A Russian view of the war (March 29)

Jim Farmelant farmelantj at juno.com
Sat Mar 29 19:32:44 MST 2003

The English translation, that appears below comes from
Venik's Aviation http://www.aeronautics.ru/

     Jim F.
March 29, 2003, 0924hrs MSK (GMT +4 DST), Moscow - During the
past day the situation on the US-Iraqi front remained largely
unchanged. The US is continuing reinforcing the attack group near
Karabela for a thrust toward Baghdad. By the morning of March 29 up
to 20,000 coalition troops were massed in the area of Karabela.
This forces includes up to 200 tanks, 150 artillery systems and more
than 250 helicopters. The order for the attack will be given by the
coalition commander Gen. Tommy Franks, who, according to intercepted
radio communications, will personally inspect the troops during the
next several hours.

Around 1900hrs yesterday an Apache attack helicopter crashed.
Intercepted radio communications show that the helicopter was heavily
damaged in a combat mission. The helicopter's pilot lost control
during landing and the helicopter crashed, causing serious damage
to another helicopter that landed earlier.

The coalition troops have so far failed to take An-Nasiriya despite
of the categorical orders from the command and more than 800 combat
missions by the strike aircraft. All attempts to break through the
Iraqi defense were met by Iraqi counterattacks. After 24 hours of
fighting the coalition troops only managed to advance several hundred
meters in two sectors near An-Nasiriya at the cost of 4 destroyed
armored personnel carriers, no less that 3 Marines killed by sniper
and mortar fire, 10 wounded and 2 missing in action. The exact Iraqi
losses are being determined.

The Americans have also failed to advance near An-Najaf. Every
coalition attack was met by massive artillery barrages from the
Iraqi side. Later during the day the Iraqis mounted a counterattack
throwing the US forces back by 1.5-2 kilometers. No fewer than 10
Marines were killed or wounded. After exchanging fire for six hours
both warring sides remained in the same positions. Iraqi losses in
this area are estimated to be 20 killed and up to 40 wounded.

Near Basra the British troops pushed the Iraqi defense lines on the
Fao peninsula but were unable to capture the entire peninsula. The
British advance was a maximum of 4 kilometers from the highway leading
to Basra. Radio intercepts show that in this attack the Iraqis shot
down a British helicopter. Additionally, two tanks and one APCs were
destroyed by landmines. At least 2 [British] servicemen were killed,
around 20 were wounded and 15 were captured by the Iraqis.

Exchange of fire continued in the area of the Basra airport. The Iraqis
destroyed one coalition APC wounding two coalition soldiers. The Iraqi
losses are difficult to estimate, but available information suggests
that up to 20 Iraqi soldiers and local militia members might have been
killed in the air and artillery strikes.

All attempts by the British troops to break through the Iraqi defenses
from the south along the Al-Arab river have yielded no results. The
British command reported that it is unable to storm Basra with the
available forces and will require no less than two additional brigades
and at least five additional artillery battalions. Thus, to avoid
further casualties the British are adopting defensive tactics, while
trying to maintain a tight blockade around Basra and trying to improve
their positions with small localized attacks. The British are also
maintaining pressure on the Iraqi positions on the Fao peninsula.

The psychological levels among the city's residents, according to
interviews, is far from critical. The Iraqi military made several
public announcements to the residents offering them a chance to
leave the city. However, most of the residents do not want to leave,
fearing the fate of the Palestinian refugees, who, after losing
their homes, gained pariah status in the Arab world. Basra's residents
were extremely depressed by the video footage aired by the coalition
command showing Iraqis on the occupied territories fighting for food
and water being distributed by the coalition soldiers. The city's
population views this as a sample of what awaits them if the Americans

At the Al-Kuwait airport the unloading of the 4th Mechanized Infantry
Division is continuing and is expected to be completed by the night of
April 1. During a night flight one of the US military transport aircraft
requested an emergency landing. What happened to the plane is still
being determined.

Currently the coalition command is deciding how better use the 4th
Infantry Division. The complete deployment [of the division] and
preparations for combat are expected to take at least 10 days. However,
the combat units require immediate reinforcements and it is possible
that the [4th Infantry} Division will be joining combat in stages, as
the units become ready. This will mean a considerable reduction of the
Division's combat effectiveness.

A report was obtained, prepared by the Al-Kuwait-based [coalition]
Psychological Operations Tactical Group for the [coalition] Special
Ground Forces Command. The report analyzed the effectiveness of the
information and propaganda war. According to the report, analysis of
the television broadcasts, intercepted radio communications,
of Iraqi POWs show that psychologically the Iraqis are now "more stable
and confident" that they were during the last days before the war.
This, according to the report, is due primarily to the coalition's
numerous military failures.

"...Following nervousness and depression [of the Iraqis] during the
first days of the war we can now observe a burst of patriotic and
nationalistic feelings. ...There has been a sharp increase in the
number of Iraqi refugees, who left the country before the war,
returning to Iraq. A "cult of war" against the US and the UK is
now emerging among the Iraqis...", the report states. [Reverse
translation from Russian]

[Coalition] analysts believe that if this attitude of the Iraqis
is not changed within the next 7 days, a "resistance ideology"
may take over the Iraqi minds, making the final [coalition] victory
even more difficult. In response to this report the US Army Psychological

Operations command decided to combine all Iraqi POWs into large groups
and to distribute the resulting video footage to the world media.
A more active use of the Iraqi opposition was suggested for propaganda
work in the occupied villages. The same opposition members will be used
to create video footage of the "repented" Iraqi POWs and footage of the
local [Iraqi] population "opposing Saddam."

Radio communications intercepted during the last five days suggest
that the coalition is using Israeli airfield for conducting night air
strikes against Iraq. Combat aircraft are taking off regularly from
the [Israeli] Hatzerim and the Navatim airbases do not return to the
same bases but fly toward the border with Jordan while maintaining
complete radio silence.

Possibly these are just Israeli Air Force exercises, However, [Russian]
radio intercept and radar units observe increased intensity of radio
communications coming from the Jordanian air force and air defense
communication centers during such overflights, as well as changes in
the operating modes of the US Army "Patriot" tracking radars deployed
in Jordan. This indicates the Israeli airbases as used as forward
airfield or that some of the coalition air force units are based there.
Normally the IAF F-15I fighter-bombers and A-4N strike aircraft operate
from the Hatzerim airbase and the F-16 fighter-bombers operate from
the Nevatim base.

Experts believe that these airbases may be used by the F-117 stealth
bombers "officially" based at the Al-Udaid airbase in Qatar. Using
these two locations minimizes the risk to the F-117s by allowing them
to fly along the left bank of the Euphrates (in the direction of Turkey)
and to avoid the dangerous maneuvering over Iraq.

The destruction of the telephone stations in Baghdad did nothing to
disrupt the communications of the Iraqi army. The coalition command
acknowledged this fact after analyzing the dense [Iraqi] radio traffic.
Because of that the USAF was ordered to employ the most powerful
[conventional] munitions against predetermined strategic targets. This
attacks will be carried out immediately before renewing ground advance.

(source: iraqwar.ru, 03-29-03, translated by Venik)

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