OT!!! Was The USA owes....now longish reply to Royabulgaf

Kim; do I sense in you some cultural insensitivity to the Shiite religious ethos? I'll also ignore, for the purpose of this post, your inflammatory
comment regarding the Emir of Kuwait except to say that I'm not extremely fond of the Kuwaiti royal family myself (I worked with them after the first Gulf War and again in late winter-early spring of 1992. I have many stories but, alas, that's for another time.
OK, here we go......Over the years, both during and after the first Gulf War, I spent time in both northern and southern Iraq. Your comment that the Kurds succeeded where the Shiites did not is, essentially, true to that point. However, I don't think you understand the many other factors that contributed to the overall situation.
Allow me to explain (rather) briefly. The Kurds had two very strong "warlords" in the north (and at least one lesser one). These warlords had fairly well established and equipped "irregular armies" and had been engaging in battle with the Turks off and on for many years. When they weren't fighting Turkish incursions, they entertained themselves by fighting each other or engaging Iraqi incursion into "Kurdistan."
While some of Iraq's best units were stationed along the "green line" between Iraqi- and Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq (not surprisingly, in most places this "green line" ran along the base of the mountain ranges), the terrain of northern Iraq is well-suited for the type of guerrilla fighting that the Kurds were good at. At the same time, the lack of ability to move into most Kurdish areas with heavy weaponry (armor and APCs, etc) limited the Iraqi Army's effectiveness. In the event, the Kurds could break contact and disappear whenever they wanted (similar to the Mujis in Afghanistan under Soviet occupation). The Kurdish military presence, combined with the difficult terrain of Kurdistan, was enough to force Saddam to actually negotiate with the two stronger warlords, Barzani and Talibani (I've met them both).
In the south, the Shiite guerillas were never as well organized or equipped as the Kurdish in the north. They had no preeminent, charismatic leader(s) and they fought in small bands with little mutual support and almost no heavy weapons. Most of south-central and southeastern Iraq is relatively flat and easily traversable by Iraqi armored vehicles (as was well-proven during the first Gulf War). The biggest band (to call them a group would lend the air of more cohesiveness than actually existed) of insurgents were from the ethnic population that was called the "marsh Arabs" and they lived (not surprisingly) in and around the fresh and salt-water marshes on south-central and southeastern Iraq. They used these marshes for cover and concealment, as a means for rapid transportation, as well as providing food and livelihood. There was absolutely no way the southern Shiite insurgents could stand up against the military might of Saddam's military fist in southern Iraq and, predictably, they were crushed in their uprising.
To take that a step further; in the August of 1992, I was part of the original 30 Airmen from USCENTAF that deployed with LGEN "Iron Mike" Nelson to Saudi Arabia to establish Operation SOUTHERN WATCH (it later grew to hundreds of servicemen and women) and establish the Southern No-fly Zone at the 32md parallel to protect the Shiits from aerial attack. Once the NFZ was established and Saddam was no longer able to engage the Shiite insurgents with attack helos and aircraft. He ordered his army into the marsh areas to eliminate the insurgents but the aforementioned marshes were used to good effect by the small bands of insurgents and they inflicted a fair amount of casualties on the small Iraqi Army units. Saddam then came upon another idea to end the southern insurgency.
He began the systematic burning of the marshes in the south. I saw this first-hand, looking down at the thick smoke and fire from 20,000 feet; it was an unforgettable sight. Once the marsh vegetation was destroyed, Saddam began a massive engineering project to reroute the rivers that were feeding the marshes. This eventually dried them up almost entirely. Drying the marches did two things for Saddam. First, it denied the inhabitants both the protection they needed and their source of food and livelihood. Second, it allowed his army to move into the area with heavier combat vehicles to eradicate the marsh Arabs. Most of those who weren't killed were displaced to other areas (such as Karbala, Al Kut, Basra, Saddam City in Baghdad, etc, etc where Saddam could maintain better control of them. As a result, insurgent activity in the south was greatly reduced.
We went back to Op SOUTHERN WATCH with LGEN Jumper (then Commander of USCENTAF, now a 4-star General and Chief of Staff of the Air Force) in September of 1994 as a result of Saddam massing Republican Guard forces in southern Iraq in the vicinity of the Kuwait border. By this time, the marshes in the south were almost completely dry and the marsh Arabs way of life had been virtually eliminated (along with many of the marsh Arabs, themselves). We expanded the no-fly zone from the 32nd parallel to the 33rd and, once Saddam redeployed his forces back out of southern Iraq, we established a rather short-lived no-drive zone below the 32nd parallel which prohibited most categories of military vehicles from moving south of the 32nd and, in essence, allowed us to engage any further attempts to reinforce southern Iraq (beyond the units normally garrisoned there). * *
"The world would be a much simpler place if every one could pick and choose their obligations, but we can't and we shouldn't." Major Charles W. Whittlesey
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I believe I referred to him as a Jeffersonian democrat. Kim M

Thanks for the historical heads up.
Kim M
Operation American Freedom- Where is our @#$%^& pop-up filter?
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On 28 Oct 2003 14:18:26 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (Bill Woodier) wrote:

All that you said about the Shiites in the south is certainly true, Bill, but that doesn't mitigate the fact that Bush I allowed them to be slaughtered after inciting them to revolt against Saddam. We had forces chomping at the bit to go to the Shiites' aid and could have saved them without going to Baghdad and ousting Saddam. It's to our eternal shame that we let them die at Saddam's hand.
At the very least Bush & Powell could have let the military finish off the Republican Guard in Kuwait rather than letting them escape mostly intact back into Iraq.
I sure hope we don't let the Iraqi people down again.......
--
Al Superczynski, MFE, IPMS/USA #3795, continuous since 1968

My "From" address is munged - click "Reply To" to respond via email.
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I certainly would not argue that, Al. I was one of those forces. I was cocked n' locked, bags and combat gear packed and ready, willing, and wanting to go.

I would not argue that, either, Al. As one of those poised and chomping at the bit to go, you can't imagine how hard it was to watch those events unfold; events we could have prevented, either by our mere presence there or by renewed combat. It was a shame.
However, my point about the differences between the situation of the Kurds and the Shiites still stands. The Iraqi military was able to bring larger and far heavier units and firepower to bear against the Shiites than the Kurds. also, the Kurds were much better organized and disciplined than the Shiites and were able to bring something akin to true military units to the fight where the Shiites literally had little more than incohesive small bands of rabble to fight with.

I would not argue that either. As the Commander of a company of Kuwaiti commandos with Special Operations Command during the first Gulf War, I stood on the shore of the Euphrates and watched the clusterfuck of retreating RG (and other odds and ends of Iraqi units) running for cover of Baghdad and central Iraq. Even with my lightly armed and rather poorly trained unit we wanted to engage them but were ordered to back off.

So do I.
"The world would be a much simpler place if every one could pick and choose their obligations, but we can't and we shouldn't." Major Charles W. Whittlesey
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