Best strategy for taking Baghdad

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Patrick Degan
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Best strategy for taking Baghdad

Post by Patrick Degan » 2003-03-22 06:18pm

Examining the present conflict from a purely military point of view, the question for the class is: "what would be the best strategy for taking Baghdad?"

It's clear that whatever heavy resistance the invasion forces will face will be concentrated upon Saddam's remaining strongholds of the capitol and the cities of Mosul, Tikirt, and Kirkuk; more or less where his tribal alliances have been located and are strongest. Northern Iraq has long been in the effective hands of the Kurdish insurgents, and the southern regions of the country are falling to the Coalition advance with only light or even token resistance. This suggests that Saddam Hussein has largely conceeded the rest of the country in the early phase of the war and intends to make his stand within the areas lying on the east banks of the Euphrates. It is also suggested that his likely strategy is to get the invasion forces tied up in urban battles, making them pay in blood for every kilometre and block in the hopes of inflicting unacceptable losses sufficent to compel the Coalition forces to negotiate favourable terms for an armistice.

The main strategic target is doubtlessly Baghdad, if we assume that Saddam and his governmental and military command are still within the city. Assuming this in advance, what would be the best way to capture the city? Direct assault, with the risks entailed in urban warfare (and do not make the mistake of underestimating the defenders —they will fight)? The goal of capturing the city intact rules out simply razing Baghdad, as Curtis LeMay would probably recommend.

Or perhaps the best approach would be to take a page from Gen. Grant's playbook: siege warfare. Establish a perimetre around the city, cut the roads, rail links, and if feasible dam the Tigris river to reduce Baghdad's water supply, and starve the defenders out. A siege perimetre surrounding Baghdad, measured from a radius of 7.5 kilometres from the centre of town, would encompass a circle of 60.32 kilometres (in the siege of Petersburg in the American Civil War, by contrast, Grant's siege lines extended to a distance of 85 kilometres and were effectively manned by a force of about 120,000).

If you were running the war, which strategy would you select?

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Post by Warspite » 2003-03-22 06:40pm

Both options (Urban Warfare and Siege Warfare) take too long, for the expectations of the military, politicians, economists and the people. Also, it would tie up a large number of troops that could be best used in the Northern part of the country (the hilly area).
Since the current buzz-word is Effect-based Warfare, a good plan would entail a little of siege operations (cut the main routes), urban warfare (capture of outlying strongholds) and psychological warfare (negotiations, making people see the war is not against them, etc.), as has been applied.

The military districts are the key, if they can be controlled in some way, most of the city would be in control.

I wouldn't be surprised if the population of Bagdad would be more difficult to persuade in not taking up arms, since they live in the very heart of a dictatorship, where its influence is the highest.
Let's hope most of the Iraqi leadership surrenders, gets captured, or killed, since they are the head of the snake, right?
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Post by Darth Wong » 2003-03-22 06:47pm

Orbital ion cannon :D
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Post by Montcalm » 2003-03-22 06:49pm

Darth Wong wrote:Orbital ion cannon :D
Wiping a whole city cool 8)
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Post by Spanky The Dolphin » 2003-03-22 06:50pm

You mean best strategy besides "dropping a 25 MT Hydrogen bomb on Baghdad from sub-orbit", right?

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Post by phongn » 2003-03-22 07:01pm

Darth Wong wrote:Orbital ion cannon :D
Been playing C&C? ;)

Everyone knows it's the particle beam, anyways :D
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Post by Sea Skimmer » 2003-03-22 07:03pm

Darth Wong wrote:Orbital ion cannon :D
Nuclear bombs are slightly more practical because of the whole "they existing in reality" aspect. One B-2 unloading 16 1.2 megaton B-83 nuclear bombs would deal with the issue quite well.
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Post by phongn » 2003-03-22 07:05pm

Sea Skimmer wrote:
Darth Wong wrote:Orbital ion cannon :D
Nuclear bombs are slightly more practical because of the whole "they existing in reality" aspect. One B-2 unloading 16 1.2 megaton B-83 nuclear bombs would deal with the issue quite well.
Trident D-5 would be faster, though.
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Post by Sea Skimmer » 2003-03-22 07:09pm

phongn wrote:
Sea Skimmer wrote:
Darth Wong wrote:Orbital ion cannon :D
Nuclear bombs are slightly more practical because of the whole "they existing in reality" aspect. One B-2 unloading 16 1.2 megaton B-83 nuclear bombs would deal with the issue quite well.
Trident D-5 would be faster, though.
Smaller yield, and we need those buildings crushed and the debris vaporized to dig out any fortifications or bunkers.
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Post by HemlockGrey » 2003-03-22 07:21pm

How about a method that focuses more on the 'liberation' aspect of the war and less of the 'mindless destruction and slaugher' aspect?
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Post by Spanky The Dolphin » 2003-03-22 07:23pm

HemlockGrey wrote:How about a method that focuses more on the 'liberation' aspect of the war and less of the 'mindless destruction and slaugher' aspect?
What, it's "mindless" to drop a 25MT bomb in the exact centre of the city?
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Post by Gandalf » 2003-03-22 07:38pm

HemlockGrey wrote:How about a method that focuses more on the 'liberation' aspect of the war and less of the 'mindless destruction and slaugher' aspect?
It's not slaughter if we vapourise a whole city.
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Post by phongn » 2003-03-22 07:45pm

Sea Skimmer wrote:
phongn wrote:
Sea Skimmer wrote: Nuclear bombs are slightly more practical because of the whole "they existing in reality" aspect. One B-2 unloading 16 1.2 megaton B-83 nuclear bombs would deal with the issue quite well.
Trident D-5 would be faster, though.
Smaller yield, and we need those buildings crushed and the debris vaporized to dig out any fortifications or bunkers.
Yeah, but that many groundbursts would irradiate the area for quite a distance, no?
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Post by kojikun » 2003-03-22 07:54pm

its not mindless destruction and slaughter, not by far. its WILLFUL! :)
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Post by SPOOFE » 2003-03-22 07:54pm

Bah. Tac-nukes on the fortifications will be enough. Although most of the ignorant masses in the world will crap their pants the second you say the N-word (and I'm not referring to the racial slur).
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Post by Sea Skimmer » 2003-03-22 07:58pm

phongn wrote: Yeah, but that many groundbursts would irradiate the area for quite a distance, no?
I suppose they could be airbursted to merely crush. But in that case I want the extra megatonnage for sure.
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Post by phongn » 2003-03-22 08:08pm

Sea Skimmer wrote:
phongn wrote: Yeah, but that many groundbursts would irradiate the area for quite a distance, no?
I suppose they could be airbursted to merely crush. But in that case I want the extra megatonnage for sure.
Presumably these bunkers are hardened against airbusts, though. You might very well need groundbursts or penetrators to take care of them.
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Post by phongn » 2003-03-22 08:09pm

SPOOFE wrote:Bah. Tac-nukes on the fortifications will be enough. Although most of the ignorant masses in the world will crap their pants the second you say the N-word (and I'm not referring to the racial slur).
To blow the fortifications you might very well need groundbursts, depending on how strong they're made, and groundbursts are, to put it mildly, messy.
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Post by Sea Skimmer » 2003-03-22 08:14pm

phongn wrote:
Presumably these bunkers are hardened against airbusts, though. You might very well need groundbursts or penetrators to take care of them.
Once the city above is flattened we can always pump gasoline down the airshafts. Or unleash GBU-28's. Though if that fails, B-61-11 is operational.
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Post by phongn » 2003-03-22 08:19pm

Sea Skimmer wrote:
phongn wrote:
Presumably these bunkers are hardened against airbusts, though. You might very well need groundbursts or penetrators to take care of them.
Once the city above is flattened we can always pump gasoline down the airshafts. Or unleash GBU-28's. Though if that fails, B-61-11 is operational.
Ahh, GBU-28. Best use of old 8" guns ever.
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Post by Sea Skimmer » 2003-03-22 08:29pm

phongn wrote:
Ahh, GBU-28. Best use of old 8" guns ever.
Only the initial wartime batch of 32 and later trials batch of 24 used old 8-inch tubes. The main post war 100-unit production run used purpose built casings.
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Post by kojikun » 2003-03-22 08:31pm

yanno, those very bright flashes and big explosions on the live shots of Baghdad are only 1 tonne bombs, not the 10.5 tonne MOABs or the smaller Daisy Cutters. We can just drop some of those without worry about nukes, and still get some very nice big explosions.
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Post by Grand Admiral Thrawn » 2003-03-22 08:38pm

A nuclear strike obviously. Baghdad will be glowing and Iraqi resistance would be gone.
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Post by Darth Garden Gnome » 2003-03-22 08:40pm

Without using WMD (I'm sure there's a document out there that say if we use WMD weps, than so can Iraq, or something) I give you but two words: Carpet Bombing. Load up them B-52s, fly over Baghdad, release, get more bombs, repeat.

I can guarentee you that if we started tonight, by tomarrow moringing the phones would be wringing in the White House:

"What the hell are you doing?!!! Are you fucking insane???!?!?!?"

Thats what would be so great about going back to WW2 style raids today, everyone is so used to this PC crap it'll be a huge shock.
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Post by Sea Skimmer » 2003-03-22 08:49pm

Well, if we want massive destruction or shock without WMD, I have another solution which wont flatten the city. Here's a calculation I made a while ago
The US Army procured 857 MLRS firing units. Each one can fire a dozen M26 at once, with each rocket carrying 644 M77 DPICM bomblets. Depending on the range, a twelve rocket salvo will cover 120,000-200,000 square meters, with some overlapping of bomblets.

In other words, if they all fired at once the area covered would be 102,840,000 to 171,400,000 square meters, 102.84 to 171.4 square kilometers with 6,622,869 bomblets landing in a timeframe of sixty seconds.

Without cover of some sort, no person should be left alive within that area.
I doubt many people would want to fight after the whole city has been coated in such muntions.
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