THE DEBATE WITHIN THE PENTAGON
37. The press reported that there was a vigorous
debate within the US military about the plans for Iraq. According
to Dr Posen, the plan probably went through a number of iterations.
Initially, a group around the Secretary of Defense, Mr Donald
Rumsfeld, appeared to have thought that the regime could be easily
toppled and hence the talk of very small forces, special forces
and air power being able to do the job. The US military apparently
pushed back against this idea and General Tommy Franks, the Centcom
Commander, proposed what became a rather large force. Under pressure
from the Rumsfeld team to have it made smaller, Dr Posen believed
that in the end the force may have been lighter than General Franks
had wanted. This was demonstrated by the planning which included
the US 4th Division, which, in the end, was still at
sea when the ground campaign began. Furthermore, the 101st
Division did not have most of its equipment available to it when
the attack began. 
The compromise appears to have been to adopt a rolling startstarting
the attack with a medium sized force of three Corps ground formations,
backed by massive airpower. A further 100,000 troops would be
held in reserve until needed.
Some reports claimed that the discussions over a larger or smaller
force continued in the Pentagon into March.
38. Dr Posen argued that in the event, the key battles
were fought by the coalition's heaviest units. There were three
heavy brigades in the 3rd Division, two marine brigades
which were heavily reinforced, turning them effectively into mechanised
brigades, and what he termed the 'heavy unit', the British 7th
Armoured Brigade. The 101st Airborne Division (an air
cavalry unit) was never used as a division. Instead it provided
forces for other units.
39. Air Marshal Burridge however argued that the
application of air power had completely changed the way one had
to think about the size of forces for such operations and the
coalition's force mix had been appropriate:
The effect of modern air power in post-modern
warfare is overwhelming, absolutely overwhelming. Some 700 sorties
a day could be used in counter land operations. This is one of
the aspects we will study. Von Clausewitz always told us that
if you are going to invade somebody's country go at three to one
did it the other way round but von Clausewitz did not have the
understanding of air power. Air power was decisive in the manoeuvre
Dr Posen, although more cautiously, accepted this
it is the massive responsiveness of American
air power today which makes a plan that 20 years ago would have
looked insanely risky look bold but still well considered and,
on the whole, still prudent.
40. Where the force package was weak, Professor Bellamy
argued, was in its preparation for phase 3b (the grey area between
war and peace) and phase 4 (post combat peace support operations).
At which stage another division, perhaps configured for peace
support operations would have been very useful.
General Reith told the Committee that the size of the land force
was set once the task was identified and the only reinforcement
held ready was the spearhead battalion.
In the event it was not deployed, and it is apparent from its
size and configuration that it was held in case it was needed
to reinforce troops engaged in combat operations. We discuss the
planning for the post-conflict phase below (paragraphs 350-75).
41. In conclusion the coalition plan for the invasion
of Iraq went through a number of iterations and was altered up
to a very late stage, possibly as late as March, with the initial
compression and eventual removal of any preparatory air campaign
in advance of the ground assault. This is unsurprising and in
part reflected developments in military assessments (for example
of the risks from asymmetric attacks that might be faced by forces
in Kuwait during a prolonged air campaign). But some changes were
driven by political developments and imperatives. We discuss these
42. Debate had also continued on the size and structure
of the force assigned to General Franks. It seems likely that
the force package that was finally arrived at was, in the opinion
of a number of senior commanders, on the 'light' side, but it
was self-evidently adequate to the task.
43. The British, who had had embedded staff officers
at Centcom from September 2001, were the first foreigners to be
brought into the American planning process and appear to have
been influential in the overall shape of the plan. In this the
British-American relationship also drew on more than 10 years
of close collaboration between the RAF and USAF in enforcing the
northern and southern no-fly zones over Iraq. We are not, however,
able to define the areas in which the British made specific contribution
to what was essentially an American campaign plan, other than
in the consideration of the Northern Option (which we discuss
below) and in niche capabilities such as special forces operations.