Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Thursday | March 27, 2003

Status report


With apologies to CNN, where I stole the map above (until I get a letter from their lawyers, anyway), here's a look at how things seem to stand.

Brits/US Marines
In Basra, a column of 100 Iraqi vehicles or so appear to be making their way south toward Umm Qasr, where they obviously aim to engage that city's British occupants. It's a ridiculous strategy -- not only are they opening themselves to US bombing, but they will have to face entrenched Brits in an urban setting -- the exact opposite of their optimum situation.

On the other hand, the unexpected Iraqi resistance in the south has tied up the Brits in the region, forcing them to quell continued unrest in Umm Qasr, protect against Iraqi incursions, and try to somehow take Basra from its fanatical defenders. I am obviously not privvy to US/UK plans, but I would assume they hoped to be using the Brits to protect US supply lines and help distribute (and protect) aid shipments now being unloaded at Umm Qasr. So by keeping the Brits tied up in this area, the Iraqis are helping keep US logistcal lines exposed.

1st Marine Div
Meanwhile, Marines were still tied up battling fierce Iraqi resistance in An Nasiriyah. It's impossible to say where all elements of the Marine 1st Div are deployed, and there's been reports that some of those elements have pushed past the bridges at Nasiriyah. However, at least a good portion of the deployed Marines have been forced to join the battle. These are troops that could be preparing for the Battle of Baghdad, or could be helping secure the 300-mile supply line. Instead, they're fighting Iraqi irregulars.

3rd ID
Further up the Euphrates, near Najaf, the 3rd ID (and my old unit at DIVARTY MLRS) are about to face a 1,000-strong RG assault. Their eastern flank is exposed. Their supply line stretched. They are tired. Their equipment undoubtedly needs maintenance. And while they will handily dispatch the RG assault (if any of it survives the air bombardment it undoubtedly faces), it will further tax those troops.

101st Airborne
The 101st Airborne is further up the Euphrates (reportedly closer to Karbala), providing western flank coverage for the 3rd ID. The 101st is lightly armored, though given the quality of the opposition they are more than ably matched against Iraqi infantry and irregulars. The 101st will probably be key in the Battle of Baghdad, and should be relatively fresh.

So what's wrong with this picture? A glaring lack of manpower. Given the need to take Baghdad as quickly as possible, it's clear that two or three additional divisions would've been priceless -- the current forces could've engaged Iraqi forces on the path to Baghdad, clearing the way for the 101st, 1st Cav and/or 1st Armored Div. We'd be knocking on the door to Baghdad right now, rather than fending off Iraqi counterattacks, bogged down by a group of fanatical thugs.

Simply having the 4th ID driving through Iraqi Kurdistan toward Baghdad would've changed the battle equation dramatically. Losing the Turkish front was disastrous and a diplomatic failure of epic proportions.

Shorting the number of forces in theater -- in order to prove Rumsfeld "airpower + special forces = victory" doctrine correct -- was a tactical failure of epic proportions.

Posted March 27, 2003 12:23 AM | Comments (207)


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