Reuters | June 28, 2008

WASHINGTON – A new Army history of the Iraq conflict faults the invasion’s top U.S. commander for his sudden decision to overhaul the Baghdad-based military command, The New York Times said in its Sunday edition.

The 696-page report, set for release on Monday, focuses on the 18 months after U.S. President George W. Bush announced in May 2003 that major combat operations in Iraq were over, the Times said.

“On Point II: Transitions to the New Campaign” concludes that Gen. Tommy R. Franks’ decision, opposed by the Army’s vice chief of staff, led to a short-staffed headquarters led by a newly promoted three-star general.

“The move was sudden and caught most of the senior commanders in Iraq unaware,” the military historians concluded, according to the Times report.

The unclassified study, based on 200 interviews conducted by military historians, also says the new headquarters “was not configured for the types of responsibilities it received.”

Gen. Franks, speaking through an aide, told the Times he had discussed the Iraq invasion in his book and that he had not yet seen the study.

“On Point” says one major problem was a lack of detailed planning ahead of the invasion for the postwar period, in part reflecting White House and Pentagon optimism about the future of Iraq.

“I can remember asking the question during our war gaming and the development of our plan, ‘Okay, we are in Baghdad, what next?’ No real good answers came forth,” Col. Thomas G. Torrance, the commander of the Third Infantry Division’s artillery, said in the report.

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