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international community? Will the absence of international support undermine the broader global war on terrorism? And if military action is successful, what is the United States prepared to do in the long term to rebuild Iraq and make it more stable?

These are the questions I share with many of my colleagues. I thank the witnesses for bringing their expertise to help answer them. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

"War Against Saddam's Regime: Winnable but No Cakewalk"

Testimony of

Michael O'Hanlon
before the House Armed Services Committee

October 2, 2002

Thank you Mr. Chairman, Mr. Ranking Member, and other members of the Armed Services Committee for the opportunity to testify today on the critical issue of future U.S. policy towards Iraq, particularly its military dimensions. I will summarize my thoughts briefly in the first pages of my prepared statement and opening remarks, and include more detailed analysis in the following pages of my statement. Among the main subjects I examine in this testimony are postwar challenges after a possible invasion of Iraq, estimates of U.S. and Iraqi casualties during combat itself, and the military feasibility of overthrowing Saddam while continuing the war against al Qaeda.

| support the strategy laid out in the president's September 12 U.N. speech. By that strategy, Saddam is to be presented with a final, tough, multilateral ultimatum on the need to accept U.N. inspectors and disarm; only if he refuses the ultimatum or fails to comply with his disarmament obligations would war then be undertaken. The historical track record suggests strongly that such a policy of containment would protect American national security interests. However, it is a strategy that Congress needs to remind the administration to sustain, since both Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld have appeared to question its basic conceptual underpinnings over the past two months, and since the administration's proposal for a Congressional resolution authorizing force did not reiterate the basic 9/12 approach. It is also a strategy that requires straight talk to the American people about what war against Iraq could be like. Much of the public debate of the last year has been driven by those who believe such a war would surely be easy. I believe such talk is not only unfortunate, but irresponsible, especially since much of it has been carried out by members of the quasi-official Defense Policy Board.

The broad themes of my remarks include the following:

There is no plausible way by which, militarily speaking, Iraqi forces can prevent the United States from quickly seizing control of the country away from Saddam Hussein's Tikrit-based/Ba'ath Party regime. That said, such an operation would surely require well over 100,000 U.S. troops and probably twice that number or more, given the difficulties of fighting in cities and the desirability of intimidating and quickly overwhelming Iraqi forces so that their resistance is as limited as possible. Although such an operation would be demanding, and place strains on certain military capabilities such as special operations forces and intelligence assets, there is no military reason it cannot be done even as we continue operations against al Qaeda. If they fight hard, Iraqi Republican Guard forces in particular could make the military operation difficult and rather lethal, U.S. combat losses could exceed 1,000, and

perhaps even approach 5,000, in contrast to Desert Storm losses in the low

hundreds. . A greater strategic threat to U.S. forces is the likelihood that large numbers of Iraqi

civilians could perish in the fighting, given the nature of urban combat and perhaps also the deliberate actions of Saddam Hussein. This possible outcome, shown graphically on television around the region and the world, could put considerable pressure on the United States and any coalition partners to curtail combat

operations prematurely. 1 Iraqi use of chemical or biological agents on the battlefield could cause additional

casualties. Even more worrisome, perhaps, it could slow and complicate U.S. operations. Historical data and combat simulations suggest that casualties could

mount anywhere from 10 percent to 50 percent as a result, broadly speaking. I Civilian casualties in Iraqi Kurdistan, Kuwait, Israel, the United States, or elsewhere

from Iraqi use of weapons of mass destruction could reach into the hundreds and perhaps even the thousands. Such attacks would probably be most serious if conducted by Iraqi special agents or Iraqi-aided terrorists, as opposed to SCUD missiles or airplanes.

The remainder of my testimony is organized into six main parts, essentially in reverse chronological order for when they would occur. I begin by examining several of the challenges in any postwar occupation effort. I then estimate U.S. and Iraqi casualties during an urban war to overthrow Saddam. The next sections deal with the question of whether we can invade Iraq while also fighting al Qaeda, and with the likely size and scale of any invasion effort. Finally, I ask two other questions: can inspections work inside Iraq, and can deterrence work?

1. AFTER THE WAR-OCCUPYING IRAQ AND "NATION BUILDING" As my colleagues Philip Gordon and Martin Indyk and I have recently argued in the journal Survival, in an article from which much of this section is derived, removing Saddam from power represents only the first step in the effort to remake Iraq as a nonthreatening factor in the Middle East. In the aftermath of Saddam's overthrow, ethnic and communal rivalries could well erupt into internal conflicts. The Sunnis in central Iraq will be very concerned that their interests will be subordinated to Kurdish and Shia demands. The Kurds in the north will not easily accept a diminution of the substantial autonomy they have enjoyed in the last decade. And the Shias, representing the largest of the ethnic groupings, will insist on a degree of power hitherto denied them under Sunni regimes. These tensions could easily undermine the interim government and generate considerable instability. Neighbors would be tempted then to meddle for fear of the consequences or because Iraq is such a rich prize. The region that Iraq inhabits is so critical to U.S. interests that we cannot just go in, remove Saddam, and leave the clean-up to others. So a large stability mission led by the United States would be needed, with the overall force most likely requiring up to 100,000 personnel if not twice that number, at least at first. This would not be a short-term commitment."

The United States has not traditionally proven very good at making long-term commitments to regional reconstruction. America did it with enormous success in

Europe and Japan after World War II, using large forces during the occupations of Germany and Japan, but its more recent track record is to want to use its powerful military forces for combat and then leave the reconstruction job to others. U.S. staying power and willingness to remain on the ground is being tested right now in the Balkans and Afghanistan, and the Bush administration's inclination is to reduce U.S. engagement as soon as possible in both places. But no one should underestimate the difficulty of putting a stable regime in place in Iraq once Saddam Hussein is gone, especially at a time when U.S. attention and resources will already be burdened by nation-building efforts in these other places (and possibly Palestine as well). And to fail to meet that challenge would not only be irresponsible but could lead to the same sort of instability and hatred of the United States that produced the Taliban. If President Bush starts the job of transforming Iraq, he will owe it to America's strategic interests to finish it as well.

The first challenge is to prepare the ground for a post-Saddam government in Baghdad. Trying to organize the Iraqi opposition-in-exile into a credible government-in-waiting is proving as daunting to the Bush administration as it was to the Clinton administration. The Iraqi dissidents who have gathered in London over the past decade have lost touch with the Iraqi people and cannot agree amongst themselves. And Saddam has made sure to execute any potential rivals who stayed in Iraq. The Iraqi military is likely to be quick to put forward a candidate and any generals who have turned against Saddam and helped the American effort to remove him will naturally be first in line. Arab leaders are also likely to support a Sunni general as the candidate for Saddam's replacement fearing the consequences of greater Shiite and Kurdish representation in Baghdad as well as the potential influence on their own authoritarian systems of a more pluralistic government in one of the most important regional capitals. The United States will need to resist these pressures while distinguishing between selfpromoters and leaders with genuine credibility among the Iraqi people. By definition these leaders will not be identifiable in advance, since anyone courageous enough to stand up under Saddam's regime would have been immediately eliminated. But the United States can take a number of other steps in advance: to articulate a clear vision of a democratic Iraq that will ensure fair representation for all ethnic/religious groups, autonomy for the Iraqi Kurds, respect for the rule of law and protection of civil rights, including women's rights; to support the drawing up by Iraqis of a new constitution; and to train a cadre of Iraqi professionals who can work with the U.S. Army to lay the groundwork for a functioning interim administration. This is a complicated undertaking but by no means impossible. Unlike much of the Arab world, Iraqis are secular and have an educated middle class that has suffered greatly under Saddam and sanctions. Iraq also has considerable economic resources, a consequence of its abundant oil reserves, which would make a large-scale donors' effort unnecessary. There is good reason to believe the Iraqi people would welcome the lifting of Saddam's oppressive yoke if it also resulted in an improvement in their material conditions and their personal security. An American-led peacekeeping force will be an essential element in providing that personal security because without it there will be considerable risk of ethnic, religious or

tribal strife in the wake of the collapse of a totalitarian regime that has ruled the country with an iron fist for so long. Some neighboring governments will want to participate in this endeavor the better to influence the outcome of the internal struggle for power. Although Arab and Turkish peacekeepers will help legitimize the operation, this advantage must be weighed against the dangers of creating opportunities for meddling. The Iraqi people are likely to want to jealously guard their newfound independence and, like the Afghan people, will probably prefer American peacekeepers to those from neighboring countries. Why does such a peacekeeping force have to be large, and why must it be led by Americans? After all, the international Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan has neither of these characteristics.

There are several reasons. First, ISAF is not going very well in Afghanistan, so this is a poor model for comparison. Indeed, the Bush administration admits as much at present, but still imprudently hopes that other countries will simply volunteer to beef up and expand the mission. Second, Iraq's Kurds in particular might well be tempted to try to secede absent a strong unifying national security force. Third, Iraq is in a region where cross-border aggression is more common than is the case for Afghanistan, Iraq's neighbors might well make trouble in a destabilized Iraq. Fourth, Iraq has a much larger army than did the Taliban, and the United States hopes to spare much of it in any future war, partly to avoid creation of the very type of security vacuum just noted. But we do not know who within that army is dependable and who may be bent on seeking vengeance against U.S. forces or internal foes. Weeding out bad actors, while also improving training and discipline, within the Iraqi military will take time and effort. Fifth, and relatedly, the overall importance of the Persian Gulf region may exceed that of Afghanistan (though that is open to some debate, to the extent that Afghanistan could again become a sanctuary for Islamic extremists). Helping create a stable, democratic Iraq could have immense benefits for U.S. interests in general, justifying a substantial effort.

How many forces would be needed to occupy Iraq? Various studies have been done, based on military history and the population, military capabilities, territorial size, and other characteristics of the country to be occupied. For example, work done by the Army's Center of Military History suggests that 100,000 occupying forces could be needed.? Indeed, if anything that estimate seems low: NATO's stabilization mission in Bosnia, a country less than one-fifth the size of Iraq by population or territorial size (and also a country with three main ethnic groups), began with 50,000 forces and is still about 20,000-strong. Simply scaling those numbers for a bigger country, the standard practice when estimating policing and occupying needs, suggests that an initial force might have to number more than 200,000 and that a residual force seven years later might still total 100,000.

Assume for the sake of planning a force that is composed 100,000 to 250,000 occupying forces in its first year, and then 50,000 to 125,000 troops by its fifth year. Assume further that 15 percent to 25 percent of the total strength is American. Those estimates translate into possible U.S. requirements of roughly 15,000 to 60,000 troops the first year and anywhere from 7,500 to about 30,000 U.S. troops half a decade later.

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