Tuesday, December 31, 2002


Countdown to Invasion: 4 days late.

I don't know why I keep highlighting my missed invasion date.

On the other hand, thinking the invasion is late really does free me to write about other foreign affairs topics. Just a matter of when not whether.

Anyway, critics of isolating North Korea already decry our lack of leverage. What leverage did we have with the 1994 agreement which the North Koreans violated immediately? And why do the critics think we want leverage? Yes, North Korea is very isolated and very poor. They are so bad off that they are unable to feed their own people. I don't think leveraging a ten percent decrease in torture and repression is the proper strategy. Regime change is needed but we have no military option short of several hundred nukes targeting every nuclear site, missile site, major base, and combat unit headquarters. I personally think that is too awful an alternative to contemplate. The article quotes the new South Korean president:

For the Bush administration, simply intensifying economic and political pressure on the North involves enormous political obstacles. South Korea has embraced engagement and dialogue as the best way to address the reclusive country to its north. It appears committed to that course -- a fact underscored today as South Korea's president, Kim Dae Jung, rejected containment as a failed doctrine.

"Pressure and isolation have never been successful with communist countries," Kim told his cabinet, in remarks distributed by the presidential Blue House. "Cuba is one example."

Huh? First of all, Cuba has had to make many compromises with communist economic practice to survive the ending of Soviet aid and American pressure. Castro could maintain his communist system as long as he did only because of massive Soviet subsidies. Second, does Kim really forget the pressure and isolation of the Cold War and the Soviet empire's resulting collapse? I'd say this strategy has a pretty good record.

And I disagree that we have no leverage. A richer, or at least less desperately poor regime, might shrug off our cut off of aid and fuel. We'll see if they decide starvation and total collapse of their regime is truly superior to giving up nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. If Pyongyang wants to preserve their regime, they will find they undermine regime survival when confronted with the price of further isolation as the consequence of pursuing weapons of mass destruction. They really can count on aid from America and their allies to prevent starvation if they get rid of missiles and nukes. I'd say that is leverage.

But our aid should always be minimal. We have a humanitarian interest in preventing starvation (and a practical goal of making cooperation a better option for the North than rolling the dice and invading South Korea); but should not do so much that we solidify the regime. Just enough to string them along and give them false hope that riding out the poverty is superior to trying to knock off the rich South Koreans and looting them to bolster the North. And enough to keep the North Koreans from believing their ridiculous assertion that we plot war. Should they act on such a false belief, it will mean war.

Letting the North get away with acquiring nukes in the short run is disturbing. But more forceful options are not on the table right now.

The rest of the Third Infantry Division (Mechanized) has orders to ship out to the Gulf. This used to be the 24th Division which set the Middle East land speed record during Desert Storm.

Monday, December 30, 2002

Interesting Map

I visit strategypage.com far too infrequently. Dunnigan is pretty good and goes way back in quantifying war as a game designer back in the 1970s. He has a good map of Iraqi deployments and estimated US/British invasion force. 2-1/3 heavy divisions (including a cavalry regiment?), 101st Airborne, and a Marine Expeditionary Force backed by three British brigades (a division). I assume 10th Mountain and a parachute brigade too, but we're in the ball park here.

The people at strategypage.com seem to assume a Kuwait springboard. Here I have to disagree. We'd have to cross rivers, advance through broken terrain through 2 regular corps (or take them prisoner-and guarding them might drain more of our power than killing them), watch a corps on the Iran border in case the commander gets delusions of counter-attack glory, smash a Republican Guard corps, and then battle the Special Republican Guards in Baghdad. All the while, being doused on the road north with chemicals.

Why do it the hard way?

We think the regular Iraqi army will defect or stay in the barracks so why go near it? If we get close to a regular force, we probably have to kill it just in case.

Why risk the chemical highway by advancing between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers? And if we go west of the Euphrates, can we supply the divisions as they work their way up to Baghdad if the supply line goes back to Kuwait?

Why do anything but feint out of Kuwait?

As I've mentioned before, were I God, I would base the invasion's main effort out of Jordan and head right for Baghdad down that very good highway from Jordan with two heavy divisions and the 101st. The British and Marines and one heavy brigade simulating all of V Corps advances out of Kuwait. With nothing down there, who would know it was not the main effort until XVIII Airborne Corps arrived in the western Baghdad suburbs? 10th Mountain out of Turkey. The parachute brigade to seize some important airfield. Rangers to drop on Saddam's caravan as he runs or to hit a WMD site if it looks like it is about to be used.

News tonight said we plan rolling start to invasion, attacking while we deploy. The way the Iraqis are pulled back out of fear of us, this might work. I am wary of dribbling in the troops piecemeal but it could work, especially since we have the heavy armor already out there.

If we are really lucky, defecting Iraqi units shepherded by our special forces will spearhead any assault on Baghdad should that be necessary to win the war.

But it appears that we really will need to see a big airlift prior to invasion. We did not manage to secretly deploy the troops to start the war on the 27th. How long must we airlift troops before we go? Don't know. But the air bridge should start before we go. I sure as heck hope we aren't truly going to wait until February. I'm not convinced we will wait, but my old timetable is shot.

Stop stalling. Our enemies prepare for us. Hit them before they figure out how to stop us.

Iraq in the 1980s

Countdown to Invasion: 3 days late.

This article’s headline seemed to hold promise of a hatchet job without historical context but the article itself did a good job of explaining the situation we found ourselves in during the 1980s regarding Iraq. Of course, this is all familiar territory for me (see my summary of the Iran-Iraq War) but for those not paying attention, it may seem a shock. The details are interesting but the key part is:

Opinions differ among Middle East experts and former government officials about the pre-Iraqi tilt, and whether Washington could have done more to stop the flow to Baghdad of technology for building weapons of mass destruction.

"It was a horrible mistake then, but we have got it right now," says Kenneth M. Pollack, a former CIA military analyst and author of "The Threatening Storm," which makes the case for war with Iraq. "My fellow [CIA] analysts and I were warning at the time that Hussein was a very nasty character. We were constantly fighting the State Department."

"Fundamentally, the policy was justified," argues David Newton, a former U.S. ambassador to Baghdad, who runs an anti-Hussein radio station in Prague. "We were concerned that Iraq should not lose the war with Iran, because that would have threatened Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. Our long-term hope was that Hussein's government would become less repressive and more responsible."

When deciding what to do, sometimes options are not what one would like. In trying to halt expansionist Iranian Islamism, we ended up siding with Iraq. If we could have calibrated our aid with a level of knowledge about what exactly Iraq needed to do to prevail, we could have strongly resisted Iraqi use of chemical weapons. And would the people who today say we should talk have actually argued for tough measures then? Before Iraq invaded Kuwait? Before Saddam turned on us?

We sided with the Soviets to defeat Nazism and paid for that aid by enabling the Soviets to advance their border to the Elbe River in the heart of Europe. We paid for our aid in defeating Iran’s version of Islamofascism with a powerful, expansionist Iraq. And now we deal with that.

The world is a tough neighborhood. Get over it.

Correction. Please note: I double-counted some equipment being moved from Diego Garcia to Kuwait from globalsecurity.org’s web site, so reduce the number of heavy battalions in the region by six. I was shocked when I thought we had nearly enough equipment for nearly three full heavy divisions. I was surprised for good reason, they ain’t there. This still leaves us at enough for two heavy divisions, the minimum for a good solid offensive punch.

In looking back, I had assumed we would see mobilization and an intense airlift of troops in a flurry of activity before invasion. When that didn’t happen, I began to wonder if we had secretly moved the troops within striking range (perhaps my counting error contributed to this suspicion). Clearly, I was too tied to my target invasion date and toyed with the latter idea too strongly. It is unreasonable to think we could hide that many troops. The airlift surge really must happen, and though I expect war sooner rather than later, I just don’t know if we can start the war without the airlift surge or whether we must wait for those troops to arrive.

Any day now, people. Why are we giving our enemies time to prepare?

On to Baghdad.

Sunday, December 29, 2002

Why Not North Korea?

Countdown to Invasion: 2 days late.

I really get a little frustrated when I hear pundits who have wanted to avoid fighting Iraq to prevent Saddam from getting nukes, suddenly advocate taking on North Korea. Of course, they say, focusing on North Korea means we must drop all talk of war with Iraq. Until Iraq gets nukes, too; then Iraq is a threat in that view.

Yep, dealing with two nuclear armed thugs is far better.

It is far better to deal with the Iraqi threat, now; before the North Korean threat gets worse. Why?

First, we can stop a country from getting nukes rather than turning back the clock on two. That is easier.

Second, Iraq is sitting on oil and poised to threaten weak countries with lots of oil. No, this war is not primarily about oil but it is silly to pretend it is not a factor. If we had wanted the oil, we would have taken Baghdad in 1991.

Third, Iraq's military is vastly superior to the Gulf states. North Korea's neighbors can all stop the North's military without our help. The balance continues to develop in favor of South Korea (aside from nukes). In the Gulf, if we are busy elsewhere or caught unaware, Iraq can strike.
Fourth, the US military can, with little allied military assistance, destroy Iraq's military. North Korea's military strength requires us to get full enthusiastic South Korean assistance to invade the north.

Fifth, even if we eliminated the North's nuclear capability; the North could inflict tens of thousands of civilian casualties using artillery and rocket delivered chemicals on Seoul.

Sixth, Iraq has the financial resources based on oil and European collaboration to outlast containment and avoid isolation. North Korea is impoversished, starving, and its only export--cheap missiles--will likely be throttled by us (notwithstanding our letting the Yemen-bound shipment of missiles through).

All in all, plenty of reasons for an "Iraq-first" strategy. Face it, many advocating "North Korea" first really are aiming for "nobody at all."

On to Baghdad.

Saturday, December 28, 2002

North Korea

North Korea is pushing us as we prepare to invade Iraq. Secretary Rumsfeld said we are capable of fighting two wars. He is right, the question is not whether we can but how much risk do we want to run and do we use nukes. Clearly, if nukes are on the table we could fight a whole lot of North Korea-size states. Without nukes, we would be stuck within the confines of our "two" war strategy. On paper, we can fight two major theater wars, "nearly simultaneously." (Every commentator forgets that important provision) That is, we can march on the enemy capital in one war (Iraq) while successfully defending in a second (Korea). Winning decisively in the second must await victory in the first so that air, naval, and ground forces can be shifted to the second war to carry out the counter-offensive. (And don't say the war on terror is a "third" war-even with the troops in Afghanistan, that is less than a division-the rest is intelligence and police work)

North Korea should know that they cannot defeat the South Korean military even if we are occupied with Iraq now. The problem is, Seoul is right on the border and has a quarter of the South's population not to mention the lion's share of GDP. The North may not be able to win but they could seriously wound the South in an attempted murder-suicide pact.
This is what our strategy will be:

Administration officials said the threat of growing isolation was the best way to force North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions and, if it refused, to bring down the government. Officials say that under their plan, which they call "tailored containment," they are willing to negotiate with North Korea but only if it first dismantles its nuclear weapons program.

To offer new incentives, officials say, would be to reward the North Korean government for failing to live up to earlier commitments.

"It is called `tailored containment' because this is an entirely different situation than Iraq or Iran," a senior administration official said. "It is a lot about putting political stress and putting economic stress. It also requires maximum multinational cooperation."

This seems reasonable. Critics say it is risky and that our allies won't go along.

So what. Talking and shipping oil didn't get us cooperation, just a slower push toward nuclear capability and missile tests over Japan. Any action regarding North Korea will have risks.

Should we invade like we are going to do to Iraq? Some critics claim we are hypocrites for not threatening invasion. But the costs of war are surely part of the equation. First consider that given the forward deployment of the North Korean army, we are not going to invade. If we start shipping in troops to invade (and convince South Korea to invade with us), North Korea will see it and attack first. If that happens, no matter what scenario you use, whether it ends up with nukes used, our forces marching on Pyonyang, or stalemate, one constant will be there-Seoul will be destroyed.

That's a pretty high price to pay. There are certainly circumstances where that might be the preferable course but we are not there.

So do we launch air strikes to knock out North Korean nuclear and missile facilities? We could probably do it. At best we buy time until the North Koreans can dig deeper and start again. At worst, the North invades the South in response. Seoul will be destroyed.

Do we talk and come to an agreement? I'll trade you Carter's Nobel peace prize for another one of those. We can't trust them to count on an agreement. Talk? Sure. Actually agree to something? Nope. We are just asking for nukes and a North Korean economy strong enough to keep stumbling forward.

Then there is that old standby that so many want us to take with Iraq-containment. At least here, we have successfully contained action greater than terrorism for fifty years. We do have a track record of keeping them at bay. It has not, however, resulted in the defeat of the North, only slowing its nuclear arsenal development. We need something more.

Isolate them. Choke them off. Will our allies cooperate? Not likely. But probably enough. And having them be the good cop to our bad cop may keep the North from going to war in desperation. A completely united front by Russia, China, South Korea, Japan, and America might just freak them out completely. But squeeze them until they collapse.

One advantage to us is that any war will smash up our allies rather than us. Sorry to be so cynical but there it is. Yes, our military will take losses as long as we are on the peninsula, but the South is probably capable of holding off the North without our ground forces there. If the South Koreans continue to complain too much about our troops, we could withdraw them to the south to be a counter-attack force rather than taking the first shot on the chin. This actually makes more sense militarily than the politically motivated deployment north of Seoul more suited to the days when the North had conventional superiority and our troops represented a trip wire to massive nuclear retaliation.

And if North Korea uses its nukes? Well, the South and Japan have more to worry about. We will soon have a rudimentary missile defense system to defend Alaska; and in time our sea-based interceptors will be able to reliably knock off the North Korean rockets as they launch, if we park our ships off their coasts. Already we can defeat their conventional invasion and in time we will be able to nullify their nuclear threat. You can bet the Japanese and South Koreans will cooperate with our missile defense efforts.

We can contain their military threat-even nukes-and in time, by mostly isolating them, the North will collapse.

It is not a pleasant situation to contemplate, however.

Countdown to Invasion: 1 day late. Beats me why we are waiting. Do we really think we need four heavy division to invade? Are we really waiting for the Blix report? I still can't make myself believe that is so. My December 27 date was fairly arbitrary. But I'm still holding to an invasion before the year is out before my logic for this time frame fails me. Ok, I'll even stretch it to January 2 before I start to consider whether we really might be waiting until February.

Go. Go. Go. Time is not our friend.

Friday, December 27, 2002

Zero Hour Passes

Well, it is 7:20 and nothing on the news even hinting something is up. I'm either hours, days, weeks, or months premature!

I still think hours or days. It just makes no sense that we would telegraph our intentions so far ahead of time. Yet it is possible that I grossly over-estimated our logistics preparations over the last year. Maybe we really do need a month of overt deployment.

I'll be up a few more hours watching this...

New Moon

Just noticed that the new moon starts January 2. If we invade today, that gives us six days to fight our way to Baghdad and have the maximum advantage of our night fighting capabilities. Of course, if reports that we will arrive at the outskirts of Baghdad in 48 hours, we could start as late as December 31 and still be there. That is the pace of a road march, however, not a fighting advance. If we can do that, we must have 5th Special Forces Group camped out all along the Jordan-Baghdad highway signaling that the route is clear.

The Street Going Home

According to this AP report, the Arab public is tired of Saddam's track record. It seems that braggarts are only admired as long as we let them get away with it. Now that his doom is imminent, his track record means that the public will stay home and hope for the best:

We are fed up with Saddam's wars and confrontations. They brought nothing but defeats, humiliation and disasters," al-Omari told The Associated Press. Like many people in the Middle East, al-Omari hopes any war on Iraq will be short and will target only Saddam's regime. He said his deepest worry is about the Iraqis who might be killed or suffer, not about Iraq's leadership. For years, Saddam skillfully played to Arab public opinion. But Jordanian political analyst Raja Talab said the Iraqi leader's popularity is waning and many Arabs now blame him for "leading the area to the edge of another catastrophe. People look for real heroes who can deliver and Saddam is only a drowning, defeated ruler who is clinging to the wreckage," Talab said.

War is imminent. XVIII Airborne Corps out of Jordan strike to Baghdad. Marines and British capture Basra region. V Corps feints to Euphrates with skeleton force. Turks and 10th Mountain out of the north.

Also, per globalsecurity.org, two infantry battalions of the Army National Guard activated to train in 3rd Infantry Division's base. Either guarding the base as division leaves or to provide additional infantry for Baghdad battle.

On to Baghdad.

Units Activated

Countdown to Invasion: 0 days.

Just on the news, Washington battle group, Marine amphibious ready group, hospital ship, and Air Force units put on notice to move in 96 hours. Also note that carriers in port in France and Australia were scheduled to leave port just after Christmas, so could make it to launch points by today. Until it's 7:00 EST, I'm still holding to the attack beginning today. The same report says February is the most whispered attack date; but notes Pentagon says they could start today if necessary and rush necessary supporting troops in once attack begins.

It just makes no sense to wait for obvious signposts like the Blix report or State of the Union address. The group think that has led all newscasts to report February as invasion date just smacks of using our open media to our advantage. The constant caveats that we could attack at any time just seems like cover so that the press can't accuse the Pentagon of lying. After all, senior officials never confirmed a time frame and always noted we could attack at any time.

Besides, how much warning time do we want to give North Korea?

On to Baghdad.

Thursday, December 26, 2002

Don't Torture

Countdown to Invasion: 1 day.

I'm no expert on torture and interrogation, but this article decrying possible US torture or excessive coercion (or "rendering", allowing allies to do so), states one fact that I had long read was true: "officials who defend the renditions say the prisoners are sent to these third countries not because of their coercive questioning techniques, but because of their cultural affinity with the captives. Besides being illegal, they said, torture produces unreliable information from people who are desperate to stop the pain." Aside from the fact that there should be lines we should not cross, torture is not effective. No, we should not have to treat prisoners like guests at 4 star hotels, and I have little sympathy for those who say they should have Miranda rights. But morality must have a place. Torture is not a matter of being tough. Yes, some will say, but what if the captive knows where a nuclear bomb is going to go off in 6 hours? Wouldn't you torture then? Well, yes, under those circumstances, of course. But the need to go to such an extreme example should tell you something. What short of that justifies torture? The French were torture-happy in Algeria and it did not work. As the official above said, torture is not effective. An al Qaeda under torture will admit to being the second gunman. How many resources will we waste tracking down confessions to anything to stop the pain?

Stop short of torture. It is right and it is more effective.

On the pending Iraq war, I've seen nothing that indicates it is imminent. No apparent airlifts of troops. No open mobilization. No President revealing the "gotcha" evidence to the UN Security Council. Could we have quietly shipped that stuff in by sea over the last year and kept it secret because the military knows people will look for the obvious signs? Lots of equipment is there and we have declared them in material breach (announced by Powell no less, who the Europeans hoped would restrain the war).

I'm still holding tomorrow as D-Day though I have (and never had) anything concrete to go on-just a hunch and what I'd do. But then, I thought obvious signs would be on the news by now, albeit disguised as meaning nothing now. I'll be really impressed if tomorrow night the news reveals we have attacked.

If not, I still don't see why we should wait for the Blix report. I can't believe we would wait until then.

I really have to write on North Korea. Very disturbing situation to say the least.

Wednesday, December 25, 2002


Hanson had a nice piece on our aircraft carriers. It is a stirring piece yet misses the impact of the changing environment. A few years ago, in '99 I believe, Naval Institute Proceedings purchased an article I wrote about the role of carriers in a network-centric environment. Basically, I wrote that as our network-centric navy is built, the value of carriers will decline; and as enemy networks are built, our carriers' value will decline. The very logic of the network will inevitably lead to their demise. Sadly, Proceedings has not actually published this article (or another one they bought earlier on Army-Marine Corps cross-attachment). On a personal note, for an author still trying to get my published works into double digits, having two bought but unpublished is frustrating. I've stopped even submitting to them (although part of that is my general focus on landpower issues).

Before carrier fans can write hate mail (and I actually count myself as a fan), I did not say they are obsolete. I did note that even as they became obsolete against networks, they would retain niche roles for use against enemies without networks (an Afghanistan scenario for example). In addition, since '99, the ability of Navy aviation to use precision weapons has leaped, making carriers more useful in the short run though they still are not immune to the logic of the network.

To explain, without rewriting the article here (and with some reflection looking back three years), network-centric warfare is a term that describes creating a sensor net that sees every enemy platform and instantly transmits their locations to the entire fleet's ships, submarines, and aircraft. The communications network allows this information sharing and allows the commander to allocate firepower distributed throughout the fleet to destroy targets. While firepower may be concentrated on a single target, their launch points are scattered. This is far different from the platform-centric fleet we have historically had. That is, to concentrate firepower, we needed to concentrate the firepower on a platform. Today that platform is the carrier and its battle group with its air wing, able to send massed missiles and aircraft against a target. It is the peak of the platform's development, surpassing the line of battleships that had dominated naval warfare for centuries.

The ramifications of fighting in a network-centric environment will kill the carrier. Most obviously, on the offense, with the ability to scatter launchers without diluting the ability to concentrate firepower, we no longer need the expensive platform of the large carrier. Yet operations like Afghanistan show that even in the missile age, carrier aviation is quite useful against an enemy without air and naval power. Indeed, even with a network-centric Navy, the usefulness of the carrier's air wing would have diminished little for this scenario. So what's my point, you may ask. If carriers remain potent concentrations of platform-centric power even in a network-centric force, why say they are obsolete?

The real challenge to carriers comes not from our network, where carriers become huge albeit needlessly expensive concentrations of power whose firepower is not diminished by the existence of the network; but on the defense against other networks. What happens when an enemy develops a network? The Taliban couldn't monitor their own airspace, but when an enemy builds a sensor and attack network that reaches out hundreds of miles, how will our Navy penetrate that grid, survive, and attack? Assuming we have scattered assets, losing some of them will not harm our fleet as a whole-other parts will fill in the gaps.

It may well be that a sensor/attack grid race will develop, with both sides (and this is hypothetical since no Navy appears able to challenge our Navy in the near future) engaged in a race to extend the range of their grids as we strive to be able to identify and attack the enemy before our own assets get hit. But if we cannot maintain such superiority and face a similar grid, any concentration of firepower becomes a priority target for the enemy. Our carriers will be hit and lost. The prestige value of losing them will offset the firepower that they carry on a single hull. The firepower can be distributed to smaller hulls and end the propaganda value to the enemy of killing carriers (egad, the Iraqis trumpeted their shooting down of an unmanned drone for heaven's sake).

Carrier defenders will counter that carriers have not been lost since World War II and that others sounded the death knell of the carrier when anti-ship missiles were deployed. They also note that airbases are subject to foreign government whims and regime changes while carriers can always be used.

But not losing any carriers in over 50 years is due to not fighting another navy, not from the invulnerability of carriers. Similarly, the advent of anti-ship missiles in a platform-centric environment limited the amount of firepower that the Soviets could mass against a single carrier had it come to war. Even with that limitation, our carriers were vulnerable though I would not have said missiles made carriers obsolete. But against a network-centric enemy, an enemy's ability to mass firepower against our carriers will not be a limiting factor that saves us. Unless defensive anti-missiles have the ability to defend a single target from all over the net, enemy offense will overwhelm a single platform's ability to defend itself. And even if we can use networked defenses to defend a carrier, why expend the huge sums of money to do it when such concentrated assets are not needed for offensive uses?

As to the sovereignty argument, how many times can we actually use that advantage of carriers--that they are sovereign assets and require no approval from host nations? First, except against coastal targets, we still need permission for overflight rights. Second, given the need for international support that even the obvious danger of addressing the Iraq problem imposes on us, how many times will we have just carriers? If we have allies, we will have Air Force bases. If we don't have enough support for the use of foreign air bases, will we really strike from the sea alone? And I'm talking about a sustained campaign, not a single retaliatory strike. If that is what we want to do, B-2s and Navy cruise missiles can handle those quick strikes. And if we do need a sustained campaign, carrier ammunition stowage isn't that great (although precision weapons do lessen this problem, aviation fuel is still a limiting factor). We'd need to rotate carriers to avoid stress accidents and to replenish carrier stores. Plus, even in Afghanistan where the Navy very impressively struck deep inland, the Navy strike aircraft relied on Air Force aerial refueling to carry out those missions--which required allies who let us use their air bases.

So, while the firepower that carriers have will not diminish as we build a network, the ability to have the same firepower on distributed hulls means that they are not crucial to generating offensive firepower. Against enemy networks, they will be tempting and irresistible targets. Although in such an environment we wouldn't build carriers, since we already have them it makes sense to keep them but to limit their use to environments that do not pose a threat to them. Like battleships before them, they will occupy a niche that will gradually narrow over the decades as our network and enemy networks develop and mature. Carrier defenders may not like to hear this, but the logic of networks spells their doom. Indeed, we will soon stop commissioning Nimitz-class behemoths, and the Navy is trying to figure out what the next carrier should look like.

Yet carrier defenders should not be disheartened. The Navy will always be crucial no matter what the main asset is. Navies have gone through ships of the line, pre-dreadnoughts, battleships, and carriers as the main platforms that defined a Navy's power. We do not mourn their passing. The new measure of power will be the network that joins scattered firepower from submarines, surface ships, land-based aircraft, and even Army and Marine Corps artillery (missile, rocket, and tube) and aviation assets into a seamless force. Nobody will care where the asset is located and what uniform is firing it-killing the target will be all that matters. Perhaps even small carriers will be part of the mix.

Large carriers will become part of the Navy's history. Keeping them beyond their usefulness will risk that glorious record and the lives of many sailors to hang on to legends. Our security is not well served by nostalgia.

[NOTE: This is from the former Defense Issues category from my original blog.]

Monday, December 23, 2002

Our Call to Iranians

We are broadcasting to the Iranian people. This will surely give them hope that they are not forgotten. And on the eve of war with Iraq, could this voice of reassurance combined with the strong presence of the U.S. military in Iraq embolden the Iranian people to overthrow the mullahs?

It would be nice to get a relatively easy one in between dealing with Iraq and North Korea. Easy for us, in the sense of not requiring heavy duty diplomacy or military power to induce change. For the Iranians themselves, this will be pretty darn difficult and possible costly. I think we’ve given them hope that sacrifice will lead to a better Iran.

Allies Onboard

Countdown to Invasion: 4 days.

Allies are signing up for war against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein. This isn’t too shocking. I’m glad, however, that we went the UN route in retrospect. I never thought we needed additional UN authorization to fight Saddam but always felt we should do what we can to get allies. Going the UN route helped. I never believed that this route would ensnare us and that at worst, allies would come on board after seeing us go the last mile to get international support.

The interesting thing to see will be how many people who argued that no international support meant we lacked moral standing to invade will now conclude that having allies means we have moral standing to invade. Our motives didn’t change, just those who agreed with us, yet somehow this game of “might makes right” gave us the authority to invade. The likes of the UN Security Council gallery of rogues and feckless allies joined America and Britain in voting to give Iraq one last chance and that makes it all ok. It is frustrating to play this game but it has done us no harm, I think. We always reserved the right to act and having support doesn’t negate our defense of our right to exercise self defense.

So now, the invasion is coming. I’ve read that we’ll be in the suburbs of Baghdad in 48 hours. I hope we don’t send our heavy armor or light infantry racing ahead of their supporting arms to do this. Combined arms is always the key to success. Relying on GPS to pave the way for a cakewalk is not the way to go. I just doubt that this is what we will do. Better to have the Iraqis fear this, however, to freeze them in place once we attack rather than react and redeploy. We’ll be outside Baghdad in under a week, but two days? That’s a pace for an unopposed road march, not an offensive.

The big question is how quickly do the ground troops enter Iraq once the air campaign begins? A day? A week? An hour? Do special forces have the highway to Baghdad staked out to allow a virtual road march all the way to the suburbs? Will heavy ground troops be free to enter Iraq before the “official” start of the attack? How many personnel do we still need to fly in for the Army and Marine Corps? I guess ground troops go in within a day at this point, but that assumes we have basically gotten the first ground echelon in place by the 27th. If we haven’t (and if we aren’t planning on dribbling the troops in), we’ll surge ground forces in prior to invasion while the air campaign goes on.

And it must be soon. Loading ships with heavy armor here in the States must mean war is imminent; and ships from embarkation ports for three of our heavy divisions are packing up. If we wait until after those ships get to the Gulf, we will lose surprise. And we don’t need that equipment. We have more than a couple divisions worth of heavy stuff in the Gulf region already (fourteen armor battalions and ten mechanized infantry battalions or their equipment in Kuwait, Qatar, and Diego Garcia: At 9 or 10 per division, we’ve got almost three divisions of heavy stuff there already—see globalsecurity.org).

Actually, loading that armor makes more sense if we are worried North Korea will take advantage of our war against Iraq. It would be nice to have a couple heavy divisions ready to sail to Korea just in case. And attacking soon will give us a chance to win in Iraq not only before Iraq is ready to resist but before North Korea is ready to exploit our war in the Gulf.

I do hope that we don’t get a ringside seat that proves how wrong critics of the two-major theater war standard were (and are).

On to Baghdad. Soon.

Saturday, December 21, 2002

Washington Home

The Washington did arrive in port. I decided to look around a little more and found an article confirming homecoming. Never mind...

Of course, as I noted before, maybe we don't need Washington for the first wave of strikes.

Where's the Washington?

Where's the George Washington battlegroup? It was due in Norfolk yesterday yet the carrier's homecoming page only says that it is coming home soon.

I only ask because I fully expect the carrier to be racing for deployment in the eastern Mediterranean for the war. Globalsecurity.org says more brigade sets are in the Gulf than they thought before. And the red herrings are loading heavy armor for three heavy divisions in CONUS ports. I've seen this movement as the sign war is near and they are loading. That stuff won't be used and given the equipment that is out there in the Gulf I am shocked nobody has noticed we don't need that armor.

Oh, and elements of the 101st Airborne are reported in Djibouti.

Could the airstrikes start sooner than the 27th?

Eyes to the South

Countdown to Invasion: 6 days.

Three interesting articles today. One notes a huge armored exercise by the Army in Kuwait. Another notes that the British and Americans are planning an amphibious assault on Iraq from the Gulf. Still another says that President Bush is cancelling his Africa trip next month to focus on Iraq.

So what do these news reports tell us? They tell us to look south to Kuwait and Gulf and fear the coming storm that will go all the way to Baghdad, as the writing on the tank gun barrel helpfully prompted in the first story. The third story tells us that the President expects to be busy in January getting ready to pull the trigger on the force that many other reports show will mass in January.

That's what they say but I don't see it that way. I suppose I'll have to be properly embarrassed if these stories mean exactly what they say. Oh, sure, I expect an amphibious invasion. Helicoptering into Basra while other forces advance overland will keep telltale massing signs in Kuwait to a minimum and provide fewer targets for an Iraqi preemptive chemical strike. And I do expect American armor to roll north out of Kuwait and head for Baghdad-I just don't expect it to be much more than the brigade now exercising, backed by attack helicopters and artillery to sound like an entire corps. The main attack comes out of Jordan.

As for the President cancelling next month's trip, that seems like an obvious telegraphing of our punch, which says to me that I should go with my hunch on the invasion timing. We won't be waiting for the Blix report at the end of January.

But the Iraqis will expect to have another month to prepare for war and to prepare to stall our invasion with some false "progress" on inspections. We will get tactical surprise. Senior officials note they are ready now and that there is no timetable for war even as everybody talks about January or February, or even the summer!

On CNN now, a bunch of Western clerical types are whining for peace, actually claiming that the Iraqi people they talk to who say we should stay out are actually free to speak their minds. One man of the cloth implored President Bush to speak to the people. I hope that particular pacifist returns after the invasion to speak to those same people and explain why he--a free man supposedly educated and holy--stood with Saddam when the people of Iraq were too scared and cowed to speak freely. I hope he visits the torture chambers. I hope he will seek forgiveness for confusing defending a butcher with advocating a different course than invasion to solve the Iraq problem.

On to Baghdad. Very soon.

Friday, December 20, 2002

Chemical Strikes

This article is interesting and probably quite right that Saddam will opt for a scorched earth policy; but ends with a statement I think is clearly wrong: “War planners don't expect a chemical and biological attack in the early stages of war, but they do say that it could be a last act of deadly vengeance and defiance.”

Saddam’s only chance to survive our invasion is to knock us back on our heels by launching what he’s got as soon as we strike. When defeat is staring his commanders in the face, they will hesitate or refuse to shoot. Only in the beginning of the war will they fear Saddam more than us. We need to assume chemicals from H-Hour on.

Oh, I note that when leaders refer to late February as invasion time, they often note there is no particular timetable, which everybody assumes means it could be later—even much later.

Why couldn’t it mean earlier? That’s what I think, anyway. That’s the only way to get tactical surprise at this point.

Troop Build Up

Countdown to Invasion: 7 days.

When near, appear far. When strong, appear weak.

Everyone is saying February invasion. We need more time, they all say. Troop strengths in the Gulf continue to ratchet up (now it is given as 60,000). More reservists are on duty now than a couple months ago (7 or 8 thousand more if my memory is correct). Defense officials note that we have more heavy equipment in the Gulf than is publicly reported. Three heavy divisions are apparently on call for the invasion (1st Armored and 1st Infantry (Mechanized) in Germany (4 brigades total) and 3rd Infantry (Mechanized) from Georgia (3 brigades, with one brigade reported in Kuwait now)). Our airmobile 101st Airborne Division will go. 1st Marine Expeditionary Force will go too. And the article mentions an Italy-based parachute brigade as going. Unmentioned is 10th Mountain Division which I think will go too. And the Rangers. One more heavy division than I thought but if the British heavy stuff won’t make it in time for the invasion, this makes sense. We then get one heavy division with a single brigade to simulate all of V Corps in Kuwait (plus artillery and attack helos to make lots of noise and mimic a major drive north to the Euphrates); and two heavy divisions with 6 brigades for the main thrust out of Jordan and maybe western Saudi Arabia supported by the 101st and the parachute brigade to grab airheads in western Iraq. The Brits will have a couple brigades too, though not much heavy stuff, to help the Marines take Basra. Our mountain division’s two brigades deploy in northern Iraq to the east of the Turkish corps that advances south. Nobody else will commit major combat units though special forces, naval, and air elements may arrive from friendly nations.

I will be shocked (and quite obviously wrong, too) if we wait until February. I’ll be surprised if we wait until January. Maybe I’ll start to believe at face value more of what I read in the papers and have a little more faith in the skills of reporters.

On to Baghdad.

Thursday, December 19, 2002


I just remembered the report a few days ago or so, that said the flesh-eating bacteria had broken out at the Marine Corps base in California. Since the California-based Marine Expeditionary Force is the unit earmarked to go to Kuwait, could this be covering the deployment of the troops out of the area as they head to Kuwait? I'm honestly just wondering. But that is one bacteria guaranteed to keep people away from the base for a week or so. Since I expect the war to start soon, you wouldn't have to hide this for long. But I really don't know if it is possible to hide a major deployment out of a major base in the United States.

Just idle speculation, but I will watch for related news.

Material Breach

Countdown to Invasion: 8 days.

We would not declare Iraq in material breach and then wait months before striking. The obvious protest would be “why now after so many months?” Nor would it make sense to start psychological warfare months before invasion. It would dull the impact, it seems to me, to essentially cry wolf. We want their anxieties heightened, not soothed by inaction.

Further, Iraq, like some minor thug who knows the law, says they are not worried “because there is nothing they can pin on us.” They have been winning the legal games for so long that they forgot that America is no longer playing lawyer games with them. It’s the military’s turn.

Making Iraq believe they have weeks or months certainly makes sense. The Iraqis think they have a lot of time to trot out a couple vials of Anthrax to stall the invasion even more, claiming this is really all there is. What, after all, is so key about Blix’s January 27 report? I think we all know that Blix will report that Iraq is complying with the inspectors. Inspections have never been the key. Everyone knows triumphant inspectors will not come marching out of a building in suburban Baghdad holding a VX-filled shell, sheepish Iraqis shuffling along in their wake, with CNN filming the whole episode. Iraq has been and is in material breach and the President’s speech Friday is the beginning of the end game.

Maybe I’m wrong and all those people saying the war is weeks or months away are right, but I think we strike soon.

Overwhelming Force

Five years ago, I wrote about the lessons of the First Gulf War between Iraq and Iran (1980-1988). In light of Marine Corps and Army stated concerns that we might not have enough to win and that war must be delayed until we do, it may be appropriate to recall those lessons. The Third Gulf War is nearing, after all. The following are concluding excerpts from my 1997 “The First Gulf War and the Army’s Future,” published as a Land Warfare Paper by the Institute of Land Warfare:

The lessons for the United States to be found in Iraq's 1980 invasion of Iran are warning lights that should caution us from reducing the capabilities of the United States Army. If heeded, they can build the foundation of victory ten or twenty years in the future. Some of the lessons of the First Gulf War that can help us prepare for victory:

· The need to maintain a combined arms approach to battle was demonstrated time and again. In one of their drives on Ahvaz, the Iraqis used only tanks in the belief that infantry and artillery would slow the advance. If the Army does not field artillery and support vehicles capable of keeping up with our superb Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles, we will need to sacrifice the speed of the Abrams and Bradleys to allow the slower supporting vehicles to keep up or risk arriving at our objectives with only a fraction of our combat power. Combined arms extends to the other services as well, especially air power. The absolute failure of Iraq’s air force to aid the Iraqi ground invasion highlights the waste of resources spent on this service. Our own Air Force, which is unchallenged in the air, must focus on supporting the Army’s ground operations.

· The demonstration that even troops apparently hopelessly outclassed can make a good showing--even if they have to do nothing more complicated than die in place in their bunkers--is useful. Iran’s ill-coordinated light infantry forces were stubborn obstacles to Iraq’s ambitions when deployed in the cities of Khuzestan. Fighting a determined foe block by block and house by house like the Iraqis did in Khorramshahr would force our Army to play by our enemy's rules. Although it is possible that information dominance could extend our superiority in open warfare to urban areas, that breakthrough has not happened. We must not forget that urban conditions may limit our technological and training advantages, lest we experience our own Khorramshahr debacle one day.

· The importance of gaining information dominance is clear from the Iraqi army’s experience of plodding to stalemate by advancing blindly as separate brigades with no situational awareness and ignorant of the location of its enemy. Iraq’s chief advantage, its numerical edge, was thrown away by Iraq’s inability to coordinate more than a brigade at once in battle. We must know when an objective is unguarded, such as at Susangerd in 1980; and when they are defended, such as at Khorramshahr, in order to generate a tempo of action that will paralyze the enemy. If we can harness the potential of information dominance, we will allow the Army to exploit its training and equipment advantages to create a fast and agile force whose flexibility and firepower stun an enemy by massing effort against weak points.

Information dominance must also be achieved before we ever arrive on the battlefield. Our Army is a power projection force that must be deployed largely from the continental United States. Our national intelligence apparatus must be able to tell the President and Congress when and where the Army is needed with enough certainty and warning time to get a significant force--not just a trip wire--on the ground and ready to fight. Iran’s failure prior to the war to deploy in Khuzestan, where the real threat was located, prevented Iran from utilizing its still formidable strength to halt the invasion at the border. Iran was able to halt the invasion, but then faced the task of expelling the Iraqis from the ground they held.

· Notwithstanding technological strides, well-trained troops with good morale are still important in the information age. In 1980, Iraq’s equipment was decent if not first rate--it was certainly lethal enough to win if well handled. Yet the troops who manned that equipment could not smash an outnumbered, divided and dispersed enemy that had been taken by surprise. The U.S. Army, which will not enjoy the luxury of outnumbering a foe by the six-to-one ratio the Iraqis enjoyed in Khuzestan, must be orders of magnitude better than any enemy if it is
to deliver decisive victory.

· We must not under-estimate our potential foes as the Iraqis did in 1980. They will be clever just as we are. They will believe in the cause for which they are fighting. And they, too, will fight to win. We cannot assume that the sight of an American soldier will panic our enemy and induce retreat and surrender in the same manner that Iraq thought the Iranians would collapse when confronted with Iraq’s overwhelming invasion force. That Iran fought even when the experts said they should give up is a lesson that must not be overlooked. We will need to fight, bleed, and struggle for victory. To assume any lesser effort will suffice is courting disaster in our hubris. Not far in the background, coexisting with our confidence in the quality of our military machine, is a contradictory fear of failure. Not wanting to repeat our experience in Vietnam, many speak of needing an “exit strategy” before committing troops. Such an approach seeks to minimize our losses under the assumption that we will at some point lose, so we had better know when to cut our losses and get out. It also assumes that the situation allows for an exit and that our enemy will allow it. The Iraqis desperately wanted out of the war they initiated in 1980 but were locked by Iran in a death grip that allowed for no easy exit. While planning for a tough, resilient enemy is prudent, we must never become paralyzed by concentrating on how that enemy can hurt us. We need to keep our focus on achieving victory.

· The need to establish a realistic war plan is also highlighted by Iraq’s invasion campaign. In one sense, the Iraqis did establish achievable military objectives. They did not aim for distant Tehran or the Strait of Hormuz but instead sought to capture adjacent Khuzestan--an objective within reach. Putting aside Iraq's failure to vigorously pursue the objectives established, one must step back and ask whether achievement of those objectives would have resulted in victory. Would the rapid seizure of Khuzestan have compelled Iran to sue for peace? It is possible; it would certainly have been better to vigorously pursue even an imperfect objective. We may not be able to answer this question for Iraq, but we must ask the question for ourselves before we embark on a military expedition. Setting a militarily achievable objective is not sufficient to bring victory. We must also reasonably expect that the attainment of that objective will lead to political victory by ending the war.

These lessons, although useful in isolation, teach us a larger lesson when taken together. Ending a war with victory should, of course, be the ultimate objective. Iraq’s many failings and Iran’s successful resistance teach us the need to overwhelm an enemy. If you give your foe the opportunity to resist, he may very well take it. If Iraq had been able to aggressively advance, reaching its objectives in days, Iran might have been shocked into submission. Iraq’s invasion force lacked the force quality, despite its numerical edge, to overcome stumbling blocks at Khorramshahr, Abadan, Ahvaz and Dezful to defeat the Iranians. Our own estimates of what it will take to win a MTW may well overlook the need for a margin of error. Fortunately, the goal of fighting two MTWs nearly simultaneously in effect gives us this margin.

The NDP provides another legitimizing process to reduce further our already small Army. It is also an opportunity for the Army’s defenders to validate the QDR’s sound reasoning for maintaining a high quality Army and halt what could easily become an annual ritual of reducing the Army after claiming to see no threats to American interests on the horizon. America needs an Army with enough soldiers to be robust enough to overcome setbacks and still emerge victorious. The Army needs the equipment, numbers and training to overwhelm an enemy force with such speed and decisiveness that we will win the war and not just the battle. Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, which has given America so much grief this decade, can teach the United States to avoid paying a high cost in its next war if we will heed the lessons of the First Gulf War. His five-division invasion force was too small and too poorly trained and equipped to smash Iran; and by the end of the war, nearly eight years later, Iraq needed an army of nearly a million troops to hold the line.

Finally, American victory in war requires a joint approach, with all the services contributing their unique capabilities. The core of any war effort, however, must be the ground elements provided by the Army, which alone is capable of taking on the most sophisticated or determined enemy and delivering victory. Complete victory comes when your soldiers plant the flag on the enemy’s territory and impose your will--not achieved when you can sail offshore or fly overhead with impunity. By any reasonable standard a well-equipped and superbly trained United States Army with global responsibilities is hardly too much for America's taxpayers to support in peacetime, given the public's expectations of decisive victory against even the toughest opponent.” (pp.17-19).

This paper is still available from the Institute of Land Warfare.

With talk of war being delayed until January or February or even later (and signs apparently supporting this timeframe such as British contracting for ships for January to June to move heavy armor), I should note that I don’t believe it. I think we will have enough very soon to smash Iraq thoroughly.

Countdown to Invasion: 8 days.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Are the Ground Pounders Worried?

According to the Washington Post, the Army and Marine commanders are worried that the government is assuming a cakewalk. They worry we have insufficient forces to start the invasion. Are the civilian leaders underprepared?

The psychological warfare is intensifying, the President will soon declare Iraq in material breach, reservists are quietly getting notice, and suddenly there are lots of reports about how we won’t invade until January, February, or March, with the British saying, puleeze, the Americans could fight this summer. And now the ground pounders are worried we don’t have enough to invade with overwhelming force yet.

We go before the end of the year.

If we are going in a shoestring, we should worry. I just don’t think we are. Are we underestimating the Iraqis? We know they can inflict casualties by fighting hard in the cities and using chemical weapons. We are clearly training hard to face both threats. And speed of attack will blunt the threat of both Iraqi options. Even if the Iraqi regular army fights, most is facing the Kurds (and the 70,000 Turks who will invade too) and is away from our troops. I bet Saddam keeps it that way. As a force to stop us, the regulars are too ill-trusted and ill-equipped to be more than speed bumps. They would be more of a challenge to us if we had to take them prisoner and feed them. The ones around Basra are there just to keep the Iranians out and the Shias down. When the Marines head their way, will they really think they can do better than 1991? And if we haven’t made contact with commanders down there to defect or die, I’d be shocked.

The Republican Guards and their Special Republican Guard uber lords are the key fighting forces and I don’t believe anybody assumes they will break on impact. Maybe they will, but those 100,000 or so troops have to be assumed loyal. I think we are preparing for a tough fight and if we are wrong—great. I’d rather be accused of over-preparing for an easy war than getting stopped because we thought victory would be easy. I can’t believe Franks would have agreed to assume little resistance. As a soldier, he would have to salute and follow orders of course; but would the civilians tell the troops who will die that they don’t need what they think they need? After the shame of refusing to send a pittance of heavy armor to Somalia prior to the Black Hawk Down battle? Five or six divisions’ worth of troops should be enough to smash any Republican Guards that try to stop us. And to handle the regulars should they fight.

Countdown to Invasion: nine days.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Turkish Troops for Iraq Invasion

Turkey will send perhaps 70,000 troops into northern Iraq when we invade. This development adds to the invasion force the corps I have expected the Turks to contribute. This should keep the Iraqis from deploying troops away from the north and into the south facing Kuwait. Our attack out of Kuwait will thus be able to capture Basra and feint the main effort. Turks in the north will pin Iraqis and, with a US light infantry division, will also make sure the Kurds don’t decide to declare independence unilaterally.

When XVIII Airborne Corps with two heavy division and 101st AB, roll into the western suburbs of Baghdad, the Iraqis will be panicky and unsure what to expect next.

Haven’t heard anything lately, but on the weekend reports of President Bush addressing the UN Wednesday and a report that US special forces are operating in Iraq identifying weapons of mass destruction are interesting. I don’t think we need it, but could we have a “gotcha” moment real soon that will satisfy the non-French critics?

On to Baghdad. In my name, by all means.

Monday, December 16, 2002

French Mandate

So, according to this article, “France today escalated its military involvement in Ivory Coast's three-month-old rebellion, sending an additional 150 troops with a tougher mandate to enforce a truce.”

We have a 15-0 UN Security Council vote backing us (on top of 16 or so more over the last 11 years), Congressional authorization, and many allies on board, to invade Iraq, yet America still gets accused of “unilateralism.” The French are particularly scathing in their criticism.

France apparently has a self-made “mandate” to escalate their involvement in Ivory Coast. This expands their earlier self-drafted “mandate” to intervene in the first place. Sean Penn is reportedly en route to issue a statement saying war is bad.

As Al Bundy so brilliantly put it, “It is wrong to be French.”

Djibouti Forces

So, 5th Special Force Group (which fought in Desert Storm and is clearly better suited to Iraq than the Horn) and 87th Corps Support battalion (located with 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized) back in Georgia, are in Djibouti. Looks to me like Djibouti is a staging area for the Jordan-based invasion force which will include 3rd ID and 5th Special Forces. (with 101st AB flown directly into Iraq? And another heavy division attacking out of northern Saudi Arabia-or maybe Kuwait—to link up in the west?) The amount of force down there has always seemed excessive for what we might find there (seemed more a CIA mission) and just as well suited to providing a cover for Red Sea traffic supporting a Jordan front.

I know I’m reading a lot into little things, and these forces could just as easily swing into the Gulf instead of into Jordan, but I’m sticking with this scenario. (You would have to go into the Foreign Affairs archives, perhaps even the monthly archives, to read more detailed discussions of the Jordan scenario)

On to Baghdad.

Sunday, December 15, 2002


A Friedman column speaks of hope for getting the talking between us and Islam going. Some voices in the Islamic world, according to the article, are saying publicly that America is not at fault for their backwardness and that their societies must look inward and cure themselves.

This is encouraging. They must end the killing philosophy that has been the public voice of Islam recently.

Iran’s situation has already given me hope that Iranians have seen the terror and economic failure of Islamist regimes. Others in the Arab world are raising their voices too. Yes, the Palestinian issue must be resolved to blunt a sharp corner that we bump into repeatedly, but we must always remember it is not the cause of the problem between the West and the Moslem world—it is an irritant.

We must demonstrate resolve through military and other means so that Islamists will never be able to appeal to followers by saying we will ultimately lose. We must present a face of awesome power so that glory in pursuit of jihad against us seems less productive than working with us and focusing on their own problems.

We started by breaking the Taliban and crippling al Qaeda. Next we must destroy Saddam.

Then we start building. I’m no fan of nation building, but I don’t see what choice we have now. We can’t just leave them to nurture grievances and come back at us again when they are ready and we are unprepared. This time we "de-Nazifiy" the Moslem world of the Wahhabi Islamofascism that has preached death to us. But there is hope. The Germans and Japanese seem unable to fight now, after our occupations.

Turkey is one face of moderate, modernizing Islam. Indonesia can be also. Then Iran, after the mullahs are overthrown. Then Iraq after we invade and rip out the Ba’athist thugs who destroyed a promising nation carrying out the orders of a thug who sought glory through death and conquest.

Marching on Baghdad is just the beginning of this job.

And we still have to deal with North Korea. And a rising China who may be friend or foe. Plus the various nutcases out there who would love to dump some VX into a subway or office building. And the usual tribulations of dealing with Cuba, and Venezuela, and Zimbabwe, and other states that may not pose much of a threat but which don’t want to operate within the world system or at least refrain from torturing their own people.

We let down our guard after Soviet communism collapsed, thinking that history had ended and we had won it all. But while we vanquished a single state that could wipe us out, we now must face multiple threats who, though unable to kill 100,000,000 of us in twenty minutes, will settle for 100,000.

Amazingly enough, this is better. And I do have hope.

Saturday, December 14, 2002

Hussein’s Resistance

Iraq's Saddam hopes he can delay our invasion until our will fades, hoping our allies will melt away in the face of ambiguities over right and wrong; or hopes that a bloody defense of Iraqi soil will prompt massive resistance to us in the world. Or deter us in the first place. He has wrapped himself in Islamist ideology to appeal to the widespread tendency to blame for us for the failures of the Moslem world even though it is their own damn fault.

All the more reason to break Saddam—and soon.

If we give Saddam time by delaying an invasion too long, he may very well break the Europeans, or maybe North Korea will invade the South, or something. That is the problem with giving our enemy time to prepare, time to act against us. Their plan might actually work before we can launch ours.

We need to ruthlessly prosecute this war to crush Saddam. Leave no doubt that the self-proclaimed champion of Islam was ripped to shreds. Who cares that right now he gets points for resisting the world’s only superpower? The important thing is that Saddam should lose—badly and clearly. The article says he is appealing to the street as bin Laden did. But the massive uprising on the street failed in the face of his dramatic defeat in Afghanistan and the fall of his protectors, the Taliban. As he said, the street likes to go with the strong horse. So now the street’s irrational hope for blaming America for their failures and having another strong man to stand up to us rests on Saddam’s shoulders.

A despicable champion to be sure that says much about the bankruptcy of their societies. But since they have chosen Saddam, Saddam must die. And with him their hopes for killing us.

Once they lose hope of killing us and winning, maybe we can have a real discussion of what they can do to build a decent society with hope for the future. Once they stop believing that killing us is their road to success, we can talk.

But first things first. No mercy in waging the war. Win it decisively and quickly.

On to Baghdad.

Mobilization Begins

Well, mobilization is beginning. I was getting antsy that it should begin soon if we are to invade by the end of the year. The US will call up a whole bunch of reservists soon. Is it enough for a war to begin before the end of the year? The article still speaks of mobilization actually occurring in January, but this doesn’t have to be so. Plus, I’m no expert on timetables and plans, but with so many reservists already on active duty, could we at lest start the invasion without tipping our hand by mobilizing too many more prior to invasion? British mobilization, on the other hand, has not begun. On the news today, it was reported that the British will send troops to the Gulf starting in January. But they have some in Kuwait already. And maybe we don’t need all that heavy armor they are planning to send. Maybe paratroopers, marines, and airmobile infantry that can be flown in are all we want for the invasion. As with all that heavy stuff we have in our Gulf and Atlantic ports waiting to be sent, maybe the British armor division is just a diversion. Everybody assumes invasion must wait for them but they just aren’t in the plan.

Maybe all the signs that invasion won’t happen until January or February are true, but I don’t know. I’d rather go earlier than later. I’m still holding to December 27 as D-Day. Air attacks begin and within a day to a week the ground troops go into Iraq in force.

Friday, December 13, 2002

War Timing

One carrier that was somewhere at sea is back in Japan. Another carrier is heading home and due on the east coast December 20. Everyone says late January or February is when we attack. It seems to be the consensus of the defense experts.

I don’t know. I still guess by the end of this year—with December 27 as my D-Day choice. After all the talk of five carriers gathered in December, having only three means what? That we won’t attack? Will we have more in January or February? I don’t follow the carriers that closely but it seems unlikely. It seems that those carriers could start moving real soon to get in position if we need them by December 27. If the Washington battlegroup gets called to West African waters or something and homecoming is delayed until the end of the year, could she do a high speed dash through the Gibralter Strait at night and make it to eastern Med. Before anyone knows it isn’t heading home? Undetected? Or has the five carrier convergence been a red herring? Can we go with three? We’ve had a leap in capabilities even since the Kosovo campaign so we may not need very many aircraft to carry out a precision air campaign.

Still, I have to believe that we must see significant troop movements within days. Especially the 101st AB Division. Maybe to Germany to be able to stage right into airheads in western Iraq. And what of the British? Will we wait for their heavy division? I didn’t think that Britain would commit as much as it appears to be publicly stated. Is the British force another false piece of the puzzle that people wait to move as a sign war is soon? Otherwise, American troops need to fall in on that prepositioned equipment we already have there. I know we don’t want them there too early but this is getting ridiculous!

It just feels like Rumsfeld’s trip to the Gulf was the last tour before invasion, assessing the commanders and troops and getting a feel for it. The material breaches are piling up and the President will make his case to the world and more importantly to the American people.

I’m starting to get nervous that the invasion will be later but I’m sticking to this year for now. After all, going early is the only way to get tactical surprise. And if everybody says January at the earliest…

On to Baghdad.

Oh, I ragged on the 100 stars in Landfill and then had a pang of guilt for mocking them so. See Landfill for the attack and apology/explanation. Depending on when you read this, it may be in the archives.

Thursday, December 12, 2002


A couple interesting developments on the Army reorganization front. In one article, the Defense Department is on track to pay for four Stryker brigades. However, the problem of the organization is being noticed—it isn’t a heavy force and never will be. Even as some complain that the units are too heavy and that the Stryker vehicle itself can’t fit on a C-130, the Army has noticed the brigade lacks combat power. As to the Stryker being too heavy, hogwash. Yes, the Stryker vehicle has to have some of its protruding parts removed to get on the plane, and requires some time once offloaded to put together again, but so what? If those units have to fight their way off the plane onto the tarmac when they land, we’ve got more serious problems. As to the lack of combat power issue, well yeah. Take away the Abrams and Bradleys and load up with souped-up LAVs and what do you expect?

The article says the Department of Defense may take the money for brigades five and six and instead use it to add attack helicopters, more recon and targeting assets, and more firepower! Given enough time, DOD will start adding Abrams and Bradleys, I imagine. And why not? While there is a role for a medium weight force to bridge the gap between heavy forces that take weeks to arrive and light forces that can fly in days. But can the Air Force really airlift six of these brigades in faster time than it would take to start shipping heavy brigades? There are only limited scenarios for their use. If we don’t need to rush anti-tank forces to stop an invasion of an ally that catches us unaware and with no heavy forces in the area, why keep units too light to have staying power? But after adding more firepower, the unit will be too heavy to be airlifted rapidly anyway. It is already pretty darn heavy and it will get heavier even as the individual units remain light and vulnerable Strykers. I really have to ask, might it not be better to airlift a battalion task force of Abrams and Bradleys? Would the combat power suffer? Would that option be just as strategically mobile as an entire Stryker Brigade? Certainly, the smaller unit would be more survivable since its individual vehicles would be superbly protected and armed.

A related issue is the move to make the Army National Guard give up some of its heavy brigades to reconfigure four brigades to mobile light brigades—essentially motorized infantry outfits that have Humvees and 2-1/2-ton trucks to move the troops and towed artillery.

This Army National Guard Restructuring Initiative is intended to make the Guard a more relevant reserve force given that conventional foes are fewer these days and given 9/11. These units will be better suited to guard duty in homeland defense and will be able to carry out base defense overseas as well as peace-keeping, occupation, or rear area security missions. But unlike Stryker brigades, they will be far easier to airlift. In addition, they will have the infantry to take over the peacekeeping role that the infantry-heavy Stryker brigades are supposed to fill. Yet the Stryker brigade’s armored vehicles are probably excessively heavy for relatively benign peace operations. But on the other hand, they are too light to survive even RPGs in a combat environment so what real improvement would they provide over armored Humvees in peace ops?

Several years ago in an article, I argued that we should keep the Guard heavy units as is to guard against an unanticipated threat that is larger than an Iraq or North Korea scenario or an anticipated threat that turns out to be tougher than we expect. (I also wanted a warfighting orientation to counter the peacekeeping mentality that seemed rampant) See the synopsis if you like. But given that we are about to get rid of one of our two anticipated regional threats by taking down Iraq, and given the lack of other significant conventional threats (and given that fighting China outside of the Korean peninsula or on Taiwan would require massive mobilization on the scale of World War II if we hoped to have land forces able to enter the mainland and win), I have to admit this makes sense post-9/11. Previously I’d argued that if we need Bosnia-type occupation forces, we should expand the Military Police. Since Rumsfeld is resisting expanding the Army, we aren’t going to get more MPs. Motorized infantry will have to do, yet I worry about such a force in the reserves. Will we maintain 40,000 Army reservist mobilized indefinitely?

So, even with the two restructuring initiatives, we’ll still have heavy units. They will be around for twenty or thirty years even with no replacements for the Abrams and Bradleys. War with Iraq will again show their power. We’ll have mobile light brigades that will provide motorized infantry for peace operations, occupation duties, and homeland security, and we’ll have Stryker brigades that in theory provide a force that can arrive soon after light paratroopers or foot infantry arrive (as a tripwire) to give them some firepower and (hopefully) hold until the heavy stuff arrives. But the Stryker brigades may get heavier, killing that role. I still say a light, infantry-poor but anti-tank rich Stryker brigade makes more sense for this role. (see Defense Issue archives)

These brigades are also supposed to test how a light but lethal unit will operate paving the way for the wonder “tank” (the future combat system”) that will equip the Objective Force. Here’s my take in Military Review on that project if you are interested. I understand the FCS will have depleted-pixie-dust-armor that is light yet as solid as Abrams armor. Pretty cool, huh? Needless to say, I do worry about trying to abandon heavy forces prematurely as the Objective Force foresees. I hope DOD is right on this. I really hope a replacement for the Abrams main battle tank is on a drawing board somewhere in America just in case. We are appropriately building strategically deployable units but I don’t think the age of survivable heavy units is over yet.

Go Army!

[NOTE: This is from the former Defense Issues category from my original blog. Also, all the links from the original post are dead so I didn't try to enable them.]

Show Support

From a DOD press release received today:


With the holidays approaching, thousands of Americans are again asking what they can do to show their support for servicemembers, especially those serving overseas in this time of war. Below are Web sites for several organizations that are sponsoring programs for members of the Armed Forces overseas. While it would be inappropriate for the Department to endorse any specifically, servicemembers do value and appreciate such expressions of support:

Donate a calling card to help keep servicemembers in touch with their families at Operation Uplink at http://www.operationuplink.org/

Send a greeting via e-mail through Operation Dear Abby at http://anyservicemember.navy.mil/
or http://www.operationdearabby.net/

Sign a virtual thank you card at the Defend America Web site at http://www.defendamerica.mil/nmam.html

Make a donation to one of the military relief societies:

Army Emergency Relief at http://www.aerhq.org/

Navy/Marine Relief Society at http://www.nmcrs.org/

Air Force Aid Society at http://www.afas.org/

Coast Guard Mutual Assistance at http://www.cgmahq.org/

Donate to"Operation USO Care Package" at http://www.usometrodc.org/care.html

Support the American Red Cross Armed Forces Emergency Services at http://www.redcross.org/services/afes/

Volunteer at a VA Hospital to honor veterans who bore the lamp of freedom in past conflicts.

Reach out to military families in your community, especially those with a loved one overseas. Please do not flood the military mail system with letters, cards, and gifts. Due to security concerns and transportation constraints, the Department cannot accept items to be mailed to " Any Servicemember ." Some people have tried to avoid this prohibition by sending large numbers of packages to an individual servicemember's address, which however well intentioned, clogs the mail and causes unneccessary delays.

The support and generosity of the American people has touched the lives of many servicemembers, over 300,000 of whom are deployed overseas.


I know what I am going to be doing this weekend. Our people in uniform have my sincerest thanks for protecting all of us. The least I can do is let them know.

On to Baghdad. And God preserve every one of our soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines in the trying days ahead.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002


Iranian situation continues to develop toward revolution—one friendly to us. Yet aside from Ledeen at National Review, few cover this much. I can’t believe that the administration is failing to support the growing revolt because it doesn’t want the Tehran regime to be defeated. Iran’s position as wing man to Iraq in the Axis of Evil (geographically, not philosophically) does make it tough to push Iran now, just as we move toward war with Iraq. Everybody warns about the region going up in flames and even a pro-US flame would complicate things if it spreads now. I am sorry that tactical considerations may be preventing us from being openly supportive, but what can we do? I’ve got to believe we are at least quietly talking to the Iranian protesters even as we strive to keep Iran quiet until the Iraq War is over. It is just a belief but how could we fail to support revolution there?

Ledeen says “faster, please,” but although I have much sympathy for that view, I say, “after Baghdad.” Soon after. But definitely after.

Turn on the pressure on Iran to support the people who want to end theorcracy.

Then, deal with the hard one—nuclear-armed North Korea. At this point I’m not sure what the heck we can do there. I do know we can’t just do nothing and pretend everything is fine. We tried that and it didn’t work. May God help us all on that problem. Who knows, maybe containment will work against a teetering Stalinist dictatorship like North Korea. That is one place it could work, in my opinion. Just don’t know.

On to Baghdad.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002


Well, the latest experiment to see if 100 chimps banging away on typewriters can come up with Shakespeare will release its results soon.

One hundred of our best line readers will tell us what they think about our foreign policy with Iraq. They couldn’t tell the difference between VX and VD yet they assume we give a rip about what they think. I guess this is what we get for letting nerdy movie critics pass judgment on their work. The artists are getting their revenge.

After telling us that only those who served in combat can support war, those who only played soldiers on TV will weigh in against war.

Truly, this is the most anticipated opinion piece since Amy Carter opined on the greatest threat to American security during the Dark Ages of the Carter administration.

I eagerly await the letter from the stars.

I bet it’s "Q."

Peace Prize

Here we have, on the occasion of his receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize, the reason the Euros love former president Jimmy Carter:

“Jimmy Carter will probably not go down in American history as the most effective president," said Gunnar Berge, chairman of the five-member Norwegian awards committee, in introducing the winner at this afternoon's solemn ceremony in Oslo's ornate city hall. "But he is certainly the best ex-president the country ever had."

Clearly, the Euros hold a special place in their surrendering hearts for ineffective American presidents. It is amusing, though. A critic of Carter would have been hard pressed to issue a better left-handed compliment.

Carter shined as usual with his failure to grasp history. In his rebuke of our determination to wage war against Iraq, Carter said, "For powerful countries to adopt a principle of preventative war may well set an example that can have catastrophic consequences." He ignores that Saddam himself launched wars against both Iran and Kuwait, who were not poised to attack Iraq, justifying his invasions as preventative in nature. Why didn’t Saddam follow our example then? The history of the world is filled with evil rulers striking other nations that were not a threat. It is an advance in history that we shall strike and destroy a monstrous regime that cannot be allowed to exist in a civilized world. Allowing Saddam to endure would be the course that would have catastrophic consequences.

And then, in possibly his most outrageous statement:

While declaring again his deep Christian faith, he denounced those who used religion as a cloak of justification for suicide bombings and other acts of terror. "In order for us human beings to commit ourselves personally to the inhumanity of war, we find it necessary first to dehumanize our opponents, which is in itself a violation of the beliefs of all religions," he said. "Once we characterize our adversaries as beyond the scope of God's mercy and grace, their lives lose all value."

But Carter said this false justification applied not only to terrorists, but to combatants in high-tech modern warfare. "From a great distance, we launch bombs or missiles with almost total impunity, and never look to know the number or identity of the victims," he told the audience, which included the king and queen of Norway and dozens of his own friends and relatives.

So, when “we”—and I assume he means America—launch weapons from a range that safeguards our pilots from death, he finds that equivalent to suicide bombers who deliberately target civilians.

He does more harm to America than Padilla or Lindh ever could have. Words truly escape me. What more can be said about such a man who would work for our enemies so diligently and yet retain a halo about him as if he defined morality?

Truly, he tests our belief in freedom of speech. No, he should not be restrained (except by himself should he have a sudden pang of conscience for his actions and words), but in my mind he will always be an enemy combatant.

Monday, December 09, 2002

Anti-War Protesters Say They Protect Ordinary Iraqis?

An interesting report by the International Crisis Group noted in the Washington Post on December 9.

The first interesting part to note is the second footnote that indicates that Voices in the Wilderness reports that Iraqis fear the brunt of war will be on them and so will fight us. The Voices crowd actually wants to act as human shields for Saddam’s regime so it isn’t too surprising that the victims of Saddam will say such things. Would you really tell the truth to a bunch of foreigners who are so addled that they would come to Iraq voluntarily (when so many Iraqis have fled?) to defend Saddam? Might you not think that the little toadies croaking in the wilderness might report disloyal voices to Saddam? And what of the contradiction of saying they fear consequences of war yet will leap into the trenches to fight us?

In any case, the International Crisis Group was surprised to find that Iraqis are eager for invasion. Far from representing the beginning of war, our invasion will signal the end of the wars and war deprivation that have been ongoing since 1980 when Saddam started his blood-stained path to glory over the bodies of his neighbors and his own people. The mere fact that people spoke to the interviewers rather than fear reprisals indicated to the ICG people that they must truly expect change. This is the best part:

Attitudes toward a U.S. strike are complex. There is some concern about the potential for violence, anarchy and score settling that might accompany forceful regime change. But the overwhelming sentiment among those interviewed was one of frustration and impatience with the status quo. Perhaps most widespread is a desire to return to “normalcy” and put an end to the abnormal domestic and international situation they have been living through. A significant number of those Iraqis interviewed, with surprising candour, expressed their view that, if such a change required an American-led attack, they would support it.

All those in the West who still defend Saddam’s brutal regime will have a lot to answer for when these people are freed. They may well ask why those who lived in the safety and freedom of the West did not cry out for those in Iraq who could not dare speak out for fear of their very lives. I won’t hold my breath for their remorse.

Let’s not let the Iraqis down. I’d hate to have to explain our inaction at this late date. After we know so much.

There are no more excuses for looking away.

On to Baghdad. Very soon.

Sunday, December 08, 2002

The Apology. Part II

Just saw on 'Meet the Press' that the Iraqi apology claimed they invaded Kuwait in 1990 because they believed they were justified because America was about to invade Iraq. Aside from the ridiculous charge undermined by the many months it took us to gear up for the attack and the failure to march on Baghdad (which must have been our intention if we are to believe the Iraqis since we allegedly planned our attack before Iraq captured Kuwait), it is nice to see Saddam endorsing the concept of preventive war. Indeed, his rationale for attacking Iran in 1980 relied on this concept as well.

Of course, if we rely on Saddam precedents, we could commit any horror to achieve our objectives.

On to Baghdad.

The Apology

In the spirit of Iraq’s ‘acceptance’ of UNSC Resolution 1441 and their non-declaration of their banned weapons programs, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein has ‘apologized’ for invading Kuwait. Indeed, it is in the same spirit that a child, scolded for telling another child he is ugly, tells the offended party under pressure, "I’m sorry you’re ugly.’ (And wasn’t it only last August that the Iraqis celebrated the anniversary of their invasion by telling the Kuwaitis they ‘deserved’ the Iraqi invasion?)

According to the Iraqis, Saddam said, "We apologize to God for any action in the past . . . that was considered to be our responsibility, and we apologize to you on the same basis."

So get that, not that he thinks they did anything wrong by invading, looting, and brutalizing Kuwait, but they concede that some ‘consider’ some unnamed ‘actions’ to be their responsibility. And they apologize only because some consider those actions to be Iraq’s responsibility.

It’s like dealing with a naughty seven year old who’s holding a loaded shotgun. An amazing inability to accept responsibility in the real world on a reasonable basis combined with the ability to do great harm.

And of course, as with any insincere apology compelled by some authority figure, Saddam then attacks Kuwait. He blasts the Kuwaitis for hosting American troops and for letting us use Kuwait to enforce the no-fly zones. Of course, this is where Saddam unintentionally lets some truth out: "As you can see, the foreigners are occupying your country in a direct occupation," he said. "And, as you know, when the foreigners occupy a country, they don't only desecrate the soil, but also the soul, religion and mind." While our 12,000 or so personnel are there at the invitation of the government, Iraq’s couple-hundred thousand camped in Kuwait during their occupation following an uninvited invasion (unsanctified by the international community) truly did desecrate the soil, soul, religion, and mind.

The Kuwaitis rejected the apology.

To the French and the merely French-like, if some consider our actions to liberate Iraq and end the threat to the world of Saddam’s possession of weapons of mass destruction to require us to say we’re sorry, well, tough. You’ll get no apology from us. You’re the ones who need to explain yourselves. Man, I’m looking forward to seeing the Iraqi archives. Much like the opening up of the Soviet and satellite records after communism fell, only the most tenured (and their pampered trust fund Marxist students) in the West will be able to deny the horrors they defended before we defeat our enemy.

On to Baghdad.

Saturday, December 07, 2002

Laying the groundwork

Am I reading too much into this opinion piece or is King Abdullah II of Jordan justifying letting Americans use Jordan to launch the invasion of Iraq. The king said, in part:

Together, we share a responsibility to prevent the abuse of religion by those who would divide us. We have a special duty to combat injustice, which is so often exploited by extremists. Nowhere is our help needed more than in the Holy Land, where Palestinians and Israelis alike are crying out for peace, stability and security. Together we must urge their leaders to hear the voices of reason and peace, end oppression and occupation, stop the violence and create a future of hope.

Sounds like he is making an Islamic case for fighting those who abuse their religion for their own ends (bin Laden) and who represent injustice (Iraq). He simultaneously guards against those who admire these thugs simply because they say they fight for Palestinians. The king argues that he is working to solve that problem more effectively than the murderers and oppressors will ever do with terrorism and oppression.

To me this reads like the justification for letting us base what we need in Jordan to destroy Saddam Hussein’s regime. Unless I miss my guess (and it is just a guess), Jordan will host the main effort aimed right at the heart of Iraq’s regime—Baghdad—that will bypass the cities and armed forces of Iraq until they reach the outskirts of Baghdad.

And the Iraqi declaration today says they have no weapons of mass destruction. This is the clear material breach that even the French will have to accept. They blew their last hope of sidetracking our invasion.

On to Baghdad. Soon.

Friday, December 06, 2002


I am honestly baffled by this. How on Earth can these people go to Iraq to defend Saddam Hussein? How does being "anti-war" turn into being pro-murdering dictator? The story says: "The four Canadians, sponsored by an anti-war organization called Voices in the Wilderness, have volunteered to be human shields in an effort to dissuade American-led forces from attacking Iraq."

Let me just say that no American soldier, Marine, or pilot should take any steps to avoid killing these idiots if it would increase the chance that the Americans would themselves die. If those mossy-brained dolts want to die for Saddam—let them.

In the real world, we wait for the Iraqi declaration that they have nothing but dual use chemical, biological, and nuclear programs. Dual use in the sense that they can be used to kill soldiers or civilians, of course. It is actually depressing that Saddam’s thug regime will require young Americans to die in order to prevent Saddam from inflicting even more death in the future should he go unchecked. It is infuriating that Voices in the Wilderness would defend a regime with professional rapists on the payroll. Infuriating but not surprising.

Bombs away, guys.

Thursday, December 05, 2002

Kuwait Thrust

In my mind anyway, the Kuwait thrust is the diversion. What would it have and do? First, it will have a Marine Expeditionary Force of 3 or 4 infantry regiments and a couple tank battalions (plus supporting air wing). It will have a British heavy division and maybe some infantry formations if they don’t get deployed to the northern Turkish front. It should have enough American stuff to make V Corps look real: a heavy brigade or armored cavalry regiment to screen, and attack helicopter and separate artillery brigades to provide loud and obvious firepower.

The Marines with some of the British armor attached would seize Basra and destroy the Iraqi regular forces in the region (destroy them, accept their surrender, or organize their defection). Fifth Corps would strike north into the vacuum in a really loud attack toward the Euphrates to simulate the main thrust and cover the real main effort out of Jordan. Lots of arty and attack helos ranging ahead to tear up the landscape and keep the Iraqis looking this way as long as possible until the nature of the western thrust can no longer be hidden (that attack may initially be dismissed as nothing more than an unusually big raid that is Scud hunting).

Eventually, some of the forces under Marine command could then assist V Corps in crossing the Euphrates if we want a secondary thrust to seal off Baghdad from the south and open up a supply line from Kuwait. Dodging chemical strikes may make it too much of a hazard, however, to try to clear the highways to the north. Excess forces might instead need to swing west of the Euphrates to reinforce XVIII Airborne Corps’ main attack from the west and prepare for the Battle for Baghdad should resistance solidify.

The Iraqis have pulled so far back to avoid getting hammered that we could simulate the main attack for days before the nature of the plan becomes apparent.

Of course, I really have no idea what will happen other than the big picture of a major ground invasion that will overthrow the regime.

Heck, maybe it will be a real surprise and the invasion will roll out of Syria!

On to Baghdad.