The United States military can defeat Iraq, but how easily? The USA spends 100 times more on it's military each year than Iraq, so if it cannot defeat a Third World country with the population of New Jersey, heads should roll in the Pentagon. However, the US Army suffers from several weaknesses, so it could get messy. It's not a lack of manpower or money as many Generals imply, but a lack of deployable manpower. Almost half the active Army is non-deployable for a variety of reasons, mostly because soldiers do not join to fight wars and quickly learn how to avoid deployments. As a result, most US Army divisions can only deploy a full strength brigade, unless several weeks are allowed to absorb reservists.
Nevertheless, the Army has plenty of combat units to defeat Iraq. However, invading Iraq would be a completely different situation than the 1991 war where Iraqi conscripts were mobilized and stuck in the desert for months with little food and lots of bombing. They were asked to defend oil fields against the entire world, including their Arab brothers. In addition, Saddam Hussein had agreed to all UN demands and ordered his troops to withdraw before the ground war began. President Bush ignored this ploy and moved up the offensive by two days to trap the fleeing Iraqis. Iraqi Generals and Republican Guardsmen fled, leaving the hapless Iraqi conscripts behind.
The situation eleven years later is far different. Baghdad is five times further from Kuwait than Kuwait City was from the Saudi border. Iraqi soldiers will be defending Iraq, and sometimes their hometowns from a foreign invasion force which has been bombing them for years. Iraq is ten times larger than Kuwait and has ten times as many civilians to control, making occupation ten times more difficult. Unlike the Kuwaitis, many Iraqi civilians will be hostile. The challenge of assembling an army in Kuwait is a tremendous task, and then moving them hundreds of miles becomes an even greater challenge. During the last conflict, thousands of Saudi trucks and drivers helped move supplies. If the US invades Iraq, its unlikely the Saudis will help at all, and even Kuwait has refused to openly support the idea. Attacking through Turkey is logistically and politically impossible.
Ideally, the campaign can be won quickly by sending 50,000 troops charging in from the air and sea through Kuwait. However, they could get bogged down if the Iraqis fight in the cities and mine roads. In every military operation there are a hundred things that can go wrong; if you can anticipate half of them, you're a genius. If this US force runs short on supplies or lacks the infantrymen to take Baghdad in house-to-house fighting, then the world will laugh at the inert superpower. Arabs in the region will become bold and possibly try to close US airbases. On the other hand, sending in a 200,000 man force to ensure victory entails a six-month build-up, which will prove costly and antagonize Arabs.
Another possibility is that Hussein may use chemical weapons. Some speculate that Bush didn't push on to Baghdad in 1991 precisely because he feared chemical attacks. In a June 12, 2000 televised meeting, Saddam Hussein said, "If the world tells us to abandon all our weapons and keep only swords, we will do that...But if they keep a rifle and then tell me that I have the right to possess only a sword, then we would say no." Hussein was not just referring to the USA, but to Israel's large arsenal of nuclear and chemical weapons. All Arab states see Israel as a major threat and dislike the fact the USA does not even acknowledge the open secret that Israel possesses "weapons of mass destruction" in violation of international law.
The total cost of this campaign will be much higher since free Saudi fuel and water will not be provided; bulk liquids make up 70% of logistical tonnage for a modern Army. In addition, US allies donated billions of dollars in cash for the 1991 war. Kuwait will be happy to sell water and fuel to the American visitors. Most Americans would be outraged to learn that American tax money is spent to build military facilities in Kuwait to protect that wealthy nation. Kuwait even charges for fuel, earning millions of dollars a month off the US military in the region. The US Army currently rotates units to keep a brigade in Kuwait at all times. Pre-positioned equipment in the region can allow for a quick build up to 50,000 troops in Kuwait, but sustaining that force in heavy combat is a major challenge, especially with most US air transports busy supplying forces in Afghanistan.
Some have argued that victory will be easy since the USA used only 10% precision guided weapons in the last war, but now has cheap JDAM bombs. They make ridiculous claims that if we drop 90% precision bombs as in Afghanistan, the Iraqis will not fight. First, this assumes that regular iron bombs always miss. In fact, Navy pilots in Afghanistan often dropped their JDAM bombs manually since its faster and just as accurate without having to punch in the GPS coordinates and recheck it three times. Second, it assumes a precise target is known. In 1991, the Iraqi Army was mostly destroyed by B-52 carpet bombing directed at blocks on the map where Iraqi units were known to exist. Finally, there are few targets to bomb. The Iraqi Army is dispersed in cities throughout Iraq with their tanks hidden inside buildings. If the fighting will end in a month, it will be senseless to destroy power plants, bridges, water purification plants, sewage treatment plants, and refineries, only to rebuild them later. A bombing campaign against Iraq's infrastructure will have no effect in a short war.
Some have suggested that seizing Iraqi oil fields will cause a high level rebellion against Hussein. That may be true after a year, but it will have no effect for a few months since local supplies will keep things running. "Freeing" Iraq should mean ending the oil embargo. Since Iraq has the world's second largest oil reserves, allowing full production to resume will send worldwide oil prices tumbling. This is great for 95% of Americans, but bad news for those who run America since oil profits will plummet. American weapons sales to friendly Arab dictators will halt as they run out of cash. The US cannot expect the UN or its allies to provide peacekeeping and occupation troops for Iraq since they oppose an invasion. Therefore, The US will have to borrow $100 billion to pay for the occupation of Iraq for several years to prevent Iraqi ethnic groups from starting a civil war. It will also have to find excuses to limit Iraqi oil exports, and select an English speaking "interim" dictator, like that Conoco consultant chosen to rule Afghanistan.
However, the biggest problem with overthrowing "Saddam" is the American imperialists will lose their favorite bad guy. How can they justify spending $100 billion a year to keep 30,000 US troops in the Persian Gulf region when the bogey man is gone? Bush recently nominated Iran to fill that role in his "axis of evil" speech, but a new villain will be harder to sell to the American people. Few people remember that the USA had no major bases in the Persian Gulf region prior to 1990, and oil production was rarely affected. However, reality has never deterred American Imperialists from their dream of global conquest with US military forces in every nation on Earth.
Saddam Hussein hangs on, like old Fidel Castro, defiant and harmless to Americans. His neighbors don't see him as a threat since they recently voted to oppose any invasion of Iraq. Hussein is a bad guy, but so are half the dictators on Earth. The best solution is accept his offer to allow UN weapons inspectors to return if the senseless commercial embargo is lifted. Saddam will grow old and die long before Iraq can rebuild a powerful military. However, Bush wants to make an example out of Hussein to demonstrate America's rule of the world. Bush would like to attack soon to keep his military spending momentum going in Congress, but will probably wait until the Spring of 2004. Bush remembers that his Dad had overwhelming popularity after the 1991 Persian Gulf war, but that faded within a few years and he lost reelection. A 2004 invasion of Iraq will not be about freedom, democracy, or security; just money and power.
Carlton Meyer editorG2mil@Gmail.com
G2mil editorials may be freely distributed without permission
May 2002 Articles
have been returned to the Members Library
Letters - comments from G2mil readers
Keeping the V-22 Alive - the biggest scandal in US military history
Pegasus Air Cavalry - tiny helicopters can serve as horses
10mm Rifle - rifle squads need a heavy caliber rifle
Tiny Ship Helicopters - can fill many roles
CIA aided Al Qaeda in Bosnia - not news in the USA
Air-Mech-Strike in Afghanistan - legs need help
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