In the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the short-lived Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) briefly held a mandate to lead post-war reconstruction efforts. The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) under L. Paul Bremer replaced ORHA before its plans could be implemented. Autopsies of replacing the ORHA and the consequences of the CPA’s subsequent handling of the Iraq mission abound, but they focused on the Iraq mission as a historical narrative. However, the United States (US) now faces a lengthening list of probable reconstruction and stabilization (R&S) missions in the near future. Rather than burying the autopsies, the contrast between ORHA’s plans and the CPA’s implementation offers instructive lessons for future R&S missions.