The Iraqi and American armies made changes in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War, but they made those changes within the constraints imposed upon them by their political overseers and their own political cultures. Unlike other works regarding the conflicts between Iraq and the United States, which are often historical narratives of the wars themselves, this paper is a comparative analysis of the changes made and the effects they would eventually have on the two states’ respective performances in 2003.
The Iraqi Army was badly hindered by Saddam Hussein’s belief that they represented a threat to him. This suspicion caused the Iraqi dictator to form multiple rival services that competed with the Iraqi Army for men, equipment, and funding. Saddam also promoted on the basis of perceived loyalty, dismissing competent officers as threats to his power. Finally, the U.N.-imposed sanctions prevented Iraq from replacing destroyed or dilapidated weapons.
The United States Army, in contrast, engaged in an expensive effort to correct perceived flaws in its force structure. At the same time, due to budget cuts, the United States Army had to find ways to perform the same duties with fewer resources. It did so using two paths. First, it attempted to modify its equipment and force structure in order to provide soldiers with firepower that would previously have been available only to larger units. Second, it made increased use of private contractors in an effort to free uniformed soldiers for combat duties.
In the end, neither Iraq nor the United States was fully prepared for the war in 2003. Iraq’s forces were designed with internal security in mind; repelling an external enemy as powerful as the United States proved to be beyond their capabilities. The United States Army was fully capable and prepared for the initial campaign against the Iraqi Army, but it found itself unable to control the subsequent outburst of civil strife.