Iraq: April 8, 2003

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Hundreds of Iraqi exiles have answered the call by the Iraqi National Congress to volunteer for duty in Iraq as translators and negotiators for coalition troops. More are arriving daily and being put to work. The exiles often find themselves revisiting areas they grew up in and reuniting with friends and kin they have not seen for years. Their advice on who's naughty and who's nice is preventing a lot of embarrassing incidents. Captured Saddam loyalists have already caused problems by accusing anti-Saddam locals as being pro-Saddam. 

U.S. casualties to date are 246 (91 dead). British forces have suffered 30 dead. No reports from Australian or other coalition combat forces.

Iraqi TV finally went off the air. Before doing so, it didn't broadcast it's usual morning news show, but instead played taped propaganda videos. Apparently today's U.S. raid caused the TV news production staff to flee. Later, government radio went off the air as well. Satellite transmitters for two non-Iraqi Arab satellite news networks (including al Jazeera) were bombed as well. 

Today's armored raid into Baghdad is moving across the Tigres river into eastern Baghdad. U.S. Marines are advancing into Baghdad from the southeast. For the first time, U.S. A-10 ground attack aircraft were seen flying low over Baghdad. A-10s can operate from Baghdad airport, as can the increasing number of UH-60 and AH-64 helicopters seen over the city.

In southern Iraq, increasing numbers of civil affairs and humanitarian relief units are coming in and restoring services.

In northern Iraq, American Special Forces with the Kurdish militias are demanding that the Kurds do not enter Kirkuk (the traditional capital of Kurdish northern Iraq.) This has been done to placate the Turks, who fear the establishment of a Kurdish state in northern Iraq. The current plan is that when Baghdad falls, the Kurdish militias can enter Kirkuk and Mosul.

In twenty days of operations, coalition air forces have launched over 12,000 sorties. That's an average of only 600 a day, about 30 percent of the level of activity during the 1991 war. But the larger proportion of smart bombs being used, and improved ground observation capability, have made the bombers more than three times as effective. So far, 14,500 smart bombs and 6,800 "iron (dumb) bombs" have been dropped. 

Armed resistance to Saddam's remaining supporters is showing up in southern Iraq, with coalition troops being forced to sort things out under fire. Many of Saddam's supporters in the south and north are fleeing to Baghdad, or Syria. There has never been an armed uprising against Saddam in Baghdad. So it is to this city that many Saddam loyalists are fleeing. Once in the city, some of these men go into hiding, but others take their weapons and go off to fight the Americans. Most of those who do that quickly die. Saddam has no well trained military forces. Iraq was ruled with paramilitary thugs, whose knowledge of military tactics largely came from Rambo movies. This sort of thing doesn't work in real life, as U.S. troops are not using blanks. How else to explain the reckless and uncoordinated Iraqi attacks on U.S. forces. The American troops just mow down the Iraqis, suffering about one casualty (from the random lucky shot) for every hundred Iraqi dead and wounded. Increasingly, Iraqi troops (regular and otherwise) can be seen (by nearby journalists) fleeting when U.S. troops show up.

Even suicide attacks are not working, because strict procedures at American checkpoints stopping many attempts (Iraqis on foot or in vehicles are shot if they don't stop, and the word has gotten around quickly among Iraqis.)

 

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