Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Is the Coalition War Strategy Going to Plan?


David Miller Online

Is the Coalition War Strategy Going to Plan?

Just over a week into the war in Iraq, the briefings that are being given by the US Central Command and the Pentagon insist that the operation is proceeding according to schedule and both Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair claim to be pleased with the progress of the Coalition assault. Both leaders need this war to be short in duration and decisive in victory if they are to emerge with their political reputations and futures intact. Also, they also need to produce conclusive proof that Saddam Hussein does possess weapons of mass destruction. So far this evidence has not been forthcoming and the Pentagon and CENTCOM are claiming that this war could last longer than predicted. What has gone wrong?

The Coalition plan has been built around speed and the US forces fighting on the western flank have been successful in achieving this. They are currently situated less than a hundred kilometres from Baghdad and are preparing to overpower the Republican Guard units dug in around the capital. The problem with this plan is that re-supply and reinforcement has become a serious problem. I am surprised that the forward elements of the US forces are not being supplied by air. This may be due to the lack of landing facilities close to these positions but it is interesting to note that there have been no reports of the US establishing large-scale supply depots towards the front lines as they did during Operation Desert Storm.

The front line in this war is fluid and moving all the time. The images of large convoys moving slowly across the desert highways suggest that the pace of the Coalition advance has far outstripped the schedule and the logistics capabilities. The other reason may be that the US military planners believed that they would have control of a major Iraqi centre at this stage and planned to use that for their stores. The US forces are deploying significant elements of its main combat forces in protecting these long convoys from Iraqi attack. The main bulk of the armour is committed in the front line and with it the more experienced of the US troops. Hence the vulnerability.

The unforeseen factor in this conflict has been the level of resistance shown by the Iraqi forces, especially as they appear to have adopted an unconventional approach. The killing of four US marines by a suicide bomber is not necessarily the work of an army in crisis but rather an indication that the Iraqis realise that they cannot match the Coalition in open combat. Hence their best weapon is to use hit and run raids and draw the Coalition forces into the urban centres where their firepower is less effective.

The use of these tactics and the manner in which one labels them depends upon a person’s point of view. The phrase that ‘one mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter’ rings true in this conflict as in any other and one should hesitate to use a label if they are to maintain a balanced view. It is extremely cowardly of the militia to use civilians as human shields in their attacks however these claims have not been independently verified. When I was discussing the war with a university colleague of mine, we were reminded that the Iraqis are fighting for their country and would view any tactic as legitimate. A very grey area and no matter what labels are applied to these methods it is forcing the Coalition to adopt a new strategy and to revise their plan.

Ultimately the actions of the paramilitaries will have little effect on the outcome of the war. The vast open plains of the Mesopotamian desert are ideal for forces with superior firepower and equipment and unlike the mountain terrain or the jungle there are few places for concealment. The other reason I believe the paramilitaries will fail is that the Coalition forces will encircle the urban areas and starve the militiamen of supplies and ammunition. As is the case with Basra, the British are only entering the city on their terms and striking targets associated with the Saddam regime and then pulling out. In the process the militia are sustaining casualties and gradually they will cede their assets. The final point I wish to make is that they are unlikely the receive shelter from the Shi’ite population who have suffered at the hands of Saddam’s government for many years. Although there has been no popular uprising as yet, once the people in the south realise that the Coalition forces will not be withdrawn immediately they will move closer to the Allied side.

The presence of the paramilitary forces and the hesitation shown by the Coalition in securing the cities can only slow the US and British advance. It will not prevent a Coalition victory. The Allies are now having to adapt their strategy to engage a mobile enemy that blends into the civilian population and is having a moderate degree of success in attacking supply personnel and equipment. These attacks will continue to prove an irritation for the Coalition as the war progresses and perhaps after the fall of Baghdad however it is the lack of evidence supporting claims that Iraq possessed banned weapons that should be causing concern for the US and British political leadership. They fought this war on this premise and have used it to justify their campaign and they need to produce the proof that these weapons exist. While the stubborn Iraqi resistance is proving to be damaging at present, this lack of evidence will be even more so in times ahead. If no weapons of mass destruction are found then that will be the major casualty inflicted in this war.


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news