With the declared "end of combat operations" in Iraq a number of analysts and commentators have been expressing their thoughts on the road ahead. They are looking at the Obama administrations strategic plans and the planned actions on the ground in Iraq by the less than 50,000 troops who will remain over the next year. It appears the State Department will take an increased role in further developing the Iraq government and its processes as we transition from a military-led effort to a civilian-led effort. The remaining troops will perform in an "advise and assist" role, provide "enablers" such as UAVs and logistic support, and be a source for intelligence analysis and dissemination. The military has stated that we are transitioning from combat operations to stability operations. Of course, there will be special forces teams doing what they do with the occasional CIA agent in the mix! A number of news articles below provide differing perspectives on what the current situation looks like, what the future holds, with suggested plans of action that should be considered.
"This Week at War: The Iraq Gamble", by Robert Haddick, Foreign Policy Magazine, September 3, 2010. Robert Haddick is the managing editor of Small Wars Journal.
"Breaking Dawn: building a long-term strategic partnership with Iraq", by Colin H. Kahl, Foreign Policy Magazine, August 31, 2010. Colin H. Kahl is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East. His article describes the overall tranisition strategy, provides a brief on the current security environment in Iraq, and discusses the political drivers of instability, the critical transitions that must take place, and how we must enter into a long-term strategic partnership with Iraq.
"Analysis: Iraq's Military Needs After 2011", by Stephen Farrell, The New York Times At War Blog, September 2, 2010.