I’m sure the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force is feeling a little jealous that the 3rd Infantry Division got to Baghdad first and is now enjoying the comforts of Saddam’s finest palaces. I have two theories, based almost entirely on wild-ass speculation and reports from “embedded” reporters, about why the 3ID got to Baghdad first.
Reason 1: Watching the 3ID in action you can’t mistake their sheer force. The most prominent feature of the 3ID so far has been the tanks. From the first few hours of the war, when the 3ID raced across the desert in a wall of steel, to now, when they’ve marched into downtown Baghdad, they did all of it with their tanks. Notice how “embedded” reporters David Bloom and Greg Kelly always seemed to be reporting from a well-protected vehicle.
Now notice the marines. The “embedded” reporters are usually on foot. Or in lightly armored vehicles. Or in helicopters. Where are their tanks?
Reason 2: Watching the 3ID in their first incursion into Baghdad, it was obvious that they were taking no chances. Every unidentified vehicle that even came near them got shot up. They steam-rolled the opposition. And, right now on live TV, they’ve just taken out the Abu Dhabi TV camera, possibly mistaking the cameraman for a sniper. This willingness to shoot things and not fret too much over civilian casualties is a major reason the 3ID is sitting in the middle of Baghdad, having taken very minimal casualties in driving hundreds of miles from Kuwait into the heart of the capital.
Now look at the marines in the south-eastern slums of Baghdad. They’re fighting on foot, going house to house and being ever so careful not to blow up houses unnecessarily. They seem to have no tanks or armored vehicles that can withstand RPG fire.
It seems to me that, if the marines had brought more armor and been willing to kill more people and break more things they might have gotten to Baghdad first.