The Iran-Iraq War: Strategy of Stalemate CSC 1985 SUBJECT AREA History WAR SINCE 1945 SEMINAR The Iran-Iraq War: Strategy of Stalemate Major Robert E. Sonnenberg, USMC 1 Apri1 1985 Marine Corps Command and Staff College Marine Corps Development and Education Command Quantico, Virginia 22134 ABSTRACT Author: Sonnenberg, Robert E., Major USMC Title: The Iran-Iraq War: Strategy of Stalemate Date: 1 April 1925 On September 22, 1980, Iraq invaded Iran, starting a war that continues to devastate both countries. Over one million casualties have been reported. The interest shown in this conventional war had been low due to superpower noninvolvement and restrictions on foreign press agents in the war zone. Yet, because of oil resources, Southwest Asia has been determined to be of vital interest to the United States. The stability of the entire region is jeopardized by this war. This paper began as an analysis of this lengthy war during the period 1983 to 1984. However, such an approach seemed to lack a comprehensive understanding of the causes of the conflict and the reasons the war has lasted as long as it has. To properly understand the Iran-Iraq war, it is necessary to examine the many facets that have contributed to the calamity from the beginning. Chapter 1 is a historical perspective of Iran and Iraq, examining the religious and ethnic aspects of the two warring nations. The political and military development of both nations is also considered, along with their relations prior to the war. The war itself is covered in Chapter 2. A detailed analysis of battles is purposely avoided, since the reader can find such analyses in other sources. But the progression of the three phases of the war is examined to demonstrate how the strategy of stalemate has evolved. An analysis of the conflict is covered in Chapter 3. The strategies of both countries, and their leaders, is considered, along with the tactics involved, weaponry used, and the problems created for the entire region. These problems include superpower involvement and, specifically, the problems encountered by the United States interests in the war and its outcome. Finally, the last chapter examines possible outcomes, U.S. policy in the war, and considersations for the U.S. military. The question of 'what next?' in this seemingly endless war is also asked and a speculative answer is provided. No primary sources were used for this paper due to the paucity of information available from such sources. However, several papers, articles and books have been written on the war and contain excellent viewpoints, though somewhat biased towards the West. These sources provided valuable information for an understanding of what has taken place. This paper is written as a comprehensive study of the entire Iran-Iraq war that will enable the reader to basically understand a conflict that is very involved and complicated. If this understanding is achieved, and questions concerning U.S. involvement are raised, then the intent of the author has been achieved. Though this war is still ongoing, with major events taking place during March 1985, this paper is limited to events that have occurred through the first part of February 1985. It would appear that yet another phase in the fighting is beginning, but due to time limitations, these events will not be addressed. CONTENTS Page Introduction 1 Chapter 1. Historical Perspective 3 Religion 3 Ethnic Makeup 5 Development of Iraq 6 Development of Iran 12 Iran-Iraq Relations Before the War 18 Chapter 1 - Footnotes 19 Chapter 2. The War 22 Phase I - The Iraqi Offensive, Sept - Nov 1980 23 Phase II - Stalemate, Nov 1980 - May 1981 29 Phase III - Iranian Counteroffensive 32 Breaking the Stalemate 39 The Air War 43 The Naval War 46 Chapter 2 - Footnotes 46 Chapter 3. Analysis of the War 49 Iraqi Strategy 49 Iranian Strategy 55 Tactics 58 Weaponry 60 The Regional Problem 62 Superpower Involvement 62 United States Interest 64 Chapter 3 - Footnotes 65 Chapter 4. Conclusions 67 Possible Outcomes 68 United States Policy 69 Considerations for the U.S. Military 71 What Next 75 Chapter 4 - Footnotes 76 Annotated Bibliography 77 LIST OF FIGURES AND TABLES Figure Page 1. Gulf War - Theatre of Operations 26 2. Khorramshar and Abadan 27 3. Extent of Iraqi Invasion, 1980 30 4. Antagoni Incident 40 5. The Persian Gulf Area 72 Table 1. Opposing Forces, 1980 24 2. Gulf War Power Balance, 1984 42 INTRODUCTION September 22, 1980. Saddam Hussein, President of Iraq, executes his decision to invade neighboring Iran. Several divisions attack at three places along the 733 mile Iran-Iraq border in an effort to rapidly overcome any Iranian defenses. The result of this invasion is war between two ancient enemies -- a war that most observers thought might be over in 2-4 weeks. Now, after more than 52 months of fighting, the war continues with no end in sight. Both sides are fatigued from continual combat and the two nations are weary with death and destruction, costing over 180,000 killed and some 900,000 casualties. Even though this region is important to the entire world because of vast oil resources, little attention seems to have been paid to the war. This is partly because of restrictions on foreign news services in the area and, partly, because of other world events that have kept the war in the shadows. Additionally, neither superpower seems able to intervene on either side, nor do they want to risk a wider regional conflict. The Iran-Iraq war has become a war of attrition; each side practices the strategy of stalemate. The conflict itself is fairly easy to follow. But the reasons for war and its continuation are complex and rife with intrigue. As each side makes a move, the precarious balance of the Middle-East shifts, requiring the other side to contravene. To properly understand the war, the backgrounds of the warring nations must be examined as well as the economic, political, religious, and military conditions existing on both sides. This paper will explain how and why the war started in 1980, the military aspects of the fighting, the changing conditions brought on by extended warfare, and lessons that can be learned from an outside observer's limited and unclassified perception. The lessons may be of particular significance to U.S. CENTCOM forces since they are deeply interested in the military aspects of the entire Southwest Asian region. Chapter 1 HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE The current conflict between Iran and Iraq can be considered another phase in a regional struggle that has been going on for hundreds of years. To properly understand this struggle, it is necessary to investigate the religious and ethnic differences that have contributed to the unique stresses afflicting the two countries, as well as how the current governments came into power. Coupled with the rise of the leaders involved, a review of the military growth of each country is necessary to understand all that has happened during the war. Religion Islam has been the dominant religion in the area, though Judaism and Christianity have some roots in the region. Islam was the last of the three to be established when Mohammed emerged in 610 A.D. to "preach the truth concerning God, Allah". Differences of opinion concerning who was the rightful successor of Mohanmed led to the creation of rival Shiite and Sunni factions of Islam. The Shiite Moslems believe that successors of Mohammed descend from Ali, Mohammed's son-in-law. These descendants are known as Imams and are considered the infallible teachers and sole source of religious guidance. Every aspect of the Shiite's life is governed by his belief in the Imam's infallible guidance. The Shiites are still awaiting the return of the Twelfth Imam, who disappeared in 940 A.D. without leaving an heir. The Twelfth Imam is to re-emerge from hiding at the right moment to establish a purified Islamic government of justice. To carry on the line, Imams have been designated and the faithful must believe in all Imams, especially any current ruler.1 Sunni (orthodox) Moslems believe that the line from Mohammed passed to his daughter Fatima, wife of Ali. The Sunnis discount the Imams, choosing instead to honor a caliph, or successor,2 their ruler. The caliph is not necessarily the religious leader. The Sunnis, thus, do not consider an Imam infallible, but rely on the caliph for guidance and instruction. Sunnis accept the legitimacy of an authorized leader no matter how his position is obtained; Shiites only acknowledge a ruler as legitimate if he is a descendant of Ali. His authority is accepted as long as he abides by the Shiite guidance in following the laws and rules governing the Moslem lifestyle, the Sharia. Modern Sunni religious leaders are paid by the state and have no intermediary between them and God. The Shiite religious leaders owe no allegiance to the state and are maintained by their followers.3 The concept of 'jihad', or Holy War, must also be explained. The jihad requires believers of Islam to spread the teachings of Mohammed to pagans who do not worship a god. Other Moslems, Christians, and Jews, are exempt from the jihad. If a jihad is declared the responsibility to wage Holy War falls upon all Moslems; Sunni and Shiite. A caliph or Imam has the power to declare the jihad.4 Iran has historically been the bastion of the Shiites while Iraq has been predominantly oriented to the Sunni branch.5 Sunnis account for more than 80% of the world's 750 million Moslems. The Shiites predominate in Iran, Iraq and Bahrain.6 Of course, a mix of Shiites and Sunnis exists in both countries and they coexist with Jews and Christians, as well. The important point is that the ruling class of each country is oriented toward different religious beliefs. This difference, combined with the ancient ethnic differences between Persians and Arabs, creates unstable political situations. Iran has historically been the center of Shiite opposition to Sunni caliphs. The Ayatollah Khomeini's Shiite Islamic Revolution, his jihad, is an attempt to use the religious differences in the region to advantage. His actions have threatened the stability of the entire region. Ethnic Makeup The Iranian plateau is considered the core of Persian civilization. To the west lies Iraq, encompassing the Tigris-Euphrates river basin. The basin has been governed predominantly by both Arab and Turkish rulers.7 Conflicts in the region date back to the third century when Sassanid rulers attempted to reestablish a centralized government.8 A cultural divide has separated Arabs and Persians since the seventh century when Arab armies conquered Persians east of the Zagros Mountains in western Iran.9 Another group of people who bear on the state of affairs in both Iran and Iraq are the Kurds. These ancient people present ethnic problems for both governments, as they have been seeking to establish a nation state for some time.10 Kurdish people are spread across the border between Iran and Iraq in the northern regions of both countries and spill into Turkey. Each country has had to deal with the rebellious Kurds, which has resulted in continuing intrigue, bloodshed, and antipathy. Development of Iraq Iraq was encompassed by the Turkish ruled Ottoman Empire until the Empire was defeated by Iran in 1823 when the Treaty of Erzerum was established. Iran was then anxious about an invasion of Afghanistan by the Russians, and ceded territory to the Turks in the treaty, thus creating 'friendly' relations with them in case an alliance was needed. By 1842, border hostilities between Iran and Turkey again created the possibility of war. Great Britain and Russia had met in Erzerum to clearly define the 733 mile border between Iran and what is now Iraq since this question had not been resolved in 1823. The Second Treaty of Erzerum was signed in 1847 to demarcate the border. Iraq is essentially land-locked except for a 40 mile coastline on the Persian Gulf.11 Access to the Persian Gulf from the second largest city of Basra is extremely important to the economy of the country. Basra is accessed by ship via only one river -- the Shatt al-Arab. One issue addressed in the 1847 Erzerum Treaty was the Shatt al-Arab waterway. The Shatt al-Arab is formed by the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers and proceeds south for 130 miles where it empties into the Persian Gulf. A total of 55 miles of the Shatt forms a common border between Iran and Iraq. Iran was given freedom of navigation of the river by this second treaty. 12 Navigational rights and ownership of the Shatt al-Arab have been sources of controversy ever since because the river is an important artery for both countries and affects their economic stability. During the latter stages of World War I, the British conquered that backward province of the Ottoman Empire called Iraq. On January 6, 1921, an Iraqi Army was established by the British, who also set up Amir Faisal ibn Husein as King Faisal I of independent Iraq. The new army was composed mostly of Arabs, organized into volunteer battalions. In 1935, military service was made obligatory and by 1940, there were four divisions and several independent regiments numbering 36,000 troops. The British continued to run the army, covertly supplying arms while training promising officers in India and Britain. The British also maintained two airbases. One was near Baghdad; the other near the Persian Gulf. In 1936, a coup was attempted by a Kurdish general who was subsequently assassinated. Discontentment with British influence continued to grow. A few Iraqi officers contacted the German government for aid. In 1941, some nationalist officers overthrew the existing government and refused the British the right to free passage -- a right guaranteed by treaty. The British then attacked Iraq and quickly restored a more accomodating government. This one lasted until the end of World War II. Resentment toward a privileged elite surrounding the British implemented monarchy continued to grow, especially when more Iraqi officers began to be drawn from the lower middle classes. Iraqi forces saw action in northern Israel in 1948. That Arab defeat contributed to new uprisings in Iraq. These were squelched and King Faisal II continued in power. The army mounted a another coup in 1958 killing the king, the prince, and the prime minister. Iraq then broke with the West, and turned toward the Soviet Union. The USSR became a principal arms supplier for Iraq. Ten years of turbulent rule followed since the new president could not consolidate power completely. Hostility towards Arab neighbors, purges of political opponents, discoveries of real or imagined coup attempts, and increasing dependence on the Soviet Union marked the period. By 1963, the Iraqi army had increased to 70,000 men. President Kassem was assassinated in 1963 by army officers, and Colonel 'Abd as-Salam Arif became president. He was killed in 1966 in a plane crash and the presidency passed to his brother. Serious economic crises and continual struggle with Kurdish dissidents weakened the regime. By the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, the army numbered some 80,000 men. On JuLy 17, 1968, Baath party officers staged a bloodless coup, ushering in what is currently the Baathist regime in Iraq. The Baath party, or Arab Socialist Renaissance party, rules two Arab countries overtly -- Syria and Iraq. In Iraq, the party has both civilian and military wings and is dedicated to pan-Arabism, anticolonialism, the destruction of Israel, and a socialist economy. The Revolutionary Command Council, made up of military officers, ruled the country. In 1969, the Council was expanded to 15 members and included civilians. In 1971, an obscure civilian, Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti, became vice-chairman of the Council. By 1979, the civilian arm of the Baath party, led by Hussein, exerted predominance over the military arm. Military members had been gradually removed or assassinated, clearing the way for Saddam Hussein to become president when President Bakr stepped down for health reasons. Hussein had considered it prudent to accept an honorary appointment to lieutenant general in 1976. Nonetheless, in 1979, for the first time in twenty years, Iraq was ruled by a true civilian, Saddam Hussein. 13 Prior to the Iran-Iraq war, the Iraqis had gained combat experience in endless campaigns with the Kurds. Nearly 20 percent of the Iraqi population is Kurd, about 2 million, and the Kurdish search for self-rule has primarily occurred in Iraq, though Kurdistan includes areas of Turkey, Iran and Iraq. The pattern of fighting in each campaign was roughly the same. The Kurds would rebel, isolating army garrisons in the mountains, and either starve or overrun them. The Kurds would then attack oil fields near Kirkuk. Army forces would counterattack, driving the Kurds back into the mountains, relying on overwhelming air power, artillery, and tanks. The difficult terrain would eventually blunt the attack, and a ceasefire would result. This pattern was repeated again and again. Iraqi forces also had limited participation in the Arab-IsraeLi War of 1973. Two armored divisions and three infantry brigades, about 60,000 troops and 700 tanks, were sent to the front. Many of the tanks were forced to travel to Golan, about 1200 kilometers, under their own power because of the lack of tank transporters. Due to breakdowns enroute, only 300 tanks were able to take part in the fighting, degrading the effect of the Iraqi armored forces in the battle. The Iraqi combat role was brief and had no real impact on the outcome. It was, however, Iraq's first experience in modern conventional warfare. The Iraqi performance was scrutinized closely and deficiencies were corrected. Actions taken included acquisition of tank transporters and logistics vehicles to facilitate more rapid movement of armored forces. Reconnaisance, anti-tank, and air defense capabilities were also improved. The seven years between 1973 and 1980 witnessed dynamic military growth. The Iraqi army became the second largest Arab army behind the Egyptians, more than doubling in size. More modern Soviet equipment was procurred and the ground forces were transformed into a conventional armored force. Training, maintenance, and logistics were improved. Baghdad vowed to match the Iranian arms buidup man for man, and tank for tank. A contest for power was clearly in the making and Iraq planned on playing a large role in any future Arab-Israeli confrontations. The 1973 oil embargo and subsequent price hikes provided Baghdad with the funds necessary to pursue this buildup, as well as increase the standard of living throughout Iraq. Such measures tended to underwrite the Baathist government and demonstrated to the Iraqi people that Saddam Hussein was a great leader, looking out for the welfare of his country. Building up the military was a natural consequence to safeguard the popular government. Using oil revenues, Baghdad increased salaries and improved facilities for the military. Nearly all eligible males were drafted. Service was encouraged to develop a sense of national identity. About 85 percent of the army is now composed of two-year conscripts. Kurds and Shiites, composing some 70 percent of the population, make up the lower ranks of the army. Sunni Moslems are heavily represented in the NCO ranks and the senior and middle officer level. Senior officers are carefully selected for their loyalty to Hussein and are all members of the Baathist party. dominated by a corps headquarters. The regions correspond to the three major types of terrain and the various force structures reflect this terrain. To the north are mountains, suitable for infantry forces. In the center are plains, ideal for armor. To the south are marshlands, suitable for mechanized operations.14 The 210,000 man army consisted of twelve divisions designed around Soviet and British models as the recent war started. Saddam Hussein, as Commander-in-Chief, exercises very tight control of his forces. Field commanders achieve exactly what is dictated from the headquarters in Baghdad. It would appear that delegation of authority to prosecute the war at the field level has been withheld for political reasons, nullifying the positive effect and initiative a field commander might have during prosecution of battle.15 Development of Iran Examining the evolution of the Iranian Army is no simple matter and required an examination of sociocultural developments affecting the Iranian military tradition. The spiritual father of the Iranian Army is Cyrus the Great, founder of the Achaemenid Empire. He was able to unify tribal contingents into effective fighting forces. The Achaemenians placed a high social value on military service, and service was marked by a regimen designed to strengthen the soldier both physically and psychologically. Training began at an early age during which pride was cultivated, and service was 'owed' for most of adulthood. The concept of elitist units was also established by Cyrus. Supposedly, a force of 10,000 'elite' soldiers, better than run-of-the-mill, would be attached directly to whomever held the throne in order to secure and consolidate the ruler's power.16 Throughout the centuries, there were continual attempts to organize armies from tribal contingents and to centralize government. None were particularly successful until 1730, when Shah Nadir Quli revamped the army and reestablished the calvary as an elite unit. He then successfully waged war on India and Bahrain, but was assassinated in 1747. The pattern of rise and fall of governments within Iran continued. The British began to exert influence in the entire area because of their interest in the Suez. The Russians, another world power of the ninteenth century, were concerned about their southern flank and had expansionist leanings in the area.17 The first two decades of the 20th century can be called Iran's nadir. The British, in the south, and the Russians in the north, kept the political aspirations of those in the middle well in check. World War I saw Turkish and German forces intevening in the region. By 1920, with the Soviets battling counterrevolution, the USSR stepped up pressure on Iran. A treaty averted open war but triggered a coup d'etat in February 1921 which ushered in modern Iran. The principal actor in Iran far the next 20 years was Reza Khan. He became Shah in 1925 and hastened to modernize his country. Military modernization was his major focus. He did much to strengthen the army, including standardization of uniforms and arms, establishment of schools for training, and formulation of a General Staff.18 Reza Khan is considered the father of the current Iranian Army. His efforts helped convince Iranians that their army is the real foundation of the throne. This factor, of course, goes back centuries. Essentially, the army was the only organization upon which the Shah could rely. This dependency leads to inordinate concern for loyalty, which is focused upon the man in power. Thus, loyalty often superceded competence when promotions and assignments were made. The loyalty factor tended to make the army the Shah's army, not the nation's. Additionally, Reza Khan's army became a socializing mechanism. Illiterate conscripts were taught to read; developed a sense of nationalism and loyalty; and got the opportunity to operate increasingly complex weapons and machinery. This resulted in strengthening the army, as well as strengthening the nation. World War II halted Reza's developments. He abdicated in favor of his son, Muhammed Reza, and retired to South America. At the end of the war, Iran's oil became an important factor in area politics. The Soviet Union began to interfere in Iran, but by mid-1946, had retreated. The United States, sensitive to what was happening, decided to strengthen Iran by selling arms and providing advisors. This occurred in 1948. An assassination attempt was made on the Shah in 1949. During 1951-1953, revolution was threatened. These events led to an even closer alliance of the Shah and his army and made him very suspicious of political opposition. From the mid-1950's until 1979, The Shah ruled Iran and, it appears, wrote the final chapter to Iran's imperial history.19 There are two aspects of the military worth mentioning. The first is that personalism plays a great part. Though there are classes in Iran, they are not distinct since one is always moving to a higher class. Many times, this is accomplished by buying a position. As has already been said, service in the army of Iran was considered prestigious service. It was inevitable that positions, and rank, would be bought to advance personal interests. This tends to create an atmosphere of mistrust. Mistrust is manifested by unwillingness to delegate authority. A simple example would be 'scrambling' a flight of three airplanes. Two take off because the third is locked and because the crew chief, who is on leave, has the key. Ramifications of this mistrust are easy to contemplate. The military and the population, in general, is addicted to paperwork. Nothing gets done unless it is written down. And, if something is written down, it is gospel. An example: No one could figure out what to do with 14 'gun tubes'. Inspection revealed that these tubes were actually steel poles. However, the supply document said 'gun tubes' and no one would refute the written document. These things lead to the idea that one simply cannot be wrong once something is stated in writing. To manintain a position, one must do nothing wrong. One must receive praise for doing the right thing. If the wrong thing is done, no blame can be placed on a person who had no knowledge because the information was not written down. Leaders tend to do the safe thing. A perfect example is using a great number of guards for security in areas where there is little, if any, risk.20 The Shah believed that the Soviet Union and Iraq were his greatest threats. His military organization was designed to meet these external threats, rather than possible domestic disturbance. When the revolution broke out, the military could not effectively handle the situation. Disproportionate force was used which only served to increase the violence and put the regular army in bad stead with the revolutionaries. The Shah had counted on the military, with his handpicked loyal generals, to maintain him in power. But the generals were unable to cope with the situation because the Shah was not around to issue the customary detailed, written orders to which they were accustomed. 21 The lower ranks of the army, mostly conscripts, turned to the religious revolution when it became apparent that they had no leadership. Besides, the revolutionaries were from the same class of society as the soldiers, the lower and middle classes, and they had no strong bonds with upperclass leaders.22 By purging the military, Khomeini opened the way for younger officers to rise in position. These younger men also became supporters of the Ayatollah, eventually resulting in an armed force that backed the revolution. Though the army was Khomeini's, distrust continued for some time and army units were not allowed to operate without Revolutionary Guards to ensure accomplishment of assigned missions. In 1979, the Revolutionary Council decreed that the entire Iranian nation would become soldiers of the revolution. During the hostage crisis, Khomeini emphasized this theme and called for the creation of an "Army of Twenty Million".23 This resulted in development of a huge staff for mobilization and widespread weapons training courses. The creation of a vast pool of semi-trained soldiers meant that the regular army could be maintained at its present size, eliminating possible power struggles or coup attempts. In the wake of the Iranian revolution, decimation of the Iranian army seemed natural. The Shah's army was considered counterrevolutionary and purges could be expected. By the fall of 1980, 10,000 military personnel had been dismissed, imprisoned, or executed.24 Western trained officers were eliminated and Shiite clergy were installed at each base and at each level of command. One method of countering the armed forces potential threat was to create a separate paramilitary force (the 'elite' guard) loyal to the regime. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards were fanatically loyal to the Ayatollah and his revolution. Though they lacked military training they assumed the duties of the regular armed forces.25 When the war started, it appeared that two separate Iranian armies were fighting. The Revolutionary Guards, or Pasdaran, bore the brunt of the early fighting which helped to strengthen their place in the Iranian military picture. They fought with fervor and intensity that surprised not only the Iraqis, but many Western observers as well. Iran-Iraq Relations Before the War The Shah believed that the Soviet Union and Iraq were the primary threats to Iran.26 In an effort to keep Iraqi forces occupied so that they could not mass on the border, the Shah encouraged Kurdish rebellion and supplied the Kurds in northern Iraq with material to wage limited warfare and keep the Iraqis in check. When civil war threatened Iraq in 1975, Hussein was forced to do something to stop it. The 1975 Algiers Accord was signed wherein the Shah agreed to stop backing the Kurds in exchange for setting the thalweg, or center, of the Shatt al-Arab as the boundary between the two countries. The Ayatollah Khomeini was exiled to Iraq for anti-Shah activities during a period of rapproachment between the two countries. To placate the Shah, Hussein placed Khomeini under house arrest in 1975. Three years later, Hussein expelled the Ayatollah, who fled to France.27 In 1977, one of the Ayatollah's sons was mysteriously murdered in Iraq. One of Iraq's leading Shiite clerics was executed to quell the Islamic fundamentalist movement that was brewing. The execution was personally ordered by Hussein.28 When Khomeini came to power in 1979, he immediately declared that Iraq "belongs in the dustbin of history."29 Asked who his enemies were, the Ayatollah replied, "First the Shah, then the American Satan, then Saddam Hussein and his infidel Baath Party."30 The feeling between the leaders of the two warring nations was, and is, quite bitter. Chapter 1 - Footnotes 1Martin J. Martinson, "The Iran-Iraq War: Struggle Without End," Research Paper, Marine Corps Command and Staff College (Quantico, Virginia, 1984), pp. 5-6. 2Thomas M. Daly, "The Not Too Forgotten War," Naval Institute Proceedings, June 1984, p. 39. 3Ibid, p. 41. 4Martinson, "The Iran-Iraq War: Struggle Without End," pp. 6-7. 5Stephen R. Grummon, "The Iran-Iraq War; Islam Embattled," The Center for Strategic and International Studies, (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University, 1982), p. 2. 6"Shi'ites: A Feared Minority," Time, July 26, 1982, p. 24. 7Grummon, "The Iran-Iraq War; Islam Embattled," pp. 1-2. 8Richard A. Gabriel, Fighting Armies, Antagonists in the Middle East, A Combat Assessment (Westport Connecticut; Greenwood Press, 1983), p. 86. 9William O. Staudenmaier, "A Strategic Analysis of the Gulf War," (Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania: U.S. Army War College, 1982), p. 2. 10Ibid. 11David Evans and Richard Campany, "Iran-Iraq: Bloody Tomorrows," Naval Institute Proceedings, January 1985, p. 34. 12Daly, "The Not Too Forgotten War," pp. 41-42. 13Gabriel, Fighting Armies, pp. 63-67. 14Ibid., pp.70-76. 15Ibid., p. 77. 16Ibid., p. 78. 17Ibid., pp. 85-86. 18Ibid., p. 89. 19Ibid., p. 91. 20Ibid., p. 93. 21William F. Hickman, Ravaged and Reborn: The Iranian Army, 1982 (Washington, D.C., The Brookings Institution, 1982), p. 6. 22Ibid., p. 7. 23Ibid., p. 13. 24Ibid., p. 16. 25Ibid., p. 1. 26Lbid., p. 3. 27"Personal Power, Personal Hate," Time, July 26, 1982, p. 25. 28Evans, "Iran-Iraq: Bloody Tomorrows," p. 33. 29Ibid. 30"Personal Power, Personal Hate," p. 25. Chapter 2 THE WAR Saddam Hussein had to justify the invasion of Iran in September 1980. He outlined his initial aims by demanding that Iran: 1) Recognize Iraq's legitimate and sovereign rights over its land and waters, particularly the Shatt al-Arab. 2) Refrain from interfering in Iraq's internal affairs. 3) Adhere to the principle of good neighborly relations. 4) Return the Iranian occupied islands in the Persian Gulf to the United Arab Emirates.1 However, there were other objectives that were not so clearly and officially stated. + Iraq wanted to secure its Baathist government from Khomeini's stated intent to overthrow it. + To secure Iraq's borders, especially near Qasr e-Shirin and Mehran, which cover the main Iranian approach to Baghdad. + To demonstrate that Iraq, not Iran, was the dominant power in the Gulf, and to enhance Iraqi status in the Arab world. + To destroy Iranian military power while Iran was weakened by its revolution and cut off from U.S. supplies and support. + To create conditions to facilitate the overthrow of Khomeini. + To 'liberate' Arab Khuzistan and secure Iraqi access to the Gulf. + To demonstrate to all Gulf nations that Iraq was strong and able to lead the Arab states.2 Hussein was ready to fight. The size of each force and primary weaponry of both nations is shown for comparison purposes in Table 1. Phase I - The Iraqi Offensive 22 Sept 1980 - November 1980 The attack on Iran began with a three pronged invasion. To the north, the Iranian border town of Qasr e-Sherin, on the main highway between Baghdad and Teheran, was seized in a night flanking attack with part of a mountain division. Advancing some 15 miles into the foothills of the Zagros mountains, the division effectively blocked an obvious Iranian counteroffensive route. On the central front, the other main counterattack route through Mehran was blocked with the remainder of the mountain division. Both attacks were tactically sound. Terrain west of these towns was relatively flat and undulating, suitable for armored movement. To the east, only a few miles within Iran, the mountainous country prevented vehicular maneuver.4 These attacks were to support a main thrust to the south. The Iranian province of Khuzistan contained 80 percent of Iranian oil installations. The Iraqis considered Khuzistan an Arab province, since 2 million of the 3.5 million inhabitants were Click here to view image Arab. They believed the province should have been part of Iraq when the Ottoman Empire was carved up after World War I. Six Iraqi armored columns, each about battalion size, headed into the open country for towns like Ahwaz, Dezful and Susangerd in the south of Iran. The province of Khuzistan contains the industrial and residential complexes of Khorramshar and Abadan. The map in figure 1 shows the theatre of operations. Khorramshar and Abadan border the Shatt al-Arab and are adjacent to the Persian Gulf. Abadan is on an 'island' formed by the Shatt, the Gulf, the Bahamsheer River on the east, and the Karun River to the north. The Karun River separates Khorramshar from Abadan. The Iraqis intended to take Khorramshar, then Abadan, securing the Shatt al-Arab, the only outlet from the oilport of Basra to the Gulf. The successful capture of these areas would be a strategic victory for Iraq. Figure 2 shows this area in detail. Three Iraqi armored regiments were ferried across the Shatt to the north of Khorramshar and promptly attacked. However, fighting in this built-up area proved to be a deathtrap for the armored units. Small groups staged ambushes using only rifles, grenades and home-made bombs and successfully ensnarled the Iraqis in the network of narrow streets filled with obstacles. The Iranians renamed Khorramshar after the battle honoring the fierce fighting. They now call it Khuninshar, or "City of Blood".7 Each of the Iranian services displayed a total lack of coordination when Iraq invaded. They each planned and conducted Click here to view image Figure 2. Khorramshar and Abadan6 their own operations against the enemy. The Iranian army did not play a major role in the fighting. Small units were stationed in Khuzistan, but the initial defense was the responsibility of the Pasdaran and local militias. With no coordination and bitter rivalries, chaos prevailed.8 Units could not be mixed because troops would not follow orders if the commander was not one of their own. That the Iranians were able to defend at all was probably due to nationalism and revolutionary fervor.9 The Iraqis expected Iranian resistance to be light. But Pasdars fought with fanatical bravery. Fifteen days and 5000 casualties were required to occupy Khorramshar. The Iraqis then halted for three weeks as other special units were trained in street fighting. From the Iraqi side of the Shatt, artillery fire had set oil tanks on fire in Abadan. In late October, infantry forces crossed the Karun River to advance on Abadan. The Bahansheer River halted flanking movements to the east. Two of the three bridges across the Karun were seized and by mid-November, once rains had halted large scale troop movement, Abadan was totally besieged. In the northern sector of Khuzistan, armored columns moved unopposed across dry salt flats. They had expected to be welcomed by the Arab inhabitants as liberators, but the Iranian Arabs remained passive. Armored columns made disjointed spurts in the area but failed to seize key objectives like Susangerd and Ahwaz. The Iraqis failed to take advantage of tactical surprise to overwhelm a small defensive force. The tactical keys to this sector were the town of Dezful and its air force base. But Iraqi units stopped at the Karkheh River, giving President Bani-Sadr, of Iran, the opportunity to set up forward headquarters at Dezful. Hussein was apparently not willing to accept high casualty rates by taking the cities.10 Within days, thousands of Iranian troops had been moved into Khuzistan. Iraqi tank formations could not move without integral infantry. Concern about the rear precluded an Iraqi opportunity to thrust forward into Dezful. During November, rains quickly turned the salt flats into quagmires, preventing vehicular traffic across country. The front lines straggled 200 miles across the plain. Iraqis began to construct flood control banks and a network of all-weather roads for logistical support. The first phase of the war, which was to have been over within weeks, ended as the weather precluded further heavy fighting.11 Figure 3 shows the extent of the invasion at the time. Phase II - Stalemate November 1980 - May 1981 The war slowed down because both sides wanted to conserve ammunition, weapons, and vehicles. Small infantry patrol skirmishes and firing of missiles and shells at each other were the only actions noted. A steady stream of casualties began to mount. The jugular was not found. The Soviet Union stopped supplying arms to Iraq when the war started, presumably because they had not been consulted. Hussein had refused to grant increased port facilities to the Soviets in exchange for arms, but since Soviet weapons performance was at stake on the battlefield, spare parts and ammunition were soon forwarded. Eventually, weapons and vehicles were replaced on a one-for-one basis. Conservation and caution on the battlefield became important to the Iraqis. During this period, the Iraqis purchased about 2 billion dollars worth of weapons from Egypt.13 Click here to view image Significant changes took place during this period, improving the effectiveness of the Iranian military. The regular army had been redeployed to Khuzistan to assume responsibility for the fighting. Little effort was made to conduct coordinated operations with the Pasdaran or local militia. Political games were played in Teheran and mistrust between the forces continued. Positioning the Pasdaran behind regular troops on the line, presumably to prevent withdrawal or desertion, caused hard feelings. Pressure on Bani-Sadr continued. He had promised a counter-offensive, but was unable to combine his forces into an effective army. He launched the promised counteroffensive anyway. This resulted in a January 1981 battle near Dezful in which Iranian forces were severely battered in fierce tank battles.14 The offensive began on January 5, 1981. Three small armored regiments advanced between Ahwaz and Susangerd. The Iraqis were alerted to this movement and feigned a withdrawal. Iraqi forces formed three armored regiments into a three-sided box ambush. The Iranians blundered into the ambush and the two tank forces battled for four days in a sea of mud. The Iranians withdrew, leaving many tanks stuck in the mud, or, because of logistical misplanning, out of fuel and ammunition. The condition of the terrain prevented a clean break from the battle and did not allow the Iraqi forces to pursue what was left of the Iranian force. Over 100 captured Iranian tanks were displayed in Iraq, though Iran only admitted to losing 88. Bani-Sadr insisted that the Iraqis had lost twice as many. No major spring offensive occurred since the Iraqis were so spread out along the front and the Iranians were still trying to organize their forces. Bani-Sadr was reforming his army with a new set of handpicked colonels.15 Bani-Sadr eventually was dismissed by the Ayatollah, partly because of his failure in January. During the next phase of the war, the reconstituted military seized the initiative and finally emerged as an effective fighting force. Major factors contributing to this revival were, 1) elimination of conflicting guidance from Teheran due to the elimination of the power struggle, 2) resolution of differences between the army and Pasdaran, 3) allowing increased cooperation and joint operations, and 4) improved tactics, intelligence and planning on the part of the military.16 The effectiveness of this rejuvenated force was demonstrated when the siege of Abadan was lifted in September 1981. Phase III Iranian Counteroffensive May 1981-October 1983 On September 2, 1981, Iranian armor, artillery and infantry moved to strike at selected points of the Iraqi frontline. The Iraqis were pushed back at several places. There was an indication by Western journalists (who for the first time were allowed to visit the combat zone) that the Iranian army was apparently coming back to life. The objective of this Iranian offensive was the relief of Abadan. On the 26th, five infantry regiments pushed armor and artillery across the Bahamsheer River and attacked the Iraqis in the flank and rear. The Iraqis fell back across the Karun River and settled into Khorramshar during three days of heavy fighting. By the 29th, the Iranians claimed a victory, restoring morale to its forces, since Abadan had been besieged for a year. Hussein's hope of dominating the Shatt were spoiled, perhaps for the long term. Four military leaders who had led the Iranian attack were tragically killed in an airplane crash while returning to Teheran. The victory at Abadan had surprised Teheran, and the joint-service capability of the services almost alarmed them. Everyone was suspicious of a military coup. Limited aerial activity followed. Oil installations in Iraq were bombed, as well as two oil facilities in Kuwait. The bombings of Kuwait were indications that the war was being extended slightly, and proved to be a warning to Kuwait. Kuwait had been providing refined petroleum products to Iraq and was a main route for supplies flowing into Iraq.17 Operation "Undeniable Victory", March 1982 On March 21, 1982, the Iranians launched a multi-division operation, code named "Undeniable Victory". It aimed at cutting the communications lines between Iraqi forces in the north and those in Khuzistan. The week long operation changed the pattern and tempo of the war. Improved relations and better planning allowed the Iranian military to gain a clear initiative. Major offensives could be planned using regular forces, Pasdaran, and the "Army of Twenty Million". During "Undeniable Victory", combined arms were effectively blended with the tactic of human wave assaults. The Iranians demonstrated that they had finally developed into an efficient shock force.18 Iran did not, however, have the logistical power to sustain the attack and crush surprised Iraqi forces. Nonetheless, over 15,000 Iraqi troops were captured.19 The strategic initiative had shifted to Iran.20 Operation "Jerusalem", April 1982 Iran gave Iraq little time to recover from the defeat. On April 29th and 30th, Iran launched another attack, Operation "Jerusalem", or "Holy City". The attack focused on Khuzistan and was conducted in three main thrusts. The northern attack was just south of Susangerd. The center attack was against Hamid, the major rail and road route from Khorramshar to Ahvaz. The primary effort was against Khorramshar, to recover that city. Night infantry attacks led off the assault. Major armored thrusts as well as fighter and helicopter attacks quickly followed. The initial attack regained 309 square miles of Iranian territory. The Iraqis made good use of defensive positions, but were unable to stop the advance. Iran cut the highway that was the major Iraqi line of communication to Ahvaz. Iranian positions across the Karun River were reinforced, and the defensive positions around Khorramshar were breeched. On May 3, Iraq counterattacked, making heavy use of helicopters and aircraft. The Iranians were pushed back somewhat, but replied with helicopter attacks on Fuka, about 200 miles south of Baghdad, to halt resupply of Iraqi forces. By May 9, 1982, Iran seemed to have scored a major victory, though both sides characteristically exaggerated casualty claims and territorial gains/losses. Fighting continued apace as Iranian forces seemed positioned to claim total victory.21 In late June, Saddam Hussein announced that he was ready to withdraw all Iraqi forces from Iran, an admission that the war was unwinnable.22 Operation "Ramadan", July 1982 Khomeini was not interested in peace except on his own terms. By early August, Iran had launched three major drives directed at cutting off Basra from Iraqi forces in the south. The first attack was on July 13th, and drove ten miles into Iraq before Iranian forces were ambushed and checked with heavy losses. Another Iranian attempt on July 21st was also stopped. The Iranians apparently lacked the command and control, air power, and logistics to sustain an attack. The third major assault occurred on July 28th. The attack gained nothing. The lives of large numbers of teenagers, who had filled the ranks of infantry, were expended. Plastic keys to paradise were found clutched in cold hands and bodies cloaked in battle jackets bore stenciled signs that proclaimed that the wearer had the Imam Khomeini's permission to enter heaven.23 These offensives raised the human cost of the war to at least 80,000 killed, 200,000 wounded, and 45,000 captured.24 The attacks gained Iran a strip of territory 10 miles long by two miles deep. The strategically worthless strip was in a swampy area near Basra, where it was reported that 25,000 Iranian zealots had been slaughtered.25 Iran had shown that better leadership, equipment and logistics were needed for sustained attack, and that human wave attacks, even in a hi-tech war, were still effective. Iraqi forces showed that they would fight much more determinedly for their own territory. Fall 1982 Iranian Offensive September 30, 1982, witnessed another Iranian attack, this time against Baghdad. They drove on the town of Mandali, south of the Iraqi defended border town of Qasr e-shirin. Fighting was intense and, again, the Iranians lacked enough armor and air to punch through Iraqi defenses. Human wave tactics were again used as both sides incurred heavy casualties. The fighting raged until October 10th, with no significant outcome. Both sides were hurt by this continual fighting which had devolved into a war of attrition. The Iranians had a heavy manpower advantage and seemed to tolerate high losses politically. Iraq had the advantage of strong defensive positions, but was being sapped economically. Hussein realized that continued losses were dangerous to his regime. The Iraqis attempted to counter by threatening, and then conducting, air attacks on tankers and facilities at Kharg Island, and by launching air-to-surface missiles at Iranian cities. However, no serious military damage was done. Iraqi MiG and Mirage fighters lacked range, accuracy, and accurate stand-off munitions capable of inflicting sufficiently serious damage to heavily defended facilities at Kharg Island. Iran launched another offensive on November 2, 1982, aiming this time for Fakah in Iraq. Fakah lies just across the border, between Baghdad and Basra, 280 miles to the south. Iranian infantry, followed by M-60 and Chieftan tanks, attacked at night to minimize the effects of Iraqi air and artillery. Iran came within artillery range of main roads linking Baghdad and Basra and scored some minor successes. Iraq lost another 240 square miles of Iranian territory and had to use its last reserves to fortify defensive postions. The offensive ended in what has by now become a familiar pattern. Political squabbling continues in both countries. Iran demonstrated it could not sustain offensives and suffered further casualties and loss of equipment. Iraqi forces remained locked in static defensive positions. They lacked the leadership and tactics to conduct effective counteroffensives with their reserves and did not take advantage of air superiority. By January 1983, both sides remained locked in awkward positions. Iraq continued to attempt to interrupt Iranian oil flow by attacking tankers and facilities in the Gulf. But the attacks were relatively ineffective. Air defenses and covered facilites kept the oil flowing. Meanwhile, Iran was gearing up for further offensives.26 Operation "Before Dawn", February 1983 Operaton "Before Dawn" was launched on February 6, 1983. It was directed at the Iraqi city of Al Amarah, west of Fakah. Iran boasted that it was, "the final military operation that will determine the final destiny of the region."27 The main forces were six Iranian divisions. It was clearly intended to be decisive. The upshot was that Iran recovered 120 square miles of territory, but was again unable to score a major breakthrough. Terrain contributed to the problem since it was a difficult area in which to fight. The Iraqi's had three dug in lines ranging from low hills to the edge of marshes, forming a semi-circle around Al Amarah. The Iranians were forced to attack across the wetlands, or attack Iraqi positions on ridges and low hills, across a relatively open plain. Iraq was able to use its air superiority effectively, as the pilots were finally learning how to fly low with increased accuracy. Iraq also used attack helicopters with considerable effect, compensating for tanks used in a static defense rather than as maneuver elements. The results were characteristic. Iran could not sustain a penetration against heavily defended positions. Iraq could not mount a counteroffensive to weaken or destroy the Iranian army. The massive war of attrition has continued. It was becoming increasingly clear that the war would not be won or lost militarily, but would end only when one side collapsed economically or politically.28 In August of 1983, a small battle took place in the rugged Zagros mountains in northern Iran. Iranian troops were pursuing Kurdish rebels who had raided Iranian outposts. This was the largest action thus far in the war in this rugged terrain of Kurdistan, but was considered a diversionary tactic. An imminent attack was expected on the central front, just 80 miles from Baghdad.29 Breaking the Stalemate During 1984, Iraq began looking for a way to break the stalemate of the war. Initially, Hussein attempted to raise the human cost of continued fighting by using chemical weapons, which reportedly had been employed as early as August 1981.30 Iraq also purchased millions of dollars of new armaments and began constructing extensive fortifications to channel Iranian assaults into preplanned killing zones. During February 1984, a new round of violence began when Iraqi aircraft launched missile and rocket attacks against Iranian towns, killing innocent civilians. Iran retaliated with artillery shelling of Iraqi border settlements and an air attack against Baquba, 30 miles southeast of Baghdad. The shellings and bombings were a prelude to an expected huge infantry assault across the border west of Baghdad.31 The Iraqis had also been trying to induce other nations to join in the conflict against Iran by increasing their air attacks on tankers and Iranian oil-producing facilities. In November 1983, an Exocet missile was used to sink the Greek tanker Antagoni near Kharg Island. Figure 4 shows the location of the incident. This was an attempt to halt the flow of Iranian oil through the Persian Gulf, but it also had the effect of slowing oil flow from other Persian Gulf countries from which Iraq was receiving Click here to view image support. By June 1984, attacks on shipping in the Gulf had increased alarmingly. But Iraq was concerned about rumors that half a million Iranian soldiers were poised to launch an attack in the southern province. This gigantic offensive has not yet occured, though there is little doubt that should Khomeini so order, it will take place.33 Meanwhile, peace initiatives are continually advanced. Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Algiers have all attempted to start peace talks to no avail. Hussein will not talk as long as Khomeini insists on toppling the Baathist Iraqi government.34 But by July, West German diplomats were indicating that the Iranians may be ready to talk. They are economically drained and need artillery, spare parts and protective gear from chemical attacks if they are to continue the war.35 Hussein offered to meet personally with Khomeini at some neutral location. Teheran adamantly opposed any such meeting and instead attacked Majnun Island. In answer to Iraq's use of chemical weapons, including 'yellow rain', Iran imported a Swedish chemical plant to provide chemical weapons. Iraq threatened to bomb the site if construction was not halted. There were also reports that Iran was attempting to develop nuclear weapons.36 By October, Iran was announcing yet another offensive against Baghdad, though this was not the long expected major offensive. Iraq announced that the Iranians had been driven back. Iraq seems to have gained some advantage by stifling the Iranian economy through air attacks on shipping in the Gulf. In the mean time, Iraq has rearmed and is reported to have a 6 to 1 advantage in fighter aircraft, 5 to 1 in tanks, and 4 to 1 in heavy guns. Table 2 shows the power balance in 1984. The Iraqis are unlikely Click here to view image to attack Iran, but should the major Iranian offensive be launched, the Iraqis are well prepared to repel it.37 On January 31, 1985, the Iraqis launched a corps-sized offensive against Iranian positions in the Qasr e-Shirin area. Caught by surprise, the Iranians suffered many casualties and lost large quantities of arms and equipment. The attack was the first Iraqi offensive in 17 months and was designed to disrupt any Iranians plans for a major offensive. Though this was a significant offensive, it has not been publicized in the United States and is indicative of a lack of interest by the American people for military actions in Southwest Asia. The offensive could, however, signal a new phase in the prolonged war in which Iraq might regain the larger initiative.39 The Air War Preemptive air strikes were conducted against ten airfields in Iran when the war began. Though surprise was achieved, little destruction was accomplished.40 The Shah had made considerable effort to strengthen defenses at the airfields. Iraqi pilots dropped bombs on the runways, forsaking the better targets of aircraft in the open. Damage was easily repaired. The mistargetted Iraqi attacks had been essentially useless and were doctrinally unsound. On the second day of the war, Iranian planes surprised Iraq by conducting strikes against Basra and Baghdad. Iraq had dispersed many airplanes to neighboring Arab countries, thus protecting its air assets. Neither air force has been used to provide decisive advantage to one side or the other. Both sides seem to want to avoid conflict in the air. The weak pattern of air warfare was set during the first weeks of the war. Each side conducts deep strikes into the interior of the other country, seeking out high-visibility economic and psychological targets. These attacks are conducted by two to four aircraft that are able to proceed unimpeded because of ineffective air defense systems. Although some close air support was provided during the early part of the war, the sortie rates have been very ineffective for both sides. Helicopter gunships have been used effectively and have scored some tank kills using heat-seeking missiles. Iran's performance has been hampered by poor maintenance and lack of trained pilots. Iraqi performance must be attributed to poor pilot performance, though Hussein insists that he has poor Soviet equipment. Iran has been able to use its air force to exert influence on other nations in the Gulf region. At the beginning of the war, overt support for Iraq was more evident than it is now. As previously mentioned, Iraqi aircraft had been dispersed to other Arab states like Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, North Yemen, and Kuwait.41 As a warning, Iranian fighters attacked Kuwait, which had been transshipping goods to Basra by land. This warning caused other nations to reevaluate support for Iraq, since it was now evident that Iranian fighters could seriously disrupt economies by hitting oil installations. Iraqi planes were forced to return to Iraq and these other countries became less overt in supporting Iraq. Saudi Arabia requested support in protecting the oil fields and the U.S. answered with AWACS aircraft in 1981.42 Neither side has been able to use its anti-air defense weapons successfully. This is probably because of faulty maintenance and lack of training. Iraq's ZSU-23-4's do not use radar to track a target. Instead, fire is massed at a point in the air in hopes that a plane or helicopter will fly into it. When Iraq decided to interdict shipping in the Gulf, it was readily apparent that Iraqi pilots did not have adequate training to conduct such attacks. Weapons were unsuitable for long-range stand-off attacks. To correct the situation, Iraq acquired five Super-Etenard fighters with Exocet missiles from France in November 1983. This formidable shift in air power caused serious reactions to the perceived threat. It appeared that Hussein was willing to escalate the war by interdicting Iranian shipping in the Gulf. Khomeini then stated that if Iranian oil installations were seriously damaged, Iran would prevent ships from entering or leaving the Gulf by closing the Strait of Hormuz. This, of course, would have had a serious impact on the rest of the world and would have threatened vital interests of the West.43 The Naval War The war at sea began simultaneously with the land war. Patrol craft of both navies fought from September to November 1980. Iranian vessels attacked Basra and the two oil terminals near the Iraqi city of Fao. Iran supposedly lost 56 percent of its naval assetts compared to Iraq's 66 percent. In any case, the Iranian navy prevailed and has been able to maintain it's naval dominance. Iran blockaded Iraq from the first day of the war and 69 ships remain trapped in the war zone. The navy could not blockade other ports on the Gulf through which supplies could reach Iraq. For all practical purposes, little has resulted from naval action.44 Chapter 2 - Footnotes 1Grummon, "The Iran-Iraq War; Islam embattled," p. 15. 2Anthony H. Cordesman, "Lessons of the Iran-Iraq War: The First Round," Armed Forces Journal International, April 1982, p. 33. 3Ibid., p.42. Adapted from The Military Balance, 1980/81. 4Edgar O'Ballance, "The Iran-Iraq War," Marine Corps Gazette, February 1982, p. 44. 5Staudenmaier, "A Strategic Analysis of the Gulf War," p. 11. 6O'Ballance, "The Iran-Iraq War," p. 47. 7Evans, "Iran-Iraq: Bloody Tomorrows," p. 37. 8Hickman, Ravaged and Reborn: The Iranian Army," p. 20. 9Ibid., p. 13. 10Ibid., p. 20. 11O'Ballance, "The Iran-Iraq War," pp. 44-47. 12Anthony H. Cordesman, "Lessons of the Iran-Iraq War: Part Two, Tactics, Technology, and Training," Armed Forces Journal International, June 1982, p. 72. 13Evans, "Iran-Iraq: Bloody Tomorrows," p. 37. 14Hickman, Ravaged and Reborn: The Iranian Army, p. 23. 15O'Ballance, "The Iran-Iraq War," pp. 47-49. 16Hickman, Ravaged and Reborn: The Iranian Army, p. 26. 17O'Ballance, "The Iran-Iraq War," p. 50. 18Hickman, Ravaged and Reborn: The Iranian Army, p. 30. 19Staudenmaier, "Military Policy and Strategy in the Gulf War,"Parameters, Volume XII, June 1982, p. 30. 20Evans, "Iran-Iraq: Bloody Tomorrows," p. 38. 21Cordesman, "Lessons of the Iran-Iraq War: Part Two," pp. 69-70. 22Evans, "Iran-Iraq: Bloody Tomorrows," p. 38. 23Ibid. 24Anthony H. Cordesman, "The Iran-Iraq War: Attrition Now, Chaos Later," Aarmed Forces Journal International, May 1983, p. 38. 25Evans, "Iran-Iraq: Bloody Tomorrows," p. 38. 26Cordesman, "The Iran-Iraq War: Attrition Now, Chaos Later," p. 41. 27Ibid. 28Ibid. 29"Counterthreats," Time, August 8, 1983, p. 42. 30Evans, "Iran-Iraq: Bloody Tomorrows," p. 38. 31Quiet War: Iran and Iraq Go Full Tilt," Time, February 27, 1984, p. 63. 32"Unsafe Passage," Time, December 5, 1983, p. 58. 33"Fight to the Finish," Time, June 11, 1984, p. 36 34Ibid. 35"Finally a Crack in the Door," Time, August 6, 1984, p. 42. 36Evans, "Iran-Iraq: Bloody Tomorrows," p. 38. 37"Situation Stalemate," Time, October 29, 1984, p. 59. 38Charles Doe, "U.S. Restraint in Persian Gulf Seen Paying Off," Army Times, September 17, 1984, p. 18. Source: Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 39Article from Arab newspaper Alwatan, February 1, 1985, translated by Ltcol. Abdul Wahab Al-Anzi, Army of Kuwait. 40Staudenmaier, "Military Policy and Strategy in the Gulf War," p. 31. 41Ibid., p. 32. 42Ibid. 43James Kelly, "Battling for Advantage," Time, October 24, 1983, p. 35. 44Staudenmaier, "Military Policy and Strategy in the Gulf War," p. 31. Chapter 3 ANALYSIS OF THE WAR Wars are not normally started at the whims of those in power. Usually, there is some calculated decision made to launch an attack on another country, based upon intelligence that provides the aggressor with suitable confidence that he will be successful in his endeavor. Such was the case in the Iran-Iraq war. Saddam Hussein had determined clear political objectives well prior to September 1980. These objectives were stated earlier in this paper. But, Hussein had to have indications on when the best time for an attack would occur. Iraqi Strategy In 1979, Iran was in the midst of revolution, led by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. This fundamentalist Islamic revolt posed a threat to Iraq by promising to encourage the Shiite majority to rebel against the Sunni led govenment. The turbulence of the young revolution also indicated to Hussein that the Iranians would be disorganized and far too concerned about internal affairs to contend with an attack from another country. From his past dealings with Khomeini, Hussein also knew that the Ayatollah had a score to settle.1 Khomeini injected further bad feelings into the fray when he rejected the 1975 Algiers Accord, claiming the entire Shatt al-Arab belonged to Iran. Hussein could not sit idly by and acquiesce, since the Shatt provides single access to the Gulf from Basra, Iraq's major port and most vital to Iraqi oil flow. Hussein countered by denouncing the Algiers Accord himself and again claimed the important waterway. Hussein grasped the opportunity to energe as leader of the Arab world by buffering the contagion of the Islamic revolution to other Arab states. No single country had emerged to take over from the Egyptians, who were viewed as having sold out the Arab world at Camp David. Hussein, in a quick trounce of Iran, could become leader of the Arab nations, could promote pan-Arabism, and could, at the same time, unite the Arab armies for a final confrontation with Israel. A conference of non-aligned nations was to be held in Baghdad in 1982, and if Hussein could first defeat Iran, he would possess enhanced influence at that conference.2 Both situations were in line with stated Baathist goals. Since 1973, oil prices had helped Iraq, and Iran, develop a strong economy. Hussein was certainly able to use oil income to improve the standards of life throughout Iraq, showing the Iraqi people the success of socialism, another Baathist objective. Hussein also calculated that he could increase Iraqi oil income by taking the southern Iranian province of Khuzistan, and, at the same time, liberate the Arabs in the province.3 All of these factors contributed to making Hussein and his advisors overly confident. They also considered that Khomeini was not firmly entrenched in power and that Iranian society would probably not support Khomeini. The Kurds in northern Iran were also taking advantage of the revolution by insisting on autonomy. The armed forces of Iran were in a shambles and probably would lack leadership, the highest of whom had all been purged, to wage an effective defense against an invasion. And lastly, the United States, who had supplied Iran with most of her arms and military supplies, had embargoed the flow of spare parts because of the hostage crisis. Thus, the Iraqis guessed that most of the Iranian war machine was inoperative.4 Saddam Hussein, therefore, had very good indications that Iran was ripe for attack. He also knew he had to launch the assault before the rainy season started in November, since this would bog him down and allow Iran to reorganize. Of course, Hussein, as well as most Western analysts, did not think the war would last more than a few weeks. Hindsight is a wonderful teacher. It is easy to see what went wrong for the Iraqis. But at the time, Hussein could not have guessed that he would fail. He had planned well, but Clausewitz's 'friction of war' would disrupt his plans. Iraqi forces quickly conquered the border. Two attacks in the central and northern regions were supporting attacks to the main blow designed for Khuzistan. The supporting attacks were tactically sound, blocking any route of advance from Iran to Baghdad. The mountainous area in the north had few avenues through which an army could pass and could be secured relatively easily. To the south the Iraqi army found that the Iranians were much more tenacious than would have been thought. Elements of the Regular Army, the Pasdaran, and the "Army of Twenty Million" put up a tremendous fight. But the Iraqis managed to move forward. They eventually seized Khorramshar, but stopped short of seizing Dezful and Ahvaz, since Hussein did not want to expend Iraqi lives. Using tanks in built up areas was proving disastrous. Therefore, laying siege to these cities, and to Abadan, seemed to be appropriate. By November, the Iraqis had advanced as far as they were going to, and dug in to wait out the rainy season. This loss of momentum was to be Iraq's downfall. By stopping, Iran would have time to reorganize and reequip it's forces. Strategically, Iraq had to secure all of Khuzistan if they hoped to insure the integrity of the Shatt al-Arab. The main Iraqi port of Basra lies within artillery range of Iran and if Iraq expected to keep its economy alive, control of the Shatt all the way to Basra was extremely important. Iraq never concentrated forces on the most critical front. Forces were diverted to Abadan when they should have been attacking Ahvaz and the airbase at Dezful, where the enemy forces were. This strategy violated a considered must of combat: concentrate on defeating the enemy s military force.5 In Khuzistan, Hussein was surprised that the local Arab population did not rise up to help the Iraqis 'liberate' them. It would seem that fighting for one's homeland is sometimes more important than fighting for ethnic or religious beliefs. Saddam Hussein erred grossly in judging the enemy. He was not prepared to wage a long war since he had to maintain a guard against not only Iran, but his hated enemy Syria to the west. Also, he had to be continually concerned with the Kurds. Fighting along a 733 mile border would be difficult enough, but adding other fronts would make the war impossible to fight. Hussein faced a conundrum indeed. So Hussein found himself in a precarious position in November of 1980. He had not won a quick, decisive victory. The prospect of continued war was very real and he would be fighting a religious fanatic who had professed the rise of Shiite Moslems to overthrow their Sunni leaders. Would the Iraqi Army, led by Sunnis, but composed mostly of Shiites, continue to fight? Yet, Hussein had started the war well, but he could not lose face now by pulling out with no gain. He would have to reevaluate his strategy to determine the next move. In June 1982, Hussein made peace overtures. He could not continue to fight with limited manpower. The population had grown weary of war. Iraqi offensives had all faltered and Iran seemed to have the initiative. When Khomeini refused to talk, Hussein had no choice but to hunker down in defensive positions and hope to destroy any Iranian offensives. While waiting for inevitable attacks, he could rearm, but to rearm meant he would have to increase oil sales and affect other regional economies. During 1982, Syria had cut-off the Iraqi pipeline to the Mediterranean. Saudi Arabia had agreed to build a pipeline from Iraq to the Red Sea, but this would take four years to complete.6 Iranian special forces units had also cut the oil pipeline through Turkey.7 Hussein was caught in a tough situation. He could not stop the war he had started without losing power. And, he could not continue the war without weapons. The Iranians seemed to have unlimited manpower that they were willing to waste in human-wave assaults. Iraq did not. The Iranians had shown resiliency and the ability to organize their forces for offensives. While he continued to rely on other Gulf states for financial support, particularly Saudi Arabia, Hussein decided the only way he could hurt Iran was by stopping their oil flow. To do this he would use his air assets to attack shipping in the Gulf. He knew Iran was also suffering from the war, and if he could interdict the oil flow, he might still have a chance. France boosted Hussein's prospects by supplying Super-Etenard fighters and Exocet missiles in November of 1983. This allowed Hussein to attack Gulf shipping, and Kharg Island, with relative impunity. To date, the most accurate figures available show 75 attacks have been made on merchant ships, 46 of them tankers.8 These attacks have not seriously interrupted Iran's oil flow. But they have given Iraq time to rearm and rebuild defensive positions. By the last half of 1984, Iraq seemed to have the advantage in weaponry and was prepared to continue the war. Hussein had dug himself into a precarious position, but had not been ousted. His attempts to end the war seem to have put him in good stead with the population and showed the world that he could accept peace. Yet, he could not end it by stepping down and admitting total failure. By continuing the conflict, he has stopped the Islamic revolution from spreading. Saddam Hussein, in 1985, is sitting exactly where he wants. All he has to do is hold off a massive Iranian offensive and wait for the unstable situation in Iran to develop. The strategy of stalemate is alive and well. Iranian Stragey Iraq's attack on Iran served to strengthen the Iranian revolution, rather than demoralize it. The tenacity of revolutionary movements should not be underestimated. Khomeini was able to use the invasion to his advantage and consolidate his position of power. The attack was not a surprise to Khomeini. His hatred of Hussein and his desire to broadcast Islamic fundamentalism threatened Iraq and he knew it. Bani-Sadr had been informed throught the summer of 1980 that the Iraqis were massing forces on the border, a strong indication that something was about to happen.9 Yet Iran had big problems of their own. The U.S. hostage crisis was still occupying the country's time and Iran feared attempts to free the hostages, or, even more serious, an invasion by U.S. forces. Khomeini also had thrown out the Soviets, yet he was vulnerable in the north from the Soviet Union and from the east in Afghanistan where war was raging. At the time, he probably would have been content to continue his rise to power isolated from all the threats in the region. Once the war started, the Iranians, though disorganized, put up a tenacious fight. The Pasdaran, in the south, fought with amazing revolutionary zeal for promised martyrdom in service to their country. Many young boys and old men, though poorly trained, fought heroically in the cities of Khorramshar, Dezful, Susangerd, and Ahvaz. Their efforts stopped the Iraqi army. The Iranians then had to decide what to do about the war. They successfully blockaded the Shatt al-Arab, a move that could potentially strangle the Iraqi economy. They also began to reorganize their forces, reestablishing a command structure and combining the efforts of the Pasdaran and the regular army. This was most difficult, given the distrust of the Pasdaran for the army that existed prior to the war. The most obvious move was to drive the invading army out of Iran. Coupled with this objective, Khomeini calculated he could drive to Baghdad and ensure the downfall of Hussein and his Baathist government by liberating the Shiite majority. Accordingly, President Bani-Sadr began to plan for the first Iranian counteroffensive. The first Iranian offensive in January 1981 proved to be a failure. Coordination of all forces was notably lacking. Iran stumbled into an ambush that cost them dearly. Yet, Khomeini was now able to claim the initiative. As the Islamic revolution progressed, he bacame more powerful by fighting the invading devils of Iraq. Khomeini fired Bani-Sadr, the only other legitimate power broker in Iran, and further consolidated his power. The military resolved their problems and finally became an effective fighting force. Successful battles were waged from 1981 to 1983, using human-wave assaults, that proved Khomeini could fight the war successfully. But he could not sustain the drive necessary to end the war. Logistically, he was in serious trouble. Every attempt to break through Iraqi lines and continue the attack had failed. Khomeini was uninspired by the negotiating table. His revolution had shown real power and he had grander designs for the whole region. Personal hatred of Hussein prohibited discussions of peace. He continued the fight and attempted to restore logistics. By 1984, however, his lack of success in defeating Iraq was beginning to take its toll. Iranians were beginning to question human-wave tactics and the terrible loss of life that was occurring. Though the Imam claimed to be strong, he could not end the war. He had massed a half million soldiers on the border, ready to pursue the final offensive, yet he had not ordered it. Perhaps he was beginning to fall out of favor with the population and did not want to risk defeat or annihilation of his forces. For whatever reason, Khomeini has practiced the strategy of stalemate as well as Saddam Hussein has. Tactics Despite a sizeable armored Iraqi force used in the initial southern attack, Iraq failed to concentrate the tanks and consistently lost time and space advantages. Despite Soviet doctrine of 'daring thrusts', Iraq used World War II tank tactics and hesitated after each tactical success. This was particularly true at Dezful and Ahvaz, where they should have aggressively attacked while defenses were still relatively weak. Problems were compounded by using tanks to attack built-up areas, without infantry support. This resulted in continual losses of the tanks and an inability to mass artillery fires. Thus, the towns were not secured, but a siege was imposed. Both sides made good use of terrain and defensive position. Channeling the enemy into killing zones has worked well, but shows the inability of opposing forces to use maneuver warfare to outflank the defenses. At those times when penetrations of defensive positions have been made, the Iraqis have shown an inability to redeploy or use their reserves effectively.10 The sophisticated weaponry possessed by both sides has not been used as intended. For instance, tank gun sights and fire controls are not used well because of a lack of training and understanding. Tanks tend to shoot from 200-300 yards, making them particularly vulnerable. Because of this, the tanks have come to be used more as mobile artillery. They are dug in to reduce vulnerability, but lose manueverability. Another problem with the armor was the inability to resupply. Many tanks were abandoned on the battlefield because of shortages, and it is indicative of a poorly trained and commanded army. Both sides have demonstrated poor battlefield tactics with armor. But Iraq has used the lesson of the 1973 Israeli War to advantage. Behind the lines, they have been able to move armor using tank transporters procured after 1973. These transporters save wear and tear on the tanks and AFV's and allow faster movement. This is a factor which Western armies might note.11 Both sides have shown an inability to use combined arms effectively. This is indicated by a lack of integration of armor and infantry, as previously mentioned. But it is also evident in the use of artillery. Artillery is used primarily on area targets, such as suspected enemy positions, or to blast enemy positions when armor is advancing or digging in. Shifting and massing of fires to support maneuver is characteristically lacking, as is counter-battery fire.12 The infantry on both sides have fought bravely, even with poor training and lack of supporting arms. They have adapted rapidly to the terrain and are able to use the terrain to their advantage, especially in defensive positions. Any invading force should recognize the potential tenacity of untrained troops fighting for their homeland and their ability to use terrain to their advantage in the defense. Leadership has also been questionable for both sides. The political entities of both countries tend to distrust military men and are always concerned with possible coup attempts. This results in inflexibility in combat operations since commanders will probably not be trusted should they attempt to demonstrate initiative and take advantage of tactical situations. Lack of initiative and inability to operate independently pervades even to NCO ranks and accounts for some of the combat failures suffered on both sides. This is not surprising given the traditional lack of trust deriving from personalism. Lack of initiative results in fear of failure. Logistics has also caused the combat arms to suffer. Lines of communication are extremely long and subject to interdiction by artillery and air. Several offensives by Iran have failed because of lack of logistical support. Iraq seems to have maintained LOC's relatively well, though logistical resupply suffers without supplies. Weaponry At the beginning of the war, both sides had been armed heavily after years of trading with the superpowers. Iran, under the Shah, had purchased U.S. weapons. Iraq, though beginning to diversify in 1979, had purchased mainly Soviet weaponry. Both countries relied on superpower assistance to provide spare parts and provide advisors for training and operations. The day the war started, the Soviet Union stopped further sales of arms to Iraq as a kind of retribution for not being informed of Iraqi plans to invade Iran. Iran, of course, had been cut off from U.S. assistance since the hostage crisis had begun. As the war progressed, resupply of weapons and spare parts became essential. Oil revenues could, of course, be used to purchase weapons. There were many countries throughout the world willing to act as suppliers since big money was involved. Money is a powerful tool in third world countries. Advanced technology weapons are highly sought after and appear readily available, even though the arms suppliers operate beyond the bounds of "normal" international relations.13 The Iraqis soon obtained weapons from Warsaw Pact nations, China, Egypt, North Korea, the Soviet Union and, most notably, France. France has reportedly supplied Iraq with over 9 billion dollars of quality weaponry.14 This situation emphasizes the need for a short war between nations without an industrial base to manufacture their own instruments of war. To continue such a war, nations will necessarily rely on more powerful nations for resupply. And this, of course, is contingent on the ability to pay. As it turns out, the Arab saying, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend," has been applied to the Iran-Iraq war. Israel, worried about Iraq and the Arab world, began supplying Iran with U.S. manufactured weaponry and spare parts. It was in Israel's best interest to distract Iraq, who has a stated Baathist objective of defeating the Israelis. Syria, in an effort to discredit Iraq and assume the role as the most powerful Baathist state, also began supplying Iran with Soviet made weaponry.15 The Regional Problem Fears of an expanded war have been intense in other Gulf states. Given the stated intent of Khomeini's revolution to be a holy crusade throughout the Islamic world, the other Gulf states do not want to become drawn into the war, since it would obviously destroy their economies. Overt support for either side is also out of the question, as taking sides could have serious reprisal implications should the other side win. Yet, it would seem that the Gulf states might have supported Iraq before Iran. In fact, Saudi Arabia underwrites a great portion of the Iraqi war expense. Kuwait openly supported Iraq until they were bombed by Iran, a warning not only to Kuwait but to all other regional onlookers. To support each other and provide some semblance of security, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) was established in 1981. It has worked very well by expressing political solidarity. The six member nations are Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, and Bahrain.16 Superpower Involvement Both superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, were caught off-guard by the start of the war. The United States, of course, had been attempting to solve the hostage crisis since before the war started and was not on friendly terms with Iran. And, the U.S. had not had diplomatic relations with Soviet backed Iraq since 1968. The Soviets had not been welcomed in Iran by the Shah, and were tied down in Afghanistan. Khomeini, a religious fanatic, was definitely not willing to deal with the Soviets. When Iraq invaded, the Soviets immediately stopped supplying weapons since Iraq had not consulted them concerning the attack. The Soviet Union did, however, sign a treaty of 'peace and friendship' with Iraq after the war began and has been supplying weaponry ever since. It would seem that neither superpower has any desire to see either side win the war. The balance of power in the region is at stake and a decision remains delicately poised. When the war started, both superpowers calculated that it would be over quickly, at which time they could influence the winners and losers. A wait-and-see attitude prevailed, and, as the world waited, the war continued with less and less chance of superpower involvement. Both superpowers are, of course, interested in the outcome of the war. But intervention is ruled out because of potential escalation and confrontation. The wait-and-see attitude will most likely continue until there is an end to the fighting, at which time both the U.S. and the Soviet Union could be expected to make a move.17 United States Interest The most important U.S. concern in the Gulf is oil, though this is not the sole concern. In 1973, Western Europe derived 60 percent of its oil, and Japan 90 percent, from Gulf suppliers. In 1984, these figures were about 40 and 60 percent respectively. The U.S. gets only about 3 percent of its oil from the Persian Gulf.18 Because of this heavy supply of oil to allied countries, keeping the oil flowing has become a vital interest to the United States. Of primary concern, then, is keeping the Strait of Hormuz open to shipping. Khomeini threatened closure of the Strait when Iraq started shooting at tankers, but has not yet attempted this drastic step. Oil production seems to have continued at a relatively even pace with no serious degradation since the war began. Though Iraq has continued to shoot at tankers in the Gulf, driving insurance rates up, there is no shortage of vessels and voluntary crews to transit the Strait.19 The U.S. has three major policy objectives with respect to the current Gulf crisis. One is to prevent disruption of oil shipments that would cause serious hardship for Western economies. Another is to ensure the security of oil-producing governments in the area that have been friendly to the West and have resisted Soviet expansionism in the Gulf. And lastly, the U.S. would like to ensure that whatever the outcome of the war, the Soviet Union would not have a dominant position in either country.20 The Carter Doctrine of 1980 addressed the stated intention of the U.S. to intervene militarily in the region if the shipment of oil was halted or curtailed.21 President Reagan, in a February 22, 1984 press conference, also said that the U.S. is committed to keeping the Strait of Hormuz open.22 Keeping friends in the area is vitally important for the prosecution of a military campaign. And, the U.S. is taking steps to defuse Soviet influence in Iraq; diplomatic relations were renewed with the opening of embassies in both countries in December 1984.23 Iraq had been removed from the "anti-terrorist" list in early 1982, opening the way for renewed relations.24 Chapter 3 - Footnotes 1Evans, "Iran-Iraq: Bloody Tomorrows," p. 33. 2Staudenmaier, "Military Policy and Strategy in the Gulf," p. 28. 3Evans, "Iran-Iraq: Bloody Tomorrows," p. 34. 4Ibid., p. 36. 5Cordesman, "Lessons of the Iran-Iraq War: The First Round," p. 47. 6Kelly, "Battling for the Advantage," p. 35. 7Evans, "Iran-Iraq: Bloody Tomorrows," p. 37. 8Drew Middleton, "Will Iran's 'Vietnam' Be Khomeini's Downfall," Navy Times, February 11, 1985, p. 23. 9Hickman, Ravaged and Reborn: The Iranian Army, p. 18. l0Cordesman, "Lessons of the Iran-Iraq War: Part Two," p. 73. 11Ibid., p. 74. 12Ibid. 13Evans, "Iran-Iraq: Bloody Tomorrows," p. 40. 14Ibid. 15William E. Smith, "A Quest for Vengeance," Time, July 26, 1982, p. 21. 16Michael Sterner, "The Iran-Iraq War," Foreign Affairs, Fall 1984, p. 141. 17"Iran-Iraq: Bloody Tomorrows," p. 40. 18Sterner, "The Iran-Iraq War," p. 138. 19Ibid., p. 139. 20Ibid., p. 140. 21Grummon, "The Iran-Iraq War: Islam Embattled," p. 88 22Daly, "The Not-too Forgotten War," p. 38. 23Don Oberdorfer, "U.S., Iraq Resume Diplomatic Ties," Washington Post, November 27, 1984. 24Ibid. Chapter 4 CONCLUSIONS Each year the war continues, analysts predict an imminent end within months. However, this writer believes that the Iran-Iraq war will not end until the leaders of one government, Hussein or Khomeini, are overthrown or die, naturally or unnaturally. The war has now sputtered since September 1980. With each passing month, hatreds become entrenched. The devastation has been immense and both sides appear tired. Hussein first made overtures for peace in June 1982. But Khomeini still refuses to talk. Iran did not start the war and the Ayatollah will not consider peace until Hussein is executed; his Baathist party toppled from power; and an Islamic republic emerges to pay reparations for the devastation of Iranian territory.1 Of course, Hussein will not agree to these terms. If he admits failure and steps down, he will have weakened Iraq and the roots of his Baathist party. He is willing to withdraw, so long as the Shatt al-Arab dispute is settled. Finally, Iraq does not have $100 billion to pay reparations. So the war continues, if only to the extent that shipping is being attacked in the Gulf. The most likely outcome is that the restoration of Iraq's oil income and rebuilt force will enable her to wait out the Iranian revolution.2 Possible Outcomes It is wise for U.S. analysts to consider different outcomes of the war in order to steer U.S. policy. Some suggested outcomes are detailed below. Suppose the Iraqis stage a mass air attack on Iran that fails. The Iraqis certainly have the resources to stage such an attack, but it would probably fail if it would be aimed at the oil production capabilities at Kharg Island and Bandar Khomeini. This would not shut down Iran's larger economy and could result in weakening the Baathist government since any failure in a perceived last-ditch effort might cause Hussein to lose his grip on the Iraqi nation. Iran could emerge as too powerful in the Gulf and could coerce other Gulf states. This Iranian victory would subject other Arab nations to the prospect of exported Islamic revolutions.3 The second possibility would be for Iran to launch its long-awaited massive offensive, including broadening the war by attacking Iraq's Gulf neighbors. Such an attack would be a bloody, three front war in which Iranian forces might simply overrun Iraqi positions with manpower. Cost in human lives would be tremendous. Results of the attack, however, given past performance of Iraqi troops in defensive positions, would not be certain. At best, the Iranians would be able to bring down Hussein. But the high human cost of victory could put Khomeini in jeopardy and might lead to his downfall. If Khomeini wanted to escalate the war to other Gulf states, he would probably attempt to close the Strait of Hormuz, drawing the U.S. into the action. If the U.S. gets involved, there is a good possibility that the Soviet Union would respond. Escalation is a real possibility with Iran becoming a battleground for the superpowers. The stakes seem extremely high.4 The third major possibility is that a negotiated settlement might be reached between the warring nations. This is, of course, highly unlikely, but must be considered. If a cease-fire could be reached, it would probably be very tenuous. Both sides would have time to rebuild and rearm to await further combat. Through rearming, Iran and Iraq would maintain their status as the most powerful states in the Gulf, with trained, experienced armies. If they were to ignore each other, they would probably attempt to wage war somehere else, given their stated political objectives. Iraq could go after Syria or even mount an Arab attack against Israel. Iran could go after the other Gulf states in the name of the Islamic revolution. In any event, stability in the region would still be tenuous, as long as the current leaders are in power.5 United States Policy Iran is clearly the more valuable strategic prize in the region.6 Although wounds are still festering after the overthrow of the Shah and the subsequent hostage crisis, the U.S. must keep channels open to Iran to ensure Soviet interference is checked.7 The religious leader Khomeini, however, despises the United States. It is unlikely that relations can be implemented while he is in power. Given the apparently strong position of Iran in the war, the U.S. must take precautions to ensure the Islamic revolution does not spread. If it did, Iran would control the entire Persian Gulf and oil prices, or embargoes, could hurt Western economies. Given past U.S. performance in dealing with complex religious issues in this part of the world, actions favorable to the U.S. may be difficult to ascertain. While claiming strict neutrality, the U.S. has taken steps to ensure a strong blocking position against Iran. Diplomatic relations have been reopened with Iraq. Support for the GCC member nations has been ensured. U.S. arms sales continue to Saudi Arabia as well as participation in the AWACS program. The U.S. must ensure the GCC that they are willing to support them in the face of escalation, but should insist on GCC suppport for U.S. forces should the occasion for intervention arise. Such is not now the case. Arab states tend to be somewhat leery of the U.S., given the U.S. policy of supporting Israel. Past U.S. diplomacy in dealing with the Arabs has not been stellar. No Arab state wants to be put into such a precarious position of dependence on the U.S. that it cannot support other Arab nations, particularly with regard to the Arab-Israeli problems that have existed for years.8 The U.S., then, must ensure that its policies are middle-of-the-road and attempt not to alienate any of the nations involved. This is a very complex issueand a difficult position in which to be, but necessary if influence in the area is to be maintained. Considerations for the U.S. Military The U.S. Central Command is charged with the military responsibility of Iran and Iraq. By studying the Iran-Iraq war, some lessons can be learned to enhance U.S. forces success should military intervention ever be required. Before listing those lessons, though, the U.S. military should determine where and how they could intervene. Iran is the most likely target for hostile military intervention, given its control of the Strait of Hormuz, the choke point to Persian Gulf oil. There are essentially three routes into Iran that could be pursued with amphibious assault, air assault, or ground assault. Any one, or a combination of all three methods, could be conducted. Figure 5 details the area in question. An amphibious assault could probably only be executed southeast of the Strait of Hormuz since any amphibious task force would be at high risk attempting to enter the Persian Gulf through the Strait. Thus, that portion of Iran on the Gulf of Oman would seem to be the most likely route from the sea. An air assault, though very difficult, could be conducted from friendly countries on the western side of the Persian Gulf, across the Gulf, into Iran. The UAE, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia are candidates for staging areas. An air assault would be very risky since the forces would have to be light to get into Iran. Lines of communcicaton would be extended and open to interdiction. Any air assault would probably have to be performed in support of an amphibious assault. Click here to view image A ground assault could come from Pakistan or through Turkey. Both of these operations would risk direct confrontation with the Soviet Union given the proximity of Soviet units in Afghanistan and the USSR respectively. The narrow border between Turkey and Iran could pose problems, as well as the rugged terrain of the Zagros mountains. From Pakistan, ground forces would have to move great distances to get to the strategic objective of the Strait of Hormuz, creating line of commmunications problems and vulnerability of the force. These alternatives must be considered in terms of the strategic objective of any military action. The most obvious strategic objective, given the stated U.S. policy of keeping the oil flowing, is the Strait of Hormuz. It is unlikely that an objective of toppling the government in Teheran would be contemplated, though the Iranians would have to be kept from interdicting oilers transiting the Gulf. Whatever the strategic objectives are, the tactical objectives must fit the situation, a lesson Hussein learned too late. U.S. forces would necessarily have to occupy controlling terrain, but should also concentrate on destroying the enemy military machine. And, once the objectives have been achieved, the U.S. should plan on how to get out of the region. A prolonged war would probably be avoided. The Iran-Iraq war, in some ways very similar to conventional warfare as fought in World Wars I and II, has demonstrated considerations of modern mid-intensity warfare that must be taken into account. The lessons of the war should be learned by the U.S. military as they apply to this type of conflict. Even though armed with high-technology weapons, both Iran and Iraq demonstrated that they could not use them effectively. Training is essential if these weapons are to be used as intended. Spare parts must also be available, as well as fuel and ammunition, to keep weapons working. The U.S. military should never plan that a confrontation will be short-lived and therefore not require considerable logistical support. The U.S. should not discount the enemy's lack of training and inability to use modern weaponry. The enemy can still wreak havoc when he is fighting tenaciously for his homeland or for a religious cause. The fanatic enemy may also consider use of chemical, biological, and even nuclear weapons if he believes all is lost. Never underestimate the enemy. The Iran-Iraq war has also shown that it is vitally important to be able to use coordinated arms attacks to be successful. The U.S. stresses the importance of offensive maneuver warfare. Boldness, speed in the attack, coordinated use of all weapons, and combined arms operations are all important aspects of doctrine.10 U.S. commanders must ensure that this doctrine is adhered to, and they must be given the latitude to exploit the enemy weaknesses by applying doctrine as required. Using all available assets to win the battle as quickly as possible should be the primary concern of the on-site commander. Should the U.S. ever have to intervene in Iran, there are other considerations to take into account. The terrain is very important. Depending on where attacks will be made, terrain will have an impact on the composition of forces. The region is not all flat desert, suitable for mechanized operations. Fighting in marshlands or mountains must also be considered. Combat in built-up areas should be avoided, but if required, troops should know how to conduct this type of battle. The weather is also a prime consideration. The rainy season runs from November to February, during which movement is severely curtailed. The cold in the winter can be devastating, as well as the extreme heat during the summer months. Dust storms can create severe problems, limiting visibility and permeating everything with which it comes in contact. The extreme weather can have disastrous effects on men and machinery and non-combat losses can be expected to be heavy unless proper precautions are taken. Disease is also a concern in the area. Diseases carried by mosquitoes and sand flies often reach epidemic proportions. Non-combat losses from sickness must be considered. These lessons from the Iran-Iraq war should be heeded by the U.S. military forces assigned to CENTCOM. It is unlikely that military intervention will be required as long as the war continues. But planning for the intervention should proceed at high pace. The stability in the region has been suspect for some time, and will probably continue to be so. What Next In this writer's opinion, the Iran-Iraq war will continue as long as Hussein and Khomeini are in power. The U.S., and the Soviet Union, will continue to remain neutral, though covertly trying to influence events in the region. Iran, the strategic prize for both superpowers, will not be touched by either side until Khomeini is removed. At that time, it would seem prudent for the U.S. to attempt to bring Iran back into the fold. Something like injecting the Shah's exiled son into power would serve the U.S. well. Whatever happens, though, the U.S. must be ready to intervene militarily in the region to ensure the currently thriving economies of the Western nations continue. Chapter 4 - Footnotes 1Evans, "Iran-Iraq: Bloody Tomorrows," p. 43. 2Anthony H. Cordesman, "The Iran-Iraq War in 1984: An Escalating Threat to the Gulf and the West," Armed Forces Journal International, March 1984, p. 30. 3Ibid. 4Ibid. 5William J. Olson, "The Iran-Iraq War and the Future of the Persian Gulf," Military Review, March 1984, volume 64, p. 18. 6Grummon, "The Iran-Iraq War: Islam Embattled," p. 57. 7Smith, "A Quest for Vengeance," p. 45. 8Sterner, "The Iran-Iraq War," p. 143. 9Daly, "The Not-too Forgotten War," p. 40. 10Staudenmaier, "Military Policy and Strategy in the Gulf War," p. 30. Annotated Bibliography A. Primary There are no primary sources used in this paper. B. Secondary Books Gabriel, Richard A., Fighting Armies, Antagonists in the Middle East, A Combat Assessment. Westport Connecticut: Green wood Press, 1983. A comprehensive analysis of the histories of many mid-East armed forces. Grummon, Stephen R., The Iran-Iraq War, Islam Embattled. Georgetown University, 1982. A very good synopsis of the war through 1982. Hickman, William F., Ravaged and Reborn: The Iranian Army, 1982. The Brookings Institution, 1982. An excellent history of the Iranian armed forces. Theses and Research Papers Martinson, Martin J., "The Iran-Iraq War: Struggle Without End," Quantico, Virginia, Marine Corps Command and Staff College, 1984. Covers the first three years of the war. Radwan, Ann B., "Iraq-Iran and the Gulf: The Regional Dynamic," Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, U.S. Army War College, 1982. Staudenmaier, William O., "A Strategic Analysis of the Gulf War," Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, U.S. Army War College, 1982. Well written paper cover- ing all aspects of the war. Journals and Periodicals Beck, Melinda and James Pringle, "The Point of No Return," Newsweek, 11 June 1984, p. 50. Brelis, Dean, "In Jordan: An Interview with King Hussein," Time, 26 July 1982, pp. 22-23. Brelis, Dean, "Massacre at Fish Lake," Time, 2 Aug- ust 1982, p. 27. Cordesman, Anthony H., "The Iraq-Iran War: Attrition Now, Chaos Later," Armed Forces Journal Inter- national, May 1983, pp. 36-44+. All of Cordesman's articles are extremely informative, well written, and superb analyses of the war. Cordesman, Anthony H., "Lessons of the Iran-Iraq War: Part Two, Tactics, Technology, and Training," Armed Forces Journal International, June 1982, pp. 68-85. Cordesman, Anthony H., "Lessons of the Iran-Iraq War: The First Round," Armed Forces Journal International, April 1982, pp. 32-47. Cordesman, Anthony H., "The Iran-Iraq War in 1984: An Escalating Threat to the Gulf and the West," Armed Forces Journal International, March 1984, pp. 22-30+. Cook, Nick, "Iraq-Iran: The Air War," International Defense Review, 1984, Volume 17, No. 11, pp. 1605-1607. Cottam, Richard, "The Iran-Iraq War," Current History, January 1984, pp.9-12+. Daly, Thomas M., "The Not-too Forgotten War," Naval Institute Proceedings, June 1984, pp.38-45. Deming, Angus and Ray Wilkinson, "The Gulf War: Raising the Stakes," Newsweek, 5 December 1983, pp. 78-79. Doe, Charles, "U.S. Restraint in Persian Gulf Seen Paying Off," Army Times, 17 September 1984, p. 18. Drozdiak, William, "Drums Along the Border," Time, 19 July 1982, pp.44-45. Drozdiak, William, "Death Struggle in the Desert," Time, 9 August 1982, p. 26. Ellis, William S., "Iraq at War: The New Face of Baghdad," National Geographic, Volume 167, No. 1, January 1985, pp. 80-109. Evans, David and Richard Campany, "Iran-Iraq: Bloody Tomorrows," U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, January 1985, pp. 33-43. A very good article. Hillenbrand, Barry, "A Way to Distract the Enemy," Time, 13 August 1984, p. 36. Horton, Bob, "Khomeini's Iran: A Turn Toward Moder- ation?," U.S. News and World Report, 22 October 1984, pp. 39-40. Howarth, H.M.F., "The Impact of the Iraq-Iran War on Military Requirements in the Gulf States," Inter- national Defense Review, 1983, No. 10, pp. 1405-1409. 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