updated April 7, 2003
In order to really understand what's going on in Iraq and beyond, it's useful to have certain information at your fingertips. The goal of this briefing is to put all that basic reference material at your fingertips in one place. Link and/or cite it on your own blogs, or email it to friends who want to keep better tabs on what's going on!
If there's something you'd like to understand better but don't see included here, email me or drop a post in the Comment section. Ditto if you've got a link for an essential basic resource worth including.
- These terms baffle a lot of people: Squad, Brigade, Division, Company - just how many people is that anyway? Here's your definitive answer... at least, as definitive as we can make it.
- Soldiers, Marines, troops - what's the difference? Plenty, says Major Donald Sensing (ret). Use the wrong term, and you'll give all kinds of people high blood pressure and/or make them mad at you. Presenting the style guide you need. UPDATE: "Royal Army" is not a correct term.
- Military acronyms and terms can be sooo confusing. On a basic level, here are some key distinctions and simple terms (Hat Tip: Donald Sensing). For the rest, here's the U.S. Defense Department's military acronym glossary (Hat Tip: The Agonist).
- Military rank also confuses: since a Lieutenant is lower than a Colonel, where does a Lt. Colonel fit? That sort of thing. This page explains the various ranks and their scope of responsibility. If you're a more visual type, this chart shows the ranks and their insignias for enlisted personnel and commissioned officers.
- They're playing a major role in this campaign. Here's what Special Forces really do, complete with vivid and detailed examples. Phil Carter has additional briefing materials.
- Donald Sensing discusses the experience of being in combat.
Additional categories include:
- The mechanics and procedure of taking prisoners of war (POWs) involves the 5-S approach: search, silence, segregate, speed and safeguard.
- Basics of The Geneva Conventions and POWs. (Hat Tip: The Agonist) For more advanced posts regarding the Geneva Conventions generally, head here.
- If you want to go directly to the source regarding POWs, Yale's Avalon Project has that Convention online: Geneva Convention (III) Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War; August 12, 1949. See esp. the qualifier in Article 4 (2), which disqualifies Saddam Fedayeen and other units from its protection.
- CPO Sparkey of Team Stryker has an excellent post about human shields and the Fourth Geneva Convention. His comments that the U.S. is effectively encouraging this conduct are well taken. It's followed by this report offering the U.S. Department of Defense view. (Text of the 4th Geneva Convention, 1949).
- Note that the US is not a signatory to the 1977 additional protocols, and so it's worth evaluating "international law" claims carefully to see which parts of the Geneva Conventions they're talking about: the 4 standard conventions, or the new protocols. States are not bound by conventions they have not signed.
- For my analysis of Saddam's chemical and biological options on the battlefield, and an honest look at both allied weaknesses and potential responses, see "Devils in the Details" at Techcentralstation.com.
- Meanwhile, "Toxic Terror Tick-Tock" looks at the issue of terrorists with biochemical weapons: the past, our present, and possible futures.
- StrategyPage is updating a map that shows where it believes the units on both sides are located (Hat Tip: Stephen Green). A more detailed situation map is also available from The Agonist, but may confuse non-experts. Obviously, both maps are guesses.
- Interactive Iraq maps of everything from basic geography to deployed military forces to WMD sites.
- Here's a detailed map showing exactly where Iraq's oilfields are located. Part of a truly excellent and varied collection at the University of Texas, which includes detailed local maps as well. (Hat tip: Matt Johnson)
- The complete Iraq crisis timeline, from the liberation of Kuwait to Gulf War II. Very detailed.
- Need profiles of the allied coalition's units and a list of who's involved? Right here. Though I'm beginning to favour Globalsecurity.org's mini-site instead - please donate to help keep their excellent site going!
- The British Ministry of Defense has their own web page for "Operation Telic", with links to web pages for units and often sub-units participating, ships, and even aircraft types. Wizard.
- How about the same for Iraqi forces? If your military familiarity is closer to intermediate level and above, Jurjen offers some additional context. (Hat Tip: Letter from Gotham)
- Or Details concerning the weapons on both sides, including unconventional weapons and defenses.