A Russian view of the war

Jim Farmelant farmelantj at juno.com
Wed Mar 26 19:17:48 MST 2003

The English translation, that appears below comes from
Venik's Aviation http://www.aeronautics.ru/news/news002/news079.htm
Stan and others, please feel free to make corrections

  Jim F.
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.

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 surrounded.

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 c
onfident 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
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)

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