Last Stand

Reader Steve G. forwarded me this Boston Globe story on the recent Marine exercise for urban warfare — aka, the Battle of Baghdad.

While tanks and infantry have typically fought as discrete units, the Marines have started combining them, putting a single tank with a squad, relearning a tactic used during World War II. They’ve also sharpened tactics in dealing with casualties: Urban environments often preclude calling in a helicopter to fly out wounded. In exercises, Marines use modified John Deere Gator four-wheel vehicles, which offer less of a target, to take out casualties. And they’ve changed patrol strategy, employing a ”satellite” pattern of spreading out and doubling back to catch any trailing enemies.

And while cities lessen the US technological advantage, they do not eliminate it. In their August exercise, the Marines used the Dragon Eye, a drone plane that could fly overhead and beam pictures back down, giving them a view of the area. It is not deployed yet, but could be in time for a conflict with Iraq. While bright city lights can somewhat diminish US soldiers’ ability to ”own the night,” they remain far better able to operate in the dark than any opposition.

There’s a lot more, and the entire story is worth your time.

However, don’t be surprised if the final battle — if there is one — is for Tikrit, rather than Baghdad. The Tikrit clan (section 54/55) is Saddam’s power base, and once the shooting starts, more likely to remain loyal than the more-cosmopolitan people of the capital.

And Tikrit’s air defenses ain’t bad, either. Look for increasing Anglo-American air activity in the north.