Mr. President, everything is finished.
August 11, 2003 5:04 PM   Subscribe

How the Iraq war was lost. "'These were the orders of an imbecile. Qusai [Hussein] was like a teenager playing a video war game,' [Republican Guard Col. Raeed] Faik, 33, said in the cool reception room of his Baghdad home, gesturing to his teenage son banging away on a computer combat game." "We were like 10 different armies fighting their own private wars," said another Iraqi soldier. An account of the war as seen through the eyes of the Iraqi military.
posted by Zonker (11 comments total)
fighting units barely communicated with one another and were paralyzed from lack of direction

Not surprising, considering they didn't have a long-run chance from the beginning.
posted by scarabic at 5:21 PM on August 11, 2003

According to Into the Storm: A Study in Command, the Republican Guard retreated in good order after the last war, so I'm a little surprised to read about the shambles they made of it this time. But then, there was nowhere to retreat to this time around...
posted by Triplanetary at 5:58 PM on August 11, 2003

That was fascinating. Particularly the part where saddam stops for falafel during his retreat.
posted by srboisvert at 8:20 PM on August 11, 2003

Some resonances with the harsh judgements in Why Arabs Lose Wars [thread].
posted by dhartung at 8:54 PM on August 11, 2003

Zonker - nice post..."Before the invasion, Saddam Hussein's forces had been expected to put up a fierce defense of Baghdad, and U.S. officials warned that the Iraqis might even use chemical or biological weapons. Instead, the former Iraqi fighters said, orders to use chemical or biological weapons were never given because no such weapons existed."

But what were the comparative military budgets of the US and Iraq at the time of the (most recent) US invasion? 100 to 1? - Still, the US troops obviously rolled over the Iraqi army with ease, so demonstrating what the Greeks knew thousands of years ago - free, motivated soldiers will always outperform soldiers wo are coerced to fight through threats or fear.

But there is a disturbing subtext to this commentary: there is one motivating factor which trumps all others - defense of one's home territory.
posted by troutfishing at 10:03 PM on August 11, 2003

If I could be bothered, I would look for references on the history of the Red Army, which was crippled in the early years of WWII by the effect of Stalin's purges on the officer corps. I imagine a few years of continual political terror are going to have pretty dire effect on senior officers.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:31 PM on August 11, 2003

Wow, fascinating read, thanks!

I passed it on to Chief Wiggles to see if he has anything to add to it from his time with some Iraqi Generals who were POWs.
posted by Plunge at 12:30 AM on August 12, 2003

But what were the comparative military budgets of the US and Iraq at the time of the (most recent) US invasion? 100 to 1?

Yes, troutfishing, that seems to me to be the key point. From 2000: "The US military budget is more than thirty seven times as large as the combined spending of the seven "rogue" states (Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria). It is more than the combined spending of the next twenty nations."
posted by LeLiLo at 2:01 AM on August 12, 2003

Yes, troutfishing, that seems to me to be the key point

Actually, from reading the article, the key point is that these guys could have put up some kind of a fight but didn't in part because of the staggering incompetence of their senior leadership.

In the last fifty years, armies of the Arab states managed to lose repeatedly to smaller and less well armed foes, largely due to leadership problems, overbearing leadership that undermines initiative, politicization, etc. See Ken Pollack's The Arabs at War.
posted by ednopantz at 10:23 AM on August 12, 2003

i_am_joe's_spleen: Yep, that's probably why they also lost the Winter War against the Finns, although the "human wave" approach of ill-trained militias survived long enough inside Russia that first winter of Operation Barbaroosa.
posted by infowar at 12:20 PM on August 12, 2003

Heard from the Chief, the story is consistent with what they got from the POWs. FWIW.
posted by Plunge at 12:05 AM on August 13, 2003

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