Before finally falling asleep (with the news on), I heard on Fox that some American unit had advanced 150 kilometers into Iraq. That’s damn near 100 miles in less than a day.
Information was sketchy, so they could have been talking about airborne units, who have reportedly siezed a xouple of airfields up near Mosul and the Turkish border, establish airheads for follow-on forces. But I don’t think so.
In proper military jargon, Airborne and Air Assault forces don’t “advance” until after they’ve landed. And they won’t be advancing much at all — their job is to seize places and things we’ll need later; it’s the follow-on forces that do most of the advancing.
So odds are, some armored or mechanized forces made a 100 mile advance in half a day. That is, I believe, the fastest offensive in history, better even than the Soviets managed when moving into Japanese-held Manchuria in August, 1945 — and the Japanese put up about as much resistance then as the Iraqis are today.
Someone last night expressed the fear that our forces, not finding any Iraqis, will advance too far, too fast, then “the Iraqis will just come out of everywhere.”
Really? Come out from where? They can’t move without being spotted from the air. On whose orders? The leadership seems to be mostly incommunicado, and likely to stay that way. (On a side note, the ’91 Khafji Offensive by the Iraqis was by some accounts supposed to be made by four divisions, but only one ever recieved it orders and acted on them.) Lacking orders from the top, on whose initiative? There is none in the Iraqi Army, as detailed by this Den Beste essay. To what effect? The combat power of even the Republican Guard isn’t what it was in ’91, and we all know what happened back then.
That’s not to say we won’t face any nasty surprises. But a massive Iraqi counteroffensive that catches us with our pants down ain’t one of’em.