Iraq and the WWII Yugoslavia Campaign
Larry Johnson confirms my short analysis of the systematic bridge attacks by the resistance in Iraq.
The ongoing attacks on bridges in and around Baghdad creates significant risks and logistical obstacles for U.S. forces in Iraq. In my opinion these attacks are part of deliberate strategy to create ambush chokepoints, degrade the capability of U.S. Quick Reaction Forces, and enhance the ability of insurgent forces to cut the U.S. lines of communication.
It is incumbent on U.S. commanders to boost security around the bridges. But that is a manpower issue.
The resistance blew up overpasses, closing four lane highways below, and blew up bridges over major rivers. To protect one overpass/river bridge a checkpoint on both sides of it on the overpassing road and on both sides of it on the lower road is needed. Four checkpoints require four squads of soldiers - a platoon - at any time. To keep that coverage up 24/7 three platoons, a company, is needed.
The distance between Basra (and Kuwait) and Baghdad is some 400 miles through marshlands with lots and lots of such bridges. If we assume one critical bridge or overpass every 10 miles, 40 companies are needed to secure these. There are three to four companies per batallion, three to four batallions per brigade and three to four brigades per division.
The bridges from the port in Basra (or Kuwait) to Baghdad alone need at least a complete division to keep that road open. That division needs gas and food too, putting additional traffic on the critical path. That division also needs a replacement after some eighteen month of duty in Iraq. And this is only one of several long major roads the U.S. needs ...
The most likely comparison to the current U.S. situation in Iraq is not Viet Nam, but the WWII German attempt to control Yugoslavia (about the same size/population/diversity as Iraq.)
If you want to know how the U.S. campaign in Iraq will succeed, the German campaign in Yugoslavia during WWII is the definite lecture.
At its start the Yugoslavian resistance was split so deeply that various sides committed ethnic cleansing against each other.
But at a point, Tito's guerillas won the internal fight and managed to fight off the Germans with a united force and only little outside allied help.
The Germans committed 17 divisions plus 20 divisions of quislings, bribed Yugoslavian proxy forces, to the fight and still lost that war. The U.S. Army has a total of 12 divisions, the National Guard some additional 8 divisions. The Iraqi 'quislings'?
It is now likely that the military will say that the "surge" didn't achieve its goal of creating more calm, "political maneuvering room," in Iraq.
The military will now insists that the troops added for the "surge" are needed to keep the non-surge troops alive.
The creaping increase of troopnumbers is not anymore for achieving any "goals", but only to keep the current occupation/bases somehow functioning at all.
It's leave now, stay for a short while longer and receive a humbling defeat, or stay longer and get slaughtered.
Like the German campaign in Yugoslavia the current bipartisan U.S. politic discussion will result in the last alternative.