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The War Nerd April 6, 2003
 
Down We Go!
By Gary Brecher Browse author Email
 
Page 2 of 5
 
Bad enough the other Eurofags were calling them lapdogs; bad enough George Michael's video of Blair fetching sticks for Bush; but now the US military was having open season on our only allies. One of our fighters obliterated one of their APCs, a Patriot blew one of their MRCAs out of the sky, and we shelled one of their patrols. All in all, not much of a boost for the ol' special relationship.

By Day 5 even our generals stopped pretending the war made sense. One bigwig said to an AP reporter, "You tell me how this is going to end."

Since then it's only gotten worse. Scared Marines spraying a truck full of Iraqi women and kids because they thought it was a suicide bomber-11 dead. It's not much fun any more, watching this war.

Ari Fleischer still tries to bullshit us, but the whole world knows this is a disaster. This is the worst defeat for an American army since the first Bull Run, and the worst TV war since Nam. I have to force myself to watch the news now, and a lot of the stuff they show makes me feel sick. This is no fun.

You have to ask: whose fault is it? And how'd they manage to screw it up so bad? That story's beginning to come out. Turns out it all goes back to logistics, the most important and boring part of modern warfare.

Logistics-military supply planning--is the one thing American armies do better than anybody else. The Soviets were our only competition, and they weren't really in our league. It was our logistics-our Studebakers and Fords and Spam-that kept the Soviet Army supplied in WW II. They did the dying, we did the logistics.

Logistics may not be as romantic as blitzkrieg, but it's why we win. It's been that way since the Grant beat Lee. The Union was out-generalled and out-fought in nearly every battle. But they won, because Grant realized the North had the logistics--the industrial base, the railway system, the educated military bureaucracy--to grind away at Lee's troops until they crumbled.

Lee's men were the best soldiers in the world, but they were starving while Grant's bluecoats were well armed, well fed and well transported. By 1865, something amazing happened: Grant, a poor tactician and great logistician, beat Lee, a great strategist. Logistics beat battle-skills.

Grant set the pattern for American armies. We don't dazzle our enemies with brilliant tactics like the Germans, outlast them like the Vietnamese, or charge right into machineguns like the Chinese. We just keep the bombs and shells and planes coming until the enemy is overwhelmed, terrorized and blasted to smithereens. (When that's not enough to win, as it wasn't in Nam...well, then we're what military historians call "totally fucked.")

It was logistics that won us the first Iraqi war. Powell and Schwartzkopf made sure a steady stream of bombs hit every Iraqi position, day after day, week after week. Why hurry? We had millions of bombs coming steadily down the pipeline, but the miserable Iraqis cowering in the sand only had one life each. We picked them off bunker by bunker--had them so terrified that when the ground war started, the survivors just wanted to crawl to the nearest US uniform and beg for the chance to surrender.

You'd think that an American Secretary of Defense would understand the importance of logistics in American warfare. Well, it's coming out now that our SecDef, Donald Rumsfeld, decided to scrap the Pentagon's whole logistics plan, downsize our invasion force, and micro-manage the invasion himself, trying to make an American force do a Wehrmacht blitzkrieg on a shoestring budget.

This is one time you can't blame the officer corps. The generals were pushing for more men, more armor and more supplies. They told Rumsfeld they wanted to send four divisions' worth of heavy armor to Kuwait by ship. He told them to stop being Nellies; we wouldn't need that much armor because the Iraqis were going to welcome us with open arms. The one division we had already positioned in Kuwait would be plenty.


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Gary Brecher
Browse author
Email Gary at war_nerd@exile.ru, but, more importantly, buy his book.
 
 
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