15 Years Later

1991: Jubilation follows Gulf War ceasefire

Who would have guessed this is where we’d be in 2006?

I know many reasons why we couldn’t have gone all the way to Baghdad in 1991, but aren’t those largely the same reasons why we couldn’t invade Iraq in 2003? In a lot of ways, the current campaign in Iraq is nothing more than the 1991 war restarted after a twelve-year time out.

If, for some reason, we had gone all the way in 1991, would 2006 Iraq have looked like what 2018 Iraq is going to look like? Did we just squander a dozen years? Did it take 9/11 to “change” things enough to restart?

I know we were hoping that Saddam’s regime would fall from within, but we did little to help things along and we royally screwed over those who hoped to do what we wanted them to.

One thing’s for sure. There would have been an awful lot more troops on the ground in 1991.


  1. Holy Crap – has it really been 15 years? Yes, we squandered 15 years and 8 divisions. I look at the Gulf War as the high water mark of the post WWII U.S. military. As a deployed Marine Reservist, I got to see the massive military machine Ronald Reagan created. It’s hard to describe the feeling I got watching the 1st Marine Division rolling into Kuwait. A buddy of mine, who served in 2nd Marine Division, watched two entire heavy Army Corps drive by during the Air War as they prepared to flank Kuwait and hit the Republican Guard. The convoys of tanks and Bradleys went on for days and boggled the mind. Of course we should have taken Baghdad. Wars not fought to a logical conclusion almost never lead to a lasting peace – WWI being the prime example of a war badly started and badly ended by politicians that set the stage for an even worse war. We ended the war without punishing most of those guilty for horrible crimes in Kuwait and gave Saddam a decade to cause further mischief. A colossal act of stupidity justified by H.W. Bush and Powell for political expediency. Today we have roughly half the ground combat strength available in 1991 – a very sore point to me. The Army is now going through a ‘Transformation.’ Translation – more money for techno-gadgets, fewer ground troops. Unfortunately, we are in the midst of an Infantry war. I’ve said it before – right now I would prefer to have the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 24th Infantry Divisions, and the 3rd Armor Division, than a squadron of F-22’s. That would mean shorter, less frequent deployments, and the strength to deal with Iran, Syria, and any other crisis in the world. I would really prefer to have both and let old people buy their own drugs.

  2. Kinda reminds me of the trouble we got into for not invading the whole of Germany in 1918.

  3. Yeah, its all speculation- hindsight is always 20/20. While I personally think we should have moved in 1991, I like to have an open mind on matters. A thought that crossed my mind thanks to Murdoc was: ‘One thing’s for sure. There would have been an awful lot more troops’ I wonder if they would have seen that as a more ‘occupying force’ than they do at current troop levels. Recall that 9/11 had not happened and I should think people were not trying to kick up a fuss on already tense relations with Arab countries. I think the US wanted to look like liberators and were afraid people would call it another Vietnam (hence what they say today). US needed a clean victory at the time and got it… but it really wasn’t a clean victory either, only on an international relations front. in my opinion we need to fight when we get the opportunity, so we have the upper hand.

  4. Dealing with Saudi Arabia as the host country, there were many things done with Arab feelings in mind. Units of the 1st Marine Division were ordered to hide behind buildings after they secured Kuwait City. The media then filmed Syrian and Egyptian units ‘liberating’ the city. It is certainly true we had far more boots on the ground in 1991. And we had less than half our active strength there at the time and had barely begun to tap into the Army Reserve and National Guard (which was also much bigger then). If needed, we really could have sealed the borders and swarmed over potential resistance.

  5. Bush1 cut a deal with the arab countries- support us and we wont go all the way. and we had like 400,000 troops which might have been enough to secure the country. catch-22 In fact Bush1 specifically said that if we had gone all the way we would be dealing with a tough insurgency. That was a lot closer to the N-Q war and consequently even greater numbers of the populace had military experience. Frankly I think Saddam better envisioned the insurgency that (he hoped) would ensue and better prepared Iraqi’s for it (such as more weapons available). I hear he also showed blackhawk down (a favorite of mine) all over the capital to prepare the populace. Of course he propably envisioned the resistance taking much less time…

  6. The number of Iraqis with military experience would not have made a difference. Their training stunk and the military was totaly shocked and demoralized by what we did to them. They had no fight left in them. The second time around, they new what to expect. Their regular military wanted nothing to do with us. It was the para-military guerilla groups developed since the 1st Gulf War that caused the most problems.