|OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
A SUMMARY OF THE INVASION
Summary of the invasion
Coalition forces managed to topple the government and capture the key cities
of a large nation in only 21 days, taking minimal losses while also trying to avoid
large civilian deaths and even high numbers of dead Iraqi military forces. The
invasion did not require the huge army build-up like the 1991 Gulf War, which
numbered half a million Allied troops. This did prove short-sighted, however,
due to the requirement for a much larger force to combat the irregular Iraqi
forces in the aftermath of the war.
The Saddam-built army, armed mainly with Soviet-built equipment, was overall
ill-equipped in comparison to Coalition forces. Missiles launched from Iraq were
either interdicted by U.S. anti-air batteries, or made little to no strategic impact
on their targets. Attacks on Coalition supply routes by Fedayeen militiamen
were repulsed. The Iraqi's artillery proved largely ineffective, and they were
unable to mobilize their air force to attempt a defense. The Iraqi T-72 tanks, the
heaviest armored vehicles in the Iraqi Army, were both outdated and
ill-maintained, and when they were mobilized they were rapidly destroyed,
thanks in part due to the Coalition's air superiority. The U.S. Air Force, Marine
Corps and Naval Aviation, and British Royal Air Force operated with impunity
throughout the country, pinpointing heavily defended enemy targets and
destroying them before ground troops arrived.
The main battle tanks (MBT) of the Coalition forces, the U.S. M1 Abrams and
British Challenger 2, proved their worth in the rapid advance across the
country. Even with the large number of RPG attacks by irregular Iraqi forces,
few Coalition tanks were lost and no tank crewmen were killed by hostile fire.
The only tank loss sustained by the British Army was a Challenger 2 of the
Queen's Royal Lancers that was hit by another Challenger 2, killing two
crewmen. All three British tank crew fatalities were a result of friendly fire.
The Iraqi Army suffered from poor morale, even amongst the elite Republican
Guard. Entire units disbanded into the crowds upon the approach of Coalition
troops, or actually sought Coalition forces out in order to surrender. In one
case, a force of roughly 20-30 Iraqis attempted to surrender to a two-man
vehicle repair and recovery team, invoking similar instances of Iraqis
surrendering to news crews during the Persian Gulf War. Other Iraqi Army
officers were bribed by the CIA or coerced into surrendering to Coalition forces.
Worse, the Iraqi Army had incompetent leadership - reports state that Qusay
Hussein, charged with the defense of Baghdad, dramatically shifted the
positions of the two main divisions protecting Baghdad several times in the days
before the arrival of U.S. forces, and as a result the units within were both
confused and further demoralized when U.S. Marine and British forces attacked.
By no means did the Coalition invasion force see the entire Iraqi military thrown
against it; Coalition units had orders to move to and seize objective
target-points, and could only fire upon regular Iraqi military units if first fired
upon. This resulted in most regular Iraqi military units emerging from the war
fully intact and without ever having been engaged by US forces, especially in
southern Iraq. It is assumed that most units disintegrated to either join the
growing Iraqi insurgency or returned to their homes.
According to the declassified Pentagon report, "The largest contributing factor
to the complete defeat of Iraq's military forces was the continued interference
by Saddam." The report, designed to help U.S. officials understand in hindsight
how Saddam and his military commanders prepared for and fought the war,
paints a picture of an Iraqi government blind to the threat it faced, hampered by
Saddam's inept military leadership and deceived by its own propaganda.
According to BBC, the report portrays Saddam Hussein as "chronically out of
touch with reality - preoccupied with the prevention of domestic unrest and with
the threat posed by Iran."
|ALL INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT WAS OBTAINED THROUGH WIKIPEDIA AT www.wikipedia.org