Hospitals & Asylums
In this consensus report, the ten members of the Iraq Study Group present a new approach forward. The aim of the report is to move the country toward a consensus. The President and Congress must work together. The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating. There is no path that can guarantee success, but the prospects can be improved. In this report, the Group makes 79 recommendations for actions to be taken in Iraq, the United States, and the region. Our most important recommendations call for new and enhanced diplomatic and political efforts in Iraq and the region, and a change in the primary mission of U.S. forces in Iraq that will enable the United States to begin to move its combat forces out of Iraq responsibly.
RECOMMENDATION 24: The contemplated completion dates of the end of 2006 or early 2007 for some milestones may not be realistic. These should be completed by the first quarter of 2007. As with the current milestones, these additional milestones should be tied to calendar dates to the fullest extent possible.
Milestones for Iraq US Relations. The government of Iraq understands that dramatic steps are necessary to avert a downward spiral and make progress. Prime Minister Maliki has worked closely in consultation with the United States and has put forward the following milestones in the key areas of national reconciliation, security and governance. The Iraqi government should accelerate assuming responsibility for Iraqi security by increasing the number and quality of Iraqi Army brigades. While this process is under way, and to facilitate it, the United States should significantly increase the number of U.S. military personnel, including combat troops, imbedded in and supporting Iraqi Army units. As these actions proceed, U.S. combat forces could begin to move out of Iraq. US troops could first begin leaving by April 2007 when Iraq should have control of the Army, by September 2007 Iraq should control the provinces and by December 2007 Iraqi security should be self-reliant. By the first quarter of 2008, subject to unexpected developments in the security situation on the ground, all combat brigades not necessary for force protection could be out of Iraq. At that time, U.S. combat forces in Iraq could be deployed only in units embedded with Iraqi forces, in rapid-reaction and special operations teams, and in training, equipping, advising, force protection, and search and rescue. It is clear that the Iraqi government will need assistance from the United States for some time to come, especially in carrying out security responsibilities. However, the United States must not make an open ended commitment to keep large numbers of American troops deployed in Iraq.
The challenges in Iraq are complex. Violence is increasing in scope and lethality. It is fed by a Sunni Arab insurgency, Shiite militias and death squads, al Qaeda, and widespread criminality. Sectarian conflict is the principal challenge to stability. The Iraqi people have a democratically elected government, yet it is not adequately advancing national reconciliation, providing basic security, or delivering essential services. The policies and actions of Iraq’s neighbors greatly affect its stability and prosperity. The United States should immediately launch a new diplomatic offensive to build an international consensus for stability in Iraq and the region. This diplomatic effort should include every country that has an interest in avoiding a chaotic Iraq, including all of Iraq’s neighbors. Iraq’s neighbors and key states in and outside the region should form a support group to reinforce security and national reconciliation within Iraq, neither of which Iraq can achieve on its own. There is no guarantee for success in Iraq. The situation in Baghdad and several provinces is dire. Iraq is vital to regional and even global stability, and is critical to U.S. interests. It runs along the sectarian fault lines of Shia and Sunni Islam, and of Kurdish and Arab populations. It has the world’s second-largest known oil reserves. It is now a base of operations for international terrorism, including al Qaeda. Al Qaeda in Iraq is now largely Iraqi-run and composed of Sunni Arabs. Foreign fighters—numbering an estimated 1,300—play a supporting role or carry out suicide operations. Al Qaeda’s goals include instigating a wider sectarian war between Iraq’s Sunni and Shia, and driving the United States out of Iraq.
Approximately 141,000 U.S. military personnel are serving in Iraq, together with approximately 16,500 military personnel from twenty-seven coalition partners, the largest contingent being 7,200 from the United Kingdom. There are roughly 15,000 U.S. troops in Baghdad where the U.S. Army has principal responsibility for Baghdad and in the north. The U.S. Marine Corps takes the lead in Anbar province. The United Kingdom has responsibility in the southeast, chiefly in Basra. Along with this military presence, the United States is building its largest embassy in Baghdad. The current U.S. embassy in Baghdad totals about 1,000 U.S. government employees. There are roughly 5,000 civilian contractors in the country. Attacks against U.S., Coalition, and Iraqi security forces are persistent and growing. October 2006 was the deadliest month for U.S. forces since January 2005, with 102 Americans killed. Total attacks in October 2006 averaged 180 per day, up from 70 per day in January 2006. Daily attacks against Iraqi security forces in October were more than double the level in January. Attacks against civilians in October were four times higher than in January. Some 3,000 Iraqi civilians are killed every month. The United Nations estimates that 1.6 million are displaced within Iraq, and up to 1.8 million Iraqis have fled the country.
By the end of 2006, the Iraqi Army is expected to comprise 118 battalions formed into 36 brigades under the command of 10 divisions. The Iraqi Army faces a number of challenges: Units lack leadership. They lack the ability to work together and perform at higher levels of organization the brigade and division level. Leadership training and the experience of leadership are the essential elements to improve performance. Units lack equipment. They cannot carry out their missions without adequate equipment. Congress has been generous in funding requests for U.S. troops, but it has resisted fully funding Iraqi forces. The entire appropriation for Iraqi defense forces for FY 2006 ($3 billion) is less than the United States currently spends in Iraq every two weeks. The state of the Iraqi police is substantially worse than that of the Iraqi Army. The Iraqi Police Service currently numbers roughly 135,000 and is responsible for local policing. It has neither the training nor legal authority to conduct criminal investigations, nor the firepower to take on organized crime, insurgents, or militias. The Iraqi National Police numbers roughly 25,000 and its officers have been trained in counterinsurgency operations, not police work. The Border Enforcement Department numbers roughly 28,000. The Facilities Protection Service poses additional problems. Each Iraqi ministry has an armed unit, ostensibly to guard the ministry’s infrastructure. All together, these units total roughly 145,000 uniformed Iraqis under arms.
There are some encouraging signs. Currency reserves are stable and growing at $12 billion. Consumer imports of computers, cell phones, and other appliances have increased dramatically. New businesses are opening, and construction is moving forward in secure areas. Because of Iraq’s ample oil reserves, water resources, and fertile lands, significant growth is possible if violence is reduced and the capacity of government improves. For example, wheat yields increased more than 40 percent in Kurdistan during this past year. The Iraqi government has also made progress in meeting benchmarks set by the International Monetary Fund. Most prominently, subsidies have been reduced—for instance, the price per liter of gas has increased from roughly 1.7 cents to 23 cents (a figure far closer to regional prices). However, energy and food subsidies generally remain a burden, costing Iraq $11 billion per year. Despite the positive signs, many leading economic indicators are negative. Instead of meeting a target of 10 percent, growth in Iraq is at roughly 4 percent this year. Inflation is above 50 percent. Unemployment estimates range widely from 20 to 60 percent. The investment climate is bleak, with foreign direct investment under 1 percent of GDP. Oil production and sales account for nearly 70 percent of Iraq’s GDP, and more than 95 percent of government revenues. Iraq produces around 2.2 million barrels per day, and exports about 1.5 million barrels per day. This is below both prewar production levels and the Iraqi government’s target of 2.5 million barrels per day, and far short of the vast potential of the Iraqi oil sector. Fortunately for the government, global energy prices have been higher than projected, making it possible for Iraq to meet its budget revenue targets. Too many Iraqis do not see tangible improvements in their daily economic situation.
The United States has appropriated a total of about $34 billion to support the reconstruction of Iraq, of which about $21 billion has been appropriated for the “Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund.” Nearly $16 billion has been spent, and almost all the funds have been committed. The administration requested $1.6 billion for reconstruction in FY 2006, and received $1.485 billion. The administration requested $750 million for FY 2007. The trend line for economic assistance in FY 2008 also appears downward. International support for Iraqi reconstruction has been tepid. International donors pledged $13.5 billion to support reconstruction, but less than $4 billion has been delivered. An important agreement with the Paris Club relieved a significant amount of Iraq’s government debt and put the country on firmer financial footing. But the Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, hold large amounts of Iraqi debt that they have not forgiven. The United States has made a massive commitment to the future of Iraq in both blood and treasure. As of December 2006, nearly 2,900 Americans have lost their lives serving in Iraq. Another 21,000 Americans have been wounded, many severely. To date, the United States has spent roughly $400 billion on the Iraq War, and costs are running about $8 billion per month. In addition, the United States must expect significant “tail costs” to come. Caring for veterans and replacing lost equipment will run into the hundreds of billions of dollars. Estimates run as high as $2 trillion for the final cost of the U.S. involvement in Iraq.
Continued problems in Iraq could also lead to greater Iraqi opposition to the United States. Recent polling indicates that only 36 percent of Iraqis feel their country is heading in the right direction, and 79 percent of Iraqis have a “mostly negative” view of the influence that the United States has in their country. Sixty-one percent of Iraqis approve of attacks on U.S.-led forces. If Iraqis continue to perceive Americans as representing an occupying force, the United States could become its own worst enemy in a land it liberated from tyranny. In regards to diplomacy, it is clear to Iraq Study Group members that all of Iraq’s neighbors are anxious about the situation in Iraq. They favor a unified Iraq that is strong enough to maintain its territorial integrity, but not so powerful as to threaten its neighbors. None favors the breakup of the Iraqi state. The United States, working with the Iraqi government, should launch the comprehensive New Diplomatic Offensive to deal with the problems of Iraq and of the region. This new diplomatic offensive should be launched before December 31, 2006.
The number of imbedded personnel would be based on the recommendation of our military commanders in Iraq, but it should be large enough to accelerate the development of a real combat capability in Iraqi Army units. Such a mission could involve 10,000 to 20,000 American troops instead of the 3,000 to 4,000 now in this role. The United States should not make an open-ended commitment to keep large numbers of American troops deployed in Iraq. We should seek to complete the training and equipping mission by the first quarter of 2008, as stated by General George Casey on October 24, 2006. All of our efforts in Iraq, military and civilian, are handicapped by Americans’ lack of language and cultural understanding. Our embassy of 1,000 has 33 Arabic speakers, just six of whom are at the level of fluency. In a conflict that demands effective and efficient communication with Iraqis, we are often at a disadvantage. There are still far too few Arab language– proficient military and civilian officers in Iraq, to the detriment of the U.S. mission. Recommendation 73 orders the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, and the Director of National Intelligence to accord the highest possible priority to professional language proficiency and cultural training, in general and specifically for .S. officers and personnel about to be assigned to Iraq.
The report makes recommendations in several other areas. They include improvements to the Iraqi criminal justice system, the Iraqi oil sector, the U.S. reconstruction efforts in Iraq, the U.S. budget process, the training of U.S. government personnel, and U.S. intelligence capabilities. It is the unanimous view of the Iraq Study Group that these recommendations offer a new way forward for the United States in Iraq and the region. They are comprehensive and need to be implemented in a coordinated fashion. They should not be separated or carried out in isolation. The dynamics of the region are as important to Iraq as events within Iraq. The challenges are daunting. There will be difficult days ahead. But by pursuing this new way forward, Iraq, the region, and the United States of America can emerge stronger. We agree with the goal of U.S. policy in Iraq, as stated by the President: an Iraq that can “govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself.” In our view, this definition entails an Iraq with a broadly representative government that maintains its territorial integrity, is at peace with its neighbors, denies terrorism a sanctuary, and doesn’t brutalize its own people. Given the current situation in Iraq, achieving this goal will require much time and will depend primarily on the actions of the Iraqi people. The United States should work closely with Iraq’s leaders to support the achievement of specific objectives—or milestones— on national reconciliation, security, and governance. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, in consultation with the United States, has put forward a set of milestones critical for Iraq. The “milestones” indicate that Iraq independence will justify a steady reduction in US troops beginning in April 2007 until the first quarter of 2008 when only a small and culturally competent foreign force will remain embedded in the Iraq forces.
Baker-Hamilton. Iraq Study Group. The Iraq: Official Report. United States Institute of Peace. 6 December 2006. http://www.usip.org/isg/iraq_study_group_report/report/1206/index.html
Sanders, Tony J. Hospitals & Asylums. Chapter 1: Military Department. Memorial Day 2006. www.title24uscode.org/MD.htm
Sanders, Tony J. Hospitals & Asylums. Chapter 10: Armed Forces Retirement Home. Veterans’ Day 2006. www.title24uscode.org/AFRH.htm