Operation Iraqi Freedom: Strategies, Approaches, Results, and Issues for Congress [Updated April 2, 2009] [open pdf - 1MB]
"Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), the U.S.-led coalition military operation in Iraq, was launched on March 20, 2003, with the immediate stated goal of removing Saddam Hussein's regime and destroying its ability to use weapons of mass destruction or to make them available to terrorists. Over time, the focus of OIF shifted from regime removal to the more open-ended mission of helping the Government of Iraq (GoI) improve security, establish a system of governance, and foster economic development. As of early 2009, the war in Iraq appears to be winding down, as security gains made since the height of the insurgency in 2006 and 2007 continue to be sustained, and as Iraqis increasingly seek management of their own affairs. A new U.S.-Iraqi security agreement that went into effect on January 1st, which confirmed the Iraqis' responsibility for their own security, introduced a new era in OIF and in US-Iraqi bilateral relations. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates called the agreement a 'watershed, a firm indication that American military involvement in Iraq is winding down.' In his Inaugural Address, President Obama confirmed the transition and indicated the United States' way forward in Iraq, stating: 'We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people.' [...]Key policy issues the Obama Administration may choose to address, with oversight from the 111th Congress, include identifying how U.S. national interests and strategic objectives, in Iraq and the region, should guide further U.S. engagement; and determining the timing, pace, and nature of the transition of the U.S. effort in Iraq from counter-insurgency (COIN) operations to a more traditional bilateral relationship. This report is intended to provide background and analysis of current developments and options, and will be updated as events warrant."
CRS Report for Congress, RL34387