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

Tuesday | March 25, 2003

What the Experts Are Saying

This is Billmon, interrupting Kos's regularly scheduled programming to bring you this special bulletin.

A reporter friend of mine just slipped me something interesting. It's a background analysis of the situation facing the coalition forces in front of Baghdad, written by a fairly well known military officer and commentator who under the circumstances is going to have to remain unidentified, other than to say that he is fairly well known military officer and commentator. I was told I could post this as long as I carefully scrubbed out all personal references, which I think (hope) I've done.

This memo doesn't spill any secrets, but it is a thoughtful analysis based on Officer X's conversations with some of his colleagues -- all of whom are harshly critical of the war plan and Rumsfeld's meddling with it. I've added descriptions of some of the acronyms, and cleaned up the spelling a bit. Otherwise it is verbatim:

The "Shock and Awe" campaign failed completely. The traditional term of "Mass" has not been used by ground forces. Air power has supplied the mass, while the ground forces have suffered from "economy of force" being redefined. The march of 3rd ID (infantry division), while amazing, has left huge supply lines from Kuwait. These supply lines do not seem to be well guarded. The Apache attack on the Medina division was largely ineffective.

The 4th Generation War has begun with the fragging of the BDE TOC of the 101st by a Muslim soldier, and the use of irregular forces in Umm Qasr, Basra, Nasiriya and Al Najaf. Basra has not been taken yet, nor has Nasiriya.

The lack of ground forces, combined with Turkey's refusal to allow 4th ID to attack from the North, has allowed Iraqi forces to concentrate their efforts on the Euphrates River and the numerous axes of advance from the South.

If one or two heavy divisions were on the ground, the Iraqi OODA (Observation, Orientation, Decision, Action) Loop would be lengthened significantly. Instead of the Allied three division elements attacking at once, there would be at least a somewhat equal amount of Divisions on the ground to tackle the 6-8 Republican Guard Divisions in and around Baghdad.

The race for Baghdad has great political value, yet there is no way that the 3rd ID and 1 MEF (Marine Expeditionary Force) can seize Baghdad and placate the Southern cities. There are UPI reports that the 4th ID, 1st CD (Calvary Division) and 1st Armored are on the way to Iraq...the question needs to be asked: Why weren't they there in the first place?

British forces have been under attack in Basra... latest news from the BBC, both Regular and Irregular forces.

We have not seen the widespread defection or surrender of the Iraqi Army. We have not seen the widespread throngs of Iraqi citizens cheering our boys when they head north, or when they seize one of the towns.

BLUF: (?) This war has been much more difficult than expected. I think we will see 3 ID take defensive positions 30-50 miles outside of Baghdad and wait for reinforcements. The boys must be exhausted. The fact that they have advanced so far without major maintenance difficulties (as far as we know) is a credit to the maintenance of their equipment. One question remains: What units used the pre-positioned equipment in Qatar and Kuwait, and why wasn't there any Heavy/Mechanized forces in theater as a Reserve?

As we all saw yesterday, the war has gone from a liberation (or so projected) and road march, to a forecast of very hard work ahead.

Key events occurred in the last 12 hours. X and I talked about the 3rd ID and what (courses of action) it might take.

One, it will continue a relentless drive to the capital, while the LOC ( line of communications) is threatened (a gamble). I admire this COA (course of action) and the fact that they did it without much air bombardment), but our technological dependence on long and large logistics is proving to be a critical weakness. More to come on what to do once the 3rd ID gets there.

By the way, the multiple thrusts by the SF in the western desert and by the projected airborne forces in the north are small distractions to the Iraqis as once infantry is on the ground, it does not move very fast, and even in Hummers, offers little ability to maneuver. Not having a multiple thrust from the north is allowing the Iraqis to mass, if not forces as they are open to air attack, then to focus their decision making cycle to one area.

Col. X brought up a valid point on how the armor has been spread among the Marines, and the 3rd ID tried to bring all their logistics instead of "racing" ahead with combat elements in order to reach Baghdad and resupply by air. This is the tactical solution seen through task organization which favors spreading the wealth among all formations (as did the Brits and French in the beginning of WWII).

The second COA sees the Coalition slowing its advance, as it might have done near Najaf, about 90 miles south of the capital. It will consolidate its LOC

Or, a variation of this course is moving from a movement to contact advance to a deliberate attack advance. A methodical approach by the 3 ID as it advances, phase line by phase line up the main highway--supported by artillery and massive air (CENTCOM admitted that more of its deep interdiction were pulled to provide close air along the LOC) with the 101st and MEF securing the flanks and rear.

Use of the 101st has been validated as well. The 3rd BDE of the 101st has set up a FARP ( forward arming and refueling point), likely where the Apaches flew from last night.

The results of the Apache unit attack last night might have validated the second COA. It appears that in an effort to test RG defenses, about 50 miles south of Baghdad, an Apache unit was sent forward of the 3rd ID (as was the theory of deep attack during the Cold War in Europe). We don't know what the enemy BDA ( battle damage assessment )is, but the Apache unit had to withdraw due to heavy AA fire, and lost an Apache (it appears to have had a soft landing, with the crew picked up by a Blackhawk), and it is now in Iraqi hands.

The attack shows the impacts of change of terrain. This part of Iraq is developed and green, cut by streams and canals. Visibility is sharply decreased with the ability to blend in, to camouflage greatly increased.

Anyway, the deep attack validated that the RG has strong defenses that are blended in with the countryside and urban areas (as pilots attested to this upon their return).

Additionally, the Iraqis are using information warfare through their broadcasts. This will undoubtedly strengthen their resolve.

The precise bombings are having the same effect, as the general Iraqi is not getting the word that these are to protect him and attacking the leadership. All he knows is that he and those around him are surviving the vaunted assaults from the U.S.

The final factor to consider before contact is made with the RG, is the condition of the 3ID. These guys have been moving and fighting hard. Not only do you road march and react to contacts, but for every hour of running, there has to be two hours of maintenance (track, suspension, air filters, cleaning of weapons, etc...). SO rest must be measured by 3-4 hours every 24 hour period. This has a culminating effect in combat in the way of declining decisiveness and motor skills...

Take it for what's it's worth. But it suggest to me this war isn't even close to over.


Posted March 25, 2003 10:47 AM | Comments (265)


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