The Perfect Soldier: Special Operations, Commandos, and the Future of Us Warfare by James F. Dunnigan
More Books by James Dunnigan
Dirty Little Secrets
Invading Iraq, When and How
by James Dunnigan
September 16, 2002
If there is an Iraq invasion in late 2002 or 2003, it will feature a lot of things not seen in 1991 Gulf War.
- JSOC commandos (Delta Force and Seal Team 6) will probably be used to take out key leaders and weapons of mass destruction sites. JSOC are the elite "counter-terrorism" force and these are the guys the Pentagon wants to pull out of Afghanistan in order to prepare for Iraq operations. JSOC has been around for 20 years, cost over a billion dollars and have not had much success. So they are looking to show they have the right stuff. In particular, JSOC will be looking for Saddam's Scuds.
- There is much enthusiasm in the Pentagon to do a little voodoo on Iraq. This means a campaign that emphasizes our unique capabilities (networked computers, superior communications, control of the air, smart bombs, very mobile and well trained ground troops) to overcome the Iraqi advantages (more troops and weapons, the threat of trying to force us to fight in the cities.) It did not go unnoticed that during the 1991 war, the Iraqi troops and generals were freaked out by the speed and precision of the initial air attacks, and the equally swift and daring maneuver of the ground attack (the Iraqis didn't grasp the advantage troops with GPS had in the desert.) What made the Iraqis give up so quickly was that we seemed to be coming from everywhere, using weapons they had never seen before. So for the next invasion of Iraq, expect the unexpected.
- The Iraqis are already expecting the Special Forces to get involved in stirring up the 80 percent of the population that hates Saddam and his Sunni Arab followers. This may already be happening, as reports out of Basra, Iraq's southernmost city, and a hotbed of Shia Arab resistance, indicate that Saddam's people down there are getting very nervous. The border with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia is actually quite porous, people get across, going both ways, regularly. The word is that deals are being made in Basra. Deals have already been made in northern Iraq, where 50,000 armed Kurds, and U.S./U.K. airpower and Turkish ground troops, keep the Iraqi army out.
- The war, when it comes, will be a combination of what worked in 1991, and Afghanistan in 2001. The Army and the Air Force have agreed that hitting targets faster is much, much more effective. The CIA demonstrated that most convincingly when they armed their Predator drones, a move that shortened the time between spotting and hitting a target to minutes. Same thing happened when the Special Forces were in direct contact with bombers overhead. Our Afghan allies were amazed at the "point and click" bombing tactics of the Special Forces troopers. The word has no doubt gotten back to Baghdad, and the Iraqis now have a lot to worry about. This "point and click" bombing is one reason it's believed the Iraqi Army, and most of the Republican Guard, can be convinced to sit this one out. Dying for the cause is one thing, but dying without any chance to fight back is something else again. Iraqis have never been enthusiastic about suicide attacks.
- The Pentagon will probably make much of "Information War" in the Iraq invasion. The first stage of the campaign will see Iraqi TV and radio transmitters knocked out and replaced by the American ones (the C-130 "Commando Solo" flying radio/TV transmitters). This will cut Saddam off from the Iraqi people, and allow us to announce the coming elections and installation of an honest government. There will be something of an ad campaign, complete with slogans and American style radio and TV ads. "Freedom, Opportunity and Democracy for Iraq," "No More Thieves, Tyrants and Murderers." "Iraq for the Iraqis." "You Don't Have to Got to America to Have it All, You Can Have it in Iraq." There are plenty of Iraqi-Americans who can appear in ads extolling the benefits of freedom, opportunity and democracy. After three decades of Saddam, this should not be a hard sell. The media blitz might even include campaign ads by the exiled Iraqi political groups, and talk shows where the leaders of these groups, and recent defectors, can be interviewed. Who ever though talk shows would be turned into a military weapon?
When will the invasion begin? Most likely, soon after UN, EU and Congressional opposition are taken care of, one way or the other. The Information War campaign will probably kick off first, and the success of that will determine if it's going to be "Invasion Lite" (mostly light forces that can be moved to the Gulf quickly) or "Invasion Heavy" (that will require 60-90 days to get the heavy divisions in place.) The "heavy" approach will probably include four "heavy" U.S. armored or mechanized divisions, a marine division, an airborne division, a British armored division, a British marine brigade and a British airborne brigade. The heavy divisions include some 1200 M-1 and Challenger tanks, the same sort that overran the Iraqis in 1991. In the north, where mountains make tanks less effective, the airborne forces would be used. The airborne troops have helicopters, making them available for strikes on any part of the country. Many Iraqis remember the "invulnerable" M-1 tanks and the US air mobile forces that seemed to come at them from everywhere. The hundreds of thousands of Iraqi troops who surrendered to US and British troops in 1991 have spent the last eleven years sitting in coffee houses telling the current generation of troops what happens when you fight the Americans. In that time, the Iraqi army has declined in power, mainly because of a shortage of spare parts and ammunition for training. Few Iraqi troops have any illusions about being able to beat the Americans this time. Even fighting the Americans in the cities is not a favorable option. Iraqis know about the Israeli use of air power and 50 ton D-9 bulldozers against defenders. Palestinians call the armored D-9, "the Beast", and the US army has announced that it is getting at least a dozen D-9s.
The most desired outcome is a coup in Iraq. There have been dozens of attempted coups over the years, and Saddam has survived them all. The increasing number of senior Iraqi defectors in the past few years has provided more opportunities to get in touch with Iraqi generals and bureaucrats who might be willing to move against Saddam. If Saddam could be replaced by Iraqis, and U.S. troops allowed in, the corrupt government could be reformed, the coup plotters rewarded, the chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs shut down and U.S. troops sent home. Such a coup is encouraged by the prospect of an American invasion, for it the current Iraqi government is put out of business by U.S. troops, the Sunni Arab minority who have been running Iraq for decades will be faced with retribution from angry Shias and Kurds. Senior Iraqis need protection from the people they torment. If Saddam and his thugs can't provide that, the U.S. Army can.
While Iraq has never known honest government, corruption can be eliminated, allowing U.S. troops to go home. Several nations have done it in the last fifty years (particularly in East Asia.) Such corruption is at the heart of most of the misery in the world and until there are serious attempts to clean out the tyrants, the world will not know peace. The war in Iraq is not against Iraq, but against corrupt and tyrannical government.