Clearly, The Iraqi Army Didn't Have Its Head In The Game, But...

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Today on Iraq The Model:

Iraq is not an adventure. Toppling Saddam was never the main reason for the war and should never be thought of as this. Removing Saddam could’ve been done 13 years ago by just preventing him from using his helicopters in the uprising. It could’ve been done also by deploying the Iraqi opposition groups into the north, which together with the Peshmerga and with air support from the coalition could’ve done the job. It could’ve been done through a military coup planned by the CIA or the M.I.6. After all, Saddam regime proved to be much weaker than it looked. It certainly didn’t need hundreds of thousands of coalition soldiers and all this massive power. Besides, if it was the main reason, then why didn’t the American troops pull out of Iraq soon after doing it?
I agree with Ali's premise, and his conclusion, but I disagree with a bit of the road between them. By saying essentially "Iraq's army wasn't nearly as strong as suspected, so if all we wanted to do was depose Saddam, backing a coup would have done the trick," Ali makes a couple of what I think are dangerous assumptions:
  • That because the Iraqi army proved largely inept against the full might of Coalition ground forces, that it would have proved equally inept against a 'sponsored' coup attempt. Internal security seemed to be the one thing the Iraqi army could do.
  • Given our previous track record of hanging Iraqi coups out to dry, it isn't even certain that we could have gotten a coup off the ground. "Fool me once, shame on you..." and all that.

Actually, that's peripheral to the point I wanted to make. I also wanted to make a hockey reference, especially since it's probably the closest I'll get to actual hockey for a while. When the Wings won back-to-back in '96-'97 and '97-'98, one recurring complaint I heard from vanquished opponents was 'we just didn't play very well.' What they failed to realize was that the Wings' game plan was specifically designed to deny their opponents their own game plan. They didn't just not play well; the Wings made them not play well.

And I think that's what we saw in the dash to Baghdad. The Iraqi army wasn't necessarily a priori incompetent; they were rendered incompetent by the Coalition's overwhelming resources, execution, and, yes, 'game plan.' They denied the Iraqis the ability to gather intelligence, analyze it, and act on it. In other words, they denied to the Iraqis the ability to execute their own game plan.

Keep that in mind the next time you hear somebody say that because Saddam's army performed so poorly, he therefore wasn't a threat to anyone.

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This page contains a single entry by Chris published on September 21, 2004 11:43 AM.

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