Sunday, February 02, 2003

Latest Invasion Story

This story indicates that we are assuming victory and planning for the post-war planning before the victory is cemented on the battlefield. One Army heavy division, 3rd Infantry Division, British forces, and a larger Marine Expeditionary Force will attack from Kuwait; while 4th ID leads a force from Turkey to invade from the north. Special forces, Rangers, the 82nd and 101st will have special missions scattering units all around Iraq, seizing strategic targets and capturing airfields. The ground forces will be preceded by perhaps a week of air attacks, the article says.

This doesn't make sense to me.

Why do we have six brigades of heavy equipment in Kuwait? Why would the 82nd Airborne be diverted from covering Afghanistan? What about the Army and Marine equipment stored in Jordan? What about our obvious preparations in Kurdish areas? Why would headquarters elements of 1st ID go to Turkey if 4th ID is going there? Why isn't 10th Mountain mentioned?

The good news is that the Iraqis aren't redeploying their ground troops. I never thought it wise for them to put their regulars in the cities where they would be more likely to defect when in good defensive positions to resist the Republican Guard enforcers and where they would be more vulnerable to pleas from civilians to change sides. More surprising is that even Republican Guards apparently aren't being put in cities. Even these units must not be trusted enough to take a chance. Of course, if Saddam believes invasion is far off, he wouldn't want to put units in the cities until the eve of the offensive to guard against the possibility of revolts and the declaration of 'free zones."

To me, an armored thrust into the north where all the Iraqi army is located does not make sense. Why wade into the middle of the largest grouping of regulars when we want to preserve the army for post-war constabulary duties (after proper vetting and supervision, of course)? A northern front makes sense if we send 10th Mountain into the Kurdish areas to take on the al Qaeda thugs who have taken up residence and to bolster Kurds with special forces and air power for a drive south.

Where I God, 3rd ID would secretly redeploy to the west to strike into western Iraq and spearhead the drive on Baghdad from the west. They'd link up with Marines and Army troops coming out of Jordan and linking up with 101st AB flying directly into Iraqi airfields captured by special forces and Rangers and conventional forces. Perhaps a heavy Army division, a Marine Expeditionary Force, and the British will grab Basra and then drive north. This would seem to place them in harm's way if the Iraqis douse the road north with gas but maybe they can move fast enough. Or maybe the Army will go west of the Euphrates, leaving the Marines and British to feint north and exploit any collapse of the Iraqis.

And I'd prefer to send 4th ID to the Pacific just in case Pyongyang gets weird.

As for the week-long air offensive, I think ground and air will go all at once. Defectors want to see American uniforms before they switch and we need to get the forces moving to avoid chemical strikes. Just sitting in their bases where the Iraqis can easily target them makes no sense. Nor does it make sense if the invasion concept is regime takedown. We need speed to overwhelm them and keep them from enacting a scorched earth policy.

I guess I'm starting to really feel the invasion is quite near as opposed to guessing/projecting when I'd go. No more than a couple weeks at this point.

On to Baghdad.