GULF WAR II: I Now Expect to See the Stepping Up of Air Attacks

Sunday Mirror (London, England), March 30, 2003 | Go to article overview

GULF WAR II: I Now Expect to See the Stepping Up of Air Attacks


Byline: MAJOR-GEN PETER CURRIE Defence expert, veteran of Ulster, Falklands and Bosnia

ELEVEN days into the war and reality has set in with a thump. Despite strident protestations by political leaders on both sides of the Atlantic that everything is going to plan, it has been an uncomfortable week for those who thought Iraq could be defeated in a quick and clinical campaign.

Their plan has not worked - as I warned last weekend.

Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle and the other hawks in Washington made a strategic miscalculation by under-estimating the enemy's resolve, the strength of Saddam's grip of terror, the degree of mistrust in the Arab world of US motives and the power of nationalism.

The parallel with Russia in 1941 is uncanny - the Germans similarly misread the mood of the Russians. The resilience of their troops to hardship, the grip of fear imposed by the commissars and the deep-rooted hatred of any who dared invade Mother Russia. There are even parallels in the impact of weather - but this time it's sand not snow.

The reality faced by coalition planners had consisted of two, broad approaches.

Either to plan for - and be prepared to see through - a long, hard struggle to free Iraq from its evil regime, imposing the minimum of civilian casualties. Or to launch a truly brutal strike in the hope of achieving a quick result through genuine "shock and awe".

Unfortunately too many policy makers seem to have been seduced by the belief that a third way was possible, which was quick and clean. As a result the campaign was launched too soon, with insufficient troops to do the job.

Now, another 120,000 Americans are on their way. Still more will be required if Baghdad has to be taken street by street. And casualties will inevitably rise.

Turkey's refusal to allow access from the North didn't help. But far more troops were also required in the South to secure lines of communication and supply.

Saying this in no way detracts from the magnificent performance of British troops. And you can be sure that few British commanders will have been taken by surprise at the course events have taken. …

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