Cover: Security in Iraq

Security in Iraq

A Framework for Analyzing Emerging Threats as U.S. Forces Leave

Published Jan 5, 2010

by David C. Gompert, Terrence K. Kelly, Jessica Watkins


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U.S. withdrawal from Iraq could affect Iraq's internal security and stability, which could in turn affect U.S. strategic interests and the safety of U.S. troops and civilians in Iraq. U.S. policy-makers need a dynamic analytic framework with which to examine the shifting motivations and capabilities of the actors that affect Iraq's security. The framework recognizes dangers from extremists, mainstream political actors, and the politicization of the security forces. It asserts that security in Iraq depends on the major political actors using the political process instead of violence to achieve their goals, and professional, apolitical security forces. Extremist violence, while inevitable, cannot by itself threaten the state. To help achieve U.S. goals in Iraq, long-term U.S.-Iraq military cooperation should have three missions: building security force capability, enhancing its professional character, and building confidence between Iraqi state and Kurdish regional forces. Fulfilling these three missions will require well-prepared and well-placed, relatively senior professionals at every level; development of long-term relationships with Iraqi counterparts; and, possibly, a newly agreed mandate. With such efforts, the United States should be able to contribute to continued strengthening of the internal security and stability of Iraq even as it withdraws its forces.

The research described in this report was prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). The research was 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.

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