Wednesday, November 02, 2016

A Significant Shrinkage Issue

Strategypage has a nice post on Islamic terrorism and the variable support it has gotten in the Arab world since 9/11. But I don't understand how they can say this:

The Iraqi Islamic terrorists are really out there, at least in terms of fanaticism and extremism and have been since the Sunni dictatorship of Iraq was overthrown in 2003 (with the help of two divisions of American and one division of British troops). [emphasis added]

The invasion force was not that small.

I've been arguing against this notion since the invasion. We invaded (well, liberated) Iraq with the equivalent of 7 American and British divisions. Sixty American maneuver battalions and 10 British maneuver battalions were sent to invade. With a division usually having 10 maneuver (or line) battalions, that gave us the up-front equivalent of 6 American divisions.

It is true that in the first wave America had but two division headquarters, but the Marine headquarters commanded virtually the entire Marine Corps' maneuver units, making it nearly 3 divisions' strong alone. And the Army's 3rd ID had enough battalions to have the equivalent of four brigades under command. Plus we had a separate Army airborne brigade dropped in the north and separate Army infantry battalions in the western part of Iraq supporting special forces.

And the 101st Airborne Division followed 3rd ID very quickly, guarding the supply lines against furious assault by Saddam's irregulars.

Plus a British division.

These forces got us up to 7 division equivalents.

Also, don't forget that our plan was for the new high tech 4th Infantry Division (mechanized) to invade northern Iraq from Turkey. Turkey's last-minute denial of permission forced us to reroute the division to come in from the south much later that it would have entered the fight from Turkey.

We had so few troops overall because we did not send nearly as many support units as we had in 1990-1991. We cut out the separate artillery brigades and did not bring over "iron mountains" of supplies prior to invasion. Under the new concept of relying on fewer but precise artillery, air power, and just-in-time logistics, we did in fact invade with the forces we anticipated for a major war against a smallish power (a MTW or MRC depending on when you read your terminology): 5-7 American divisions.

I love Strategypage. Really, I do. If you could read only one site I'd tell you to choose them over The Dignified Rant.

But I do not understand the longstanding shrinkage issue with the 2003 American invasion force.