March 19, 2003



Godspeed, Yanks. Come home safe and soon.

Posted by BruceR at 10:24 PM



Gwynne Dyer is reporting on CBC that the B-52s, which Stratfor had told its subscribers earlier today, had left their airbases headed for Iraq, are in fact still on the tarmac.

Posted by BruceR at 07:57 PM



It's official: the Ontario conservative party has crossed the line over into fascism. Knock, knock! People! You're conservatives! Fiscal prudence aside, the only reason anyone votes for you at all is because you care about things like history and tradition, and preserving our icons of liberty and freedom! Like the supremacy of an elected legislature, and constitutional procedure! What focus group told you this would be a good idea? More to the point, what extralegal substance were they on at the time?

And look, if you're going to trip the fascist switch and close down representative democracy in the province, at least follow the pattern of previous conservative extremists and have a charismatic ubermensch-type leader first before you do it. The man you have is the epitome of well-oiled. In speeches he sounds like an undertaker who's had his adenoids removed. I wouldn't follow him into a diner, let alone a Brave New World of Evesism. It's actually a historical law I believe: no successful dictator was ever named Ernie...

Oh, and nice touch personally attacking the Speaker of the House: if you still had anyone with a brain onside after that first bit, you just lost them. Of course he was going to object to you shutting down the Legislature. What did you think he would do? Start hosting weddings to fill up the time? Not to mention you obviously didn't bother to tell him in advance. Did you lose his phone number? Here's a hint: he's the guy in the big chair at the front of the room. Just in case you need to find him in future.

And what are you going to replace the legislature with? You're going to announce new tax changes through WEBCASTING? Oh, Christ, you people are stupid. Could anything BE more Orwellian? The scary face of Fuhrer Eves comes on my laptop and tells me how my taxes just went up, to support the unaccountable expenditures of The Leader? Are you TRYING to spark a resurgence of communism? Idiots.

Posted by BruceR at 04:02 PM



(Scroll down March 10-12 to see the previous entries in this series.) I've been thinking about the Amir Taheri piece on possible Iraqi strategy, to my mind the best stab at what it could be I've read so far.

One answer to that, if mass human movements are seen as a slowing factor for the Americans would be to make an even longer left hook than I was predicting, crossing the Euphrates from the West around Habbaniyah (again, this map may be helpful). In this scenario, the 101st still lands in strength along the Euphrates, but this time as a screening force as V Corps (3rd Infantry and possibly an additional ACR) take a longer way around, coming at Baghdad from the West.

This is actually looking so attractive an approach now that it's competitive with my earlier "Market Garden 2" musings (which saw the airmobile deployment instead as a carpet over which V Corps would roll). I can't see any advantage in the Americans coming in somewhere between the two extremes. So I'd say either they're going to going to cross the Euphrates around Samawah and head north, or they will go as far around as Habbaniyah. But certainly, if only in order to keep the deception plan alive, the obvious potential means you're going to see some kind of airmobile force, perhaps brigade-size, dropped in near Habbaniyah early on (the long punt in the left-flanking play).

It also occurs to me that, assuming there is any chemical capability left to the Iraqis, it will now be concentrated around likely LZs in the center and north of the country. The Iraqi dream scenario now is that the 101st plops a brigade down on a targeted major airstrip in the north, which they then can cover using artillery with something like a mustard munition, throwing at least the airborne part of the plan into some disarray. I don't expect to see chem used much if at all in the south, as it would largely be wasted on a fast moving tank advance. As a consequence, while I'm still sure there's some kind of "northern option," if only to discourage the Turks now, main force airmobile formations probably won't be seen headed up there for at least two or three days after the ground thrust begins, after the Iraqis have begun to fall back their good units in the north to a Baghdad perimeter.

So here's the prediction for the ground moves, with less than 8 hours to go:
*101st Airborne Div along Euphrates from Hillah to Samawah.
*another airmobile brigade somewhere near Habbaniyah.
*V Corps (3rd Mech Infantry Division plus attachments) crosses the Euphrates at Samawah (plan A) and heads north, or at Habbaniyah (plan B) and heads west for Baghdad.
*1 UK Div (in fact, nearly half Marines) heads for Amarah by way of Nasariyah.
*1 Marine Division heads due north from Kuwait City, supported from the sea.
*3-4 days in, at least one airmobile brigade lands in the north (Mosul? Irbil?) as the Iraqis evacuate south to the Baghdad perimeter, to stabilize that part of the country.

If the Americans are assuming all this talk about the Iraqis only fighting in Baghdad is true, and that they don't expect to be really challenged by organized resistance south of the Baghdad city limits, then the long left flank of plan B makes the most sense. If their intel tells them, however, that at least some of the Republican Guard is massing to face them farther south of the city, they may yet still go for the first-round knockout that plan A represents. (The one big problem with the long left flank is it practically FORCES the Iraqis to pull any armour still left elsewhere back into the Baghdad perimeter, and so more or less rules out any major armour-on-armour fight in more open country, something the Americans given their advantages and aversion to a Baghdad siege would obviously still like to hope for. If it's not going to happen, though, it's not going to happen.) Regardless, the Americans could still switch back to a plan A frontal approach if the signs of complete collapse of the Hussein regime were unmistakeable, and all that mattered was getting into Baghdad fastest with the mostest. Not knowing what they know of the enemy deployments at this point, I have to reserve judgment. Like I've often said, though, I'm probably wrong about something anyway.

UPDATE: The other option Hussein might have that's rarely mentioned is disrupting the dam network on the Tigris and the Euphrates. If they thought there was even a chance opening the spigots could rapidly flood a large part of the plain between the rivers in front of them, the Americans would have to go with the longer left flank of Plan B out of prudence, as such a move wouldn't have a significant effect. Again, it depends on whether Iraq is planning to try to use any of its armour at all before heading for the mouseholes, and whether such a move is even hydrologically possible: who knows?

Posted by BruceR at 12:56 PM

OH, YEAH, AND... One thing


One thing I forgot to mention about the anti-military rally in Toronto last Saturday. Some of the participants carved swastikas in the metal of the decommissioned guns on the front lawn of the Moss Park facility. Two of those guns are 25-pounders, used by Canadian forces to help overthrow that last world-threatening fascism, in Europe. I suppose someone might say that's ironic.

Posted by BruceR at 11:57 AM



It should be noted, for American readers, that the Canadian navy has still committed a destroyer and two frigates, and two maritime patrol planes, to the international task force keeping the Straits of Hormuz freely navigable, which was set up when the Afghan war commenced. (In fact, it is the local Canadian commodore's turn to lead that particular force.) Everything they do and see is shared with American Centcom, and they are, for all intents and purposes, working for Centcom. Every American and British vessel headed for Iraq passes under their eye, and is in part protected by them from anything like Iraqi naval mines or Yemen-style small boat attacks while they go through the straits. But they're not part of the war on Iraq. Everyone clear on that? Good, explain it to me, then, cause I'm lost. Seems the navy gets all the risk it would normally have had if we had "committed," and we are seen as hostile by the Islamists anyway. Hey, but this way we get no absolutely credit from the Americans for helping them, so that's okay, then. The PM's wildly popular at home again, and that's really what this has ever been about.

With the army fully committed to Bosnia and Afghanistan, and the navy to this straits thing, the only actual military options remaining open if Canada had declared its support were either a special forces platoon or two or some F-18s. I must confess, other than in diplomatic figleaf terms, that I can't see much real difference in the situation if, say, the PM had said, hey, we will support this conflict, and keep our current commitments, but we will not offer any further assets, particularly combat ones -- as Spain is doing now. But I guess I'm not a politician.

Posted by BruceR at 07:41 AM



Den Beste drops another clanger in what was otherwise a good argument:

"The M1A2 is nearly twice as fast as the British Challenger, and British armor wouldn't be able to keep up with 3rd division if it was advancing at full speed."

Speed of the M1A2: 42 mph road, 30 mph cross country
Speed of the Challenger 2: 37 mph road, 25 mph cross country

(The original M1 had a top road speed of 45 mph, it should be noted... there was a bit of a speed loss in going with the heavier gun in the later models.)

Posted by BruceR at 06:24 AM



Fred Kaplan's take.

Posted by BruceR at 06:11 AM

IN OTHER NEWS Sgt. Stryker


Sgt. Stryker loses it because an Iraqi blogger isn't welcoming the coming invasion. Calm down, Paul:

[Salam Pax] lives a relatively comfortable life while people are tortured and slaughtered. What has he done? The residents of Baghdad have done nothing. Where was their revolt in the early 90's?

There's been a lot of talk about how Americans have planned for the post-war settlement even before the war starts. Seems we've also in at least some quarters got a headstart on the standard occupier's resentment (particularly the choosing of some local factions over others) that has made some previous American hostile occupations such pleasant experiences for all concerned.

Posted by BruceR at 05:50 AM



Okay, before the balloon goes up, a couple things I'm thinking.

*As far as we can tell, there isn't yet a second full heavy division in Kuwait to back up the 3rd Infantry Division for the drive to Baghdad. Either this is misinformation, or the Yanks are playing with a minimal margin for error on the ground drive. Other than that, I'm sticking with the game plan predictions of previous posts.

*I'd say the NBC threat is actually remarkably low. It's fairly clear there's no nuclear potential here. There is zero evidence Iraq ever weaponized its bioweapons, either. They'd be too slow acting anyway to stop the action on the ground in Iraq, so unless there's a "deployment by terrorist" planned, a la the anthrax attacks somewhere, there's no window for their use.

That leaves chemical. The only proven means of distribution Iraq has for any chemical weapons, though, are artillery and aircraft spraytank. It's fair to say aircraft are never going to get close enough to the Americans to spray them, and artillery, particularly those close to the border, are going to be overrun or neutralized very quickly. Obviously, neither method can reach out and touch Israel, either. Plus, comms to the centre are going to go to crap within hours, and a moving armoured spearhead is a horrible choice of chemical target, as the troops are all underarmour for the most part anyway, and can quickly bypass any persistent effects. It's certainly reasonable that, when the scale of defeat is obvious, there could be some attempts to use chemical artillery... in most cases those should fail long before a shell even leaves a gun.

*It's dimestore psychology, but I still see the Iraqi leader as a survivor. He's going to put up a manful resistance, but leave himself an escape hatch for flight into exile somewhere. That alone is another argument against any NBC deployment, as it would cut off a lot of potential asylum possibilities for Hussein.

*The only viable Iraqi strategy I can see is delay, in particular through inflicting heavy casualties to some detached body of American light troops... i.e., enough damage to one of the airmobile formations that it forces the American ground commander to check his armoured drive. This in turn leads to a window where there might be new international negotiations, etc. and an opportunity for the leader to take a consequences-free exile (which he can't do for personal reasons before until after the shooting starts.) If he wants the Americans to taste some ashes, that's what's going to have to happen. Oh, he'd love to hurt Israel on the way out, but he likely can't, for all the reasons above. (It's extremely doubtful he has any missiles left with that kind of range, as well, which would even rule out a conventional strike: if he has, he's hid them from international eyes for over a decade.)

*Oh, and nothing's going to happen (at least nothing we'll hear about) before 8 p.m. tonight. Bush is a man of his word, if nothing else. This willingness to entertain the idea he's now going to cut that 48 hour deadline short after just making it is more a sign of blogger bloodthirstiness than any rational evaluation of the likelihood.

*Finally: while NBC may be a non-starter, the prospect of environmental terrorism remains high. It was notable Bush didn't warn on Monday against the release of oil into the Persian Gulf, a threat from the last time... presumably the Americans think they'll have the head of the Gulf secured in a matter of hours, so it's not a concern. That leaves setting fire to the oil wells in-country, which is highly likely.

Posted by BruceR at 05:13 AM