Operation New Dawn
By: Henry Ani
From then on, until the final months of the war eight years later, Iraq was forced on the strategic defensive, having to face periodic Iranian offensives on one sector or another, year after year. After losing most of his territorial gains by May 1982 (when Iran recaptured Khorramshahr), Saddam Hussein’s strategic response was to proclaim a unilateral cease-fire (June 10, 1982) while ordering Iraqi forces to withdraw to the border. But Iran rejected a cease-fire, demanding the removal of Saddam Hussein and compensation for war damage. Upon Iraq’s refusal, Iran launched an invasion into Iraqi territory (Operation Ramadan, on July 13, 1982) in the first of many attempts over the coming years to conquer Basra, Iraq’s second city and only real port.
But revolutionary Iran was very limited in its tactically offensive means. Cut off from U.S. supplies for its largely U.S.-equipped forces and deprived of the shah’s officer cadres who had been driven into exile, imprisoned, or killed, it never managed to reconstitute effective armored formations or its once large and modern air force. Iran’s army and Pasdaran revolutionary guards could mount only massed infantry attacks supported by increasingly strong artillery fire. They capitalized on Iran’s morale and population advantage (forty million versus Iraq’s thirteen million), but although foot infantry could breach Iraqi defense lines from time to time, if only by costly human-wave attacks, it could not penetrate deeply enough in the aftermath to achieve decisive results.