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Coalition forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) were able to take down Saddam Hussein’s regime in less than three weeks, at the cost of relatively few Coalition casualties. This monograph draws upon information derived primarily from interviews with and interrogations of senior Iraqi military and civilian officials to examine why the Iraqi resistance in March and April 2003 was so weak. The research focused on two questions: (1) Why did the Iraqi Regular Army and Republican Guard forces do so little fighting? and (2) Why did Iraqi leaders fail to adopt certain defensive measures that would have made the Coalition’s task more difficult and costly?

These two questions encompass a number of related issues. The monograph examines the battlefield consequences of Saddam Hussein’s strategic misjudgments and preoccupation with internal threats; the poorly designed and executed Iraqi military strategy and operations; the weak motivation and morale that permeated all ranks of the Iraqi military; and the superiority in combat capability enjoyed by the Coalition forces. It concludes with observations about why decisionmakers should be careful about the lessons they may seek to draw from OIF; how OIF paved the way for the insurgency that has followed in Iraq; and how OIF may influence the behavior of future U.S. adversaries. The monograph is intended for the use of military and civilian officials concerned with the management, planning, and conduct of U.S. operations to deter and counter threats to U.S. interests from enemy regimes and other hostile actors.

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The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Air Force and conducted by RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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