The indespensable Tom Ricks has a second-guessing piece in today’s Wash Post. For what it’s worth, here is the key bit:
That attack “hopefully will be a wake-up call for everyone to realize that bypassed [Iraqi] units can live to fight another day,” one Army officer commented yesterday. He said he continues to worry that the overall U.S. invasion force — a third the size of that which ousted Iraqi forces from Kuwait in 1991 — is too small.
At the forefront of the invasion, U.S. forces are conducting what their officers call “movement to contact” operations, charging northward toward Baghdad until they hit an enemy unit that fights. Unlike the campaign to oust the Iraqi military from Kuwait in 1991, however, Iraqi forces in this war have not been subjected to weeks of B-52 bombing raids in advance of the ground invasion. The reason is that the entire U.S. strategy is built around the premise that the senior Iraqi leadership, not the military, is the enemy.
Another pillar of the U.S. approach is to minimize civilian casualties. In practical terms, that has meant the imposition of unusually restrictive rules of engagement on U.S. and British troops, who say they have been told not to shoot unless shot at. Iraqi units that are holding out in the south appeared to take advantage of those constraints.