Who’s in Charge?

McCaffrey said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had misjudged the nature of the conflict. Asked if Rumsfeld made a mistake by not sending more troops to start the offensive, McCaffrey replied: "Yes, sure. I think everybody told him that."

Although there is no shortage of armchair generals, I’ve got some observations about military operations in Iraq. The observations are not based on any close reading of reports. And unless I’m given the same intelligence as Gen. Franks, I doubt that I can improve on these assumptions.

So here goes.

  1. Early news reports had officials speculating whether Saddam was hit on Thursday morning. The evidence they used to back up this guess was the apparent lack of control from Bagdad.
  2. We consider ourselves lucky that we were able to cross the Euphrates at Nasiriyah before the bridges were blown.
  3. There are few news reports about the movement of Iraqi forces. While this evidence is not sufficient by itself, with the two items above, I consider it significant. Add to this, the Iraqis have failed to mount any sort of counter attack.

Forgive me for stating the obvious: My conclusion is that the Iraqi army is immobile. Why? It could be that Saddam has been injured. It could be that military command and communications have been knocked out. It could be that large segments of the Iraqi army are refusing to follow Bagdad’s orders. With a the insight of Victor Davis Hanson’s Carnage and Culture, I’m of the opinion that there is no initiative from any Iraqi forces except for ad hoc guerilla or irregular units behind the lines. That is to say, there is no initiative within the Iraqi command structure.

I’m not saying that this is a walk in the park, but in my limited experience with war-games (the board games of my teens), I’d say that this static defense is doomed to failure. It’s as if I had set up the initial order of battle, and then played one side (hey, it’s a seller for solitaire play!).

If the Iraqi army is unable to commit its reserves to shore up their lines, then their lines will break. As far as I can tell, this has already occurred near Basra — their forces did not retreat or counter attack, they simply evaporated.

Of course, another reason that they might be immobile is that they remember the earlier battle in ’91. With Coalition air dominance, the Iraqi forces may be too timid to move, because once they become exposed in order to move out, they will get whacked.

In any case, the effect is the same. Iraqi forces appear to be paralyzed. And the Coalition forces can attack at a time and place of their choosing. Advantage: Coalition.