April 18, 2003 | WebMemo on Iraq
Operation Iraqi Freedom: Military Objectives Met
The falling statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad is an evocative
image. It signals that
the U.S.-led military action against the Hussein regime has been a
success. This signal
of success is backed by tangible evidence of a successful military
operation in more substantive terms. This evidence is found in a
review of the mission objectives for Operation Iraqi Freedom as
they relate to the responsibilities of the military in meeting
At the outset of Operation Iraqi Freedom,
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld set eight mission objectives
for the operation. Accounting for the
fact that military is not solely responsible for meeting these
objectives, it is now clear that it has conducted a successful
While civilian authorities still have significant tasks ahead of
them to secure the mission objectives the military has made
possible, it is now clear that the military has done its job and
done it very well.
At this point in time, it is appropriate to review each of the
mission objectives and explain how the military has met its
responsibilities and what steps are necessary by civilian
authorities to secure the objectives. The eight mission
objectives for Operation Iraqi Freedom are:
regime of Saddam Hussein. This objective was the most
immediate and important purpose of the military operation. It is the one the U.S.
military bore the lion's share of the responsibility for
meeting. There is no
question that this objective has been met. Saddam Hussein' regime no
longer controls any significant portion of Iraqi territory. Hussein himself is either
dead or in hiding.
Only pockets of resistance remain.
Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. The military's primary
responsibility regarding this mission objective was to remove these
weapons from the physical control of the Iraqi regime so that they
could be located and ultimately destroyed. This is an objective the
military has met in the process of removing the regime from
power. While the
military may assist in the process of eliminating these weapons and
associated support systems and facilities, this is task that should
quickly become the responsibility of the intelligence community and
or drive out terrorists. From the outset of the
conflict, the U.S. military has sought to destroy terrorist
infrastructure in Iraq. The preponderance of this
infrastructure was found inside the Iraqi regime itself and was
largely focused on terrorizing the Iraqi population. Regarding terrorists
elements outside the Hussein regime, the most visible military
action was to destroy the Ansar al-Islam cell located near Iraq's
border with Iran.
intelligence on terrorist networks. The military capture of key
government ministries in Iraq should provide a treasure trove of
intelligence regarding the Iraqi government's support for
military has apprehended key regime officials. This will also allow U.S.
intelligence officials to learn more about Iraqi's past support for
terrorist activities, including any that may have been planned
against the American people.
intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction
activity. As with
the objective of collecting intelligence on terrorist networks, the
U.S. military has secured documents from relevant Iraqi government
ministries on its illicit weapons programs. Likewise, it has in its
custody a significant number of former Iraqi officials
knowledgeable about its weapons program. Chief among them are senior
scientists Lt. Gen. Amir Saadi and Jaffar Dhai Jaffar.
Iraq's oil fields.
Coalition military forces secured Iraq's southern oil fields in the
early hours of the war. The U.S. stated on April
14th, that all of Iraq's major oil resources were under
Damage to these energy resources during the course of the military
campaign is reported to be quite limited.
humanitarian relief and end sanctions. Even while the war was
still underway, U.S. and coalition military forces started to
deliver humanitarian relief to Iraqi civilians. This relief effort is
on Iraq were imposed by the United Nations Security Council as a
result of the Hussein regime's unwillingness to abandon its weapons
of mass destruction and terrorist programs, account for individuals
missing from the 1991 Persian Gulf War, and stop its repression of
the Iraqi civilian population. With the military action to
remove the Hussein regime a success, a new interim Iraqi
government, with U.S. and coalition assistance by civilian
authorities, should quickly move to meet the requirements of the
U.N. Security Council resolutions. On this basis, U.N.
sanctions against Iraq should come to an end.
achieve representative self-government and insure its territorial
Representative government in Iraq was impossible as long as the
Hussein regime remained in power there. Removal of the regime by
military action was the primary means for facilitating the
transition to representative rule. Ultimately, the
responsibility for a more democratic government in Iraq is with the
Iraqi people and beyond the scope of the responsibilities of U.S.
and coalition military forces. They have made their
contribution to the fulfillment of this mission objective. Further, coalition forces
have fought the war in a way designed to discourage separatist
movements within Iraq.
This is particularly the case regarding Kurdish elements in the
north. It has also
successfully deter large scale incursions into Iraq by Iranian and
Clearly, the scope of the mission objectives for Operation Iraqi
Freedom extends well beyond what U.S. and coalition military forces
can achieve. As a
result, it is now possible to determine that the military is
completing its responsibilities for fulfilling the mission
objectives. It is now time to start transferring responsibilities
from the military to civilian authorities in Iraq. As this transition moves
forward, the military presence in Iraq may be reduced in a
controlled manner. As
this transition takes place, the American people should rest
assured that their military, along with those of its coalition
partners, met all goals that were assigned to it under Operation
Iraqi Freedom. The
question that arises now is whether civilian authorities from
coalition governments and within Iraq will take advantage what the
military has made possible and meet their portion of the
responsibilities for completing the mission objectives for
Operation Iraqi Freedom.