Take A Ring, And Then Another Ring

According to Bill Gertz of the Washington Times, our friend Saddam has begun to implement a two ring strategy for the defense of Baghdad. The outer ring, manned by elements of the Iraqi Army, will enclose greater Baghdad and its suburbs. The inner ring will be manned by reliable elements of the Republican Guard and the Special Republican Guard.

It seems Saddam has opted to stake his regime on one card, that any allied attack will founder on the rock of the Baghdad defenses. This would not be an unreasonable strategy (if you can call it a strategy, it’s really more a technique) if we were armed with M4 Shermans and P47 Thunderbolts and we were determined to take Stalingrad block by block.

If this analysis is to be credited then it tells us a good deal about how Saddam views his strengths and weaknesses. This information should be useful in planning our offensive.

We already knows what happens to an army when it is locked into fixed positions in modern warfare. And his problem is made doubly difficult by the requirement for a 360 degree defense. Iraq is a very large country. While most of the population lives within the environs of Baghdad, the oil fields are further east and south. Larger cities like Basra and Mossul are excluded by virtue of their distance. In the absence of a credible counter attack force, allied armies will engage in offensives more like Patton’s dash across France. I envision fighting columns traveling in an armored wedge with 3 battalions in echelon, logistics troops in the center with an additional battalion as flank guard. This sort of marching and fighting formation will place a good deal of emphasis on air and cavalry reconnaissance to the front, flanks and rear.

I would not be surprised to see the advance led by heliborne assaults into pre selected airheads with sufficient ground for landing C130 aircraft. As the air assault troops head into the bad lands and occupy their landing zone the C130s will follow in to offload water, fuel and ammunition. Envision a pre planned chain of combat supply bases as the fighting columns advance.

Rapid movement of this type consumes a lot of fuel. And M1s are notorious fuel guzzlers. I would also not be surprised to see the tank units strap a safety stock of 55 gallon fuel drums to their tanks. This is not as dangerous as you might think. Diesel fuel has a very high flash point and if necessary the drums can be cut away before moving into the attack and recovered later.

Our goal, for the first phase of the offensive is to neuter the Iraqi Army. Then secure the oil fields. Once that is done we will have occupied about 60% of Iraq. Ultimately we will screen Baghdad with a limited amount of forces and rely on air power to attrit Saddam’s palace guard. With Baghdad isolated and much of his army in the bag the greatest risk we run is making targets for NBC attacks. As such our forces will be widely dispersed and remain mobile. Battalions will move each day and laager in a 360 degree defense.

Then it’s just a matter of time. And though time is on our side, we must be aware that our internal enemies will use the siege (that’s what it will come to be called "The Siege of Baghdad"), conjuring up images of US forces tossing corpses over the walls of some castle, as a weapon against us. This will be the time to see how our President stands up to probably what will be the worst attacks of his time in office.

I can’t imagine a siege of Baghdad will last longer than 30 days.

According to Bill Gertz of the Washington Times, our friend Saddam has begun to implement a two ring strategy for the defense of Baghdad. The outer ring, manned by elements of the Iraqi Army, will enclose greater Baghdad and its suburbs. The inner ring will be manned by reliable elements of the Republican Guard and the Special Republican Guard.

It seems Saddam has opted to stake his regime on one card, that any allied attack will founder on the rock of the Baghdad defenses. This would not be an unreasonable strategy (if you can call it a strategy, it’s really more a technique) if we were armed with M4 Shermans and P47 Thunderbolts and we were determined to take Stalingrad block by block.

If this analysis is to be credited then it tells us a good deal about how Saddam views his strengths and weaknesses. This information should be useful in planning our offensive.

We already knows what happens to an army when it is locked into fixed positions in modern warfare. And his problem is made doubly difficult by the requirement for a 360 degree defense. Iraq is a very large country. While most of the population lives within the environs of Baghdad, the oil fields are further east and south. Larger cities like Basra and Mossul are excluded by virtue of their distance. In the absence of a credible counter attack force, allied armies will engage in offensives more like Patton’s dash across France. I envision fighting columns traveling in an armored wedge with 3 battalions in echelon, logistics troops in the center with an additional battalion as flank guard. This sort of marching and fighting formation will place a good deal of emphasis on air and cavalry reconnaissance to the front, flanks and rear.

I would not be surprised to see the advance led by heliborne assaults into pre selected airheads with sufficient ground for landing C130 aircraft. As the air assault troops head into the bad lands and occupy their landing zone the C130s will follow in to offload water, fuel and ammunition. Envision a pre planned chain of combat supply bases as the fighting columns advance.

Rapid movement of this type consumes a lot of fuel. And M1s are notorious fuel guzzlers. I would also not be surprised to see the tank units strap a safety stock of 55 gallon fuel drums to their tanks. This is not as dangerous as you might think. Diesel fuel has a very high flash point and if necessary the drums can be cut away before moving into the attack and recovered later.

Our goal, for the first phase of the offensive is to neuter the Iraqi Army. Then secure the oil fields. Once that is done we will have occupied about 60% of Iraq. Ultimately we will screen Baghdad with a limited amount of forces and rely on air power to attrit Saddam’s palace guard. With Baghdad isolated and much of his army in the bag the greatest risk we run is making targets for NBC attacks. As such our forces will be widely dispersed and remain mobile. Battalions will move each day and laager in a 360 degree defense.

Then it’s just a matter of time. And though time is on our side, we must be aware that our internal enemies will use the siege (that’s what it will come to be called "The Siege of Baghdad"), conjuring up images of US forces tossing corpses over the walls of some castle, as a weapon against us. This will be the time to see how our President stands up to probably what will be the worst attacks of his time in office.

I can’t imagine a siege of Baghdad will last longer than 30 days.

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