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

Wednesday | March 26, 2003

More From Officer X

Billmon here. Yesterday, with Kos's kind permission, I posted an analysis of the military situation in Iraq written by a military officer who must, unfortunately, remain nameless. Officer X has since written another of these pieces and passed it along to a reporter friend of mine, who has passed it along to me.

To the best of my knowledge, the piece was written sometime this (Wednesday) afternoon. As before, the notes in italics are mine. Here it is:

CENTCOM and the political authority are arrogant. That is what occurs when you do not want to understand why the United States has become the only superpower -- based on unheard of economic wealth, located between of the largest moats -- the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans -- with no threat of being overun, crops burned or women raped.

Additionally, this has allowed us to go into the last two global wars in the 3rd Quarter of the game, with the opponent already worn out. But, we claimed we won both wars. Then we ignored the lessons of Vietnam, Somalia, Kosovo and the Gulf War I.

Now look at how the top leadership is changing or modifying their stories, from quick victories to explaining a longer war.

It has now gotten to the point that arrogance and an obession with technology undermines our ability to come up with effective grand strategy and (word missing) strategy, conduct operational art, and focus on the tactical battle as the means to the end to accomplishing those goals.

The CENTCOM plan: My perception

The plan was based on the false assumptions that the Iraqis would not fight, the people would welcome us, and that airpower would dominate and force -- through the immature "shock and awe" or "effects based targeting" -- the Iraqis to submit. The Army was only there to march and occupy Baghdad as an occupation force.

This explains in part why the force is small to conquer such a country. On the other hand, it is not too small -- don't let the generals say otherwise. They see strength as risk averse. The force was not task organized correctly and maneuver warfare was not applied correctly.

The M1s were too dispersed, particularly among the Marines, in equality. The 3ID (infantry division) took their entire trains instead of organzing into battle groups with resupply by air. The 3 ID battle groups should have taken the same route, but used the Marines to secure the western bank of the Euphrates.

The 101st could be used to secure FARRPS (forward area rearm and refuel points) to keep the forward edge of the 3 ID supplied. Use a mixture of Longbows and A10s constantly overhead of the advancing Armor to blow paths in front of the columns as they move.

The Brit battlegroups should have advanced with the 3rd ID. The Marines would establish a series of Guard and Screening forces west and south of the Euphrates River as the main effort advanced.

Use all air power to associate with the movement of the ground force, either as close air or tactical battlefield integration.

We are now just discovering the fallecy of our planning. The troops are working and fighting hard -- I am really proud of them -- but we have not even began to fight the Republican Guard. It also seems the Iraqis studied the Kosovo War and the Serbians. But even 3-7 (Cavalry Squadron), after days of light contact, lost 2-3 tanks and a Bradley because they drove into an ambush. Only the incredible fire power of the U.S. and the mobility of the M1A1 (defined as the ability to maneuver under fire) saved 3-7 CAV.

If it was our intention to avoid urban areas, then why are we being sucked in, when we don't have too? A supply line could stay to the south and west of the Euphrates (behind an effective guard and screening force).

A combination of sand storms, with stretched out supply lines, and finally, Iraqi resistance, have caused both a tactical and operational pause. It appears that Iraqis are going to try to conduct a operational counterattack against the Marines. If they are, and are judging this on an assessment of weaknesses, then they have a firm control of their side. The Marines have the least armor, and they have been in five days of heavy fighting.

The problem with this approach is that we dominate the air (battlefield integration). With current weapons, the Iraqis will likely never make contact with the Marines, unless the sand storms continue for another 24 hours. The worse case scenario is that the Iraqis achieve this and break through at Al Nasiriyah and break the supply line to the 3rd ID. Then it becomes another few days to drive them off of it, while the supply line is diverted further south, lengthening it further, and fatiguing already tired drivers and haulers.

Time is against us.

Billmon again. I have to confess I don't understand that last remark. I would have thought with reinforcements already on their way, and with US airpower blasting away at everything that moves, time would definitely be on the coalition's side. Unfortunately, I can't ask Officer X to elaborate.

After the last post, some folks insisted Officer X doesn't exist, or if he does exist, doesn't know what he's talking about, etc. etc. Nothing I can say or do about that. This ain't the secret diary of Tommy Franks, but as far as I can tell from checking around, Officer X is reputable source, and has a solid record as a commander and an analyst. He obviously has his axe to grind. But so does everybody else in this war.

Anyway, believe or don't believe, as your own critical sense dictates.


Posted March 26, 2003 04:55 PM | Comments (156)


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