the same categories that military planners use to generate it: the mission, the enemy that generated the mission, terrain, the timing of events (including friendly and enemy movement), the available friendly forces, and the civilian population. One must then examine the different options open to commanders and discuss the balances of risk and opportunity. One then evaluates why they have chosen the course of action they have on the basis of the information they have available. Then, one must evaluate the execution of the plan. One must examine how the commanders and their units react to contingencies and follow up on operations to achieve their goals.

It is also necessary to evaluate the overall concept of operations--how the organization intends to reach its objectives. Military organizations must set and meet a hierarchical series of objectives that will accomplish the overall goal: tactical objectives, such as destroying a safe haven or holding a piece of terrain; operational objectives, such as securing a city; and strategic objectives, such as establishing a secure and democratic government. These objectives are hierarchical: the tactical objectives must contribute to the operational level objectives, and they in turn must lead to the strategic level objectives. It is not possible simply to focus on strategic objectives or on tactical objectives; one must accomplish tactical missions and operational missions to achieve strategic success.

This edition of the Iraq Report reviews the nature of the mission, the concept of operations, the enemy, the terrain, the timing of events, and some aspects of the civilian population during early 2007. It demonstrates how events in the provinces and in the outskirts of Baghdad influence events in the capital. From open sources, the Iraq Report shows the nature of the al Qaeda network in Iraq, and some aspects of how and where it is now functioning. It discusses some significant military engagements in Diyala Province, in Baghdad, and in Najaf. These operations demonstrate how terrorists bring sectarian violence to a community. They also show different approaches that local commanders have taken to solving the problem of sectarian violence. This Iraq Report shows why some recent military operations have succeeded and others failed.