A Russian view of the war

Jim Farmelant farmelantj at juno.com
Mon Mar 24 20:31:50 MST 2003


Apparently, these folk are a sort of Russian version
of Stratfor, I guess with ex-KGB types as opposed
to the ex-CIA and ex-military intelligence people
at Stratfor.

Jim F.
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March 24, 2003
www.iraqwar.ru

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.

[ < previous report | next report > ]

March 24, 2003, 0800hrs MSK (GMT +3), Moscow - As of morning
(MSK, GMT +3) March 24 the situation in Iraq can be characterized
as quiet on all fronts. Attacking coalition forces have settled into
positional warfare, they are exhausted, lost the attacking momentum
and are in urgent need for fuel, ammunition, repairs and reinforcements.
The Iraqis are also busy regrouping their forces, reinforcing the combat
units and setting up new defense lines.

Exceptionally heavy fighting continued for two days and nights near
An-Nasiriya. Both warring sides employed large numbers of tanks
and artillery. More than 20,000 troops of the US 3rd Motorized Infantry
Division, supported by 200 tanks, 600 other armored vehicles and
150 artillery pieces, were opposed by the Iraqi 3rd Army Corps
consisting of up to 40,000 troops, up to 250 tanks, more than 100
artillery, up to 100 mortars and 1000 rocket propelled grenade
launchers (RPG) and anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM). The two-day
battle ended without any significant results.

The Americans have failed in trying to use their momentum in capturing
An-Nasiriya and attempted to encircle the town from the west, where
they encountered strong layered Iraqi defenses and forced to withdraw.
The Iraqi forces used this opportunity to attack the US flanks with two
brigades, breaking the US combat orders and causing panic among
the US troops. The US command was forced to halt the advance of its f
orced toward An Najaf and once again redirect several tank battalions
to support the attacked units. Nearly 6 hours was needed for the US
aviation to stop the Iraqi attack and restore combat order of the US
forces.

During the past day the coalition aviation flew more than 2,000 close
support missions in this area [An-Nasiriya]. "We can only thank God
for having air dominance!” said the commander of the US 15th Marines
Exp. Corps Col. Thomas Waldhauser in a private conversation with
one of the CNN reporters. Later the CNN journalist cited the Colonel
in a phone conversation with his editor. The conversation was
intercepted.

According to the intercepted radio traffic, the US forces have sustained
up to 40 killed, up to 10 captured and up to 200 wounded during the
fighting near An-Nasiriya. There is confirmed information about one lost
attack helicopter and an unconfirmed report about a lost ground attack
plane. The US forces have also lost up to 40 armored vehicles, including
no less than 10 tanks. Several intercepted reports by the US field
commanders stated that their troops are unable to advance due to their
soldiers being demoralized by the enemy's fierce resistance and high
losses.

Four days of continuous advance exhausted the coalition forces, which
now have settled into defensive positions nearly on every front to rest
and regroup. As of this morning (MSK, GMT +3) the coalition forces are
in control of the western part of An-Nasiriya but have no foothold on the

left bank of Euphrates. The left bank of the river is controlled by the
Iraqi
forces, which are conducting engineering works to reinforce their
defenses.
 A part of the Iraqi forces have been deployed to strengthen the defense
of An-Najaf, where they expect the next coalition attack.

Around 2300hrs (MSK, GMT +3) March 23 a British platoon was ambushed
by Iraqi Special Forces unit near Basra. Following a powerful initial
artillery
barrage the Iraqis engaged the British in close combat and destroyed
several armored vehicles. After the Iraqis withdrew the British commander

reported up to 8 killed, two missing and more than 30 wounded British
soldiers. Thus over the 30% of the unit's troops have been disabled in
the
attack. Reinforcements and medevac helicopters have been dispatched
by the coalition to the scene of the attack.

During the past day there has been a sharp increase in combat activity
in the coalition's rearguard.

Reports have been intercepted showing at least 5 attacks on the coalition

military convoys, 8 vehicles destroyed by landmines and 2 ambushes.
Iraqi special operation units are mining the roads, setting up ambushes
and conduct search and reconnaissance operations. The coalition forces
have been ordered to halt the movement of convoys during dark hours and
to provide each convoy with combat escort units and air cover.

The situation around the borderline town of Umm Qasr (population
1,500) still remains unclear. Radio intercepts and satellite images
show that the town was under constant bombardment throughout
out the night. The morning photos indicate its complete destruction. This

shows that the coalition command, fed up with the Iraqi's stubborn
resistance, ordered the complete destruction of the town using aviation
and artillery. However, according to reports by the British troops
ordered
to "clean up" Umm Qasr the town still contains many pockets of
resistance.
The overall coalition losses at Umm Qasr during the past four days
amounted to up to 40 killed and up to 200 wounded. Currently it is
impossible to estimate the Iraqi losses at Umm Qasr. As of yesterday's
morning the Umm Qasr garrison consisted of 1600 troops.

The units of the British marine infantry have failed to establish control

over the strategically important Fao peninsula. After yesterday's
counterattack by the Iraqis the British forces have been thrown back some

3 to 5 kilometers and were forced into defensive positions. Intercepted
radio communications indicate that today the British command will attempt

to regain the lost ground after spending the night reinforcing their
units on
Fao with two additional marine infantry battalions. The overall British
losses
on the Fao peninsula during the past four days of fighting include up to
15 killed and up to 100 wounded. The Iraqis lost here up to 100 killed
and around 100 captured.

A heated exchange of fire continues near Basra. The coalition units
hesitate
to enter the city and limit their actions to constant artillery and
aviation
bombardment of Basra. So far the coalition forces have failed to
completely
surround the city and to cut off the defending Iraqi garrison from the
main Iraqi forces.

The US troops continue landing in northern Iraqi territories controlled
by
the Kurds. It is expected that as early as tomorrow morning these forces
supported by the Kurdish units will make an attempt to capture the town
of Kirkuk.

Aerial strikes against Iraq continued throughout the night. A total of up
to
1,500 combat flights were carried out by the coalition aviation.
Additionally,
B-52 bombers launched more than 100 cruise missiles from the so-called
"Turkish corridor". Some 150 more cruise missiles have been launched
by the US and British naval forces.

Intercepted radio traffic indicates another lost coalition plane this
morning.
There was a confirmed loss of a "Predator" unmanned aerial reconnaissance
aircraft.

Any further advances by the coalition within the next 8-12 hours are
unlikely. The coalition command in Qatar has been in meeting since
the early morning and is expected to come up with significant changes to
the overall operational plan. According to most experts the coalition
command
made a most serious strategic error by starting the ground phase of the
operation nearly at the very start of the war. The Americans have
violated
their own doctrine where the ground phases of a military operation
coincide in time with the destruction of the enemy from the air.

The US made serious errors in their estimates of the Iraq's army strength

and combat readiness. The US military intelligence and the CIA failed to
uncover the true potential of the Iraqi forces and, in essence,
misinformed
the top military and civilian leadership of the coalition member
countries.

(source: iraqwar.ru, 03-24-03, translated by Venik)


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