HAVE YOU RECEIVED THE BENEFIT OF A STORM IN THE DESERT?
Practically all American military construction specialists believe that the Freedom to Iraq US military operation in the spring of 2003 was directly related to the military actions of the US military and its all-varied allies, or, as it is now accepted to say, “coalition willing”, during the operation Desert Storm in winter 1991.
The essence of the question is how successful the President-father Bush Bush finally accomplished with the incompleteness of the defeat of the dictator in 1991, and finally, did the Americans learn from the first operation and how they were brought to life.
No doubt, the Americans and their allies defeated 1991, as it was then thought, the most powerful regional-scale military machine that had recent 8-year war experience with the equally powerful armed forces of the traditional enemy of Iraq - Iran. Trying to get to the root causes of this success, critically-minded supporters of the “military reforms” in the United States recognize that the victory of the Americans and their allies in 1991 was achieved at the very beginning of the campaign by winning air supremacy. At the same time, they are unanimous in their conclusion that this happened solely due to the work of those lobbyists in the national military-industrial complex (MIC) who managed to “break through” the use of “really best” aircraft for that period of time (F -15, F-16, F-18, A-10), and not those that were imposed in 70 – 80-s of the last century by the so-called representatives of the military-industrial complex and "lured" officials from the Pentagon.
Suffice to say that of the 36s shot down by the Americans and their allies, the Iraqi 34 aircraft were hit by the F-15 fighter jets, the other two by the US Navy F-18 fighter jets. As recognized by Iraqi prisoners, the most shocking impression on the Iraqi military personnel “in the field” was not so much the massive bombardment of “timeless” B-52, as the exhausting attack aircraft of А-10 aircraft, which allegedly also testified to the correctness of the American “reformers” sticking to them (as “Independent” and from the authorities) to the leadership of the US Armed Forces of deliveries to the troops and the use in combat of serious preliminary tests of weapons and military equipment (IWT).
Success in aerial combat american aviation very substantially leveled by the inaction of the Iraqi air defense system, in fact, on the first day (from the 38-day air campaign) crushed by the Americans, or completely excluded (with the goal of "maintaining integrity"?) by the willful decision of the Iraqi leadership from participating in hostilities. Therefore, the unprecedentedly small losses of Americans and their allies in airplanes (0,0006% of 65 thousand sorties) can only indicate the minimum benefit for the flight personnel of participating in military operations in the winter of 1991, practically in "range conditions". Indeed, the complete demoralization of Iraqi military personnel even before the ground phase of the operation, on the one hand, unequivocally indicated the incompetence of the leadership of the Iraqi armed forces, who were considered a “formidable adversary,” and on the other, showed the inadequacy of US intelligence regarding the morale of the Iraqi armed forces and thereby turned out to be bad service to the command of the American-led coalition, not allowing him to show his best qualities in full.
But let us be fair, yet it is impossible not to pay tribute to the developers of the operation at the Pentagon, for the first time in the latest stories focusing on the unprecedented duration of the preparatory part (the air operation), which ultimately decided the fate of the entire campaign in the 1991 year. This, of course, could not but be taken into account when developing scenarios for fighting in 2003 and misleading the Iraqis, this time around the “shortened” air operation and the “conventional” ground campaign phase.
An example of a learned lesson can serve as the recommendations of the "reformers", and among them dismissed for obstinacy from the US Armed Forces, Major Donald Wandergriff, who put forward the idea, precisely from the experience of ground forces fighting in 1991, about reorganizing the system of interrelationships within ground formation units (SV and marines), ensuring their coherence and commitment to achieving the goal set by management.
Adopted by the recommendations of Vandergriff, set out in his well-known analytical work “The Way to Victory: the American Army and the Revolution in the Humanitarian Sphere”, were widely spread among the troops thanks to a personal petition on this subject by the US Army Secretary Thomas White and the Deputy Chief of Staff of the General Army Jack Keane. In particular, these recommendations were used, inter alia, in the main “penetrating power” in the 2003 operation — the 3 Infantry Division, where the so-called new division management system was introduced, which allegedly contributed to establishing the authority of lower-level commanders and generally uniting combat teams.
There were other “useful innovations” both in the areas of tactics, operational art, the organization of the redeployment of significant groups of troops, the testing of experimental models of weapons and military equipment in all types of armed forces with the rejection of “unsuccessful” and some others. But there were also obvious blunders of the political and military leadership of the United States, which for objective, and more often for subjective reasons, were trivially ignored, were not taken into account during the planning and conduct of hostilities in the same region ten years later and are still subject to discussion by specialists. First of all, it concerns the evaluation of the enemy.
After many years from the end of the combat phase of the operation in 2003, we can confidently state: the Iraqis did not make any constructive conclusions from their defeat in the 1991 year, and if they did, it was only to their detriment.
As on the eve of the first operation, the specialists were impressed by the mass of the Iraqi armed forces: 350 thousand people, plus another 100 thousand called up from the reserve on the eve of the start of hostilities in 2003. Of the main types of weapons and military equipment, Iraqis had from 2,2 to 2,6 thousand. tanks, 3,7 thousand armored personnel carriers and 2,4 thousand artillery pieces of all calibers. At the same time, only about 700 T-72 tanks could be distinguished from more or less modern weapons and military equipment, the rest were obviously outdated models of the 50-60s of the last century, mainly Soviet-made. The Iraqi Air Force and Air Defense, as in the previous campaign, were again “excluded” from the hostilities. Moreover, American intelligence learned that most of the Iraqi Air Force aircraft (300 aircraft) were dismantled (wings removed) and stored in special shelters, supposedly for safety, on the eve of the campaign. The participation of several Iraqi aircraft in subsequent battles, as the analysis showed, was intended to demonstrate to its ground forces only "the availability of national air power to raise morale", and nothing more. The "miserable" naval forces of Iraq, as in the 1991 operation, apparently did not even take Baghdad into account when preparing for military operations.
When the inevitability of a new clash with the Americans became apparent, the Iraqis immediately inexplicably immediately attacked the same rake. The Iraqi command, perplexed by the enemy, again deployed in the desert, virtually open, almost unsuitable for conventional defense, formations and part of their ground forces, making them a convenient target for aviation and high-precision means of destruction, quantitatively increased over the past decade in the arsenal of Americans. Some experts tend to explain this strange decision of the Iraqi generals to the fact that Baghdad simply intended to sacrifice a less valuable component of his troops — infantry to contain the enemy’s overwhelming firepower in order to later engage him in fighting in populated areas (fighting in the city) with units supposedly prepared for this elite Republican Guard. Moreover, as American expert Winslow Wheeler emphasizes, the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, who did not trust the “infantry mass”, mainly consisting of “unreliable” Shiite recruits and, accordingly, poorly trained and equipped, had little concern for the fate of “cannon fodder”, which he considered only as "the first step of protection of the mode".
The American army knew how to win the battle, but not the war.
The so-called tactics of actions used by the Iraqis, as if "taken from Soviet textbooks of the Second World War epoch," were also surprising. In their opinion, the Iraqi generals threw their infantry into a frontal attack under the destroyer of powerful weapons of American destruction in their opinion of the favorable conditions that had been formed. Yes, and the interaction on the battlefield of the Iraqi units and units can not speak. As indicated in one of the studies devoted to this operation, the Iraqi commanders were so "fixated on their personal responsibility for what is happening on the battlefield that they completely constrained the initiative of their subordinates, preventing them from taking a step without proper instructions." Isolated instances of the initiative and even the manifestation of “courage and heroism” on the part of Iraqis, emphasize the American participants in the fighting, looked like “complete insanity and self-destructive fanaticism”, which do not bring any benefit in battle.
As stated above, Saddam Hussein and his entourage cared little for the needs of the armed forces. All his efforts to "strengthen the country's defense" were actually aimed at preserving his unlimited power. Otherwise, how to explain the fact that instead of reorganizing the ground forces that were “shabby” in 1991 year, the traditional basis of the Iraqi Armed Forces, he recreated a special republican guard ranging from 15 to 20 thousand with personally selected officer corps, who received money allowances superior to the salaries of army officers. The command of the guard, of course, was entrusted to one of Saddam’s sons, Qusay, who, as a commander, was very mediocre.
In addition to this, various irregular formations were created by the dictator. In particular, in 1995, the corps of the “Saddam Fedains (in translation - partisans)” was formed, also numbering up to 20 thousand people, led by another dictator's son - Uday. Following the pattern of the Hitlerites in Iraq, the militant youth organization Lions Saddam, numerous armed groups of members of the ruling Al Baath party, and a powerful Special Security Service, were spent on maintaining the combat readiness of which, in total, surpassed the military budget. At the same time, the main task of these fighters was not at all a struggle with an external enemy, but with an internal enemy.
Saddam Hussein introduced the practice of rivalry among not only the generals of the armed forces, but also the leaders of the irregular formations allegedly betrayed to him personally for “the possibility of close access to the dictator’s body” and receiving privileges and benefits at the expense of it. But this practice only led to the creation of an extremely unhealthy atmosphere in the officer-general's environment, and produced various “conspirators” and “informers” with a corresponding response from the security services. Hence the extremely low morale and state of discipline in the troops. Since the beginning of the fighting, numerous cases of desertion have been noted, often in the structure of subunits and even from seemingly "tame" republican guards. The media cited numerous examples of trivial betrayal by a large group of Iraqi generals, allegedly bribed by American agents on the eve of the campaign and who left (simply escaped) their posts during the most critical period of battles.
From all this it was impossible not to draw an unequivocal conclusion about the unpreparedness of the Iraqi armed forces for war. Charles Heyman, editor-in-chief of the authoritative Janes World Army, makes the following conclusion: “It is obvious that the Iraqi armed forces on the eve of the invasion were perhaps the most incompetent army in the world.” The American expert Winslow, Wheeler, mentioned in his assessment goes even further, asking: “Is there any reason for us to say that the US Armed Forces are supposedly“ the strongest and the best ”if they had experience of fighting only with such a weak opponent?”
HOPE FOR TECHNICAL EXCELLENCE
Disregarding generalizations and looking at the problems that the US armed forces encountered during the campaign, as they say, from the inside, the following picture emerges: weapons"In Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.
Let's start with the tactical level. As for the hope of the American generals for the unconditional technical (technological) superiority of the US Armed Forces over any virtual and real adversary demonstrated during and, most importantly, deciding the outcome of the combat phase of the operation, many analysts, including the US, have doubts about the truth of this thesis. .
For example, Winslow Wheeler, the military authority mentioned above, based on his own analysis of reports from the combat zone, concludes that information about the absolute success of American high-tech systems is generally an exaggeration or even a distortion of the truth. He questions the approval of those lobbyists introduced (and partially introduced during the campaign) into the military forces of a system of sensors, computers and communication equipment, which in the complex allegedly "finally lifted the veil of uncertainty and ambiguity from the battlefield." The lawyers of this system, even on the eve of the operation, categorically stated that from now on, using these information devices that track the location and movement of the enemy, it is possible to control the fire from higher-level staffs in such a way that, for example, the enemy’s anti-tank weapons will be amazed even before they reach the firing range for defeat armored vehicles. The reality has refuted the promised triumph of new technologies.
The commander of one of the battalions of the 3 Infantry Division, Lieutenant Colonel Markoun, recalls that, thanks to the new system, he was almost deprived of information about the composition of the forces and intentions of the enemy. And at night, on the eve of the battle, he was “deceived” in general: he was informed from higher authorities that there was an Iraqi brigade in front of the front of his battalion, while just before the start of the clash it became clear that there were three brigades, that is, in fact, a division . I had to urgently "break" all the planning of the battle.
A similar assessment of the new system was given by the commanders of the US Marine Corps. Moreover, some of them argued that against the background of the methods of obtaining information through traditional means of communication that had been worked out over the years, the new system was inactive, only creating additional difficulties with “avalanche-like information flows” that could not be processed on time. It got to the point that the commanders simply ignored this system. This “phenomenon of mistrust,” indicates Wheeler, as if justifying the leadership of the American units, was fairly common in previous conflicts. And not only in the US Army, when the commanders of the lower level were wary of instructions from above, because they were confident that they knew better the situation in their area of responsibility than they did in the higher headquarters, located at a considerable distance from the front line. However, the main negative, according to another authoritative American expert, William Lind, referring to the experience of a rigid hierarchy and “selected” information under the centralized management of high-tech fire, which took place during the campaign in Iraq in 2003, is that these schemes carry heavy burden ... dogmatic concepts that, demanding unquestioning obedience and restricting initiative, act like a drug.
An analysis of the results of the combat phase of the American operation in Iraq in 2003 exposes another myth about the unconditional contribution of the technical superiority of the US military to ensuring victory in the campaign as a whole. We are talking about the allegedly successful use of precision weapons. In fact, Wheeler points out, this was a very rare occurrence. It is estimated that, for example, to destroy one bridge, on average, up to 10 tons of ammunition was consumed, which does not fit in with the essence of the proclaimed concept of “one bomb - one goal”. With the defeat of Iraqi armored vehicles was about the same story. As it turned out, only a small percentage of tanks were hit with high-precision weapons, most of them were undermined by the Iraqis themselves, or even thrown on the battlefield before contact with the Americans.
Did a transformation take place?
It is known that the defense minister Donald Rumsfeld was an ardent champion of the technical superiority of the US Armed Forces, who put this thesis at the basis of the transformation of the country's military machine under his leadership and tried to prove his eligibility in a real combat situation in Afghanistan and Iraq. The minister and his supporters among the American generals believed that high-tech weapons and military equipment alone could quickly achieve the goal, destroying the enemy and achieving breaking his intentions to continue resistance. Using advanced technology, precision long-range weapons, modern means of reconnaissance and communications, it seemed to American generals that they were able to defeat the enemy quickly and with little blood.
However, having achieved success on the battlefield relatively quickly, they suddenly discovered that the easy part of the operation had ended, but the goal of the war had not been achieved. As the course of this campaign in Iraq in 2003 showed, the aforementioned expert, Wheeler, who is technologically superior to the enemy, emphasizes the American army knew how to win the battle, but not the war. He is echoed by the famous British strategist, Colin Gray, who noted that practicing in the US Armed Forces “dependence entirely on firepower, although highly desirable by itself, ultimately becomes useless at a time when other methods of behavior in the military are more acceptable” .
In fact, General Tommy Frank, the commander of the United Central Command of the U.S. Armed Forces of the US troops in Iraq in 2003, was clearly in captivity of these outdated notions and was not at all concerned about the consequences of the blitzkrieg and the capture of Baghdad, and what to do next.
And then came the sobering, especially after the publication of the fact of a sharp increase (after the "victory") of losses among the US military and engaging them in protracted battles with the rebels, including from among the civilian population, which, in theory, was to be grateful to the Yankees for exemption from dictatorial regime. But at first, the Americans did not even think about conducting a phase of peacekeeping and operations to stabilize the situation in the country. Immediately, the claims to the Minister Rumsfeld on this score were sharply rejected by him: “It’s not up to the military to help, let alone participate in civil engineering.” To the question of whose business it was, the head of the military department did not know what to answer.
And what seemed especially unacceptable for experts, including such authority in the field of military reforms as Lawrence Korb, is that instead of recognizing the fallacy of their actions and swiftly shifting the emphasis of work in a ravaged country to building on the instructions of the American leadership, a systematic withdrawal of troops began from Iraq, and at once 50 thousand people and another 50 thousand after a short period of time.
A civil war, which began in destabilization, in essence only multiplied the disgruntled and, accordingly, victims among the “liberators” who had lost the initiative and were forced to carry out endless “sweeps”, which in turn increased the discontent of the population. In other words, a vicious circle of problems was formed. Yes, and Minister Rumsfeld, as they say, “enlightened,” admitted: “We have no criteria for understanding whether we win the war on terror (meaning the situation in Iraq) ... or lose.” Therefore, Korb concludes, the traditional military victory in modern military conflicts is only a prelude to a stabilization operation, the success or failure of which determines the overall outcome of the campaign. On the whole, the use of force as a means of appeasing the population is fraught with "the withdrawal of military methods from the political goals that they are intended to provide." What happened in Iraq!
Completing a brief critical analysis of the US military’s involvement in the war against Iraq in 2003, it seems appropriate to provide an assessment of the position of the US military-political leadership given by renowned military practitioner and theorist, retired colonel Douglas MacGregor. A veteran of Operation Storm in the Desert, in which he became famous as the “most successful armored commander in the US Army” and became widely known as the author of the sensational study “Overcoming Phalanx: A New Structure for Ground Power of the 21st Century”, MacGregor as a result of Operation “ Freedom for Iraq ”published an essay in 2006 under the very eloquent title“ Down with the generals! ”.
Summing up the results of his analysis, the author of the essay, in particular, notes: first, the command of the American grouping of troops in the region did not understand the essence of the “new generation conflicts”, did not have the appropriate doctrine and experts in its headquarters, who knew the counterinsurgency nuances fight Secondly, the American commanders were trained and prepared “for the global confrontation with the military might of the Soviets,” but were at a loss in the face of the tactics of the Iraqi “fedains” (partisans). Thirdly, in spite of the fact that the American commanders of ground formations perceived the concept of “unity” (that is, close interspecific interaction) as a mantra, in reality they simply neglected it in battle. Fourthly, during the 12 years since the end of the “Storm in the Desert”, the American military command did nothing to comprehend the peculiarities of the local mentality and nuances of the Arab world as a whole, which only contributed to the growth of anti-American sentiment in Iraqi society and, accordingly, the emergence of a broad partisan movement in this country.
Based on this, there is reason to question the assertion that the US Armed Forces successfully dealt with the trials in Iraq, although they formally achieved a military victory in the spring of 2003. To say that this campaign is a “visible embodiment of the revolution in military affairs” is clearly unfounded.