Applying Iraq's Hard Lessons

Applying Iraq’s Hard Lessons to the Reform of Stabilization and Reconstruction Operations

This paper addresses–and proposes an innovative answer to– the question of who should be accountable for planning, managing, and executing stabilization and reconstruction operations (SROs).


The U.S. government's existing approach provides no clear answer. Responsibilities for SROs are divided among several agencies, chiefly the Department of State, the Department of Defense, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. As a result, lines of responsibility or accountability are not well–defined.

The disintegration of reconstruction management in Iraq occurred in part because no accountable, integrated, interagency management office existed to oversee and execute the reconstruction program. Therefore, SIGIR proposes the creation of a new office for planning, funding, staffing, and managing SROs: the U.S. Office for Contingency Operations (USOCO).


Creating USOCO could potentially prevent the recurrence of the kinds of breakdowns so often experienced in Iraq. Importantly, it would provide a single office whose sole mission would be to ensure that the United States is ready to go when the next contingency occurs, and provide someone to hold accountable for any failures in planning or execution.


Please address inquiries regarding this report to SIGIR Public Affairs by e-mail or to 703-428-1100.

Applying Hard Lessons File Size Date
Applying Iraq's Hard Lessons to the Reform Stabilization and Reconstruction Operations 1,328KB PDF 2/24/2010
Testimony: An Urgent Need: Coordinating Stabilization and Reconstruction in Contingency Operations (SIGIR 10-001T) 60KB PDF 2/24/2010
Testimony: Oversight: Hard Lessons Learned in Iraq and Benchmarks for Future Reconstruction Efforts (SIGIR 10-002T) 42KB PDF 2/24/2010
Front Cover (High-Resolution) 390KB JPG 2/24/2010
Back Cover (High Resolution) 135KB JPG 2/24/2010