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  • Iraq: The Military Options

    Iraq: The military options.

    There has certainly been a lot of print posted on the site recently about the War on Terror and whether an attack on Iraq by the USA is justified or not. Fascinating stuff, with a number of different opinions being posted reflecting I think the various nationalities that use the site.
    However so far I have seen little mention of the various military options that could be used to topple Saddam and establish a US friendly Iraqi government in his place.
    I think the Washington Post recently had an article on this which stated that this time round a smaller ground force would be used backed by massive air power and a large amount of Special Forces, especially in the Kurdish Regions. This sounds a bit like Afghanistan Mark II or maybe Vietnam 1963/64! From a purely military point of view, regardless of the political rights and wrongs of the situation I think this would be a dangerous strategy to pursue. America needs to go in hard and fast this time as the political fallout will increase rapidly once the invasion is under way. Any setback will be instantly seized upon by those opposed to the venture in an attempt to undermine it.
    I think the best military option would be to assemble a very large force, perhaps 400/500,000 military personnel, preferably with as few Allies as possible on the ground to mess things up (political support is another matter), which in effect means UK forces. This backed by operational staging areas in Cyprus, Turkey, Bahrain (I think!) and possibly Kuwait should be enough to achieve a rapid military victory.
    As this is primarily a site discussing military matters I’m a bit surprised to see so little discussion from us ‘Armchair Generals’ about what the best military strike options might be!
    http://www.irelandinhistory.blogspot.ie/

  • #2
    The article you are refering to is probably this one: War Plans Target Hussein Power Base It is one of the best in-depth article about the military options in Iraq I have seen so far.

    The favorite option (a small force of about 100,000 men with Special Forces striking on Presidential Palaces) is indeed a risky one. Perhaps here the options can be best seen from the enemy point of view. The Iraqis won't repeat the same mistake this time and try to hold on in the desert. Considering the vast superiority the U.S. enjoy in terms of firepower and maneuverability, it is not a sound strategy for Iraq. They are probably inclined to retreat to Bagdad and wait for the U.S. forces there. If they do this, I don't think 100,000 men will be enough to beat them.

    Comment


    • #3
      the Kurds won't have anything to do with the US plans, mainly because the Kurds were told they would be supported by the US if they rose up against Saddam. Three times they rose up, and three times they got slapped down, with no US support in sight. So onne can forgive them for being somewhat cynical about US plans
      Now listening too;
      - Russell Robertson, ruining whatever credibility my football team once had.

      Comment


      • #4
        My greatest fear is...

        Hello,

        My greatest fear is that too many people are making assumptions about this or that. It's wrong to do that. In that Washington Post article, the US is assuming that the regular Iraqi army units will turn around on Saddam, and overthrowing him when it is safe to do so. This is wrong. We should always treat them as our potential enemies until indicated otherwise.

        In any case, I am concerned what's left of Al-Qaeda will take advantage of the Iraq crisis and turn it into their own quest for a holy war waged against the US and her allies. We can't afford to have a terrorist attack and an invasion of Iraq at the same time. However, I don't think OBL will want to do that simply because a renewed terrorist attack will be seen as the vindication of USA's efforts in eradicating the terrorist threats from around the war.

        I would prefer to have a reserve ready in case if anything goes awry in invading Iraq. But I can see some wisdom in the current options. In the other words, no matter what USA pick, there will be always some unpredictable factors.

        I believe that it is imperative to do this quickly and with little noise as possible.

        It's about time to take out the bad guys once for all!

        Dan
        Major James Holden, Georgia Badgers Militia of Rainbow Regiment, American Civil War

        "Aim small, miss small."

        Comment


        • #5
          Check out this article. It's rather long, but it makes some excellent points. Very interesting.

          http://www.americanheritage.com/AMHE.../longwar.shtml
          Editor-in-Chief
          GameSquad.com

          Comment


          • #6
            Nice article Maddog.

            Originally posted by Wolfe Tone

            I think the Washington Post recently had an article on this which stated that this time round a smaller ground force would be used backed by massive air power and a large amount of Special Forces, especially in the Kurdish Regions. This sounds a bit like Afghanistan Mark II or maybe Vietnam 1963/64! From a purely military point of view, regardless of the political rights and wrongs of the situation I think this would be a dangerous strategy to pursue. America needs to go in hard and fast this time as the political fallout will increase rapidly once the invasion is under way. Any setback will be instantly seized upon by those opposed to the venture in an attempt to undermine it.
            I've heard and dismissed this plan as well. You are absolutely coorect in your conclusion. The US needs to hit the Iraqis hard from the outset. I believe this is how the military is planning as well. They want the decisive battles to occur within a few days of the beginning of the operation. This war needs to be over in days. not weeks. The longer it takes, the more likely Saddam will react.

            If we've learned anything from our campaign in Afghanistan, it's not to rely on local resistance entirely. Though we shared similar goals with the Northern Alliances, the differences in agendas were clear. We can only trust those with the exact same objectives as we have.

            Besides, the Iraqi resistance is not as strong as the NA. Rivalries are more deep, and outside influence greater. We should use them in a limited manner to harass the Iraqis and search for SCUDs. SOF teams will be needed to coordinate all this though.

            Originally posted by Wolfe Tone

            I think the best military option would be to assemble a very large force, perhaps 400/500,000 military personnel, preferably with as few Allies as possible on the ground to mess things up (political support is another matter), which in effect means UK forces. This backed by operational staging areas in Cyprus, Turkey, Bahrain (I think!) and possibly Kuwait should be enough to achieve a rapid military victory.
            This is a complicated matter. I've heard planners want to attack along three fronts: Jordan, Turkey, and Kuwait. This will pose a very serious logistical problem for our forces. The force doesn't have to be 400/500,000 soldiers. I was thinking more like 300,000, which is 100,000 more than the media is reporting. The Iraqi Regular Army will collapse the moment NATO rounds fly over their head. It's the Republican Guard that will not fold so easily.

            The RGFC is an effective fighting force. The problem is that Saddam often commands the units. He's not a military man, and have no understanding of tactics and doctrine. When he leaves the military to doing their job, they can really cause problems. During the first Gulf War, they managed to execute a rather organized retreat from southern Iraq north. They didn't just grab guns and run. The RGFC had a blocking force, moved in a coordinated manner. It's troops managed to maintain bridges across the Euphrates dispite heavy Coalition attacking. If the RGFC made contact with Coalition forces, they rarely ran. We should never underestimate this professional section of the Iraqi Army. They won't crack easy.

            Originally posted by Tzar

            The favorite option (a small force of about 100,000 men with Special Forces striking on Presidential Palaces) is indeed a risky one. Perhaps here the options can be best seen from the enemy point of view. The Iraqis won't repeat the same mistake this time and try to hold on in the desert. Considering the vast superiority the U.S. enjoy in terms of firepower and maneuverability, it is not a sound strategy for Iraq. They are probably inclined to retreat to Bagdad and wait for the U.S. forces there. If they do this, I don't think 100,000 men will be enough to beat them.
            Securing the Republican Palace will be a tall order. It's heavily defended and huge. I would send an entire MEU or all of the 75th Ranger against the target.

            There are some problems with this air assault plan. First, the 82nd is currently tied up in Afghanistan. The 101st is probably the first option, but they're a helicopter force primarily. I don't think helios are the way to go given Baghdad's heavy air defenses. I believe UK's Para Brigades will play a vital role in this plan.

            We'll need to seize damns north of the city, as well as many key locations early on. Saddam might choose to flood the city as a defensive plan. Also, the troops will have to fight in this built-up area with MOPP suits!

            While I believe the assault, if successful, might prove devastating to Saddam Hussein, it is very risky. In certain conditions, as Maddog suggested, it's a gamble. As Tzar stated, the RGFC will collapse to protect the capital. I can't imagine such a light force defeating the heavy motorized RGFC divisions. They will have armor, and superior artillery. We can't just rely on air support. This is not open terrain. In MOUT, air support becomes tricky.

            Imagine trying to capture Los Angeles. That's how difficult the operation will be.

            Originally posted by Cheetah772

            My greatest fear is that too many people are making assumptions about this or that. It's wrong to do that. In that Washington Post article, the US is assuming that the regular Iraqi army units will turn around on Saddam, and overthrowing him when it is safe to do so. This is wrong. We should always treat them as our potential enemies until indicated otherwise.
            I hope not. The Iraqi regular army is very weak. They would get their butts handed to them by the RGFC. You are right though, we can't assume the Iraqis are our allies. I don't think we are. They just don't factor in as much. Our concerns should be on destroying the RGFC. That will hurt Saddam more than anything else.

            Originally posted by Cheetah772

            In any case, I am concerned what's left of Al-Qaeda will take advantage of the Iraq crisis and turn it into their own quest for a holy war waged against the US and her allies. We can't afford to have a terrorist attack and an invasion of Iraq at the same time. However, I don't think OBL will want to do that simply because a renewed terrorist attack will be seen as the vindication of USA's efforts in eradicating the terrorist threats from around the war.
            I'm not too worried about Al Qaeda. The greater threat will be internal. With Saddam gone, various factions will want to take a piece of the political pie. Iran is a very serious threat. They will not sit back and allow anykind of longterm occupation of Iraq. They've already voiced their concerns. If the Iranian backed Kurds decide to rebel, I can't imagine a stable friendly government being formed.

            Originally posted by Cheetah772

            In the other words, no matter what USA pick, there will be always some unpredictable factors
            Amen. No OPLAN survives the first shots. The best thing we can do is select the course with the minimum risk.

            Originally posted by Cheetah772

            I believe that it is imperative to do this quickly and with little noise as possible.
            We might can perform this op quickly, but the military doesn't understand how to be quiet. Once the shooting starts, we just start kicking ass. The only people who experience total silence is the dead.
            "As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy."-Christopher Dawson - The Judgement of Nations, 1942

            Comment


            • #7
              Planning for this operation will be a challenge. An air assault with the 101st Airborne might be effective, but that division does not have the combat power to take on determined Iraqi resistance alone. Their Blackhawks would also be highly vulnerable to the Baghdad air defense system.

              As Deltapooh pointed out the 82nd is currently occupied elsewhere. They can't go straight from one deployment to the next. Their equipment will need to be serviced and repaired and the troops will need a break as well. The 2nd ID is already deplyed to Korea and is never available for any other missions. 10th Mountain division just returned from Afghanistan.

              I would think the most likely candidates for deployment would be the 1st Cavalry Division (Texas), 4th Infantry Division (Texas), 1st Infantry Division (Germany), and 3rd ACR (Colorado). The special operations command is stretched paper thin right now.

              The Marines can offer a decent amount of combat power, but they are set up differently than Army divisions and have some restrictions. Thier whole logistics system is based around their Navy counterparts and their "gater-freighters." They bring some great capabilities to the battlefield, but they lack the deep strike capabilities of the Army divisions. Their APCs are not really made for travelling long distances like the Bradley and they have no deep strike capability in their rotory wing aviation component. It may be noted that they were deployed very close to the Kuwaiti shoreline during Desert Storm and also had the shortest distance to advance of any of the US military forces in that campaign. They also have lost a lot of their strength since the downsizing began.

              The bottom line is there will be pressure to limit the overall size of the campaign. The US has the combat power to continue in Korea, the Balkans, and Afghanistan, but adding 100,000-250,000 troops in Iraq will stretch the military pretty thin.

              All these missions are also starting to take a serious toll of US air power. The Air Force and Navy have been almost constantly engaged for a long time. There simply are not enough resources to go around.
              Editor-in-Chief
              GameSquad.com

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Maddog

                The Marines can offer a decent amount of combat power, but they are set up differently than Army divisions and have some restrictions. Thier whole logistics system is based around their Navy counterparts and their "gater-freighters." They bring some great capabilities to the battlefield, but they lack the deep strike capabilities of the Army divisions. Their APCs are not really made for travelling long distances like the Bradley and they have no deep strike capability in their rotory wing aviation component. It may be noted that they were deployed very close to the Kuwaiti shoreline during Desert Storm and also had the shortest distance to advance of any of the US military forces in that campaign. They also have lost a lot of their strength since the downsizing began.
                Excellent points Maddog. To add to that, the USMC are not structured to combat heavy armor divisions like those of the RGFC. Even in DESERT SABER, they were given the 1st "Tiger" BDE. They also have a serious lack of artillery firepower. Marines rely heavily on air support to make up for this. If the units are airlifted into Baghdad, they will leave alot of their armor behind. LAV-series family will be about it.

                As Maddog pointed out, the operation will stretch our forces to their very limits. We only have one true heavy corps, III Corps. We'll have to commit that entire force.

                Of course there is the Reserves and National Guard, but the call-ups will eliminate the element of surprise.

                I am somewhat concerned that planners will go in with the minimum force possible, instead of force needed.
                "As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy."-Christopher Dawson - The Judgement of Nations, 1942

                Comment


                • #9
                  Maddog/Deltapooh, just want to tell you that your knowledge of the U.S. military impresses me. These posts are very interesting and in the process I am learning more about the differences between Marines, 1st Cav, 82 Airborne, etc. and their equipment.

                  Keep the good posts coming

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Hi All,

                    I am new to this fourm and web site, I just found it and glad I did.

                    Great posts on the topic, Maddog you did forget to add 1AD to your list. I am betting they will be one of the first heavy divisions on the ground. 1ID is busy with Kosovo at the moment so I am not sure if it will take part if things happen in the next 9 months or so.

                    As for the NG units the Enhanced Brigades (15 in all) will not take long to spool up and deploy. I was a member of a Cav Bdg in the Guard that is one of the Enhanced Brigades for many years, the training is much more intense and alot more often than a standard unit.

                    I do agree about the USMC. They are a great shock force but do need heavy back up soon after. Deep strikes will be needed to keep them off balance after the shock.

                    O.T.- Maddog, I am stationed just down the road from you in 2-1 AVN,4th BDG, 1ID. Were you ever in 1-6 CAV, Korea?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Darkhorse
                      Hi All,

                      I am new to this fourm and web site, I just found it and glad I did.
                      We're glad you found us as well.

                      Great posts on the topic, Maddog you did forget to add 1AD to your list. I am betting they will be one of the first heavy divisions on the ground. 1ID is busy with Kosovo at the moment so I am not sure if it will take part if things happen in the next 9 months or so.


                      You're correct. I guess it's easy to forget about the stuff right under your nose!

                      O.T.- Maddog, I am stationed just down the road from you in 2-1 AVN,4th BDG, 1ID. Were you ever in 1-6 CAV, Korea?
                      Actually, I was in HHT 6 CAV, Korea.
                      Editor-in-Chief
                      GameSquad.com

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Hi Darkhorse, welcome

                        I too forgot about the 1 AD. In my head they were still re-grouping from ops in Kosovo. I just checked their website and saw differently. (I need to do that more often.)

                        Calling up the National Guard is always a politically dangerous move. (Although Bush, Jr is in a better position than his father concerning Congress.) People tend to fold-up in pain at just the thought.
                        "As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy."-Christopher Dawson - The Judgement of Nations, 1942

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Deltapooh
                          This is a complicated matter. I've heard planners want to attack along three fronts: Jordan, Turkey, and Kuwait. This will pose a very serious logistical problem for our forces. The force doesn't have to be 400/500,000 soldiers. I was thinking more like 300,000, which is 100,000 more than the media is reporting. The Iraqi Regular Army will collapse the moment NATO rounds fly over their head. It's the Republican Guard that will not fold so easily.
                          Can anyone shed any light on the state of the war preparations right now? I mean I take it that the US government has freeze orders in place on the media reporting military movements since 9/11? For all Joe public knows large scale military formations might already be on the way to the ME right now! Also I think it was Maddog that gave a list of possible division size units that could be used, surely though there would be Armoured divisions included?

                          I suppose though that no plan can be finalised until the US knows for sure which countries in the region will allow it the use of bases for the attack. If none do then it would initially be a sea borne invasion by the Marines followed by a fairly lengthy buildup before an advance on Baghdad...a very messy proposition. However I think it a fair bet that Kuwait at the least will allow the US the use of its territory.
                          http://www.irelandinhistory.blogspot.ie/

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?...&article=11040

                            By Jon R. Anderson, Stars and Stripes
                            European edition, Wednesday, October 16, 2002

                            More forces from Europe are on their way to the Middle East as the United States continues to marshal combat units for a possible war with Iraq.

                            The 2nd Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment — part of the Illesheim, Germany-based V Corps — arrived in Kuwait on Tuesday, according to Capt. Darrell Wright, an Army spokesman for U.S. forces in the region.

                            The tank-killing AH-64 Apache unit is among a growing number of forces being dispatched to the Persian Gulf in recent weeks, including an additional aircraft carrier, an amphibious ready group and top-level Army and Marine field headquarters.

                            About 450 soldiers from the 2nd Squadron, 6th Cavalry are deploying from Germany as an aviation task force, said Maj. Dean Thurmond, a V Corps spokesman.

                            Thurmond said the unit was deploying “in support of Operation Enduring Freedom” — the Pentagon’s counterterrorism campaign — but would not elaborate.

                            “The task force will include aviation maintenance and medical support units form Illesheim and other locations in Germany,” Thurmond said.

                            Lt. Col. Scott B. Thompson, a veteran of the 1991 Gulf War and commander of the 2nd Squadron, will lead the task force. The senior enlisted soldier is the 2nd Squadron’s Command Sgt. Maj. Rollie Parducho.

                            Following the aviation task force will be some 300 planners and intelligence experts from the Heidelberg, Germany-based V Corps. They are expected to arrive in Kuwait within the next few weeks, officials said.

                            The Corps headquarters and Apache squadron will join some 6,000 soldiers already positioned in Kuwait along Iraq’s southern border.

                            Among the units there are:

                            ¶ 2nd Brigade Combat Team, part of the 3rd Infantry Division from Fort Stewart, Ga.
                            ¶ 7th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Aviation Task Force, including AH-64 Apaches and UH-60L transport helicopters from Reserve units in Texas.
                            ¶ 513th Military Intelligence Brigade from Fort Gordon, Ga., as well as communications and other support units.
                            ¶ I Marine Expeditionary Force, from Camp Pendleton, Calif., and elements from the CENTCOM headquarters from MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., also are preparing to deploy to the region.

                            Squads of elite paratroops with Company Echo, 51st Infantry Regiment — V Corps’ stealthy, long-range-surveillance “eyes and ears” from Darmstadt, Germany — have been given the nod to deploy to Kuwait in recent weeks as well, a V Corps official said.

                            “Small teams have been rotating into the CENTCOM area of responsibility over the past few weeks,” confirmed V Corps spokeswoman Hilde Patton.

                            For the past three years, V Corps has focused on whittling down its heavy, Cold War-era command post into a modular, quickly deployable combat nerve center while refining and expanding its ability to hit deep inside the enemy heartland.

                            V Corps now is wrapping up its third-annual Victory Strike war games in Poland. The maneuvers rehearsed the Corps’ ability to conduct what strategists call “deep-strike operations” sending Apache helicopters far behind enemy lines to attack hard-to-find mobile air defense targets.

                            Company Echo, 51st Infantry Regiment paratroops also were among those participating in Victory Strike in Poland, along with the 2nd Squadron, 6th Cavalry’s parent command — the 11th Aviation Regiment — as well as rocket- and missile-shooting artillery crews from 1st Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment from Babenhausen, Germany.

                            Although the 2nd Squadron 6th Cavalry did not participate in the live-fire exercises, its sister unit — 2nd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment — the Army’s newest AH-64D Longbow unit — was the star of the show.

                            Equipped with advanced targeting and avionics gear, the Longbow version of the Apache is a low-flying, fast-shooting, radar-guided-missile pad, with pilots able to engage more targets at once and at longer ranges than older model Apaches.

                            “The Longbow is perfectly suited for the desert fight,” said one Army officer in Europe. “I’d be very surprised if they weren’t the next unit to deploy.”

                            Meanwhile, a 2,200-strong contingent of Marines — part of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit from Camp Lejuene, N.C. — was finishing preparations for its withdrawal from peacekeeping duties in Kosovo.

                            The MEU soon will move from U.S. European Command to Central Command for duty in the Middle East as it passes through the Suez Canal toward the end of the month.

                            Also on its way to the region is the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman, joining the USS George Washington carrier group also nearing the end of its deployment.
                            Editor-in-Chief
                            GameSquad.com

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Wolfe Tone

                              Can anyone shed any light on the state of the war preparations right now? I mean I take it that the US government has freeze orders in place on the media reporting military movements since 9/11? For all Joe public knows large scale military formations might already be on the way to the ME right now!
                              Very little is known, or is public knowldege, about Operation preparations. I am certain unit commanders are tailoring training programs to fit possibile missions, with guidance from higher HQ. Beyond that, ...................

                              There is increased US military activity in the region. The US/UK have attacked Iraqi AD in the No-Fly Zone's more aggressively than before. The 3 ID will be arriving soon for "training" exercises. The British have moved the bulk of their military logistics units to participate in Exercise: LOG VIPER. US Marines are increasing their presence in the Middle East as well. The US has already requested permission from several countries to begin stationing military aircraft.

                              There is no proof all this is in preparation for an invasion of Iraq. The 3 ID is indeed going to participate in EXERCISE: DESERT SPRING. However, this is a routine training cycle. LOG VIPER has been on the books for nearly a year. Yet, it's common knowledge these "exercises" could easily become real. The units deploy in force, and will not need much to more to attack.

                              It's clear that preparations, no matter how minor, are underway for the invasion of Iraq. The pre-positioning of equipment is easier to hide than troops. There are alot of little things going on that individually are not alarming, when combined can take on the appearance for war preparation.

                              Here are two articles. GlobalSecurity.org have been reporting on the crisis for sometime. They first suspected the US might be preparing for war several months ago after realizing that Base construction in the region had increased. I would check their site often.

                              http://www.globalsecurity.org/org/ne...1016-iraq2.htm

                              http://www.globalsecurity.org/org/ne...1015-iraq1.htm

                              Originally posted by Wolfe Tone

                              Also I think it was Maddog that gave a list of possible division size units that could be used, surely though there would be Armoured divisions included?
                              US Army Mechanized Infantry Divisions have five armored and five infantry battalions along with support. Armored Divisions posses four infantry battalions, and six armored battalions per. So there isn't alot of difference. Combined arms is the key phase today. I should note that an Iraqi Division is roughly equal to one or two US Brigades.

                              Originally posted by Wolfe Tone

                              I suppose though that no plan can be finalised until the US knows for sure which countries in the region will allow it the use of bases for the attack. If none do then it would initially be a sea borne invasion by the Marines followed by a fairly lengthy buildup before an advance on Baghdad...a very messy proposition. However I think it a fair bet that Kuwait at the least will allow the US the use of its territory.
                              I thought about an amphibious assault of Iraq, but can't say I like the ideal. The front is too narrow. It would take some time for all the equipment and personnel to move ashore. Iraq would almost certainly retaliate with BC weapons, turning the beach into a death trap. In the desert, there is alot of space for us to maneuver in. Even if the Iraqis try to block our advance with persistant WMDs, we could always go around it. The narrow Iraqi beach area would make this more difficult.

                              I also get the feeling the US has an ideal of who will support what. Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Turkey seem to be saying okay. I'm not sure about Jordan though.
                              "As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy."-Christopher Dawson - The Judgement of Nations, 1942

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