After nearly 25 years of Saddam Hussein's rule, Iraqis generally welcomed his overthrow during the 2003 invasion, but the post-Saddam years have seen increased religious conflicts, economic struggles, insurgency, and the continued and divisive presence of occupying forces. RAND research on the Gulf Wars and nation-building efforts in Iraq have helped to inform and advise both the U.S. government and military, and the nascent Iraqi government.
It took approximately two years to wrap up the long-term, country-wide military presence in Iraq, which at its peak involved more than 170,000 troops, an equal number of contractors and more than 500 military bases and outposts. Policymakers and military commanders should use the lessons derived from Iraq to inform critical decisions and timelines required to successfully end large-scale military operations, including the one in Afghanistan.
In an effort to look beyond the 2012 U.S. election and promote "farsighted leadership in a shortsighted world," the latest edition of the RAND Corporation's magazine offers commentaries intended to transcend partisan rhetoric and foster policies that both presidential candidates could well accept.
Disability payments made to veterans injured during combat adequately compensate them for the earning losses they experience in the civilian job market.
Prisoner-of-war and detainee operations are a crucial component in the successful prosecution of a conflict -- particularly in counterinsurgency operations -- and should be upgraded to receive more attention and better advance preparation.
While U.S. government officials working in Iraq believe the use of armed private security contractors has been a useful strategy, many worry that the contractors have not always had a positive effect on U.S. foreign policy objectives.
The 2003 invasion of Iraq and the ensuing conflict in that country fostered the rise of Iranian power in the region, but with more limitations than is commonly acknowledged. It also diminished local confidence in U.S. credibility and created opportunities for China and Russia.
As it withdraws troops from Iraq, the United States must work not only to maintain security in that nation, but also focus on how the action will impact other regional interests.
At the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Coalition forces classified the Mujahedin-e Khalq, a militant organization from Iran with cult-like elements that advocates the overthrow of Iran's current government, as an enemy force. A new study looks at how coalition forces handled this group following the invasion.
The U.S. military can meet President Obama's timeline for the drawdown of troops from Iraq, but it is crucial that sufficient combat force remains in place to ensure a peaceful election scheduled for January 2010, according to a new RAND Corporation study that examines three alternatives for withdrawing U.S. military personnel from Iraq.
The record of the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein compares favorably to that of many other U.S. efforts at post-conflict reconstruction, particularly in the areas of economic and public reforms. However, these achievements were undermined and overshadowed by the U.S. failure to protect the Iraqi population from the criminals and extremists among them who pulled Iraq into civil war.
Efforts to adequately plan for the post-combat period in Iraq were thwarted by overly optimistic views held by top civilian leaders and a belief among military leaders that civilian authorities would be responsible for postwar operations.
The inability of the United States to monitor insurgent trends in Iraq and apply new counterinsurgency tactics led many Iraqi civilians to side with sectarian groups, propelling the country to the brink of civil war.
RAND Report Calls for Reassessment of U.S. Priorities and Efforts in Iraq
RAND Recommends U.S. Military Adopt Consumer Marketing Strategies to Reach Iraqi and Afghan Civilians.
November 29, 2006 News Release:RAND Study Says Lessons from Fighting Cold War-Era Insurgencies Could Aid U.S. Efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
April 19, 2006 News Release: Study Finds Nation-Building Efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan Hampered By Failures to Address Health Problems