The End Game?


Thanks to an Army push around Karbala and a Marine sprint to—and evidently across—the Tigris, there may be little more than very messy mop up duty ahead. As many as five Republican Guard divisions are trapped outside of Baghdad with little to do except catch coalition ordnance.

NEXT: Welcome To Najaf

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  1. JAT is quite right in identifying the U.S. sweep up and around the Republican Guard forces south of Baghdad to be a “pivot point.” The reason it is likely to be that, I think, is because the coalition appears to be keeping the Iraqis from retreating back into the capital city. Whether they are surrounded and annihilated or starved into surrender would seem to be the question. Naturally, some will break up into small groups and either try to escape the box or engage in harrying action from the back of pickup trucks. Fundamentally, we don’t want them esconced in Baghdad when we get there. Of course, Saddam or his minions may not, either, given rumors of continued U.S. negotiation with Republican Guard commanders.

  2. Seems they have simply conquered a bit more desert. This is more like and more like the North African campaign in WWII, where everyone drove around at high speed attacking each other, but absolutely no strategic goal was gained or lost.

  3. Oh I don’t know about no strategic gain or loss in North Africa. We gained ports and airfields from which we could control the Mediterannean, and from which we could base an invasion of Italy. We also rolled up several divisions of high quality Wehrmacht troops who were expert at mobile warfare, and our troops gained very important tactical experience. The units involved in the early fighting (1ID, 2nd Armored Div) were stalwart mainstays of the invasion force in Western Europe.

    And if you are actually reading any detailed news accounts, many Republican Guard troops are starting to surrender. Attrition isn’t a clever way to fight a war, but if you can attrite the enemy’s best forces without high cost to yourself, why isn’t it good strategy to do so?

  4. The turning point will come after we take Baghdad, and the war shifts from a military campaign against an army to an open ended peace keeping mission against guerrillas.

  5. Erick,

    It wasn’t a turning point. The South was never going to conquer the Union. The turning point was the victory in Atlanta. Until then, the entire Union war effort was bogged down.

  6. The biggest worry of the planners was that the Republican Guard would retreat/mobilize into Baghdad and dare the coalition to bomb tanks and missle launchers in the city streets. But they just sat there in the sand…and now are being wiped out by coalition planes, subs and tanks that are out of their firing range. Man, are they stupid.

  7. As far as I know, the republican guard are barred from entering Baghdad. It may soon become a matter of necessity, though they do have police forces and assorted irregulars lying in wait, no doubt.

    Iraqi command just hung the RG out to dry it seems. Stupid, but sad. There’s all this talk about ensuring the safety of civilians so as not to inflame the arab street, but the mothers who have sons forced to fight at gunpoint will be none too pleased with us regardless.

  8. Isn’t that a bit premature? Or is this a set-up for yet more ‘quagmire’ charges?

  9. Yes, that’s it exactly. You’ve blown my cover, I’m secretly Johnny Apple.

    No. Wars have pivot points — Midway, Gettysburg — that determine possible outcomes. I think the Iraqis messed up by running forces to the South and then just squatting. The US saw the opportunity and took it.

  10. That would be ordnance not ordinance.

  11. Still, some Iraqi units have moved to the capital. American military officials reported this evening that forces from the Adnan and Nida Republican Guard Divisions have taken up positions in the western and eastern fringes of the city and that Iraqi troops were at key traffic intersections. Without a major front in the north, the Adnan Division had recently moved south from Mosul, putting its forces in position to move into the capital.

  12. I am in a wait and see mode.


    BTW, Gettysburg, while important, wasn’t as much of a pivot point as you make it out to be. Remember that in 1864 Lincoln, because both Sherman’s and Grant’s campaigns were bogged down, was facing electoral defeat at the hands of McClellan, who would have likely called for a cease-fire. Gettysburg was a major victory, but it didn’t break the South’s back. In fact, if anything the pivot in that war didn’t occur until Sherman took Atlanta, and then marched to the sea. Before then sentiment in the Union was rather depressed about the prospects of the war, and there was a lot of grumbling about a quagmire.

  13. Yes, Gettysburg was a turning point — but mostly because it stopped Confederate momentum, not because it ensured Union victory. The war took a few more years after that to complete. That won’t happen here, but the re-building of Iraq (if that’s truly what Bush intends, as opposed to, say, the confiscation of oil wells) is likely to be as messy, take as long and ultimately be as unsatisfying as post-Civil War Reconstruction.

  14. Iraq, April 2 ? In the giddy spirit of the day, nothing could quite top the wish list bellowed out by one man in the throng of people greeting American troops from the 101st Airborne Division who marched into town today. What, the man was asked, did he hope to see now that the Baath Party had been driven from power in his town? What would the Americans bring? “Democracy,” the man said, his voice rising to lift each word to greater prominence. “Whiskey. And sexy!” Around him, the crowd roared its approval.

    -New York Times

  15. EMAIL:
    DATE: 05/21/2004 02:55:59
    Morality by consensus is frequently morality by convenience.

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