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  • Author: Carl Conetta
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Project on Defense Alternatives
  • Abstract: President Bush's request to increase the size of the Army and Marine Corps by 92,000 personnel follows on the heels of similar proposals by Congress members of both parties. Despite the bipartisan appeal of this idea, it is not at all clear what problem it is intended to solve or how it is supposed to solve it. Advocates may believe that America's troubles in Iraq provide reason enough to “grow” the Army and Marine Corps. But this view misconstrues both the lessons of that war and America's true security needs.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Government, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, America
  • Author: Carl Conetta
  • Publication Date: 12-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Project on Defense Alternatives
  • Abstract: In its National Strategy for Victory in Iraq the Bush administration recognizes that the key to defusing the insurgency is drawing the Sunni Arab community into the political process. And it correctly sees that this requires "inclusive institutions that offer power-sharing mechanisms and minority protections." As the strategy notes: such institutions would "demonstrate to disaffected Sunnis that they have influence and the ability to protect their interests in a democratic Iraq." Unfortunately, the administration finds it difficult to apply this precept where it would matter most: in the election process.
  • Topic: Democratization, Ethnic Conflict, Government
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia, Kurdistan
  • Author: Carl Conetta
  • Publication Date: 01-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Project on Defense Alternatives
  • Abstract: President Bush was correct when he asserted on 2 December 2004 that it was "time for the Iraqi citizens to go to the polls." Indeed, it is long past time. Elections should have occurred a year or so after the fall of the Hussein regime. But the fact that they are overdue does not mean that an adequate foundation for meaningfully democratic elections has been laid. It has not. Unfortunately, the balloting due to take place on 30 January will not fulfill the promise of democracy nor satisfy the Iraqi passion for selfdetermination. For these reasons, it cannot bring peace. It is more likely to exacerbate civil strife.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Carl Conetta
  • Publication Date: 07-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Project on Defense Alternatives
  • Abstract: Progress toward a stable peace in Iraq and the withdrawal of US troops begins with the painful recognition that America's recent troubles are largely self-inflicted. This is due principally to the adoption of mission objectives that far exceed what is necessary or pragmatic.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Government, Politics, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, America, Middle East
  • Author: Carl Conetta
  • Publication Date: 07-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Project on Defense Alternatives
  • Abstract: The key to enabling total US troop withdrawal from Iraq within 400 days is achieving a political accord with Sunni leaders at all levels and with Iraq's neighbors - especially Syria and Iran. The proximal aim would be to immediately lower the level of conflict inside Iraq by constricting both active and passive support for the insurgency, inside and outside the country. This would allow the United States to shift resources to the training mission and to adopt other de-escalatory measures - most importantly: a withdrawal time line. The strategic price of this diplomatic initiative would be a return to self-governance in Sunni areas, a guaranteed level of representation for these areas in the national assembly, an end to broad-brush measures of de-Baathification, an amnesty for most indigenous insurgents and for most former Baathists, and a de-escalation of the US confrontation with Syria and Iran regarding a range of issues. In conjunction with these diplomatic initiatives, the United States would announce a tentative time line for withdrawal of its troops from Iraq -- associated with training milestones. Also: US forces would end major offensive sweeps inside the country, adopt a defensive posture, and shift the emphasis of their activity to training Iraqi security forces. Finally: the Iraqi government would re-activate portions of the old army -- partly as a confidence-building measure, but also in order to (i) rob insurgent organizations of their recruiting base, (ii) augment the power of the new Iraqi security forces, and (iii) produce a better ethnic balance in the new forces (which are currently dominated by Kurds and Shiites). As new forces increase in capacity, US forces would be removed, further reducing a stimulus of insurgent action. Four hundred days - 57 weeks - is sufficient time to complete several Iraqi training cycles, including field exercises for many units at the battalion and brigade levels. Some division level training also can occur. Given sufficient resources (24,000 training personnel), 100,000 Iraqi security personnel can receive remedial training and another 80,000 new personnel can be trained and exercised during this period. Together with the full provision of all appropriate equipment, this development effort can yield Iraqi security forces that are several times more capable than those it controls in mid-2005. After thirteen months, the only foreign military assets remaining in Iraq would be a small monitoring and training mission with a security detail: less than 10,000 foreign civilian and military personnel in all. US troops should constitute no more than one-third of the military component -- that is, approximately 2,000 troops. This mission should be conducted under a three-year UN mandate and joint NATO-international command. In addition, the United States might maintain a 25,000-person rapid reaction task force in the region, but outside either Iraq or Saudi Arabia.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Government, Politics, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East