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Iraqi Air Force On High Alert

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Well-known member
Nov 28, 2001
Saddam Hussein put Iraq's Air Force on high alert just in case the USA decides to attack.

Do any Gulf War vets have any stories about 9-lining against the Iraqi Air Force?

I personally think an air war will last no longer than a weekend.
What would you base your weekend theory on? The only way we could accomplish the goals of an air war in Iraq over a weekend is through the use of excessive heat. Other than that, it will take a prolonged air/ground campaign. Read a little about the situation in current newspapers.
Sorry, I didn't mean to get ahead of myself.

But I don't think the air war will take very long by itself, but yes, the air support for ground troops (who have to go all the way to Baghdad) will take a long time.

Since Desert Storm Iraq has had little or no chance to acquire new weapons (except chemical and biological) due to UN sanctions. Also a lot of their aircraft were moved to Iran during the war and are still there.

Operation Northern/Southern watch has shut down almost all Iraqi air defenses in the northern and southern no fly zones. Also this has hurt Iraqi pilot training.

Here are some recent numbers for a possible

US & Allies vs. Iraq:

active troops.......4,988,000 vs 383,000
reserve troops......10,299,000 vs 650,000
heavy tanks.........28,398 vs 1,440
armored infantry verhicles............ 68,581 vs 2,900
airplanes............ 20,536 vs 473
helicopters......... 13,500 vs 500
major warships.... 726 vs 1


But all these numbers change with the forces in Afghanistan, and all the allies might not participate.
I'd keep those idiots guessing and on high alert for a long long time and let 'em burn up their spares, wear out their people and let them implode.

Any "airwar" will last about 10 minutes. The incompetence and lack of initiative of most arab air forces is legendary.

Takeoff, turn on the radar, squeeze the trigger and yell "inshalla" is about the extent of their tactics. When you fly for dictatorships individual initiative is not a prized commodity.
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I'd like to inject some reality into this pep rally.

In war, nothing ever goes as smoothly as planned. Clauswitz (sp?) discussed "friction" as the inevitable outcome of any conflict...hampering logistics, intel, slowing down the OADA loop, etc.

If we lined up our fighters verses their fighters, our tanks verses their tanks, etc...it wouldn't be a fair fight. However...nothing suggests and history reminds us that our adversaries have no great requirement to fight "fair" or on our terms.

We lost troops, planes, and sailors to the Iraqis in 1991. Not as many as we expected, but some of our troops were killed. If we fight them again, more will die. I've been in the AF for 14 years, was a forward air controller in the last war over there, and if called upon I will do my duty again. However--ask anyone who fought over there before and they will likely tell you they have no desire to do it again.

I would urge those of you who pontificate as if this were an NFL match-up to think about what you are saying. Assymetric combat (i.e...terrorism) is one tool the Iraqis didn't have or use in 1991. AFter watching the effect of what 20 suicidal terrorists could accomplish on 9/11, it is quite possible Iraq has plans to attempt a sequel to those attacks. Any joy in a mig shootdown would be muted entirely by handful of terror attacks on our homeland.

As I said...I'll go where I'm sent...but I'm hoping diplomacy or some internal actions make this problem go away...
If you are talking about air war in the sense of air-to-air combat, then yes, it would be over in no time. Generally however, air war refers to the entire air campaign, which would include supression of enemy air defenses, destruction of C2 nodes, troops, equipment and logistical sites by air and standoff missile attacks. This is a much more prolonged process. ONW/OSW have knocked out much of the IADS in the northern and southern sectors, but there is still a broad area in the middle where the systems have been untouched. The remark about the slingshots is extremely uninformed. The Iraqis actually have a fairly robust integrated air defense system compared to most other potential adversaries. They aren't toting SA-7s and Stingers around on mules. When you are grandstanding for a war, make sure that you actually do some reading about the enemy's capabilities. I would agree that Iraq is no match for us toe-to-toe, but that doesn't mean we will come out unscathed by any means.

The numbers posted as a comparison between the U.S. and Iraq are meaningless. First of all, which "allies" can we count on committing troops? Britain... maybe. Plus, it doesn't matter how many troops we have over all, just what we can get in theater quickly in order to avoid chem/bio attacks at ports and airheads. There's a lot more to this problem than the average person would see without a lot of reading and research.
Agreed Marine,

It's not about how many units we have total, it's about how many we can get into the fight. Also, almost no military engagement results in no lives lost. I am in the camp of thinking that we should use a massive force in terms of numbers as opposed to using small numbers with precision. You can still be surgical with a large force, and possibly even persuade the opposition to not fight for fear of complete destruction.

I will ask another series of questions though. Has our ability to suppress enemy air defenses increased or decreased since the gulf war? Has Iraq's air defense system improved, worsen, or stay about the same since the gulf war?Depending on the answers, one could make the arguement that Iraq's air defense is not something that has to be a source of major worry, since it has been faced before.

However, this is all academic, and I have no room to speak, because I haven't even been in the military.
Delta3 said:
Saddam Hussein put Iraq's Air Force on high alert just in case the USA decides to attack.

I personally think an air war will last no longer than a weekend.

Translation: Iraq's Airforce what little is left since most flew to Iran to save their butts, decides which country to relocate their airplanes to this time.

You seem to ignore the fact that the current administration has many of the same leaders (ie Powell and Cheney and another Bush) that were in place during the previous action.

"If" we actually do that, you can be assured that nothing will be done half a$$ed.


When we went to war in 1991, nobody had heard of Bill Clinton. We were building out a 40 wing Air Force. The aggressors were still doing road shows, flying against operational fighter units once a year, honing everyone's skills. Fighter guys went to Red Flag once a year, and likely did a Cope Thunder or a Maple Flag along the way. Flight commanders were on their second fighter tour, and had 1000 hours in their respective jets. Navy guys were still building up to the "600 ship" fleet. Nobody knew what a "contingency TDY" was. The forces that went to war in 1991 were very different than the forces in place today.

In 2002, you have tons of guys who have 200-400 hours circling in caps. Red Flags have been cancelled. Half a guys training sorties may have been "red air", simulating a Fulcrum threat since the aggressors have been decimated and have become simply a training aid at Red Flag. Your flight commander may have done a "desk" job for one tour, have 700 hours, and not even be an instuctor pilot. We train very well--but the chief complaint among the current ops guys is we spend too much time doing non-training stuff and too much time flying circles in the sky. The drawdown of 1992-1996 has decimated the experience level of the force. There are plenty of great guys who remain...but there are a lot less planes, pilots, and soldiers than there were in 1991.

This is not the same Air Force that went to war in 1991. In many ways, it is a much better force...with much better equipment and a more modern doctrine. However...I think the old craniums will tell you a 1988 fighter pilot spent more time TRAINING and less time boring holes and doing red air than a 2001 pilot.

Again--we'll do what we are tasked. However...like I told my guys whenever I was mission CC on a no-fly zone enforcement mission over Northern or Southern Iraq..."guys...for the next 6 hours, its not the president, or the secretary of the AF, or the chief of staff, or the generals enforcing this no fly zone...its US! Have your sh!t together, and be proud you are at the point of the spear" . I'm glad to work for Bush, Cheney, and Powell...but when the shooting starts they are irrelevant. You are only as good as your last mission, and the next mission will only be as good as the mission commander in charge. This is not a F*cking game...it will be war with lives in the balance. I hope we find a way to work around that outcome....

My 2 cents...and I don't say this much on this forum. If you haven't been in the military, or haven't participated in combat...then your opinions on how we will "k!ck ass" are juvenille and pure speculation. I suggest you spend your time praying for those who may ultimately have to go in harm's way and for the safety of those left behind at home. While you are out flying your airline line, your learjet, or your CFI job, some mililtary families may be dreading the blue car showing up in the driveway. That's part of the job, and we understand it...but when I see the "we are gonna rock..." posts I get the gut feeling many of you don't understand the significance of what is taking place or what your are talking about. In 1991, the fight was over LAND, and Iraq realized as long as it gave up its claim to Kuwait it could likely keep its regime in power. If we make removal of the regime the primary objective, then their leadership has nothing to lose by unleashing every weapon at their disposal to deny or retaliate-and that is where I am afraid many of the casualties could occur. I won't speculate on those actions--but I think those who think this will be 1991 all over again are completely mistaken. Its not the SA-3s over Baghdad that concern me...its SA-7s, chemical weapons, and plastic explosives around the globe in the hands of Iraqi agents.
I hope I am wrong....
military might is least worry this time

AlbieF15 said:
If you haven't been in the military, or haven't participated in combat...then your opinions on how we will "k!ck ass" are juvenille and pure speculation. . . . . . I won't speculate on those actions--but I think those who think this will be 1991 all over again are completely mistaken. Its not the SA-3s over Baghdad that concern me...its SA-7s, chemical weapons, and plastic explosives around the globe in the hands of Iraqi agents.
I hope I am wrong....

I'm not in the military (yet!), but as a civilian who's had the unique experience of living in a combat zone, I could not have said it better myself. To add a few things...

People have to realize this whole thing needs to be thought through VERY carefully. If you've not lived it, you'll get lulled into a very false sense of "order and ease of warfare" watching smart bomb footage on CNN taking out a bridge or command center or playing Falcon 4.0.

Few people here realize how complicated the politics of this situation are. What's black and white to us is 256 shades of gray when you hit the ground in the Middle East.

I personally think a new showdown with Saddam will make our operations in 1991 and recently, Afghanistan , seem like a cakewalk.

For one thing, last Autumn/Winter we had a signifigant local opposition force to do most of the ground pounding/land grabbing for us. While there are plenty of opposition groups in Iraq, few of them have been able to work as cohesively as say the groups forming the Afghani Northern Alliance. Things may be a little bit better in the North and South where the Kurds and Shia have borne the brunt of Saddam's tyrany, but in the Baath strongholds of Central Iraq, don't expect the populace to immediately understand why our presence is the best thing they could have ever hoped for.

Whether or not we'll be able to do what we'd like to do to Saddam this time around, depends less on military might than public perception. In those two previous campaigns it was not as difficult to garner public opinion in our favor. Iraq was the aggressor plain and simple. If have you haven't noticed, the world isn't exactly running to mount an offensive against Iraq these days. We have different priorities. Although it may seem wierd to wonder who wouldn't want to help rid the world of rogue nations with WMDs, the onus is on us right now to convince the rest of the world to share these priorities.

Lastly, I have heard very little of what we would do once we actually get rid of Madass. To prevent the next 30 odd years from becoming a repeat of the last 30 years, we have to be committed to the single biggest attempt at nation-building since post-WWII Germany, mainly the "de-nazification" of Iraq (or in this case the de-baathification).

While all of this is going on, you can bet every assymetric extremist ass*ole and his cousin twice-removed are going to attempt to derail the process however they can, whereever they can. These are the folks we better prepare for.

Now you don't have to understand exactly why all this is so, but you should at least understand that it is so.

When I get the chance to serve, I will gladly do so where ever that may be. I just hope that the folks in charge are savvy enough to figure out that what worked in '91 isn't necessarily what will the this time around. To succeed, will require some serious thinking out of the box. You'll do better to crack a book on military history than simply studying the specs in Jane's All The World's Armies.

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