Skip to comments.The Inevitable War Against Iraq
Posted on 03/15/2002 1:47:27 PM PST by maquiladora
A war with Iraq? It's not a question of 'if' but 'when'. Today, during the President's speech at Fort Bragg, he stated clearly that Phase One of the war on terror was almost warped up. The Taliban were gone, and the remains of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan were being mopped by in operations conducted by US and Canadian troops such as 'Anaconda' and 'Harpoon'. So as Phase One draws to a close, we must shift our attention to Phase Two: Iraq.
Saddam Hussein is the only leader to have used chemical weapons against his own people. While he is in power in Iraq, the threat of him using WMD against his own people again, or other nations, is very real indeed. He has had more than three years to covertly further research and enhance the development of chemical and biological weapons since the UN inspectors left in December 1998. The location of the majority of Iraq's WMD facilities is unknown, and their status is unknown too.
President Bush wants to address the problem of Iraq's WMD and the problem of Saddam in power. So the goals of the coming war are clear:
1: Eliminate Saddam Hussein.
2: Locate and destroy all WMD facilities in Iraq.
Vice President Dick Cheney is currently visiting Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Kuwait, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Qatar, and Oman. It's no vacation, he's going to tell Iraq's neighbours that the US plans to deal with the Iraqi problem once and for all. He'll want to know who's on board and who isn't. He'll be looking for covert and overt assistance: overflight, airbase usage and perhaps staging area permission.
All this in exchange for whatever is in Mr Cheney's briefcase: aid, advice, writing off debts, trade deals etc. Don't be fooled by what some Arab leaders say publicly. Most of that is for interal public consumption. Besides what is in the papers or reports on TV, the regional countries that will aid the US in a war on Iraq are: Israel, Turkey, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman. The other states in the region won't be of much use.
However, the US administration does not envision significant allied help when it comes to the crunch. Socailist Gulf War coalition partners Britain and France will be unwilling to engage in another fight against Iraq. The British Labour Party is generally strongly against a war on Iraq. A letter was delivered to No. 10 last week, signed by no less than 70 Members of Parliment informing the Prime Minister of their opposition to any military action against Iraq. France is even more unwilling to get involved, but perhaps that should not be surprising. But as Secretary of State Powell said recently, America is ready to do this alone.
The political impact of an unsuccessful lone-US campaign against Iraq would be unacceptable and unthinkable to the Bush administration. Thus, it is clear that the coming offensive will be an all-out, no-holds-barred war that would use overwhelming force and every conventional asset in the US military has at hand. Failure is not an option.
The war is coming, all the signs are there: Cheney's visit to the Mid-East, the President's remarks about Iraq's WMD and 'Phase Two', the recent deployment of Apache gunships to the Gulf, the insertion of CIA and Spec forces into Kurdish Northern Iraq last month and the reports that over 5,000 mothballed US armoured vehicles are being readied for action in Kuwait.
However, any action is likely to wait until at least the fall of 2002. The carrier battlegroups and associated airwings that will be needed will have to move to the region. Strategic sea-lift assets, pre-positioned ordnance and aviation fuel supplies, and other logistic requirements will all have to be looked at. These things take time. But a lot of the background stuff, the planning and plotting will already be well under way at CENTCOM by now.
The Air Tasking Order template for conducting the air war and initial steps needed to ensure air superiority are being formulated. Required active duty manning levels, which would need to be supplemented by Reserve call-ups, for all services is being evaluated.
How many troops are we taking about? Well, this won't be as big the Allied force there was in Desert Storm. Iraq's military is only a shadow of it's 1990-self. Even though there's still about 300,000 men in the Iraqi Army, it's expected that most of those will surrender en masse in the early days of the war. However, the 10,000-20,000 Republican Guard may prove a more difficult obsticle. Iraq's Air Force is virtually useless now, and though some SAM capabilites have been rebuilt, they should not pose a major threat. So at first glance, this should be easier than The Gulf War, right? Wrong. The objective in the Gulf War was to liberate Kuwait, not occupy the whole country and attempt to overthrow the government too. It will require a broader, more ambitious but perhaps less intense offensive. But we are back to our original question: How many troops are we talking about?
Well, up to 100,000 US troops will be required for any major ground war. You can add to that 25,000 support personnel based in the region. They most likely would stage out of Israel, Turkey, Oman and especially Kuwait.
Overall, the U.S. forces used likely would be lighter and more agile than during the Desert Storm conflict. Lessons learned in Afghanistan with the use of Special Forces guiding the crosshairs for smart bombs from tactical aircraft will be exploited to the fullest.
One of the two primary objectives for the troops would be to seek out and destroy all WMD facilities in the country. But a lot of this will first be done from the air. At least four carrier battlegroups would probably be pre-position for offensive air strikes: one or two in the Red Sea, two or three in the Arabian Gulf. The Air Force, unlike their operations in Afghanistan, would have a substantial number of tactical fighter/bombers involved. They would most likely operate primarily out of bases in Oman, Kuwait, Turkey and Diego Garcia.
The war against Iraq will start straight from the textbook: a massive around-the-clock campaign to neutralize command and control facilities, the surface-to-air threat and minimal aircraft threat.
The general expectation among US military planners is that Iraqi air defenses, command and control facilities, the Iraqi army and Republican Guard would be rapidly overwhelmed and defeated swiftly.
Nonetheless, Saddam has watched the US forces in Afghanistan and their operations very closely. He certainly will expect a massive air campaign with precision-guided munitions as the first onslaught. His contingency plans may include locating the majority of his Republican Guard and WMD devices in the hospitals, schools, mosques, and public institutions surrounding Baghdad. In fact, Iraqi forces are already on the move. Over the past week or so, reports have been coming in that Iraqi troops have been redeployed near the Jordanian border from their positions in the north. These may very well be Republican Guard forces taking up positons around remote WMD facilites.
So Saddam knows he's in trouble. His back is against the wall and he knows full well that President Bush will not end the war against Iraq until he is overthrown. Despite his public retoric and propaganda, he knows deep inside the power, might, reach and resolve of the US military. He knows deep inside that he can never win, that he is doomed. This is dangerous. When a man is doomed, he throws caution to the wind, he's got not nothing to lose.
If Saddam does have active WMD and the ability to deliver them, then he can be expected to use them. There is no doubt about that.
US planners will have to honor reports that over a dozen Scud II are hidden and functional within Iraq, and thus set up a robust theater missile defense network. The threat of biological or chemical weapons targeting Israel, neighboring countries, or US troops will be a major concern. If Saddam can do it, then he will do it. This time he has nothing to lose.
Israel undoubtedly will expect more deployments of improved Patriot missile batteries in country to offer greater protection. In fact, there are reports that this already underway.
This is serious stuff. Look at it this way. Action against Iraq is inevitable, if Saddam has the means, then an Iraqi WMD attack on Israel as a responce is inevitable, if the attack is succesful then a nuclear attack by Israel is inevitable. Now it turns into a whole new ball game. Israel will have launched a nuclear attack against Iraq and the Arab and Muslim world will be in uproar and the knives will be out for Sharon. Syria and Iran could be expected to launch an assualt on Israel and suddenly the US forces in the region could be facing multiple enimies, nuclear fallout, spiraling casualties and a global economic nosedive the likes of which have never been seen before. Where things could go from here is anyones guess...
To engage Iraq in a war will be the hardest decision President Bush will make to date. The danger in action may be very high, but as the President said recently, 'inaction' is not an option.
There was a nation under obsessed cruel dictatorship. While this dictatorship was eleminating over 50 millions of its own citizens, The West was silent and quite well cooperated with Stalin and its successors (forget small clashes here and there).
Once dictatorship is gone - every keyboard warrior is happy to spit on what left of this nation.
The U.S. will proceed to position our forces as if we plan a conventional attack (and to give us the option of engaging in such an attack at any time). But meanwhile we'll infiltrate our special forces into Northern and Southern Iraq under cover of our air power in the "no-fly zones". Our aircraft will intensify their activities, and start hitting some targets without waiting to be "locked onto" by radar. Any suspected missile launch facility will become fair game. Soon missile sites in central Iraq, outside the "no-fly zones", will be targeted.
This is our "slowly boil the frog" strategy. We just keep increasing our military action but hold off the massive air and land attacks. We launch special forces raids on suspected WMD facilities. We assist anti-Hussein Iraqi forces in the north and south. And we allow fear and defeatism to percolate throughout the Iraqi government and military. Saddam has to keep purging and fighting off coup attempts (or suspected attempts), and he becomes more and more isolated, spending most of his time hiding in underground bunkers.
As long as the U.S. holds off on full-scale war, Hussein will be unable to use his WMDs against Israel, since that would immediately trigger massive retaliation and all-out war and make him appear responsible. Meanwhile Hussein can cling to the (vain) hope that the pressure of "world opinion" might yet prevent a U.S. attack.
Eventually Saddam and his government crack apart from the pressure, and our Iraqi allies take over with virtually no loss of U.S. life.
I think this is a good scenario. Instead of them forcing attrition to U.S., U.S. bring attrition to them. The success of this operation depends a lot on political operation to alienate and enlist part of Saddam's regime in exchange for new life after Saddam's death. But I fear that Saddam doesn't want to wait for his slow eventual death. He will come up with some excuse to launch those missiles. He will go down in flames whether we like it or not. It is theoretically possible to outmaneuver him, killing him or capturing him before he launches those missiles. But it is unlikely. On the other hand, I am pretty sure that he will be the one who launches WMD first not U.S.
Saddam had WMD (chemical and or biological weapons in the last Gulf War) but he didn't use them against either Israel or Saudi Arabia for fear of nuclear retaliation. On the other hand, if his back is to the wall, he has nothing to lose and he might very well decide to use everything, in which case the U.S., or more likely Israel, will retaliate with nuclear weapons, possibly seting off the whole region and bringing on WWIII. Given that these are not trivial issues, I wonder why Congess isn't debating the issue around the clock. If it's necessary to risk nuclear war to bring down Saddam, Bush should ask congress to step up to the plate and explicitly declare war on Iraq. At least we'd get to hear the best arguments, pro and con.
Regarding the initial analysis of this article, I think that the Russians here in this thread underestimate the newfound friendhsip between our nations. Should this jihad grow, America and Russia will become natural allies against Islam, forgetting all else. Why not? Russia is a Constitutional Republic, they have their own Islamic troubles, and the economic interdependence between us will only grow in the future. Russia and the US could logically become more than allies - call it a joint venture - or even a merger at some time. (Wouldn't China love that!!!) Already, Russia is our #2 oil supplier - and trying to become #1 ahead of Suadi Arabia. Personally, I think we should tell the Saudis to pack sand, and buy all of our foreign oil from Russia. That alone would break the Arab's financial empire in only months. After all, they have NOTHING else worth owning.
Tige -- while an insurgency of the Kurds would be very good to have, both the Barzani and Talabani factions (which are more or less clan-based and fight each other intermittently) have been burnt by US indecision or withdrawal at least three times before:
I can't imagine any scenario other than a WMD attack on the US or a close ally that would lead to a US use of nuclear weapons. In fact, in many cases of WMD attack the correct responce would not be nuclear. For nukes to be worth shooting off, the provocation must be sufficient, but that's only half of the equation, the political half. The other half is military: the target must also be suitable.
So far we have faced nothing that would justify the use of nuclear arms, from a strictly military viewpoint.
Criminal Number 18F
Heh, infantry. Couple reasons why not. Three even:
The nuclear arty shells and battlefield missiles are gone, also. Simply obsolete. In 1945 you needed to erase an enemy's cities to destroy his war-making capability and defeat him. In 2002 that sort of un-Christian (non-Western, really) frightfulness is no longer required or useful.
Ironically, the one bomb that remains militarily useful in certain circumstances is the one we didn't field: the Enhanced Radiation Weapon ("neutron bomb") which would simplify defeating the North Koreans and save many Allied lives, if that war plan ever has to be implemented...
Criminal Number 18F
Warp factor five, Mr. Scott!
Attack on Israel by Saddam using WMD will create a real problem to us. If Israel attack Iraq with her own nukes, we may have all-out Mid-East war. So it is better for U.S. to use its own WMD(battlefield nukes) for retaliation. The purpose is to keep fights within U.S.(and its local allies) and Iraq. No new combatant, especially Israel, should be brought in. This is for U.S.'s benefit, not just doing Israel a favor.
As for U.S. troops being attacked by WMD, I am still not convinced that 100 FAE or bunker busters will do the job for retaliation.
As for targets for nuke, I heard there are several large underground command bunkers in Iraq. Any of them could be a good target. Or you can drop it at the troops even if they are scattered. Such as a Republican Guard tank division in the desert.
As I said before, good deal depends on spook operation to sow dissention inside Iraqi regime. If we can convince some of them that they have a future in new Iraq, they may come to U.S. side with secret materials and knowledge and even military units. If this operation can neutralize Saddam's scud missiles by disabling command and control of the system, that will be a great coup. The job of military should be made as small as possible. I think that military operation is only 50% of the equation, political/intelligence operation is another 50%.
This is what I've been saying for at least 6 months.
A timely rebump.
I think it's more likely that any offensive action won't happen until 2003 rather than this Fall, however there is still the possibility of a 'shock' attack before the elections.
Back on the 18th of June there was word in the intel community that President Bush wanted to engage in an attack "as early as August".
My guess is that we are ready today. The only hold up is Saddam's Scud missiles. Once we believe we have them neutralized, the attack will begin.
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