Sunday, February 11, 2007

America's Dienbienphu in the making?

The dispatch of up to 50 thousand additional troops to Iraq is debated in terms of whether this will or will not provide an all-conquering “surge” of forces. Few have noted that it also provides up to 50 thousand more American hostages, should there be a general uprising against the occupation. William Pfaff
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The United States forces in Iraq consume huge amounts of ammunition, gasoline and food. Most of these supplies come by truck from Kuwait on their way to Baghdad and the Sunni triangle by crossing Iraq's Shiite south that borders Iran. These convoys are protected by helicopters.

Helicopters have also been, until now, the safest way to move personnel
as they avoid roadside ambushes. If the Iraqis have found the way to shoot down American helicopters, then all American logistics in Iraq are in jeopardy.

In the event that the United States attacked Iran, the simplest strategy for Iran to follow would be to cut the US supply lines. Don't forget that the truck drivers are not American soldiers, they are civilians... America's vital supply lines have been outsourced to private contractors! The American soldiers in Iraq could find themselves fighting for their lives.

As is usual, William Pfaff was the first one to pick up on this. DS

Helicopters: A Strategic Turning-Point? - William Pfaff
Abstract: Military spokesmen in Baghdad now have conceded, under pressure, that the “mechanical problems” all suffered were consequent to being hit by enemy fire. What kind of fire is unreported, and possibly unknown. The immediate military reaction was that tactics “may need changing.” This no doubt is so, but it is possible that there may be no tactical answer. It is possible that something much more important has happened. This might signal an end to the utility of the helicopter as a weapons-platform in modern warfare. As a factor in combat, the helicopter may be on its way to the same place the machine-gun sent the horse cavalry.(...) The latest helicopter losses in Iraq suggest that some of the Iraqi insurgents now have missiles against which standard U.S. countermeasures (usually flares fired to distract conventional heat-seeking missiles) don’t work.(...) The U.S. has complained that Iran has supplied the Iraqi insurgents with shaped-charge munitions to use in roadside bombs. What else may have been furnished the Iraqis?(...) If the insurrection in Iraq is acquiring the means to counter U.S. helicopter operations this is a matter of potentially large strategic importance. U.S. forces throughout Iraq depend for an overwhelming part of their supplies, gasoline and ammunition on road convoys from Kuwait made up of civilian trucks and tankers. Those convoys have military escorts but rely on helicopters to scout the route for ambushes and roadside bombs, and to defend them when attacked. If these convoys were seriously disrupted, it would have disastrous consequences for American troops spread across the country. There are few usable airstrips at American bases, and the Air Force is reported now able to supply something like a quarter of the needed supplies, and to estimate that in an emergency it could increase that to around a third. However cargo planes are also vulnerable to attack. They mainly have to be defended by ground forces patrolling or controlling all the territory around airfields from which missiles could be launched (including Baghdad airport). But if an isolated base is not supplied with fuel and ammunition, it can’t make its air approaches safe. Little in the Washington debate indicates awareness of the possibility of an American Dienbienphu. The dispatch of up to 50 thousand additional troops to Iraq is debated in terms of whether this will or will not provide an all-conquering “surge” of forces. Few have noted that it also provides up to 50 thousand more American hostages, should there be a general uprising against the occupation. If Israel or the U.S. attacks Iran – which, as Zbigniew Brzezinsky warned the Senate last week, is where Bush policy is leading – one obvious Iranian means of retaliation would be to promote an expanded uprising in Iraq that offers an opportunity of taking hostage an entire American army. READ IT ALL

1 comment:

RLaing said...

Actually, people like William S. Lind and Martin van Creveld have been talking about these issues for quite some time. The former is a bit of a wacko if he gets on the subject of culture, but his thinking on what he calls 'fourth generation warfare' is a real eye-opener.