SAME PLACE, DIFFERENT WAR

SAME PLACE, DIFFERENT WAR: Michael Gordon has an excellent analytical piece in the NYT entitled, “A Sequel, Not a Rerun.”

The size of the force is just one way, of course, in which Gulf War II will differ from Gulf War I. There will be other important differences as well, and as I have moved around Kuwait and Bahrain in past week I have made a list.

The terrain, for starters, will be very different. The 1991 war was decided in the open desert, but the denouement for this campaign will occur in downtown Baghdad. Some of the routes to Baghdad will also pass by canals, marshy areas and relatively narrow routes, depriving the American and British land forces of the room to maneuver they had last time.

The sequencing of the air and ground campaign will also be different. In 1991 the United States carried out more than five weeks of air strikes before the ground attack. This time the air and ground campaigns will be more closely aligned. Allies are also another issue. In 1991 the United States had a broader military coalition, including Arab armies and the French. This time it is the Americans, the British and the Australians.

Finally, of course, the objective is different. The mission is not limited to the eviction of Iraqi forces from Kuwait and the destruction of the Republican Guard, a goal not fully completed last time. This time it is “regime change,” the toppling of a foreign government and the considerable nation-building exercise that will follow.

But the size of the force may be the most important difference along with the Bush administration decision to opt for a “rolling start” in which the attack will begin even as more forces are arriving in Kuwait.

There’s more. Read it all.

FILED UNDER: Iraq War
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.