Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Yes, But Are They Paranoid Enough?

The Joint Forces Command report on the Iraq War from the Iraqis' perspective is fascinating.

During the Iraq War, we quite literally destroyed Iraqi divisions from the air with precision air power. Some air power advocates say this was due to advances in precision and targetting. More was at work here.

While we have had tremendous advances in both factors in the last fifteen years, devastation from the air over longer periods failed to prevent Iraqi forces from maneuvering into blocking positions to face our VII Corps' main effort in 1991; and failed to prevent the Serb army from marching out of Kosovo in good order in 1999. Air attacks did not destroy these militaries.

In 1991 it took the Army and Marines with an able assist by the British to finally destroy the Iraqi military in the field after six weeks of relentless air attacks. Those not attacked remained intact to preserve Saddam's regime following the war.

In 1999, of course, with no ground war, the rump Yugoslavian army marched out quickly and in good order despite a couple months of even more accurate air power (and with few of its vehicles actually destroyed).

Iraq's army in 2003 disintegrated due to a far more interesting factor than simple bombs on target. The Saddam regime itself paralyzed and demoralized the Iraqi army and Republican Guards long before we crossed the border. Ground and air attacks destroyed Iraqi ground units, and even units not attacked disappeared as troops deserted and went home.

So rather than focusing too much on the technical aspects of destroying an enemy army, if we anticipate war with any thug state our best course of action is to create fear of the state's military in the regime's corridors. The target state's military doesn't even need to be disloyal if we can distribute enough disinformation to make the regime think their military is disloyal. And why not support efforts at coups? Even if they are long shots that fail, the cumulative effect of failed coups will lead the regime to distrust the military.

Given enough time, the result of this distrust will be a regime military watched by other security forces; a military deprived of spare parts, modern weapons, training, and ammuntion; a military that will see a loyal rival military force created by the regime that mistrusts it; a military whose officers are afraid to honestly report their weaknesses; and a military that won't be authorized to plan let alone deploy to meet foreign invasion out of fear that such movements will be the opening moves of a coup. And once at war, this military will be too fearful to fight as a coherent force or react quickly, having had initiative largely bled out of it.

Once the target state's military has reached the Saddam State, our troops and air power will be able to exploit psychological operations to smash the enemy military. Enemy troops will know that their superiors have screwed the pooch on defending their country and will be ready to run when attacked or when they hear of enough other friendly units being destroyed by our ground and air forces.

Such a program of subversion will be more effective than weeks of massive and precise bombardment in destroying the ability of an enemy to effectively resist us.

Remember, the question isn't whether the enemy's leaders are paranoid. The question is are they paranoid enough?