War on Terror
Gulf War II - Iraq
- Thoughts on How Gulf War II will be Fought. - March 14, 2003.
- And, How Actually Fought.
It was obvious that a two-front attack was the way to go when Turkey was in the plans. That plan then entailed trucking a heavy tank division to the jumping off point to secure northern Iraq. Tanks have limited mileage of travel before requiring maintenance or risk breakdown in combat. That alternative is now gone.
Iraq is isolated from us by being surrounded by culturally sympathetic countries. We cannot access Iraq from the east; Syria and Jordan block us. From the east we are blocked by Iran, another axis-of-evil country. From the south by Saudi Arabia that will allow air operations to continue, but not heavy troop movements. When they were endangered 12 years ago, we made the encirclement of Kuwait from the Saudi desert. To be allowed to attack from Arabia again would shorten the distance to Baghdad by 75 miles, but we don't seem to have complete cooperation when the Saudis don't feel as threatened this time. This leaves only Kuwait, which has turned over the whole northern part of their country to the US forces. Both Kuwait's 150 mile frontier and the Iraqi Gulf 25 mile coastline (excluding inlets) are the only military access areas to the 168,754 square mile country of Iraq (a tad larger than California). We cannot concentrate all of our naval support forces in the Persian Gulf. Look at a map; the Gulf is virtually a 150-mile wide lake (think Lake Superior-Huron) with a narrow, twisted, shallow entrance -- the Straights of Hormuz that open to the also restricted Gulf of Oman which extends, another 300 miles before reaching the open Arabian Sea. Iran fronts half of the Persian Gulf. Although Saddam Hussein had made war on Iran (1980-88), it is amazing that the two countries are now close. In Gulf War I, the Iraqi air force flew their planes to Iran rather than be taken by America. So the situation is that Iraq is protected on many sides and the only alley of access is dangerous.
How can our military access Saddam?
We have taken over half a year to move material and men thought the bottleneck to stage in Kuwait. The buildup was in small enough units that they were not endangered and now they are strong enough to survive a surprise attack. Recall that in the Korean War the UN forces had advanced through the attackers and had virtually won when Red China made a massive, surprise attack that through us out of the North. That war was settled with the South free and the borders returned to approximately the starting point, with North Korea still belligerent, though contained. Iran now holds a similar threat over the Persian Gulf and Kuwait -- therefore we have to maintain strong reserves able to resist a surprise attack on our flanks.
A massive and fast moving assault from the south will be launched from Kuwait, will race directly for Baghdad. This can be expected to be quick because there is a no fly/no drive zone encompassing the whole of southern Iraq, to within 25 miles of Baghdad. We have near perfect knowledge of the location and strength of every Iraq installation in
most of the country. These will be bypassed and allowed to surrender to follow up US forces. The attacking armor will be followed by massive truck convoys carrying fresh armor and supplies. Meanwhile, a chain of resupply/maintenance bases will be setup in the deserts from Kuwait to the north. These will be located about every 200 miles to Baghdad and then around, west of Baghdad, to be away from the Iranian side, on to the north. Thus, about 8 such sites will be required. The southernmost bases will be helicoptered in; those further to the north will be air dropped. Special forces probably have the proposed sites under observation already and are able to wave in the support forces.
Air attack will be made on all command, control, and communications centers.
Hopefully these include e-bombs that are human harmless, yet capable of knocking out all electronics and most electric throughout the country. There is some discussion that we want to keep the electricity on to aid the rebuilding operations after the war. Most of us consider US lives more important and that e-attack should be part of the promised shock-and-awe process.
Troops advance from Kuwait. British and Marines advance on Basra
The US army will strikeout for Baghdad.
The press reports on troop movements and concerns of young soldiers.
By the end of Day One.
Saddam might be removed from office at any time and the combat ended.
The main thrust will arrive at the gates of Baghdad, an 18-hour drive by refueled tanks, but allow for delays to cross rivers and overcoming isolated resistance forces.
Air attack will take out strong points along the attack path.
The string of bases will be established in the desert west of Baghdad.
Kurds will attack strategic outposts -- US Special Forces are reported to be with them already.
Press reports that precision weapons do to cause non-combatant injuries.
The main armored force will resupply and attack perimeter strong points.
Air strikes take out every target of opportunity.
Fresh tanks will be offloaded near the city.
Diplomatic attempts to get Iraq to open the city.
The string of supply bases will be supplied and defenses built up.
Light forces will advance rapidly to the north, refueling along the way.
A heavy force will also progress up the western supply bases, but at economical speed with the options to continue north or to swing east to Baghdad from the west if needed.
Turks move troops over concern with armed Kurds on their boarder.
Press reports how "harmless" shutdown of electricity caused several deaths
Main force moves into Baghdad -- either as friendly occupiers or as a fighting force.
Light forces link with Kurds in the North.
Light forces target strong points in the for air attack.
Heavy force in west will continue advance north while continuing to act as reserves able to attack Baghdad from the north.
Trucks returned from Baghdad will pickup more armor.
POWS and refugees will be supplied. This is a new requirement of warfare imposed by us on ourselves.
Press reports on injured of all types: military and civilians.
US and allied forces occupy positions in all of Iraq.
All resisting forces are attacked.
All bases and units supplied.
Heavy units arrive north.
Efforts to defuse the Turk - Kurd situation.
Press concentrates reports on injured women and children
Positions hardened against surprise attack.
Geopolitical issues are addressed.
Press reports friendly fire incidents.
Awards ceremonies for gallantry in battle.
Press reports atrocities.
Troops stand down.
Press reports geopolitical unease.
What Actually Happened. Gulf War II : IRAQ - Phase I
G minus 1. Wednesday evening 19March'03 US time., Thursday dawn in Iraq
Opportunity attack on Iraqi Leadership.
G Day, Ground war starts. Thur noon in US until Friday noon; Thur dark in Iraq to end of daylight Friday in Iraq.
Command and control facilities attacked by air. Only selective targets using a portion of cruise missiles and few aircraft.
"Shock and awe" changed to a show of force seeking early surrenders.
Troops cross border.
1st Marines and British land near Basra, occupy suburbs, take port under strong resistance, and
coastal oil fields which prevents further torching of well heads.
Army 3th Inf. Division advances unopposed towards Baghdad covering
100 miles in 24 hours. This is at the rate of a brisk walk, more slowly than anticipated; is this to allow time for negotiation? Recall the
British expeditionary force retarded advance to the Falklands "at
all diplomatic speed" allowing for Al Haig negotiations. Those talks
failed and combat followed.
Special Forces and Kurds occupy some northern oil fields.
101st Airborne sits, ready? They were expected to make the western
sweep to the north and be the reserve for a battle at Baghdad.
Reports after the battle will tell what this was about.
Major airfields taken in western Iraq -- by whom/where? Answer :
Turkey withholds use of air space demanding that Turk troops be
allowed to enter Iraq to control Kurds. Attack path of two carriers and air supply hampered. Strikes already in the air had to be recalled.
As darkness falls, a dozen B-52s that left English bases 6-hours before, launch cruise missiles on Baghdad and Republican Guard.
G plus 1 . A-Day --starting second night in Iraq .
Friday noon US time to Saturday noon. Iraq: dark Friday to end of day Saturday.
Negotiations evidently failed. The air war begins (A-Day) with Shock-and-Awe.
330 cruise missiles in waves make simultaneous hits across Iraq.
Iraqi 51st Tank Division surrenders - opens way to Basra.
It seems that G(ground)Day was advanced a day to secure oil
fields that were being lighted and to eliminate artillery being
positioned with possibly chemical shells. The Marines and Brits
were ready to move out and secured both the oil fields and coastal port.
The Army's 3th Infantry Division (Mechanized, heavy, tank) moved forward, but had to stop frequently to
let elements catch up. The 101st Airborne was delayed because a
shipload of equipment had recently arrived and needed to offloaded
and readied. Shipping was delayed by Turkey. Although the 101st was
to be ready by the original start date, it was not able to push off
early. Elements of 101st have moved forward to establish bases,
but the main force remains in Kuwait.
A different story is that A(air)Day was delayed a day to allow
third party negotiations of surrender. There may be truth in both
stories. Each unit has its plan, some units were able to move early,
others were constrained to the original plan and play hurry-up;
this includes some units that tried to catch up with the advancing
forces and required the 3th to wait for them.
Turkey belatedly authorized air transit and 1,000 troops cross
(first of 10,000?) to control Kurds over our disagreement.
We don't need a war between our "allies".
Euphrates bridges taken intact at An Nasiriya on way to Baghdad.
Basra taken, entire south now out of Iraqi control.
3th Inf Div over half way to Baghdad, unopposed, lights on during night movement, no threats.
Kurd guerrilla force, with US missile support, attack Al Qaeda sympathetic force in battalion-size operation in the NE of Iraq.
Advanced elements of 101st moves out to establish helicopter bases needed to cover 3rd Inf Div now moving out of range of Kuwait bases.
Iraq starts smudge fires encircling Baghdad hoping to blind or down more aircraft.
G plus 2 . US: noon Saturday to noon Sunday. Iraq: Saturday night thru Sunday daytime.
US gives up on Turkey airspace and starts moving Med fleet to Red Sea This will keep them out of action for another half day
transversing Suez Cannel. (Turks withdraw? Air transit granted? Byzantine story!)
4th Mechanized Division cargo ships head to Kuwait - will take
two-three weeks to virtually circumnavigate Arabian Peninsula.
Intermittent cruise missiles attack Republican Guard units.
Tank killers have been scouting, A-10 and Apache; finding little to shoot at early. Later: wipe out enemy tank column advancing on 3rd.
Special forces on anti-Scud patrol in the West.
101st still kept in reserve.
Mop-up Umm Qasr.
Marines advance on east side of Euphrates, engage at Nasiriyah.
3rd Div advances west of Euphrates to 3/4 point, 100 miles from Baghdad, unopposed, lights now off. Occasional threats to supply lines.
Additional Special Forces land in the North to link with Kurds.
Possibly for action against Iraq, certainly to keep from antagonizing Turks.
Refueling bases established to follow the troops while tankers
fuel the forward units.
Divisions in Europe alerted.
US Black Muslim convertee tries to assassinate Brigade commanders.
President returns to White House. Maybe now we will hit
previously restricted targets.
His statements about execution of captives is more restrained than many of us could express; that is why he is our leader.
G plus 3 . US: noon Sunday to noon Monday. Iraq: Sunday night thru Monday daytime.
Additional special forces land at airfields in the north. Turkey warned off.
3rd Inf. Div. reaches Najaf, first resistance.
Marines fight infiltrators at Nasiriyah and Uum Qasr.
3rd captures camouflaged chemical plant surrounded by barracks at Nsjaf, 100 miles south of Baghdad. (later : plant not for weapons)
Maintenance troops ambushed, captured and half are assassinated -- possibly by irregular forces.
Are irregular fighters, such as Saddam's Fedayeen militiamen, subject to summary execution?
Larger bombs dropped on Republican Guard near Baghdad softening
the approach for Army and marines.
Long column of 3rd Inf.Div. creates large flanks with several fake surrender ambushes of scouts. Marines moving up east of Euphrates River to cover the right flank.
101st loading up - for where? North? Baghdad?
Old Iraqi regime no longer controls S., W. and N. Only the central
100 mile circle around Baghdad remains and that is under air attack.
Daylight breaks on the middle of day G+3.
Saddam "speaks": was it really Saddam -- surely he would not praise the 51st division that was the first to surrender?
Watch weather for the next three days. We are expert at night
warfare, but can not see in sand storms. Increased risk of enemy
infiltration and friendly fire.
G plus 4 . US: noon Monday to noon Tues. Iraq: Monday night thru Tuesday daytime.
7th reaches Karbala, 60 miles from Baghdad. Anticipate they will
go into defensive positions for sandstorms when there will be periods
without good observation or air support. Minimize risk of infiltration
and friendly fire in weather where the enemy is more familiar than we.
As long as conditions permit, fixed wing and rotary wing craft attack the Medina Division of Republican Guards.
50 mph winds expected/experienced by the end of this period.
101st air mobile should be grounded for a couple of days before
entering the fight for Baghdad.
Mines being cleared to allow humanitarian relief shipping into the port of Umm Qasr.
Parts of Basra, needing humanitarian relief, declared combat zone because of irregular Fedayeen attacks while dressed in civilian clothes.
Equipment of the 4th Inf.Div (armored) progresses through the Suez Canal, redirected from Turkey. The 4th's troops wait in Texas for their equipment to land somewhere.
3rd Inf.Div. 50 miles from Baghdad hunkered down in major sandstorm with viability measured in feet or inches. Ground battle coming with one US division facing six Iraq divisions in the Baghdad area.
Marines on right flank slowed by resistance near Nasiriyah.
7th Cavalry Regiment crossed Euphrates River and opened a new avenue north - widening the front.
101st will move up by helicopter as soon as weather clears.
4th Inf.Div. immobilized by NATO ally, Turkey.
As dusk falls, reports of a popular uprising against Fedayeen Saddam, in Basra. Utilities are off effecting civilian life. This Shiite support is long after predicted by Coalition planners. Recall delays by Kurds in Gulf War I seeking aid without contribution.
G plus 5 . US: noon Tues to noon Wed. Iraq: Tuesday night thru Wed daytime.
Sandstorm causes loss of momentum, risks small unit attacks on long supply lines.
Chain of Forward Advance Refueling Points, FARP, established. Some are mobile -- just landing pads with a supply of tankers and ammo carriers available to get helos turned around to attack again or to shuttle forward to the next FARP.
As sandstorm weakens, some Republican Guard units found behind US positions.
There are four Iraqi divisions near Baghdad. Two are south facing the US advance : Medina division (their best) near Karbala facing 3rd Inf.Div.; Baghdad division (most likely to use chemicals) near Kut to be confronted by 1st Marine division. Two are north and west of Baghdad: Hammurabi division near Ar Ramadi; and Al Nida division near Baghdad. These two should have been facing the 4th Inf Div, prohibited by Turkey; but, these Iraqi divisions are now are free reserves. There are two additional RG divisions: one in the north facing US special forces and one in the south facing Brit/Aussi special forces.
101st Screaming Eagles air mobile division loaded to assist by air.
Whereas the Iraqi are on home turf, the US has long supply lines. Where Iraqi have reserves, the US must defend that long supply line from fanatic Fedayeen irregulars. US has air support,
although many already damaged by antiaircraft fire and they must
both defend our infantry and supply units from flank attack and to conduct direct attacks on Iraqi armor while facing that antiaircraft defense.
Battle looms. US must destroy enemy divisions before they can
retreat into the city.
Sandstorm continues - 50 mph winds of red dust and sand.
1,000 armored vehicles seen moving towards central Iraq
where Marines are advancing.
Marines are heavily armed, but not as much as the Army 3rd Inf.Div., so the Rep Guard may be planning to attack the weaker US division.
Moving under storm cover, the Iraqi units can be put to use, rather than wait to be destroyed one at a time waiting in defensive positions.
Sandstorm keeps armed helos on the
ground. Some reports say 101st air mobile division still in Kuwait unable to move.
3rd may not turn to attack Iraqi as it would expose their flank to the Medina division.
Flanks and supply lines are intended to be protected by air power; with air on the ground there may be a brute force ground battle before the air clears between one or more Republican Guard divisions against the Marine 1st division which is spread alone a 100 road between Nasiriyah to Kut.
Even when storm abates, Army helos have 3rd and supply line to defend. Fixed wing air including Navy carrier air will be critical to the Marines -- but, the storm is headed in the direction of the air force in Kuwait and the fleet in the Persian Gulf.
They are making their move; our turn now.
G plus 6 . US: noon Wed to noon Thur Iraq: Wed night thru Thur daytime.
Pentagon ordering the 4th Infantry troops from Texas. Their equipment had been sitting off Turkey for a month. Will take three weeks to get everybody here, by which time their equipment will have arrived from off Turkey. This is the most modern of our tank divisions.
Turkey, Fadayeem, weather, and lack of civilian support combined make up a level of contingency hard to anticipate.
Hitler and Patton both succeeded in moving armored columns with only air power covering their flanks. Is there enough US force in the area?
Iraqi column may be heading to split between Army and Marines and sever the supply highway. That 7th Cavalry Regiment is in the way. We could catch them in a vice or they could take us in smaller pieces,
each separated by a major river. This is a time for B-52 Rolling Thunder with dumb bombs to terrorize a whole column of 1000 vehicles without fear of antiaircraft fire; then, bring in the cluster bombs
to take out AA, then allow helo and A-10s take out any visible survivors. [done]
Or the Iraqi column may continue to Kut intending only to block
the Marines. This would delay contact for another day or two, allow
weather to clear (now rain, cold with continued winds in much of Iraq) and allow aircraft to weaken Iraqi forces -- while US Army ground forces reposition to both face the enemy and defend supply lines, and Marines consolidate from their highway march.
3rd Brigade of 101st is now within striking distance of Karbala. Other two brigades to join up when able.
One week since the attempt on Saddam.
Three thrusts by Iraq under cover of sandstorm and dark. From Basra south, almost suicidal, towards Royal Marines.
From north of Baghdad Al Nida towards Euphrates bridges or to backup the Medina division before the US Army. From Baghdad to reinforce al Kut to face US Marines.
Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade parachuted into an airfield in Kurd territory. Followup elements will land on the airfield.
Dawn approaches -- the weather is clear, will be for the week.
British troops disperse Iraqi column moving south from Basra; destroy some tanks in the process.
Reinforcement columns from Baghdad have dispersed with daylight. Isolated columns, again, insanely moved towards US forces and were destroyed.
The little reported air war begins again -- there are no embedded correspondents in attack planes. Goal is 50% destruction of Iraqi tanks by air, followed by the rooting out the survivors with ground forces.
G plus 7 . US: noon Thur to noon Fri . Iraq: Thu night thru Friday daytime. One week since the Ground war started.
Captured Tallil airbase opens, 4 miles from Nesiriyah, locally renamed Bush International. To become major supply base allowing flights directly into Iraq.
Without live pictures of air-to-tank action, the press spends hours interviewing
relatives of those killed or captured or victims of friendly fire. To be a media personality entails being able to whimper, "How do you feel about this, exactly."
14,000 troops arrived in Iraq since storm ended. Number to double in the next month.
Post sandstorm resupply of all troops.
101st moves in west of Baghdad and 3rd Inf.Div. 82nd airborne units should take over security to free
3rd Inf Div for tank on tank warfare. Where is 1st Cav?
2nd Marine division appears, following supply lines behind 1st Marines.
Half of Medina division tanks reported to have been destroyed. This means as many as 150 tanks have been destroyed, one every ten minutes or so. Each is an unreported story.
Even allowing for fly-boy optimism, "use it or lose it" suggests
that the Iraqi should move before they get weaker and the US gets
Units now moving to Persian Gulf include: 4th Inf Div ; 2nd Armored
Cavalry. Units to follow include: 1st/7th Cavalry division ;
1st Armored division. Those ships tied up for two months by Turkey
could have been moving these unit's equipment into the theater.
Are you familiar with the Mugdisho Defense?. Cause a few dozen
casualties with irregular forces and the US will go away. Will it
work? The press is working on it.
G plus 8 . US: noon Fri to noon Sat . Iraq: Fri night thru Sat daytime.
One week since the Air war started.
US warns it will attack any non-coalition forces that enter Iraq - this includes Badr Brigade of Iranian paramilitary, also Turks and Syrians.
Air continues to soften the Iraqi divisions.
Transport planes bring in supplies directly to airports in Iraq in the north and the south.
173rd Airborne task is to protect northern oil fields (half of Iraqi production), isolate the city of Kirkuk, cause Iraqi troops to remain in north, and keep Kurds and Turks from each other.
Had you noticed that three airborne units, 2-1/3 divisions, were
kept out of the fight until recently. Wonder what the early plan had them reserved for -- airlift straight into Baghdad? They were released to combat positions when the rapid thrust to Baghdad ended.
G plus 9 . US: noon Saturday to noon Sun . Iraq: Sat night thru Sun daytime.
What went wrong?
1. Turkey kept 1/3 of US forces out of action; it will take a month to get them relocated.
2. Weather stopped everything for two days, a) causing two extra days of supplies to be needed;
b) causing a loss of momentum.
3. Fadayeem terrorist attacks requires a disproportionate expenditure of defensive effort.
Less directly: 4. Lack of anticipated active civilian support.
5. Antagonistic press aids enemy moral.
Combined, these elements make up a level of contingency hard to anticipate.
The quick thrust was to allow Iraq to surrender without fighting.
It didn't work out that way, but it was worth the try.
G plus 10 . US: noon Sunday to noon Mon . Iraq: Sun night thru Monday daytime.
What goes right?
Three US divisions hold 4 Iraqi divisions in place to be mauled
from the air. US forces are too strong to be effectively attacked and the Iraqi cannot move to retreat without exposing themselves to destruction. This part of
history will be expressed only by cold statistics of US sorties flown by Air Force, Army and Navy attack planes and choppers --- and of the numbers of opposition armor and artillery destroyed very few minutes in the circle around Baghdad.
At the same time, airborne forces are strengthened in the North and enemy action is kept to zero in the West by Special Forces.
Logistics are strengthened and provisions made to incorporate
a doubling of troop strength.
Buildup in south protected by major US forces near Baghdad.
Supply lines are now protected by air assault troops and helos.
The Kurds and Turks are kept under control and even are helpful.
The oil field fires are out and no new ones occur.
Enemy adoption of suicide tactics is a foretaste of a large part
of our world's future.
Terrorist attacks do two things: a) tieup disproportionate efforts
and slowdown of operations; and b) cause imposition of restrictions on civilians which create unfavorable attitudes. Witness air travel in the USA.
See Phase 2.
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About this page : HowWar - a suggestion of how the war on Iraq might be fought and how Phase 1 was actually fought.