A Russian view of the war (March 30)

Jim Farmelant farmelantj at juno.com
Mon Mar 31 18:18:44 MST 2003

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

     Jim F.
March 30, 2003, 2042hrs MSK (GMT +4 DST), Moscow - No significant
changes have been reported during March 29-30 on the Iraqi-US front.
Positional combat, sporadic exchange of fire and active search
and reconnaissance operations by both sides continue along the
entire line of the front.

American troops continue massing near Karabela. As was mentioned
in the previous update, the US group of forces in this area numbers
up to 30,000 troops, up to 200 tanks and up to 230 helicopters.
Latest photos of this area suggest that the [US] troops are busy
servicing and repairing their equipment and setting up the support

According to radio intercepts, the coalition commander Gen. Tommy
Franks has visited the US forces near Karabela. He personally inspected
the troops and had a meeting with the unit commanders. Currently
no information is available about the topics discussed during the
meeting. However, it is believed that the [coalition] commander
listened to the reports prepared by the field commanders and
formulated the main objectives for the next 2-3 days.

The current technical shape of the coalition forces was discussed
during the meeting at the coalition central headquarters. During a
personal phone conversation with another serviceman in the US one
participant of this meeting called this technical state "depressing".
According to him "...a third of our equipment can be dragged to a
junk yard right now. We are holding up only thanks to the round-the-clock

maintenance. The real heroes on the front lines are not the Marines
but the "ants" from the repair units. If it wasn't for them we'd be
riding camels by now..." [Reverse-translated from Russian]

Based on the intercepted radio communications, reports from both
sides and other intelligence data, since the beginning of the war
the coalition lost 15-20 tanks, around 40 armored personnel carriers
and infantry fighting vehicles, more than 50 military trucks and
up to 10 helicopters. In addition to that there have been at least
40 more disabled tanks, about the same number of disabled APCs and
IFVs, about 100 disabled wheeled vehicles of all types and around
40 disabled helicopters. These numbers are based on the analysis
of non-classified technical reports received daily by the Pentagon.

During the attack last night up to two US Marine battalions
attempted to push the Iraqis out of their defensive positions near
An-Najaf. Despite of the preliminary 4-hour-long artillery and aerial
bombardment once they approached the Iraqi positions the US troops
were met with heavy machine-gun and RPG fire and were forced to return
to their original positions. One US tanks was destroyed by a landmine
and two APCs were hit during this night attack. Radio intercepts show
that 2 Marines were killed and 5 were wounded. The latest attempt by
the US troops to improve their positions on the left bank of the
Euphrates near An-Nasiriya was also a failure. Despite of all the
precautions taken to ensure the tactical surprise the US forces were
met with heavy fire and returned to the original positions. According
to the reports by the [US] field commanders, three Marines were
missing in action and four were wounded in this engagement.

These failed attacked have once again confirmed the fears of the
coalition command that the Iraqi forces were much better technically
equipped than was believed before the war. In particular, the DIA
[US Defense Intelligence Agency] intelligence report from February
2003 insisted that the Iraqi army practically had no night vision
equipment except for those systems installed on some tanks and
serviceability of even that equipment was questioned. In reality,
however, the coalition troops have learned that the Iraqis have an
adequate number of night vision surveillance systems and targeting
sights even at the squadron level and they know how to properly use
this equipment. A particular point of concern [for the coalition]
is the fact that most Iraqi night vision systems captured by the
coalition are the latest models manufactured in the US and Japan.
After analyzing the origins of this equipment the US begun talking
about the "Syrian connection". In this regard, the US military
experts have analyzed Syria's weapons imports for the past two years
and have concluded that in the future fighting [in Iraq] the coalition
troops may have to deal with the latest Russian-made anti-tank systems,
latest radars and radio reconnaissance systems resistant to the
effects electronic counter measures.

In the same area [An-Najaf] a coalition checkpoint manned by the US
Marines was attacked by a suicide bomber - an Iraqi soldier - who
detonated a passenger car loaded with explosives next to the US troops.
At least 5 of them were killed.

In a closed radio address to the coalition troops the coalition command
asked the soldiers to show "patience and restrain" and "not to let
loose their emotions and feelings of anger" [Reverse-translated from
Russian] The radio address was recorded following an incident in the
area of Umm Qasr when, in plain view of the locals, British soldiers
executed two Iraqis after finding a submachine-gun in their house;
and after a US attack helicopter returning from a combat mission opened
cannon fire on a passenger car and its occupants. It was announced
[by the coalition] that both of these incidents will be investigated.
However, military psychologists believe that these incidents are the
result of the troops being subjected to enormous stress; psychologists
say that these soldiers require medical treatment.

Near Basra the British forces have completely abandoned offensive
operations and switched to positional warfare. Isolated attacks
continue in the airport area - still not under full British control -
and on the Fao peninsula where the Iraqis continue to hold a
large staging area.

According to the British field commanders, the troops are extremely
exhausted and are in dare need of rest and reinforcements. Three
British soldiers went missing and two more were wounded in this
area during the past 24 hours.

A supply convoy of the 3rd Motorized Infantry Division was ambushed
last night to the south of An-Nasiriya. In the course of the attack
10 fuel trucks were destroyed, one escorting APC was hit, 8 troops
were wounded and 1 is missing. So far it is not known who was behind
the attack: the Iraqi army combat reconnaissance units or the partisans
operating in this area.

Analysis of the information coming from the combat zone shows a rapid
decline in the [coalition's] contacts with the media and increasing
restrictions on all information except for the official reports. For
example, since yesterday morning all phone and Internet lines used by
the coalition troops to maintain contact with relatives in the US and
Europe have been shut down at the division level and below. Not only
does this indicate that the coalition command is trying to change the
course of the information war, but this also points to a possible
upcoming massive coalition attack against the Iraqi forces and an
attempt on the part of the [coalition] commanders to prevent any
information leaks.

[Russian] analysts believe that all the talk about a "two-week timeout"
in the war is nothing more than a disinformation attempt by the
coalition. Forces and equipment currently available to the coalition
will be sufficient for at least 1-2 weeks of active combat; this is
comparable to the duration of a major combat operation. It is likely
that such an operation may take place during the next day in the area
of Karabela. Goals of this operations have already been discussed
in previous reports.

At the same time the coalition is already planning a new large-scale
operation that will utilize the new forces currently being deployed
to the region. Based on our [Russian] intelligence and that of our
allies [Russian] military experts believe that this large-scale
operation will be launched from the general vicinity of Karabela and
will develop into a wide maneuver around Baghdad from the west ending
in the area of the Tartar lake east of Al-Hadid (or east of the Tartar
lake at Samarrah). From this point a part of the force will continue
advancing toward Saddam Hussein's home town of Tikrit and from there it
will turn toward Baghdad from the north through Samarrah and Baahkuba;
meanwhile the rest of the [coalition] force will strike the rears of
the Iraqi forces fighting in the north near Kirkuk and Mosul. Such an
operation would require up to 60,000 troops, no less than 300 tanks a
nd 200 helicopters. It is believed that such forces can be put together
by April 15 and by April 18 they should be ready to attack.

Certain available information points to a serious conflict between
the coalition command and the US political and military leadership.
The [US] Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld - the main planner and
lobbyist of the military operation against Iraq - accuses the coalition
command and Gen. Tommy Franks personally of being passive and
indecisive, which [in Rumsfeld's opinion] led to the lengthening
of the conflict and the current dead end situation. In his turn Franks
in front of his subordinates calls the Secretary of Defense the "old
blabbermouth" and an "adventurist" who dragged the army into the war
on the most unfavorable terms possible. However, most [US military]
officers believe that both military leaders are responsible for the
coalition's military failures. Rumsfeld allowed gross errors during
the planning of forces and equipment required for the war, while
Franks did not show enough strength to get the right forces and the
right training for the troops in this campaign and, in essence,
surrendered to the whims of the politicians...

It is entirely possible that the future of this war will see the
departure of one of these two commanders. Some reports suggest that
Rumsfeld has already proposed to President Bush a change in the
coalition command. However, Bush declined this proposal calling it
untimely and damaging to the morale of the troops and that of the
American people.

(source: iraqwar.ru, 03-30-03, translated by Venik)

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