Operation Iraqi Freedom: Strategies, Approaches, Results, and Issues for Congress [Updated March 28, 2008] [open pdf - 653KB]
"Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) was launched on March 20, 2003. The immediate goal, as stated by the Bush Administration, was to remove the regime, including destroying its ability to use weapons of mass destruction or to make them available to terrorists. The broad, longer-term objective included helping Iraqis build 'a new Iraq that is prosperous and free.' In October 2002, Congress had authorized the President to use force against Iraq, to 'defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq,' and to 'enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.' Over time, the focus of OIF has shifted from regime removal to the more openended mission of helping an emerging new Iraqi leadership improve security, establish a system of governance, and foster economic development. With that shift in focus, the character of the war has evolved from major combat operations to a multifaceted counter-insurgency and reconstruction effort. [...] The most important short-term OIF issue for the Congress concerns the next steps after the surge -- the military strategies and approaches to be adopted in Iraq after U.S. forces draw down to the pre-surge level. How OIF experiences to date are evaluated -- including policy decision-making, planning, and execution of both the major combat and post-major combat efforts -- are likely to have a significant bearing not only on further U.S. government decisions about Iraq policy, but also on broader, longer-term U.S. strategic concerns. [...] This report is designed to provide background and analysis of Operation Iraqi Freedom to support consideration of these short-term and long-term issues."
CRS Report for Congress, RL34387