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I don't know. The current ineptitude of the US forces is due to fighting an urban guerilla war. Once they are in a simple mode of 'defend, blast your way through everything, retreat' it's hard to see what IEDs and civilians with mortars, machine guns and car bombs can do against them. They got to Baghdad fast enough. I expect they can get out just as quick.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 01:12:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're confusing the movement of the spear with the movement of a baggage train.

Armour and mechanised infantry are one thing: the support infrastructure of the entrenched US army is a different animal entirely.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 01:14:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fair enough.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 01:19:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You don't have to dash back to Saudi Arabia in 2 weeks. A month or two would work well.

And remember, if need be the Air Force and carrier avaition can do most of the real fighting, at least if enemy civilian casualties don't matter. The Army can just motor out, trucks and all.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 01:41:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If they want to leave all of their supplies and equipment behind they can, but if they want to remove all of their equipment out the figures I've seen run closer to three months at a minimum, and that is assuming that they have the fuel and amunition to move all of their equipment out.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 01:53:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Driving out of Iraq has to be one of the most unlikely escape ideas in history.

Even assuming everything is left behind, it would be trivially easy for Iran to lob a few missiles at any convoy. And IEDs can be fantastically destructive - you don't just take out a truck or two, you block the escape route, which slows everything and everyone down, creates useful ambush opportunities, and generally plays hell with any concept of orderly evacuation.

Air cover is useless unless you try to eliminate all traffic on the roads and in a wide corridor around them, permanently, for the duration of the retreat.

There's also the small point that if there's a retreat Iraq will have been handed over, at least in part, to Iran - which might not be popular politically.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 02:03:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Air cover is useless unless you try to eliminate all traffic on the roads and in a wide corridor around them, permanently, for the duration of the retreat.

That would be the idea, I guess.
There's also the small point that if there's a retreat Iraq will have been handed over, at least in part, to Iran - which might not be popular politically.

Of course. But if the US decides to strike Iran, their situation in Iraq will soon become untenable. The discussion was on whether and how they can make it out.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 04:46:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Shooting up roads can make it difficult for your forces to drive on them, so it's not quite that simple.

Also, unless you're planning to patrol the entire length of the convoy, which will be many, many miles long and unlikely to be practical, there will always be people wandering into your restricted area and leaving presents behind.

And if you're abandoing a whole load of ammunition and materiel to make a quick getaway, you've just armed your opponents with your own equipment.

There is no good here. However you look at it, any forced retreat is going to be a disaster of epic dimensions.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 06:09:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you leave stuff around, you blow it up instead of handing it over to the enemy.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 06:26:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Getting of the roads and out of inhabited areas might be one idea. Drinving out throgh the desert the same way they got in.

Ammunition or other things left behind is not handed over to the enemy - it is blown up.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 06:35:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This assumes you have time to blow it up.

As for the desert route - with what trucks, exactly?

The big airports will be the first missile targets, and as soon as those are gone - and it's wonderfully easy to crater a runaway - the supply lines are cut and the clock is ticking.

Best of luck with a quick getaway after that.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 09:15:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's also the issue that the current US regime is very possibly unable to make the decision to withdraw: I have a funny feeling that Bush will not, under any circumstances, issue that order. So all this academic: there may be no planned retreat because it will never be needed.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 04:49:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Quite possible. But then you have the issue of this bloated army sitting in the middle of Iraq with its supply lines cut. There will be a breaking point.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 05:10:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes. They may have to break with whatever plans local commanders have come to  among themselves: there may be no grand co-ordinated withdrawal. That would be consistent with the refusal of this crowd to plan for downsides because downsides are inconceivable.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 05:15:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And it is that attitude that provides situations like Stalingrad.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 05:20:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The 6th army would have had no problems getting out of Stalingrad if they had been up against a bunch of ragtag civilians with guns and mines.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 05:47:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Getting out? The whole point was that the they were not to get out, they were to hold Stalingrad.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 07:41:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, staying around there while bombing Iran and turning Iraq into an utter hornet's nest would constitute a Very Bad Idea.

That is, beyond the Very Bad Idea of bombing Iran in the first place.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 07:48:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's pretty much the point here.

The bottom line is that after a serious attack on Iran, most of the US army ceases to exist as a viable fighting force. The best that can happen is some kind of semi-successful retreat - which would be a military fiasco and a political disaster, castrating forever the fond image that the US has of itself as a paragon of force projection machismo.

The worst is very much worse.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 09:19:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Plus at some point, if you're going for very much worse, a decision would have to be made if the losses to be had in attempting a rescue are too big a risk. The remainig troops in the army may be seen as the necessary seedcorn for rebuilding the army after the disaster.

after all the Marine corps appears to already see the looming disaster and are maneuvering to find themselves somewhere else

Marines Press to Remove Their Forces From Iraq - New York Times

WASHINGTON, Oct. 10 -- The Marine Corps is pressing to remove its forces from Iraq and to send marines instead to Afghanistan, to take over the leading role in combat there, according to senior military and Pentagon officials.

The idea by the Marine Corps commandant would effectively leave the Iraq war in the hands of the Army while giving the Marines a prominent new role in Afghanistan, under overall NATO command.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 09:36:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, but it was the 6th Army, not the US army or USMC. And there is a world of difference. The Germans were very good at war. The US is not and never has been. By 'war', I mean having to fight seriously armed and determined opponents, not Third World countries (which the US has fought on several occasions, and notably lost or 'drew' its major engagements against such). The Germans could fight virtually all the major Western powers of their time serially and/or at once, and still come dangerously close to victory. The US has never managed such a thing ... and never will, unless it just decides to wipe the slate clean and nuke the world.

Besides which, you underestimate the dangers posed by determined irregular resistance. Ask the Germans who fought Tito.

Finally, William Lind, a US conservative and military freak, is much less sanguine about the US position in Iraq than you are, and thinks that Iran could roll up US forces in short order. US supply lines are very exposed. But this has already been pointed out here.

Do not fall for Hollywood BS. The US military fights really well on the silver screen, but not in real life. Check out Stan Goff's report about the death of Pat Tillman. Goff is an ex-Ranger himself, and yet his account completely strips US 'elite' units of any combat mystique. These were people who got stressed over a broken-down vehicle and one rocket fired by a couple of teenagers that blew up 500 metres away ... so they shot one of their own three times in the face when he came back to investigate. That's the sort of fire discipline that came from an elite unit. Go crazy and shoot one of your own mates.

With talent like that, massive failure is assured as soon as determined resistance is met.

by wing26 on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 09:38:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The relevant analogy to US fighting force (including, especially, its relationship to the US populace) is the army of France under Napoleon III.

Middle class largely out of it, working class obviously the backbone, high bourgeoisie occupying officers roles, not a citizen army but in name only.  Just waiting to get their asses kicked by a real citizen army. In this light, Iraq might be seen as a Sebastopol, a relatively long conflict with no real winners which served mostly to piss off France's most important ally, Russia.

We can only hope that when Sedan comes, the aftermath will be equally as bloodless. Though I can't imagine Bush (or his successor) in exile in England. Where oh where would such a man go?

Walk around the US a bit, take a look at bellies which recall images, at least for me, of the excesses of Rome, and ask yourself if the US could in fact field more than just a small force of elite citizen soldiers. No, without technology, there's no there there. All the rot of Rome, with none of the glory.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 10:44:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bloodless aftermath ?

You're talking about the army that did the repression of the Paris Commune...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 11:33:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That happened a bit later.

Initially, the republic was restored, but they made the mistake of fighting on. If they had sued for peace, things may have been different, but, being the type of men of a certain class that they were, they didn't. That's the logic of these things.

But the coup that removed the monarchy was itself almost entirely bloodless.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 12:00:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You mean, the end of the empire ?

I'm afraid we won't get to see Dubya wandering in a Hummer, on the battlefield of the Najrah defeat, in desperation over his lost war and legacy... That's what helped the creation of the republic after the Sedan defeat. And don't forget that the third republic was initially monarchist...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 12:33:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, I don't forget it at all. Just like the Democrats are hardly on the side of the people, either.

It's a nice though to imagine such Bush wanderings, but I imagine him more somewhere in Uruguay, far away from horses though, he's afraid of them. They might bite.

Monarchy, empire, six of one, demi-dozen of the other by that point in French history. In fact, Nap III needed that war in order to ensure ascension of his descendance, which is why many refer to the period as the imperial monarchy.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 12:42:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But the US is not up against a citizen army.

Look, guerillas are fine. They win as long as they don't lose. That is, as long as they hang around, the enemy will leave and they will win.

But they can't beat conventional forces on the battlefield. That's just what the conventional forces want to, as the result is utter carnage.

They have to go conventional themselves at that point, like at Dien Bien Phu or the last offensive against South Vietnam.

This will obviously not happen in Iraq at this juncture.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 12:39:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Iraq's isn't.

But Iran's is.

And if it isn't Iran, there will eventually be another. That's the logic of what the US has found itself in, and eventually it will play out, as it always has.

Hopefully not on a battlefield, but here again, it's hard to see how this is avoidable.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 12:44:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the Iranians couldn't even beat the Iraqis when the Iraqis had an Army.

If the Iranians are mad enough to fight a conventional war against the Americans, they will be ground to dust. That's it.

If they fight unconventional (read Hizb Allah, and google Paul van Ripen and Millenium Challenge 2002) there will be huge problems for the Americans, but not huge enough to make retreat impossible.


Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 12:59:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We shall see.

It's one thing to fight your neighbor who has the advantage of knowing the terrain as well as you, and whose supply lines are at the very least not exposed and primarily within controlled, sovereign territory.

It is quite another to fight an isolated and demoralized expeditionary force whose supply lines are very exposed and primarily passing through increasingly hostile territory.

I think if you are suggesting that US troops in Iraq and, importantly, allied civilian personel, will be anything but sitting ducks, you are sadly mistaken. I mean, I saw Rambo in Afghanistan also, but the reality is something different...

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 02:36:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
links to the goff and lind bits?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 10:59:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Google is your friend...

Stan Goff: The Fog of Fame

The first of three parts on the circumstances of Pat Tillman's death.

In 1979, after a break in my Army service and having recouped my sergeant's stripes as a mechanized cavalry scout in Fort Carson, I volunteered for the Rangers. Off to Ranger School I went, and upon completion I was assigned to 3rd Platoon, Company A (Alpha Company), 2nd Ranger Battalion, 75th Infantry Regiment in Fort Lewis, Washington. Each of the three rifle platoons (organizations of around 40 light infantrymen) had nicknames, in this case, First to Fight, the Blacksheep, and Third Herd. A Company, known for its iron discipline, was called the Alpha-bots. When I left there in 1981 to become a tactics instructor at the Jungle Operations Training Center in Panama, I never had a notion that I might somehow be entangled with Alpha Company again ... two-and-a-half decades later.

Brothers Pat and Kevin Tillman were Alpha-bots, assigned to the Blacksheep (2nd Platoon), when Pat was killed by friendly fire on April 22, 2004 near a tiny village called Manah in Paktia Province, Afghanistan, near the Pakistani border. When I was a member of the adjacent platoon in the same building, Pat was a baby.

Stan Goff: How Pat Tillman Died

This is the second in a three-part series on the death of Pat Tillman. Click here to read the first installment: Pat Tillman Everyone's Political Football.

This is where there are conflicting stories, partly because of the "fog of war," but more importantly to evade possible prosecutions... and the Pandora's box of counter-accusation a recrimination that might be opened by prosecutions.

I won't belabor the minutiae.

Stan Goff: The Cover-Up of Pat Tillman's Death

Part 3 (concluding) of The Fog of Fame: the Death of Pat Tillman.

There is the cover-up (of the fratricide). There is the original lie (that Pat was killed in an intense combat engagement). There is the layering of plausible denial in case the stories unravel.

The motives of the spin-meisters were to pin a recruiting poster to Pat's coffin. The motive of the cover-up (at least one of them) was to preserve the mystique of the US Army Rangers -- the elite of the infantry -- as flawless, disciplined, steely-eyed commandos.

The Lind piece is left as an exercise for the reader ;-)

We have met the enemy, and it is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 11:08:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I;#'m reading through a stack of Lind stuff as we speak.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 11:10:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Lind piece is left as an exercise for the reader ;-)
Unsystematic as I am, that left me reading the Lind on War archive for an hour or so. Very interesting. But here's the piece:

Operation Anabasis

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 03:01:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Wehrmacht was an excellent fighting force, probably the best the world has seen since the Mongols.

Still, the Americans defeated them on the western front, due to the American superior numbers and superior firepower.

If the US Army of '44 could beat the Wehrmacht, the US Army of '07 can beat some ragtag Iraqis. I have no doubt whatsoever about that.

Sure, the US Armed forces are still stuck in the French second generation mentality (infantry advance, artillery conquers!), but that won't matter much here as they are not up against, well, the Wehrmacht (or the Bundesmacht, as an op-ed in the IHT which demanded a more aggressive role for the Bundesheer in Afghanistan called it).

The individual courage and skill of American soldiers and Marines should not be underestimated. Reports I've read for example from the second battle of Fallujah shows that. The Americans are great at urban warfare, as long as they are allowed to leave only ruins behind.

Anyway, it will boil down to supply. And no one does supply better than the Americans.

By the way, I'm a great fan of William Lind. And I think he has a very good point. The US force in Iraq could indeed be lost if they are not given free hands, which will mean lots of civilian death and destruction.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 12:38:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But the Americans did not beat the Wehrmacht on the West Front. The Wehrmacht had ceased to exist as an effective fighting force by 1944. By the time of D-Day, the Germans were in full retreat on the Eastern front, as fast as their crippled logistics could carry them. (OK, this is somewhat overstating things - to be sure, the Germans still had a sting, but hey, it's a two-paragraph post...)

Witness the fact that the American expeditionary force took fewer casualties on their trip to Berlin than the French army did during the German trip to Paris four years earlier. This does not speak to me of a smash-until-something-gives approach. It speaks to me of a pushover.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 04:06:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have to agree. They gamed war with Iran a lot of times already and never liked what came out of it. See Laura Rozen, excerpting Newsweek here.

Relevant quote:

But America certainly could do it--and has given the idea some serious thought. "The U.S. capability to make a mess of Iran's nuclear infrastructure is formidable," says veteran Mideast analyst Geoffrey Kemp. "The question is, what then?" NEWSWEEK has learned that the CIA and DIA have war-gamed the likely consequences of a U.S. pre-emptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. No one liked the outcome. As an Air Force source tells it, "The war games were unsuccessful at preventing the conflict from escalating.

So if they attack Iran anyway, that's a sure sign of delusion.

And if the conflict escalates, it can quickly become possible that the US will use tactical nukes, if they don't do it on first strike already.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 05:36:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"The war games were unsuccessful at preventing the conflict from escalating.

Hmmm there's several meanings in that phrase.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 05:42:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmmm the Stalingrad paralells grow and grow...

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 05:20:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Pentagon has been making continegency plans for a retreat for at least a few months.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 05:47:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Source?

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 05:59:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was sure I had read it somewhere, but I googled and didn't fint what I was looking for. I did found some articles urging the Pentagon to do this kind of planning. Then I found this.

A spat between Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman over Mrs. Clinton's inquiries about Pentagon plans for the future withdrawal of troops in Iraq -- and whether talk of such plans was emboldening the enemy -- drew a response from Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

In a letter to Mrs. Clinton sent yesterday, Mr. Gates offered his assurance that contingency planning "is indeed taking place with my active involvement as well as that of senior military and civilian officials and our commanders in the field." Mr. Gates added that he considers such planning "to be a priority for this Department."


http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/07/26/pentagon-responds-to-clinton/

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 06:26:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Danke

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 06:46:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Moving all equipment seems problematic, especially things which are not strictly military equipment.

I doubt the entire US presence in Iraq could retreat to Saudi Arabia or whatever with the current fuel supplies, even if this is speculation.

Supply lines must be reopened and kept open to maintain operations. This should not be too much of a hassle if enough force is allowed to be applied.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 02:03:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mother Jones has a feature up about leaving Iraq:

U.S. Out How?

It includes a section on logistics. But it assumes more or less peaceful circumstances.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Oct 28th, 2007 at 06:32:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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