Friday, September 06, 2002

Stealth Preparation

While the Pentagon claims nothing out of the ordinary is going on, the increase in bombings over Iraq is striking. Not long ago, we hit a facility said to observe American activities in the Gulf. Now,. we just struck an Iraqi base in the west, above the no fly zone no less. We are clearly getting a leg up on prepping the battlefield.

With the Army having already moved the brigade set of equipment from Qatar to Kuwait recently, and ships being leased to transport more heavy Army equipment to the Gulf and Jordan, the logistics side is getting set up too. The Navy is also scheduling carriers in such a matter that we will have quite a few operational in overlapping time periods available for attacking Iraq (normally, only a couple carriers, maybe three, are deployed worldwide, with the remainder either gearing up for deployment or undergoing refits).

Now President Bush and Prime Minister Blair are pressing the diplomatic offensive to prepare the public for war.

We are cutting down tremendously the amount of time it will take to move the Army, Marines, and Air Force in place. I do not think it will take three months to deploy five divisions to the Gulf once we publicly announce deployment. We’re better prepared than in 1990 to go from a standing start; and we’ve had months to quietly do some of the work this year.

It is coming. And I don’t think it will be a small affair counting on Iraqi collapse. Despite all the talk of innovate ways to pull down Saddam with special forces wielding McGyver-inspired weapons fashioned from dental floss and chewing gum, I cannot imagine we’d take that risk. I recall that in 1939, the Russians warned their troops about to invade Finland not to violate Swedish neutrality. Three months later, the Finns agreed to fork over some border territory to the Russians after the Finns killed massive numbers of invaders. I think we’ll go with enough to smash Prussians (sigh. why do most of our allies have far more illustrious military pasts…) and be grateful if we face Iraqis.

We start moving overtly in November, not long after the election and only after we cannot hide an accelerated stealth deployment. We launch air strikes by the end of December. We invade in early January. If Saddam can spring some surprises, he may well inflict serious casualties on us or neighboring civilians. Or we might crush the Iraqi military in a campaign that makes the 1991 war look like a brutal war of attrition by comparison. Once shooting starts, much will depend on luck, the troops themselves, and the leadership of the politicians and generals. Rip their hearts out.