Iraq 2003 (Part 2): The Road to Baghdad
The original publication is available at http://scientiamilitaria.journals.ac.za/pub
The attack on Iraq, or Operation Iraqi Freedom as it was called, would be very different from its predecessor Operation Desert Storm, 12 years before. The main strategic difference was, of course, the fact that Desert Storm encompassed an enormous international military coalition, with ground, air and naval forces being supplied by America, Britain, France, Italy, Australia, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Syria. Iraqi Freedom was shouldered by only two countries, the US and the UK, with Australia supplying a small contingent of SAS troops, the Czech Republic a platoon of chemical warfare troops and Spain a hospital ship. To drive the Iraqi occupying forces out of Kuwait in 1991, an enormous force of 15 divisions had been amassed. These had been organised into 3 American corps (XVIII Airborne Corps, consisting of two airborne divisions, a mechanised infantry division, as well as a French light armoured division; VII Corps, consisting of three US and one UK armoured divisions and one US mechanised infantry division; and a US Marine corps, consisting of two Marine divisions), a Saudi Arabian corps of two divisions, an Egyptian corps of two divisions, and a Syrian division.3 For Iraqi Freedom, only a single army corps (V), consisting of two mechanised infantry divisions and an airborne division, together with a marine division, an understrength composite British armoured division, and some smaller independent units, was available. And because of political wrangling, one mechanised infantry division arrived far too late on the battlefield to participate in the fighting. So, compared to 15 divisions in 1991, the job would now have to be done by only four. Nevertheless, with the new American weapons of precision and the extremely able Abrams tank, a repeat of Gulf War I was not really necessary.