Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Urban Warfare

American infantry is training hard for urban warfare. It appears that there is some reason to believe it won’t be as bad as some critics assert, even if Saddam convinces his die-hards to fight it out. Fighting in cities is certainly to be avoided, but this gives me some confidence that a worst-case scenario of bitter resistance can be overcome without the bloodbath that can happen with a determined and entrenched enemy.

The article raises another possibility for massing troops quickly. The new Stryker Brigades could be airlifted into an airfield near Baghdad once our ground forces capture them. Although I do not particularly think these brigades are configured for the rapid response role they claim to be made for—they have too much infantry and are still too heavy—they may be just the ticket for urban warfare. They are basically mechanized infantry brigades but with wheeled armored vehicles instead of tracks and really good targeting and surveillance capability. Wheeled vehicles are better in urban combat because they don’t get trapped as easily as big tracked vehicles. Blow a track off and the tank is immobile. Blow a wheel and you can still hobble out in reverse. They don’t have nearly the armor of an Abrams main battle tank, so that is a disadvantage, but they could be used. Do we have two now ready for combat? Do we have the airlift? The Air Force is going to be darned busy and that is a major roadblock. We probably don’t have the airlift to lift that brigade in and do everything else too. Or maybe we’ve already gotten much of what we need into the Gulf so airlift will be free. We’ll see. They would be useful.

On another issue, do people really think that the North Korean nukes information was withheld to support the vote to fight Iraq? Personally, I think this is in the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” category. How many opponents of war with Iraq would have cried, “You are bringing up a totally irrelevant and separate issue designed to scare us into voting for war with Iraq! And why reveal it now?!” Yep. And would they have really reacted to this “greater threat” by deciding to invade North Korea instead? It seems that any development is reason for not attacking Iraq, according to some.

And further information on Iraqi prisoners. Saddam now says all is forgiven to Iraqi exiles. They can now come home in dignity and peace. I think Saddam is a bit confused on who needs to forgive whom. Not to worry, they will be coming home in dignity and peace—but as translators and liaisons with the Army and Marines. And all is not forgiven as far as they are concerned. Oh, and if any exiles are tempted to believe this offer, remember that the prisons are kind of empty now…