WASHINGTON – An independent panel headed by two former U.S. national security advisers said Wednesday that chaos in Iraq (search) was due in part to inadequate postwar planning.
Planning for reconstruction should match the serious planning that goes into making war, said the panel headed by Samuel Berger (search) and Brent Scowcroft (search). Berger was national security adviser to Democratic President Clinton. Scowcroft held the same post under Republican Presidents Ford and George H.W. Bush but has been critical of the current president's Iraq and Mideast policies.
"A dramatic military victory has been overshadowed by chaos and bloodshed in the streets of Baghdad, difficulty in establishing security or providing essential services, and a deadly insurgency," the report said.
"The costs, human, military and economic, are high and continue to mount," said the report, which was sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations, an independent foreign policy group.
Two years after a stunning three-week march on Baghdad, U.S. and Iraqi military forces have been unable to secure and rebuild the country, and reconstruction has fallen victim to a lack of security, the report said.
The White House has reacted to similar criticism in the past by saying there was significant postwar planning.
In a speech last month to soldiers at Fort Bragg, N.C., President Bush pointed to the Iraqi elections and efforts to improve roads, schools and basic services. "Rebuilding a country after three decades of tyranny is hard, and rebuilding while at war is even harder. Our progress has been uneven, but progress is being made."
The report said the critical miscalculation of Iraq war-planning was the conclusion that reconstruction would not require more troops than the invasion itself.
Not only are more troops needed but they should be trained for postwar duty, the task force said.
In Iraq, the task force said, postwar requirements did not get enough attention, and there were misjudgments, as well. This, the report said, "left the United States ill-equipped to address public security, governance and economic demands" after the war.
And this, in turn, undermined U.S. foreign policy and gave an early push to the insurgency in Iraq, the task force said.
In Afghanistan, as well as Iraq, the report said, the postwar period has been marked by inefficient operations and billions of dollars of wasted resources.