Along the Tracks

Thursday, March 27, 2003

‘Quagmire’ Watch

The Washington Post has jumped out to the early lead with this story citing a number of unnamed sources that say, since the Iraqis have not surrendered as one and action still continues - the war will last months and require “escalation” and more call-ups. That, of course, echoes Vietnam.

I told you these things would be said by Friday. I must admit even I am surprised to see them today, and vented in a newspaper with real integrity like the Washington Post. Nevertheless, we knew the naysayers would come out in force at some point, and here they are.

Still, a few things to remember: “Months” could be as little as 60 days; Afghanistan took just over two months before the eviction of the Taliban from power, but “mop up” operations continue even now. In just one week, the allies have operational control (if not absolute on-the-ground command of every square inch) of approximately three-quarters of a country the size of California. Every loss is tragic, but the cold hard calculus of war shows allied KIAs at just a couple dozen, MIAs and POWs even fewer.

Finally, consider where our problems have occurred. The Saddam Fedayeem is a terrorist force - not a military service - which fights using illegal tactics like false surrenders, dressing in civilian clothing and using civilians as shields. Those are always going to be difficult situations for a fighting force such as ours, which cares about civilian lives and operating by international standards. Despite the casualties and captures we will sustain due to these terrorist operations, their actual effect on the allied strategy is almost nil. We may need more armor and troops at the “chokepoints” - and that’s what we’re doing. But this is going to have no effect on the battle for Baghdad.

When the regime collapses, the war will have effectively been won. The “mop up” will look a lot like Afghanistan, with searches for weapons caches, picking off the occasional sniper and putting together larger scale operations when the fedayeem congregate. This may not be a nice, tied-with-a-bow ending - but, as I’ve said before, this is WAR. It is not pretty.

Buck up, we’re winning!

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