George Will

Army doctrine, says Hawley, has been that under optimal conditions, an armored force can advance 50 miles a day. The war plan calls for a three- or four-day dash to Baghdad from Kuwait's northern border, a distance of approximately 400 miles. If this occurs, says Hawley, some fortunate Iraqis will be the badly trained, badly equipped, badly led and barely motivated conscripts of the five regular army corps, each with 30,000 to 40,000 soldiers. Plans for a four-day dash to Baghdad envision bypassing these forces deployed between Kuwait and the capital.

Already those forces have been bombarded with hours of allied radio broadcasts and by millions of leaflets proclaiming the futility of fighting for Saddam Hussein, whose charisma, like that of his hero Stalin, is his cruelty. A dash to Baghdad presupposes freezing those forces in place, using air power, Hawley says, in a manner akin to Gen. George Patton's use of the 8th Air Force to protect his flanks during his armored plunge deep into Germany.

A dash to Baghdad--and, farther north, to Tikrit, Saddam's hometown and an important source of his support--also presupposes logistical heroics to supply fuel to, for example, Abrams battle tanks, which travel half a mile on a gallon of fuel. Hawley says plans are for an instant infrastructure--the laying of water and fuel pipelines from Kuwait, deep into Iraq. Trucks can then supply the forces that will deal with whatever resistance comes from the Republican Guard forces protecting the regime in the capital.

Although this plan for lightning warfare is novel, American commanders hope that the result is familiar. Shortly before the outbreak of the Gulf War, as Desert Shield was about to become Desert Storm, an Israeli military officer was shown the allies' military preparations. His terse and, it turned out, correct judgment was: You have too many hospital beds, too few POW pens. It is a U.S. war aim to have that be true again.


George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
 
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