AEI resident scholar Frederick Kagan and retired Army Gen. Jack Keane directed the report in consultation with military and regional experts, including former Afghanistan coalition commander Lt. Gen. David Barno, and other officers involved with the successful operations of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Tal Afar.
Entitled "Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq," the study concludes that victory is still an option in Iraq; that victory in Iraq is vital to America's security; and that defeat will likely lead to regional conflict, humanitarian catastrophe, and increased global terrorism.
"Iraq has reached a critical point. The strategy of relying on a political process to eliminate the insurgency has failed. Rising sectarian violence threatens to break America's will to fight. This violence will destroy the Iraqi government, armed forces, and people if it is not rapidly controlled," the authors conclude.
The basic outline of the plan for victory includes:
We must balance our focus on training Iraqi soldiers with a determined effort to secure the Iraqi population and contain the rising violence. Securing the population has never been the primary mission of the U.S. military effort in Iraq, and now it must become the first priority.
We must send more American combat forces into Iraq and especially into Baghdad to support this operation. A surge of seven Army brigades and Marine regiments to support clear-and-hold operations that begin in the spring of 2007 is necessary, possible, and will be sufficient to improve security and set conditions for economic development, political development, reconciliation, and the development of Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) to provide permanent security.
American forces, partnered with Iraqi units, will clear high-violence Sunni and mixed Sunni-Shia neighborhoods, primarily on the west side of the city.
After those neighborhoods are cleared, U.S. soldiers and Marines, again partnered with Iraqis, will remain behind to maintain security, reconstitute police forces, and integrate police and Iraqi Army efforts to maintain the population's security.
As security is established, reconstruction aid will help to reestablish normal life, bolster employment, and, working through Iraqi officials, strengthen Iraqi local government.
Securing the population strengthens the ability of Iraq's central government to exercise its sovereign powers.
This approach requires a national commitment to victory in Iraq, the authors of the report write, noting:
The ground forces must accept longer tours for several years. National Guard units will have to accept increased deployments during this period.
Equipment shortages must be overcome by transferring equipment from non-deploying active-duty, National Guard, and reserve units to those about to deploy. Military industry must be mobilized to provide replacement equipment sets urgently.
The president must request a dramatic increase in reconstruction aid for Iraq. Responsibility and accountability for reconstruction must be assigned to established agencies. The president must insist upon the completion of reconstruction projects. The president should also request a dramatic increase in Commander's Emergency Response Program (CERP) funds.
The president must request a substantial increase in ground forces end strength. This increase is vital to sustaining the morale of the combat forces by ensuring that relief is on the way. The president must issue a personal call for young Americans to volunteer to fight in the decisive conflict of this generation.
The president and his representatives in Iraq must forge unity of effort with the Iraqi government.
Ominously, the report concludes: "Other courses of action have been proposed. All will fail."