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Since 2007, security has improved dramatically in Iraq. The U.S. and Iraqi governments — and most Iraqis — want to see both the U.S. presence there reduced and the Iraqi government and security forces assuming a greater role in providing for public security. The challenge is to effect this drawdown while preserving security and stability in the country and in the region.

In response to tasking from the U.S. Congress, RAND researchers conducted an independent study to examine drawdown schedules, risks, and mitigating strategies. They identified logistical constraints on moving equipment out of the country, assessed trends in insurgent activity and the ability of Iraqi security forces to counter it, and examined the implications for the size of the residual U.S. force and for security in Iraq and the region. This report presents alternative drawdown schedules — one consistent with the Obama administration's stated intentions and two others, one somewhat slower and another faster — that are responsive to these factors. It also recommends steps that the United States can take to alleviate anticipated constraints, overcome likely resistance, and reduce the potential risks associated with a drawdown.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Drawdown Scheduling

  • Chapter Three

    Logistics Factors and Constraints Affecting the Drawdown

  • Chapter Four

    Internal Security and Stability

  • Chapter Five

    Regional Effects

  • Chapter Six

    Risk Mitigation

  • Chapter Seven


  • Appendix A

    The Study's Legislative Background

  • Appendix B

    Drawdown of Remaining Forces

  • Appendix C

    Economic and Advisory Issues Involved in a Drawdown of U.S. Forces from Iraq

The research described in this report was prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and conducted in the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the OSD, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Monograph series. RAND monographs present major research findings that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND monographs undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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