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2006-03-13 Iraq
Push to Baghdad left some US generals divided
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Posted by Dan Darling 2006-03-13 02:33|| E-Mail|| Front Page|| [305 views since 2007-05-07]  Top

#1 This reinforces the basic principle that war isn't a chess game - it isn't just about getting the other guy's king. It's about wiping out the other side's army, or at least killing enough of it that the remainder will submit. Rumsfeld (and his senior military commanders) may have gotten too carried away with the concept of effects-based operations. The most important effect - of the war-weariness and abject fear needed to cause submission - can only be imposed by killing large numbers of the enemy. And that was what the rush to Baghdad failed to do. We declared victory after bypassing the bitter-enders who are now hammering our forces. Bitter-enders should not be bypassed - they should be annihilated.
Posted by Zhang Fei 2006-03-13 03:21|| http://timurileng.blogspot.com]">[http://timurileng.blogspot.com]  2006-03-13 03:21|| Front Page Top

#2  I think that the success in Afghanistan and the ease with which the Taliban's allies among the Pashtuns deserted them as soon as it became clear that the US wasn't going to massacre them also made some believe that the same model could be imported into Iraq.
Posted by Dan Darling">Dan Darling  2006-03-13 03:33|| http://www.regnumcrucis.blogspot.com]">[http://www.regnumcrucis.blogspot.com]  2006-03-13 03:33|| Front Page Top

#3 DD: I think that the success in Afghanistan and the ease with which the Taliban's allies among the Pashtuns deserted them as soon as it became clear that the US wasn't going to massacre them also made some believe that the same model could be imported into Iraq.

We bombed the Taliban with B-52's and MOAB's for months. We went into Iraq after just days of bombing. My impression is that far fewer Iraqi forces were killed by bombing than Afghan forces. We bypassed large numbers of Iraqi units. We massacred Taliban units with Vietnam-style saturation raids on their positions. The Iraq campaign was a kinder, gentler version of Afghanistan, even though we had no troops on the ground - Afghan forces fixed the enemy, while our bombers made meat pies - for months.
Posted by Zhang Fei 2006-03-13 03:54|| http://timurileng.blogspot.com]">[http://timurileng.blogspot.com]  2006-03-13 03:54|| Front Page Top

#4 fred,
now do you understand the reason for my lengthy post on the questionable viability of using 600,000 troops.This article is just a variation of the left's usual rant "that if the Bush Administration had done x,y, and z it would all have come out all so much better". This article is so trollish it hardly deserves a reply but what the heck lets just point out a few holes.
." Asked whether the fighting increased the chances of a longer war than forecast by some military planners, he responded, "It's beginning to look that way."
1)GEN.Wallace was WRONG-less than 3 weeks the government of Saddam was defeated.(History book stuff).
"had told two reporters that his soldiers needed to delay their advance on the Iraqi capital to suppress the Fedayeen threat in the rear."
In making such statements to the press Wallace entered the political arena(calls of quagmire soon followed and IMHO Wallace should of been relieved of his duties for over stepping his bounds).
"More than a year earlier, he had ridiculed the initial war plan that called for at least 380,000 troops"
1)Rumsfield/Franks were right.
A)Saddam/decission makers did not consider the the actual invasion force a credible threat figuring that they would either await further reinforcement or maybe at most seize parts of southern Iraq from which the shiites would join the coalition(big part of why tht fedayeen were there)-(posted rantburg from records of Saddam meetings
B)Manuvuer warfare(more with less),surprise left iraqis bridges unblown,iraqi forces in ineffective position and etc.
And the biggest piece of BS from the article:
"If we had planned for an insurgency, we probably would have deployed the First Cavalry Division and it would have assisted greatly with the initial occupation. "This was not just an intelligence community failure, but also our failure as senior military leaders."
1) While the perfesser's reasonable musings on the effectiveness of 600,000 troops is very questionable, we are led to believe that 16,000 more would of totally made the difference.There's alot more but by why bother.
I'd liked to get the author and three of his closest friends in a locked room to deliver a lesson in firepower and mobility but alas AlterEgo is now a man of peace(sigh ,grumble,grumble).

Posted by Chatch Snaiper4693 2006-03-13 04:39||   2006-03-13 04:39|| Front Page Top

#5 ZF,I tend to be very slow while composing my post(one big reason behind infrequent posting) or I would've replied to yours in my first posting(no posting when I started).
"Bitter-enders should not be bypassed - they should be annihilated"
1)The vast majority of fedayeen were Sunnis in "injun territory"(AE humor) so there exist a question on how many made it out alive.
2)The Very Big Point-You do not change stragetic objections without very compelling reasons.The fedayeen failed to meet this critereon.Why?
A)Their activities failed to result in a significant tactical effect( this is not to make lite of those they did kill).
B) If the heat had become to much they could've of just faded back into woodwork(which they did).
Posted by Chatch Snaiper4693 2006-03-13 05:05||   2006-03-13 05:05|| Front Page Top

#6 Whoops,reply to ZF was me and 'objections' should of read 'goals';"You do not change stragetic goals without very compelling reasons"
Time to put me to bed.
Posted by AlterEgo 2006-03-13 05:10||   2006-03-13 05:10|| Front Page Top

#7 "Why, it appears that we appointed all of our worst generals to command the armies and we appointed all of our best generals to edit the newspapers. I mean, I found by reading a newspaper that these editor generals saw all of the defects plainly from the start but didn't tell me until it was too late. I'm willing to yield my place to these best generals and I'll do my best for the cause by editing a newspaper."
-- Robert E. Lee
Posted by gromky">gromky  2006-03-13 05:11|| http://communistposters.com/]">[http://communistposters.com/]  2006-03-13 05:11|| Front Page Top

#8 He approached Mr. Tenet, the director of central intelligence. Who are these freedom fighters? he asked, according to an official who was present. Mr. Tenet said he had no idea.

Tenet was left in his position for what reason, exactly?
Posted by Robert Crawford">Robert Crawford  2006-03-13 05:25|| http://www.kloognome.com/]">[http://www.kloognome.com/]  2006-03-13 05:25|| Front Page Top

#9 Final whoops #4 was also me if the length did not give you a clue.I think I saw this routine on Monty Phython,my apologies to fellow posters especially Chatch Snaiper4693.
Now for something different completely different,two donkeys mating -Cut to image of a red-faced Sadr.
Posted by AlterEgo 2006-03-13 05:33||   2006-03-13 05:33|| Front Page Top

#10 Is Tommy Franks running for the Senate from Florida?
Posted by Nimble Spemble 2006-03-13 08:28||   2006-03-13 08:28|| Front Page Top

#11 We bombed the Taliban with B-52's and MOAB's for months

For months? The Taliban regilme fell after less than a month after the first bomb fell.
Posted by JFM">JFM  2006-03-13 08:41||   2006-03-13 08:41|| Front Page Top

#12 The fact that there were disagreements within the coalition command is hardly news as the NYT implies. Read The March Up by West and Smith, published in 2003. We did not have an agreed-on strategy for taking Baghdad; but we took it through guts and improvisation (see Thunder Run by Anthony Zucchini.)

Should we have dashed to Baghdad? One of the premises of the Franks strategy was that Saddam had control of WMD's and was willing to use them. The longer we stayed in the south the longer we were exposed to the threat of WMD attack. The dash to Baghdad was in a way a variation on the North Vietnamese grab-them-by-the-beltbuckle tactic: the assumption was that the closer we got to Baghdad the less likely it was that Saddam would use WMD's. And as it turned out, we also decapitated the Iraqi command and control structure. The fedayeen were a dangerous nuisance in comparison to the WMD threat.
Posted by Matt 2006-03-13 08:59||   2006-03-13 08:59|| Front Page Top

#13 "If we had planned for an insurgency, we probably would have deployed the First Cavalry Division and it would have assisted greatly with the initial occupation. "

So now a heavy armored division is an instrument for fighting an insurgency? News to me. One of the dirty secrets of guerilla war is that the guerillas aim for the army's firepower causing collateral damages so they get the support of the population. Even if your precision guide MOAB does not kill any civilian the owner of the flattened house will not be happy about it.
That is why fighting a guerilla is basically an M16 business not an MLRS business. And the First Cav is an MLRS unit.
Posted by JFM">JFM  2006-03-13 08:59||   2006-03-13 08:59|| Front Page Top

#14 Most of this is refuted in General Franks" book. an excellant read.
Posted by Deacon Blues">Deacon Blues  2006-03-13 09:37||   2006-03-13 09:37|| Front Page Top

#15 ruminations and recriminations, can we move on now?

These authors and their book is three years past interesting.
Posted by Captain America 2006-03-13 10:03||   2006-03-13 10:03|| Front Page Top

#16 I was thinking the same thing, Deacon. And the supposed "stall" of our troops on the march to Baghdad? Franks puts the MSM to death on that one. We had a BLINDING sandstorm for 2-3 days, where our troops on the ground couldn't literally see the humvee in front of them. Yet, somehow, the Navy and Air Force continued to pick off baddies using technology as these baddies were sneaking up on our convoys (and, which the convoy teams couldn't see until they were right up on them). Franks book was a good read to me, too.
Posted by BA 2006-03-13 10:10||   2006-03-13 10:10|| Front Page Top

#17 One can only suppose that 20/20 hindsight represents a powerful tool to those who are utterly bereft of vision.
Posted by Zenster 2006-03-13 11:37||   2006-03-13 11:37|| Front Page Top

#18 DISCLAIMER: But remember that the Navy and the Air Force couldn't hold ground. ;-)

Matt kinda gets it. I'm willing to read this article, if only because it describes something that The March Up describes as well.

JFM, who's to say that the personnel of 1st Cav couldn't (have) be(en) put to counterinsurgency work by equipping them with small arms instead?
Posted by Edward Yee 2006-03-13 11:44|| http://edwardyee.fanworks.net]">[http://edwardyee.fanworks.net]  2006-03-13 11:44|| Front Page Top

#19 JFM: For months? The Taliban regilme fell after less than a month after the first bomb fell.

The Taliban fell two months after American air raids began.
Posted by Zhang Fei 2006-03-13 11:52|| http://timurileng.blogspot.com]">[http://timurileng.blogspot.com]  2006-03-13 11:52|| Front Page Top

#20 JFM: News to me. One of the dirty secrets of guerilla war is that the guerillas aim for the army's firepower causing collateral damages so they get the support of the population. Even if your precision guide MOAB does not kill any civilian the owner of the flattened house will not be happy about it.

At the time, the guerrillas were merely set up as light infantry. Everywhere the military chose to engage them, the firefights lasted days. Choosing to bypass them gave them the ability to melt back into the population and fight another day. The enemy wanted (and expected) Stalingrad - a massive force-on-force confrontation lasting for months, if not years. We bypassed them, and now have had a drawn-out series of skirmishes lasting roughly 3 years, at last count. It would have been better to fight them in place, wait for other bitter-enders to reinforce them, and kill more of them.

Again - if you're going for unconditional surrender rather than a mere punitive expedition, you have to kill the other guy's army. That doesn't mean command-and-control - it means a big chunk of the soldiers on the other side.
Posted by Zhang Fei 2006-03-13 12:02|| http://timurileng.blogspot.com]">[http://timurileng.blogspot.com]  2006-03-13 12:02|| Front Page Top

#21 I think that the real question at hand was whether the staff analysis before the war missed an enemy center of gravity. A center of gravity is defined as "those characteristics, capabilities, or locations from which a military force derives its freedom of action, physical strength, or will to fight." From the beginning of the war, the insurgency was able to generate more combat power (though not decisive combat power) than anyone had previously thought possible. One center of gravity was Hussein and his ruling clique, which maintained its apparatus of power in Baghdad. Tribalism and Islam constitute another center of gravity. I missed it. Almost everyone here missed it prior to the invasion, and from this article, one suspects that the planners from DoD, through CENTCOM, and and down to the tactical level missed it too.

Why is that important? Because if planners had recognized the second center or gravity during planning, they would have developed a different theater strategy, a different operational plan, and a different tactical plan. The MSM garbles this somewhat, but it is an important lesson learned as we look forward to a long hard slog in the Muslim world.
Posted by 11A5S 2006-03-13 12:41||   2006-03-13 12:41|| Front Page Top

#22 JFM, who's to say that the personnel of 1st Cav couldn't (have) be(en) put to counterinsurgency work by equipping them with small arms instead?

Didn't say they couldn't but then all the money and time you spent equipping them with M1s or MLRSs and traing the soldiers to use them is wasted. And soldiers who have spent years training on the use of M1s and maintaining the damned things in working order (tanks require a loooot of maintenance) aren't likely to be as good at infantry basic skills (eg marchs, camouflage, marksmanship with an M16) and tactics than people who have spent all that time training as infantry.
Posted by JFM">JFM  2006-03-13 12:59||   2006-03-13 12:59|| Front Page Top

#23 JFM has a point about tank crews. But remember, most US "Armored" divisions have a mechanized unit attached to it that provides infantry support for just such occasions. Tanks are not much good in cities and almost all tank brigades have Infantry units to take care off all the little "crunchies" with anti-tank weapons. Combined arms is still something the US military uses all the time.
Posted by mmurray821 2006-03-13 13:10||   2006-03-13 13:10|| Front Page Top

#24 Just to clarify: I wasn't comparing 1st CAv soldiers acting as infantry to Iraqui fedayeen or Republican guards but to Infantry. If the job is fighting fedayeeen a Marine Dicision is _much_ better than 1st Cav
Posted by JFM">JFM  2006-03-13 13:10||   2006-03-13 13:10|| Front Page Top

#25 Oops, should have read "I wasn' comparing 1st Cav Soldiers in infantry roles to fedayeen but to American Infantry.
Posted by JFM">JFM  2006-03-13 13:13||   2006-03-13 13:13|| Front Page Top

#26 #1, Zhang Fei, your comments remind of a quote from the 1986 movie "Zhaka Zulu". Zhaka gives us one of his ditums of warfare, "Never leave an enemy behind or it will rise again to fly at your throat".
Posted by GK 2006-03-13 13:49||   2006-03-13 13:49|| Front Page Top

#27 mmurray 821

You are mixing divisions and regiments (ideally an infantry regiment has nothing but infantry, a tank regiment has only tanks).

A division, at least a western division (1), is by definition a combined arms unit who can operate autonomosuly. It has its own artillery, its own enginer units for clearing obstacles and bridging rivers, its own infantry, its own supply units and, nowadays its own tanks. An armored division is not N thousand men on tanks but a division who has more tank regiments and less infantry regiments than usual. But notice that the infantry of a tank divison or of a heavy infantry division like 4th ID relies far more on vehicles and vehicle-based fire power than the one in lighter formation like airborne, marines or special forces. And that it spends less time doing infantry training than the people in light infantry formations.

(1) For propganda (making the Red Army look bigger) and political purposes (have more positions of general so more happy generals and less frustrated colonels) the Soviets called Divisons what was in fact just very large regiments. So a Soviet "division" was just one third the size of a German one, the equivalent of a German Division was Army Corps (both in size and its combined arms nature), the equivalent of a German Army Corps was an Army and the equivalent of an Army was called a Front. By the way if you rememeber the movie "We were soldiers" the Americans are confronted by a Vietnamese "division" but never get shelled: ie it was not a real division.
Posted by JFM">JFM  2006-03-13 15:11||   2006-03-13 15:11|| Front Page Top

#28 JFM: With all due respect, until the Rumsfield transformation, US brigades were organized with 2:1 mix of Armored and Mech Inf battalions. Armored and Infantry units were task organized down to the company level (task organized battalions were called "task forces" and task organized companies were called "teams.") Engineer, signal, and chemical units were typically t.o'ed down to the battalion level. An artillery battery and a logistics support battalion were t.o.'ed down to the brigade level.

Hope this helps.
Posted by 11A5S 2006-03-13 15:24||   2006-03-13 15:24|| Front Page Top

#29 "We trained hard … but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization."

Petronius Arbiter
Posted by Visitor 2006-03-13 15:31||   2006-03-13 15:31|| Front Page Top

#30 God I'm getting rusty. Two clarifications/corrections. 1. A peacetime brigade could have either two Inf Bns and one Armor or two AR and one IN. 2. It should be that an Artillery Battalion could be taked organized to the Brigade, not an arty battery.
Posted by 11A5S 2006-03-13 15:41||   2006-03-13 15:41|| Front Page Top

#31 JFM: With all due respect, until the Rumsfield transformation, US brigades were organized with 2:1 mix of Armored and Mech Inf battalions.

Because you don't really want to operate armor without infantry or infantry without armor. They're complementary.
Posted by Robert Crawford">Robert Crawford  2006-03-13 15:52|| http://www.kloognome.com/]">[http://www.kloognome.com/]  2006-03-13 15:52|| Front Page Top

#32 Not being a general (or a ground troop) I can see the benefit of totally destroying a guerilla force that is dogging you LOC. I am Monday morning quarterbacking but I think that if we had decimated the first couple of Fedeyan forces rather than bypassing them it MIGHT have eliminated some future fights. By decimate I mean bombing, artillery, strafing, and then capturing/executing. It ends one enemy and sends a message to the rest that we wont simply bypass them and they are less likely to start a fight. By leaving them in place we may have embolden them to fight us after the fall of saddam, because they hadn’t (in their minds) been defeated. Just my 2 cents.
Posted by Cyber Sarge 2006-03-13 16:41||   2006-03-13 16:41|| Front Page Top

#33 It strikes me that the dash to Baghdad was a corps-sized version of King of the Hill - the idea being that if we get to the top of the hill, opposition will collapse. The Afghan campaign necessarily involved a 2-month bombing campaign that wiped out the Taliban because the Northern Alliance did not have the capabilities of several mechanized/airborne American divisions - they could not bypass Taliban units, given that the NA was mostly foot infantry armed with AK's, and the terrain was too rugged. And the destruction of the bulk of Taliban forces may be why post-war Afghanistan, which gave the Soviets so much trouble, has been a relative walk in the park compared to Iraq.
Posted by Zhang Fei 2006-03-13 17:23|| http://timurileng.blogspot.com]">[http://timurileng.blogspot.com]  2006-03-13 17:23|| Front Page Top

11:42 Just Curious
23:53 JosephMendiola
23:53 The Flipper
23:41 JosephMendiola
23:27 JosephMendiola
23:22 Frank G
23:20 JosephMendiola
23:19 Frank G
23:15 JosephMendiola
23:09 JosephMendiola
22:55 JosephMendiola
22:54 Hupaviper Flaique8373
22:53 BA
22:52 Frank G
22:52 JAB
22:51 Brett
22:50 Jan
22:35 JosephMendiola
22:31 BA
22:18 bombay
22:17 Frank G
22:16 Frank G
22:11 doc
22:07 DMFD

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