Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Rumsfeld's Poor Planning Put Troops At Risk

From Sky News, 3-26-03, The former supreme allied commander of Nato has accused US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld of putting allied troops at risk through poor planning. Wesley Clark said Mr Rumsfeld's insistence on a smaller invasion force had left troops vulnerable and the 300-mile oil supply line between Kuwait and Basra open to guerilla attack. Troops had been tied up in "messy fighting" around Nasiriyah and Baghdad, he said, leading to "logistics problems". He added that hopes of a quick victory spurred by a popular revolt against Saddam had been dashed. "The simple fact is that the liberation didn't quite occur. They didn't rise up." Other war veterans have also spoken out against the early stages of war planning. Miscalculations Ralph Peters, a military scientist and former Army officer, wrote in the Washington Post that a coalition victory would be achieved "despite serious strategic miscalculations by the office of the Defence Secretary". The "shock and awe" strategy of aerial bombardment had failed to shatter the will of Saddam's regime, he said, and if anything had encouraged greater resistance. "It delayed essential attacks on Iraq's military capabilities," said Mr Peters. "This encouraged at least some Iraqis in uniform to believe they had a chance to fight and win. "Now our forces advancing on Baghdad face the possibility of more serious combat than would otherwise have been the case." Coalition commander General Tommy Franks's draft invasion plan proposed using four or five heavy divisions moving slowly towards Baghdad. New warfare Mr Rumsfeld is said to have rejected this, complaining that it was too similar to the strategy used in the 1991 Gulf War. Instead he insisted on a smaller, lighter force relying heavily on special forces and air power. Retired US Army General Barry McCaffrey, commander of the 24th Infantry Division 12 years ago, said Mr Rumsfeld had ignored warnings that he was underestimating the number of troops needed. "I think he thought these were generals with feet planted in World War Two who didn't understand the new way of warfare," he said. "If the Iraqis actually fight it's going to be brutal, dangerous work and we could take a couple to 3,000 casualties." Mr Rumsfeld insisted his strategy was working. "It's a good plan everybody agrees to, and it is a plan that in four and a half or five days has moved ground forces to within a short distance of Baghdad."

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