Monday, March 17, 2003


Arrows In the Quiver
I'm writing at 2324 hours Tuesday night, slightly under the 48-hour umbrella President Bush offered to Iraqi dicator Saddam Hussein and his two sons to leave Iraq or face direct military action. I say "umbrella" and not "deadline" because like an umbrella, the time frame could fold inward if Iraq A) prepares to sabotage the country's own material wealth or B) launch a preemptive strike on Israel or coalition ground forces with chemical warheads delivered by mobile artillery pieces or SCUD-series ballistic missiles.

Coalition units have been "at war", so to speak, for at least a month. Couple the reports of American and allied special forces operators already in Iraq with the accelerated air campaign under the no-fly zones administered as part of Operations Northern and Southern Watch, and you get a better understanding of Allied efforts to prepare the battlefield for the likely hostilities.

There exists a narrow, distant opportunity that coalition forces will be engaged in combat by the time you read this. Of course, it is also possible that there could be a full day after the expiration of the 2-day umbrella before any coalition forces begin their attack. As the television pundits have noted, in a strategic vein allied planning is clear. There is no "surprise" as such. However, at the operational and tactical level, allied units still maintain a degree of unpredictability to the point where "shock and awe" can be utilized to the utmost.