January 22, 2003



Not a bit. Weak-kneed ISPs, who have given up so much of our online freedom of expression at the mere whiff of a lawyer's cologne before, were the obvious weak link for the RIAA's anti-fileswapping crusade, too. I give Verizon a month before they knuckle under.

Posted by BruceR at 12:22 PM



The water cooler talk around my military office the last couple days has taken an interesting turn... the choice of brigades being sent by the British sparked a new round of speculation from the tactically-obsessed. The choice of 16 Air Assault Brigade as the second formation the British are sending, in addition to 7th Armoured, may be significant. It's already widely assumed that the U.S. 101st Airborne Division will be headed to Iraq shortly... the apparent request to Britain for still more paratroopers seems odd, if one is anticipating urban or mechanized fighting, where they would not shine as much as some other units that could have been going in their stead (largely due to their lighter scale of equipment issue, not their ability).

The American options, with only Kuwait to base from, always seemed limited... a single-axis push up the Tigris toward Baghdad on a narrow front is not an ideal way to win wars, ever. (A similar option led to the destruction of a British army in Iraq in World War One). It's simply too predictable. Den Beste and others have suggested a bite-and-hold type operation, with Basra as the preliminary objective, an opening up of the logistic bottleneck, and then down the road a few weeks, a big push on Baghdad, on a proper corps frontage. Maybe.

It may be instructive to note that exactly that idea was what was pushed on Montgomery by Eisenhower's staff in fall, 1944 (just substitute Antwerp for Basra): clear the enemy out of a big port, consolidate, then drive on. Montgomery, because he believed the enemy was in more disarray than it really was, and because he felt time was of the essence, opted instead for Market Garden... driving an armoured corps down an "airborne carpet" of objectives pre-seized from the air by British and American paratroopers.

Now, the Americans obviously have a low opinion of their enemy's capability... like Montgomery. They will, by the time the ground troops are ready to move, have total air superiority... like Montgomery. They have the time factor that they want to present the world with a fait accompli before resistance at home and abroad can organize and become an obstacle... not unlike Montgomery. And now, thanks to the British, they have at least one-and-a-third divisions of paratroopers, that could be moved in to seize the chokepoints and bridges en route to Baghdad by parachute or helicopter. They could, in theory, drop the "carpet," then race their armoured divisions close to Baghdad for the anticipated force-on-force maneuver battle there with the Republican Guard units in a matter of days, rather than possibly weeks.

Is there going to be a Market Garden-like feel to the American attack, when it comes? Maybe not... Montgomery only had to cross 100 miles fast... Baghdad is 300 miles away from the start line. But there's no doubt that the key question the Iraqi generals should be wrestling with now is that unknown quantity... what are the Americans planning to do with all those paratroopers?

Posted by BruceR at 10:10 AM



Former colleague, webhost, and all around good guy Patrick C. says I've been ignoring the reporting by the Toronto Star from the Article 32 hearing in Lousiana concerning the bombing deaths of 4 Canadians. He's right.. actually... the Star sent William Walker, a strong and seasoned reporter, and of all the news stories being filed out of Barksdale AFB, his are by far the most perceptive and well-read. (Not that that's really saying a whole lot, given the competition.) Sorry, Pat: I can sometimes fall into the blogger's trap of only bitching about the BAD reporting. But if people do only read one Canadian reporter's dispatches from Barksdale, they should read Walker's.

Posted by BruceR at 09:41 AM