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State Department memo warned of post-war 'planning gaps'

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Little more than a month before the start of the Iraq war, State Department officials said they warned U.S. military planners about possible "serious planning gaps" for the post-war period, according to newly declassified documents obtained by George Washington University.

In a memo dated February 7, 2003, three senior department officials -- noting the U.S. Central Command's focus on military objectives and reluctance to take on policing roles -- warned that "a failure to address short-term public security and humanitarian assistance concerns could result in serious human rights abuses which would undermine an otherwise successful military campaign, and our reputation internationally."

In the memo, which was addressed to State Department Under Secretary Paula Dobriansky, the authors said they had "raised these issues with top CENTCOM officials" and offered to provide technical assistance to help the military "develop plans for accomplishing these goals."

The memo, obtained by GWU's National Security Archive under a Freedom of Information Act request, did not say which military officials had been contacted, nor was there any indication to whom the memo was circulated.

The three department officials listed as authors of the memo were Lorne Craner, Arthur Dewey and Paul Simons. Dobriansky is the under secretary in charge of democracy and global affairs.

The military's planning for how to handle the post-war period, which saw widespread looting and the rise of an insurgency, has been widely criticized, including in a March 2004 British parliamentary report.

The Defense Select Committee, which scrutinizes the work of Britain's Ministry of Defense, said that Britain failed to plan adequately for the end of the war, and "squandered Iraqi goodwill" by being slow to stop looting.

It added that the coalition failed to guard munitions dumps properly following the fall of Baghdad. Such a failure "cost Iraqi civilian lives and also provided potential enemies ... with a ready stock of easily accessible weaponry," the report said.

The report also addressed problems with the supply of equipment to British troops -- a criticism that has also been heaped on the U.S. military.

Body armor, nuclear, biological and chemical suits, and desert uniforms all failed to reach some troops on the front line, and some tanks and other armored vehicles never received filters to protect against nuclear, chemical and biological contamination, the British report said.

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