« The limits of power | Main | Crocker tells CFR that US policy in Syria is a mistake »

01 May 2014


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Charles I

Apropos of some comments by TTG and others about open source being the greatest part of intelligence collection, I just stumbled on this on a rare peek at WAPO.

Clapper’s gag order could hurt intelligence analysts more than journalists



Charles I

Thanks. I am particularly proud of that thought. pl

robt willmann

Thank you for this useful information which was of course not publicized to the general public by the mass media.

I asked an acquaintance back when the propaganda was at its peak in 1990 before the war on Iraq started about the Iraqi army, which was being hyped by the U.S. propaganda machine as incredibly powerful and dangerous. His nickname was "Tank", because he had been a tank commander under Gen. Patton in north Africa, fought in Italy, and volunteered for the Normandy invasion, during which his tank made it to shore, and he shot his way up and survived. He wanted to go with Patton across western Europe but was told he had done enough. Anyway, he scoffed at the Iraqi army, saying that they were obviously out of shape, and just by eyeballing them he could tell that they were not going to be a problem at all.


In light of what Georgie Bush, the younger initiated in 2003, maybe the old man George Bush should have sent the 82nd on a thunder run to Bagdad in 1991. At that point we could have done it without half destroying the country of Iraq. The Iraqi army was surrounded and half decimated back in Kuwait.

It would have been a hell of a lot cheaper, and less destructive than what transpired after 2003.

I spent most of the affair in a very nice villa on lake Como. I appreciate the Iraqis giving me that opportunity.



That's me on both accounts. I'm using this one from now on. When I have a lengthy response I type it up on note pad as I hate typing in a small window. The software I've used in the past allows one to paste into the window and post. This software is different. With it I have to hit the return key in order to make the post box active. Call it operator error. Problem solved.

I appreciate the detailed response you wrote. I consider this to be the gold standard. It confirms my previous research and adds to my information on how this debacle came about.

Too bad that what you were telling TPTB didn't get out to the general public. So much for a media that presents both sides. The only person who was in position to make the case was Pat Buchanan. I remember listening to him and thinking he was wrong at the time. Since then, I know better and have made amends for this. I've raised hell about US foreign intervention starting with Somalia all the way to today. I voted for Pat in all his runs and Ron Paul twice for his presidential bids.

There are two things I resent about this sorry affair. One is being lied to and the other one is people who think so poorly of my life and others like me that they would use us for a rotten cause they try to hide by wrapped it up in red, white and blue. IMO, it takes a minimum of three years to become a professional soldier and is damn expensive if it is the be done right. The internationalists believe this is a job. They couldn't be more incorrect.

When it comes to military personnel being sent in harm's way I think I would like to put them in in a fire extinguisher cabinet with a sign posted above and below stating "break glass only in emergency" for those in the civilian leadership. Unfortunately, today only a few have the moral character, good judgement and brains to meet that criteria.

You write "enough". Just about. One final question, please. For years I've seen a story claiming that satellite photos were taken showing that after advancing up to the Saudi border the RG divisions withdrew back to an AA around Basra, leaving behind light border units. This story originated in a newspaper here I think in Florida and was even used in a novel. Whenever I tried find another source it always went back to this newspaper story. Is there any truth to this?

If I don't have at least two independent sources I won't use something.

Thank you.


The contemporary equivalent of "The Game of Thrones".

In a Mesopotamian setting of the '90s.


YT and Steve G

Perhaps I could have one of Patrick Devereux's descendants as protagonist in this gaudy tale of tortured daring-do? Basilisk used to write stories that featured a middle aged military gentlemen of Irish descent and vast worldliness who wandered the world on government business tweaking history a bit. How about that fellow as protagonist? pl

Charles I

You have demonstrated it time and time again here, sir.



"For years I've seen a story claiming that satellite photos were taken showing that after advancing up to the Saudi border the RG divisions withdrew back to an AA around Basra, leaving behind light border units. This story originated in a newspaper here I think in Florida and was even used in a novel. Whenever I tried find another source it always went back to this newspaper story. Is there any truth to this?"

Yes. The RG armored corps (three divisions) rolled up to the border in the move to the AA between the border and a line from Basra nearly due west. This seemed to be a political gesture with the intent of learning whether or not Kuwait would adopt a more conciliatory position than the one they took at Taif. The RG armored corps (Madina, Tawakalna and Hammurabi divisions) then withdrew a few miles to a lagered up AA where they prepared for battle. The other four divisions (motorized) of the RG went into AAs nearby as did the rest of the army with second rate units the closest to the border. Most of the artillery in the Iraqi Army came forward into position to support an advance into Kuwait and vast dumps of munitions, rations and fuel were established in the assembly zone. There they all waited a few days for an order to advance according to the General Staff's plan. Prisoners made this all clear after the fact. While this was going on the GWH Bush Administration believed that it wa all a bluff. This was encouraged by the Arab rulers; King Hussein, Mubarak, the Saudi, etc. I told the director of DIA that my people and I thought it was NOT A BLUFF and that if Kuwait did not back down, Iraq would invade. DIA then brought DoD to the highest state of alert. This was two days before the invasion. pl



I don't recognize the situation I dealt with in your comment. Your WW2 friend did not know the Iraqi military the way I did. It was then a very large, heavily armed force for a third world country. This was before Saddam started to bleed it dry from distrust and it was essentially the Army that had won the Iran-Iraq War by forcing the Iranians to accept the UN sponsored cease-fire. In the final offensives of that war, especially the "Tawakalna ala Allah" op in which four armored divisions swept through the Iranian Army and Revolutionary Guard. In this operation the Iraqis captured very nearly every piece of significant ground equipment that the Iranians possessed. After the cease-fire it was put on exhibit at Baghdad and I went to look at it. Most impressive it was. Hundreds and hundreds of tanks, APCs, artillery pieces AAA, trucks, etc. Yes, we defeated that same army handily but it was inevitable that we would. What was essentially a WW2 army in a third world environment was going to be defeated by us. There was a great variety in quality in this mass Iraqi army. the RG divisions and many of the divisions of the rest of the army were very effective in context. The 5th Mechanized Division ans 14th Infantry divisions stand out in my memory. The masses of Reservist Divisions positioned along the border were at half strength and composed of old men and boys. Their officers had sent many home on compassionate leave to keep them out of the slaughter they knew was coming. Once "Desert Saber" began, a "kampfgruppe" consisting of the 14th Infantry Division reinforced with a lot of tanks counter-attacked south of the Kuwait airport to see if anything could stop the American juggernaut. The spearhead penetrated to within three hundred yards of 2nd USMC Division CP and was beaten back by a marine reserve artillery battery from Richmond, Virginia using MLRS in the direct fire mode as though this were Antietam or Gettysburg. I had the privilege of visiting these marines with John Warner. They said that if it had not been for A-10 support they were not at all sure they could have stopped the attack. Having learned that nothing could be done, the Iraqi command ordered a general withdrawal from Kuwait with an emphasis on saving staffs and organizational structures. This worked pretty well except for the massacre by air along the border at the fence. The Iraqi Army re-constituted itself with remarkable rapidity. Divisions that left Kuwait with a thousand officers and men were at a strength of several thousand within a couple of weeks as men returned to the colors from leave, flight from Kuwait in the confusion of a rout, hospital, etc. These divisions (mainly made up of Shia soldiers) were in action against Shia insurgents in a very short time. The Iraq Army of that time did not love Saddam but they thought that without him the country would dissolve or be partitioned. They were nationalists and many of the officers quite professional and combat experienced and so they fought for him. IMO opinion coalition occupation of
Iraq at that time would have experienced just as large an insurgent response as did the invasion a decade later. pl

steve g

Col Lang:

Yes sir, sounds like a plot ready
to be hatched!



I appreciate the detailed response from you as well. I have never heard this aspect about the change in Soviet strategy Larionov and as a result I am enlighten.

As for this comment being too long my reply is that it isn't the length, but that far too many people in positions of authority won't take the time to read material like this. The hardest thing for a human being to do is to think intelligently. Sometimes this means having to reassess a previous view when presented with new information or another way of viewing something. For our "leaders" way too many of them are ideological fanatics who would rather undergo a root canal surgery than to think they may be mistaken on an issue.

I started reading your post when I got up and grabbed an old reprint from Commentary Magazine from the bookcase. The title? "Why the Soviet Union Thinks It Could Fight & Win a Nuclear War" dated July, 1977. The author was Richard Pipes. (For you lurkers Richard Pipes was the father of Daniel Pipes) I would bet a dollar to a donut you've read this article. Marshal Sokolovskii is quoted in the article.

At the time Pipes' article came across as believable when I read it in 1980. We had Carter as president and I thought things couldn't get worse (boy, was I wrong there looking at today). Well, this doesn't seem to be the case at all. It's funny, David. Here it was I was concerned about a Soviet first strike and they are concerned about one from the US. The GW link you provided is sobering.

Still, accepting this the US military certainly needed to modernized back in the late 70s. It had to replace its old doctrine with air/land battle and restore discipline. I can speak for the part of the army I was involve with. There were some major problems. This is an aside.

"(Sometimes it really does help not to be ‘inside the Beltway’, but to be sitting in an office out in Kansas.)


"Having failed to grasp the differences between Hitler and Stalin, the likes of Perle and Wolfowitz have gone on to treat one leader after another they dislike as though they were latter-day Hitlers."

This is propaganda as they know most Americans are ignorant of what happened in the late 1930s. My own view would be considered heretical. In a nutshell I believe what Pat Buchanan wrote in his book "Churchill and Hitler, the unnecessary war". I believe this period of history is greatly misunderstood and as a consequence the wrong conclusions have been drawn. History isn't as cut and dried as the court historians try to present it. In actuality it is quite messy in places.

I'm going to add this observation that I think helps understand their mindset. The neocons have their origins in Trotskyism and this relates to their ideological fanaticism. Today, they are still angry with Stalin besting Trotsky and rubbing salt into the wound by having his head cleaved with an ice ax by Mercader.

The Wolfowitz interview is terrible. I don't consider him to be an ideological fanatic, but a cynic. What I am not sure is how much of what he says he knows to be lies and how much he has convinced himself is true. One thing for sure, he hasn't learned anything.

"The biggest mistake in Iraq was allowing him to survive the 1991 war.”

Wolfowitz is wrong as usual. The biggest mistake is to continue to listen to these people. You're right. They are good black propagandists and Washington infighting, but when it comes to assessing a situation absolutely horrible.

To think, David. Here it was I thought I only had to wash the dog today. You have provided a host of material for me to read and ponder. Thank you.


Here you go, colonel. My apologies, I didn't make myself clear. What I meant was following the August 1990 invasion.

I dug up the story:

"Citing top-secret satellite images, Pentagon officials estimated in mid–September that up to 250,000 Iraqi troops and 1,500 tanks stood on the border, threatening the key US oil supplier.

But when the St. Petersburg Times in Florida acquired two commercial Soviet satellite images of the same area, taken at the same time, no Iraqi troops were visible near the Saudi border – just empty desert.

'It was a pretty serious fib,' says Jean Heller, the Times journalist who broke the story."


What I'm curious to know did those RG troops pull back following the August, 1990 invasion like this story claims? My belief is that once the US build up commenced with the arrival of the 82nd AB did the Iraqis start to redeploy forces into Kuwait.

I can well understand why you would tell the Bush Sr. administration this wasn't a bluff. Saddam had good reason to be angry with the Kuwaitis over the loans and the slant drilling into the Rumalia oil field. Between these two factors and what April Glaspie said to Saddam is is tantamount to a done deal.

All this material written by you, David and others will be useful to future historians in exposing the phoney narrative put together by the court historians. This really is "The Secret History" of our times.



I suppose one's definition of "on the border" would matter. The OSD civilians who were the source of this story would not, in the main, know the difference between a rifle squad and an army corps. The assembly area for the whole Iraqi invasion force measured around fifty miles by one hundred miles. The day before the invasion the assault echelon (essentially the RG Armored corps) moved up to their assault positions near the border with the four RG motorized divisions lined up behind them as a follow on echelon. The RG artillery and all the rest of the artillery moved at the same time to firing positions. I then told the DIA director that IMO invasion was imminent. This was about 12 hours before they crossed the border. Within a week or so of securing Kuwait the RG withdrew into reserve positions north of the border. This made sense. They were the national maneuver reserve. The troops that replaced them on occupation duty were almost as good. The arrival of the 82nd Airborne Division "speed bump" south of the border started a steady flow of Iraqi reinforcements into Kuwait including eventually the RG. pl


Very good, colonel. I understand what you are saying and can put the story into the proper context.

Thank you.



"the story " Which story? pl


The one that originated from the St. Petersburg Times referenced in the CSM link I posted above.

I don't know if story about Soviet photos written about and provided to the St. Petersburg Times in the CSM story is true, but it isn't that important. What is important is this:

"The arrival of the 82nd Airborne Division "speed bump" south of the border started a steady flow of Iraqi reinforcements into Kuwait including eventually the RG."

My belief prior to reading your posts is that once Kuwait had been secured along its southern border those RG forces were pulled back and only border guard/light recon forces were left along that border prior to the arrival of the 82nd AB. After that occurred the Iraqis started to move forces into Kuwait. This is what I was getting at and I believe my question is answered.

Funny, in 1990 from my position it looked far different as it appeared to be a distinct possibility that Saddam might halt only to consolidate his position in Kuwait and head south. When around a month had passed I decided it was too late.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad