Saturday, March 29, 2003

# Posted 9:49 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

OUT OF MY LEAGUE: RF sends in an interesting analysis of Tommy Franks' strategy. It covers a lot of points the media haven't bothered much to talk about and thus arrives at a far less critical assessment. But this is way outside my area of expertise, so read it and judge for yourself:
Tommy Franks is a traditionalist. Like all American theater commanders before him, he has aimed at seizing a series of logistics bases on which to develop his campaign. The purpose of 3rd ID's charge to Baghdad was to pin down the IRG by positioning itself only 60 miles form the capital. Behind that screen, Franks could scoop up all logistics bases he wanted safely. H3, H2, Talil, Basur and Umm Qasar. The IRG can't go north to level the 173rd from Bashur because it is now rooted to Baghdad by the 3rd ID.

It is worth mentioning that the dash to Baghdad could not have been achieved with 4th ID in company. The field manuals specify that 150 lbs/day/per man in consumables (not counting equipment) are necessary to support a soldier in SW Asia. That's 4,500 tons per day, the weight of a British destroyer, every day. When 4th ID arrives in theater, that requirement will rise by about 2,000 tons per day. Franks could not have reached Baghdad in under a week with two mech infantry divisions abreast. The logistical tail from
Kuwait would not have supported it.

Frank's command is not currently force limited, so much as logistics limited. Indeed, fully 1/3 of his command, the 3 brigades of 101st AM and the 325th brigade of 82nd AB have not seen action to any meaningful extent. The 4 ID can't be effectively used until the logistical prizes, especially the port, are developed. That's what Franks is doing. The 7 sq mile base of the 101st west of An Najaf is first fruit. More will be to come.

Hardly any of the islands seized in WW 2 were attacked to destroy their garrisons. Guadalcanal, the Gilberts, the Marhsalls, the Bonins were all attacked for their logistical value, and for their ability to interdict enemy countermoves. Franks may be bold, but he is a bold traditionalist.

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