Saturday, January 25, 2003


Countdown to War: 6 Days

This article has some persuasive indicators that invasion will not be for at least another month. One, it says that the computer simulation in Germany won't take place until later this month. Earlier, reports said it would be done mid-month. 1st Armored, 1st Cavalry, 3rd Infantry, 4th Infantry, and 101st Airborne are supposed to be part of it. First Infantry is not part of it. As I noted, this division is occupied with Kosovo duties. Second, the article says it would take a month to move the equipment of 101st Airborne to the Gulf. That was something I really had no clue on. Then some in-theater training is desirable. The possible need for more carriers is not persuasive. We don't need six. Six would be nice but with Air Force units nearby and precision weapons, four are probably fine.

And the report that we will let the inspections go on longer to gain allied support is really disturbing. The French and Germans claim there is nothing that could convince them that war is necessary. The Chinese prefer to have us tied up in a military confrontation. The Russians combine the French desire for Iraqi money and the old Soviet habits of opposing us (wait, that is a French habit too) and wanting us militarily occupied. Are we doing this for Blair, then? But why will delay help? As time passes, people get even more used to the idea of inspections. And although this author thinks war is coming in February or March, it is not much of a comfort to me. For those who wonder whether Iraq's strategy of delay will drain our spirit and get us to give up, the prospect of invasion even as late as March probably is reassuring. I worry about delay and I think our failure to deploy the necessary forces is purely diplomatic and has been for some time. Even without the preparations of the last decade, in 1990 and 1991, we deployed a much larger force in a little over 6 months. We've had a year now and only 3rd Infantry is mostly in theater. There is not a purely logistical reason for delay.

This information runs into the wall of my firm conviction that we must go sooner than later. We need surprise, delay gives Saddam time to come up with something to thwart us and for other enemies to take advantage of our pending war, we don't need all the forces that are supposedly heading to the Gulf (and if we send them all, we would risk defeat in a second war should it be thrust upon us), and delay will not build public support. Laying out the evidence will help our public support but I imagine nothing short of a crater where the Eiffel Tower stands now will convince many of our allies that there is a threat. Yet it is dangerous to say what we know except when we are about to bomb them, lest the Iraqis move them or use them once they realize we know there their chemicals, bugs, and nuke projects are located. Or, they might figure out how we knew something and compromise one of our sources.

The signs point to later. I do assume 101st Airborne is needed. But what if we did manage to ship in equipment for the division already? What if we don't need the division in the early phase? I sure hope that all this talk is part of our disinformation campaign to gain surprise, so I hold to January 31 as the invasion date. But the lack of a visible airlift in the next day will likely make this date another wrong guess on my part. I will be sadly disappointed if we have telegraphed our actual invasion timetable so obviously.

Basically, there is dissonance between what I think we should do, what it appears we are going to do-which contradicts what I think we should do, and the unknown of how much of what can be seen is disinformation-which may negate some of the contradictions that I can see.

On to Baghdad. I fear delay more than the Iraqis.