Iraq: February 9, 2002


Increasingly worried about an American invasion, Iraq is trying to upgrade it's armed forces. With some 400,000 troops, it is less than half the force that existed before the 1991 Gulf War. But Iraq still has 2,000 tanks and 3,000 other armored vehicles. The Iraqis can put about two dozen divisions into action. The air force has perhaps a hundred 1960s era MiG fighters that can fly, plus a few dozen light bombers. About 20 percent of the armed forces are in the Republican Guard, whose main job is to protect Saddam Hussein from an army rebellion. Iraq has used a lot of the "oil for food" money to buy stuff for the armed forces (food, fuel, spare parts for vehicles, goodies for officers), while smuggling has brought in military gear that cannot get through the UN blockade. Some types of ammunition are made in Iraq. The main function of the armed forces is to protect the government from the Iraqi people. Any American attack on Iraq would have to depend on gaining the active support of the Iraqi people first. This would require the use of special forces and psychological warfare units. But under the right conditions, a few divisions and a few hundred warplanes could do it. Such campaigns have been fought like that in the past. 


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