Major Bob Bevelacqua Answers Your Questions

Major Bob, My little brother is an ex-Army Ranger from 3rd Batallion / 75th Ranger Regiment.  He said you are the best military analyst on TV! General consensus amongst my family (Dad is an ex LRRP and Recondo grad - 101st Airborne Recon) is that we will encircle Baghdad and, rather than roll the armor, opt toward "shock" surgical strikes on suspected command bunkers. As my brother says, the role of the 75th, other than airfields, is to take hardened targets with sheer speed and violence.  Basically [we should send] the 75th and 101st in to do what they do — quick, company size raids, with heavy artillery and air support.  This would allow Delta and SEAL teams to then clear the facilities.  The intent is to grab the Iraqi leadership rather than have a bloody (as CNN puts it) siege, miring our troops in city fighting (again, another from CNN).  What say you (as The Factor would say)? — Tom, Philadelphia

Tom, first of all tell your brother I said, "Rangers lead the way!"  I’m not sure who in your family came up with the plan you laid out in your question, but it is damn good.  In fact, I would tell you that you may just see a plan like that unfold in Baghdad.  Tactics are like elbows – we all have them.  I do however, like the idea of having tanks in support during MOUT (Military Operations in Urban Terrain) fighting.  One of the lessons your brother’s unit learned in Somalia is the importance of heavy firepower during street fighting — this is a lesson we do not need to learn again.  We need to go in with everything we have and if need be - use it! 

All the best to your family.

Why didn't Iraqis accompany our troops into all the towns to help us with the civilians?  It seems that we had a few, but very few.  I don't understand why we didn't make better use of such a valuable resource.  — Onan, Miami, FL

Great question, Onan.  We are using civilians to assist us in many regions of Iraq.  In the North we are conducting special ops with Kurdish forces and using some local civilians for intelligence gathering.  In fact, in Baghdad we are using civilians to help us pinpoint regime targets to include Saddam and his sons.  Keep in mind we are only getting bits and pieces of information from the battlefield; the volume of material and scenarios that we are not seeing would probably fill the Encyclopedia Britannica.  Rest assured, we are using the local population where appropriate and are putting forth great effort not to get them killed.  This war is the most publicized conflict to date, and with every sound bite or video that is released we are under a microscope, so we must proceed with great caution when it comes to the use of civilians.

Dear Major Bob: Your FOX commentaries are always acerbic, colorful, and on point - loved your observations about "Iraqi fishing" (re: all that absurd shooting at the water one Sunday) and Hussein's "squashed melon" (re: the initial bombing in which we either killed the SOB or incapacitated him).

My question is this: There have been criticisms of "too few boots on the ground." Aren't there military disadvantages to having TOO MANY boots on the ground? Wouldn't that increase coordination problems and maybe place more soldiers in harm's way unnecessarily? — Lou, Memphis, TN

Excellent question Lou.  The news is full of armchair generals who all have their opinion on how the war should be prosecuted and I place heavy emphasis on the word “OPINION” because that’s exactly what it is.  Our current success in Iraq is testimony to the fact that we have adequate force structure.  Our kill ratios are proof of the level of effectiveness our fighting force can project.  The terrain we have covered has set world records for military maneuvers.  The low number of soldiers killed in action is evidence of our force protection capability.  So where is the problem?  I think our force structure is sound and with the 4th Infantry Division arriving in theater we will be in an even better position this time next week.

I just wanted to know what you think the rationale was behind surrounding cities and then immediately pushing to Baghdad before "securing" [these cities]? —  Maria, West Virginia

Fair question, Maria.  There is a saying in military circles: he who gets there first, with the most, wins!  The battle for Iraq is about breaking the back of the capital city of Baghdad and forcing its leadership to surrender.  Therefore, we have to press the battle in Baghdad and not get caught up with smaller objectives.  Baghdad is the main objective, and the smaller cities are supporting objectives – tactics 101 states you always weigh the main objective.  This means taking the main fight to Baghdad and overwhelming them with combat power; the supporting objectives are "taken down" simultaneously and we mop up what lies in between.

As a former psychological operations specialist in the first Gulf War and Somalia, it seems that PSYOP is taking a predominate role in this new conflict. However, the effectiveness of the PSYOP campaign doesn't seem to be as effective as in 1991. I'd like to know your analysis of current psychological operations in the region and if they're working. — Dave, Atlanta, GA

You hit the nail right on the head, Dave.  PSYOP operations are taking a predominate role in this conflict, but comparing this conflict to Desert Storm is like comparing The Dixie Chicks to the Boston Symphony — they both make music but one of them has no class. PSYOP operations have been waged against both soft and hard targets, civilian and military.  We must keep in mind that the civilian population lives in constant fear of their military and cannot voice their opinion in deed or word.  Having said that, the real success of the PSYOP campaign will be felt once we have taken Baghdad and crushed the regime. I am very confident that people will come out of the woodwork and provide coalition forces with more intelligence than they can handle.  I personally believe this will result in documentation of human atrocities and, much to Scott Rider’s chagrin, proof of weapons of mass destruction.

How can we know if Saddam leaves the country?  Doesn't he have an elaborate tunnel/subway system underground?  Can the Iraqi people ever feel truly rid of him? Thank you for the service that you have given to our country.  Our nation continues to benefit from your knowledge. God bless you. Sincerely, The Donovan Family, Louisiana

Saddam does have an elaborate array of bunkers and tunnels in Baghdad and some other cities, but unless he started tunneling in 1970 he will have to escape overland.  The coalition forces started off this campaign by cracking several tons of munitions on his head, and thus the chase begins.  In a country filled with people that are victims of his rule, there will be more people wanting to see his carcass in the street than escaping to another country, and there aren’t too many countries that want him.  In the final analysis, we will probably find out that he was killed in a humiliating fashion with no heroics or pride attributed to his death.  This is because he is a coward and typically that’s how they leave this world. 

I'm concerned about what appears to be, from this point, a great deal of infighting amongst Army brass regarding the conduct of the war...Could you please shed a little light on the issue as my impression is that there are some serious divisions.  Thanks! —Frank, USMC (Ret)

Frank, the Army practices chaos on a daily basis, which is why they tend to manage warfare so well — war is organized chaos.  The brass has always had and will continue to have disagreements amongst the ranks.  Fortunately, the Army exists to preserve democracy not practice it.  I pay little attention to the hiccups and personality conflicts that exist in the Pentagon; I spent three years as a Major in "the building" and can tell you it's just business as usual.  Once the dust settles they will all join arms and congratulate each other on their tactical brilliance.