Iraq's Lessons for Transition in Afghanistan
Written by LTG James M. Dubik (Ret.) & Marisa Cochrane Sullivan, Institute for the Study of War
In his December 2009 speech at West Point, President Obama set July 2011 as the beginning of a process of transition in Afghanistan, where geographic or functional responsibilities are to be handed over from the international coalition to the host nation. As policymakers in NATO capitals and practitioners in Afghanistan think about transition, they can take a lesson from the Iraq experience.
The United States actually experienced two types of transitions in Iraq. The first occurred from 2004 to 2006, where responsibilities for security and governance were handed over to the Iraqis even as the security situation continued to deteriorate and even if their capacities were insufficiently developed. This approach was widely deemed a failure. The second approach began in 2007 and continues today. Six factors govern the more successful second approach. While they may be applied differently in Afghanistan, they will certainly be important considerations in the months ahead.
Read the paper here.