Gulf War Notes

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-UN kept insisting Saddam to withdraw
• Needed to expel him from the Kuwait
• And US was the only state with capability to do so

POLITICS: Liberate Kuwait (kick out Iraq armed forces)
• No expectation that US would follow into Iraq and overthrow Saddam • LIMITED political objective

STRATEGY: Make Iraq defenseless as QUICKLY as possible
• No messing around with political constraints
• Just destroy any capability to use force
• No coercion strategy used, just rapid offensive
• “First cut off the army, then kill it” – Colin Powell

MEANS: Overwhelming force (500k Soldiers, artillery, etc)
• Unlike Vietnam, where 500k was built up slowly, there was 500k FROM the START o Use of overwhelming FORCE
• Massive air offensive to reduce Iraqi strength to 50% • Blow up major highways into Kuwait
o Prevent reinforcement of Kuwait from Iraq
• Attack Iraqi command & control centres with airstrikes, destroy means of resistance ASAP • Then finally, a GROUND offensive
o Envelop Iraqi forces, cut them off, DESTROY them
• OP. Rolling Thunder vs. INSTANT Thunder
o Increasing attrition of Iraqi occupation through airstrikes CONSIDERED, but not used o As well as a decapitation strike against Saddam himself or Baghdad • Why not attrition through airpower? Powell’s foresight of political constraint: o 1) Saddam has extraordinary political ability to ABSORB casualties (compared to US) § As a non-democracy, e.g. in Iran-Iraq war

o 2) Gives Saddam initiative and allows him to focus on airstrike threat alone § And either derive countermeasures or focus media attentio

-Worries about attacking Iraq
• Iraqi army is experienced, well-equipped from Iran-Iraq war o Plus entrenched into defensive positions
• Posibillity of chemical attack even on home ground
o Effects of morale at home
• Every indication of a HARD-FOUGHT war, with a LOT of casualties o Little optimism

-IN ACTUALITY
• Air and ground offensive were stunningly successful
• Very few casualties (more from traffic accidents)
• Iraqi defenses crumbled

-WRONG “LESSON” 1: Victory attained when military allowed to act as decisively as needed? • Removal of incrementalism, no longer any target restrictions o But Powell urged Bush not to go minimum force but ensure sufficient forces at START o And INITIALLY, politicians refrained from target micromanagement o So NOW, there’s no opportunity for Saddam to adapt and apply counter-pressure

-ACTUALLY…the POLITICAL CONTEXT was different compared to Vietnam, and as Powell himself said “we carefully matched the level of military force to our political objectives” • At various points, political STEPPED in to determine military targets in view of constraints o LAWRENCE: After Amiriyah bunker massacre, Cheney ordered Powell to review all further targets to ensure “softer” targets were removed o Managed to juggle competing military and political imperatives (in the form Colin Powell mediating between Schartzkopf and Cheney) • Remember, pre-existing political context allowed widely accepted use of force (violation of intl law, Bush efforts) o Numerous security council resolutions, eventually Resolution 678, which allowed use of all necessary force to eject Iraqi forces from Kuwait and brokered a wide COALITION § LAWRENCE: Note that Coalition was able to secure 678 BEFORE the onset of hot weather in March & politically sensitive problems of keeping troops in the Gulf § LAWRENCE: The Coalition built by the US also meant that Iraqi army had to guard its borders with Syria and Turkey, drawing forces AWAY from Kuwait • Only 350k Iraqi troops available, vs. Western estimates of 540k • Also...
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