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Monday | October 14, 2002

Military leadership in dark re: Iraq

In a column that only reinforces my contempt over the administration, the Prince of Darkness (Bob Novak) writes that the Pentagon's military leadership has no clue as to the administration's war plans. Those plans are being drawn up by the Pentagon's civilian chickenhawk leadership without input from those that know about fighting wars.

What most bothers the generals, however, is Rumsfeld's preference for outside advice. For example, sources say a frequent consultant with the secretary is former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, an amateur military expert and member of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board. There is no distribution through the Pentagon of such advice.

Generally, this advice probably follows the longtime line by Richard Perle, the Policy Board's chairman, that indigenous Shia forces will do most of the fighting to dislodge Saddam. That leads to the internal debate over whether 250,000 U.S. troops are needed for combat in Iraq or, instead, a much smaller number will do.

The professional military thinks that Saddam's Republican Guard will fight, and that substantial U.S. forces will be needed. Contrary to a widespread popular impression, these elite troops did not surrender at the first sign of American troops in 1991. Saddam, displaying his instinct for survival, had brought his Guard back to Baghdad and placed untrained Shia recruits on the front line in the desert.

As I have written ad nauseam, Saddam learned from the last war. His best troops will be holed up in the cities, where they can use the urban environment to negate American advantages in air power, armor, and artillery. In the desert, Saddam's troops were horribly outclassed, and had no option but to surrender. In the cities, an AK-47 will match up nicely to an M-16. And, that's not even considering such horrors as human shields, etc.

As for the Shi'ites in southern Iraq -- the US sat by and watched them get slaughtered post-Gulf War. They had arisen in defiance of Saddam at the exhortations of Bush I, who then didn't see fit to assist in the uprising. Thus, US forces in Kuwait literally sat and watched Saddam's troops brutally supress the uprising. It is this betrayal the Kurds cite when they refuse to play a role in an invasion, and it's inconceivable the Shi'ites would let themselves be manipulated by Washington again.

But say they do participate, does the US really want an Iraqi government dominated by the Shi'ites -- the same group that rules Iran? In any case, the civilian chickenhawks in the Pentagon think these indigenous forces will leap at the chance to emulate Afghanistan's Northern Alliance. The Pentagon is more realistic. However, they have been ignored, marginalized, and denigrated by the Bushies.

Suddenly, I bet "gays in the military" doesn't look so bad to them anymore, huh?

Update: William Burton has more (permalinks broken).

Posted October 14, 2002 09:57 AM | Comments (10)


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