Monday | March 03, 2003
US refuses to surrender Turkey plan
In a sign of how important the Turkish front is to US warplans, ships waiting to offload the Army's 4th Division remained off the Turkish coast.
The fact the US hasn't redirected the ships south through the Suez canal and through to Kuwait signifies the US is still holding out hope the Turkish parliament will reconsider its refusal to allow the troops on its soil -- even if it means delaying the war's start.
Militarily, while alternatives exist for placing U.S. forces in northern Iraq -- essentially by airlifting lighter Army and Marine units to key locations -- these options pose greater logistical challenges for American troops and carry heightened risks of U.S. casualties, officials and analysts said.Right off the bat, let me say that militarily, airlift is not an option. From a logistical standpoint, there isn't enough airlift capability in the world to keep a fill armored division (like the 4th ID) in combat operations via air supply. Simply moving the heavy armor and artillery into place would require weeks, not to mention such essentials as food, ammunition, fuel, and water.
Airlift is sufficient for limited operations by a light infantry unit, such as either of the airborne divisions, but anything larger requires overland supply lines.
If those ships are redirected to Kuwait, it would take a week for the trip, plus time to offload. And, the Suez canal is already choked with military traffic, primarily ships carrying supplies for the 101st Airborne. And, chances are port operations in Kuwait are already stretched to the limit.
Politically, it's clear that the loss of Turkey doesn't bode well for US chances at the UN Security Council. Both Mexico and Chile are upset at the US's summary dismissal of Canada's compromise resolution (which would've given Iraq four more weeks to prove it is fully cooperating). The issue, of course, is the looming Iraqi summer. Those four weeks would push combat operations into that summer inferno. But politically, it was a blow to US efforts to appear rational.
New efforts to avert war have received a shot in the arm, as another of Iraq's neighbors feels so unconcerned about the "Iraqi threat" that it has refused US troops basing rights. Turkey now joins Jordan and Saudi Arabia as Iraqi neighbors and US allies refusing to provide access to US troops.
Whether the Turkish parliament will vote again remains to be seen. Some cabinet members have suggested the government will call a new vote, while the PM has said he won't. And Parliament itself, which will reconvene Tuesday, doesn't appear to eager to revisit the issue (which has hung a political albatross on every legislator who voted "yes").Posted March 03, 2003 08:44 AM | Comments (76)