Overwhelming Force: The Desert Storm Air War

Desert Storm was such a spectacularly successful, near-total annihilation of an enemy’s military that President Bush actually ended the war before Saddam Hussein had surrendered. How did this happen?

Although the US fielded an incredible battle force and fought a nearly picture-perfect war, Hussein himself sowed the seeds of his own destruction. Here are some of Hussein’s dumb moves not to do if you ever decide to start a war:

1. Hussein fought an 8-year long war against a neighboring Arab and Muslim nation, killing tens of thousands of its citizens and causing massive economic damage. No matter what other Arab nations felt toward Iraq previously, they were bound to suspect his intentions toward them in the future. And he had compiled a massive military machine:
The Iraqi military machine — numbering more than a million men with an extensive arsenal of CW (chemical weapons), extended range Scud missiles, a large air force and one of the world’s larger armies — emerged as the premier armed force in the Persian Gulf region. In the Middle East, only the Israel Defense Force had superior capability.”
DO NOT ALIENATE POTENTIAL ALLIES.

2. Like Japanese Emperor Hirohito and many of the Japanese military command, Hussein apparently thought that the US would not react to a threat or attack. Although Hussein didn’t attack the US, what he failed to consider was that his apparent intent to take over much of the Mideast oil supply would have left the US economy highly vulnerable to a madman with no concern at all for human life or “international morality”. This nation has run on vast quantities of oil so long that we tend to take it for granted. But if oil suddenly became scarce or prohibitively expensive, the US would either become a Third World nation almost overnight, or would have to conduct a war of naked, remorseless aggression and brazen imperialism such as we never have. The result would have been catastrophic splitting of our society, never mind the international consequences. And it could very well have resulted in a coalition with Russia at its head attacking us.
UNDERSTAND YOUR OPPONENTS’ MOTIVES AND STAKE IN THE GAME.

3. When the handwriting was already on the wall, when Hussein finally maybe understood just how big a hornet’s nest he had stirred up, instead of surrendering, he fired SCUD missiles into Israel, hoping to provoke Israel to fire on Iraq in return and thereby split the coalition forces into pro-Israel and Arab factions. On the surface, it sounded like a good idea. Israel has always had a reputation for retribution.

But US leadership understood what Saddam intended, and pressured Israel to refrain, in return for which the US made it a priority to destroy SCUD missile launchers: “… the coalition had to put a huge effort into spotting and eliminating the SCUDs which were killing Israeli citizens. Besides aircraft, Special Operations Forces including Delta Force, Navy Seals, and British SAS forces scoured the desert and fixed many mobile rocket launchers before they could attack.”

When the baddest of the bad are hunting you, it’s only a matter of time.
KNOW YOUR ENEMY’S THINKING AND ABILITY.
DESPERATION MEASURES ARE LIKELY TO FAIL.

So much for insane men in power. What were the coalition’s moves that took advantage of Iraq’s every mistake and every weakness to create a fair example of the end of the world on a local scale?

1. POWER! The US did not play around. As Charlie Daniels said in “This Ain’t No Rag”, “…the Big Boy’s in the game…”
Of the approximately 2250 coalition aircraft, about 1800 were very advanced US aircraft. Iraq had 934, but only 550 were ready to fight. Tomahawk cruise missiles were launched from US Navy ships in the Persian Gulf. Apache helicopters, F-117A Nighthawk Stealth, etc. etc. etc.

Facing such a giant numerical advantage and the technological edge of US warfighting ability – in every sphere of war – the Iraqi air force was withdrawn. Hussein sent them to Iran, Iraq’s bitter enemy, for safekeeping, which made about as much sense as sticking an icepick into a Cape Buffalo. Iran kept the planes, of course. Bye-bye any hope of air cover for Iraq.

2. SATURATION WARFARE!
In just a few short weeks, the coalition air forces destroyed the vast majority of Iraq’s infrastructure.”

Iraq had only 20 major power stations at the beginning. Over half were totally destroyed, more than half of the remainder were damaged, and 119 substations were destroyed. “As a result, only 4 percent of the electricity production from the start of the war was still operational.”

Coalition bombing destroyed all of the major dams, most major pumping stations, and many sewage treatment plants, telecommunications equipment, port facilities, oil refineries and distribution centers, railroads, and bridges.”

Since Iraqi commanders were strongly discouraged from independent action, all of their orders came down from Saddam Hussein’s headquarters. So the coalition began the systematic elimination of all command and control facilities.”

This went on for forty-three days. One wants to ask, in the entire nation of Iraq, what was still functioning at the end?

This sophisticated Coalition air war was hugely effective. It degraded overall Iraqi command and control capability by 90 per cent, smashed their ability to move, destroyed literally hundreds of vehicles and inflicted 40 per cent casualties on the enemy’s ground forces, making a significant contribution to the Coalition victory.”

WHAM. BAM. We’re done.

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God Bless our troops, Keep them safe.  MG, Snake and Bam, we miss you!
God Bless our Veterans.  We are forever grateful for your service.

Have a blessed and safe RED Friday all!

 

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