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1999 Centcom Report: Even With 400,000 Troops in Iraq, We'd Still Be In a Mess According to a report first published in 1999 (and made public in early November 2006), the United States would face significant stability problems in Iraq, even if it deployed a force of 400,000 troops. At the time of the invasion, the report was largely dismissed by the neoconservatives at the Pentagon, even though it was based on a strong body of research conducted by Centcom. It's important to note that the Pentagon planned the invasion of Iraq, and Marine General Anthony Zinni (ret), who conducted a series of war games as a part of the report, had warned members of Congress on numerous occasions of deficiencies in their pre-and post-invasion strategies. From the abstract of the report:

Washington D.C., November 4, 2006 - In late April 1999, the United States Central Command (CENTCOM), led by Marine General Anthony Zinni (ret.), conducted a series of war games known as Desert Crossing in order to assess potential outcomes of an invasion of Iraq aimed at unseating Saddam Hussein. The documents posted here today covered the initial pre-war game planning phase from April-May 1999 through the detailed after-action reporting of June and July 1999.

The Desert Crossing war games, which amounted to a feasibility study for part of the main war plan for Iraq -- OPLAN 1003-98 -- tested "worst case" and "most likely" scenarios of a post-war, post-Saddam, Iraq. The After Action Report presented its recommendations for further planning regarding regime change in Iraq and was an interagency production assisted by the departments of defense and state, as well as the National Security Council, and the Central Intelligence Agency, among others.

The results of Desert Crossing, however, drew pessimistic conclusions regarding the immediate possible outcomes of such action. Some of these conclusions are interestingly similar to the events which actually occurred after Saddam was overthrown. (Note 1) The report forewarned that regime change may cause regional instability by opening the doors to "rival forces bidding for power" which, in turn, could cause societal "fragmentation along religious and/or ethnic lines" and antagonize "aggressive neighbors." Further, the report illuminated worries that secure borders and a restoration of civil order may not be enough to stabilize Iraq if the replacement government were perceived as weak, subservient to outside powers, or out of touch with other regional governments. An exit strategy, the report said, would also be complicated by differing visions for a post-Saddam Iraq among those involved in the conflict.

The media has known about this report for several years, but its specific recommendations had not been reported until recently.

CNN issued a quick story on the subject the day it was released, November 4, 2006. But not surprisingly, the story was drowned out by election coverage. It has been suggested by many Republican pundits and politicians that in planning for the war, the Pentagon and President George W. Bush relied on the best intelligence they had been provided. This report is yet another illustration of how the Bush administration selectively chose intelligence reports to build its case for war. Considering the report was published by Centcom and relied on the expert testimony of a Marine General, it seems hard to believe that its relevancy was simply not noticed. Rather, more likely, the report was dismissed for political reasons by the Pentagon.