Iraq War: Defense Program Implications for Congress [June 4, 2003]   [open pdf - 363KB]

The recent war against Iraq may have implications for various defense programs of interest to Congress. This report surveys some of those potential implications, and will be updated periodically as new information becomes available. Three cautionary notes associated with post-conflict "lessons-learned" reports apply to this report: Information about the Iraq war is incomplete and imperfect, so early lessons are subject to change. Each war is unique in some ways, so observers should avoid "overlearning" the lessons of the Iraq war. And potential U.S. adversaries can derive lessons from the Iraq war and apply them in future conflicts against U.S. forces, possibly devaluing U.S.-perceived lessons. It can also be noted that some persons or organizations offering purported lessons of the Iraq war may have a financial, institutional, or ideological stake in the issue. Many observers have concluded that the Iraq war validated the Administration's vision for defense transformation, or major parts of it. Other observers disagree. The issue is potentially significant because implementing the Administration's vision could affect the composition of U.S. defense spending, and because the Administration may invoke the theme of transformation to help justify or seek rapid congressional consideration of legislative proposals, including proposals that could affect Congress' role in conducting oversight of defense programs.

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CRS Report for Congress, RL31946
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