Iraq: March 7, 2003

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With some 250,000 troops massed in the Persian Gulf, the invasion of Iraq is imminent. U.S. Army Special Forces and commandos from allied nations have already gone into Iraq to spot targets and work with Iraqi allies. Satellite and aircraft reconnaissance have spotted more targets and the war will open with thousands of smart bombs hitting targets within 24 hours. Ground forces will probably start advancing immediately. Most of the Iraqi army is expected to surrender quickly. Special Forces and psychological warfare troops will contact Iraqi army units to arrange surrenders, providing smart bomb attacks on reluctant units as needed. 

Without mechanized units in Turkey, most land operations will have to come from Kuwait. This means that the British, who have the weakest logistics support, will be assigned to take Basra. This will happen within days (possibly one day) of the start of the war. The capture of this city, which is the "capital" of Shia Iraq (the Arab Shia Moslems comprise 60 percent of the country's population and really, really hate Saddam and his gang) will be instantly broadcast to the rest of Iraq (using Commando Solo flying radio transmitters, and other transmitters on the ground). The site of cheering Iraqis greeting their liberators will have a noticeable psychological impact in and out of Iraq. 

The U.S. Marines, with over a division of troops in Kuwait, and a lot of amphibious equipment, will use that stuff to go up the Tigris and Euphrates rivers towards Baghdad. This area is where most Iraqis live. Marine patrols have already been seen crossing the Kuwaiti border into Iraq.

U.S. Army mechanized and air mobile units can move to the left, through the desert. The tanks can move up to 200 kilometers a day. That means Baghdad is at least three days from Kuwait if there is no opposition. Moving to the west, through the desert, and the ground movement takes over a week. Moving light forces by helicopter and heavier transports (especially C-130s) and you can be on the ground anywhere in Iraq within hours. This is likely to happen, especially with Special Forces backed by warplanes equipped with smart bombs overhead. 

The Department of Defense is calling all this "Shock and Awe," but it's the same "lightning war" (Blitzkrieg) used by the Germans sixty years ago. Actually, this concept of rapid, hard hitting operations is ancient. The battle will be fought over an area where the ancient Assyrians practiced "lightning war" 3400 years ago, using fast moving chariots and high tech iron weapons to "shock and awe" their opponents into quickly surrendering (or getting chopped up in particularly gruesome ways, which can still be seen on stone carvings in the area.).

The Sunni Arabs, about 20 percent of the population, know that the majority Shia and Kurds hate them for centuries of oppression. So many of these Sunnis may resist. Not a lot, but enough to make for some real battles. But the Republican Guard and secret police units can only muster perhaps 300,000 troops and not all of those are eager to die for Saddam. This fight will be more a matter of psychological warfare. Demonstrate to the Sunni diehards that they will be protected if they surrender, but will surely die if they resist, and there won't be many battles. 

It could be over in a week, at least the heavy fighting. Iraq is full of cranky and well armed people, so there will be some unrest for weeks.

 

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