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An Analysis of the U.S. Military's Ability to Sustain an Occupation in Iraq: An Update

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The question of how large a force the U.S. military can sustain in extended deployments for Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom OEF and OIF is primarily a question about the Armys and Marine Corps s ability to provide forces for the operations. For this analysis and all of the personnel and units discussed in it, the term forces refers only to land forces. The numbers of personnel described here are larger than those in many press reports and in some statements by the Administration. The number of U.S. forces deployed inside Afghanistan and Iraq proper is less than the total number of forces involved, which includes a considerable number of personnel supporting those operations in neighboring states. For the analytic tasks that CBO has been asked to undertake including estimating costs and analyzing sustainability, the total number of personnel involved in each operation is the relevant consideration. The level of forces involved in the Afghanistan theater of operations has generally been about two combat brigades, with between 15,000 and 20,000 personnel a level that has not varied significantly since the end of major combat operations in OEF. In general, the U.S. occupation force in the Iraqi theater has required about 16 to 18 combat brigades, or 160,000 to 180,000 personnel. At some points over the past two and a half years, the size of the U.S. occupation force has moved outside of that range, but overall, that level represents the typical size. The variation in the level of personnel results primarily from the annual rotation of forces through the theater and from decisions in response to changing security conditions in Iraq.

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  • Sociology and Law
  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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