After the 911 terror attacks, the Bush Administration launched the war on terrorism in attempts to deal with the threats of global terrorism and enhance homeland security. The war on terrorism was characterized by a successful American military campaign to destroy Afghanistan's Taliban regime and interrupt the operations of the Al Qaeda terrorist network. In the aftermath of this successful mission, the United States military invaded Iraq due to its probable source of strategic surprise and the huge danger to U.S. national interests. The onset of the invasion was marked with huge debates regarding the continued use of international sanctions and the inspections by United Nation's arms to contain Iraq. These debates also focused on the denial of imports that would be helpful to Iraq in rebuilding and modernizing Saddam Hussein's military. While U.S. invasion into Iraq was geared towards fighting the threat of terrorism, it contributed to the destruction of the Republican Guard, which in turn permitted foreign terrorists to enter Iraq and prolonged the war to nearly 9 years.
The War on Iraq:
The War on Iraq was launched after the United States military had relatively succeeded in its campaign to destroy Afghanistan's Taliban regime and interrupt the activities of Al Qaeda terrorist network. Iraq was primarily regarded as a potential source of strategic surprise against American national interests (Russell, 2002, p.47). Notably, United States invasion into Iraq was launched after President Bush surveyed the international geopolitical landscape following 9/11 terror attacks. In his State of the Union address, President Bush stated that he considered Iraq, North Korea, and Iran as major threats to American security. In addition to fighting terrorism, the war on Iraq was also carried out in order to rid the region of Saddam and to reinforce the balance of power in the Gulf region.
While there was little evidence linking Iraq to Al Qaeda before the 9/11 attacks, the United States military sought to destroy Saddam Hussein's regime and influence in the Gulf region. For the past decade leading to this war, Saddam had failed to adhere to the resolutions of the United States, particularly in his stubborn protection of the country's programs for the development of weapons of mass destruction. Therefore, the war was considered as a major way of not only thwarting these efforts of producing weapons of mass destruction but also to rid Iraq of Saddam. Furthermore, the war against Iraq would be an ideal measure of continuing the unfinished business in the Gulf War.
Americans perceived the Gulf War with a huge sense of closure since it was won with the liberation of Kuwait while Saddam considered the Gulf War as a lost battle or tactical defeat. However, Saddam also viewed the war as strategically won because he managed to endure international sanctions, outlast George Bush, and protect his weapons of mass destruction. In relation to his war with the United States, Saddam perceived it as an ongoing battle to garner his power, particularly in form of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles.
The United States invasion of Iraq started with an air campaign on March 19, 2003 that escalated shock and awe ahead of the grand invasion on March 21, 2003 (Mockaitis, 2012, p.104). During the commencement of the invasion, the United States forces advanced up towards Baghdad while the British forces advanced right to surround and capture Basra. After the Turkish government failed to grant permission to use its territory, the Fourth Infantry Division's invasion from the north had to be discarded. However, Kirkuk and Mosul were attacked by the Joint Special Operations forces who linked up with Kurdish Peshmerga forces.
As previously mentioned, the main goal of the invasion was to protect and defend the American people, eradicate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, and to liberate the people of Iraq. Generally, the coalition military operations were geared towards achieving various specific objectives including ending Saddam's regime through striking with force to an extent that Iraqi's understand that Saddam's regime is finished. The other reason was to search for and remove terrorists who found a safe environment in Iraq and to gather intelligence regarding terrorist networks in Iraq and beyond. These forces also sought to end international sanctions after ending Saddam's regime, deliver humanitarian relief and help in the aftermath of the war, and to take control of Iraq's oil fields and resources.
As their coalition forces advanced into various parts in Iraq, the initially faced little resistance from the Iraqi army until they reached the outskirts of Baghdad (Mockaitis, 2012, p.105). When the forces reached the outskirts of Baghdad, they encountered resistance from Republican Guard units and partisan guerillas who ambushed them and attack long supply lines for the forces. The resistance from Republican Guard units and the partisan guerillas proved to be an indication of worse to come though the danger was lost in the euphoria before the fall of Baghdad in early April.
The Republican Guard:
The Republican Guard was the influential force in Saddam Hussein's army that provided stiff resistance to the coalition forces that reached the outskirts of Baghdad. In the initial stages of the war, the Republican Guard units were seemingly strong until they were defeated by the coalition airpower. The Republican Guard was established after Saddam replaced the political hacks from Tikrit following the humiliating defeat that Iraqi forces experienced in 1986 after capturing Mehran, an Iranian town (Grant, 2003). As part of the replacement of political hacks from Tikrit, Saddam enrolled battle-experienced and loyal commanders.
Before the commencement of the War on Iraq and the Operation Iraqi Freedom, Saddam Hussein used his military to help in defending Iraq from any terrorist groups. However, during the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the War on Iraq, Saddam was forced to channel his forces to fight off the invading coalition forces. Saddam's use of the Republican Guard to fight off the invading coalition forces was based on the fact that military planners knew that his ability to preserve the regime rested with the Republican Guard. This is primarily because the Republican Guard was the only force with the means to organize and carry out counterattacks against the invading coalition forces.
In preparation for the war, the Republican Guard forces were positioned in blocking positions around Baghdad, particularly to the north, west, and south (Grant, 2003). In addition to being combat ready, the strengths of these forces were relatively 80% in all cases and 90% in certain units. Unlike other forces, the Republican Guard had the ability to counterattack since they were equipped for offense rather than defense. Furthermore, the Guard forces outnumbered the invading coalition forces at the beginning of the war and were able to put an organized battle since they were professional, elite, and experienced soldiers.
The Costly Mistake:
According to the land component commander of the coalition forces, the main aim of the force was to defeat the Republican Guard though Iraqi's other forces could not be dismissed (Grant, 2003). As a result, the airpower invasion or attack on the Republican Guard on March 19, 2003 before the commencement of the war to carried out to counter the coalition's shortfall. Actually, the U.S. military commanders stated that they were mainly killing the elite Iraqi forces during their southern onslaught towards Baghdad (McCarthy, 2003). The Republican Guard forces were subjected to the full wrath of the U.S. military that focused on destroying them.
Following weeks of devastating attacks, the Republican Guard forces were completely destroyed in organized division strength, brigade strength, and corps strength. This meant that the forces were no longer an organized fighting force and would not enjoy the protection from Saddam's regime. One of the major reasons the forces were completely destroyed is because of poor coordination between air and land forces.…