Aeronautics.ru on the progress of war in Iraq (fwd)
Thu, 27 Mar 2003 09:57:57 -0800
Interesting bits... I have no idea how accurate this coverage is.
War in Iraq - fighting the people
March 26, 2003
The IRAQWAR.RU analytical center was created recently by a group of
journalists and military experts from Russia to provide accurate and
up-to-date news and analysis of the war against Iraq. The following is
the English translation of the IRAQWAR.RU report based on the Russian
military intelligence reports.
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March 26, 2003, 1230hrs MSK (GMT +3), Moscow - As of the morning March
26 fierce battles have resumed in Iraq along the entire front. As was
previously expected the sand storm has halted the advance of the coalition
forces. Additionally, the coalition troops were in serious need of rest,
resupply and reinforcement.
For much of the day unfavorable weather paralyzed combat activities of
one of the main attack groups of the coalition - the 101st Airborne
Division, which was forced to completely curtail all of its combat
operations. Combat readiness of this division is of strategic importance
to the entire coalition force primarily due to the fact that the division
operates 290 helicopters of various types, including the 72 Apache attack
helicopters. The 101st Airborne Division along with the 82nd Airborne
Division and the 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized) forms the backbone
of the XVIII Airborne Corps - the main strike force of the coalition.
In essence, the 101st Airborne Division provides suppression of the enemy
while simultaneously conducting aerial reconnaissance and suppression
of any newly-discovered enemy forces. It maintain constant contact with
the enemy and contains the enemy until the main forces arrive.
Currently the coalition's main forces are conducting combat operations
along the approaches to the towns of Karabela and An-Najaf.
During the past 24 hours the coalition units in these areas sustained
4 killed and up to 10 wounded. All indications are that one coalition
special operations helicopter was lost and no communication with the
helicopter could be established. The faith of its crew and the troops it
carried is still being investigated. Another two coalition helicopters
made emergency landings in areas controlled by friendly forces. Aircraft
engines were found to be extremely susceptible to the effects of sand.
As was determined by our [GRU] intelligence even before the start of
combat operations, the primary goal of the coalition command was an
energetic advance across the desert along the right bank of the Euphrates
river, reaching the central Iraq with a further thrust toward Baghdad
through Karabela. Another strategic attack was to go around Basra through
An-Nasiriya toward Al-Ammara followed by a full isolation of the southern
[Iraqi] forces, effectively splitting Iraq in half.
The first part of the plan - a march across the desert toward Karabela -
was achieved, albeit with serious delays. The second part of the plan in
essence has failed. Up to this moment the coalition troops were unable
to punch through the Iraqi defenses near An-Nasiriya and to force the
Iraqis toward Al-Ammara, which would have allowed the coalition to clear
the way to Baghdad along the strategically important Mesopotamian river
valley with Tigris and Euphrates covering the flanks of the advancing
forces. So far only a few coalition units were able to get to the left
bank of the Euphrates, where they are trying to widen their staging areas.
Additionally, the prolonged fighting near An-Nasiriya allowed the Iraqis
to withdraw most of their forces from Basra region and to avoid being
Currently the coalition forces are trying to get across the river near
An-Najaf and Karabela, where, all indications are, heavy combat will
continue during the next two days.
Harsh criticism from the top US military leadership and pressure from
Washington forced the coalition command to resort to more energetic
actions. In addition to that the shock of the first days of war among
the coalition troops, when they expected an easy trek across Iraq but
encountered stiff resistance, is now wearing off. They are now being
"absorbed" into the war. Now the coalition actions are becoming more
coherent and adequate. The coalition command is gradually taking the
initiative away from the Iraqis, which is in part due to the reliance
of the Iraqi command on inflexible defensive tactics.
Now the main tactical move of the US troops is to use their aerial and
ground reconnaissance forces to test the Iraqi defenses, to open them
up and, without entering direct close combat, to deliver maximum damage
using artillery and ground attack aircraft. The coalition has finally
stopped pointlessly moving around in convoys, as was characteristic of
the first three days of the ground war.
The tactics allowed for increased combat effectiveness and considerably
increased losses of the Iraqi side. Due to such attacks by the coalition
during the previous night and today's early morning the Iraqis have
lost 250 troops killed and up to 500 wounded. Up to 10 Iraqi tanks were
destroyed and up to three Iraqi artillery batteries were suppressed.
However, despite of the increased combat effectiveness, the coalition
forces have so far failed to capture a single sizable town in Iraq. Only
by the end of the sixth day the British marine infantry was able to
establish tentative control over the tiny town of Umm Qasr. During
the hours of darkness all movement around the town is stopped and the
occupying troops withdraw to defensive positions. Constant exchanges
of fire take place throughout the town. Out of more than 1,500-strong
local garrison the British managed to capture only 150 Iraqis. The rest
has either withdrew toward Basra or changed into civilian clothes and
resorted to partisan actions.
Near Basra the British forces in essence are laying a Middle Ages-style
siege of a city with the population of two million. Artillery fire has
destroyed most of the city's life-supporting infrastructure and artillery
is used continuously against the positions of the defending units. The
main goal of the British is two maintain a strict blockade of Basra. Their
command is confident that the situation in the city can be destabilized
and lack of food, electricity and water will prompt the local population
to cause the surrender of the defending forces. Analysts point out that
capture of Basra is viewed by the coalition command as being exceptionally
important and as a model for the future "bloodless" takeover of Baghdad.
So far, however, this approach does not work and the city's garrison is
actively defending its territory. Just during the past night at least
three British soldiers were killed and eight more were wounded in the
exchange of fire [near Basra].
It is difficult not to not to notice the extremely overstretched frontline
of the coalition. This frontline is stretching toward Baghdad through
An-Najaf and Karabela and its right flank goes all the way along the
Euphrates and is completely exposed. All main supply and communication
lines of the coalition are going through unprotected desert. Already
the supply routes are stretching for more than 350 kilometers and are
used to deliver 800 tonnes of fuel and up to 1,000 tonnes of ammunition,
food and other supplies daily to the advancing forces.
If the Iraqis deliver a decisive strike at the base of this front, the
coalition will find itself in a very difficult situation, with its main
forces, cutoff from the resupply units, losing their combat readiness
and mobility and falling an easy pray to the Iraqis.
It is possible that the Americans are relying on the power of their
aviation that should prevent any such developments. It is also possible
that this kind of self confidence may be very dangerous.
Massive numbers of disabled combat vehicles and other equipment becomes a
strategic problem for the coalition. Already, radio intercepts indicate,
all available repair units have been deployed to the front. Over 60% of
all available spare parts have been already used and emergency additional
supplies are being requested.
The sand is literally "eating up" the equipment. Sand has a
particularly serious effect on electronics and transmissions of combat
vehicles. Already more than 40 tanks and up to 69 armored personnel
carriers have been disabled due to damaged engines; more than 150 armored
vehicles have lost the use of their heat-seeking targeting sights and
night vision equipment. Fine dust gets into all openings and clogs up
all moving parts.
The coalition command has effectively acknowledged its defeat in the
information war with the strikes against the television center in Baghdad
and now further strikes should be expected against television and ground
satellite transmitters. The coalition is attempting to leave the Iraqis
without information in order to demoralize them.
The extreme length of the resupply routes and the actions of the Iraqi
reconnaissance units have created a new problem: the coalition command
is forced to admit that it has no information about the conditions on
the roads. Currently, as intercepted radio communications show, the
coalition command is trying to establish the whereabouts of more than
500 of its troops that fell behind their units, departed with resupply
convoys or were carrying out individual assignments. So far it was not
possible to establish how many of these troops are dead, captured or
have successfully reached other units.
(source: iraqwar.ru, 03-26-03, translated by Venik)