1999 war games under Clinton indicate potential Iraq invasion issues

After some talks by Marine General Anthony Zinni (ret.) about these, the folks at George Washington University’s National Security Archive have gotten their hands on post Iraqi invasion war game documents from 1999 via a Freedom of Information Act request. If I’m reading things correctly, these war games performed under President Clinton detail some possibilities of what would be required for a successful Iraqi invasion and post-invasion rebuilding program.

A series of secret U.S. war games in 1999 showed that an invasion and post-war administration of Iraq would require 400,000 troops, nearly three times the number there now.

And even then, the games showed, the country still had a chance of dissolving into chaos.

In the simulation, called Desert Crossing, 70 military, diplomatic and intelligence participants concluded the high troop levels would be needed to keep order, seal borders and take care of other security needs.

Some of the results do match what we are seeing now, I think.

The war games looked at “worst case” and “most likely” scenarios after a war that removed then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein from power. Some of the conclusions are similar to what actually occurred after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003:

  • “A change in regimes does not guarantee stability,” the 1999 seminar briefings said. “A number of factors including aggressive neighbors, fragmentation along religious and/or ethnic lines, and chaos created by rival forces bidding for power could adversely affect regional stability.”
  • “Iran’s anti-Americanism could be enflamed by a U.S.-led intervention in Iraq,” the briefings read. “The influx of U.S. and other western forces into Iraq would exacerbate worries in Tehran, as would the installation of a pro-western government in Baghdad.”
  • “Also, some participants believe that no Arab government will welcome the kind of lengthy U.S. presence that would be required to install and sustain a democratic government.”
  • “A long-term, large-scale military intervention may be at odds with many coalition partners.”

I’m still working my way through the document, but it is an interesting read. Some of the sections I’ve read so far discuss the improbability of a democratic government being successful, how the new government could best be established, general commentary on establishing peace in Iraq after conclusion of military operations (“Mission Accomplished” in George-speak), necessary conditions for US withdrawal (with the quote “U.S. involvement could last for at least 10 years.” in the discussion, which just happens to match what I’ve said recently), and the possibility of regime change not improving regional stability. I still have a lot of reading to do to digest everything, though.

By the way, note that I’ve tried not to say anything anti-President Bush here, and I apologize if I come across that way at any point. My interest in this is discussion of the possibility of invading Iraq even prior to the 9/11 attacks, and what our military and intelligence leaders thought before the current Iraqi invasion, as well as how the current situation compares to what was expected/predicted.

[tags]1999 Iraqi invasion war game results, Iraq invasion scenarios from President Clinton era[/tags]