StratFor has been on a bit of a losing streak lately, but this Clausewitzian look at US and Iraqi war aims and means is worth a look. Here’s the key graf:
The same events cause the Americans and Iraqis to come to completely different conclusions. What is for the United States a model of effective military operations is from the Iraqi perspective a consistent record of unwillingness to bear the costs of follow-on operations. Obviously, these are some of the reasons why wars occur: If the United States didn’t think it could take Iraq, it wouldn’t try. If Hussein didn’t think he could survive an attack, he would be looking for an exit strategy.
Which leads to:
In STRATFOR’s view, Washington has four basic strategic options that could stand alone or be melded into a combined strategy:
1. Operation Desert Stun: a sudden, overwhelming attack on the center using air power and Special Forces designed to force a rapid conclusion to the war.
2. Operation Desert Slice: a sequential attack on the various regions of Iraq designed to segment and stabilize the countryside, isolating Hussein in Baghdad.
3. Operation Desert Storm II: an extended air campaign designed to cripple Iraq militarily and economically.
4. Operation Desert Thunder: a multi-divisional armored and mechanized attack on Baghdad.
If one thinks of these less as distinct operations than as potential components of a single plan, then the American strategy and Iraq’s potential counter operations will unfold.
Option 2 has been in effect, at least in the Kurdish regions, for a decade or more. Option 3 has already started, albeit at a low tempo.
The rest will be a combination of 1 and 4 — mark my words.