Leadership: April 4, 2003

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The plan for defeating Iraq was bold, but it also failed. But by historical standards, it was not a bad plan. The initial plan was based on attempts to negotiate deals with some Iraqi military leaders and have coalition ground forces rapidly move through Iraq to Baghdad and seize the city and Saddam, thus "decapitating" Iraqi leadership and causing a collapse of the government. Cold feet by the Iraqi leaders we were negotiating with, and an unprecedented three day sand storm, crippled that plan. It was a reasonable plan. That sort of thing has worked before, but is usually very risky. Such bold operations often put friendly forces deep into enemy territory, giving a sufficiently aggressive opponent the opportunity to attack you from all sides and chop you up. The coalition plan limited the risk because it was known that the Iraqis are rather ineffective soldiers. So, it can be said to be a safe, potentially highly effective plan, even though it didn't work. The alternative plan, going in more slowly with a larger force, preceded by a longer bombing campaign, would have killed more Iraqi civilians and given the Iraqis more time to get their act together and do what they are doing now. As it is, the original plan did cause consternation among the Iraqi leadership. Not exactly "shock and awe," but the resistance has not been particularly deadly. In the first twelve days of fighting, casualties per division (dead, wounded and missing) were less than five soldiers. This is an unusually low casualty rate and not indicative of a failed operation. 

 


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