Wednesday, September 24, 2003

How Green Berets Overcame the Odds at an Iraq Alamo
I am glad that all the guys got out alive. I am also glad that Iraqis were given T55's - tanks that are over 30 years old.
...But it was the start of a disciplined attack following classic Soviet mechanized doctrine, which Army officials now say was one of the Iraqi Army's last coordinated offensives.

The Iraqis fired smoke grenades. Six armored personnel carriers drove out of the fumes, three on each side of the troop trucks, firing. The Green Berets returned fire with .50-caliber machine gun rounds. The Iraqi vehicles slowed and spread out — but only to make way for the next phalanx, four T-55 main battle tanks that rumbled from the smoke at a distance of no more than 900 yards...

One ting I never did get to understand during this conflict is what exactly was the plan for fighting a war with a well-equipped and determined adversary. The M1 tank lit up by a russian made missile prompted angry muterring towards Russia for supplying our enemies with "advanced" weaponry. But is not there a plan for dealing with it? Did not we intend to fight the Soviets? Not a bunch of people hoping to surrender but a 4-10 million army of trained soldiers and dedicated and well-educated officer corps? How would we deal with China or Pakistan or North Korea that undoubtedly have these types of weapons?
This was one aspect of the war that never made much sense. Are we only preparing to fight against vast numbers of woefully unprepared infantrymen? If so, then all the changes make sense. The focus on individual performance, preparing for missions where 20 or so solgiers are expected to hold off a few hundred adversaries would indeed make sense if the Pentagon was pretty sure that it is the throughly outdated T55's that would come rolling through the smoke, and that 17 year-old conscripts would be calling in coordinates to untrained artillery batteries that will be swiftly extinguished by unchalleged air power.
Does not that then negate any kind of threat leverage we might have over N.Korea that actually has a well-trained and reasonably well-equipped army that is 4 times that of the US? We might be able to roll over some country the size of Israel or Kosovo purely because there is only so much land to cover with a thousand or more tanks, but anything larger, like Serbia (or better yet Yugoslavia) or Iran is going to be completely out of reach provided they actually have the armaments and sound war strategy tailored for themselves.
I have been thinking of this since Afganistan of 2001 and have not figured out exactly how we are supposed to deal with challenging opponent. The more I look the more I suspect there is not actually a plan. Mighty annoying.

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