The Third Infantry Division is moving out to the Gulf. What makes the current deployment different from Desert Shield/Storm is how quiet it’s been. Sure, we’ve seen the news reports, but I remember back then all the news footage of troops and tanks offloading in Gulf ports and assembling and all that. This time the White House is keeping a much lower profile.
What I’m worried about is that our military is vastly reduced from those days. Back then we had 9 Army and Marine divisions, plus independent brigades and regiments and the allies to fight the Iraqis (82nd Airborne, 101st Airborne, 1st Infantry, 3rd Infantry, 24th Mechanized, 1st Armored, 3rd Armored, 1st Marine, 2nd Marine) and over 700 aircraft (132 A-10, 21 B-52, 48 F-4G Wild Weasel, 48 F-15E, 210 F-16, 64 F-111F, 36 F-117, 242 Marine aircraft) plus all the allied aircraft.
While we can count on the British to back us up, the French and the Germans and the Arabs won’t be there this time (France joined with an armored division and some fighter wings in 1991). And we won’t be able to field 700 planes and 9 divisions. Not even close. Sure, Iraq is also much less fearsome than before, although much of the Iraqi Republican Guard, the best-equipped and -trained divisions, went untouched in 1991 and presumably still retain much of their punch.
I have confidence in the president, the generals, and the soldiers, but I’m worried that this isn’t going to be as easy as some people think.
Two excellent books on the strategy of the first Gulf War were co-authored by Tom Clancy and the commander of the 7th Corps (the main armored fist), on the first book, and the commander of air forces, on the second. They are Into the Storm: A Study in Command and Every Man a Tiger. The former is about the ground war and the latter, the air war.