Preparations for the Iraq War

The military in both the United States and Great Britain have, at least since the Second World War been a highly trained, professional force, prepared to fight on battlefields all over the world. In the ten years prior to the Iraq War, these forces underwent dramatic advancement in weapons and tactics. Precision weapons relying on Global Positioning technologies could fire weapons with pinpoint accuracy. The mobility of Coalition units allowed for the development of tactics that allowed a force to control an entire battlefield, in-depth. No longer did a ground force have to slug its way through an opposing ground force to achieve an objective. A force with air superiority could "vertically envelop" the enemy, effectively going over and around front-line enemy units to cut off their supply, command and control, and devastate their moral. The integrated ground, air, and sea forces could project power and defeat a more static, less informed enemy in a matter of hours. Special Forces would also prove devastatingly lethal to the enemy's ability to resist.

The Coalition could and did project its power quickly. Learning lessons from the deployment of forces during the Gulf War. Using, air transport, naval transport and forward staging, the U.S. and Great Britain amassed a small but powerful force on the southern border of Iraq (largely in Kuwait). Planners had included a contingent that was to be staged in Turkey, but the Turkish Parliament refused allied forces permission to do so.

The Iraqi war machine as maintained by Saddam was a large but brittle force. It had largely been trained only for policing duties within the country. Most of its deployment was done to repress civil resistance to the Saddam regime. Because Saddam Hussein was highly suspicious of the army, he tended not to promote competent officers, who might be capable of challenging his power. The elite core of the Iraqi army was the Republican Guard, largely recruited from the Sunni population and commanded by officers loyal to Saddam Hussein. The Republican guard was better fed and better paid than the average Iraqi soldier, but its six divisions were still largely inferior to Coalition units. There was also the "Fedayeen" which was a force of fanatical Sunni's and Baathists led by Saddam Hussein's eldest son Uday. Large numbers of the Fedayeen were actually from outside the country, especially Syria and Egypt.

In all, the Iraqi army was composed of about 17 divisions. The 11 divisions not part of the Republican Guard were very poorly trained, poorly supplied and paid, and composed of people not interested in the continuation of the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein.

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