Iraq: March 30, 2003

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Saddam's Plan For Victory

Saddam Hussein has several advantages over the coalition forces. First of all, the Iraqi leadership is literally fighting for their lives. Between the smart bombs and potential Iraqi lynch mobs, Saddam and his inner circle must either win or likely get killed. This is a great motivator, which their opponents do not have. Secondly, Saddam has the media advantage. While many Iraqis favor Saddam's overthrow, most Arabs, and most people in the world, oppose the war. There are enough short-wave radios and satellite dishes in Iraq for Iraqis to be influenced by this world wide support for the tyrant that oppresses them. This has an effect. And this world wide support gives Saddam an opportunity to win the war. This is how Saddam figures he can pull it off.

First, Saddam must trigger a "humanitarian crises." This is being done by having his armed followers attack and interfere with any attempts at bringing food, medical and other aid to the Iraqi people. Get those TV camera crews out where Iraqi civilians are suffering, and increase the suffering as much as possible. 

Second, start demanding a ceasefire so that the humanitarian crises can be attended to.

Third, if a ceasefire is obtained, even if only in part of Iraq, violate is in order to redeploy forces for continued fighting and continue harassment of aid activities. Deny the violations, of course. Blame it on uncontrollable "patriotic Iraqis" and vigorously wring hands over the suffering of the Iraqi people.

Fourth, put pressure on world opinion and UN to call for withdrawal of "invading army" from Iraq to ease the suffering of the Iraqi people.

Repeat as needed.


Anti-Aircraft Blues

The commander of air defenses in Baghdad has been fired because of the large number of surface to air missiles that have fallen back into the city and caused casualties. It appears that most of the civilian casualties in Baghdad have been caused by missiles and shells falling back to earth and hitting people. This has been a common problem for as long as anti-aircraft weapons have been used around densely populated areas. Oh, and he also got canned because he has been unable to bring down a coalition aircraft. 

The dozens of anti-aircraft radars surrounding Baghdad are rarely turned on, apparently because the Iraqis know that they will quickly be hit with a HARM missile (that homes in on the radar transmitter.) As a result, the Iraqis have been relying on firing guns and missiles without using radar guidance. For missiles, this means firing them in groups into the night sky, in the general direction of where enemy aircraft are thought to be. No coalition aircraft have been hit, but many missiles have fallen back on the city.

Daylight bombing raids on Baghdad are becoming more common, indicating that Iraqi air defenses are considered largely ineffective.

In the areas around Baghdad where the six Republican Guard divisions are deployed, coalition bombers and gunships are playing hide and seek with the enemy. The Iraqi troops are hiding themselves and their armor vehicles in villages, towns and orchards. Spy satellites, recon aircraft and UAVs scour the area for targets, and attack. However, it is known that Iraqi officers were briefed by the Serb army on how American air power was deceived during the Kosovo bombing campaign in 1999. In that case, the American bombers were deceived over 90 percent of the time as they attacked with the same weapons being used now. Perhaps in recognition of this, a lot of the air attacks have been against Republican Guard fuel and ammunitions storage sites. When you bomb one of these successfully, you see a larger "secondary explosion", as the fuel or ammo is set off. 

Iraqi deserters report increased use of terror and executions in Iraqi army units in order to prevent troops from going home or fleeing to coalition forces.

Yesterday's attack on the Ansar al Islam in northern Iraq yielded a large quantity of documents in the villages along the Iranian border occupied by the Islamic radical group. At least 130 Ansar members were killed in the attack, as well as three of that 8,000 Kurdish militiamen who made the attack under the direction of a hundred U.S. Special Forces. At least 500 Ansar members fled into the mountains, towards Iran, with Kurdish troops and Special Forces in pursuit. Some al Qaeda members were reported to be with Ansar, but so far there are no reports of them being identified among the dead or the few Ansar members captured. 



Coalition planners underestimated a number of Iraqi capabilities, and this is causing major problems now. The strength of the Iraqi political and secret police forces in controlling the population was not accurately measured. Nor was the ability of the Iraqis to keep their television and radio stations going despite heavy bombing. The Iraqi propaganda machine is a major advantage in wartime, and assists the activities of the armed Saddam supporters in southern Iraq. After the war, you'll be hearing a lot about the "intelligence failure."

In southern Iraq, U.S. and British Marines are using similar tactics to battle Saddam loyalists. The Marines are getting information from deserters, captured soldiers and civilians about who the Saddam supporters are and where they hang out. Then the Marines are sending in patrols to attack the Saddam loyalists where they live, when they least expect to be hit. This induces terror and is one reason why many of the senior Baath Party officials have fled Basra and other southern cities. The Marines are making use of massive amounts of information the United States intelligence agencies are collecting in Iraq every day. This data gives some indication of the extent of operations by armed Saddam supporters. Saddam does not have an unlimited number of people willing to fight and die for him. It would appear that his hard core fighters are limited in number. In some areas, they have been wiped out, and no replacements stepped forward. 

Why do the Arabs hate the West? It's not just Americans that are hated in the Arab world, it's the entire non-Moslem world. A lot of it has to do with the failure of Arab cultures to keep up with the rest of the world, despite huge oil wealth. The majority of the world's oil supplies are in Arab nations, yet other nations that were as poor as Arab countries were three decades ago are now much better off. What went wrong? In Arab eyes, it can't be anything that Arabs have done, or not done, but must be the result of a conspiracy to "keep the Arabs down." So while countries like South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia (a non-Arab state) prosper, the Arab world stagnates, and vast numbers of unemployed young men look for someone to punish for their dire situation. The Arabs don't want to admit that economic and political prosperity requires rule of law (most Arab states are very corrupt), education (few women go to school), hard work (much oil wealth goes to hiring foreigners to do the physical labor) and economic opportunity (corruption makes that difficult.) It's no wonder that nearly half of Arab males want to migrate, and the millions that make it to the United States do much better. But back home, it's fashionable to blame someone else and wallow in self pity and despair. It's no wonder suicide becomes a popular military weapon. The same attitudes that prevent the creation of decent government or vibrant economies also gives rise to inept armed forces. So we also have the sorry spectacle of  Arab armies being unable to  win a war, for they are not only fighting the enemy, but their own bad habits as well. 


Iraqi deserters report Saddam supporters threatening soldiers with death to their families if they dont carry out suicide bombing attacks on coalition forces. While the first few Iraqis to make these attacks will have their families rewarded, if many attacks are made, the only reward will be no killings of the suicide bombers family.

Despite all the reports of attacks on coalition supply convoys, few such attacks actually take place and most convoys never encounter any enemy fire. However, the troops in the convoys are heavily armed and quick to fire at any Iraqis that ignore warnings and get too close to them. 

Total U.S. casualties after ten days of operations are 36 dead, 15 missing, seven prisoners and 104 wounded. That's about 16 casualties a day for a force of nearly 100,000 ground troops. 

The brigade of the 82nd Airborne division has shown up at an airbase outside Nasiriyah, where it appears to be preparing for operations deeper into Iraq. The airbase is also being used by A-10 warplanes and Apache helicopter gunships. 

The 101st Airborne Division and it's 270 helicopters are working their way towards Baghdad from bases around Karbala and to the west. 


 

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