Before Operation Iraqi Freedom the U.S. armed forces built up a powerful concentration of hardware and rear security probably unknown in the history of mankind. While there were many mistakes made later in the occupation of Iraq, the build up to war, the supply lines, and everything that was needed to end the war rapidly were well planned out. Before we get into my war email's I wanted to briefly discuss what it was like the weeks preceding the war before the day it all began. (See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2003_invasion_of_Iraq)
An Air Force base is a very active place to be. There is constant noise, crazy situations, emergency vehicles, and activity in general. Two or three weeks before the war started (give or take a few days) everything was grounded on the base. It was like 9-11 all over again. No planes in the sky, just silence. It was eerie, just like it was for you in the aftermath of 9-11. For us soldiers on the base, we knew that this was the message that meant all hope was lost. We were going to war and no diplomacy on earth was going to stop this war. The grounding of the aircraft was to conserve fuel and build up fuel reserves that would be needed by our aircraft to conduct the war destroying Iraq. There was not much to do during those weeks so we just kind of went about our business wondering when the war would begin. Then on March 22, 2003 engines began firing up all over the base.
To understand the significance of this, I believe that Jaber Air Force base was the greatest concentration of military aircraft, bombs, and firepower in one place that the world has ever known. Turkey cut off U.S. use of their air bases so those planes and hardware where diverted to Jabber Kuwait. Not only that the carriers based off shore dispatched many of their planes to Jabber because of the cost saving in fuel to reach their Iraqi targets.
There was what looked like miles of planes at the Jabber Air Force base. I kept thinking what on earth do we think the Iraqi's have that demands this incredible, this massive concentration of military hardware. As my book has already illustrated the German Sixth Army ground forces was the most formidable military force on earth during their creation, but their air power did not come close this mass of air power. To reiterate the Germans thought their air force was up to the task of refortifying their army during the war which it was not.
When our coalitions limited ground and unlimited air forces were unleashed they quickly destroyed all the formidable Iraqi military capabilities within one month. A lesson learned from WWII was to quickly win a war you must overwhelm the enemy with crushing firepower. However, the historical lesson the Bush Administration ignored was it took one million men to occupy Germany after the war. One would think that as history repeats itself our political leaders would learn from histories previous mistakes. It was obvious to me as a common soldier that we could not occupy Iraq, a country of over 50 million people, with 170,000 troops. This was a "What were they thinking!" moment that I could not believe was happening. In February 2003, the U.S. Army's top general, Eric Shinseki, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that it would take "several hundred thousand soldiers" to secure and occupy Iraq. However, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz d isputed that figure stating that the post-war troop commitment would be less than the number of troops required to fight and win the war.
You cannot fathom the sound as all those war machines started up as the war began, the noise level was incredible. It was not long before aircraft moved into position and were using both the incoming and outgoing airstrips to take off planes four at a time. My Electronic Warfare shop mates and I setup chairs on the airstrip to watch the spectacle. If you have ever watched the movie "Apocalypse Now" this scene could have easily been included in their movie footage. It was hard to sit there and put your mind around what was taking place. Planes took off every few minutes in front of us, all fully loaded with many hundreds of thousands of pounds of bombs and ammunition. My thoughts were how can mankind make so many vehicles of destruction? All I could think of at the time was "god save the Iraqi's for we are about to bomb you back into the stone ages!" And yes I did say a prayer and shed a few tears for the innocent civilians that did not stand against this onslaught who we were all about to kill. One crazy man in charge of Iraq had caused all this (and as we found out later a few misled U.S. politicians). The planes taking off went on for hours and then there was silence. Imagine what thoughts race through your mind? There were many questions like, "What have we done and what are doing? What have I become a part of and was there another way? How could there be that many targets to destroy? How many Iraqi's have I helped kill? Will the world be a better place after all this carnage?"
I was for the war to get rid of Saddam Hussein but I was never for the occupation. My feeling was getting rid of the evil dictator and let the Iraqi people sort things out. Too many American soldiers lost their lives because George Bush did not listen to his generals and commit more troops to the occupation which history dictated was necessary. It took one million men to occupy Germany after the war, so occupying Iraqi with 170,000 was insane and he should have been impeached as a U.S. president. His administrations stupidity cost the lives of many of my fellow soldiers and friends and I will always relive those experiences. This was an insanity that his generals rejected and I hope he goes down in history rejecting the advice of many educated and brilliant military generals. I hope my book honors those soldiers that died after I left, and that their families benefit from my failed book. I have/had no other way of helping them and feel even more regret for not helping the victims of Katrina when I failed to tell the corporation I was working for to bug off and fire me if they wanted to.
Email's home from the second Iraqi War, Operation Iraqi Freedom
From the zone March 29, 2003:
I guess you are shaking you're head thinking what a quagmire we are in now... it sure looks bloody after one week... I go from thinking the war is heading way out of control to realizing we have only been at this a little over one week... Bosnia took six months... But with the tactics the enemy is employing I'm not sure how we defeat an enemy without conscience... without morals... without value for life... without honor. Holding families hostage so husbands will fight... shooting fleeing civilians... parking military assets among civilian shields... blowing themselves up to kill American soldiers... melting into the landscape dressed a civilians... pretending to surrender... what is next?
I would like to hear your views on all this? I'm seeing a long and bloody campaign...
Not much to tell beyond what you all are seeing in the news. We had our first missile come through our defenses. Probably one of the Chinese designs since it was flying low. Someone who has been counting says we have had 26 alerts. I have no idea where CNN is getting their numbers from. I was watching and they said eight missiles? Every Patriot guy I have met puts the total far above that... but then that is scuttlebutt...
The war for me personally has improved. The gym has reopened after being closed for over a week. As long as I can relive my stress by throwing IRON around I and a happy person. We have been very busy. Lots of broken equipment to repair. The flight line is going crazy with the break in the weather. People I talk to are working non-stop with all the sorties. Move aside Marines and Army; let the Air Force bomb the way to Baghdad!
We have had some excitement here. One F-16 lost a landing gear landing, and two A-10's had tires blow out. Fire crews and bomb squads were dispatched and everyone came through alive and uninjured. Some hairy moments though
As for the war... did anyone see the Star Trek Episode when Star Fleet met the Borg at Wolf 359? "The fight does not go well Enterprise"... That is one of the things they are doing here. Don't know how many of you are familiar with Air Bases in time or war but we have this speaker system called the "GIANT VOICE"... goes something like this:
"All stations, ALARM RED, MOPP LEVEL 4, TAKE IMMEDIATE COVER, I SAY AGAIN ALARM RED, MOPP LEVEL 4... STARFLEET OUT!"
No kidding... STARFLEET OUT follows every message. Being a Star Trek Fan it brings a smile every time I hear that. Who says Gene Roddenberry did not have a profound impact on US society... hooray for Star Trek!
That's all from the ZONE!!!
SSgt Kirk Ellis
332nd/EMXS/MXMV/ECM Back Shop
And so on... you all have been writing about the war, why not write what someone who was there witnessed!
President and CEO of a veteran owned business