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Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder: A Tale of Strategic Context and Operational Art in Iraq, 2004-2008
Monograph, July 2011 May 2012
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES
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In January 2007, President of the United States George W. Bush announced a strategy called the New Way Forward in Iraq, a departure from the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq announced only thirteen months previous. Additionally, President Bush approved the deployment of five additional combat brigades in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. The so-called surge, as it became known, increased American troop levels by 30,000 and was thought to be the last hope to avert possible civil war in Iraq. In the ensuing months, sectarian violence decreased and the security situation steadily improved throughout Iraq. The surge drew resounding accolade as the impetus responsible for the dramatic turnaround. This dynamic provides a backdrop in which to analyze the significance that changes in strategic context had on operational planning within Multi-National Forces-Iraq before and after the surge. Campaign planning under the purview of Generals George Casey, Jr. and David H. Petraeus provide two relevant case studies demonstrating contrast in operational design and execution based on strategic context. This monograph examines the significant impact strategic context had operationally on the arrangement of tactical actions in time, space, and purpose from 2004 through 2008 in Iraq. From an operational perspective in Iraq, operational art, as defined by Army Doctrinal Publication 3-0 Unified Land Operations, evolved from Casey to Petraeus due to changes in strategic context from 2004 through 2008. A case study comparison of each campaigns design and execution revealed strategic contexts significance. Strategic context presented each commander with opportunity and limitation. This dynamic framed their pursuit of respective strategic objectives. In analyzing their pursuit, current Army and joint doctrine underscored the applicability of operational art during counterinsurgency operations in Iraq. The elements of operational design and tenets of unified land operations highlig
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