by Jeff Johnson
This is not a criticism of our military forces on the ground doing the actual fighting. It is instead a critical look at the administration's decisions regarding how the war is being fought.
I think there has been too much political involvement with actually fighting the war (a-la Vietnam) and I think that it's hurting our ability to prosecute the war and is dangerous to the troops who are there.
Examples: We started the war off before the military was ready by trying to get Saddam. Admittedly this was a chance to end the war before it really began, but we when it became apparent that it hadn't worked the way we wanted it to we should have waited to send in the troops until all the forces were ready.
We send in the ground troops BEFORE we soften up the Iraqi army, compare what we did this time to what we did in the Gulf War. Back in 91 we bombed the living #$#% out of their ground forces for weeks before the ground troops went in. We isolated their troops, pounded on them for weeks until they just couldn't wait to give up. (Surrendering En Mass to Helicopters, reporters, just whomever they could find)
For the first few days of this war where was the Tac Air Support for the ground forces? Where were the A-10s and F-16s etc that were supposed to be pounding on the Iraqi forces before our troops reached them? They were tied up in the so-called "Shock and Awe" campaign to bomb the various strategic targets. If you watched over the weekend it took almost 4 hours for the Marines to call in an air strike on the building in Umm Qasr where they were taking fire. This isn't the way its supposed to work in a well-run combined arms campaign.
It wasn't until we started running into stiff resistance that Close Support strikes started really taking place. This didn't happen in 91 because we allowed time for the strategic targets to be taken out and then went after the Tactical targets. Only after we had decided that the Iraqi army had been massively degraded did we send in our ground troops.
The forces we have on the ground, while enough to ensure victory, arent exactly overwhelming. Where's the 1st Armored? (It's in Europe) Where's the 1st Cav? (It's at Ft Hood TX right now but it's under deployment alert to the Gulf) How about a light infantry division for fighting in the cities? Where are the forces that would greatly ensure our victory with the least possible casualties, and just maybe overwhelm the Iraqi army enough so that they do surrender? We have an entire infantry division (The 4th) that was tasked for this operation sitting on their butts because their equipment hasnt arrived yet (I don't think their equipment is supposed to make it around to Kuwait until next week.) This is the division that was supposed to go in through Turkey.
From the Pentagon's own "Modern Urban Battle Analysis and Observations (Part II)":
Force Ratio: Successful attackers most often had superior manpower and firepower. In cases where the attacker won, but was inferior in manpower and firepower, the defender violated one or more principles of war. Nevertheless, the average attacker-to-defender ratio in the 22 battles reviewed was 4:1. Another consideration for both attacker and defender is the relationship between force ratio and combat duration. Historically, the stronger the attacker, the shorter the duration of the fight.
Sources say the Republican Guards defending Baghdad have around 60,000 men. The reports today indicate that the so-called Fedayeen troops may number as many as 30,000. I don't think the 3rd Mech Division, and 101st air assault and the 1st Mef have 370,000 men in them. It is believed that the total Army presence in the region is nearly 68,000 soldiers and 16,000 Marines for a total of 84,000 fighters. This means that if you combine the count of just the Republican Guard and Fedayeen troops we are actually outnumbered.
The numbers you hear the Pentagon say about deployments in the 200,000-300,000 range include all of the support troops, sailors on the various ships in the Gulf etc. These folks, while valuable, arent at the sharp point of the stick. Our superiority in weapons, training, air power etc.(called force multipliers) offsets this a great deal and we are in no danger of losing the war, but why go in with numbers that are closer to even if you don't have to?
It's worth noting that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, a politician, has repeatedly stated that our airpower offsets any lack of ground troops in Iraq. With the sand storms and weather currently being experienced in Iraq much of our ability to provide close air support on demand to the troops have been severely degraded. I mean to @#@# with fighting fair and giving the other guy a chance let's put enough forces on the ground to not just win but pulverize the enemy.
These are several examples where political decisions are driving the military ones a-la Vietnam (at least I hope this is the case. If it's not then we really need to look at our command structure in the Gulf because they arent fighting smart.) I'm not bashing the Administration (I agree with what Sam Donaldson said, No matter if you were part of the people wanting to jump off the cliff, or part of the people trying to hold them back, the point is moot, we are off the cliff and falling, it's now time to work together as a group to ensure the best possible landing. ) Once the decision to go to war had been made I think the administration should have told the military, "This is what we want to happen, now go and make it happen" and then butted out. IMHO this isn't what's going on.
About the Author:
Jeff Johnson is a student of US Military History Specializing in the conflicts from WWII thru Vietnam. He served 4 years in the Army on active duty (With a tour in Korea) and 2 years in the reserves. He currently is a contractor for the US Goverment.
[He's also my brother -Scott]