Saturday, March 29, 2003
The threat may have been made overt in war, but it hung over us in peacetime as well. That is why we are at war.
So the Iraqis are copying the tactics of the Palestinians now. No matter what the president wants about playing nicely with Iraqi civilians, we are going to have to get tougher. We will have to establish security areas and no-go zones (for Iraqis). Too bad, but we can't allow this tactic to become successful. Eventually, we may have to clear the population out of the towns like Najaf, Nasiriyah, etc. that are on our supply lines. Anyone found there then , will be shoot-able. Soldiers function best with nice bright line tests to go by. Victory will be that much easier.
Here is an outside-the-box idea. How much effort and time would it take for us to bridge the Euphrates in locations convenient to us, away from population centers, and easily defended? We constructed Bailey Bridges over several rivers in Europe in the Second World War. Surely the technology has improved since then. Since we seem to be in a pause while reinforcements are being flown in, why not make good use of the time, and make our supply lines easier to defend?
Friday, March 28, 2003
Their aim has improved since the last war. But, perhaps not, since this has been the first one of their missiles that has hit something, and who knows what, if anything, they were aiming at. The good news was that the missile hit at 2:00 am, when the mall was closed.
You can locate it on this map.
NRO's Jed Babbin is reporting that there is an hour-long version of the al Jezeerah tape with the American soldiers, in which the soldiers are tortured, executed, and their bodies desecrated. It is being broadcast, over and over, to the delight of the discriminating viewers of Egypt and other parts of the Moslem world. Al Jezeerah really needs to be taken out.
The sandstorms, the need for re-inforcements, and the supply difficulties are apparently slowing down the advance. Inevitably, in this relative pause, the international chorus is singing the first notes of "negotiated settlement." Now is the time for the Allies to make clear that only unconditional surrender by Iraq will be an acceptable termination to the conflict.
President Bush came close to saying it yesterday in hs remarks for the press after meeting with Prime Minister Blair. The words, "unconditional surrender" need to be heard. American soldiers need to know that their struggles will, under no circumstances, be in vain. They will not be thrown away in a brokered settlement. The international community needs to be put on notice that it ought to shut up and stop sticking its unwanted nose into this matter. The words "unconditional surrender" do that. They also signal to the Iraqi people that we are determined to see this through to the end, no matter what. That may give them additional courage in resisting the tyrant.
Churchill gives a good working definition of "unconditional surrender" in his History of the Second World War:
"The term 'unconditonal surrender,' I said in the House of Commons on February 22, 1944, "does not mean that the German people will be enslaved or destroyed. It means however that the Allies will not be bound to them at the moment of surrender by any pact or obligation....Unconditional surrender means that the victors have a free hand. It does not mean that they are entitled to behave in a barbarous manner, nor that they wish to blot out Germany from among the nations of Europe. If we are bound, we are bound by our own consciences to civilization. We are not to be bound to the Germans as the result of a bargain struck."
"Unconditional Surrender" has a great history in US war-making. Washington at Yorktown refused Cornwallis the "honors of war," and essentially demanded unconditional surrender. Grant demanded it of Confederate forces he was engaged with. It was articulated by Roosevelt in regard to Germany and Japan. Since our objective is to remake Iraq, as we remade Germany and Japan, as we face a ruthless regime that will stop at nothing to hang onto some shred of power, as the international busybodies are this time far more numerous than in 1944-45, we need to make a clear statement.
The Allies should announce that they will accept nothing less than the unconditional surrender of the Iraqi government. It is in fact what we want. Formally saying so will be seen as a vital measure our determination and resolve by all parties.
From CNN. Still not complete, but based on those whose families have been notified.
At least forty-seven are dead so far. Of the 34 whose families are known to have been notified, eighteen are US Marines, five are US Army, one is US Air National Guard, ten are members of the British armed forces.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls, and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Two Brockton, Massachusetts kids' hockey teams that appeared at a tournament in Montreal recently were harried by Canadian . The Brockton Enterprise has more of the details here.
The 12-13 year old kids from two Brockton Pee Wee hockey teams were hassled by anti-war protesters outside the arena, were given the finger and saw the American flag burned in the streets, were booed by Canadian peace maggots in the audience, taunted by Canadian players on the ice, and even insulted by a referee. The coach, Ernie Nadeau, is vowing never to take his team to Quebec again.
The Globe and Herald have nothing on this, yet. The tournament was the Canadian Enterprise Hockey Tournament.
I suggest that all Americans follow that coach's advice. Don't spend a single tourist dollar in Quebec this year. Yeah, it is a nice place, especially in July and August, when the day-time highs are in the comfortable 70s. Sure, it is only a few hours drive from Boston. But why put money in the pockets of the French of North America? It is also nice and cool along the northern coast of Maine, and in Anchorage during the summer, too. And the money spent there will benefit Americans, not ungrateful louts from a country with no purpose or high ideal other than maintaining a high standard of living because they don't have to defend themselves (since we do it for them).
Update: Looks like the link expired. But you can try the link, which will take you to the archives for the Brockton Enterprise, and just type in "nadeau" to bring up the article.
Iraqis near Baghdad seen unloading chemical drums and wearing chemical suits.
I think they will use some chemical weapons, perhaps in the form of mines, perhaps delivered by artillery shell or mortar. But it will have no decisive effect. There will be some initial casualties. But we will adjust to it, and carry on.
Almighty and most merciful Father, ...Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies, and establish Thy justice among men and nations. Amen.
Iraqi TV has also been flickering on and off.
A channel 200 meters wide has finally been cleared, and the RFA Sir Galahad is heading for Umm Qesr to offload relief supplies for Basra. What good it will do with Basra still occupied by an enemy that shoots at civilians lining up for aid from the Allies, I don't know. If we just send the trucks in, the supplies will be confiscated by the Fedayeen in the city and used exclusively by them (and the drivers probably tortured and executed).
British Defense Minister Geoff Hoon described Umm Qest as a "city rather like Southampton."
SkyTV asked two Royal Marines about that:
First soldier: “He’s either never been to Southampton or he’s never been to Um Qasr.”
Second soldier: “There’s no beer, no prostitutes and people are shooting at us. It’s more like Portsmouth.”
Thanks to Andrew Stuttaford blogging in National Review On Line's The Corner, for the laugh.
What more do you need to know about Saddam's regime? They shoot at their own civilians. They mingle among civilians lining up for food and water, and shoot at both the recipients and the givers of aid. They invade homes, abduct children, issue them guns, and send them into a firefight. They use women and children as shields. They wear civilian clothing, pose as civilians, and then open fire on more lightly armed forces. They brutalize and execute prisoners of war. They have used chemical weapons against their own civilians. They use starvation, murder, torture, rape, secret police, informers, a blatantly lying and hypocritical controlled "media", and a reputation for ruthlessness to control the population.
The contrast is expressed best by a photo Rush Limbaugh posted at his site yesterday.
Thursday, March 27, 2003
From a Department of Defense Circular quoted in National Review On Line's The Corner:
[A] DoD family member while driving her vehicle and stuck in traffic was identified as having a DoD sticker. At the time there was an anti-war protest under way. When her vehicle was observed by the demonstrators, a member of the group yelled out "war bitch" and her vehicle was immediately surrounded. While some of the members pounded on her vehicle with their fists, others "keyed" it and wrote the word "peace" on the paint finish. ... It is recommended DoD personnel should avoid these protest at all cost. Even though the protesters proclaim on National TV that they support the military members involved in the war in Iraq, there are numerous members of the various Anti-war groups who do not share this view and will assault DOD members once they are identified."
From the BBC's Michael Voss:
A column of Iraqi heavy armour broke out of Basra this morning. They ran into a contingent of Royal Scots Dragoon Guards with their modern Challenger-II tanks. All fourteen Iraqi tanks were destroyed, without a single British casualty.
And yes, the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards are the Scots Greys, whose charge at Waterloo everyone has seen a picture of at some point. Their regimental crest still bears the image of the French Eagle taken by Serjeant Ewart at that battle.
A wounded US soldier heard on CBS Radio News.
God bless him and all of the wounded members of our armed forces.
The sandstorm in Iraq reminded me of this.
Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies, and establish Thy justice among men and nations. Amen.
From War As I Knew It, by General George S. Patton
Patton had this prayer composed by his Army chaplain for his offensive into the Saar. The Battle of the Bulge intervened, and the prayer was published and distributed to the Third Army (the Army engaged in Iraq today) with a Christmas greeting from Patton on the reverse side while they were trying to bash open a corridor to support the 101st Airborne at Bastonge.
Then as now, the weather had cleared before anyone ever saw the prayer.
Mack Owens, also writing for National Review, tells us to stay loose. Things are not as bad as they seem. They seldom are in war, for either side.
It is the side with the most realistic understanding of what is going on, often the side with the best intelligence, that has a decisive advantage on the battlefield. Think of McClellan (with a decisive numerical superiority sitting tight outside Yorktown because he was fooled into thinking that the enemy opposite him was exponentially stronger than he was), Hooker (placidly sitting at Chancellorsville while Jackson crept around his flank), and Lee (blundering into battle at Gettysburg completely unaware of the disposition of the Army of the Potomac because his cavalry was off on a frolic instead of scouting for him).
National Review On Line's John Derbyshire considers ten points on the war's progress. A must read.
The peace maggots are planning to disrupt business in Manhattan today, not next week as the Village Voice article I linked to yesterday said (how often do I link to the Village Voice?).
I have great respect for the men and women fighting overseas to protect our way of life in Iraq and other parts of the world. As the son of an Army officer, I understand the strength, courage and discipline required to successfully carry out their missions in hostile environments and feel tremendous pride they are representing us.
Obviously, no one likes war. Our Congress and President tried hard to avoid the use of force, but ultimately decided it was the best course of action. I like the assertiveness shown by President Bush and think we owe it to our political and military leaders, along with our brave soldiers to be as supportive as possible during these difficult and trying times. I just wanted to take this opportunity to let our forces know that I am thinking about you and wishing you and your families the best.
He is a class act in a sport full of them.
Another phase of the Big Dig finally becomes operational. Any change in the Boston traffic pattern is met with uncomprehending gridlock, even if the change is for the long-term better. Boy am I glad I don't drive into Boston regularly anymore.
And Mark Shea is doing better with his lenten sacrifice than I am doing with mine. He has not blogged at all at Catholic and Enjoying It!.
As for me, the war has put me way off schedule on my lenten reading. But the sacrifice thing is working well. Dreams of filet mignon have not been plaguing my nightly sleep, nor have I day-dreamed about Gyros. I have had occasional longings for a donut, or coffee, and yesterday afternoon would have been a splendid time for a cigar, but I haven't been subject to the heavy cravings that I sometimes am subject to. But it is still early. As the prospect of the Easter ham draws closer, I suspect that the cravings will increase. Opening Day will be difficult. No hot dogs for the first real baseball games, because, not only is baseball opening early (at the end of March) but Lent started late. There is always cheese pizza and clam chowder.
I really wish we could make al Jezeerah's assets targets in the bombing campaign. But since they are headquartered in Qatar, not Iraq, I suppose we can't.
As a Revolutionary War/ Napoleonic Wars re-enactor, I wish that had been done for so many of our Revolutionary War battlefields, like Bunker Hill, Long Island, Throg's Neck, Kip's Bay, Fort Washington, White Plains, Germantown which unfortunately are in some of the most urban areas of the megalopolis.
This is a critical town on the supply route, with bridges over the Euphrates. Tanks and Apaches engaged the militia. You can find Samawah on this map.
Yesterday, I heard a report from a British embedded journalist with the 3rd Mechanized Division about Fedayeen in a pick-up truck with a machine gun charging a Bradley. The Bradley is heavily armored, and mounts both a TOW anti-tank missile launcher and a 20MM rapid-fire cannon. The Bradley made short work of the pick-up truck and its occupants. The Fedayeen forces attacking ours really lack both training and common sense.
They destroyed 14 Iraqi tanks and 4 APCs.
AKA: the 173rd Airborne Brigade. They seized an airfield in order to bring in the rest of the brigade. They will join several hundred special forces fighting in the north already, plus the much more substantial Kurdish forces. The thinking behind operations on the northern front seems to closely resemble operations in Afghanistan. The terrain is similar, too.
Air operations can have their full effect. Yesterday, 1,500 sorties were flown, but only 100 targets engaged.
Another Patriot interception.
The incredibly dedicated men and women serving our country in the Persian Gulf Theater face challenges perhaps unprecedented for the US serviceman. Though some have access to e-mail, many do not. Fox News suggests several options for sending greetings to those serving over there. Many could sure use a cheering word from home.
Wednesday, March 26, 2003
CBS News Radio is reporting that about 1,000 US paratroopers (unit not identified) have dropped into northern Iraq to link up with Kurdish forces fighting Saddam's loyalists in the area between Mosul and Kirkuk and the Turkish border.
I am guessing that this is the South East Task Force, or a regiment of the 82nd Airborne. The 101st is 100% heliborne.
It was sunny and the temperature got up to 70 degrees. I was able to walk around downtown without a sweater or jacket for the first time this spring. There are clouds and what looks like a T-storm coming in now from the west.
Requiescat in pace.
The number of Iraqis killed in the Battle of an Najaf now exceeds 1,000. We have lost a few Bradleys and Abrams in the fighting to RPGs. Still no word on US casualties. Some 40 civilians of an Najaf have been executed by the Iraqis for collaborating with us.
Seriously, these guys are beneath contempt. They are serving the cause of the enemy. They are not worth the saliva it would take to spit on them.
As I said before this started, it is best to ignore any claims made by the Iraqis for the duration. They have a well-deserved reputation for blatant falsehoods and setting up atrocities against their own people to look like they were done by someone else.
That was in the battle in which we killed between 300-500 Iraqis. Either we are facing untrained militia exclusively, or it was an air-to-ground battle.
Is now said to be heading for an Najaf for elements of the 3rd Mechanized. It is still said to consist of Republican Guard units, though I tend to think it is Fedayeen. Either way, they are worth killing.
The BBC's Clive Myrie reports that the Desert Rats and other British units, and Allied aircraft are all over them:
The fire fight has now been going on for sometime, almost 90 minutes. I understand there are 120 vehicles in this Iraqi convoy heading south from Basra, a huge convoy.
The attack is still going on, I can hear the dull thud of missiles being dropped on these vehicles.
The 4th Mechanized Division, the unit that the Pentagon planned to use on the Northern Front via Turkey, is being moved to the southern Front of the theater. Its equipment, which has been on ships off the coast of Turkey for weeks, is moving through the Suez Canal for Kuwaiti ports. Its personnel, according to reports I don't know whether to believe or not, is being airlifted in from Texas. Since the decision was made last week to begin moving the 4th's equipment through the Suez, one would presume that the airlift started then as well, and that the support elements of the division are already in place, waiting for the equipment.
The dream of a Northern Front was held on to a few weeks too long. Once it became clear to reasonable people that Turkey would not, in fact cooperate, the 4th's movement to the Southern Front should have begun. That was a couple of weeks ago. The idea that Iraq could be conquered by a single re-inforced heavy division was pretty far-fetched. But the Third did get to within 50 miles of Baghdad, with just a Marine infantry division, and the 7th Armored Cavalry Regiment in support (the British 7th Armored Brigade is fighting in the south). That is pretty remarkable.
The 4th will bolster our forces along the line of supply, freeing the now-battle-hardened Marines and British for action around Baghdad. Currently, reserves consist of only elements of the 101st Airlanding Division and a regiment (a three-battalion brigade, actually) of the 82nd Airborne. That is mighty thin, and lacking in heavy armor.
There is more heavy armor under deployment orders. The 2nd Armored Division, the 1st Cavalry Division, and the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment are all in the pipeline. But it will be a while before they get there. The South East Task Force, a brigade-sized airborne unit (consisting of light infantry) stationed in Italy, is said to be ready for deployment.
The plan worked well. If momentum had not been blunted by the sandstorms, we might be besieging Baghdad now, though we would still be needing to rush re-inforcements to the theater to deal with the rear areas. A certain Defense Secretary, who has harbored very unsound ideas about eliminating the heavy armor in favor of fast-moving light forces, is being shown his folly (the reason he was not employed by the Reagan Administration). Let us just hope that no servicemen will pay with their lives for Rumsfeld's mistaken view that a corps could do the job of an army.
Defeat? Not at all. We have won splendid victories. We have just discovered that we have bitten off more than the forces deployed can chew easily. We will now deploy more forces and finish the job. Undoubtably the military will say it was part of the plan from the beginning, because that is the way the world works.
The scope and success of the uprising in Basra remains undetermined. British troops are fighting on the outskirts of the city. Some enemy units are observed moving in vehicles out of Basra, but headed southeast, towards the Fao Peninsula. They are being engaged by Allied aircraft. It is not clear if the revolt has been suppressed or not. My guess is that these are more irregulars on their way to try to make the use of Umm Qesr impossible or to threaten the oil fields. As long as they are in vehicles, they can be dealt with fairly well.
Matt Drudge has found several threats, both from the disaffected at home, and from the enemy.
"There is evidence that Americans taken prisoner were executed in front of townspeople at an Nasiriyah."
More on this outrage.
Reports of a column of 1,000 vehicles from the Republican Guard headed south to attack US Marines at an Nasiriyah. This is a strategic opportunity. They are out in open. Air power and ground attack could take a column like that apart in a few minutes of extreme violence.
One can see that a completely passive defense will gain Saddam nothing. But commiting such a large force in a southward push seems like putting one's head into the lion's jaw's. Maybe the talk about a "change of strategy" worked (fooled the enemy into taking a very unwise step). It will be the job of our air and ground units to be sure that all the Republican Guard ever gets back from this force is a very bloody stump where the head used to be. Convoys with a 1,000 vehicles sound like a "target-rich environment" to me, if only we can apply air power to it.
Salem's famous navigator, Nathaniel Bowditch (1773)
New England's greatest poet of the 20th Century, Robert Frost (1874)
CNN provides a list of those known to be killed so far. It is not complete. The vast majority (17) of the names of the slain are Marines. One Brit, three army personnel, and one Air National Guard officer, who has died of the wounds he received in the grenade attack by the traitor Sgt. Akbar, fill out the list. The list is days out of date.
The BBC's Jeremy Cook reports:
The British parachute regiment have had their first taste of combat in horrendous conditions. Despite a sandstorm which gave way to thunder, lightning and torrential rain, a fighting patrol pushed forward in total darkness, well into Iraqi-held territory.
Troops on foot were supported by light vehicles. Their task to destroy an Iraqi forward observation post.
One Iraqi was killed and five were taken as PoW's. There were no causalities on the British side.
The NYT reports that a change in US strategy is in the works. Instead of prosecuting a quick encirclement of Baghdad, Central Command is now planning on tidying up the supply lines and dealing with Fedayeen units in the south. It flies in the face of all military logic. Yes, supply lines are vital. Yes, encouraging the uprisings in the south would be nice. And yes, we are very thin on the ground, lack adequate reserves, and are in need of re-inforcements that are working their way in.
But the prize, gentlemen, is Baghdad. The Republican Guard units defending it cannot be allowed to slip into the city proper, but must be engaged and fixed in position, and encircled if possible. Just bombing them does not accomplish that end. it does not take away their mobility, or their ability to fall back into the city itself. The longer we wait to take Baghdad, the more difficult that job is going to be. The longer we wait, the longer the regime holds on. It can make no end of diplomatic trouble. It can carry out plans to set up atrocities and make it look as if we perpetrated them. The longer it holds on in an uninvested Baghdad, it can send units south to harass our supply lines.
Are we forgetting the principal lesson of Vietnam: if you want to end a guerilla war, eliminate the source from which it flows? The Spanish resistance against Napoleon would have withered on the vine without active support from Wellington's army. The Viet Cong threat to South Vietnam would have ended if we had not just bombed, but taken Hanoi. Likewise, invest Baghdad and cut off its communications, and the Fedayeen threat to the supply lines will die. New units, like the Fourth Division, entering the theater, can deal with the guerilla threat.
Nathan Bedford Forrest's phrase, "Keep up the scare," means, once the enemy is on the run, and you are in a place he did not expect you to be, keep the pressure on. Don't let up. We are across the Euphrates, and even on the banks of the Tigris within 50 miles of Baghdad, days before the Iraqis could have been ready to meet us there. The ghosts of Bedford Forrest, Stonewall Jackson, Patton, and a host of German generals are screaming at the idiocy of this, if they can read newspapers where they are. My own brain is screaming "Anzio," where a brilliant surprise amphibious landing was thrown away by digging in on the hills around the beachhead rather than taking an undefended Rome, "McClellan's Peninsular Campaign," where, after catching the Army of Northern Virginia completely wrong-footed, McClellan dawdled for days instead of striking to take Richmond, and "Market Garden" when Patton's drive to the Rhine was halted to let Montgomery try his airborne venture in Holland.
Let us hope that the Times is being used for disinformation. If not, what Mack Owens said yesterday about "L'audace" is right out the window. On the positive side, it would not be at all beyond the Bush Administration to set the Times up with disinformation designed to fool Iraqi intelligence. After all, they have many scores to settle with the Times.
Tuesday, March 25, 2003
We knocked it off the air, but they got a replacement up and running in about two hours.
Maybe we would have better luck using it on al Jezeerah.
We have lost less than a platoon dead or captured.
Lord may it stay on that scale, or better.
Probably with the Medina Division. Reports indicated around 300-500 Iraqi soldiers dead in this single engagement. No word on US casualties. This is, apparently, a ground battle. The 7th Armored Cavalry Regiment is the unit engaged, according to an embedded BBC journalist.
This time, it was an exchange of fire between two British tanks. Two soldiers of the Queen's Royal Lancers are reported dead. Requiescat in pace.
Once again, the US re-enactor members of a regimental family are mourning modern-day counterparts. The Queen's Royal Lancers was made up by amalgamating the 16th/5th Queen's Royal Lancers and the 17th/21st Lancers. The 17th/21st is the lineal descendant of the 17th Light Dragoons, the primary British cavalry unit that saw service in America in the Revolutionary War. The 16th (Queen's) Light Dragoons, which later became the 16th/5th Lancers, also saw service in that war, though there is no re-enactment group portraying them. The 17th is a small re-enactment unit, because of the expense and difficulty of becoming a re-enactment cavalryman (horse, horse-training, uniform, weapons, saddlery). But they are highly respected. My condolences to my friends in the 17th.
The BBC's Michael Voss reports:
The battle for Baghdad is starting to take shape. Three separate US mechanised infantry columns are approaching the capital along different routes.
One to the west of the Euphrates River, another to the east. The third is following a line closer to the Tigris River.
Ahead of them are three divisions of Republican Guards who are being targeted around the clock with air strikes.
Yes, we do need to be on both banks of both rivers to envelop Baghdad properly. But I think the immediate object of this envelopment is the destruction of the Medina Division at Karbala. That is an operation worth the time, since it will materially harm the regime. It seems, if Voss is correct, that a classic double-envelopment is shaping up, which would be the natural thing to try against a force making an isolated stand. If I am right, and it works, a thousand or so survivors of the Medina Division will stream back to the other Republican Guard units nearer to Baghdad, without tanks or equipment. The effect that will have on the morale of the other defenders of Baghdad would be very helpful.
This city, Iraq's second largest has a population that is largely Shi'ite (Saddam's regime is secular and Sunni). Special Republican Guard and Fedayeen Saddam units have infiltrated the city, along with some regular Iraqi army units. The British division is massed on the outskirts. Some British troops have entered the city. The popular uprising has, apparently, been waiting for evidence that the allies were there to stay this time. With a substantial proportion of the population helping out, loyalist units could be spotted quickly and taken out. This may help to bring Basra under control.
This from the BBC's Paul Wood:
The storm has become even more violent here, I can see palm trees bending in this wind.
I can see the sand blow across the city. It's not the kind of weather helicopters could fly in.
From the CentCom briefing.
According to the briefing officer in Qatar, we took them all out (and took one out with a GPS-guided weapon).
An interesting point made by one of them is that the British forces, which now seem to be in control of the situation in Southern Iraq, and may end up taking on Basra, are more experienced at house-to-house fighting than the US troops were (Belfast). While some of the tactics may be the same, the scope of what they will have to do in Basra far exceeds anything these troops have been called upon to do in Northern Ireland.
But the Marines smashed them, according to embedded journalists.
He is right that we are thinner on the ground than we ought to be. Thanks a lot, Turkey.
This is an example of modern double standards. Our side has to take the risk of storming a city to avert suffering among civilians, when that suffering could be ended by the surrender of the enemy units operating in the city. I would not worry so much about civilian suffering. Our objective is to win the battle and have control over the city. If there is a desire to get the electricity and food flowing again in Basra, let the enemy surrender the city. Then, we will be more than happy to restore everything we can. Why should the Brits risk heavy casualties to take the city when they can take it at no cost by making time their ally?
The same will hold true for Baghdad.
The weather is not favorable for either side. There are reports that B-52s, flying high above the sandstorm (and above the range of Iraqi SAMS and AAA) have been pounding this Republican Guard division just north of Karbala. The spearhead is within 50 miles of Baghdad.
This is the feast of the Annunciation (March 25: 9 months before Christmas). A prayer to Our Lady for our country and her armed forces would not be inappropriate.
An unidentified soldier of the 1st Battalion, Black Watch Regiment died in fighting near Basra earlier today. Yesterday, an NCO of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Tank Regiment died while trying to calm a riot among civilians. In addition to the two soldiers killed by enemy action, Britain has lost 16 men in helicopter crashes and blue-on-blue firing. Requiescat in pace.
The Black Watch has an extensive regimental family of re-enactors in the United States. My condolences to my friends in that regimental family. "British" re-enactor units here in the US have close ties with their present-day counterparts in the British Army, and often host visiting British military personnel, and visit them in turn. Officer and NCO messes have particularly close relations. My friends in the Black Watch may well have lost a good friend.
Two British soldiers are being held prisoner by the Iraqis as well.
Monday, March 24, 2003
Twenty years ago, who would have ever thought they would see this. Welcome aboard!
For many good reasons, but also to see the end of the ads for the peace maggots at the top of my page.
First step in pushing them out of the way, or overrunning them. Expect the Air Force to be merciless to this Republican Guard unit dug in many miles from Baghdad. Watch the Daisy Cutters and MOABs at work. Then the A-10s and AH-64s. Then Puff the Magic Dragon. MLRS and Paladins will then engage them. Then they get to meet Abrams and Bradleys. I would not want to be a member of the Medina Division.
First, what it does not mean. Both sides will not hunker down to wait it out as they did in the Western Desert in World War II.
However, our forces will be at a temporary relative disadvantage. Close air support may be unavailable. The enemy can be expected to make aggresive use of patrols to take prisoners and otherwise cause embarrassment. Coordinated local counterattacks are not out of the question. Nevertheless, expect ground units on our side to continue to probe forward. A lull in the air campaign can be used to make necessary repairs, and adjustments.
Slower forward momentum on the ground gives some of the troops a chance to rest. Action behind the front lines can proceed at a little more intensity than the probing forward of the armored spearhead. Mopping up operations along the line of supply can be expected to continue in a somewhat limited manner.
Hopefully, while operations in the theater slow down, other resources are being rushed to the support of the units there already. The cover of the sandstorm would be an ideal opportunity for bringing a new strategic option to bear in the theater. The deployment of the 4th Infantry Division through Turkey was badly mishandled. From a war-fighting perspective, it would have been better to have the 4th available for operations from Kuwait than in limbo waiting for an OK from Turkey, which the government reportedly finally gave up on late last week. I'm sure that whoever is in command of the armored spearhead would love to have more tanks and infantry, artillery and helicopters, if only to cover his flanks and rear.
We were told that the first ships with the equipment of the 4th were to move through the Suez Canal headed for Kuwait yesterday. Most of the 4th's troops are said to still be in Texas (it would be criminally stupid, if true). We know it takes 72 hours to move the personnel of a brigade to Europe from the US, and that is with maximum use of impressed civilian airliners of transcontinental range, something the Bush Administration seems loath to do. Most of these air resources would need to stop and refuel in Europe (civilian airliners can't be refueled in flight). So we are talking 96 hours per bragade. A division has three brigades, plus support and administrative units that equal (roughly) a fourth brigade. Some divisions are re-inforced with a fourth combat brigade. The Third has four combat brigades, an armored cavalry regiment of brigade-strength (the 7th Cavalry), and the British 7th Armored Brigade which is probably nearby.
But the personnel are useless, except as combat replacements for other units, unless they have their equipment (their helicopters, tanks, APCs, artillery, trucks, ammunition, food, water and medical supplies. Assuming the 4th is not just being used as a matador's cloak to keep Iraqi attention focussed on them and where they might go, with no intention of actually deploying them, and that they are not being deployed by stealth through Turkey despite press reports, the equipment could be disembarked in Kuwait by Saturday. Two brigades could be in place by then. The third brigade and divisional support could be airlifted there by the middle of next week. So by a week from this coming Saturday, the 4th Division could be wholly deployed from Kuwait and could be in the line around Baghdad.
We know that, almost three weeks ago, two more armored divisions (2nd Armored, and First Cavalry) and another armored cavalry regiment (a brigade-sized unit) were ordered to make themselves ready for deployment. It was believed that they were intended as occupation troops. But their deployment could be speeded up (though holding them in transit is useful, because it freezes North Korea in place). But getting these units into the fight in Iraq would take a month or more. Hopefully, by then the fighting will be over.
The fight around the river crossings at An Nasiriyah is expected to intensify today. These river crossings need to be cleared for supplies. This battle will be the responsibility of the Marines, and they may have to do it without significant air cover.
Meanwhile the Third Division is expected to try to bash through the Republican Guard defenses around Karbala, which are blocking the road to Baghdad. Expect any air power that can fly in the sandstorm to be deployed in this battle.
Since the Iraqis seem to have come up with some means of interfering with the telemetry of our cruise missiles, some adjustment will be necessary so that they are not vulnerable to being thrown off course. This may limit use of cruise missiles until this can be accomplished.
Courtesy of CNN
It is not complete.
Requiescat in pace.
Cipro is an antidote for anthrax.
Since everyone knows we will not use biological or chemical weapons, why are Iraqi personnel being issued antidotes, if they don't plan to use it?
Does anyone still take seriously Mr. Magoo Blix's assertions that Iraq does not have such weapons.
We may have lost an Apache helicopter in fighting at Karbala, where a brigade of the Medina Division of the Republican Guard is dug in. An attack helicopter unit has engaged those forces. It is not clear if the Third Divison will be able to coordinate an assault on them before the sandstorm closes down operations. Best way to overrun the positon? Bomb them, use fighters in a ground-attack role, send in helicopters, just ahead of the tanks and artillery and infantry. Karbala is much closer to Baghdad than we have previously been. It is within 60 miles of the capital, which I guess makes it an outer suburb.
CBS Radio News' John Roberts reports that at an Nasiriyah, there are two critical bridges over which supplies must flow to our forward elements (which have moved on). In between the two bridges, is an alley way said to be crowded with Iraqi militia who attacked a supply convoy yesterday. The micro-geography is a little hard to picture (an alley between two bridges?) . Sounds like a job for a few napalm bombs to me. If it is a big enough area, or one without civilians, a MOAB or Daisy Cutter might do the trick. It sounds like these guys feigned surrender to attack the convoy. I would give them no quarter.
ABC Radio News is reporting that our forces have found and destroyed Iraqi surface-to-surface missiles in the western desert. That is part of why it was vital to take H2 and H3 airfields last week.
With 76% in favor of the war, a presidential candidate has little choice but to distance himself from the anti-war left.
"In war things are never as bad, or as good, as they might seem to be at first."
If I were a member of the armed forces, I'd be very reluctant to be in the vicinity of a fellow soldier who happens to be a Moslem, unless I knew him very well and trusted him completely. After the incident with the 101st, I don't think there is any doubt that the loyalty of some of our troops who happen to be Moslem is questionable. Al Qaeda may have infiltrated several plants into the ranks. Iraqi intelligence ditto.
This is a pluralistic society. We don't like the idea of differentiating between our fellow citizens on the basis of race, skin colour, or religion. We come to it with the greatest reluctance. We prefer to think that we have evolved as a society beyond that. We have. But some within that society have not. If they have not, then we have no choice but to take note of this fact, and take precautions.
Moreover, in our armed forces, Moslems and people who speak the local languages are few and far between. This isn't like Italy, France, and Germany in 1944-45, where recent immigrants from those countries were all over the draftee army, able to interpret for us. The loyalty of the few Moslems in the ranks now is not the unconditional patriotism of thousands of guys who spoke French, German, or Italian from personal family experience in World War II. These guys entered the army to gain certain skills, to obtain income for higher education. Look at the recruiting appeals that they heard coming in: "Be all you can be," "Be an army of one." The appeals are to self-interest. It should not be surprising if people recruited in this way who might be feeling some other powerful pull (like loyalty to Islam over loyalty to the US) are able to distance themselves from their comrades, and the interests of their country.
Military discipline will come down hard on perceived reprisals against Moslems in the ranks. There will be perfectly correct reminders about not all Moslems in the ranks being disloyal, and about the utility of having people who may speak the local language available. But any Moslem not well-known to the members of his unit, and perfectly trusted, is going to be watched very carefully. It is only common prudence to do so.
What about the 101st traitor? He should be executed for treason. He will probably be tried on lesser charges. Given how these things have worked out in the recent past, I would be surprised if he is executed. If he is executed, it will be via lethal injection while strapped to a gurney years from now, not tied to a stake and shot within the month. That is a shame. In this case, a signal and dramatic example would be most helpful.
To put it simply, our armored spearhead is not stopping to secure areas they are passing through. In this war, absolutely secure lines of supply and communications are of less value than in, say, World War II. We have some flexibility in using planes and helicopters to keep the troops in the main advance supplied. They are by-passing Iraqi resistance to close in on Baghdad, leaving urban areas to be dealt with by following waves of troops (largely the less mobile Marines). Also, there is a guerilla resistance element, largely made up from Republican Guard members.
We get past a location and resistance that was not there when our heavy forces lumbered through suddenly emerges against the supply columns following them. We don't need to rout out every sniper, every clandestine band of resisters to claim control of a town or an area. It is enough to have general control, even if that means there is occasional fighting in that locality.
Besides, Central Command seems to be operating on the correct assumption that the prize is Baghdad. The Iraqi regime is finished if Baghdad falls. It is their administrative center. Without it, they cannot control anything. He who controls Baghdad controls Iraq. No other objective is important enough to justify detaching from the forces closing on Baghdad. Central Command is doing it right. Even with crippling sandstorms (expected later today) Baghdad will be at least partially invested by this time next week. The fall of the city after that is a forgone conclusion.
That puts our forward elements within 100 miles of Baghdad. The city of an Najaf is a religious center for anti-government Shi'ites. Check it out on this map.
Two Patriot interceptions.
Malcolm Muggeridge, the great Catholic convert and apologist known affectionately as "God's Gargoyle" and "St. Mug" would have been 100 years old today.
Read Russell Kirk's excellent lecture on Muggeridge's anti-liberal sentiments (from 1989, the year before Muggeridge died).
Read the e-text of Jesus Re-Discovered.
In the first twenty-four hours of the ground offensive, the armored spearhead travelled some 100 miles into Iraq. Progress since then has been slower. There are several valid military reasons for this. The men and equipment were in prime shape at the start. But after the initial drive, tank and APC crews need to sleep. Tanks need work. Contrary to what you may believe, tanks don't routinely go on 400 mile drives. They actually drive around under their own power very little. Extra supplies need to be brought up. With Umm Qesr, Basra, and an Nasiriyah all still not 100% secure, the movement of supplies becomes difficult, a significant logistical challenge. Add desert heat, sandstorms, and the need to check for weapons of mass destruction, and increasing enemy resistance as we close in on Baghdad, and you can see that slower progress was to be expected.
There is a heavy sandstorm coming in, which could greatly hamper operations, probably much more than the entire Republican Guard, even with chemical weapons, is capable of doing.
Yes, we have had losses. Helicopters crash and collide. A plane or two have been shot down, a British plane apparently by our own side. Soldiers on the ground have been captured. Fake surrenders have claimed some American lives. We have even found a Moslem traitor in our own ranks. The enemy is trying to make propaganda hay out of the slow-down and these other developments. None of this is significant, except to those directly involved. None of it was entirely unexpected. None of it has any capacity to change the course of the war.
We are very clearly winning. In fact, without the intervention of some other power, victory in the short term is inevitable.
Victory without cost was a pipe dream, the indulgence of the ignorant. If we can conquer Iraq in less than 6 weeks and with less than 2,000 fatal casualties, it will be a stunning victory, a chilling lesson for our enemies across the globe. And the prize is worth the cost. The elimination of a major enemy, preventing it from turning into a Middle-Eastern North Korea, is a vitally important objective. It will help drain the swamp in which Moslem terrorist groups flourish. Think how many lives would be lost via an Iraqi WMD attack on a US city, perhaps carried out via suitcase device through the agency of al Qaeda. The number of dead American civilians would number in the tens of thousands.
Remember that alternative, and say a prayer for the troops currently averting that eventuality for us.
Sunday, March 23, 2003
I found myself silenced this weekend by a combination of a mild stomach virus and a little computer trouble. Neither is 100%, but things are a little better.
War news over the weekend was mixed. The general progress is good. Our forces are closing on Baghdad. An entire enemy division has been removed from their order of battle. Basra fell to the Marines, and the battle of An Nasiriyah was won. A large chemical weapons facility was found.
On the bad side some British troops were killed in the collision of two helicopters. Ten Marines were killed, according to Fox, in a fake Iraqi surrender. And there was a shocking act of treason by a Moslem soldier of the 101st, which I am sure the blogosphere has been buzzing about (I haven't checked). I will have more to say about that tomorrow.
But when you consider the progress our forces have made, and how close they are to their main objective, things are going very well. Casualties have occurred. No one thought there would be no cost in ridding the world of Saddam. Fortunately, the casualties have not been heavy so far.
God bless the members of our armed forces.