2002 September 10 Tuesday
Logistics for Iraq attack

There's an old saying in military circles. Amateurs discuss strategy; professionals discuss logistics. With that in mind the Mercury News has an excellent article (from the LA Times) on US forces in the Middle East and advances in logistics that have made it much easier to launch an attack on Iraq:

To move still more equipment and supplies to the region, the military has bought and built faster -- and more -- ships and planes, enough to cut by more than two-thirds the time it should take to deploy a large military force to Iraq.

Plus, so much equipment is already in the region that less has to be shipped over in the first place:

Meanwhile, the sheer tonnage of U.S. tanks, fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers and other heavy fighting equipment already standing at the ready in Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and elsewhere in the Middle East is startling.

What is most astounding is just how many years the US Defense Department has been working to improve its logistical ability to wage another war in the Middle East. They've been at work making preparations since the last war completed. They certainly have learned a lot from the last conflict. The Navy has built ships that can be unloaded without cranes and there are computer systems for tracking the contents of all shipped containers so that finding goods once they've arrived in theater is much easier and faster. Bases have been built and lots of equipment has been prepositioned as well.

Did successive Presidents encourage them to do this or was most of the initiative coming from within the DOD? This demonstrates an impressive amount of sustained wisdom.

Update: This Washington Times article claims it would still take 3 months to get ready to attack Iraq. Given how long the build-up has already been going on is this a reasonable figure?

The answer, in rough terms, is that it would probably take the United States three months to position 250,000 troops in the vicinity of Iraq. As a matter of prudence, therefore, the Bush administration probably needs to make its final decision on war by November, if it is considering overthrowing Saddam this winter.

Note the emphasis on winter time. The Abrams tank's turbine engine works at only 50% capacity in very hot weather. Of course the soldiers are going to function less well in hot conditions.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2002 September 10 05:19 AM 


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