о нынешней войне:
From: Dave Pretty <email@example.com>
List Editor: Dave Pretty <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Editor's Subject: Glantz on Kursk, Iraq, etc.
Author's Subject: Glantz on Kursk, Iraq, etc.
Date Written: Fri, 4 Apr 2003 15:57:27 -0500
Date Posted: Fri, 4 Apr 2003 15:57:27 -0500
Date: Fri, 04 Apr 2003 08:41:54 -0500 (EST)
These comments relate to the ongoing discussion comparing the Red Army's defensive performance during the Soviet-German War (1941-1945) and the Iraqi Army's current defense.
SOME THOUGHTS ON THE SOVIET-GERMAN WAR (1941-1945) AND THE CURRENT IRAQ WAR
Since my name has surfaced during this discussion, it is appropriate that I offer a few brief comments.
First, although Soviet advisers assisted the Iraqi military in the past, there is scant evidence that their advice helped, either in 1991 or today. Dictators such as Saddam tend to listen to no one and usually develop a unique style of their own -- a style they deem necessary for their survival.
Second, comparisons between the Red Army's defense during Operation Barbarossa (Moscow 1941), Operation Blau (Stalingrad 1942), Operation Citadelle (Kursk 1943), and at Lake Balatan (1944) and the present Iraqi Army's present defense are disingenuous at best and futile at worst since the circumstances surrounding these defenses differ completely. The Red Army was able to exploit three advantages that the Iraqi military cannot. Militarily, the Red Army's deep strategic rear accorded it space through which it could retreat and still survive and an immense mobilization base from which it obtained fresh strategic reserves necessary to contend successfully with Hitler's repeated onslaughts. Iraq's military lacks both. Politically, most of the Iraqi people inherently understand that they are being liberated from a tyrant and will welcome that liberation when it occurs, while, at least in time, the Soviet Union's population realized Hitler's real intent was to enslave them. In short, Bush is no Hitler, a fact that only those persons blinded by their ideology can deny.
Third, the most valid comparisons between the Soviet Union's struggle with Germany and Iraq's current struggle are essentially institutional in nature. In the first instance, like Stalin, Saddam employs a security regime specifically designed to guarantee the loyalty or at least the obedience of his soldiers and civilian population by means of the ruthless application of terror. Saddam's Fedaheen and special republican guards forces are modeled directly after Stalin's internal security organs, organs whose stated mission was to intimidate soldiers and civilians alike. At any given time during the war, Stalin was served by between half a million and one million NKVD troops organized into scores of divisions, brigades, and regiments (and, at one point, even an NKVD Army), thousands of commando units, and, later still, Spetnaz (special designation forces earmarked to conduct reconnaissance, diversionary, sabotage, murder, and intimidation). While responsible for providing security for rear area political and economic facilities, for POW camps, and for the lager [camp] system (GULAG), these forces also constituted the ubiquitous "blocking detachments," whose mission was to advance behind Red Army forces and shoot those who displayed any intent to desert or abandon their positions without orders. In addition, from late 1942 through war's end, NKVD units forcibly impressed fresh manpower into the Red Army from regions the Red Army "liberated" as it advanced westward. Other NKVD and Spetnaz forces, often cooperating with partisan forces also under strict NKVD and Party control, operated deep in the Germans' rear area, collecting intelligence, conducting sabotage, disrupting German lines of communications, and, when ordered to do so, assassinating German officials and military figures and those identified as "collaborators."
Like Stalin, Saddam also resorts to ruthless disciplinary measures, intimidation, and outright murder to ensure his troops and civilian population remain reliable. While "love of country," ethnicity, and perhaps even nationalism play a minor, stark fear is the operative factor contributing most to the survival of his army and regime. This has been quite evident in recent days. For those who still dispute this reality, I will gladly provide via e-mail copies of two of Stalin's disciplinary orders, the first issued in the summer of 1941 and the second, the infamous Order No. 227, which he issued in the summer of 1942.
Fourth, at least to this point, the most surprising aspect of this campaign is how much it has achieved in so short a time. As was the case in Afghanistan, in Iraq military planners have conducted what amounts to an economy-of-force operation; that is, one involving the employment of a minimum number of forces with maximum affect. More important still, they have done so because they have had little choice (see point five below). In Afghanistan, for example, the US employed a modest number of special forces troops, several brigades of light (airborne and mountain) forces, and surrogate allied forces to pacify a country to a degree that more than six Soviet Army heavy divisions were unable to achieve. Likewise, in Iraq, two US heavy divisions (one army and one marine), a British heavy brigade, and less than two light (airborne) divisions have accomplished what many observers felt would take a force of from six to ten divisions, at least half of them heavy. Although the campaign is not yet over, these forces have set new standards in the annals of military history in terms of how far they have advanced and the ludicrously small losses they have suffered. Most astonishing of all, they have accomplished these feats while consciously and successfully seeking to avoid inflicting undue civilian casualties and damage to Iraq's economic infrastructure.
Fifth, although few Americans understand this reality, circumstances compelled the current administration and its senior military planners to conduct both the Afghan and Iraq campaigns with a broken military instrument. The sad fact is that, for eight years prior to 2001, the military was neglected, abused, and misused to the point where it was largely incapable of waging war effectively. With few exceptions (such as the Marines), the strength of all elements of US military, and, in particular, the Army, and the state of training and morale of its soldiers decayed steadily under near constant administration assault. A new generation of political leaders who were convinced that war was merely a negative aspect of America's decadent past shifted the Army's focus from war fighting to peacekeeping and humanitarian operations. As many of the Army's best officers left the service in disgust, often they were replaced by what amounted to "political appointees" and mere "timeservers." Thankfully, out of the ashes of this increasing moribund and ineffective military institution, enough of a nucleus of a capable fighting force and able senior commanders and junior officers survived to produce military success in Afghanistan and Iraq. A few more years of decay and such a feat would have been impossible.
Sixth, and more to the point of this discussion, the recent Russian critique of the Iraqi operation offered to us by Lou Courtney does to a degree reflect how they have analyzed of their own past wars and military operations. However, as was the case with their analysis of Red Army operations in World War II and their critiques of the 1991 Gulf War, which I have studied in detail, while they appear well-reasoned and sound and do offer fresh evidence on what actually transpired, these critiques are politically fettered and reek with self-justification. Just as their wartime critiques of World War II ignore those aspects of operations their political masters ordained they ignore, today they tend to stress only the negative aspects of US or coalition operations. They also contain large doses of wishful thinking on the part of officers who cannot yet cope with the specter of a successful US military. Like large segments of the Russian population as a whole, these critics simply have not forgiven us for our role in the collapse of the Soviet Union. Tragically, I believe this is a shortsighted view since the Russian Federation and the US face many similar and mutual geopolitical challenges whose peaceful solution poses profoundly daunting problems for Russia.
Finally, for my own part, I enthusiastically support the current administration's policy vis a vis the war on terror and Iraq and the manner in which US and other coalition military planners and forces have conducted past and present operations.