Monday, December 23, 2002

Allies Onboard

Countdown to Invasion: 4 days.

Allies are signing up for war against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein. This isn’t too shocking. I’m glad, however, that we went the UN route in retrospect. I never thought we needed additional UN authorization to fight Saddam but always felt we should do what we can to get allies. Going the UN route helped. I never believed that this route would ensnare us and that at worst, allies would come on board after seeing us go the last mile to get international support.

The interesting thing to see will be how many people who argued that no international support meant we lacked moral standing to invade will now conclude that having allies means we have moral standing to invade. Our motives didn’t change, just those who agreed with us, yet somehow this game of “might makes right” gave us the authority to invade. The likes of the UN Security Council gallery of rogues and feckless allies joined America and Britain in voting to give Iraq one last chance and that makes it all ok. It is frustrating to play this game but it has done us no harm, I think. We always reserved the right to act and having support doesn’t negate our defense of our right to exercise self defense.

So now, the invasion is coming. I’ve read that we’ll be in the suburbs of Baghdad in 48 hours. I hope we don’t send our heavy armor or light infantry racing ahead of their supporting arms to do this. Combined arms is always the key to success. Relying on GPS to pave the way for a cakewalk is not the way to go. I just doubt that this is what we will do. Better to have the Iraqis fear this, however, to freeze them in place once we attack rather than react and redeploy. We’ll be outside Baghdad in under a week, but two days? That’s a pace for an unopposed road march, not an offensive.

The big question is how quickly do the ground troops enter Iraq once the air campaign begins? A day? A week? An hour? Do special forces have the highway to Baghdad staked out to allow a virtual road march all the way to the suburbs? Will heavy ground troops be free to enter Iraq before the “official” start of the attack? How many personnel do we still need to fly in for the Army and Marine Corps? I guess ground troops go in within a day at this point, but that assumes we have basically gotten the first ground echelon in place by the 27th. If we haven’t (and if we aren’t planning on dribbling the troops in), we’ll surge ground forces in prior to invasion while the air campaign goes on.

And it must be soon. Loading ships with heavy armor here in the States must mean war is imminent; and ships from embarkation ports for three of our heavy divisions are packing up. If we wait until after those ships get to the Gulf, we will lose surprise. And we don’t need that equipment. We have more than a couple divisions worth of heavy stuff in the Gulf region already (fourteen armor battalions and ten mechanized infantry battalions or their equipment in Kuwait, Qatar, and Diego Garcia: At 9 or 10 per division, we’ve got almost three divisions of heavy stuff there already—see

Actually, loading that armor makes more sense if we are worried North Korea will take advantage of our war against Iraq. It would be nice to have a couple heavy divisions ready to sail to Korea just in case. And attacking soon will give us a chance to win in Iraq not only before Iraq is ready to resist but before North Korea is ready to exploit our war in the Gulf.

I do hope that we don’t get a ringside seat that proves how wrong critics of the two-major theater war standard were (and are).

On to Baghdad. Soon.