Kevin M Woods, Williamson Murray, Elizabeth A Nathan, Laila Sabara, An - Saddams Generals Perspectiv

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Unformatted text preview: SADDAM’S GENERALS Perspectives of the Iran-Iraq War Kevin M. Woods, Williamson Murray, Elizabeth A. Nathan, Laila Sabara, Ana M. Venegas SADDAM’S GENERALS SADDAM’S GENERALS Perspectives of the Iran-Iraq War Kevin M. Woods, Williamson Murray, Elizabeth A. Nathan, Laila Sabara, Ana M. Venegas Institute for Defense Analyses 2011 Final July 2010 IDA Document D-4121 Log: H 10-000765/1 Copy This work was conducted under contract DASW01-04-C-003, Task ET-8-2579, “Study on Military History (Project 1946—Phase II)” for the National Intelligence Council. The publication of this IDA document does not indicate endorsement by the Department of Defense, nor should the contents be construed as reflecting the official position of the Agency. © 2010 Institute for Defense Analyses, 4850 Mark Center Drive, Alexandria, Virginia 22311-1882 • (703) 845-2000. This material may be reproduced by or for the U.S. Government pursuant to the copyright license under the clause at DFARS 252.227-7013 (November 1995). Contents Foreword............................................................................................................................................ vii Introduction.......................................................................................................................................... 1 Summary and Analysis ........................................................................................................................ 5 Background ................................................................................................................................... 6 Origins and Planning for War ....................................................................................................... 7 Saddam’s Education in War........................................................................................................ 13 The Adaptation of Iraqi Military Forces to the Reality of War................................................... 15 Technology, Intelligence, and the War ....................................................................................... 19 Final Comments .......................................................................................................................... 22 Historical Context and Timeline........................................................................................................ 25 Interview: Lieutenant General Ra’ad Majid Rashid al-Hamdani ...................................................... 29 Section 1: Senior Leadership Foreign Assistance Officer Corps Saddam’s Personality First Gulf War .................................................................................................................... 29 Section 2: Chemical Weapons Conditions and Events Leading to the Iran-Iraq War Military Training................................................................................................................ 45 Section 3: Personal Interactions with Saddam Senior Leadership ........................................... 57 Section 4: Officer Corps Loss of Fao (1986) Recovery of Fao (1988) Intelligence Capabilities Fourth Battle of Basra (1986) Fifth Battle of Basra (1987) ......................... 67 Section 5: Expansion of Iraqi Military Military Training End of Iran-Iraq War................... 76 Interview: Major General Mizher Rashid al-Tarfa al-Ubaydi ........................................................... 87 Section 6: Personal Background Attitudes toward Iran Expansion of Iraqi Intelligence ...... 87 Section 7: Loss of Fao (1986) General Military Intelligence Directorate Iranian Intelligence Capabilities Deception Operations .................................................................. 93 Section 8: Senior Leadership SIGINT Foreign Assistance Attitudes toward Iran ........... 100 Interview: Major General (ret) Aladdin Hussein Makki Khamas ................................................... 111 Section 9: Personal Background Saddam’s Personality Senior Leadership Events Leading to Iran-Iraq War Preparations for Iran-Iraq War ................................................. 111 Section 10: Battle of Allahu Akbar Hill First Battle of Basra (1982) Battle at al-Amara Second Battle of Basra (1984) Battles at Abadan and Ahvaz (1980) Battle at Susangard (1980) ............................................................................................................. 119 Section 11: Adaptation in Iraqi Military Combat Development Directorate Military Training.............................................................................................................. 133 Section 12: Chemical Weapons NCO Corps Iranian Operations and Tactics Saddam’s Personality ........................................................................................................ 145 v Interview: Lieutenant General Abid Mohammed al-Kabi ............................................................... 151 Section 13: Personal Background History of Iraqi Navy Expansion of Naval Involvement in Iran-Iraq War Preparation for Iran-Iraq War Foreign Technology ....... 151 Section 14: Defensive Naval Operations (1980–82) Offensive Naval Operations (1982–86) Naval Operations after the Loss of Fao (1986–88) Intelligence Capabilities and Bombing of USS Stark .................................................................................................. 159 Section 15: Shatt al-Arab Attacks on Iranian Oil Terminals Loss of Fao (1986) Bombing of USS Stark Recovery of Fao (1988) ........................................................... 160 Section 16: Intelligence Capabilities Development of Navy and Naval Operations Significance of Iranian Operations Saddam and Senior Leadership ............................. 177 Interview: Major General ‘Alwan Hassoun ‘Alwan al-Abousi ....................................................... 185 Section 17: Personal Background State of Iraqi Air Force Readiness Initial Air Strikes (Fall 1980) Planning and Training Foreign Technology Saddam’s Personality Intelligence and the Bombing of Osirak Reactor ................................................................. 185 Section 18: Long-range Strikes Military Cooperation Foreign Technology Chemical Weapons Intelligence ........................................................................................................ 199 Section 19: Attitudes toward the Air Force Air Defense Systems Bombing of USS Stark ..................................................................................................................................... 204 Section 20: Senior Leadership Foreign Assistance Iraqi F–1s Shot Down by Saudi F– 15s during First Gulf War Evacuation of Iraqi Fighters to Iran during First Gulf War War of the Cities .................................................................................................................. 207 Appendix A: References ..................................................................................................................A-1 Appendix B: Place Names Index and Reference Maps ................................................................... B-1 Map 1. Iraq, with North, Central and South regions outlined. .................................................. B-2 Map 2A. Southern Iraq. Iraqi offensives, 1980. ........................................................................ B-3 Map 2B. Southern Iraq. Extent of Iraqi advances, 1981–82; Iranian offensives; Extent of Iranian advances during the war; Basra defenses 1982–87. ................................. B-4 Map 2C. Southern Iraq. Iraqi offensives, 1988. ........................................................................ B-5 Map 3A. Central Iraq. Iraqi offensives, 1980............................................................................ B-6 Map 3B. Central Iraq. Extent of Iraqi advances, 1981–82; Iranian offensives; Extent of Iranian advances during the war........................................................................... B-7 Map 3C. Central Iraq. Iraqi offensives, 1988. ........................................................................... B-8 Map 4A. Northern Iraq. Iraqi offensives, 1980. ........................................................................ B-9 Map 4B. Northern Iraq. Extent of Iraqi advances, 1981–82; Iranian offensives; Extent of Iranian advances during the war......................................................................... B-10 Map 5. Persian Gulf, Tanker War ........................................................................................... B-11 Map 6. Persian Gulf, Air raids on Iranian islands. .................................................................. B-12 Map 7. Persian Gulf, Attack on Larak Island with mid-air refueling...................................... B-13 Appendix C: Index of Themes ......................................................................................................... C-1 Bibliography .................................................................................................................................... C-2 vi Foreword Perhaps the only thing less insightful than the history of a war written solely by its winner is one written exclusively by nonparticipants. The complex mix of drivers, decisions, and perspectives that animate a war’s senior leaders are often lost or obscured under the best of circumstances. This problem is exacerbated when examining a war between closed regimes such as occurred with Iran and Iraq in the 1980s. While the perspectives of former senior Iraqi leaders contained in this monograph are not without biases and should be judged in light of other sources, they offer an important glimpse into a previously closed world. The study of the Iran-Iraq War based on the perspective of senior Iraqi participants offers valuable historical insights and will serve as a useful resource for analysts and scholars seeking to understand distant conflicts. This study was inspired by post–World War II efforts of U.S. Army historians and intelligence officers to gather and preserve insights and perspectives of the German General Staff. This is the second volume in a series of studies, sponsored by the National Intelligence Council, designed to cast light on issues involving Saddam’s Iraq by interviewing former Iraqi officials. The first volume, Saddam’s War: An Iraqi Military Perspective of the IranIraq War, contained interviews with Lieutenant General Ra’ad Hamdani, a former Iraqi Republican Guard Corps commander. This second volume includes an additional interview with Hamdani, along with four additional senior officers who discuss issues including Iraqi naval operations, airpower, military intelligence, and capability development. I am encouraged that these interviews, along with captured records from Saddam’s regime in the Conflict Records Research Center, Institute for National Strategic Studies, at the National Defense University are beginning to break open the “black box” of Iraqi decisionmaking under Saddam. It is important that this material be made available in a way that can help inform a rising generation of policymakers, analysts, and scholars. —Major General John R. Landry, USA (Ret.) National Intelligence Officer for Military Issues National Intelligence Council vii Introduction The following is the second volume in the Project 1946 series. The project title refers to the efforts of a team of U.S. Army historians and intelligence officers who, in the wake of World War II sought to understand what had occurred on the “other side of the hill.” Their partners in this effort were a select group of former German generals. Through the use of personal, organizational, and campaign histories, as well as the review of captured German records, these researchers forever changed the world’s understanding of the war. In over a decade of work, the German program produced more than 500 monographs, covering an array of strategic, operational, and tactical issues. In 1961, a key participant in the program, former Colonel-General Franz Halder, was presented an award in the name of President Kennedy for “lasting contributions to the tactical and strategic thinking of the United States Armed Forces.”2 The program’s diverse utility and lasting impact is evident in such projects as the acclaimed official histories of World War II (the Green Books), the development of early Cold War doctrines, and the regional studies that informed U.S. operations in the Balkans late into the 1990s. Franz Halder (left) briefing General Despite the generally positive legacy of the Brauchitsch on the Poland campaign in 1 German example, the program affords some October 1939. 1 2 Franz Halder, former chief of the General Staff of the German Army led a series of research programs with his former colleagues in support of various US Army military history projects and foreign military studies programs in the decade following World War II. Image courtesy of the Deutsches Bundesarchiv, Bild 183H27722. Cited in James A. Wood, “Captive Historians, Captivated Audience: The German Military History Program, 1945–1961,” The Journal of Military History 69, no. 1 (2005), 124. 1 important cautions that are applicable to Project 1946. The motivations of the individual participants ranged from noble to base. Some of the former German officers saw cooperating with the Americans as a way to bolster Germany’s defense from the its historic and now growing menace to the east. Halder wrote as much to his American sponsor soon after accepting his task, “I have undertaken this task because I am of the opinion, that…we will be in a position to make an intellectual contribution to the defensive potential of the West.”3 Other officers sought to solidify the myth of the apolitical Wehrmacht or to draw a distinction between themselves and the crimes of the regime they served. In addition to deliberate bias, there are, no doubt, inadvertent gaps in the telling. On topics large and small, and as is the case with all memoirs, the participants in Project 1946 suffer to some degree from “selective memory syndrome.”4 Despite these limitations, the value of this and related efforts should be judged on its ability to fill gaps in an otherwise limited collection of primary sources material on the IranIraq War. With the conclusion of decades of mistrust and more than a dozen years of conflict between the United States and the Ba’ath regime in Iraq, a rare opportunity exists to develop a deeper understanding of recent military history from the point of view of former adversaries. If continued interest can be taken as a metric of value then this and related research efforts— such as the U.S. Joint Forces Command’s Iraqi Perspectives Project (IPP) and the Department of Defense’s Conflict Records Research Center (CRRC)—indicate healthy and continuing institutional desire to learn from history.5 3 4 5 Cited in Ronald M. Smelser, Edward J. Davies, The Myth of the Eastern Front: The Nazi-Soviet War in American Popular Culture (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 70. Wood, “Captive Historians, Captivated Audiance: The German Military History Program, 1945–1961,” 126. For additional information on the strengths and limitations of this approach, see Kevin Soutor, “To Stem the Red Tide: The German Report Series and Its Efforts on American Defense Doctrine,” The Journal of American Military History 57, no. 4 (1993), 653–88; Wolfram Wette, The Wehrmacht: History, Myth, Reality, trans. Deborah Lucas Schneider (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006); Russel A. Hart, Guderian: Panzer Pioneer or Myth Maker?, ed. Dennis E. Showalter, Military Profiles (Washington: Potomac Books, Inc., 2006). Related research includes Kevin M. Woods, Williamson Murray, Thomas Holaday, Saddam’s War: An Iraqi Perspective of the Iran-Iraq War, McNair Paper 70 (Washington, DC: National Defense University Press, 2009); Kevin M. Woods, Michael Pease, Mark E. Stout, Williamson Murray, James G. Lacey, The Iraqi Perspectives Report: Saddam’s Senior Leadership on Operation Iraqi Freedom from the Official U.S. Joint Forces Command Report (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2006); Kevin M. Woods, James Lacey, Williamson Murray, “Saddam’s Delusions: The View from the Inside,” Foreign Affairs 85, no. 3 (2006); Kevin M. Woods, The Mother of All Battles: Saddam Hussein’s Strategic Plan for the Persian Gulf War, Official U.S. Joint Forces Command Report (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2008); Kevin M. Woods, Mark E. Stout, “Saddam’s Perceptions and Misperceptions: The Case of ‘Desert Storm’,” Journal of Strategic Studies 33, no. 1 (2010). 2 Members of the Project 1946 research team interview former Iraqi Major General Aladdin Makki (center) about his experiences as an Iraqi Army Corps Chief of Staff, Director of Developments, and Commandant of the Iraqi War College during the Iran-Iraq War (Cairo, Egypt, November 2009) The focus of the interviews in this Project 1946 monograph, as with the first, is the IranIraq War (1980–88). This conflict is relevant more than 20 years after its conclusion for numerous reasons, but four are prominent. First, given the totalitarian nature of both participants, available data on one of the bloodiest conventional wars of the 20th century remains limited and heavily biased. While primary sources from within Iran remain almost non-existent, the opportunity to fully develop the Iraqi point-of-view will go a long way to illuminating this blind spot. Second, many of the factors that precipitated the war in 1980—longstanding border disputes, regional ambitions, local religious and ethnic strife, and geopolitical tensions— remain in various forms. Anyone remotely familiar with the history of the Middle East can hope, but not be assured, that tensions between neighboring states will not spark a future war. The political and military history of past wars, to paraphrase Mark Twain, may not repeat, but sometimes, they do rhyme. Third, the Iran-Iraq War saw the development and extensive use of weapons of mass destruction in a regional war. Iraq’s experience as a regional power that developed and deployed chemical weapons, improved delivery methods, and strove to develop a nuclear weapons program, may provide a richer source of insights into proliferation than the Cold War experience of the West. 3 Finally, the context and character of warfare in this region have always been something of an enigma to outsiders. The debates in the West over changes in modern war, questions of whether there is such a thing as an Arab “way-of-war,” understanding the modalities of warfare in this politically and physically challenging region will all benefit from an in-depth study of the Iraqi perspective. With the assistance of General Ra’ad Hamdani (the subject of the first Project 1946 monograph), the project’s researchers interviewed Iraqi veterans of that long and bloody campaign. Those interviewed offered perspectives ranging from general strategy, the Republican Guard, air force, navy, and intelligence, to operations and combat developments. In each case, the interviewees worked with the research team by providing background information on their particular experiences and, in several cases, detailed personal histories. Each officer brought his own perspective to the questions and issues raised by the research team. Some were more comfortable discussing controversial topics than others, but each added significantly to our general understanding and opened the door to new lines of inquiry. ***** This monograph is composed of two parts. First is an overview essay that summarizes the major insights derived from the totality of discussion contained in the second part. The second part contains five interviews conducted during a seven-day period in three countries. The interviews were conducted in both Arabic and English. The transcribed and translated recordi...
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