Highlights of the Iraq Strategy Review

Highlights of the Iraq Strategy Review
United States National Security Council

Summary Briefing Slides

Guiding PrinciplesEdit

  • Success in Iraq remains critical to our national security and to success in the War on Terror.
  • Failure in Iraq would have disastrous consequences for the United States, the region, and our allies.
  • There is no silver bullet solution in Iraq. Every option involves trade-offs across various risks.

Relationship to the War on TerrorEdit

  • Iraq remains a central front in the Global War on Terror.
  • Al-Qaida in Iraq has declared and shown its intentions to establish a caliphate in Iraq and then to expand the caliphate widely.
    • Sowing sectarian violence in Iraq has been and remains the central strategy of al-Qaida in Iraq to reach the goal of creating a caliphate.
  • The Freedom Agenda is advanced by the survival and strengthening of Iraq’s democratic institutions.
    • Winning in Iraq will not end the War on Terror, but it will make success in the War on Terror much easier.
    • Failing in Iraq would make succeeding in the War on Terror vastly more difficult.

The Regional PictureEdit

  • Our allies in the region are concerned about negative Iranian influence in Iraq.
    • Support for the Iraqi Government, however, can help stabilize the region.
  • Iran has been cultivating influence in Iraq through all means at its disposal.
    • Iran’s threat involves both lethal action and the burrowing of Iranian actors into Iraqi institutions.
  • Syrian actions, while posing less of a strategic threat to Iraq than Iranian actions, exacerbate the tactical challenge faced by the Iraqi government.

Present SituationEdit

  • We have achieved many of our initial objectives in Iraq.
    • Saddam Hussein’s regime is no longer an organized threat to Iraq, its neighbors, or the United States.
    • Iraq is governed by a freely elected government under a permanent constitution.
    • Democratic institutions have been established and are enabling Iraqis to shape their own state.
    • Per capita incomes have increased ($743 to $1593 according to the World Bank, although inflation also has risen) and Iraq has performed under its IMF agreement.
  • But the situation in Iraq has grown increasingly complex over the past 12 months.
    • Al-Qaida terrorism and a vicious insurgency are now combined with sectarian violence.
    • The national government is eager to take lead responsibility, but it is hampered by a lack of governmental capability and widening sectarian divisions.
    • Power centers are devolving, with events outside the international zone becoming more relevant to national trends.
  • The political process has shown signs of maturation, but meaningful reconciliation has yet to be achieved.
    • Iraqi leaders have not yet achieved a single vision for a unified Iraq.
  • Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) have grown in effectiveness, but the levels of violence with which they must cope continue to increase.
    • Professionalism and effectiveness are improving but are not yet consistent across the force.
    • Some members of the ISF, notably the police, are contributing to sectarian violence.
    • Despite more than 300,000 trained and equipped members of the ISF, substantially fewer numbers are present for duty on a given day.
  • Combat losses, desertion, attrition, and leave account for the majority of those absent.
  • The situation in Baghdad has not improved despite tactical adjustments.
    • The situation in Baghdad determines nationwide trends; its stabilization has been seen as key to a unified Iraq.
    • The Government of Iraq has not yet delivered promised essential services.
    • Limitations on operations have hindered the execution of security plans.
    • Force levels overall in Baghdad have been inadequate to stabilize a city of its size.
  • Iraqi support for the Coalition has declined substantially, in part due to failure of security over the past year.
    • In the absence of security, communities are turning to “self-help.”
  • In his public and private statements, Prime Minister Maliki articulates a positive vision where all Iraqis are protected by the rule of law.
    • Execution and delivery on pledges remain vital.





This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).