Byline: Jeff Wright The Register-Guard
So far, so good.
Given the unpredictability of war, the United States has to be happy with the effectiveness of its early military strategy in Iraq, a University of Oregon expert on international conflict said Monday.
The war in Iraq appears to be acting on Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's push for a more nimble military, said William Baugh, a 25-year veteran in the UO's political science department and the author of a recent book on U.S. foreign policy-making.
"This so-called `rolling start,' where forces are deployed even while other troops and equipment are still getting there, is a huge change" in military approach, Baugh said. "We seem to be pursuing this more agile strategy. It's reasonably clear that there's much better coordination between the armed services."
Baugh said he's also impressed with how quickly ground forces have covered most of the 500 miles between Kuwait and the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. "They're setting land speed records for armored movement," he said.
Some critics worry that the quick dash to Baghdad has left coalition forces too vulnerable to attacks and ambushes from the rear. But Baugh said that shouldn't be a major problem, given the United States' "total air superiority" and the fact that additional ground troops can be deployed to help protect rear flanks.
Gene Davis of Eugene, who served with the Marines for 18 years as a linguist cryptographer, said the United States appears to be following a strategy that's older than the Civil War: "You pick your fights."
Davis said the coalition has chosen to secure oil wells and other targeted assets but otherwise bypass a half-dozen key cities in southern Iraq rather than engage in house-to-house fighting. The strategy gives Iraqi citizens and soldiers "more time to recognize they're fighting for a lost cause and surrender," he said. "Those who are die-hard will die hard."
Davis said the U.S. coalition no doubt views some house-to-house combat in Baghdad as inevitable, but is hoping to minimize the need if enough Iraqis are persuaded to give up. …