April 13, 2003


Advance Elements of Vaunted 4th Infantry Division Enters Iraq (AP, April 13, 2003)
Meeting no resistance, advance elements of the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division entered southern Iraq late Sunday to reinforce the American war effort.

The advance units were scouting the way for a convoy expected to roll in early Monday and continue throughout the day, said Maj. Mike Silverman. He said no resistance had been met.

With the advance of American troops into Tikrit on Sunday and the last vestiges of Iraqi resistance crumbling, it was not clear whether the division would see any action or take more of a stabilization role.

Gen. McCaffrey is an experienced commander and a professer of military science. I'm a schmo with good internet access. But he was wrong, wrong, wrong and he was wrong for an interesting reason: he didn't notice that the world had changed.
Posted by David Cohen at April 13, 2003 8:49 PM

Shoot, I was just as right as you and I didn't

have to be conservative to get there.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at April 14, 2003 1:06 AM

Of course you are--you just fancy you thought it all up yourself.

Posted by: oj at April 14, 2003 1:20 AM

Harry, it seems I remember your writing that more infantry was needed. This was a different war and Franks et al. deserve credit for their gamble. The danger may be in believing the next one, outside of the Mid-East, will be the same.

Posted by: Genecis at April 14, 2003 11:16 AM

I said you need infantry to control


The number you need varies by the type

of prisoners. You could guard 10,000

Italians with a KP cook in World War II,

but that wouldn't work with Germans.

In Iraq we have taken very few prisoners.

Are they dead. More likely, they went


If the Iraqis had turned out to be stubborn

nationalists and had fought to preserve

their sacred Iraqi soil, we might have ended

up with lots of prisoners, and that would

have been awkward. But I never expected

that to happen.

I used the word audacity, and, a couple

of days later, so did Franks.

The audacity of invading a large country

with, at least potentially, access to modern

arms, with such a small force is unprecedented

since Mongol times.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at April 14, 2003 6:03 PM

There must be a competent assessment of

the difference in the force structures between

Gulf I and Gulf II, but I haven't seen one.

I think it's important, so here goes.

Any professional militarists who want to

correct me, have at it.

In 1990, the Army was desperately undermanned

for any large operations (thanks to the volunteer

army) and was structured to resist a Russian

attack into Germany. To give each of its few

soldiers the maximum firepower, the Army

got rid of its infantry and gave everybody a

tank or a cannon.

In Gulf I, we sent 7 armored divisions, and

borrowed infantry from our allies.

This gave our allies a veto on the depth of

any advance, and they used it.

Perhaps the Marines could have been used,

but it would have taken a couple of days to

get them ashore and organized; and time

was important.

No doubt the tanks could have crushed

Baghdad. What they would have done then

was a problem.

I have never heard any general admit it, but

apparently some of them realized you can't

win a campaign without infantry.

In Gulf II, we had at least one armored

division on hand but did not use it. Instead

we used "infantry divisions" that were

really armored, but that had more organic

footpower than a full-on tank division.

The amount of boots on the ground was only

just sufficient for the advance and not

sufficient for controlling a large abandoned city.

If the Turks had not betrayed civilization (nothing

new there) by preventing the 4th Infantry

from participating, it would have been easy.

I was counting on force disparity, but it looks

like I misjudged it badly. I thought we had

an advantage of 100:1, but it looks more

like 1,000:1.

Apparently, almost all the killing was done by

the airmen and airwomen. I wouldn't be

surprised if it turns out that not as many as

1,000 GIs carrying individual weapons ever

pulled a trigger.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at April 14, 2003 10:18 PM