After many years of waiting, the Army has finally published its official history of the Iraq War. The authors of the two-volume history are retired Colonels Joe Rayburn and Frank Sobchak. Their comprehensive study, which amounts to around 1,300 pages, begins with the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and concludes with the withdrawal of troops in 2011. However, the authors have compiled a brief chapter describing the rise of the Islamic State (IS) and its eventual defeat by a U.S.-led international coalition.

Some key conclusions focus on political support, coalition warfare, and the relationship between conventional units and special operations forces (SOF).

The authors conclude that the political leadership failed by not providing a sufficient number of troops to the military commanders. They wrote, “The de facto cap on U.S. troop strength in Iraq and the reduction of ground troops in the Army’s transformed brigade combat teams (BCTs) combined to create an absolute shortage of ground forces for the prosecution of stability and COIN (counterinsurgency) operations in Iraq.”

It was only after General David Petraeus convinced politicians of the merits of his surge strategy that troop levels increased and violence decreased. The authors also argue that, in the event of a future conflict, the U.S. should not rely on its technological or qualitative war-fighting capabilities as a substitute for adequate troop numbers. Essentially, they are saying that there’s no shortcut to victory in a counterinsurgency environment.