The Pentagon plan for Iraq: Down to 5,000 U.S. troops in 2006

Prewar PowerPoint presentation diverges just a little from "postwar" reality.

Published February 15, 2007 2:25PM (EST)

It's hard to be surprised anymore by the degree to which the Bush administration failed to plan adequately for what was once known as "postwar" Iraq. But a U.S. military PowerPoint presentation obtained by the National Security Archive reveals a whole new layer of red on the rose-colored glasses war planners were wearing before the war began.

In the presentation, described this morning in the New York Times, Pentagon planners estimated that all of 5,000 U.S. troops would be needed in Iraq by December 2006. How it actually turned out: There were about 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq in December 2006. And in January 2007, the president said he needed to send 21,500 more.

To be fair to Gen. Tommy Franks and his war planners, several of the assumptions underlining their projections were undercut by subsequent Bush administration decisions. The planners assumed that the State Department would "promote creation of a broad-based, credible provisional government" for Iraq before the U.S. invaded. However, the Times says, the Bush administration scuttled that plan -- if it ever was a plan -- for fear of marginalizing Iraqi leaders in exile. Moreover, the administration simply ignored much of the postwar planning that the State Department -- unlike the Pentagon -- had actually done.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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