Operation Iraqi Freedom and the future of Special Forces
Much ink has been spilt about the political decision to invade Iraq and how a number of factors from the personal motivations of President George W. Bush (who was very aware of the attempt by Saddam Hussein to kill his father in the aftermath of the Gulf War of 1991) through to the aspirations of a significant number of neo-conservatives within his administration (Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Feith, to name a few), whose dogma had called for such an undertaking since the 1990s. What is remarkable about Operation Iraqi Freedom, as opposed to Operation Enduring Freedom, was the pressure from civilians in the Department of Defense, especially the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, in framing the
tight operational parameters or constraints around which military planners were forced to construct the plan of attack. Never perhaps in recent history, certainly not since the disastrous Vietnam War, had a civilian secretary of defense wielded so much influence over operational strategy with such deleterious effects. If the campaign in Afghanistan was a masterpiece of ‘ad hocery’ that happened to produce the goods (a quick victory) to the surprise of all concerned, the war in Iraq was an exceptional case of civilian micromanagement in extremis that laid a heavy emphasis on US and Coalition Special Forces. Operation Iraqi Freedom exuded Rumsfeld’s personal belief, which he brought to the Pentagon from the outset of his tenure as Secretary of State for Defense, that radical military transformation was required. According to Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor, his aim ‘was nothing less than to remake the U.S. military to fashion a leaner and more lethal force’ (Gordon and Trainor 2006: 3).