HomeDOCUMENTSCommittee Reports2003 Annual Session145 DSC 03 E - THE IRAQI CRISIS AND ITS IMPACT ON THE ALLIANCE
145 DSC 03 E - THE IRAQI CRISIS AND ITS IMPACT ON THE ALLIANCE
General Rapporteur - rapporteur général : Pierre LELLOUCHE (France)
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
II. PRE-WAR DILEMMAS AND IRAQ'S WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION
III. THE CONDUCT OF THE WAR IN IRAQ: PREDICTIONS
IV. THE CONDUCT OF THE WAR IN IRAQ: REALITIES
V. POST WAR OPERATIONS
VI. LESSON LEARNED
VII. THE ROLE OF NATO FORCES IN THE RECONSTRUCTION OF IRAQ
1. This report is based on two fundamental assumptions. First, that what is at stake in Iraq is nothing less than the future of the Middle East and the direction of relations between the Islamic world and the West for decades to come. Second, that regardless of the disputes between the NATO allies before the military action that toppled the Hussein regime, it is in all of our nations' fundamental interests, as well as the interest of the Alliance, to see that the reconstruction of Iraq succeeds in producing a stable, peaceful, and democratic Iraq.
2. Having said this, we must confront today's harsh realities. It is obvious to all that the recent military action against Iraq and the ongoing effort to stabilise the country is the most divisive issue in the NATO Alliance today.
3. The allies were divided a year ago before the war began. They remain so today, adding to the extreme difficulty of the tasks ahead. The UN Security Council remains divided on what to do in Iraq despite the adoption of resolution 1483 on 23 May that recognised the authority of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. The credibility of national leaders and the reliability of intelligence assessments is being called into question by the lack of concrete evidence of significant quantities of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq. International co-operation on non-proliferation may suffer as a result as well if intelligence on Iraq was as flawed as some critics indicate. Can we expect the world to support action to contain other potentially dangerous proliferators, such as Iran or North Korea, if the evidence of Iraq's WMD programmes- which appeared so clear only a few months ago- is now called into doubt?
4. We also must acknowledge that the post-war operation in Iraq is not going well or along the lines originally envisioned. We should not discount the progress made since May in Iraq, but neither can we overlook the serious problems in planning and execution. The Pentagon seriously underestimated the level of guerrilla warfare it would face after the end of formal hostilities. It is true that much of the country is secured, but the so-called "Sunni Triangle" stretching across central Iraq is the site of nearly constant attacks on coalition forces that had claimed the lives of more than 300 coalition troops between May and October. The costs of post-war operations were also not taken into account despite pre-existing analyses than now prove accurate, and the total bill is running in the range of US$4 billion per month. Iraqi oil revenues projected to pay for the reconstruction of Iraq are lagging well behind the projections and have not recovered to pre-war levels, not to mention the 1990 levels. Meanwhile, the US is stretched to provide the needed forces in the region and forced to extend the tour of duty for many of its service personnel, despite the welcome involvement of a number of NATO allies in the reconstruction and stabilisation effort, particularly Poland, Spain and recently Turkey.
5. Yet, the coalition scored an overwhelming and important victory in the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime. That military action enforced existing UN resolutions against a brutal dictator and opened an opportunity to build a new Iraq based on the values that undergird all modern states: a respect for law, human rights, and representative government. But we must draw some key lessons from this experience. First, although the massive and sophisticated military power resident in the US and other NATO member militaries can defeat a significant adversary in a matter of weeks, that power alone is not enough to secure the political goals of going to war in the first place. Second, building a peaceful and stable Iraq is absolutely vital to our interests as individual states and members of the transatlantic Alliance. An Iraq built on the rule of law and representative government would be a model for a region suffering from decades of stagnation and oppression. A failure that allows Iraq to slide into chaos would bolster the cause of radical extremists against the western countries that failed to secure the peace in Iraq and the moderate Arab leaders who have worked towards this goal as well. That would not be just a failure; it would be a disaster for relations between the western world and the Middle East, for the struggle against terrorism, and, of course, for the people of Iraq. Simply put, failure is not an option and could only damage the fundamental interests of all members of the transatlantic Alliance.
6. But six months after US President Bush declared the end of major combat operations in Iraq, we are faced with three basic issues that must be acknowledged and dealt with, or they will further endanger an already perilous situation. First, US forces are not enough to secure the territory of Iraq and ensure the restoration of the country. Second, the situation in Iraq is affecting the problems of the region including the resurgence of the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, growing unrest in Pakistan, and the imminent stand-off with Iran over its nuclear programme, not to speak of the bloody Israeli-Palestinian war. Third, the poisoned political environment between the major democracies of Europe and North America is crippling the transatlantic Alliance at a time when we must work together to protect our vital security interests both as individual states and as an alliance.
7. The way forward is to acknowledge the problems, the stakes, and the need to share both responsibility and control over establishing the future direction of Iraq. Until we do so, however, the reality is that we are a divided alliance facing a set of common dangers and threats to our security, and yet unable to carry out a concerted, successful strategy. With this in mind, your Rapporteur believes it is important to address the issue in a manner that gives the members of the Parliamentary Assembly a broad condensation of the available information and analysis. He hopes that this will help all members to reach informed assessments of the military action against Iraq, the military lessons that should be learned from the conflict, and the nature of the post-war reconstruction effort ahead.
II. PRE-WAR DILEMMAS AND IRAQ'S WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION
8. At the November 2002 Prague Summit, NATO formally endorsed the idea that Iraq should be brought into compliance with the United Nations resolutions, mandating its disarmament "without reservations". In the ensuing months, however, there was an ongoing dispute within the Alliance as to the necessity of military intervention in Iraq to achieve that goal. France and Germany were particularly sceptical of the need for military force, while the United States and the United Kingdom were sceptical that the UN inspection process would achieve sufficient disarmament of Iraq.
9. On one side, proponents of a pre-emptive strike argued that Saddam Hussein's presumed possession of chemical and biological weapons, pursuit of nuclear weapons, history of strategic miscalculation, and ties to terrorist organisations rendered a pre-emptive strike the least bad option after 12 years of sanctions, inspections, and limited military action failed to compel Iraq to disarm. On the other side, opponents of further military action argued that an attack designed to remove Saddam Hussein would likely prompt him to use chemical or biological weapons, and could spark an increase in terrorist activity. Tied to this debate were other important factors such as the value of enforcing UN Security Council resolutions and the ramifications of a pre-emptive strike on international law.
10. Very early on, however, those divisions threatened to cause major damage to the transatlantic Alliance. The North Atlantic Council (NAC) was unable to reach consensus on deploying defensive military assets to Turkey prior to the conflict, forcing the decision to be taken in the Defence Planning Committee. Further division prevented the opening of the northern front in Iraq which exposed the entire operation to an additional degree of risk. This was in many ways a reflection of the strong popular sentiment in much of Europe against military action Iraq, but the Alliance had taken co-ordinated action in the past against the current of popular opinion, such as the deployment of intermediate range missiles in the 1980s. The Iraq crisis is different because it revealed profound and new divisions within the Alliance. Its very purpose was called into question (in the absence of a common visible enemy as the Soviet Union was), given the direction and use of US power in the post-Cold War world, and Europe offering itself as a potentially different model for the world. This led some commentators to claim that "NATO is buried in the rubble of Iraq".
11. Ironically though, the confrontation between Iraq and the United Nations was nothing new. The crisis stretched back to 1990 when Iraq invaded Kuwait. The US led and UN-authorised military coalition forcibly ejected the Iraqi army from Kuwait in 1991 and led to a cease-fire agreement that stood until 20 March 2003. Part of the terms of the cease-fire was a commitment by Iraq to reveal and destroy all of its nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their delivery vehicles. Only when this was accomplished to the satisfaction of UN weapons inspectors would the UN Security Council consider lifting the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq.
12. Throughout that period, the extent of Iraq's WMD programmes was unknown despite the UN inspection process. From 1991 to 1998, the United Nations Special Committee on Iraq (UNSCOM) inspectors uncovered and destroyed large-scale chemical and biological weapons production facilities. They also uncovered Iraq's clandestine nuclear bomb programme and destroyed or secured enriched uranium and equipment. Weapons inspectors rooted out many of Iraq's delivery devices and supervised the destruction of 48 SCUD missiles, 30 warheads designed for chemical weapons delivery, and thousands of pieces of equipment used in the production of WMD.
13. Iraq, however, attempted to deceive and block inspectors whenever possible, according to the inspection team members and several Iraqi defectors. Finally in December 1998 Iraq ceased all co-operation with UNSCOM and the inspectors were withdrawn. Inspections did not resume until November 2002 when the UN passed Security Council resolution 1441, which calls for Iraq to comply with previous UN resolutions demanding disarmament or face "serious consequences".
14. The resolution was deliberately ambiguous. For those opposed to an invasion of Iraq, it was vague enough to imply that a second resolution explicitly authorising the use of force was required. Others made the case that 1441 contained sufficient authority for the use of force, and that it reaffirmed the terms of the original cease-fire agreement in which a material breach on the part of Iraq would constitute a violation of the cease-fire. For many on this side of the issue, it was difficult to see what other meaning "serious consequences" could possibly have given that Iraq was already subject to UN control of its oil exports, economic sanctions, and intrusive inspections.
15. Rightly or wrongly therefore, the international community - and NATO allies - chose to address the crisis in Iraq and the possible decision to go to war with Saddam Hussein's regime, mostly, if not solely, over the issue of WMD and Iraq's compliance with the UN-mandated disarmament process. This, in turn, led to the controversy that is still with us today.
16. To avoid being drawn into that controversy, this Report's assessment is based on UN inspection reports rather than later intelligence reports. It is clear from the UN reports that there was considerable evidence that Iraq maintained several WMD programmes and consistently took measures to thwart the numerous UN resolutions demanding its disarmament. Among the main points of the UN inspectors' reports are the following:
17. Iraq had produced more chemical and biological weapons than it admitted to, and never revealed all of the precursor chemicals. Specifically, the UN found documents indicating that Iraq had the materials to produce several times the 30,000 litres of anthrax they admitted to producing, and could not account for about 200 tons of precursor chemicals to make VX, an extremely toxic nerve agent. They also found that Iraq overstated the number of chemical artillery shells it used in the Iran-Iraq war by about 6,000.
18. Iraq maintained an elaborate deception and denial programme right to the very end. UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix said in January 2003 that, "Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance, not even today, of the disarmament which was demanded of it". Given the size of Iraq, its long experience with hiding WMD components, and its record of deception of weapons inspectors, Mr Blix concluded that it was unlikely that an inspection process lacking the full co-operation of the Iraqi government would successfully disarm Iraq by non-military means.
19. Iraq had the skilled personnel needed to produce a range of fairly sophisticated weapons. Chief nuclear inspector for the UN David Kay (now heading the new hunt for WMD in Iraq) concluded in 1998 that, "The weapons (of mass destruction) secrets are now Iraqi secrets well understood by a large stratum of Iraq's technical elite, and the production capabilities necessary to turn these 'secrets' into weapons are part and parcel of the domestic infrastructure of Iraq which will survive even the most draconian of sanctions regimes."
20. There are several possible explanations as to why significant stockpiles have not been uncovered. First, it is possible that the weapons were never there to begin with, or were destroyed by Hussein after 1998, while components of the various programmes remained in place. Second, it is possible that the WMD production facilities and the weapons themselves are still hidden in Iraq. Third, and most troubling, it is possible that some WMD were sent to other countries, or distributed through Iraqi intelligence to terrorist organisations.
21. It seems highly unlikely that Hussein would have destroyed all of his WMD after UN inspectors left Iraq. He would have no incentive to keep this secret, as complying with the UN resolutions would have led to the end of sanctions on Iraq. It is much more likely, however, that Iraq did not continue to produce chemical and biological weapons after the mid-1990s, but kept its WMD production infrastructure intact and ready to resume production once sanctions were lifted. Others, such as Professor Lawrence Freedman of King's College, London, speculate that Saddam Hussein wanted to maintain the image of a WMD-armed Iraq to deter an attack and maintain a defiant image for domestic purposes. This would mean that the information collected from various sources that detailed Iraq's pursuit of WMD in the 1990s- including reports from defectors- was part of an elaborate deception that tricked the intelligence services of several NATO members. Recent press reports indicate that some Iraqi defectors may have in fact spread deliberately false reports.
22. It is also possible that chemical and biological weapons still remain hidden in Iraq. As is often repeated, Iraq is the size of France. with ample room to hide chemical and biological weapons. Yet, it is not often noted how physically small a significant stockpile of chemical or biological weapons might be and how easily it could be hidden. The average tanker truck seen on the highway carries at least 20,000 litres. Thus the entirety of the tens of thousands of litres of anthrax unaccounted for by UN inspectors could fit into a few tanker trucks. The tons of VX that UN inspectors suspect that Iraq retained could fit into single bunker. Even large conventional weapons can be hidden. This summer, coalition troops stumbled across a number of Iraqi MiG-25 high-speed interceptor and Su-25 ground attack aircraft buried in the sand at an airfield west of Baghdad. Despite the fact that coalition troops had been occupying the area for more than three months, it required considerable effort and luck to find several large aircraft hidden in the desert. Without extremely accurate information, the process of looking for much more easily concealed WMD components is truly searching for a needle in a haystack.
23. This problem prompted the coalition to form the Iraq Survey Group in May 2003. The ISG is composed of 1,200 civilian and military specialists who are combing through masses of accumulated intelligence and investigating leads based on documents found in Iraq following the war. ISG head David Kay presented an interim report in October with evidence that chemical and biological research was ongoing in Saddam Hussein's Iraq, but has not found stockpiles of weapons or evidence of large-scale production.
24. It is also possible that some weapons or production equipment were shipped to other countries or passed to terrorist organisations. There is no firm evidence to support this possibility. although Iraq does have a history of sending weapons for safekeeping to other countries during wartime. It is well known that Iraq sent much of its air force to Iran immediately before the 1991 Gulf War, but declassified documents show that Iraq also sent chemical weapons and production equipment to Iran at the same time. Despite the fact the two countries had only recently fought a brutal eight-year war, Saddam Hussein preferred to risk sending parts of his conventional and non-conventional arsenal to Iran rather than risk their destruction in the Gulf War.
25. In short, there are several possible explanations as to why substantial evidence of Iraq's WMD stockpiles has not been found to date. It may simply be a matter of time until some is found, or it may be that Iraq purposely exaggerated its WMD capabilities to deter an attack. It may be that the weapons themselves have already left Iraq and consequently pose a greater proliferation threat. We will not know for certain until all the documentation in Iraq and information from other sources is assessed in the months ahead.
26. One thing is clear however: the absence of a "smoking gun" in the form of significant stockpiles of WMD has had very negative political fallout, delegitimising in the eyes of many - particularly in Europe - the decision to resort to war, and allowing intra-alliance tensions to persist months after the collapse of the Hussein regime.
III. THE CONDUCT OF THE WAR IN IRAQ: PREDICTIONS
27. The slow progression towards combat in Iraq gave ample opportunity for leaders and strategists to discuss battle scenarios and offer analysis of the likely shape of the conflict. It is perhaps instructive to briefly summarise and review the predictions of how the conflict would proceed on a military level and compare those predictions to the actual outcomes thus far.
28. The battle plans aired prior to the war were based on a strategy of air strikes followed by a rapid push to the main cities of Iraq. The air campaign was to be much shorter than the 5-week air assault that preceded the ground assault in the 1991 Gulf War. In fact, some commanders predicted that air and ground operations would begin nearly at the same time.
29. The air strikes would be a campaign to (in the words of Pentagon military planners) "shock and awe" Iraqi forces. The shock would be to the entire Iraqi communications and battle management system. It would be designed to blind Iraq's military and prevent it from moving forces to threaten coalition forces. It would so terrify Iraqi troops that they would desert their units en masse and pose a minimal obstacle to coalition forces.
30. This was in keeping with the overall strategy to defeat the Iraqi forces without actually engaging them. American commanders were reaching out to Iraqi commanders in early March, seeking out those that would commit to standing down without a fight. Iraqi commanders were promised that they would be able to remain in their barracks and keep their side arms, provided they turned over their main weapons and did not confront coalition forces. This would avoid the logistical problems of maintaining and guarding hundreds of thousands of prisoners of war. Some Iraqi commanders were reportedly receptive to those suggestions.
31. Some commentators and analysts predicted a relatively quick and easy victory for coalition forces. The Iraqi army of 2003 was weaker than that of 1991 and coalition forces were much improved. The use of better command and control systems was expected to enable coalition forces to move quickly without as much risk of "friendly fire" incidents. At the same time, the increased use of precision-guided munitions (PGMs) was projected to make the air strikes more effective and cause less collateral damage. During the first Gulf War, the vast majority of munitions were not precision guided. In this conflict, the vast majority would be either laser guided or GPS guided munitions.
32. Those optimistic predictions, however, were tempered by several considerations. First, although the regular Iraqi army was thought to be unlikely to pose much of an obstacle, Saddam Hussein's elite troops, the 100,000 strong Special Republican Guard and his personal security force, were better armed, trained, and motivated. The regular army troops and conscripts may have surrendered without putting up much resistance because they could expect to be detained for a minimal amount of time and then returned to civilian life. The Special Republican Guard and Fedayeen units, however, could not expect the same sort of generous treatment from coalition forces, because they were often involved in the human rights abuses and excesses of the regime. Even if the coalition forces released them, they would likely be targets of revenge killings by the relatives of their victims. Some analysts predicted that those units would fight to the death, break into small groups that would harass coalition forces from all directions, or engage in suicidal attacks because they would have nothing left to lose.
33. Second, some analysts argued that Iraqi forces would take simple steps to minimise the effectiveness of PGMs. Iraq filled trenches with crude oil near major targets and cities prior to the beginning of hostilities. The smoke generated from setting those trenches on fire could neutralise the precision of laser-guided munitions. Although the GPS-guided JDAM missiles would still function, recent records from the conflict in Afghanistan show that some go astray and many miss their targets by 5-10 metres. In general this may not matter, but it could be a significant problem if targets are located close to non-combatants and residential areas.
34. Third, there was the possibility that Iraq would use chemical or biological weapons against coalition forces. Such weapons have limited utility when used against prepared forces, and coalition forces have taken many precautions to both detect and protect against chemical and biological agents. Even so, such WMD strikes could slow the advance of coalition forces and force the battle to drag on for additional days and weeks. The use of persistent chemical weapons could deny territory to the coalition forces and block some paths toward Baghdad.
35. Fourth, some speculated that the Iraqi military would fall back and draw the coalition forces into close quarters urban combat. Coalition forces have trained for this scenario and American forces have experience with the invasion of Panama City in 1989. The difference is that Panama had less than 10,000 troops in its armed forces - Iraq could conceivably place several times that number in Baghdad and other cities. Such a strategy could lead to far greater civilian casualties than expected, and deepen the political opposition to the war in the United States and elsewhere.
36. Fifth, there was the possibility that the coalition's long supply lines would make them vulnerable to attack from the rear. There are 350 kilometres of Iraqi territory between the Kuwaiti border and Baghdad. Supply chains would necessarily trail for hundreds of kilometres behind the advancing forces and would undoubtedly mass at certain locations, such as bridgeheads and major intersections. This could have presented a target for Iraqi forces to counter-attack, and chemical weapons could have been a particularly effective means of weakening the logistical supply chain as it stretched north from the Persian Gulf.
37. Other factors might have complicated the advance on Baghdad. Saddam Hussein might have generated large masses of refugees and pushed them between his forces and the coalition forces. This would not only slow the coalition's progress, it would create demands on it to provide food, shelter and medical assistance for tens or hundreds of thousands of people. Saddam Hussein embedded many military facilities in civilian areas to make them more difficult to strike without causing casualties among non-combatants. All of this was designed to maximise civilian casualties. As Hussein himself said just before combat operations began, "We shall see how many Iraqis the aggressors are prepared to kill."
38. Some analysts speculated that this was in fact the basis of the Iraqi leadership's strategy for maintaining power. If they could hold off long enough, perhaps more than a few weeks, they might score a draw rather than a complete defeat. Large-scale civilian casualties combined with a prolonged urban battle could generate support for a negotiated settlement. Those countries in the UN Security Council that opposed the use of military force to enforce the UN resolutions might seize upon the opportunity to stop it, and the sight of mounting casualties might drive the US and the UK to accept a settlement.
IV. THE CONDUCT OF THE WAR IN IRAQ: REALITIES
39. The conflict proceeded along many of the expected lines. Of the nearly 25,000 munitions dropped on Iraq, only a handful missed their targets. Thousands of Iraqi troops surrendered or simply walked away from the lines without a fight. Hundreds of Iraqi armoured vehicles and tanks were destroyed while coalition forces lost only a dozen. Despite Iraqi attempts to drag the coalition into urban combat, little actually occurred during the war itself.
40. On 20 March, just after the first explosions shook the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, US President Bush delivered a live television address announcing the start of the American-led military campaign to remove the regime of Saddam Hussein from power. The long anticipated war began with limited precision strikes on the capital that targeted five key members of the Iraqi regime, including Hussein. The attacks, officials insisted, were not the beginning of the massive air assault that was expected to initiate the campaign. The following day, US and British forces launched the beginning of what had been dubbed by the Pentagon as the coalition's "shock and awe" strategy. With precision guided missiles launched from the air as well as from naval forces, including submarines, stationed in the Mediterranean, the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, coalition ground forces began their invasion from Kuwait, rolling virtually unopposed through the southern desert. The US 3rd Infantry Division advanced up toward the centre of Iraq, close to the city of Nasiriya, a key crossing point over the Euphrates river on the way to Baghdad. Coalition forces also moved on Iraq's "second city," Basra, while US marines reached Iraq's only deep-water port at Umm Qasr.
41. As the first few days of the campaign unfolded, the coalition's general strategy gradually became apparent. Alongside intermittent yet intense aerial bombardment of Baghdad and other key outposts, ground forces worked their way along several columns up through southern Iraq. As forces reached the southern cities of Basra, Nasiriya, Najaf and Karbala, however, their initial objective was to isolate each city, secure its perimeter but to avoid being dragged into urban warfare battles that might prevent the vanguard of the coalition forces from proceeding towards the capital.
42. Only a few days after the official beginning of the war, US forces were battling Iraqi forces in and around Nasiriya, in what was described as fierce fighting for control of two bridges on the invasion route to Baghdad. Large engagements were also taking place around the towns of Najaf and Karbala, some 160 kilometres south of the capital. British forces, meanwhile, concentrated their land assault on capturing Basra and met severe resistance, engaging at one point in what is said to be the biggest British tank battle since World War II. On 25 March, in a move that appeared to set the stage for the opening of a northern front, about 1,000 US paratroopers were dropped into a Kurdish-controlled area in northern Iraq and secured an airfield for coalition use. By 27 March, an airlift of troops, tanks, and equipment for the US Army's 1st Infantry Division had begun.
43. After roughly ten days, reports that the coalition was facing more resistance from Iraqi forces than had been anticipated began fuelling widespread speculation that the full-scale advance had come to a halt. Thousands of additional troops, backed by heavy artillery, were sent in as reinforcements to join the battle for Nasiriya, while additional American troops were deployed to the Persian Gulf from the United States. Nonetheless, despite comments made by US commanders on the ground that the enemy they had been confronting was "a bit different" from that which they had expected, Pentagon officials tenaciously defended the adequacy of their battle plans against criticisms of having underestimated Iraqi resistance. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and US General Tommy Franks, among others, insisted that deployed troop levels were more than sufficient for the mission at hand and that the coalition advance was entirely on-track.
44. Combat operations in Iraq highlighted the importance of precision-guided munitions and special operations forces. Starting with the initial "decapitation attack" that marked the beginning of the campaign, and included satellite-guided Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from US warships and 2,000-pound bombs dropped by F117 stealth fighters, the heavy use of precision-guided munitions was a massive component of the coalition's strategy throughout the war. From the beginning of the fighting, coalition forces routinely flew well over 1,000 sorties each day. While a small number of precision-guided munitions missed their targets, in some cases landing in the territory of a third country or mistakenly striking civilian targets, there was a remarkably low level of collateral damage given the amount of ordnance used against heavily-populated areas such as central Baghdad. Estimates of civilian deaths range from several hundred to 2,000, but it is neither possible to know which end of the range is more accurate, nor if the coalition or Iraqi forces are responsible for many of those deaths. In general, the increased use of precision munitions reduced civilian casualties, compared to the 1991 Gulf War which caused between 2,500 and 3,500 civilian deaths.
45. Also key in the campaign was the heavy use of special operations forces, including American, British, Australian, and Polish troops. In what was the largest covert military campaign in recent history, more than 9,000 special operations forces conducted some of the riskiest missions of the war, working in nearly every corner of the country. While much of the information on what these forces achieved remains guarded by officials, they are known to include organising Kurdish militia in northern Iraq, scouting suspected missile launchers in the west of the country, and daring rescue missions. Special forces, backed by coalition warplanes and more closely integrated with reconnaissance and intelligence resources than ever before, also teamed up with intelligence officers in search of leaders of the governing Baath Party.
46. As battles for key towns along the southern invasion route continued throughout the war's third week, coalition air strikes targeted and degraded Iraqi Republican Guard units. Meanwhile, US forces launched some of the heaviest aerial bombardments on Baghdad on 27 March as ground forces approached the outskirts of the capital. Attention focused on the long anticipated engagement of Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard, multiple divisions of which had been positioned around Baghdad. Fears that the divisions would withdraw into the city and force a brutal, urban battle for control of the city street-by-street prompted relentless air strikes aimed at preventing such a move. US ground forces began their movement into the city by capturing the airport, and moving on to secure all major roads into the city. By 7 April, US marines had taken control of one of Saddam Hussein's palaces on the banks of the Tigris River, in what was the strongest coalition thrust into the city centre up to that point. US tanks and armoured vehicles rolled through some parts of the city as A-10 Thunderbolt planes and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) patrolled the skies above unchallenged. In northern Iraq, US forces were holding a strategic ridge between Mosul and Kirkuk, and attempted to dislodge Iraqi troops between those two northern cities. British forces, meanwhile, made their largest incursion into Basra, and set up a base in the city on 6 April. By 7 April, the 19th day of the war, coalition forces had taken over 6,500 Iraqi prisoners of war and had suffered 110 casualties.
47. The missing piece of the war plan, however, was the northern front. Coalition planners expected to send a significant force through Turkey into northern Iraq, as well as the force up from the Persian Gulf. The lack of political agreement within NATO, and the inability of the Turkish government to secure the approval of the Turkish parliament to allow coalition forces to invade Iraq from Turkey, prevented the opening of a northern front. This allowed Saddam Hussein to re-deploy some of his forces to protect Baghdad from the southern approach and put up stronger resistance than might have otherwise been possible. The coalition planners showed considerable flexibility in being able to adjust to this turn of events, but the lack of a northern front was a clear indication of how deeply the Iraq crisis divided the Alliance.
48. On 8 April, US forces continued their assault on Baghdad and, while meeting some fierce resistance from Iraqi fighters, secured additional strategic points throughout the city. By the following day, looting had broken out in the capital, with no sign of uniformed Iraqi soldiers or police on the streets of the city. Many Iraqis seemed glad to see coalition forces and greeted them warmly. Despite coalition advances, however, US military spokesman Brigadier General Vincent Brooks warned on 8 April that Saddam Hussein loyalists in the north - including his hometown of Tikrit - still posed a threat. That same day, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Syria had been ignoring warnings about giving military assistance to Iraq, and that some senior Iraqis were fleeing to Syria.
49. There were reports of chaotic celebrations in Kirkuk as Kurdish fighters and US Special Forces entered the northern oil city. Soon after, a top official of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan announced that the two main Iraqi Kurdish parties had agreed to withdraw their forces from the city. On Friday 11 April, widespread looting broke out in the northern city of Mosul, after the Iraqi army abandoned it to US-backed Kurdish fighters. The entire Iraqi 5th Corps of the Iraqi army surrendered to coalition forces. Meanwhile, a US delegation planned to meet members of the Iraqi opposition on Tuesday in the southern city of Nasiriya, to discuss Iraq's future and an interim government.
50. As the last stronghold of Iraqi forces, heavy fighting erupted on the southern outskirts of Tikrit between US marines, backed by tanks and Cobra helicopter gunships and planes, and Iraqi forces backed by tanks. Fresh air strikes were also under way in the city, which is Saddam Hussein's hometown. By 14 April, US marines were in control of the town's centre, as the Pentagon began to withdraw some forces from the Gulf. Journalists reported that in Tikrit the massive US troop presence had quieted the town and that there were no signs of residual Iraqi resistance. Efforts to restore order in Baghdad were also stepped up, including joint patrols by US troops and local security forces. A US military commander said on 15 April that the phase of decisive military operations was "coming to a close", but potential for "much more localised" combat action remained. By the following week, however, some coalition representatives were ready to declare the end of the military phase of the conflict and devote all attention to the reconstruction effort. On 1 May, President Bush declared that "major combat operations" were over, setting the stage for the post-war peacekeeping and reconstruction of Iraq.
51. The first stage of the Iraq war had thus ended with the spectacular victory of US and British forces. In less than 20 days, Saddam Hussein's army was all but destroyed and his regime toppled with minimal damage to coalition forces. The first war of the twenty-first century ended with an apparent triumph of modern forces equipped with highly precise weapons, and was seen by many as a vindication of those who supported the idea that a "revolution in military affairs" was upon us.
V. POST WAR OPERATIONS
52. The post-war effort has been both difficult and dangerous, and has little similarity to the picture of combat operations depicted above. It is now clear that groups of Baath party-loyalists, Special Republican Guard, and foreign combatants have reformed in a loosely organised guerrilla network to strike at four sets of targets: the oil production and public services infrastructure, the UN, local government offices and personnel, and coalition forces. The immediate aim of those attacks may vary, but the overall strategy is to prevent the establishment of an Iraqi government capable of providing services and security.
53. Coalition forces have been the target of almost daily attacks. Some are simply small arms assaults, but many others are co-ordinated and show signs of reconnaissance and military planning. For example, in June, several buildings used by coalition forces in Baghdad were attacked in a co-ordinated manner using rocket-propelled grenades. Evidence found later indicated that the attackers surveyed the buildings in advance and lay in wait to launch their attack at the most favourable time.
54. Other attacks appear to be less co-ordinated assaults than acts of individuals or spontaneous acts of violence. Six British troops were killed in Najaf by what some reports indicate was a spontaneous mob action. Other troops have been attacked in random assaults that may have no co-ordination or substantial planning. On average, 12 assaults of varying severity are launched on coalition forces every day.
55. Those attacks have taken a small but steady toll on the coalition forces. As of October more than 370 coalition troops had been killed in combat or hostile actions, and hundreds of others wounded in combat or various accidents. Total casualties stood at nearly 1,200 in the first six months of post-war operations. The constant danger of guerrilla activity makes it more difficult for coalition forces to mix with and gain the confidence of the local population, because they must remain wary of situations that could turn into ambushes.
56. The UN has also been a target of sophisticated assaults. The attack on the UN compound that claimed the life of UN Representative Sergio Vieira de Mello showed signs of planning and intelligence-gathering operations. The bomb was detonated directly outside Mr. Vieira de Mello's office just as a high-level meeting was scheduled to take place. On 22 September the United Nations premises in Baghdad suffered a second terrorist attack that killed two and wounded 19. As a result, UN Secretary General Annan declared on 25 September that most UN personnel would be removed from Iraq, leaving only approximately 40 UN staff in Baghdad. The statement coincided with the assassination of Akila al-Hashimi, a member of Iraq's 25-member Governing Council.
57. Attacks are also directed at those Iraqis attempting to rebuild their country in co-operation with the coalition authorities. On 9 October a police station in Baghdad was attacked by a suicide bomber who took the lives of eight Iraqi policemen. In August Shi'a cleric and leader Ayatollah Muhammad Baqr al-Hakim was killed in a massive explosion at a mosque in Najaf that killed over 100 at prayer. Al-Hakim was one of the stronger advocates of co-operation with the coalition authorities and a staunch opponent of Saddam Hussein.
58. Guerrilla activity has also affected the restoration of electrical power in parts of Iraq and the resumption of oil production. In August, an explosion at a power facility in Baghdad reversed the considerable progress that had been made in restoring electricity to the city, plunging parts of it into a days-long blackout. Explosions at oil export pipelines have contributed to the low output of Iraqi oil. This is critical because oil revenues are expected to pay for considerable amounts of Iraq's reconstruction and improvement of its infrastructure.
59. Guerrillas have also disrupted water supply lines in Baghdad and attacked other parts of the public service infrastructure. All of those actions are designed to frustrate the improvement of life for average Iraqis, and turn that frustration against the coalition forces. This illustrates the close connection between the military and civil reconstruction aspects of operations in Iraq. It is clear that it will be very difficult to improve basic services such as water and electricity until the guerrilla forces that attack them are eliminated.
60. It should also be noted that the security situation in Iraq varies considerably by region. In general, the southern part of the country - populated mainly by Shi'a Iraqis - is more secure. Few attacks have been launched on coalition forces in that region and military commanders enjoy generally good relations with local leaders. In the north of Iraq, the situation is even better. The US forces based in Mosul have not had a single casualty and also enjoy a high degree of co-operation with local leaders. Virtually all of the problems are focused on the central part of Iraq - the so-called "Sunni triangle" stretching to the west and north of Baghdad. Even there, however, electrical power generation returned to pre-war levels in October.
61. But this progress cannot hide the fact that serious mistakes have been made in post-war operations. Those mistakes flow from two flawed assumptions about the nature of the post-war situation in Iraq: that there would be little resistance to the coalition presence in Iraq, and that the civilian and oil production infrastructure would be quickly restored. The original placement of General Jay Garner in the lead position was clearly problematic from the start. To be blunt, General Garner appeared to not have a clear idea of what needed to be done, or how to do it. His replacement, Paul Bremer, has taken a more proactive stance, but the Coalition Provisional Authority is reportedly overwhelmed by the tasks it faces. Contracts for rebuilding Iraqi infrastructure have been awarded, but almost no reconstruction has taken place in critical areas such as roads and bridges. For example, of the 49 damaged bridges slated to be repaired, work had only begun on three as of the time of this Report.
62. It is impossible to improve the civilian infrastructure and set Iraq on a path of normal economic development until the internal security situation is dramatically improved. But it is flawed decisions precisely in this area, made by the CPA, that have slowed developments that could improve security. The decision to disband the Iraqi army is now seen as a serious mistake that put thousands of unemployed and armed men into the streets. The CPA is setting up a new Iraqi army and training a new police force, but starting from scratch is a slow process and it is difficult to make headway in other areas of reconstruction in Iraq until basic security is restored.
63. The costs of reconstruction and stabilisation are now presented as a surprise that could not be estimated before the war, but those costs were in fact accurately assessed by US government and non-governmental organisations, some before the start of the war. The US Congressional Budget Office, for example, estimated in 2002 that the post-war costs would be in the range of US$1-4 billion per month, and this has proved to be fairly accurate. The same report also underlined that Iraqi oil production would not be sufficient to pay for any significant amount of the reconstruction for several years to come. The information and analysis was available, but those in command chose to discount it.
64. It is also the case that a nation-building exercise such as the one underway in Iraq cannot be done on the cheap, both in terms of money and the long-term investment of personnel. A recent study by the RAND Corporation of nation-building since World War II finds that the successful experiences involved large numbers of troops relative to the population. Based on the ratio of peacekeepers to population in Kosovo, the coalition would need to maintain more than 500,000 troops in Iraq to have a similar presence. Based on the expenditures to assist Bosnia, the international community would have to invest about US$36 billion in foreign aid in Iraq. If the past is a guide to the future, then there are important lessons to be learned from this sort of historical analysis. Chief among them is that a successful transformation of Iraq will be both costly and absorb large numbers of US and allied forces for several years to come.
VI. LESSON LEARNED
65. Although it is too early to make a comprehensive assessment of the campaign and the lessons that can be drawn from its conduct, some preliminary conclusions are warranted. At a very basic level, the conflict was presented by some as a test of the concept of military transformation or a "revolution in military affairs" to use another term. The idea is that the combination of new technologies and tactics allows modern militaries to strike with increasing lethality, accuracy, and minimal casualties. Proponents of transformation argue that the current technological advantage enjoyed by the United States military allows it to significantly alter the way in which it fights. Networked "systems of systems", precision munitions, and other technologies allow the US to fight with few troops on the ground, fewer munitions from the air, and a more streamlined logistical supply chain.
66. Most military analysts agree that there is considerable movement in this direction, but many argue that the changes that have taken place so far are less of a transformation than they are a gradual evolution. In other words, we are moving in the direction of an eventual transformation but we are not yet at that point.
67. This debate is said to have been played out in the Pentagon, with the civilian leadership advocating a strategy in Iraq based on the idea that the transformational military was in hand, and the military leadership advocating a more cautious and conservative strategy. For example, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld advocated a small ground force for the invasion of Iraq, but military leaders are reported to have eventually convinced him that the task would require at least 250,000 troops. Even so, this force is half the size of that used in the first Gulf War.
68. The conflict appears to have vindicated many of the claims of proponents of transformation. PGMs did indeed strike many targets with minimal targeting errors and account for the vast majority of ordnance dropped on Iraq, compared to the 1991 Gulf War. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) served an important reconnaissance function and provided real time tactical intelligence. The improved logistical supply system implemented by the US brought more supplies to the front lines faster and more accurately. Networked systems enabled commanders and troops to stay aware of movements and minimise "friendly fire" incidents. Air operations centres in the theatre of operations, for example, are not tables filled with maps and pins as they were in 1991 Gulf War, but are rather a highly networked computer system that gives commanders both at headquarters and in the field a much more accurate and common picture of what is happening on the battlefield.
69. Despite the tremendous progress in military technology over the past decade, however, there are many factors that limit the actual use of it in the field. UAVs transmit accurate pictures of the battlefield, but limited communications bandwidth capacity slows the transmission of the pictures to operational commanders. The GPS-guided JDAMs are accurate, but sometimes miss the target by as much as ten metres. It is not a large distance, but it is one that can make the difference between a direct hit and one that causes as much damage to surrounding buildings as the actual target. Sophisticated command and control systems are a tremendous help in clearing away the "fog of war," but there is only so much information any commander can absorb under combat conditions and still make effective decisions.
70. At the same time, the conflict in Iraq shows that low-tech tactics can severely limit the advantage of much of the US military's technological sophistication. Iraqi paramilitaries dressed in civilian clothes chose schools, hospitals, and religious shrines as bases for their activities, knowing that coalition forces were loathe to inflict damage on such sites. Oil fires clouded the skies and affected the use of laser-guided weapons. Inexpensive GPS-jamming devices may have affected the accuracy of JDAMs, perhaps causing some civilian casualties. In a battle for the "hearts and minds" it does not take many images of civilian deaths to affect opinions in Iraq and elsewhere, and it does not matter if the cause of the civilian deaths was an intentional strike, an accident, or the result of deliberate Iraqi interference with the guidance systems of the weapons.
71. Other age-old tactics can weaken the impact of high-technology weapons. According to reports from the field, some Iraqi paramilitaries literally used children and other non-combatants as human shields to prevent being fired upon by coalition forces. Iraqi forces used ambulances as personnel carriers to move reinforcements, and forced women and children into the battlefield to recover weapons from dead soldiers. They also lured coalition forces into ambushes by pretending to surrender and then firing upon US and UK troops. Such tactics may be unlawful and immoral, but they can be effective. Coalition commanders operating under the current rules of engagement would be very unwilling to fire on sites where there is a high risk of civilian casualties.
72. None of this, however, should detract from the final assessment of at least the first stage of the war: a coalition force of approximately half the size used in 1991 completely routed the largest military force in the Middle East in three weeks, and did so with minimal civilian casualties. The highest estimates of civilian deaths made by the Hussein regime shortly before the fall of Baghdad place the toll between 1,000 and 2,000. The coalition was able to accomplish its mission without the expected northern front, and it adapted to the challenges it encountered.
73. One lesson stands out: vast quantities of armour from developing countries, without superior air and electronic (C4I) technology, simply stand no chance in large scale combat. Ironically however, this in turn might entail a set of unpleasant consequences for the West and NATO in terms of what is generally referred to as "asymmetric warfare". To all present and future Saddam (or Kim Jong Il) type dictators, it is clear that no military in the less developed world can confront the US military in a direct conflict. The only way a lesser power can hope to confront or stave off an attack by a technologically superior force is to acquire WMD - particularly nuclear weapons - or develop some ability to affect the information systems on which high-tech warfare now depends. This demonstration of the overwhelming superiority of the US and UK military in this conflict may drive some countries to move in this direction, either by seeking nuclear weapons or exploiting the vulnerabilities of information systems. The continuation of the nuclear crises in both North Korea and Iran during the events in Iraq now confirm this dangerous trend.
74. The other "asymmetric lesson" to be learned from Iraq is that superior, hi-tech weaponry and "small and mean" shock troops are unlikely to be the best suited, or sufficient, to fully occupy and stabilise a country after the end of traditional combat. Faced with superior forces, guerrilla tactics and terrorism remain an extremely potent strategy to oppose the militaries of democracies which must constantly justify the costs of a lengthy military operation. In the twenty-first century, "Lebanonisation" and terrorism may be the asymmetric response to western hi-tech war.
75. In this respect, it is evident that future military operations should devote as much effort and serious planning to follow-on stabilisation and state-building after the hostilities cease, as they do to combat planning. A classified report prepared for the US Joint Chiefs of Staff in August, that was subsequently leaked to the press, faulted the planning process for post-war operations in Iraq. The report states that "Weapons of mass destruction (WMD) elimination and exploitation planning efforts did not occur early enough in the process to allow Centcom to effectively execute the mission. The extent of the planning was underestimated." The same report also gave poor marks to the planning for the mix of reserve and active forces used in the region, although it gave high marks to the level of joint-service warfare.
76. Much the same can be said for post-war operations to secure the civilian infrastructure and provide for basic security after the fall of the Hussein regime. The inability of coalition forces to stop post-war looting and restore basic services was broadcast around the world in real time. It is unrealistic to expect combat forces to simply turn into military police and civil support forces, but perhaps additional planning is needed to ensure that those forces exist in the Alliance and that they follow closely on the heels of combat troops. It is important to note that this need is a consequence of the effectiveness of the coalition strategy. Rapid success with minimal civilian bloodshed raised public expectations about the nature of modern warfare. Part of those raised expectations is that the military can provide immediate civilian relief in the aftermath of war.
77. It is also clear that military planners underestimated the level of guerrilla warfare that was likely to occur after the collapse of the Hussein regime. Ironically, part of this may in fact be a product of how the war was conducted. Much of the campaign focused on air operations to disrupt Iraqi forces and move ground forces quickly to Baghdad. The end result is that much of the country was not actually taken in a military sense, and many Iraqi forces simply had the opportunity to melt away into the civilian population with small weapons and rocket-propelled grenades, the same weapons that are now used to attack coalition forces. Larger numbers of forces on the ground might have been able to capture many of those who slipped away as it became obvious that the conflict would end with an overwhelming coalition victory.
78. Thus, while the ability to strike with great precision from a distance may allow modern militaries to defeat an enemy quickly and decisively with minimal casualties, it does not necessarily make it easier to hold the territory after combat ceases, and to reshape the political situation. In short, technological advances may make it easier to prevail in combat, but may not make it easier to win the war in terms of its political goals.
VII. THE ROLE OF NATO FORCES IN THE RECONSTRUCTION OF IRAQ
79. We cannot overestimate the importance of a successful reconstitution of Iraq. It is vital to ensure the credibility of the coalition - and by extension the western world - in the eyes of most of the Middle East. Setting Iraq on a path towards stable, representative government could be a force for positive change in the entire region. But a failure that allows Iraq to slip into anarchy, civil war, or a return to despotism will likely sour the region on western intentions and western institutions.
80. The US revealed plans on 20 February 2003 for the occupation and reconstruction of Iraq following hostilities. The plan called for the US to maintain control over both the military occupation and the civilian governance of the country. However, in the words of one US official, the range of plans includes options for the occupation and reconstruction to be "carried out by an international group, a coalition group, or by us and a few others". The main concern of the US leadership is to prevent Iraq from fragmenting into a weak federal system whose divisions could be exploited by its neighbours or terrorist organisations. In particular, the US is concerned about the potential for Iran to extend its influence over the southern Shi'a-dominated region.
81. The US installed retired Army General Jay Garner, later replaced by Ambassador Paul Bremer, to oversee the process of creating a new government. He is advised by an Iraqi consultative council and another commission of Iraqi citizens who are establishing a new judicial system. One of the main tasks for the Coalition Provisional Authority is to reconstitute the military and the bureaucracy through a process of "de-Baathification", screening out those individuals responsible for human rights abuses or involved with Iraq's WMD programmes.
82. Thus far NATO, in addition to being totally absent in the war, does not have any formal part in the reconstruction of Iraq. The US favours a NATO role in Iraq, and US Ambassador to NATO Nicolas Burns has stated that a strong NATO role is both important for the future of Iraq and the Alliance. What that role will be, however, remains to be decided. Clearly there are precedents. The ongoing NATO presence in the Balkans is one, and the NATO command role in ISAF is another. But it remains to be seen if NATO can successfully repair the political damage to its credibility and efficacy caused by the Iraq crisis over the past year. The divisions that marked the debate over the need for military force against Iraq are likely to carry over into the debate over the details of any reconstruction effort.
83. Beyond those political considerations is a set of practical limitations on the ability of the NATO Alliance to provide the necessary forces for the post-war security and reconstruction of Iraq. Many members of the Alliance are already stretched to provide for current operations, particularly in Afghanistan. In a February 2003 interview, the British military chief of staff, General Mike Jackson, said that current deployments of the British Army were "at the top end" and "not sustainable over any long period". France and Germany, the two allies with the largest number of deployable forces besides the US and the UK, are also stretched in their current deployments in Afghanistan and elsewhere. There is no indication that the ISAF or other military operations in Afghanistan will become less demanding in the coming year. In fact, it is clear from the ongoing battles with terrorist cells in the Afghan countryside that those operations will likely continue for the foreseeable future.
84. Yet, although the European allies have a limited ability to contribute simultaneously to operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, the US would be hard-pressed to provide for the security and reconstruction of Iraq without allied assistance. Estimates of the number of troops necessary for such an operation vary, but could require the presence of some 75,000-200,000 troops to maintain civil order, root out remnants of Saddam Hussein's forces, secure WMD stockpiles, and assist in the basic reconstruction of the civilian infrastructure. At the upper end of this range, the US Congressional Budget Office concluded that the US Army forces "would be unable to support those rotations for a prolonged 200,000-person occupation". Even at the lower end of the range it could be difficult for the US to conduct a prolonged occupation of Iraq. Given the continued American presence in Afghanistan, it would require a sustained deployment of reserve forces to maintain such a force in Iraq, especially because many of the most needed specialisations - military police, civil affairs, etc. - are often concentrated in the reserves. Some analysts are concerned that retention rates would suffer as a result of lengthy deployments of active duty and reserve forces, causing long-term damage to the US military.
85. Thus far the United States has maintained approximately 140,000 troops in the country, and some argue that this should be supplemented by an additional division. US commanders have stressed the need for an additional 10,000 to 15,000 foreign peacekeepers in order to prevent further strain on the US army. Attempts are also being made by Iraqi authorities to assemble a paramilitary Iraqi force from former members of the military, police, and security and intelligence wings of local political organisations.
86. The occupation is also expensive. President Bush asked the US Congress in September to allocate US$87 billion more for the occupation and reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan, US$75 billion of which is for Iraq alone. Some experts predict that US taxpayers will in total pay over US$150 billion- and potentially tens of billions more - for the first year of operations in Iraq.
87. The United States has asked the United Nations to consider taking a more active role in Iraq, in part driven by the costs and the demands on troops. The costs of the mission were averaging nearly US$1 billion per week in September. But more importantly, the US Congressional Budget Office estimated that the current US presence in Iraq is not sustainable beyond March 2004 without extending the tour of duty for reservists and active duty troops.
88. The means by which the UN may take on a larger role in Iraq had not been decided as of the time of this report. The consensus appears to be some arrangement to transfer some aspects of the mission to UN control until sovereignty i, ,,, s,, returned to an elected government in Iraq, but the proposals for how to balance US and UN control has raised some concerns on both sides of the Atlantic. Some countries that opposed the coalition action in Iraq are reluctant to legitimate it by participating in the post-war reconstruction. Others may be concerned about the open-ended nature of the operation, and the extent to which the United States will retain effective control rather than the UN. On the US side, some are concerned about losing the dominant voice in the political future of Iraq and about the military effectiveness of an operation no longer solely under US command.
89. The continuation of such sterile controversies is self-defeating. We have learned in the Balkans throughout the 1990s, as well as in Afghanistan, how to operate pragmatically in NATO, as well as in other international bodies such as the UN and the EU We have such arrangements in place in Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Afghanistan. Why not, therefore, extend this co-operation to Iraq?
90. Already, many NATO members are taking part in operations in Iraq. As of September, troops from the Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, and Spain were involved in operations in Iraq along with the US and UK contingents. Other soon-to-be members of the Alliance such as Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, and Slovakia also had forces in Iraq, along with troops from Ukraine, the Philippines and several Latin American countries. Most of those troop contributions are quite small compared to the US and UK forces, although Poland is the lead nation in peacekeeping operations in the south-central part of Iraq, with approximately 2,300 troops on the ground, and the Turkish parliament agreed in October to send 10,000 troops to Iraq. In total, as of October there were approximately 13,000 troops in Iraq from 29 countries other than the US or the UK.
91. Given the multinational presence in Iraq and the fact that more than half of NATO's members have forces on the ground, it seems logical to eventually make the military aspects of the Iraq reconstruction effort a NATO operation. Doing so would give the mission some additional international legitimacy and might encourage the participation of other non-NATO countries. At the same time, this would avoid raising some concerns in the US about losing operational control of the mission in Iraq in which that country has the majority of troops in any foreseeable operation.
92. This could also be seen as an opportunity for the European Union to assume a greater role in international security affairs. The reconstruction of Iraq will be a developmental challenge in which the EU could play a large role. If we can arrive at an agreement under an umbrella UN resolution, it is possible to envision an international co-operative effort in Iraq where NATO commands the military operations, and some combination of economic aid and assistance in creating democratic institutions in Iraq is entrusted to the both the US and the EU. This would spread the financial burdens - estimated to be in the range of US$30 billion per year for the next several years - across a broader set of partners. It also plays to the respective strengths of the EU, the US and NATO. This arrangement would entrust military operations in Iraq to the most effective military alliance in existence, and the political and economic aspects of the mission to a coalition of the world's pre-eminent and wealthiest democracies. Clearly there are potential difficulties with such an arrangement, but we should keep in mind the larger goal: the creation of a stable, democratic Iraq governed by and for the people of Iraq. Whatever disagreements exist in the transatlantic relationship, there is no disagreement over that basic and central goal.
93. NATO is at one of its most challenging points in its history. As an organisation it is in the midst of a complex process of redefinition and expansion, both in terms of its membership and in terms of its capabilities and mission. The discord over how to confront the situation in Iraq has only added to the complexity and given it a focal point.
94. Many of the issues surrounding the debate over Iraq are impossible to resolve without a detailed assessment that can only take place in the coming months. We knew that Iraq had some weapons of mass destruction and the ability to produce more. We still do not know how much of those weapons it possessed. We knew that Iraq had a history of supporting terrorist organisations when it suited its strategic goals. We still do not know the extent and depth of Iraq's connections with al-Qaeda. In the following months the extent of Iraq's WMD capacity and its support of terrorism may become clearer, but the conflict began with a large amount of uncertainty that still persists.
95. This uncertainty gave rise to two distinct positions that each had merit. On one side it justified a more cautious course of action focusing on inspections, continued sanctions, and the containment of Iraq. On the other, the uncertainty mandated a military intervention to prevent the possibility of terrorists armed with chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons. Both courses of action had serious risks and drawbacks. A containment strategy was already tried and found wanting, and would have simply kept Saddam Hussein's violent dictatorship in place. But a military intervention could have become trapped in bloody urban combat, causing large numbers of civilian casualties generating additional terrorist activity and widespread support for terrorist groups in the Arab world.
96. Despite the uncertainty and unresolved issues, one point is quite clear: the military occupation and reconstruction of Iraq will be a multinational effort. The United States has the military power to remove Saddam Hussein and the Baath regime from power, but it cannot maintain the necessary presence in Iraq to win the peace, and ensure stability and a more representative government in Iraq alone, without the participation of other countries. Given that many European militaries are already stretched in terms of deployments, it is likely to be an even broader coalition that takes on the task of stabilising and rebuilding post-Saddam Iraq.
97. The military lessons learned from the conflict have yet to be written in full, but some points can be gleaned so far. First and foremost is that although the nature of war is changing along the lines of the much discussed "revolution in military affairs", it is perhaps less of a revolution and more of an evolution. It is true that modern warfare is vastly more precise and network-centric than during the first Gulf War, but it is also true that relatively inexpensive and low-tech means can force even the most advanced military to return to more traditional forms of combat. It is true that precision-guided weapons and sophisticated battle management systems can quickly win in combat, but they do not guarantee success against guerrilla tactics, terrorist activity, or the dangers posed by proliferation. In addition, with modern media communications any incidents with civilian casualties can be instantly broadcast around the world. The increasing sophistication of military technology is important, but it also raises unrealistic expectations in the general public for rapid and nearly bloodless victories.
98. Finally, we must understand that what is at state in Iraq is nothing less than the future political shape of the Middle East. We have no choice at this point but to build a stable, peaceful, and ultimately democratic Iraq. It is a difficult and expensive task, but it is not impossible. Whatever differences the allies had over the military operation that toppled Saddam Hussein must be put aside as we focus on the future, because it is in the interest of each member of the Alliance to ensure a successful reconstruction of Iraq, and it is patently not in any member's national interest to see a failure in Iraq. That could only lead to increased instability in the Middle East, and would encourage the radical forces which have declared war on the West - broadly conceived - and the values that it has come to represent. Those values - a respect for democracy, self-determination, and human rights - are enshrined in NATO's founding documents. They are in large part why NATO continues to be a relevant institution more than a decade after the end of the Cold War. We must ensure the successful reconstruction of Iraq because the stakes - for us as individual states and members of the transatlantic Alliance - are simply too high to allow it to fail.