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Withdrawing from Iraq: Alternative Schedules, Associated Risks, and Mitigating Strategies

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This monograph looks at three alternative schedules for the drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq, judges the risks associated with each, and recommends ways to reduce those risks. The three alternatives are as follows combat units are drawn down in 12 months, combat units are drawn down in 16 months, and some combat units are retained for 32 months. In each alternative, all U.S. military forces will be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of December 2011, in accordance with the Security Agreement between Iraq and the United States. We assume a start date of May 1, 2009, for all three alternatives. The 16-month alternative is our version of how the administrations August 2010 goal might be achieved. In addition, we offer two additional drawdown schedules one faster than the administrations and another slower. We include these additional alternatives to consider the feasibility of altering the administrations withdrawal framework in the event a faster drawdown is desired or if risks to the security of departing U.S. forces or the Iraqi population require a slower-paced drawdown. The force remaining after the drawdown of combat units varies with each alternative. In alternative 1, the force is referred to as the residual force. This force consists of enablers, support personnel, and trainers. Its mission is to advise and assist the Iraqi Security Forces ISF and to protect ongoing U.S. civilian and military efforts within Iraq. In alternative 2, the force remaining after combat units have departed is referred to as the transition force. It is composed of advise and assist brigades AABs supplemented by additional training, enabling, and support personnel. Its mission is to advise and assist the ISF, to conduct counterterrorism missions in coordination with the ISF, and to protect ongoing U.S. civilian and military efforts within Iraq. In alternative 3, combat units remain through the end of the Security Agreement period, along with enablers, trainers, and support forces.

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  • Administration and Management
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Unconventional Warfare

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