Friday, November 29, 2002

Invasion Plan

The more I think about it the more it makes sense that the main effort will come through western Iraq. When I thought the main effort would kick off from Kuwait, I was uncomfortable with the drive north to Baghdad. Crossing the Euphrates west of Nasiriyah and then driving north between the Tigris and Euphrates seemed rather plodding. The Iraqis could delay with their flanks relatively secure anchored by the two rivers. The terrain was dotted with urban areas, swamps, and rivers. The Iraqis would have an easy time lobbing chemicals along a pretty obvious invasion route. I even speculated that a heavy division and armored cavalry regiment would attack north going west of the Euphrates in order to keep threatening the flank of any defending Iraqis and keep them looking over their shoulder. Even this made me uncomfortable since I didn't know if we could really supply a thrust that way. And the wadis and rivers and swamps along that route are fairly significant too. Yet my discomfort with a simple drive straight up from Kuwait seemed to demand such a move. Sure, we could probably bulldoze our way through with our technical superiority, but it would lack the ability to really dislocate the Iraqis by surprising them. And although we could march that distance in a week against minimal opposition, the terrain would really slow us down if we are opposed.

All that discomfort disappears with an attack originating in Jordan. At least one heavy division invades from Jordan. Another heavy division either goes with it or attacks north out of Saudi Arabia to link up with the first heavy division in western Iraq before driving on Baghdad. The 101st is airlifted into western Iraq (H-3 may not make that much sense since it is so close to Jordan anyway-just don't know where it will be airlifted into at this point) to create a powerful three-division corps that hammers into Baghdad. This corps could also be in a position to seize dams northwest of Baghdad prior to crossing the Euphrates. And the terrain is nice and clear from Jordan to the Euphrates. No Iraqi troops or big cities to get in the way. One week to Baghdad, more or less. And once the corps crosses the Euphrates west of Baghdad, it threatens to cut off the escape route north to Tikrit.

A major question will be whether the Marines and British coming out of Kuwait then advance all the way to Baghdad after securing Basra. I assume they will to open up a supply line, but since the Iraqis will probably douse that route with whatever chemicals they have, this might not be ideal.

And the Marines are placing their headquarters in Kuwait. I had assumed the Marines would keep command and control afloat until the invasion. I wonder if this is a Marine Scud-me box like all those Army bases in Kuwait? Just another way to absorb Iraq's limited missile arsenal. Also, we are negotiating with the Turks for troops. I have assumed all along that the Turks would help us with a corps. If we are putting a corps way up there, a Turkish corps to keep the Iraqis in the north busy becomes rather more important. And our troops nearby would in turn make it easier for the Turks to invade since they will now have relatively nearby American troops to help them.

As for the inspections, I just don't think they matter. I don't think we are counting on them. I may be completely wrong, but I think the decision to invade has been made and we go when we are ready after Christmas. If it is mid-January and we haven't invaded yet, I start getting worried. If we make it to mid-February, I start getting panicky that we've lost our nerve. But in the meantime, I'm confident we go-December 27th. It will be on the evening news that night.

On to Baghdad.