Transferring Provinces to Iraqi Control: The Reality and the Risks

The victories that Iraqi and Coalition forces have won to date may have largely dealt with the “win” aspects of a “win, hold, and build” strategy, but this is only part of the story. The future of Iraq’s security forces, and Iraq’s future security and stability, will depend on how well the force development effort is supported by political accommodation and effective governance at the national, province, and local level. Progress here is necessary not only to consolidate the gains made against AQI and the JAM, but it is critical to both avoiding new forms of sectarian and ethnic conflict, and to giving the ISF the mix of civilian partners that allows Iraq to “build and hold”as well as to win. Conditions-based US withdrawals need to be tied to these developments as well as to the progress in developing the Iraqi security forces.