The U.S. in Iraq Beyond 2011: A Diminishing But Still Vital Role

Executive Summary

Download Iraq Report #15: The U.S. In Iraq Beyond 2011 by LTG James M. Dubik, U.S. Army (Retired)

- The challenge for the Untied States is to help Iraq sustain a stable peace.

- U.S. policy objectives cannot focus only on withdrawing U.S forces, but must also focus on the important security functions that will remain in Iraq beyond 2011 and will continue to demand U.S. involvement.

- In the case of Iraq, American forces still execute at least four functions critical to a stable peace in Iraq, and these functions will not be completed entirely by year’s end.  These security functions are:

  • Moderating Crises. The presence of the U.S. military continues to mitigate against the rekindling of sectarian tensions and advance national reconciliation.
  • Security Force Development. The U.S. military is still needed to help Iraqi military transform from a counterinsurgent force to one focused on external defense. U.S. support is also required to transform Iraq’s police as well as its judicial and confinement systems.
  • Self-Defense Offset. The U.S. military can provide assurance that Iraq’s borders are being defended while Iraq develops its own defense capability.  It can also provide the Iraqi-purchased equipment and training associated with proper self-defense forces, and can even participate in any regional defense arrangement that the counties in the region find necessary and useful.
  • Counter-Terrorism Support. Iraqi counter-terrorism units are among the best of the nation's security forces; however, they still rely on a mix of their robust human intelligence networks and U.S. technical intelligence and analytic support.

- The U.S. will not need a stand-alone military headquarters as it has in U.S. Forces-Iraq, but must restructure the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to successfully execute the remaining security functions.

- The following three organizations that fall under the authority of the U.S. Embassy-Baghdad might meet the requirement:

  • A specially constructed Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq (OSC-I) to facilitate the sale of military equipment through the Foreign Military Sales program, assist the host nation with limited training, and coordinate the host nation’s participation in military education and training in the United States. The Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq must also have a robust training cell and a well-developed logistics trainer/advisor capability. 
  • An expanded Defense Attaché Office that can also participate in a joint U.S./Iraqi commission established to investigate serious sectarian violence and have observers along the disputed internal boundaries.
  • An Interagency Task Force for Police Primacy and Rule of Law Development that could assist the Iraqi Ministries of Interior and Justice, as well as assist in the planning for and execution of transfer of internal security responsibility from Iraq’s military to its police as determined by the Government of Iraq. 

- The Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq and the Defense Attaché Office should be subordinated to a senior military commander.

  • This commander must be senior enough and have the right experience to be of assistance to the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, to execute the operational and strategic task required, to have sufficient ability to influence decisions and actions in the Pentagon, and to be recognized by the Iraqi security ministries and senior military headquarters as a peer.
  • This senior military commander might even be the head of a U.S. Joint Military Assistance Command with dual reporting to the Ambassador and to the Commander, U.S. Central Command.

- After 2011, in addition to the three U.S. organizations suggested above, two multi-national organizations also seem appropriate, and U.S. participation in each of the organizations discussed below would be important.

  • NATO Training Mission-Iraq can help the Iraqi military write doctrine, provide staff and leader training at various levels, and assist in restarting Iraq’s professional military education program. 
  • A multi-national peace keeping headquarters responsible for adjudicating and enforcing decisions would continue the positive results of the hard work of these past several years.  U.S. participation could come from an expanded Defense Attaché Office.

- In addition to the security measures discussed above, Iraq needs assistance in its economic development. 

- Now that the Government of Iraq is formed, the United States can help that government structure the broad set of policies and programs necessary to sustain the “better peace” that so many have sacrificed to achieve.   

Download Iraq Report #15: The U.S. In Iraq Beyond 2011 by LTG James M. Dubik, U.S. Army (Retired)