US military operations in Iraq following the 2003 ouster of Saddam Hussein suffered from poor planning and lack of vision, according to an army report released Sunday.
The 696-page report, called "On Point II: Transition to the New Campaign," is the army’s historical account of the 18 months following President George W. Bush’s declaration of the end of major combat in May 2003.
Military leaders and civilian officials were fixated on military triumph and removing Saddam from power, but paid too little attention to the phases that would follow, said the report posted on the army’s combined arms center website.
"The transition to a new campaign was not well thought out, planned for, and prepared for before it began," wrote report authors Donald Wright and Colonel Timothy Reese, both military historians.
"Additionally, the assumptions about the nature of post-Saddam Iraq on which the transition was planned proved to be largely incorrect."
The army’s Contemporary Operations Study Team, along with the report authors, said the army "should have insisted on better Phase IV planning and preparations through its voice on the Joint Chiefs of Staff."
"The military means employed were sufficient to destroy the Saddam regime; they were not sufficient to replace it with the type of nation-state the United States wished to see in its place."
The study is the second in a series — the first On Point covered the start of combat through to the ouster of Saddam in April 2003 — and is described by the authors as "neither triumphant nor defeatist."
Its aim is to provide "military professionals with a means to understand important and relevant lessons from the army’s recent operational experience."