Generals say winning war will take huge forces, heavy casualties

Stuart Lawrence stuartwl at
Tue Mar 25 21:03:19 MST 2003

(McCaffrey's comments in particular confirm the view that a change to a
more brutal urban campaign is likely, as others have suggested.)

Is the Allied strategy in difficulties? The world's generals give their
Compiled by Ben Chu, Eric Silver, Robert Verkaik and Raymond Whitaker
26 March 2003

General Barry McCaffrey, former assistant to General Colin Powell,
commander of the 24th Mechanised Infantry Division in the 1991 Gulf War:

"We've never done something like this, with such a modest force such a
distance from its bases. This 'rolling start' that Secretary Rumsfeld
and his colleagues came up with had several assumptions built into it.
One was: we'll haul stuff forward as we need it, [but] there isn't an
armoured cavalry regiment, there isn't a military police brigade. All
these maintenance and logistics units have got to go 400km to join the
3rd Infantry Division, and there's nobody back there. Marines are being
dragged in as military police.

"Was Rumsfeld mistaken? Sure, everybody told him that. He thought these
were army generals with their feet planted in the Second World War, who
didn't understand the new way of warfare. At some point it boils down
... to getting in there and blowing down the house, and making sure you
dominate the area – and we have inadequate forces.

"I think the real question is the rules of engagement, whether the
administration loses its nerve. To take [Nasiriyah] ... you have to go
in at night with a lot of violence. It could take, to be blunt, 2,000 or
3,000 casualties. So if they are unwilling to face up to that, we may
have a difficult time ... taking down Baghdad and Tikrit."

Maj-Gen Patrick Cordingley, commander of the 7th Armoured Brigade (the
Desert Rats) during the 1991 Gulf War:

"I've always thought that the force was a little on the light side,
should it be necessary to move into Baghdad. I've also always thought
that this may not be necessary. I hope I'm right."

Colonel General Leonid Ivashov, former head of international relations
at the Russian Defence Ministry:

"American servicemen have been fighting by means of computers for
several years. They succeeded in doing that to some extent in [the
former] Yugoslavia and Afghanistan. Yet they have not had serious land
operations anywhere. They appeared to be unprepared for real warfare.

"The initial plans of the United States and their allies have been
thwarted. One reason is that the US army has become a hostage of its own
propaganda. In trying to convince the world, itself and its troops that
the Iraqi people are dreaming of the American-British coalition
attacking Iraq, the US has demoralised its own troops.

"The outcome of the war is far from clear. Iraq may be – and is likely
to be – a winner, because the US has already suffered heavy losses ... I
do not rule out that there will be no winners, and that the US and Iraq
will reach a compromise."

General Wesley Clark, former Nato supreme Allied commander:

"The imminent contact between coalition forces and the Republican Guard
will be the moment of truth for the coalition's strategy. As the lead
forces circle around Baghdad, we will be able to determine whether we
can advance successfully and with low cost.

"There have, of course, been risks, and the risk was that we would
stretch out the supply lines, concentrate the forces at the tip of the
spear and do it with less force than most conservative military planners
would have thought was necessary.

"Many of us who looked at the campaign assumed that 250,000 troops made
up the required number of divisions. But that 250,000 figure being
bandied around wasn't the troops on the ground – it included everybody
in the whole region, including Afghanistan. The number of forces on the
ground in Kuwait at the start of the operation was probably no more than
100,000 personnel and others who might not even be going into Iraq. It
was rather a small force."

Maj-Gen Eitan Ben-Eliahu, chief of the Israeli Air Force from 1996 to

[...] "Baghdad is going to be the toughest stage of this war. It's a big
question mark. The fact that we were witness to a very strong fight even
in the south, where the Shia [Muslim] population is not very loyal to
Saddam Hussein, indicates what they can expect as they get closer to
Baghdad. They may have to invade every single place in the capital. I
believe that they will try to surround the city, and then gradually
tighten their hold so that the regime will collapse. Since the coalition
will never give up unless they get Saddam Hussein, they will try to move
in slowly, deeper and deeper, until they get to him. There is no

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