Iraq: April 19, 2003


Don't let shock and awe and "three weeks to Baghdad" go to your head. The British did the same thing in 1941. And they did it with only two divisions, against an Iraqi force that was more than three times as large. There were other similarities. France, Germany and Russia all backed Iraq. In 1941, Germany even sent warplanes to aid the Iraqis (flying in via airfields in French controlled Syria). The British were in Baghdad within three weeks and Iraq was theirs. Shock and Awe? A triumph of high tech? No, just the usual result of a Western army invading this part of the Middle East. Even the Turks did not consider the Iraqis good soldiers. Lots of Iraqis did join the Turkish army, as troops and officers, and the Turks found them good for keeping the peace in Arab parts of the empire, but not particularly good for hard combat.

In Baghdad, captured documents indicate that German intelligence tried to establish an information sharing relationship with Iraq last year. The deal was basically one of feeding information to Saddam's government in return for preferential treatment in the granting of commercial contracts. 

The U.S. 4th Mechanized division is operating north of Baghdad, capturing airfields and claiming to have engaged in the divisions first combat since the Vietnam war. No details have been given. There are still hundreds of Islamic radicals in Iraq who are shooting back, as well as thousands of heavily armed bandits who will fight if cornered. There are also a growing number of tribal and religious leaders militias.

Australian commandos took possession of an airfield in western Iraq, and discovered 51 undamaged combat aircraft and a quantity of weapons. The aircraft were well camouflaged and concealed. The base had not been bombed.


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