Saturday, February 10, 2007

WHAT WOULD THE WEHRMACHT DO? Rob Peter to pay Paul, shift units from A to B and back, change generals like air filters

Today's bit of information comes by way of David Isenberg, a fellow national security affairs analyst, writing in the Asia Times.

The US Army's being worn down in Iraq. That's the salient message and the complete write-up is here.

Last week your friendly neighborhood GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow was going to put up an index for readers, one excerpting from the mind-numbing invocations of the phrase -- "military overstretched" -- in the public debate. But my mind became overstretched and worn-out reading them so I wrote about the nice game found in the closet, Megafortress.

Isenberg puts a tally on the American fighting vehicles blown up in action in Iraq: " ... 20 M1 Abrams tanks, 50 Bradley
fighting vehicles, 20 Stryker wheeled combat vehicles, 20 M113 armored personnel carriers, and 250 Humvees. The number of vehicles lost in battle comes to nearly 1,000 after adding in heavy and medium trucks and trailers, mine-clearing vehicles, and Fox wheeled reconnaissance vehicles..."

What would the Wehrmacht do? It's a thought experiment.

The US ground military in Iraq is faced with a conflict it can't win, like the Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front after Stalingrad.

Although the nature of the conflict is utterly different (the existence of the USA is not threatened if it leaves the battlefield), as well as the actual manpower, the strategic, tactical, social and political problems are similar in that they're insoluble within constraints imposed by reality, no matter who takes the wheel.

So philosophically, considering what the US Army and the Marine Corps ought to do is about as worthwhile a problem as trying to puzzle out how the Wehrmacht could have won by changing deployments, the moving of units into and out of various theatres and jiggering a few battles here and there. What if the panzers had made it to the Meuse during the Battle of the Bulge? What if the endless offensive to pacify Diyala province keeps finding insurgent ammo dumps? What if we capture more Iranians and interdict the flow of those special explosive-packed cylinders? What if the Germans hadn't lost 300-400 tanks at Prokhorovka?

Since there are no real options for US ground forces other than enduring the Bush presidency and hoping that a change in leadership will withdraw them from the battlefield, the only thing that can be done is what the Wehrmacht did -- rob Peter to pay Paul, switch troops from here to there or dribble them in or out and back again.

Early last month, this blog covered similar ground.

Part of the 'What would the Wehrmacht do' collection: here -- here -- and here.

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