UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

From pyrrhic victory to combating an unknown quantity : matériel's qualified utility during the Second Iraq War Goosenberg, Scott R.


Lost in the Second Iraq War’s rancorous run-up was the reality that matériel primacy and a preponderance of personnel are beneficial for employing force effectively only insofar as they can be viably exploited via an appropriate doctrine and apposite tactics. U.S.-led Coalition forces lacked the requisite capacity to adopt these methods, however, and thus employ force efficaciously subsequent to Operation Iraqi Freedom’s (O.I.F.’s) conclusion on April 9, 2003. Securing the postwar peace after the Second Iraq War's initial phase formally ended required the calibrated use of military might to shore up a host-nation’s government and win over the local population. Doing so became impossible in large part due to pre-invasion complacency and post-invasion confusion. Moreover, then-Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki had, contrary to popular belief, countenanced then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s invasion strategy for the Second Iraq War in its run-up. The two had, I argue, merely disagreed over how to secure the peace and with what size footprint, not over the invasion strategy, despite the former being what really required a great deal of modifications. Distracted by prewar saber rattling over the war’s merits or lack thereof, the fact that Messrs. Shinseki and Rumsfeld each possessed flawed postwar strategies in the absence of a population-centric counterinsurgency element became papered over. Bureaucratic feuding also gave way to a closed and faulty assumption driven war-planning process, which, followed as it was by maladroit and ad hoc efforts post-O.I.F., further constrained U.S. Coalition forces’ efforts. Thus, a tenfold troop increase of conventionally trained soldiers, as suggested by Gen. Shinseki for pacifying postwar Iraq, would not have beneficially altered the war’s outcome. Absent knowledge of opponents’ methods and an applicable counterinsurgency doctrine, ceteris paribus, a troop augmentation of conventional forces would not have enabled a superior outcome.

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