I think they’re stuck. The reason there seem to be so many holes in the plan is because Bush is deceiving us about his objectives.
By surrounding his military with a human shield, Saddam has effectively neutralized the ability for the US to use their Airpower to soften Baghdad. Killing civilians is bad — it has two effects; making Iraq harder to occupy and contain, and increasing the likelihood of a confrontation with Muslims worldwide. Coalition aircraft cannot effectively attack any targets in Baghdad without collateral damage. Even precision bombs cannot effectively soften the forces within and around Baghdad; not without civilian casualties anyway.
And the anti-aircraft guns have stopped firing in the city; presumably for two reasons — to conceal their positions, and to save ammunition for incoming Blackhawks and Apaches. They did fire three days ago at a flight of 30 Apaches, damaging all of them and downing one, however.
The US Army and Marines are faced with the prospect of entering into an Urban Guerilla War with no ability to use strategic bombing or artillery , and very risky close air support. They will have to walk and drive their way into an uncertain battleground in Baghdad, and even then there will be collateral damage, which will propagate to Al Jazeera, which will further incense the Arab world.
Iraqis are firing at citizens leaving their cities because they are the key to the defensive strategy. If the civilians abandon the cities of Iraq, then one can presume that all of those left will be combatants. This makes the US task vastly simpler.
All of which makes this situation eerily similar to a small country called Vietnam. The difference is Vietnam was a jungle, not a dense city; and the Viet Cong didn’t have Al Jazeera on their side.
But as the article I forwarded earlier today says, the Bush team’s strategy is self-perpetuating. There is no going back.
The only practicable option from my standpoint is to strip Saddam of his human shield. This tactic would involve laying siege to Baghdad and Basra, effectively starving out the citizenry. It will be up to the Iraqi citizenry to choose whether to die from lack of water, food, electricity, and medical supplies; or to risk death by their own soldiers as they flee the cities. If you can get the populace to leave the cities, then perhaps you can lay waste to anything that remains…. though that leaves a lot of rebuilding to do, may take months, and may result in Arab revolt anyway. I also doubt the UN and Red Cross would tolerate this.
I suspect that Arab Revolt is what the coalition really wants.
On Friday, March 28, 2003, at 04:33 PM, Daniel Berninger wrote:
> It seems this list has some strategic thinkers. Does anyone have
> suggestions for Mr. Rumsfeld?
> The article below (and others) note the current dilemma. Vulnerable
> line and insufficient troops in Iraq to get the job done regarding
> (and no northern front) while reinforcements one month away.
> Option A. Press ahead and see what happens.
> Problem – troops exhausted, outnumbered, technology vulnerable,
> line unreliable
> Option B. Wait for reinforcements.
> Problem – troops vulnerable to continued Iraqi attacks. Likely
> down by the time reinforcements arrive.
> I don’t see anything that works except a retreat back into Kuwait to
> regroup. Anyone else?
> Months to victory, US warns
> By Marian Wilkinson in Washington, Christopher Kremmer and agencies
> March 28 2003
> A radio transmission operator from Weapons company-2nd Battalion/8th
> Regiment receives information on the radio about Iraqi movements at
> the east
> and west of their camp in the southern Iraqi town of Nasiriyah. Photo:
> Senior Pentagon officials believe the Iraq war could take months, not
> to win amid indications that the assault on Baghdad may have to be
> The United States Secretary of State, Colin Powell, said in a radio
> interview yesterday the war “may take a little bit longer, [we] don’t
> how long”.
> His comments came as the Pentagon ordered another 30,000 troops to
> for eventual deployment in Iraq.
> As the US President, George Bush, met Britain’s Prime Minister, Tony
> at Camp David, the Washington Post reported that a debate was raging
> in the
> Pentagon over the future course of the campaign.
> Vital to their deliberations was whether to delay the final assault on
> Baghdad until reinforcements arrive to bolster units within 60
> kilometres of
> the capital.
> Some elements already in Kuwait, such as the 82nd Airborne Division,
> be deployed within days, but others – including the 4th infantry –
> take a month or more to arrive.
> Unexpectedly strong resistance and appalling weather have stalled the
> advance that marked the early days of the campaign.
> US officials say Iraq has adopted a defence strategy that combines
> strikes, regular military assaults and suicide attacks using fuel
> and buses carrying civilians.
> Nervous Baghdad residents were kept awake by more than 30 big
> explosions on
> Wednesday night, with the bombardment continuing after daybreak.
> US Army officers have been reported as saying that Iraqi forces
> continue to
> stream south from Baghdad to confront the coalition, apparently trying
> exploit the vulnerability of advance units because of their insecure,
> 400-kilometre supply lines.
> US forces near Najaf and Karbala have run low on water and food, army
> sources said.
> In one move, several hundred vehicles believed to be carrying
> Guards approached the US Army’s 3rd Infantry Division near Karbala,
> about 90
> kilometres south of Baghdad, prompting US commanders to call in air
> which they said wiped out much of the convoy.
> Another contingent of 2000 guards moved south-east from Baghdad towards
> elements of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force advancing toward Kut.
> Fearing a suicide attack, marines fired on a bus that sped towards
> them on
> Highway Seven, killing 20 Iraqis. They were wearing what were
> described as
> makeshift uniforms and had two pistols between them.
> Washington and Baghdad have accused each other over the deaths of up
> to 15
> Iraqi civilians when a bomb or missile hit the city’s Al Sha’ab market
> district, the worst civilian casualties in the capital since the war
> Rejecting responsibility for the mounting civilian toll, the Pentagon
> blaming all civilians casualties on Saddam Hussein.
> But the United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, rejected this and
> voiced increasing concern about the casualties.
> President Bush, during a visit to Central Command headquarters in
> pointedly praised the commander of the coalition forces, General Tommy
> Franks, and the military strategy.
> He also praised the role of allies, including Australia, which he said
> providing “naval gunfire support and special forces and fighter
> aircraft on
> missions deep in Iraq”.
> But Mr Bush dropped a line that said the military plan “is ahead of
> schedule”, saying instead that he could not forecast the final day of
> Iraqi regime, but “that day is drawing near”.
> Despite the obstacles elsewhere, about 1000 US paratroopers were
> into Kurdish-dominated northern Iraq, opening a new front the coalition
> hopes will force the regime to redeploy some forces now defending
> to Baghdad. They may also deter Turkey from carrying out its threat to
> occupy parts of the area.
> In the south, US and British commanders said they had destroyed much
> of a
> column of up to 120 Iraqi vehicles moving south from Basra.
> Iraq fired a missile at Kuwait, but it was intercepted by a Patriot
> a Kuwaiti Defence Ministry spokesman said.