By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
Rumsfeld, an aficionado of an avant-garde new doctrine of high tech, air power and special operations, had initially wanted a war plan involving a much smaller force, which the Joint Chiefs of Staff, especially the Army brass, opposed. The current force is a compromise. It could have been worse.
The lengthy and ultimately largely ineffective diplomatic maneuvers gave the slow-to-deploy Army time to get its ducks in a row. But hardly all of them. The Marine Corps, a much smaller service, deployed its ground forces much more quickly than the Army, which trailed the Navy and Air Force as well. Unfortunately, the Army has the bulk of the heavy armored and mechanized units needed for the assault on Baghdad. The 4th Infantry Division, bobbing uselessly for weeks off the coast of Turkey, has just arrived but is missing most of its equipment. The tank-heavy 1st Cavalry Division and 1st Armored Division are finally en route, but the Battle of Baghdad will be well under way before they arrive and will rely more on British forces, less well-equipped than the Americans, than U.S. officers prefer.
The absence of these units means that most of the airborne units have been largely held back rather than opening up major new fronts to the north and west of Baghdad. And despite a fortunate alliance with tens of thousands of Kurdish troops in the north, the absence of sizable air mobile units there backed up by airlifted armor makes it difficult to really secure those oil fields, much less take the northern cities.
With Saddam’s old friends in France and Russia failing to stop the invasion, his hole card is the assumption that America is impatient and can’t stand seeing its boys and girls killed and wounded. But though spoiled by Gulf War I, the equivalent of a long weekend, public opinion was more than patient enough to allow the U.S. military three months to take down the Taliban. Casualties are another question. America quickly withdrew from Somalia in 1993 after 19 Rangers and Delta Force operators were killed after being trapped in Mogadishu during the backfiring raid depicted in the film, Black Hawk Down. (The heavily outnumbered U.S. forces killed a thousand Somalis — most, though hardly all, combatants — in the course of extricating themselves.)
But the recent trend of bloodless (for Americans, that is) little wars is very atypical in our history. One in every 15 service members was killed or wounded in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. My father was wounded three times. We may soon see how much history America can stand.
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