WASHINGTON, Sept. 16 (UPI) -- Major military and political issues remain unresolved as the strategy in Iraq moves beyond the counterinsurgency campaign, analysts said Tuesday.
Anthony Cordesman and Adam Mausner, writing for the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, note the post-surge phase of the Iraq war presents as many, if not more, challenges than the counterinsurgency campaign envisioned by U.S. Gen. David Petraeus.
Instead, the report says, U.S. and Iraqi officials "face a transition period that may well be as challenging as defeating the insurgency and al-Qaida in Iraq," adding this transition makes predictions on the future U.S. troop presence daunting.
The report shows Iraqi national forces are several years behind in their ability to act independently to defend the country against outside aggressors, noting ethnic and sectarian divisions in Iraq are only hindering the capability of the Iraqi military.
There are still several strategic requirements for Iraq to accomplish, and political timelines for the withdrawal of U.S. troops should be replaced by "conditions-based" assessments of progress.
U.S. and Iraqi leaders, the report says, should use caution to avoid "exaggerating Iraqi capabilities" as a U.S. military presence is needed in Iraq for at least several more years, with an oversight role needed for the foreseeable future.
"Iraq and the U.S. now need to develop far clearer plans for such a transition, determine what goals are really feasible, and be prepared for problems and delays," the report says.