A new report by Army historians levels heavy, unvarnished criticism against Pentagon leadership for its failure to plan beyond the initial invasion of Iraq.
"On Point II: Transition to the New Campaign" — which outlines the 18 months following the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime — said too much focus was placed on a military victory, and not enough on post-war planning, due in part to optimism by the White House and the Pentagon that civilian agencies would take care much of the country's post war rebuilding.
The unclassified report is set for official release Monday, but appeared on a Pentagon Web site over the weekend.
The 720-report — written by military historians Donald Wright and Colonel Timothy Reese — claims to provide "balanced" and "honest" account that is neither "triumphant nor defeatist."
"In many ways, On Point II is a book the Army did not expect to write because numerous observers, military leaders, and government officials believed, in the euphoria of early April 2003, that US objectives had been achieved and military forces could quickly redeploy out of Iraq. Clearly, those hopes were premature," the report says in its introduction.
It cites an incident where Gen. Tommy Franks surprised supervisors by restructuring the Baghdad-based command shortly after the invasion and saying that major fighting was over.
“The move was sudden and caught most of the senior commanders in Iraq unaware,” the report states. It also said the staff for the new headquarters was not initially “configured for the types of responsibilities it received," and could be changed "at the snap of your fingers."
In other criticism of the planning effort, the report says: "The transition to a new campaign was not well thought out, planned for, and prepared for before it began."
"Additionally, the assumptions about the nature of post-Saddam Iraq on which the transition was planned proved to be largely incorrect," it states.
The study points to errors that resulted in U.S. forces and their allies lacking an operational and strategic plan for success in Iraq, adding that also questions the focus of then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on military modernization.
"The intense desire to continue DoD's transformation to smaller and lighter forces, to implement a perceived revolution in military affairs in the information age, and to savor the euphoria over seemingly easy successes in Afghanistan using those techniques seemed to outweigh searching through the past for insights into the future," the authors wrote in the report.
The study is the second in a series by Army historians. The first covered the start of combat through to the fall Saddam in April 2003.