Saturday :: Sep 23, 2006

Why Did the British Really Withdraw Their Tanks?


by paradox

Last week came news the British contingent in Iraq was immediately withdrawing all of it heavy Challenger battle tanks. At the time speculation was that utility of the machines, each weighing 125,000 pounds, were useless in guerilla tactics that demanded light speed.

That speculation may have been off base. The British aren’t getting the tanks out now because they’re not much use (believe me, no field commander wants to give an armored, mobile 120 mm rifled gun), but because now may be the only time they can get them out at all.

There is an absurd, alarming presumption in the United States that withdrawal from the Iraqi theatre will be as seamless and easy as invasion. Nothing could be further from the truth.

One day, in one glorious episode of reason and sanity, US forces will leave Iraq. The sooner they do so the more orderly and safer it will be. Every day wasted in not withdrawing notches up the likelihood that US forces will flee in a desperate situation where there are no good choices.

Tanks cannot be flown out the country, and the northern route to NATO ally Turkey through the mountains is likely impassable. That means two potential routes south along either the Tigris or Euphrates rivers to get back to Kuwait.

If the Unites States were facing an organized guerrilla movement instead of the mishmash of civil war our casualty county would be a lot higher, and if this situation changes US forces could be enormously vulnerable upon withdrawal. There are innumerable vulnerable choke points along both southern routes, and a determined enemy could turn a US withdrawal in to flaming, exploding rout.

F-15’s and A10’s can’t unclog a road or fix a blasted bridge. The British know it and may have gotten out their tanks while they still can.

paradox :: 9:30 AM :: Comments (13) :: Digg It!