Monday, April 2, 2007

Cordesman on the Iraqi Security Forces

Anthony Cordesman gives Congress his estimates on the prospects for the successful development of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) in Iraqi Force Development and the Challenge of Civil War: The Critical Problems and Failures the US Must Address if Iraqi Forces Are to Do the Job (Center for Strategic and International Studies) 03/28/07.

Here's his "things go well" scenario:

If things go well, Iraqi forces will steadily improve with time and play a critical role in bring the level of security Iraq needs to make political compromise and conciliation work.

Iraqi forces will largely replace Coalition and other foreign forces, at most seeking aid and limited assistance. Iraq’s military will shift its mission from counterinsurgency to defense of the nation against foreign enemies, Iraq’s National Police will defend the nation’s internal security interests and not those of given ethnic and sectarian groups, deal with counterterrorism rather than counterinsurgency, and focus on crime and corruption. Iraq’s other police and security forces will act like the police and security forces of other nations, focusing on crime, local security issues, and providing border security against smuggling and low-level infiltration.

Things can only go well, however, if Iraq can create a working compromise between its sects and ethnic groups, and if US and other outside powers will have the patience and will to support Iraq as it develops into such a state for at least two to three more years of active fighting. Iraq will also need massive additional economic aid to help Iraq unify and develop. Major assistance and advisory programs will be in place until at least 2010, and probably 2015.
(my emphasis underlined)
That's Cordesman's best case: something like current levels of fighting with full US combat participation until 2009 or 2010; major US assistance; an advisory combat role for the US until maybe 2015.

The not-going-so-well options? He describes them beginning on page 30 in three broad categories: continued civil war indefinitely; stability via ethnic cleansing followed by an useasy internal balance of power among the competeing groups; and, partition of the country withthe accompanying risk of regional war.

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