January 29, 2004
Rationale, Pt 2

While I have already stated my overall reasons for supporting the war in Iraq, the questions "why now? Why the rush? Why not more time for inspections? Why not more time for negotiation?" are legitimate ones. A few more months, even a year, would have made little difference. Why not wait?

In all this debate, not once have I seen simple logistics mentioned. As the aphorism goes, "amateurs study strategy, professionals study logistics." In my opinion, looking at the logistics and circumstances of the lead-up to this conflict provides the ultimate answer not to "why?" (which we addressed in part 1), but rather, "why now?"

It was widely speculated in the media that one of the strategic purposes of the governments who apposed the war was to delay action long enough for summer to start. This is a very valid point. If the jump-off point was pushed from March to, perhaps, July, the average high temperature would've spiked from 66F to 108F (citation), making the weather at least as dangerous as the Iraqis themselves. Had the international community gotten its wish and been given an extra three months, they would have effectively been given an additional four months as the brain-frying summer heat passed by.

This additional four months would have, of course, been spent with troops gathered inside countries who held no particular love for them. The opportunities for terrorism would have been many. Armies are similar in some respects to athletic teams... motivation over long periods of inactivity is challenging to say the least. The sword that was sharp in March might have been far duller in November. The political cost of having reserves and national guard units sitting thousands of miles from families and jobs while doing literally nothing goes without saying. The fiscal and logistical price of moving them home then moving them back would have been prohibitive.

Well, if a few months were impractical, why not a whole year? The problem then is not logistical, but political. Waiting until March 2004 would have put the operation in the heart of the election season, providing the opposition a titanic stick with which to beat the current administration. Most everyone should remember the "wag the dog" debacle Clinton went through when he attacked Baghdad in '98 (on the eve of his impeachment vote), and those were just cruise missiles (citation). Our government moves slowly in the best of times. In an election year it moves not at all.

So delaying the war even three months would have effectively delayed it at least two full years while the national elections passed and the dust settled. Two years of international pressure to not only delay a war, but remove sanctions completely. Two years of costly, dangerous enforcement of no-fly zones at the full expense of US taxpayers. Two years with an election in the middle that may have installed a different administration, one that would perhaps have allowed the sanctions to lapse or be removed. Two years of potential gestation before the real nightmare began.

Had Osama's operation gone off a year earlier, I do not doubt we would have given the international community their year. Whichever president ended up in the White House would've been able to do that. Unfortunately it didnít. In my opinion once Afghanistan was targeted first and Iraq second, the only way the timetable could work was for an invasion to be started in March of 2003 at the latest. It wasn't a comfortable clock, and its gears may have been made of knives, but our discomfort with it did not stop its ticking.

In my opinion, this is the reason the governments of France, Germany, and Russia decided to risk outright rupture with the United States and pushed so hard to delay the campaign. A delay of only three months, a reasonable request among gentlemen concerning such a barbaric but effectively de-fanged little brown man, had the very real potential of scuttling the entire project, perhaps forever. The oil money promised to them in construction contracts, defense purchases, and outright graft would've flowed freely, and it would've been a fine party indeed. Right up to the point of apocalypse.

It's quite true that our forces probably could've gone in the height of summer and won anyway. An inverted Odessa campaign wouldn't have resulted in a blast-furnace Stalingrad. Certainly the Iraqis would have been fighting under the same, if not worse, conditions. But I wonder how the fierce detractors of the conflict would have reacted had even a single US or UK soldier died of heat stroke simply because they wanted the international community to like us.

The sad thing is, I doubt they would have reacted at all.

Posted by scott at January 29, 2004 03:30 PM

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They are getting sick/dieing of Heat Stroke now. Give us Three Months and we would have had the entire 4th ID ready at the get go. Maybe bring in the 1st Armor and actually have enough troops on the ground??

Give us three months and we might be able to work a deal with Turkey to stage from there.

Give us three months to train and aclimitize the troops to the heat.

So it's your opinon that we didn't wait a year because it would have been hard for Bush to get re-elected??

Give us a year and the 3 ID would be as capable as the 4th.


Usually I agree with a least part of your posts but this Dog just doesn't Hunt

Posted by: Jeff on January 29, 2004 04:48 PM

Nice try straw man. It's winter, in case you missed the snow on your lawn. I'd like to see some statistics about deaths (let alone injuries) due to heat stroke from June-August, otherwise your dog don't hunt.

Launching from Turkey is not the problem. It's the heat that forced the jump. Still don't hear any dogs.

Can you even provide proof it's possible to acclimate dozens (hundreds?) of M-1A1s, artillery, helicopters, Bradleys, and troops to 120 degree heat in 3 months? Our complex weapons had a hard time with dust, and we've had ten years to acclimate them to that. How about the logistics of hauling as much water as we did gas? The difference of course is if a column runs out of gas it just sits there. If it runs out of water it dies. Could they do it? Probably. Did they have to? Read a newspaper, you tell me. Again, no dogs hunting here.

We couldn't wait a year because there hasn't been a president in history willing or able to begin prosecuting a war in an election year. It wouldn't have matttered how capable anyone was, political exigences would have forced another delay. To not acknowledge this, or to think that some other "better" man would've ignored it, is staggeringly naive.

So, would you rather risk soldiers dying from heat stroke to keep the good will of the French?

Posted by: Scott on January 29, 2004 06:03 PM

Hmmm possible to fight in the Desert, Supply men with Water, food, Ammo etc during the heat of summer during battle?? Nahh canít do it..... Wait a Minute didn't Rommel do it in North Africa/Egypt (Or Montgomery for that matter??) Over 60 years ago and with lots larger forces than were arrayed in Iraq??

Yup and we have gotten A LOT better at it since then. What do you think is going on right now?? The troops aren't just sitting on their @#@#@ doing nothing they are in the field (And have been since the thing started) fighting the enemy the logistics train that is supporting them now was supporting them then (And itís supporting the Iraqi People as well)

Get the equipment ready?? What do you think all of the exercises are for in Kuwait or out in the Desert southwest in the US?? Your Right they only deploy during GOOD weather.

Turkey not important?? No it was just half our battle plan (Not that we needed the additional forces) How long do you think it would have lasted had the 4ID swept down from the North??

Now ask yourself how many soldiers died who didn't have to because we didn't take the time to position all of our forces?? How many died because we didnít take a month or so to bombard the @#@# out of the various Iraqi Army units etc but instead had our Tac Air devoted to the Strategic air campaign for the first few weeks of the war .

Now ask yourself would having more men on the ground at the beginning of the war have helped with the peace effort.

Hold on I think I hear the Beagle Howling.

Posted by: Jeff on January 29, 2004 08:58 PM

Right...we couldn't outwait a 66 year old man who hadn't attacked anyone for 12 years.

"Two years of costly, dangerous enforcement..."

More costly than the war?

Posted by: Whahhh? on January 30, 2004 12:06 AM

W:

Hadn't attacked anyone in 12 years? I'm sure there are Shia, Kurds, and several dozen US and UK airforce pilots who would disagree with that.

My long-term reasoning is discussed in Part 1.

J:

North Africa parallels: A sherman tank (or Panzer) is quite different from an M1A1. A Tornado is considerably more complex than a Spitfire or Messerschmidt. What, exactly, is the mean time between failures for an Abrams in ideal conditions?

Logistics train: Incorrect. The attack was made without the support of a secure harbor or functioning airports, using only mobile assets prepared in the run-up to the war. The logistical situation used during the conflict is not just different, but radically so from what is in place now.

Deploy in weather: How many times in your own training was red flag held in high summer? Remember that was before the Clinton-era cuts had taken hold, when red flag was still being held at all.

How many soliders: The planning of the war was heavily influenced by OODA-loop ideas. By getting and staying inside the enemy's decision cycle a heavy bombardment simply wasn't needed. Lives were actually saved by fighting the war this way. Have you forgotten Boyd already?

Waiting for more men wouldn't have helped with the peace effort, because in my opinion waiting would have meant the operation would never have happened at all. You may think this would have been a good thing. I do not.

Posted by: Scott on January 30, 2004 08:32 AM

Your kidding right?? You talk about the Sherman and Tiger tanks, ME 109's and Spitfires etc.

Gee we have only been operating the M1's and Bradleys in Desert conditions for ohhh at least the past 15 years so of course we have no clue on how to keep them running in the Desert.

Had we waited 3-4 months we would have had time to build up supply dumps (Going through the Port in Kuwait) just like we did in Saudi during Desert Storm. We would have had time for the Tac Air/Stratigic air to do their jobs and be available for support missions/have good weather for CAS. As for the up time for the planes?? We were able to overcome those problems in Desert storm.

You no not what you are talking about here. We wanted the additional forces of the 4Id and had planned on them (Going thru Turkey and then moved around to Kuwait) This was a poorley planned shoe string op and the only reason we pulled it off was the US Soldier and his equipment. Once again I would much rather have our troops only fighting the enemy. Not the enemy and poor/stupid planning.

IMHO

Posted by: Jeff on January 30, 2004 09:47 AM

Again, as far as I'm concerned, had we waited even 3 more months we would have been forced to wait 2 more years, and probably would never have done it at all. This may be a good thing to you. My opinion is it would have lead inexorably to a terrorist attack far worse than 9-11, for reasons I have articulated in these two essays.

You can disagree with that if you like, that's the whole point of opinions. But to imply you have any sort of special insight that I do not is just rhetorical bombast.

And please tell me when American soldiers have ever not been inflicted with poor and/or stupid planning?

Posted by: Scott on January 30, 2004 10:20 AM
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