Coalition forces seem to have broken the code on the “urban warfare” that was supposed to turn Basra into a charnel house. We’re about to find out in Baghdad.
Urban warfare, as the playful pundits have been describing it, was going to require us to fight house-to-house down every street of every city, incurring huge numbers of casualties. But the Brits — who charged into Basra on Sunday, and appear intent on staying — had spent the whole week before raiding into Basra with heavy armor, destroying the “fedayeen” and foreign terror cells Saddam had placed there. Now, the Third Infantry Division is raiding into Baghdad, even driving through Saddam’s “Triumphal Arches” in a gesture that usually requires only one finger and not thirty tanks.
There are those who still believe that the Fearsome Republican Guard — well, at least the three or four divisions that haven’t been shocked and awed into little pieces — are waiting in tunnels beneath Baghdad, ready to spring out against our tired, overheated troops who are slogging their way in. The idea, some say, is to turn Baghdad into a desert version of Stalingrad.
Coalition troops should be a little tired and overheated. They have liberated over half of Iraq in two weeks, and it has not been easy. The temperatures in Iraq will now exceed 100 Fahrenheit most days. It’s no use reminding anyone that if we’d done this in January instead of late March, the weather would have been more accommodating. The troops are acclimating to the climate and will soon be reinforced by the 4th Division, which hasn’t yet seen the fight. So let’s not get into another one of those “pause” debates. But more than that, whenever the Stalingradist moles can poke their noses out of their tunnels, every hotshot jet jockey in the Western World is waiting upstairs for a crack at them.
One of the things the supposed moles don’t realize is that when that bunch faked a surrender and lured a bunch of Marines into an ambush, the fly-guys determined they wouldn’t let that happen again. So the CAS guys — the close air support pilots flying everything from F-15 Strike Eagles to F/A-18 Hornets to AV6-B Harriers and attack helos — are hanging around 24/7, and if there are hidden Iraqis, the CAS crowd will deal with them very quickly.
Urban warfare in Iraq could still be horrible, and we could still incur huge casualties but for the liberated Iraqis themselves. Wherever we go, those who believe they are really liberated are cooperating, and giving us that most valuable of all gifts: reliable and specific intelligence. They have no love for the Saddamites, and are all too willing to help us find them, their arms caches and anything else we’re looking for.
For urban warfare to thwart a force such as ours, the populace would have to cooperate with the urban guerrillas. But unlike Vietnam, where the people — some terrorized, and some merely hating the Saigon government — didn’t cooperate, the Iraqis are cooperating in substantial numbers. So long as they do, neither urban “guerrillas” nor the other terrorists Saddam’s regime has imported can succeed against us. Yes, they can raise the price of victory, but they cannot prevent it or even slow its arrival by much.
While our troops perform superbly, the liberals back home are laying the groundwork to take the shine off their success. It happened a month ago, but with all that’s been going on, it slipped past me: Miz Hillary is now a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. She joins ranking Dem Carl Levin, Ted Kennedy and others who will be very happy to belittle the success in Iraq to try to pave the way for the Dem run for the White House next year. Their game plan is pretty obvious.
First, there will be an assault on the technology that enables us to win so convincingly, and without losing the hundreds or thousands more American lives that otherwise would be lost. The Dems will demand the Air Force disprove the Iraqi claims of errant cruise missiles and precision-guided weapons went astray and killed hundreds of civilians. And we will spend months or years trying to prove a negative.
Next will come the criticisms of the things that worked far better than expected such as the Patriot PAC-3 anti-missile system. There have been two fratricides by the Patriot, killing American and British aircrews. But only one Iraqi missile has gotten through, a low-altitude shot that went under the Patriot’s radars. Without PAC-3, the damage to our troops and to Kuwait would already be substantial.
And there will be another major assault by the feministas. Young Jessica Lynch performed bravely in combat, but her story is not a justification to put more women on the front lines. Women still cannot perform to the physical standards men do, and thus must be kept out of the combat arms. Look for Miz Hillary and others to demand that all combat arms be opened to women. And the feminists won’t stop there. Thanks to the Secretary of the Air Force, they have a great way to tarnish the accomplishments of the airborne warriors in Iraq.
The Air Force is about to be assaulted politically with the same force and violence the Navy was in the Tailhook mess. When Navy Secretary Larry Garret tried to stand up for the troops, he was fired for his trouble. His successor (now NASA administrator), Sean O’Keefe, preemptively surrendered and a whole generation of naval aviators was sacrificed on the altar of feminism. Now, Air Force Secretary John Roche seems too anxious to surrender everyone and everything at the first hint of a skirmish with the skirts. He ordered the removal of the famous “Bring Me Men” sign that has decorated the academy since its beginnings.
The sexual assault claims lodged by a number of former and current women cadets at the Air Force Academy will be used to change the academy from a military school that produces warriors into a nice college where the kids wear uniforms. So far, Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. John Jumper, is just nodding and yessiring Roche, rather than getting to the bottom of it and fixing what may be broken without destroying the whole system. Roche — before any real inquiry was completed — cravenly removed the top four officers at the academy.
Which leaves the congressbeings looking elsewhere — deep into the academy and the whole warrior culture in all the services — for the pound of flesh they’ll want to take and get credit for. This is going to be Tailhook 2, and it will damage all the services unless someone at a high level fights back with the only weapons that warriors have against political attack: facts, integrity, and courage. With leaders such as Roche, those weapons won’t even be touched.