Today the US Army is releasing a 669-page account of their role in the Iraq war and occupation entitled On Point II: Transition to the New Campaign and it stands to be a tell-all page-turner. Although unclassified, the book is the Army’s chance to honestly tell the story of one of the most controversial periods in its history and accompanies an ever-expanding canon regarding the problems the US faced in their Iraq adventure.
Based on 200 interviews conducted by military historians, it includes long quotations from active or recently retired Army officers. The book is said to claim that the military effort after major combat operations were over, was put under the command of short-staffed headquarters headed by newly promoted three-star generals, causing trouble. These decisions came despite the objections of the Army’s Vice Chief of staff. According to the book, “the move was sudden and caught most of the senior commanders in Iraq unaware. [The new headquarters] was not configured for the types of responsibilities it received.”
Among other claims, On Point II: Transition to the New Campaign says that a huge error was made with the lack of detailed planning before the war for the post-war phase; a negligence that was the result of false optimism in the White House. To see how,
The report claims that then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld assumed that Iraq civilian agencies in the conquered nation would automatically assume much of the burden once their leadership was removed. Instead what happened was a near total collapse of every single government department and national chaos. One General is quoted in the report warning General Abizaid, who had replaced General Franks as the head of Central Command as saying, "I said ‘Jesus Christ, John, this is a recipe for disaster!’ " While another General remembers this damning detail: “there was not a single session that was held at the command level to hand off or transition anything.”
Is faulty planning the reason for the mixed views of success in Iraq? Is a book like this necessary, or is it Too Much Information, dampening any reports of military progress? Was the mission set up for failure due to lack of forethought?