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Monthly Archives: March 2003

Nifty

March 24th, 2003 - 2:23 pm

Courtesy of The Strategic Armchair General comes a handy Flash presentation on how an armored meeting engagement works.

3ID has been doing a lot of exactly this since late last week, so you might want to know how they’re doing it.

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Another Map Lesson

March 24th, 2003 - 2:05 pm

Al Fallujah. Al Musayyib. No, aren’t the sounds I’m making, still coughing from the walking pnuemonia I suffered a couple weeks ago. Those are two towns in Iraq, and it’s likely we’ll be hearing more about at least one of them shortly.

Each commands a river crossing we’ll need on the Road to Baghdad (visions of Hope and Crosby spring to mind).

Al Fallujah is further north, but seems to offer a better approach to the west side of Baghdad, assuming General Franks doesn’t mind a 90 degree wheeling movement. But maneuver isn’t exactly something new to the US Army.

Al Al Musayyib is more direct, and doesn’t require a 15,000-man divsion to make a big right hand turn. But if I’m reading the map correctly, the terrain and urban areas are more constrained.

But we’ll probably need at least one of those towns in safe possession in order to move men and material where we need them — especially material. Modern armies require an unbeleiveable amount of stuff to stay in the field, and even more if you expect them to, you know, actually fight.

We need bridges. Those two cities have important ones.

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Breaking — Maybe

March 24th, 2003 - 1:40 pm

More news from the air war, just posted at CP.

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Not Your Father’s Gulf War II

March 24th, 2003 - 1:34 pm

Much is being made about our “failures” in this new ground campaign. Apaches are being forced away, the Brits had to pull out of parts of Basra, we don’t hold 50,000 POWs, the last war was over in four days, etc.

Take a deep breath. Calm down. Relax. No, not you — the press.

Last time around, the goal was to expell the Iraqis from Kuwait, destroy as much of the Army and Republican Guard as we could, and wait for the (ahem) inevitable coup against Saddam.

The first two goals we accomplished, although twelve years later, we’re still waiting for the coup. Any day now, really. Or not.

This time the goals are different, and so is the battlefield.

The goal now is liberation and reconstruction. We don’t want to destroy the regular Iraqi Army. We’ll need help in policing the New Iraq, and there’s no love lost between the Army and Saddam. He sold them out in ’91, he’s starved them of food and equipment, and he brutally purges their officers with an almost banal regularity. Played right, the Iraqi Army can become an ally in the post-war period.

In 1991, the big battles were fought in the open desert. The only real exception was the battle for Kuwait City, but that was hardly a battle at all. Cut off from resupply and escape, the Iraqis ran to their doom on the famous Highway of Death. The main action, however, was to the north and west, where VII Corps made its famous “left hook,” and shattered what little resistence was left at the Battle of 73 Easting. Open desert, open battles, quick victory.

Today we’re fighting in Iraq, itself. It’s a big, metropolitan country. Cities, rivers, farms. Imagine a war in Ohio, but with worse weather. And the enemy is playing differently, too. Having learned they cannot stand and fight and expect to win, the Republican Guard is doing all those awful things we’ve been reading about all weekend: Sniping, pretending to surrender, hiding in plain sight in civilian clothes, etc.

So, yes, there are going to be small setbacks behind the main lines. But our eyes — and fists — are still on the prize: Baghdad. In my last post, we looked at the map of Iraq, and where our forces are. The Western Desert is locked off, and we’ve already found two missile sites. The north is mostly in the hands of the Kurds and our Special Forces. From the south, 3ID is making stellar progress towards the capital.

This is a different war, with different goals, strategies, methods — and problems, none unique in military history. Don’t worry about the minor setbacks in the rear areas; the real event is in Baghdad, and the pieces are moving quickly into place.

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Dispositions

March 24th, 2003 - 1:07 pm

StrategyPage also has a new map showing known Coalition forces locations, and suspected dispositions of Iraqi troops.

Don’t worry — none of this information is classified; it’s all been garnered from public sources.

Click over and you’ll see that 3ID is poised to strike through the “Karbala Gap,” located between the town of Karbala and the lake west. If the Iraqis think they can stop us short of Baghdad, it will have to be there. And they can’t.

Units of the 101st are following 3ID, but I suspect they’ll be used mostly for occupation and pacification. We don’t have many boots in the sand, and there are still lots of pockets of enemy troops behind 3ID. That’s being done on purpose — race past enemy strong points in order to get to Baghdad, where the leadership is (probably, maybe) hiding out.

To the east, you’ll see the 1st Marine Division and 1st UK Armor. At least one of those divisions will eventually run up the roads along the Euphrates River, to be in position on the east side of Baghdad. With Kurds and Special Forces in the north, the circle will be, to quote Darth Vader, complete.

That much can happen in days, not weeks. But as I wrote before, speculating on how the endgame will play out is still pointless.

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What Next?

March 24th, 2003 - 12:37 pm

This post on CP should have ended up here — but we’re getting some strange ping results when posting, so I thought I’d test it out. Anyway, before Michele takes it down or moves it to the Op-Ed page, here it is:

Back in July, I posted some thoughts about what this war would look like:

Instead of a long line in the sand, there will be many short ones, plus scattered dots that look like the work of a spray painter with a weak trigger finger working on his semicolons.

The war will start with the usual surprise massive air raids, disturbing enemy C3I (Command, control, communications, and intelligence). Instead of a broad front, we

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Fuel for Thought

March 24th, 2003 - 12:26 pm

Raymond Reichelt forwards this story (no direct link) from New Scientist.com:

An enzyme-catalysed battery has been created that could one day run cell phones and laptop computers on shots of vodka.

The key to the device is a new polymer that protects the fragile enzymes used to break down the ethanol fuel, scientists told the American Chemical Society’s annual meeting in New Orleans on Monday.

Vodka: It’s not just for dinner anymore.

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Pooty-Poot

March 24th, 2003 - 12:03 pm

Here’s how some of our Russian friends are helping us:

An unusual action was organized in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg: now citizens of the city and from the nearby districts can dial 002 and call US President George W. Bush in the White House. The organizers of the action say that in the network of the campaign, 987 calls to the White House have been already made and 112 people talked to an official from the US Presidential administration.

One of Yekaterinburg paging companies was the organizer of the action; officials of the company say, any citizen can call the White House in Washington, DC, absolutely free of charge. This is done for people to express their opinion concerning the US-led war campaign in Iraq.

Gee, I wonder what opinion they’re hoping their readers will express? Certainly, we can expect nothing but praise and encouragement from the impoverished citizens of a former superpower who lost it all in a 50-year war with us.

NOTE: Thanks to Michael Johannsen for the link to Pravda’s English-language site.

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Notice

March 24th, 2003 - 11:46 am

It’s official — I’m a registered blogger at The Command Post. Reload that page for breaking news, and this site for the usual stuff.

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Editorial Slant

March 24th, 2003 - 11:34 am

Look at the front page of the Washington Post, and you see there’s a war on — with all the expected confusion, setbacks, and victories. Read the front page of the New York Times, and you’d think we’re getting our asses kicked from Mosul to Basrah.

Here’s all the news that’s fit to print, according to Raines & Co.:

Hail of Gunfire and Grenades Forces Apaches to Pull Back

Fighting Continues in Nasiriya, Nicknamed ‘Ambush Alley’

20 Americans Dead or Missing After Day of Sharp Clashes

From Hussein, Defiance and Praise for His Troops

Wounded U.S. Soldiers Flown to Germany

Annan Seeks Urgent Steps to Get Water to Basra

Dow Falls Sharply Amid Fears of Prolonged War

Reading that, Manhattanites must be wondering how long before Saddam is dictating surrender terms.

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Linkage

March 24th, 2003 - 11:26 am

In case you don’t have the new URL yet, The Command Post can now be found here.

Soon as I can figure out what my sign-in info is, I’ll probably be doing most of my short posts there, and saving the “analysis” crap for this site.

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Required Reading

March 24th, 2003 - 11:11 am

The first thing I tried to write this morning was done better by Ralph Peters in today’s New York Post. The second was done (much sooner and much, much better) by Victor Davis Hanson in yesterday’s edition, but I can’t find the link.

UPDATE: Moe Freedman has the link to the Hanson peice.

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A Few Observations

March 24th, 2003 - 11:03 am

So after writing most of three mini essays and almost an entire 800-word column type-thing — and then having to trash them all because they’d either already been done somewhere else better or, in one case, bypassed by events. . .

. . .Let’s just say it’s been a frustrating morning.

I did watch Saddam’s speech last night. It sure looked like him to me, but as I was shown four times already today, what the hell do I know? Anyway, the thing was devoid of any particulars, except for a brief mention of Umm Qasr. And since it had to be one of the first cities on the Road to Baghdad, that doesn’t prove much.

Reports are that 3ID should be on the outskirts of Baghdad tonight or tomorrow. I doubt they’ll march right in. As we’re learning in Umm Qasr and other places, the Republican Guard isn’t coming out to fight in division formations as they did in ’91. They learned their lesson. Instead, they leave small units of men behind, causing us no end of headaches.

I get the feeling this is what the Occupation is going to look like, at least for a while. You might be thinking that what we’re seeing means there’s going to be a long and costly guerillia campaign after the war is won. Undoubtedly, we’ll see some of that, certainly more than we’d like. But this shouldn’t turn into anything like Vietnam — or even Gaza — for a couple reasons. The Republican Guard has no superpower sponsor, and they aren’t exactly loved by the population.

But Iraq is a Mideast country, so expect the peace to take much longer to win than the campaign. That’s just the way it works. Messy, hateful, and occassionally tragically bloody.

More in a few. I spent so much time writing stuff for the Recycle Bin that I’ve fallen behind current events.

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Tanned, Rested, and Ready to Rant

March 23rd, 2003 - 9:50 pm

A Saturday night spent with food & wine & friends, and an only somewhat lazy Sunday spent on small chores.

It’s the stuff that keeps you sane.

Sanity restored, VodkaPundit is back on a war footing.

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Required Weekend Reading

March 22nd, 2003 - 4:46 pm

A parable for the 21st Century.

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A Better Choice?

March 22nd, 2003 - 4:24 pm

From Fox News:

The expected exodus of refugees from Iraq has yet to materialize, U.N. officials said Friday, but cautioned that it may be too early in the 2-day-old U.S.-led invasion to tell how bad things may become.

On the other hand, you’d expect we’d be seeing huge refugee columns streaming out of Baghdad to the west, from Kirkuk and Tikrit to the north, and Basra to the south.

Where are the refugees?

What does it mean when people would rather endure American bombing than leave their homes? If, as some fear, our smart bombs aren’t hitting their targets, you’d expect word to travel fast and people to pack up and head to safety. But even after two nights of heavy bombing, the vast majority of Iraqis are staying put.

As of now, it seems the people of Iraq would rather sit it out and await their liberation.

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No News

March 22nd, 2003 - 12:50 pm

Busy day here. Will post as soon as able.

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Weekend Posting

March 22nd, 2003 - 9:27 am

Hungover? Just a little.

Busy weekend here — but busier over there. Let’s see if there’s anything to say after my head clears.

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Raise the, Uh, Flag

March 21st, 2003 - 6:04 pm

No developments that haven’t been covered better already elsewhere.

Later tonight, my brother-in-law Rick and I will go support the troops by over-tipping cute cocktail waitresses who might have boyfriends or husbands serving in Iraq, right now as we speak.

Frankly, I’m shocked and saddened that no one else has had the courage to do something for these brave gals, and I assure you Rick and I are both beaming with pride at the prospect of tonight’s patriotic action.

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Rough Justice

March 21st, 2003 - 5:16 pm

The Turks are moving into Iraqi Kurd areas.

A Turkish commando force of around 1,500 men crossed into northern Iraq (news – web sites) on Friday night, a precursor to eventual larger deployment, a Turkish military official told Reuters.

The United States has told Turkey it would not welcome a large unilateral Turkish incursion into northern Iraq, where Kurdish authorities are suspicious of Turkish motives.

Turkey says it needs troops in Iraq to control refugees and forestall any attempt to create a Kurdish state.

Kurdish groups have said they will resist any Turkish invasion.

Having pissed away overly-generous offers of US aid, and taxed American goodwill, Turkey will now have to pay for their mini invasion out of their own pockets.

And in the end, they still won’t control Kurdistan or the Mosul oil fields. Serves’em right.

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Denial

March 21st, 2003 - 5:12 pm

Hot from Google:

Iraq denied that US-led forces had captured the whole of the Faw peninsula and the port of Umm Qasr in the south of the country, and said it had “inflicted heavy losses” on US and British troops.

Defence Minister Sultan Hashem Ahmad said the US and British military lied about the number of casualties sustained during land attacks into southern Iraq on Thursday and Friday.

Considering the state of Iraqi communications, and the tendency for only “good” news, real or not, to reach the ears of the Dreaded Leader, there’s a chance Ahmad really believes what he’s saying.

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Breaking

March 21st, 2003 - 4:31 pm

“Chemical Ali” is believed dead, along with two other high-ranking officers.

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War Reporting

March 21st, 2003 - 4:22 pm

First full report on the Battle for Safwan.

There was little initial resistance as the United States Marines swept into southern Iraq early yesterday. One of the first encounters of the ground war was more like a massacre than a fight.

The Iraqi gunners fired first, soon after United States President George Bush announced the attack on Saddam Hussein was under way.

It was a fatal mistake.

Damnit, we told those people, again and again, what would happen. All they had to do was stay in their barracks, wave the white flag, or desert and walk home.

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Sore Loser Watch III

March 21st, 2003 - 4:13 pm

Nope, nothing today. In fact, I rather like Alterman’s comments about being proud of his “dual loyalties” as an American Jew.

Of course, his pride doesn’t change his often anti-Israel slant, but I admire the honesty here.

Today’s piece, in fact, comes off more like he does on TV. With the exception f his Daily Show debacle, he usually sounds much more reasonable and much more reasoned that he does in print. That’s the reverse of a lot of pundits, and so I thought it was worth mentioning.

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Almost Pavlovian

March 21st, 2003 - 4:04 pm

Check out this cartoon from the University of Maryland’s student paper, The Diamondback.

After you chuckle, click here to read the predictably outraged responses.

Thanks to Mark Mandrella for the links.

UPDATE: Had to fix the thank you line — was looking at the wrong email. Let’s hope I have it right this time.

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Breaking

March 21st, 2003 - 3:59 pm

From ABC.com:

American officials have told ABCNEWS that even with today’s bombing, secret talks have continued behind the scenes about a Saddam Hussein surrender and exile to, among other places, the country of Mauritania in west Africa.

Secretary of State Colin Powell hinted at the possibility of ongoing talks, saying: “There are a number of channels open to Baghdad. There are a number of individuals in countries around the world who have been conveying the message to the Iraqi regime that it is now inevitable that there will be a change.”

One of the back channels goes through France, according to American officials aware of the negotiations.

The report goes on to say that Saddam might be offered a lovely retirement home in Mauritania, perhaps one of the most miserable countries in all of former French West Africa.

I’d rather he were dead than in what amounts to French custody. But if exile saves lives, then so be it.

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Pure Speculation II

March 21st, 2003 - 3:57 pm

Getting out of the shower an hour ago, I heard on FNC that our intel guys weren’t picking up much chatter from Iraqi units or leadership.

That’s an important indicator for two reasons.

The first reason is obvious, and we’ve talked about it here before. No chatter means enemy HQs aren’t relaying any orders to the troops in the field. No orders means no action, other than pre-determined battle plans by any units foolish enough to engage us. But engage us where? We’re moving faster than any army in history, and it’s awfully hard to hit something moving a hundred miles a day.

The second reason helps explain the first. There’s also little communications going up the chain of command. Individual Iraqi soldiers can’t find us (or are turning a blind eye), so they aren’t relaying any intel to their lieutenants and captains. Lacking any information, the captains can’t tell the majors or colonels anything much, who don’t say anything to the generals, who can’t make any reports to the political leadership (if any is left).

Orders aren’t going down because intel isn’t going up. Saddam and his Ba’ath Party are deaf and blind, which helps tell us why they’ve also gone dumb.

Not that they were ever that bright in the first place.

If any history buffs can tell me of any battle ever where enemy communications were so effectively shut down as they are today in Iraq, I’d love to hear of it. I’ve been scratching my head for an hour now, and can’t come up with anything.

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Home Front III

March 21st, 2003 - 3:46 pm

Sanity Inspector Bruce sends some snapshots from Saturday’s rally in Atlanta. As always, click for each full-sized image.

Enjoy those. More useless speculation in a couple minutes.

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“They’re in shock; I’m in awe.”

And now, back to the news.

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Notice

March 21st, 2003 - 2:22 pm

No real news for now, and I’ve done all the san speculating that can be done with so little information.

Back soon.

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