Monday, March 31, 2003

News
In this cat-and-mouse war, the sniper is king
By Gethin Chamberlain, with the Black Watch, near Basra
31 March 2003


It was the tank crew who spotted them first, four men in civilian clothing jumping out of the back of a pick-up truck carrying a rocket-propelled grenade launcher in the heart of Zubayr.

Corporal Mark Harvey was the first of the snipers to react, dropping to his knee and fixing the man carrying the RPG in his sights, one shot, a moving target, the militia man dropping like a stone, dead before he hit the ground. A clean shot to the head.

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For the snipers, it was a rare moment of hand-to-hand fighting, the closest they had been to an enemy they normally only saw through the telescopic sights bound in dusty rags fixed atop their rifles, the long muzzles masked by more scraps of cloth, the better to prevent the glint of metal which would give their position away.
Eight days of lying in the dirt, crouched on rooftops, waiting to pick off the militia men who slipped from building to building, emerging out of the dark to fire their RPGs then disappear back into the mass of houses that make up this troublesome town.
The snipers had feared they would play little part in the battles to be fought in an open desert war, but as the Iraqi soldiers threw away their uniforms and ran back into the towns and the militia men became the true enemy, they came into their own.
In this cat-and-mouse war, the sniper was king.
Eight days and 17 kills.
This is a pooled despatch from Gethin Chamberlain of 'The Scotsman'.
Wow! I found this surprising. Guess they do have their uses afterall!The Command Post - A Warblog Collective Bob Arnot from MSNBC, embedded with I MEF, reports that the Marines are encountering success using their light armored vehicles (LAVs), of which, he says, the Fedayeen are terrified, referring to them as "the destroyers".
Posted on Mon, Mar. 31, 2003
U.S. Troops Risk Lives to Save Woman
CHRIS TOMLINSON
Associated Press

By the end of this day, the Army would fight street to street, capture and kill scores of Saddam Hussein's troops, blow up a ruling party headquarters and destroy heaps of ammunition and mortars - and rescue one elderly woman from a firefight.

It was a brief incursion, one of many probing attacks into territory controlled by the Republican Guard - deft strikes, seeking to determine the strength and positioning of opposing forces, while doling out punishment.

They lost no men, but it wasn't easy. From the very beginning officers in the 4th Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment described the mission as "hairy."

One town, one battalion.

"Yeah, hold a strategic bridge with one infantry company that has only two platoons, a hell of a mission," Lt. Col. Philip DeCamp, the battalion commander, said with a wry smile. He assigned a tank platoon to help the infantry unit - Attack Company, aka A Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry - take the bridge and search the police station.

They rolled in the early morning, and by 7 a.m had reached Hindiyah - Arabic for "Indian," an apparent reference to Indian soldiers who once served the British in Iraq.

Iraqi forces began shooting at Americans as soon as they reached the outskirts. One rocket-propelled grenade hit a Bradley at short range, punching a two-inch deep hole into its armor. The Bradley kept rolling, undeterred.

Tanks shot every military vehicle they saw, setting them on fire. One vehicle sparked and popped as hundreds of rounds of ammunition inside burned and exploded.

Fighters in civilian clothes, checkered Arab scarves pulled over their heads and faces, clutched Kalashnikov rifles as they weaved down alleyways and around shop fronts.

"There's a guy on the left, I think he's got an RPG," Sgt. Robert Compton of Oklahoma City shouted into the intercom of the commanding officer's Bradley, looking through a periscope at what he believed was a rocket-propelled grenade.

"Where? Where?" asked Staff Sgt. Bryce Ivings, the Bradley's gunner.

"Scan left," barked Carter, the commanding officer. "Open fire!"

The 25 mm cannon shook the Bradley and the smell of gunpowder filled the passenger compartment. No one stopped to see if the man was killed or wounded.

U.S. troops soon took over the center of the town and the western bridgehead. But Iraqi forces on the eastern side of the river repeatedly fired on infantrymen as they took up positions on rooftops and behind sandbagged bunkers that the Iraqis had set up on the streets to defend the city.

While the tanks blocked key intersections, it was Attack Company's job to seize the western side of the bridge and the police station. Two tanks blocked the road running parallel to the river and another barricaded the main boulevard leading to the bridge.

The troops stopped at the river, at a bridge that would have attracted little notice if it was crossing a narrow river at home. On the west side: 10 Bradleys and four tanks. On the east side, 200 yards away: Iraqi defenders, firing machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

Engineers inspected the bridge for explosives, while infantrymen scrambled to cover them. Soldiers reported that some Iraqi fighters were using women as human shields; others saw civilian pickups loaded with weapons and children riding alongside the fighters.

Suddenly, a dark blue car came racing over the rise of the bridge. A tank fired into the car, blowing it up at mid-span.

A U.S. officer was wounded in the leg when a bullet ricocheted through the open, rear door of his armored vehicle. He was evacuated, along with the Iraqi woman.

"Guys are shooting RPGs from across the river, in all those reeds," said Col. David Perkins, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade.

"Let's put some artillery in there," he said, pointing across the dark green river.

Soon 155 mm artillery shells were whistling through the sky, setting off huge explosions. Spotters had identified a building that the fighters were apparently using to resupply. It was hit by four artillery rounds, and the Iraqi resistance seemed to slow.

Meanwhile, an infantry platoon searched the police station. They found a small cache of weapons, dozens of portraits of Saddam and three prisoners who claimed to be army deserters and said they had not been fed in three days. Carter gave them some rations, and they were eventually released.

Across town, a tank company battled Iraqi troops guarding an ammunition depot. The tanks killed 20 men but captured 20 others, all wearing the insignia of the Republican Guard Nebuchadnezzar Brigade, based in Saddam's hometown of Tikrit.

This could be significant. A senior official at U.S. Central Command, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the brigade may have moved south to bolster defenses that have been devastated by the U.S.-led forces.

At the local Baath party headquarters, Attack Company's 2nd Platoon found tons of ammunition and hundreds of weapons.

"They have more weapons and ammunition than my entire company," Carter said. Smaller weapons caches were found in other locations, marked on maps hung in the police station and interpreted by an intelligence officer fluent in Arabic.

Other maps inside the party headquarters also showed the Iraqi military positions nearby and the expected route of a U.S. attack.

Engineers rigged the building with explosives, and DeCamp fired tank rounds into the burning building to make sure everything was destroyed.

As the American ended their mission, hundreds of Iraqi civilians began to fill the streets, waving white flags over their heads. The U.S. troops returned to the desert to clean their weapons and prepare for their next mission.

"That was cool, even though they didn't have anything big that could (hurt) us," said Ivings, the gunner. "It was like we walked into their living room and said, 'Bring it on!'"

Marines Resume Their Northward Push Toward Baghdad Marines Resume Their Northward Push Toward Baghdad
By DEXTER FILKINS


ILLA, Iraq, March 31 � The main column of American marines set to attack Iraq's capital raced northward today, rolling on the country's main highway to within 70 miles of Baghdad and drawing only minimal resistance.
The convoy, including dozens of tanks and some 14,000 combat troops, began its journey in the Iraqi desert and ended 40 miles away, along the newly formed front lines that Iraqi soldiers had retreated from just hours before.
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Night fell here to sounds of American artillery bombarding the remnants of an Iraqi force that soldiers said had been decimated by an American advance team early today. Two Iraqi missiles streaked across the afternoon sky, fired from a few miles up the road. Otherwise, the Iraqi guns were silent.
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We're in bad-guy country," Col. John Pomfret said, surveying this newly captured piece of Iraqi territory. "I like it."

The swift movement of the troops was made possible by the furious battle overnight, in which the marines devastated a battalion of Iraqi soldiers. An American soldier standing at the farthest edge of the American advance said that the fighting had lasted until morning and that the Iraqi soldiers had been either captured or chased away.

"The Iraqis are lying around here," Staff Sgt. Kristian Lippert said, looking into the barley fields that lined the roadway.

The Iraqis seemed to have left in a hurry. American soldiers arriving at the scene found an array of ammunition, including shoulder-fired antiaircraft rockets and a pair of surface-to-surface missiles.

The two missiles, 3 feet in diameter and 25 feet long, had been hidden aboard a freight truck in a rural neighborhood outside the city. The missiles, which appeared to be the short-range type known as Frogs, bore the recent stamps of United Nations weapons inspectors. American soldiers said the placement of the missiles in an area populated by civilians suggested that Saddam Hussein was hoping to complicate America's plans to destroy his arsenal.
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Indeed, a kind of electricity seemed to fill the air as the American forces moved northward. At last, Baghdad was getting closer again, and everyone seemed to feel it. Marine officers strutted about their headquarters compound, set up hours before in an abandoned building at the highway's edge. American jets streaked freely about the skies.

The horizon, too, offered its own display of American power. To the left, an Iraqi city glimmered in the distance. Then, with an airstrike, its lights faded black. To the right, a huge orange glow rose in the darkness, illuminating the night sky, until it, too, shrank to nothing. Seconds later, a pair of American jets skylarked to the south.

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The Marines' advance today left them somewhat farther away from Baghdad than the American Third Infantry Division, which is advancing from the southwest. As the two columns press on, their respective roles appeared to emerge: the Third Infantry Division as the main wedge, with the First Marines protecting their right flank. American officers say both divisions appear headed for significant concentrations of Iraqi soldiers soon.
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Thirteen days ago, the Army and the Marines plunged across the Iraqi border with great speed, covering more than 200 miles in four days. But with supply lines stretched back to Kuwait, they became vulnerable to attack, and last Tuesday a column of marines was ambushed. At Duwaniya, the Marines decided to stop.

Marine officers said they spent the last several days clearing the areas around them of irregular Iraqi forces. Maj. Hunter Hobson, one of the senior officers here, said the Marines had fought nearly 100 engagements in the last five days.

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Major Hobson and other officers said the Marines had decided to bypass the city of Duwaniya itself. Officers said American bombs had already destroyed a Baath Party office as well as a stadium in the town where many of the party loyalists were said to have gathered. Marines conducted raids around the outskirts of the city, which is thought to be a holdout for die-hards of the Hussein government.
TCS: Defense - To Stop a Bullet Today, U.S. infantrymen and Marines are wearing the first truly bulletproof body armor, the so-called Interceptor system. It is also, at 16.5 pounds, the lightest weight system ever used. The Kevlar vest has detachable groin and neck guards and exceptional protection at the armpits - a frequent point of vulnerability in earlier armor vests. For increased combat protection, the vest has pockets front and rear in which the soldier can insert ceramic armor plates. These plates, much lighter than steel, also offer better protection. They can withstand a modern 7.62 mm. rifle round.

In the hellish atmosphere of an infantry firefight, safety is a highly relative thing. And although the precarious game of gaining an edge in either offense or defense will continue as long as there is warfare, today's body armor gives soldiers an extra measure of confidence and protection with minimal impairment of their mobility on the battlefield.
TCS: Defense - The Mighty RPG The Mighty RPG
By Ralph Kinney Bennett03/31/2003
TCS

You're going to be hearing a lot about RPGs - rocket propelled grenades - in coming days. They are the weapons of choice for small Iraqi units that are resorting to creative guerrilla tactics because employing company size or larger units in open combat with coalition forces would be foolhardy and fatal.

Just over a week ago, Iraqi troops from the Republican Guard's Medina division gave a little clinic in helicopter ambush, meeting a line of Apache Longbow copters with a well planned and executed wall of fire from machine guns, antiaircraft guns and RPGs. The Iraqis were dispersed along both sides of a street in a residential area near Baghdad, some firing from the rooftops of houses.

The Iraqis badly damaged 30 of the Apache helicopters, foiled their attack on Republican Guard armor and sent them limping back home. They also disabled two Abrams main battle tanks - an unsettling occurrence. A counterattack and air strikes by U.S. forces killed most of the estimated 100 Iraqis involved in the ambush. But it was a lesson in effective small unit action. The Iraqis appear to have torn a page or two from tactics used by Mujahideen fighters against the Soviets in Afghanistan 1979-89. And one of their principal weapons is a Soviet-made one, the RPG-7....
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The Mighty RPG
By Ralph Kinney Bennett 03/31/2003
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TCS

You're going to be hearing a lot about RPGs - rocket propelled grenades - in coming days. They are the weapons of choice for small Iraqi units that are resorting to creative guerrilla tactics because employing company size or larger units in open combat with coalition forces would be foolhardy and fatal.

Just over a week ago, Iraqi troops from the Republican Guard's Medina division gave a little clinic in helicopter ambush, meeting a line of Apache Longbow copters with a well planned and executed wall of fire from machine guns, antiaircraft guns and RPGs. The Iraqis were dispersed along both sides of a street in a residential area near Baghdad, some firing from the rooftops of houses.

The Iraqis badly damaged 30 of the Apache helicopters, foiled their attack on Republican Guard armor and sent them limping back home. They also disabled two Abrams main battle tanks - an unsettling occurrence. A counterattack and air strikes by U.S. forces killed most of the estimated 100 Iraqis involved in the ambush. But it was a lesson in effective small unit action. The Iraqis appear to have torn a page or two from tactics used by Mujahideen fighters against the Soviets in Afghanistan 1979-89. And one of their principal weapons is a Soviet-made one, the RPG-7.

The Soviets introduced the RPG-7 (for Raketniy Protivotankoviy Granatomet) back in 1961 to give its infantrymen a weapon against NATO armor. It had several antecedents inspired by at least two World War II weapons - the American Bazooka and more particularly the German Panzerfaust.

It has since become one of the most common weapons in the world, prized by insurgent forces. The Soviets made millions of them, sold them all over the world and licensed their manufacture. It was RPG-7s that were used by Somali rebels to down two U.S. Blackhawk helicopters in Mogadishu in October 1994.

More than 40 armies use them today and they are made under license in Bulgaria, China, Romania, Pakistan, Iran, and Iraq. There are many other versions of RPGs made around the world, including the U.S. M-72 LAW, a throwaway weapon. Some propelled grenades can be fired from the muzzles of standard infantry rifles

The Soviet-designed weapon consists of a cheaply made but rugged shoulder-fired launcher. It looks a little like a crude submachine gun with leaf blower pipe bolted onto the back of it. This pipe, to exhaust the rocket flames, projects back over the shoulder of the person firing it. The RPG-7 fires a variety of slightly oversized grenades (high explosive, smoke, anti-personnel, armor piercing etc.). The grenade/warhead has a small solid-fuel rocket attached to it. This is loaded into the muzzle at the front of the launcher.

When the shooter pulls the trigger it strikes a percussion cap that ignites the rocket. A flash rips back through the barrel and out the rear of the launcher. There is very little recoil, but you don't want to be behind the launcher, as the rocket flames shoot back as much as 20 yards. As the warhead spurts out of the muzzle, folded fins spring out from the base at its rear, stabilizing its flight like an arrow.

RPG-7s have a practical range of about 50 or 60 yards in the hands of the average soldier. But in skilled hands a moving target can be hit at around 300 yards and 500 yards against a stationary target, like a bunker, is not unheard of. The launcher is rugged, easy to operate and weighs just a little over 15 pounds. If you've seen photos of guerrilla fighters all over the world chances are you've seen them carrying RPG-7s slung over their shoulders, usually with cone-shaped grenades loaded in the muzzles. Coalition forces have been coming across thousands of these launchers and grenades.

In the Soviet-Afghan war, Mujahideen fighters formed hunter-killer teams of about 20 men, with as many as 15 of them carrying RPGs. In close combat, where neither air strikes nor artillery could be employed by the Soviets (because of fratricide fears) the RPGs were deadly weapons. Their most effective use was in ambushing Soviet armor and helicopters
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The Soviets and later the Russians learned from bloody experience to deal with RPGs. They used walking "walls" of high explosive fragmentation (antipersonnel) artillery shells to clear areas. They sent screens of infantry ahead of their tanks to pick off RPG gunners. And they learned to keep vehicles and helicopters moving and in undpredictable maneuvers.

U.S. and British forces, which may have been surprised at first by the ferocity of the RPG attacks, are well trained to deal with them and are adapting. For one thing, anyone firing an RPG is in a very dangerous position. When fired an RPG gives off a large and unmistakable signature. The whoosh of rocket fire out the back kicks up dust and gravel. The round often leaves a whitish-gray trail of smoke behind it, leading directly back to the gunner. RPG gunners must move and seek cover as soon as they fire or they will be killed by counter fire from alert troops. Many a Mujahideen who paused for a moment to see the effect of his RPG round died in a hail of bullets before the Afghanis refined their tactics and learned to shoot and look later.

The RPG is still an ugly weapon in a firefight. The blast radius of one of the antitank rounds is about 4 to 5 yards. Modern body armor such as coalition troops are wearing offers a fair amount of protection but it can magnify internal injuries due to blast overpressure on those close to the exploding warhead.

Coming days should see some furious firefights as American and British troops encounter Iraqis with RPGs. In many cases, air strikes and withering suppressive fire from beyond the range of the RPGs can pretty much obviate the danger. But forewarned units taking proper countermeasures should find this venerable soldiers' weapon an annoyance but not a decisive factor in encounters as they press on toward Baghdad.
An Interesting Turn of Phrase
Did Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations let something slip about Saddam's condition on "Meet the Press" yesterday?
by Jonathan V. Last
03/31/2003 2:10:00 PM


LOST IN THE CRIES of "Vietnam" and "quagmire" yesterday was this short but very interesting exchange between Tim Russert and Mohammed Al-Douri, the Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations, on "Meet the Press":

RUSSERT: Mr. Ambassador, is Saddam Hussein dead or alive?

AL-DOURI: We start with that. I am here. I am in New York. I think that he is alive, of course, because we saw him several times on the TV.

RUSSERT: But on the TV, it could be edited or outdated footage. Why doesn't he appear holding a daily newspaper so people know for certain he is alive?

AL-DOURI: You know, anyway I think he is alive, but the question is not there because Iraq is Iraq and Saddam Hussein is the president of Iraq. Now we have to talk about the war against Iraq, against the people of Iraq, not against one person.

RUSSERT: But were Saddam Hussein or his sons injured?

AL-DOURI: I told you it is not a question of one person or two persons. . . .

What's going on here? For one thing, Al-Douri clearly hasn't spoken with either Saddam, Qusay, or Uday Hussein since the war started on March 19. But more interestingly, he remains noncommittal on whether or not Saddam is still alive. Notice how Al-Douri (who's a lawyer) lawyers his way around the question: He thinks Saddam is alive. His evidence: the handful of undated, videotaped Saddam speeches that have been released.

It's hard to think of a reason Al-Douri would be so circumspect. As a Baath party higher-up, it would seem to be in his best interest to simply assert that Saddam is alive and well no matter what.

If Al-Douri really doesn't know anything--which is entirely possible--his safest bet would be to stick with his patron, since he doesn't have any future in a post-war Iraq. If he knows that Saddam is alive, he can only help the Iraqi dictator by showing the world that he has escaped the clutches of America yet again. And if he knows that Saddam is dead, he should try to prolong the fiction of him being alive for as long as possible, knowing that if word got out, the Iraqi resistance might collapse. And who cares if we find out later that he was lying? He's not worried about maintaining credibility with Russert or the American audience.

There is one other scenario worth considering: Al-Douri's non-answer would make sense if he did know that Saddam was, for one reason or another, out of the picture, and that one of his sons was running the show. In that case, Al-Douri wouldn't want to let slip that Saddam was not in control but, at the same time, wouldn't want to appear disloyal to the new Hussein by insisting that the old tyrant was still calling the shots. It's a little thin, but it's interesting nonetheless.





Agonist/Annex: Sit Map Here is the BEST map I have seen of the war in Iraq. I suggest saving it, then viewing it from "my documents", because then you can zoom in and see the details better.
Raid Finds Al-Qaida Tie to Militants (washingtonpost.com)By DAFNA LINZER and BORZOU DARAGAHI
The Associated Press
Monday, March 31, 2003; 6:16 PM


A U.S.-led assault on a compound controlled by an Iraqi-based extremist Islamic group has turned up a list of names of suspected militants living in the United States and what may be the strongest evidence yet linking Ansar al-Islam to al-Qaida, coalition commanders said Monday.
The cache of documents, including computer discs and foreign passports belonging to Arab fighters from around the Middle East, could bolster the Bush administration's claims that the two groups are connected, although there was no indication any of the evidence tied Ansar to Saddam Hussein as Washington has maintained.
There were indications, however, that the group has been getting help from inside neighboring Iran....

Among a trove of evidence found inside Ansar compounds were passports and identity papers of Ansar activists indicating that up to 150 of them were foreigners, including Yemenis, Turks, Palestinians, Pakistanis, Algerians and Iranians.
Coalition forces also found a phone book containing numbers of alleged Islamic activists based in the United States and Europe as well as the number of a Kuwaiti cleric and a letter from Yemen's minister of religion. The names and numbers were not released.
"What we've discovered in Biyare is a very sophisticated operation," said Barham Salih, prime minister of the Kurdish regional government.
Seized computer disks contained evidence showing meetings between Ansar and al-Qaida activists, according to Mahdi Saeed Ali, a military commander.
It was unclear how strong Ansar remains.


Iraqis Welcome U.S. Marines in Shatra

By Sean Maguire

SHATRA, Iraq (Reuters) - Hundreds of Iraqis shouting "Welcome to Iraq" greeted Marines who entered the town of Shatra Monday after storming it with planes, tanks and helicopter gunships.

A foot patrol picked its way through the small southern town, 20 miles north of the city of Nassiriya, after being beckoned in by a crowd of people.
"There's no problem here. We are happy to see Americans," one young man shouted.

The welcome was a tonic for soldiers who have not always received the warm reception they expected after U.S. and British leaders told them the Iraqi people were waiting to be freed from repression under President Saddam Hussein .

"It's not every day you get to liberate people," said one delighted Marine...The ambushes have slowed the advance on Baghdad. This Marine unit retraced its steps back south down Highway 7 to Shatra after bypassing the Iraqi forces there in their rapid advance last week.

IRAQI GENERAL, FEDAYEEN FLEE

Planes dropped precision-guided bombs on four targets during the morning raid.

Tanks and armored personnel carriers then moved to the edge of the town and helicopter gunships raked the rubble-strewn target sites with heavy machinegun fire.

The targets were the local Baath party headquarters and "associated planning sites," Marine officers said.

Having entered the town, the Marines searched without success for the body of a comrade who was killed last week and whose corpse was believed to be in a hospital in the town.

They trampled over the ruins of a local headquarters of Saddam's Baath party.

Another Baath party building across the street had been set ablaze by looters who carried away sofas from inside.

Intelligence reports had suggested that Ali Hassan al-Majeed, or "Chemical Ali," the cousin whom Saddam has put in charge of the southern front, was in the town.

But Majeed, who earned his nickname for overseeing the use of poison gas against Kurdish villagers in 1988, was nowhere to be seen.

The Marines had also received intelligence reports that an Iraqi general was holed up inside the town but arrived just too late to capture him, military officials said.

"He got away just before we got here," said company commander Capt. Mike Martin. "We believe there are about 200 to 300 Baath party loyalists and Saddam Fedayeen irregulars in the town," he added.

The Fedayeen paramilitary forces had also fled.

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Sunday, March 30, 2003

Marines Build Ties With Iraqi locals in South

NORTH OF NASIRIYAH, Iraq -- On Saturday, the Marines found a cache of weapons in a tiny village along the road to Baghdad. This morning they returned for lunch with the locals. In a model of how the Marines say they hope their relationship with the Iraqi people can evolve, the two sides struck a deal: the Marines agreed to escort some villagers to a nearby well to get clean water and help repair damage caused by the fleeing Iraqi army. The village leaders agreed to go house to house, rounding up rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons that could be used against U.S. forces. The bargain was sealed with a feast cooked up by the townspeople, featuring rice, bread and goat cooked over an open fire.
Yummy! These are just the deals we need to make with every Iraqi village. Once the locals see that we're serious about protecting them from the Fedayeen, they'll help just like this.
"I was concerned because of what we found here," said Lt. Col. Christopher Conlin, who led Marines from the 1st battalion, 7th Marine regiment into town in a predawn raid. In recent nights, the Marines have suffered small arms attacks that many believe were launched by paramilitary forces loyal to the Iraqi government who disappear into the villages by day. Conlin said he wanted to see where these villager's loyalties lay. The Marines found a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and other weapons in a house Saturday. When they arrived at the outskirts of the farming village the day before, they had found Iraqi army helmets, uniforms and weapons scattered throughout the nearby fields. "It had to have been a pretty large force; there was lots of stuff," said Lt. Kohtara Terahira, 30, the battalion's intelligence officer. "They must have left in a hurry."

This morning, two platoons of Marines stormed into the mud brick village in amphibious assault vehicles to provide security. Conlin and two interpreters went house to house, asking where they could find the village elder, while the Marines took up positions on sand berms that lined the town's muddy main street. They were directed to a three-building compound at the end of the main street with a stable in the front yard for cows, horses and donkeys. Inside, Conlin said, he expressed his concerns through interpreters. A villager told him residents were getting sick from bad water, Conlin said. The group emerged smiling, and chatted for awhile, while leaning against the hood of a Humvee parked in the yard. The Marines were invited to stay for lunch in the family's front yard. For many, it was their first direct contact with Iraqi citizens they did not consider hostile. The Marines left boxes of humanitarian rations and promised there would be more to come. Conlin brought one young lieutenant over to apologize because his platoon had broken down a door in town during its patrol the day before.

Greg Serdynski, 22, a Navy corpsman from Gulfport, Miss., made balloons for the children out of rubber medical gloves. Both sides made jokes about removing President Saddam Hussein from power. The Marines bought cigarettes from the townspeople and handed out chewing gum. Some exchanged dollars for Iraqi dinars. Sgt. Steven Christopher, 23, of Derry, N.H., showed some of the Iraqis pictures of his family. "It was the best part of the war so far," said Christopher. "Up until now I wasn't sure they wanted us here, but they seemed really friendly. It was like the cowboys sitting down with the Indians."

Others acknowledged that one warm reception does not make them safe in the countryside. "I'm not saying I'd want my own kids to walk down the center street," said Conlin, who added that he hopes today's scene can be repeated as the Marines continue to push toward Baghdad. "I do feel more comfortable here now," he said. "I can say that."
toledoblade.com
War on terrorism | Article published Sunday, March 30, 2003
Legendary U.S. units battle in Iraq


(THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH)

Army Maj. Robert Schaeffer is a former member of the 3rd Infantry Division.
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By GEORGE J. TANBER
BLADE STAFF WRITER


When the U.S. Army�s 7th Cavalry - the unit once led by George Armstrong Custer - goes marching into Baghdad, it won�t be on horseback. Rather, Abrams Battle Tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles will be the soldiers� travel mode.

Members of the Army�s 101st Airborne Division won�t be parachuting into the Iraqi capital, as the division did in Normandy on D-Day. Rather, they will arrive by Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters.

Sixty-one years after they fought at Guadalcanal in the South Pacific, Marines with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force are carrying the Stars and Stripes in a different battle, a new kind of war.

Many of the divisions, brigades, battalions, and other units comprising the 90,000 U.S. troops fighting the war inside Iraq are familiar names from other conflicts, some of them going back as far as the War of 1812 and the post-Civil War period. Their goal is the same - win the war - but methods have changed....

The 3rd Infantry, which includes the 7th Cavalry�s 3rd Squadron, is one of the most storied units in Army history, with 49 Medal of Honor winners, including the late Audie Murphy, World War II�s most decorated American soldier. Dubbed the "Rock of the Marne" for its successful defense of Paris against the Germans in World War I, the unit, first commissioned in 1917, has played an important role in every war since, including the Persian Gulf War....
Among the units leading the way in Iraq is the 7th Cavalry, one of the most recognizable names in military history. Organized in 1866 at Fort Riley, Kan., the 7th Cavalry played a prominent role in the country�s western campaigns against Native Americans. Most notable was the defeat of Lt. Colonel George Custer, who had been a dashing young cavalry general during the Civil War. He and five companies of the 7th Cavalry were defeated at Little Big Horn in 1876 by the Sioux and the Cheyenne, during which 261 soldiers died, including Custer, a native of Monroe.

In Iraq, the 7th Cavalry�s 3rd Squadron, consisting of 800 soldiers, is performing a considerably different task than it did in the days of the Wild West, when it was a key fighting unit.

"They are out in front of the division assessing what the enemy is up to," Mr. Olson said. "They can put up a good fight if they have to, but they are [primarily] scouts."

Moving side by side with the 3rd infantry as they approach Baghdad is the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, another famous outfit whose roots can be traced back to U.S. involvement at Cuba�s Guantanamo Bay in the decade after the Spanish-American War. The force�s 1st Marine Division helped lead the way at Guadalcanal, the first major American offensive of World War II, and played key roles in Korea and Vietnam.

Also moving toward Baghdad is the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which has a more current history. The 2,000-member unit was the first Marine outfit on the ground in Afghanistan last year.

Among the units providing air support for the Marines and the Army are the Army�s 101st Airborne (Air Assault) and 82nd Airborne divisions. Both were immortalized in military history for their night drop of paratroopers behind German lines in Normandy in the hours before the full D-Day invasion during World War II.

The 101st gained fame in the Gulf War with a deep air assault into Iraqi territory. Nicknamed the "Screaming Eagles," the division has changed from its paratrooper days.

"They used to be pure airborne, where they jumped out of planes. Now they go into battle with Black Hawks and Chinooks," Mr. Olson said.

As the 101st Airborne, 7th Cavalry, 3rd Infantry, and 1st Marine units move toward Baghdad, another legendary unit is at work in northern Iraq. About 1,000 paratroopers in the Army�s 173rd Airborne Brigade parachuted in last week and secured an airfield to prepare for the arrival of coalition tanks and armored vehicles.

The 173rd, which began as an infantry brigade during World War I, became American�s first major ground combat unit in the Vietnam War in 1965. It carried out America�s only combat parachute jump of that war. The names of nearly 1,800 members of the 173rd, known as the "Sky Soldiers," are chiseled into the Vietnam Memorial in Washington.



fresnobee.com | Local News The 3rd Infantry and the 60,000-man 1st Marine Expeditionary Force are poised to attack two and perhaps more Iraqi Republican Guard divisions in the next few days, after Air Force planes and Army helicopter gunships have pounded the Iraqis' positions a bit more, according to senior U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.
At the same time, the officials said, the 101st Airborne Division will move to block other Republican Guard divisions north of Baghdad from reinforcing the two divisions that are blocking the American advance from the south.
Cargo planes flew military supplies into northern Iraq after 1,000 American airborne troops parachuted in to secure an airfield.
One source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said additional personnel were being flown in, and that an early objective would be securing the northern oil fields near Kirkuk. Invading forces took control of southern Iraqi oil fields in the early hours of the ground war.

After fits and starts, real war begins
Conflict in Iraq becomes a more traditional battle than expected
Sunday, March 30, 2003
BY JOHN HASSELL
Star-Ledger Staff


So far, the effects have not been debilitating. The Marines' 1st Expeditionary Force has been pressed into guerrilla-hunting missions that have prevented it from moving as quickly as planned against Saddam's eastern flank, and some advance troops have been forced to subsist on reduced rations. But military analysts say the shortages and stop-and-go movements have not altered the fact that coalition troops continue to move on Baghdad.

"It's inevitable that supply lines will be hit," said Patrick Garrett, a senior fellow at GlobalSecurity.org, a defense policy think tank in Alexandria, Va. "They are soft targets and a natural mark for guerrillas." But, he added, "supply routes are redundant systems, and there are multiple ways to get things to the front."

Coalition forces proved that late last week when they opened the mothballed airport at Tallil, just five miles from Nasiriya. By seizing control of the facility and ridding it of booby traps, U.S. soldiers created a platform for C-130 transport planes to deliver tons of supplies far up the supply line.

In the end, Garrett said, the damage inflicted by Iraqi paramilitaries and regular troops may buy Saddam some time. But as the seizure of Tallil's air base made clear, "the coalition troops will get to Baghdad, one way or the other."

At that point, military experts said, the real war will begin -- an urban conflict in the Iraqi capital that will define victory or defeat. When that day comes, Nash predicted, no one will remember the Iraqi army's early successes in the south.

"Six months from now," he said, "you won't remember this."
More Iraqi fighters surrendering to U.S. troops
By Meg Laughlin, Knight Ridder
European edition, Monday, March 31, 2003
NEAR AN NAJAF, Iraq � As a U.S. Army Humvee made its way down a sandy route several miles south of here Sunday morning, seven Iraqis in dusty robes, trousers and sandals appeared on the side of the road.

Army Command Sergeant Major D. Woods jumped out of the vehicle, pointed his M9 pistol at the seven men and motioned them to get down. Prone with their hands locked behind their heads, the men allowed Woods to search them.

They had no weapons but carried military papers. Woods radioed the 101st Airborne to take them to a nearby POW holding camp.

Throughout the day, the same story repeated itself time and again. Over the weekend, the number of POWs at the camp increased from 100 to about 1,000 as desertions by scared and hungry Iraqis contributed to the attrition of Saddam Hussein's forces.

But the increased number of desertions also has made soldiers more alert, amid reports of ambushes by Iraqi fighters pretending to surrender.

"We are suddenly seeing a drastic escalation in Iraqi soldiers and conscripted men turning themselves in," said Capt. John Wilson of U.S. Army intelligence.

In fact, all day Sunday, the radios at Rams, a huge Army combat support base near An Najaf, broadcast incidents of Iraqi soldiers and paramilitary men asking U.S. troops to take them into custody.

An English-speaking Iraqi farmer, whom Woods knew, met him on the road and translated for the seven men:

"They say they are soldiers from different units," said the wheat farmer. "They do not want to fight and say they will be shot if they don't. They are asking for protection. They are very thirsty and hungry."

Woods' driver got a stack of vegetarian MREs (meals ready to eat) and seven 1.5 liter bottles of water out of the back of the Humvee and passed them out.

The Iraqis, in their 20s and 30s, gulped down the water and tore into the MRES, eating crackers, dry flat bread and cold, processed pasta and rice with their hands.

They were exceptionally docile � afraid to look up and quick to flatten out on the ground. Woods told the translator to tell them they wouldn't be hurt and to relax.

"I couldn't get over how accommodating and passive they were," he said later.

By noon, the POWs were in the back of a 101st Airborne truck, en route to a holding camp, an hour south of An Najaf.
Yahoo! News - Myers: U.S. Controls Terror Camp in Iraq

U.S. and British forces now control the compound, which belongs to the group Ansar al-Islam, said Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, describing it as a site "where Ansar al-Islam and al-Qaida had been working on poisons."


"We think that's probably (from) where the ricin that was found in London came," he told CNN's "Late Edition." "At least the operatives and maybe some of the formulas came from this site."


British police raided a London apartment in January and found traces of ricin, a powerful poison made from the beans of the castor plant. U.S. officials have said since shortly after that raid that they believed the poison and those arrested were linked to Ansar, which operated in a small enclave inside territory controlled by autonomous Kurdish factions in northern Iraq.


U.S. officials said before the war that they had evidence that Ansar had tested chemical and biological weapons on livestock and possibly on people at the site.


U.S. and British aircraft and missiles pounded the Ansar compound for days, and U.S. AC-130 gunships also attacked before coalition and Kurdish ground forces went in, Myers said. The site has many underground tunnels to search "and it may take us a week to exploit that," he said.


Myers said officials were examining laptop computers and documents found there.


Ricin is relatively easy to make from castor beans and highly deadly in small quantities. There is no treatment or antidote for the poison, which can take days to kill.




NYPOST.COM Post Opinion: Oped Columnists: TRAGEDY OF THE ARABS By RALPH PETERS
The most important thing for Americans to grasp about the impotent fury of the Arab world is that it isn't really about us. It's about their own internal demons.

The absurdities broadcast and printed throughout the Arab world are symptoms of a once-great culture's moral desolation, of the comprehensiveness of Arab failure. The Arabian Nights have long since turned into the Arabian nightmare.

The inability of the Arab world to compete with the West in any field of endeavor (even their efforts at terrorism ultimately fail) has been so devastating to the Arab psychology that they are desperate for someone to blame for what they and their grotesque leaders have done to their own culture.

Without the United States - and, of course, Israel - as excuses for Arab political squalor, Arabs might have to engage in self-examination, to ask themselves, "How have we failed so badly?"

They prefer to blame others, to sleepwalk through history, and to cheer when tyrants and terrorists "avenge" them.

On one level, Arabs know that Saddam Hussein is a monster. They know he has killed more Arabs than Israel ever could do. Saddam has been the worst thing to happen to Mesopotamia since the Mongols razed Baghdad. But Arabs are so jealous and discouraged that they need to inflate even Saddam into a hero. They have no one else.

But the obstacles Arabs have erected for themselves are enormous. For all of the oil revenue that has flowed into the wealthier Arab countries, consider the overall state of the Arab world:

* It does not produce a single manufactured product of sufficient quality to sell on world markets.

* Arab productivity is the lowest in the world.

* It contains not a single world-class university.

* The once-great tradition of Arab science has degenerated into a few research programs in the fields of chemical and biological warfare.

* No Arab state is a true democracy.

* No Arab state genuinely respects human rights.

* No Arab state hosts a responsible media.

* No Arab society fully respects the rights of women or minorities.

* No Arab government has ever accepted public responsibility for its own shortcomings.

This is a self-help world. We can't force Arab states to better themselves. If Arabs prefer to dream of imaginary triumphs while engaging in fits of very real savagery, they're their own ultimate victims.

Is there any hope? Yes: Iraq.

While building the Iraq of tomorrow must be done by the Iraqis themselves, we would be foolish not to give them every reasonable assistance.

With their oil reserves, a comparatively educated population and their traditionally sophisticated (compared to other Arabs) outlook, the Iraqis are the best hope the region has of building a healthy modern state.

It isn't going to be easy, and it is going to take years, not months. But the Iraqis have the chance to begin the long-overdue transformation of Arab civilization.

For all the shouting and hand-waving in the Arab world, the truth is that Arabs have a deep inferiority complex. They're afraid they really might not be able to build a successful modern state - to say nothing of a post-modern, information-based society.

If Iraq could do even a fair job of developing a prosperous Arab democracy that respected human rights, it could be an inspiration to the rest of the states in the region - and beyond.
Marines make short work of Iraqi regulars
Soldiers feel lucky they've not encountered more competent attackers


By Matthew Fisher
National Post

Bravo Company was out playing possum Sunday morning, checking one of the many roads to Baghdad, when they were jumped by Iraqi forces holed up in mud-brick houses.

As dogs slumbered and hens and chickens scurried about, the Marines got off the first shot after being surveyed by two truckloads of men in civilian garb who suddenly ducked into a building and began preparing their weapons to fight.

The Iraqis responded to the Marines' fire with light and heavy machine guns and 120mm mortars. Though pummelled by the Marines' artillery, the Iraqis kept coming back for more.

"They were just driving up to the fight in buses and taxis and jumping out," said Lieutenant John Voorhees. " One of those buses is now a terrain feature, because I promise you it is never going anywhere again."

Several of the Iraqi mortars nearly found their mark. One light armoured vehicle lost four tires and got a bullet through a gun sight. Helicopters provided reconnaisance for the Marines from the margins of the battle, which took place in a village on the outskirts of a city in north central Iraq.

"It was pretty wild for awhile," said Lieutenant George Bartimus, plucking a piece of shrapnel from the body armour around his neck.

"I don't know what it is about us 1/8Bravo Company 3/8, but the Iraqis really seem to want to fight us."

One by one the Iraqi guns were snuffed out and the Marines withdrew, leaving the tanks and Cobra attack helicopters to finish the operation.

The firefight gave the Pentagon and the Marines a foretaste of the far heavier fighting that is expected when U.S. forces begin to confront elite Republican Guard and Special Republican Guard units near Baghdad.

Those who thought before the war began 12 days ago that the Iraqis would not fight and would surrender en masse have been proven wrong. But Captain Cesar Rodriguez was not impressed by the Iraqi forces his men met in battle yesterday.

"We learned through our interpreter that these were regular army units and civilians who had been made to fight," Capt. Rodriguez said.

"There was no coordinated defence. Their mortar fire was unadjusted throughout the fight and they were using a built-up area for cover."
Yahoo! News - Troops Prepare for Possible Urban Warfare Marines Press 'Seek and Destroy' Missions:

SOUTH-CENTRAL IRAQ - Thousands of U.S. Marines pushed north toward Baghdad in "seek and destroy" missions Sunday, trying to open the route to the Iraqi capital and stop days of attacks along a stretch that has become known as "Ambush Alley."

Charging into previously unsecured areas, the Marines tried to provoke attacks in order to find Iraqi fighters and defeat them. A chaplain traveling with them handed out humanitarian packages to distrustful Iraqi civilians encountered along the way.

In Najaf, 100 miles south of Baghdad, the 101st Airborne division encircled the city Sunday, severing inroads and preparing to go door to door to root out paramilitary supporters who have waged stiff resistance for days.

"This is our type of fight," said Command Sgt. Maj. Marvin Hill. "This is probably the most dangerous part of combat, and that's urban. Sometimes you don't find out who the enemy is until they're shooting at you."
story from rantburg, along with interesting comment from a reader 120,000 more US troops receive orders for Iraq war front
120,000 more US troops receive orders for Iraq war front
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ordered the deployment of 120,000 more troops to the Iraq war battlefront, the European edition of the American military daily Stars and Stripes reported Friday. Once the soldiers arrive, more than half of the US army and Marine Corps will be stationed in Iraq. The reinforcements will not be ready for combat for at least three weeks. The new troop contingent include the first soldiers from the heavily armored Army 4th Infantry Division, parts of the 1st Armored Division and the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment. US military leaders had to adjust their war strategy following the fierce resistance of Iraqi military forces.
Posted by Fred Pruitt 3/29/2003 16:00|| E-Mail|| Comment|| Link|| Top||

2ACR is an interesting unit. They have been built for the purpose of fighting irregulars along a long line of contact. All Humvee w/TOW, with helicopter support and integral artillery. Light to lift, easy to resupply, extremely mobile. Add to that the doctrinal emphasis on scouting, small unit engagement, mobility, infiltration, screening and counter-infiltration, and also the training in those skill sets, they are far different from "Regular Army" units. Plus there is an Elan that goes with having a continuous history that goes back farther than any other active duty unit in the US Army (continuously active since 1836). I served there in the last war - see the regimental page and read up on the history.

http://www.jrtc-polk.army.mil/2acr/index.html

This is the unit that will shock the snot out of the Feydaheen and irregulars by beating them at their own game.
Posted by: OldSpook 3/29/2003 7:55:12 PM

Saturday, March 29, 2003

NY Daily News - World and National Report - Iraqis targeted W ranch Iraqis targeted W ranch
Terror team tried to sneak into Texas through Mexico
By JAMES GORDON MEEK
DAILY NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU
WASHINGTON - An Iraqi terror team armed with millions of dollars tried to get smuggled into the U.S. through Mexico to Crawford, Tex. - the site of President Bush's ranch, a law enforcement source said yesterday.
The alarming attempt to infiltrate the country occurred this month, the source said.
It is not known what the Iraqis planned to do in Crawford, but Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein tried to assassinate Bush's father, the former President George Bush, in 1993.
The unidentified Iraqis wanted to hire smugglers to sneak them into the U.S. because they "wanted to get to the Crawford ranch," according to the well-placed law enforcement source. They also asked a Mexican doctor and a lawyer named Claudio to change about $100 million in Iraqi dinars into U.S. currency - about $325 million.
nationalreview MAR. 29, 2003: BAD KARMA
There is more, much more, than is being reported about the suicide bombing that killed four Americans earlier today. And from a very credible source, I have heard enough to convince me I had to correct something I wrote this morning. This suicide attack does represent an evolution of this war to something far uglier than we may be prepared to deal with. The suicider was not, as the Iraqi vice president announced, an Iraqi army officer. He was a member of Hamas--or possibly a Saudi--and one of many terrorists that are embedded throughout Iraq. This is no longer a war to remove the threat of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction and liberate Iraq. Yes, those still are part of our objectives. But it is--much more--a war between our conventional forces and most of the terrorist world.
For many years, Saddam paid a bounty to Palestinian terrorists or, rather, to their survivors. The going rate now is about $25,000 per bomber with bonus money for those who manage to kill more than a few Israelis. Saddam has called in the chips with Hamas, and hundreds of its members are in Iraq. The reports of Hezbollah terrorists coming down from Syria would be old news to the Iraqis. Hezbollah, al Qaeda, and many other terror organizations have been sending their thugs to Iraq for months.
The "Saddam fedayeen" are, in part, a fiction. Yes, there are mostly thugs recruited from Iraq's prisons, given a gun and a uniform and turnturned loose to terrorize the populace. But among them, and also operating independently, there are hundreds of others who are not Iraqi.

Perhaps the only good thing Saddam has done in his thirty years oppressing Iraq is to reduce the number of mullahs in Iraq to a very small group. Religious fanaticism hasn't been a feature of Iraqi society, and Saddam's government is secular. Earlier tales of bin Laden's hatred of him may be true, but in true mafia style, they can work together against the common enemy, freedom.

In preparation for this war, while we diddled with the U.N. for the past five months, Saddam has been welcoming terrorists in by the truckload. And now,
it is they who are fighting, and preventing regular Iraqi units from surrendering. They are also at the heart of the atrocities we are seeing, and will continue to see. Especially the civilian deaths that the Iraqis are trying to lay at our door.

The Command Post - A Warblog Collective 10:18 PM EST | 6:18 AM Iraq | Saddam's Bodyguard Seen - Where's Saddam?
Fox has shown recent Iraqi video showing Saddam's familiar bodyguard (normally seen standing behind him). However, the bodyguard is standing behind a different Iraqi official, and Saddam is nowhere to be seen. Intelligence sources were "stunned" to see this - they have never seen the bodyguard except in Saddam's presence.
The mystery of Saddam's fate deepens.
USATODAY.com - Baghdad bombings continue as allied forces face 'dirty' tactics One overriding impression left on U.S. troops by the first week's combat is that the Iraqis have developed an elaborate set of "dirty" tactics to capitalize on Americans' reluctance to endanger civilian lives. According to troops here, Iraqi forces have:

Forced women and children to act as human shields in buildings occupied by Iraqi troops.
Located headquarters in schools, day care facilities and, in one case in Nasiriyah, a children's hospital. More than one Iraqi prisoner of war has told American troops they do not need to worry about bombing schools because the schools have all been turned over to Iraqi militia forces.
Lured U.S. forces into an ambush by pretending to surrender.
Positioned artillery in residential areas so that even when radar systems locate it, U.S. commanders won't pummel it.
Used ambulances with the Red Crescent symbol � the equivalent of the Red Cross � as personnel carriers, ferrying reinforcements to Iraqi positions under the noses of U.S. troops.
Worn U.S. uniforms.
Forced women and children to retrieve dead Iraqi troops and their weapons.
Forced Iraqi civilian men and regular soldiers to fight by threatening to kill them and their families if they refused.
The Iraqi troops using these tactics are, for the most part, not regular army soldiers, said Army Maj. Gen. Buford Blount, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division. Rather than rely on his regular soldiers, Saddam has pushed up to 30,000 of his most loyal paramilitary troops south from Baghdad into the towns and cities of southern Iraq, Blount said.

U.S. leaders had expected those troops to remain in Baghdad to protect Saddam's regime.

Sunday Herald The Western press is currently fixated on the Fedayeen, and little wonder. Not only are its suicide squads, which are now claiming allied lives, the main tactic of Iraqi resistance, but this cadre of men -- who sometimes wear white jumpsuits and balaclavas, symbolising the death shroud they will wear when they martyr themselves for Saddam -- has carried out appalling atrocities against its own people. But the Fedayeen, despite the suicide squads it has now dispatched into southern Iraq, is just one of a series of Iraqi special forces, elite units and paramilitary irregulars who hold sway in Saddam's regime and are now forcing the coalition forces to redefine their combat strategy in the deserts and cities of Iraq.
Jeremy Binnie, the Middle East editor of Jane's Sentinel Security Assessments, says: 'The Iraqi regime has surrounded itself with concentric circles of military, security and paramilitary units. Each one offsets the power of the other.
Yahoo! News - Iraqi civilians feed hungry US marines
CENTRAL IRAQ (AFP) - Iraqi civilians fleeing heavy fighting have stunned and delighted hungry US marines in central Iraq (news - web sites) by giving them food, as guerrilla attacks continue to disrupt coalition supply lines to the rear.

Sergeant Kenneth Wilson said Arabic-speaking US troops made contact with two busloads of Iraqis fleeing south along Route Seven towards Rafit, one of the first friendly meetings with local people for the marines around here.
"They had slaughtered lambs and chickens and boiled eggs and potatoes for their journey out of the frontlines," Wilson said.
At one camp, the buses stopped and women passed out food to the troops, who have had to ration their army-issue packets of ready-to-eat meals due to disruptions to supply lines by fierce fighting further south.
Buffalo News - U.S. covert teams at work Lethal agents hunting Saddam loyalists

By DANA PRIEST
Washington Post
3/29/2003
Associated Press
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said it is "certainly within the president's power" to order assassinations.
WASHINGTON - U.S. covert teams have been operating in urban areas in Iraq trying to kill members of President Saddam Hussein's inner circle, including Baath Party officials and Special Republican Guard commanders, according to U.S. and other knowledgeable officials.
The covert teams, from the CIA's paramilitary division and the military's special operations group, include snipers and demolition experts schooled in setting house and car bombs. They reportedly have killed more than a handful of individuals, according to one knowledgeable source. They have been in operation for at least a week.
The previously undisclosed operation suggests U.S. government efforts to destroy the government leadership are far more extensive than previously known, and have continued since the March 20 airstrike on a residential compound in the suburbs of Baghdad.
Yahoo! News - U.S. Orders 4-6 Day Pause in Iraq Advance-Officers U.S. Orders 4-6 Day Pause in Iraq Advance-Officers
1 hour, 58 minutes ago Add Top Stories - Reuters to My Yahoo!



CENTRAL IRAQ (Reuters) - U.S. commanders have ordered a pause of four to six days in a northward push toward Baghdad because of supply shortages and stiff Iraqi resistance, U.S. military officers said on Saturday.

They said the "operational pause," ordered on Friday, meant that advances would be put on hold while the military tried to sort out logistics problems caused by long supply lines from neighboring Kuwait.
Food rations have been cut for at least one frontline U.S. unit and fuel use has been limited.
The U.S.-led invasion force would continue to attack Iraqi forces to the north with heavy air strikes during the pause, battering them before any attack on Baghdad, they said. The officers declined to be named.

"We have almost out-run our logistics lines,"

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Historic change seems to be at hand in Iraq, where "the Shiites are going to have more power than at any time in the history of the nation," the Bush aide said.
.
The postwar upheaval, according to Gerecht, will enable the Shiites to gain "a political and military role that their numbers and social, cultural and commercial prominence have long warranted."
.
According to CIA statistics, Shiites account for at least 60 percent of Iraq's 25 million people, but Sunnis, comprising less than one-third of the population, have commandeered most of the controlling positions in the ruling Ba'ath party, armed forces, industry and media.
.
The prospect of seeing the Iraqi Shiites breaking the mold "makes a lot of people nervous in status quo nations in the Gulf," according to an Arab ambassador in Paris.
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Among the world's 800 million Muslims, Sunnis outnumber Shiites by 10 to 1 - and they dominate every Arab country ranging from Morocco to Egypt and Iraq.
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But the Shiite minority concentrated in the Gulf sits atop many key oil-producing regions, including southern Iraq and nearby Saudi Arabia's petroleum-rich eastern province.
.
Most importantly, Iran, while not an Arab country, is a Shiite nation run by radical clerics embodying the zealous fervor often associated with the Shiite schism in Islam from the dominant Sunni orthodoxy.
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Because of Iran's proximity, Iraq's Shiites have often been suspected by Arab leaders of being a
Washington Post:
One day the Marines found Iraqi paramilitary forces using a hospital in Nasiriyah as a base to stage their hit-and-run missions
. "We went to a hospital and a doctor started to shoot at us," said Khalid Al Anzi, 34, a Kuwaiti working as an interpreter for the Marines. "The Marines don't shoot back, they talk and they call the other people to come out."

In the end, after hours of patience surrounding the building, Marines took 170 Iraqis captive and found 200 weapons, loads of ammunition, 3,000 chemical protection suits and even a tank in the hospital compound, officers have said.

The situation left Al Anzi fighting off tears as he sat in a recovery tent today with his friend and fellow translator, Duaij Mohammed, 32, who was sliced by shrapnel. "Bad, bad, bad situation there," Al Anzi said softly. "Believe me, if you see with your own eyes, you would cry."

Woolhether saw it with his own eyes and could not believe it. Just years out of high school, the young corporal from Wisconsin was part of a unit preparing to move forward to the first bridge on the east side of Nasiriyah when suddenly it was attacked from behind. Iraqi fighters had somehow flanked them and attacked from the southeast.

"You lay there on the ground," recalled Woolhether. "You don't know where that [stuff] is coming from. Five feet to the right isn't any safer than five feet to the left."

The Iraqis sprayed their automatic weapons fire and rocket-propelled grenades until they began blowing up U.S. military vehicles parked at an abandoned gas station south of the first bridge. "All they were doing was panning left, panning right, leaving the men happy to hit something," said Gunnery Sgt. Terry Hale, 32. "If they hit something that exploded, they would keep firing at it."

One of the rocketed grenades hit close to Cpl. Willie Anderson, 23, from Bossier, La., "I saw about five people standing behind the building," he said. "They got a (expletive) RPG," he added, referring to a rocket propelled grenade. "All I could do was cover my face. It blinded me and knocked me back. That's all I remember."

With bullets and shrapnel flying, the Marines eventually called in artillery on their own position -- and then jumped over a wall to take cover from their own guns.

Hale, who broke his leg scaling the wall to avoid the U.S. artillery, served during the 1991 Persian Gulf War but said he never saw anything like Nasiriyah. The Marines, he said, found tanks dug into the ground in wait for passing U.S. convoys and small caches of weapons everywhere so the irregular fighters could simply walk up, grab prepositioned guns and open fire.

"They were waiting for us," he said. "It was unreal. It was something you don't ever want to have to go through."
FOXNews.comProtesters Throw Stones at National Guardsman
Thursday, March 27, 2003

MONTPELIER, Vt. � A group of Vermont teen-agers threw rocks at a uniformed female Vermont National Guard sergeant last week, in the latest example of a service member facing hostility in the United States.
National Guard spokesman Capt. Jeff Roosevelt said the woman was not injured in Friday's incident, which took place in Plainfield, but said the woman had decided she would no longer wear her uniform outside of work.
Al-Qaeda fighting with Iraqis, British claim - War on Iraq - smh.com.au Al-Qaeda fighting with Iraqis, British claim
March 28 2003, 9:41 AM




Near Basra, Iraq: British military interrogators claim captured Iraqi soldiers have told them that al-Qaeda terrorists are fighting on the side of Saddam Hussein's forces against allied troops near Basra.

At least a dozen members of Osama bin Laden's network are in the town of Az Zubayr where they are coordinating grenade and gun attacks on coalition positions, according to the Iraqi prisoners of war.

It was believed that last night (Thursday) British forces were preparing a military strike on the base where the al-Qaeda unit was understood to be holed up.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

NYPOST.COM Post Opinion: Oped Columnists: TRAPPED! By RALPH PETERS
March 26, 2003 -- PERHAPS the craziest notion bouncing around the media is that Saddam Hussein is a brilliant military strategist. He may be a champion dictator, good at slaughtering, torturing, raping and starving his own people. But his military schemes are masterpieces of incompetence.
Right now, the hand-wringers are warning that Saddam, in a stroke of genius, has deployed his Republican Guards in towns and villages, threatening us with deadly urban combat and inevitable destruction.

What Saddam actually has done is to break his last, best armored divisions into little pieces. He'll never be able to put them back together. And we'll destroy them, piece by piece.
Rantburg: Cry Havoc and Let Slip the Blogs of War FOLLOWUP: from Washington Post...
A thousand paratroopers from the Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade jumped into Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq today at a strategic airfield to open a northern front for U.S. forces. The operation is also aimed at discouraging Turkish troops on the border from crossing into Iraq in large numbers, a move that could precipitate fighting with Kurdish forces. "Americans are asking you to make the world a better place by jumping into the unknown for the benefit of others," Col. William Mayville, the brigade commander, told the paratroops before they boarded Air Force C-17 jets. "Paratroopers, our cause is just and victory is certain," Mayville added. "I want you to join me tonight on an airborne assault."
Telegraph | News | Fatal flaws in Saddam's gamble Fatal flaws in Saddam's gamble
By Michael Smith, Defence Correspondent
(Filed: 27/03/2003)

Saddam Hussein's decision to send out armoured columns of the Republican Guard is an extremely high-risk strategy. He is relying heavily on the cover provided by the sandstorms to ensure that Apache attack helicopters and the 101st Airborne Division cannot join the fight.
But they should be the least of his problems. The conventional wisdom was that the Republican Guard had no choice but to remain dug in around Baghdad. If it broke out, it would be cut to pieces by the sheer weight of allied airpower.
ABCNEWS.com : Elite Iraqi Troops Likely to Take Advantage of Vicious Sandstorms and Reposition Their Tanks

The Associated Press

CENTRAL IRAQ March 26 �
U.S. Marines heading north toward Baghdad were warned Wednesday about a huge Iraqi convoy moving south, putting allied forces on a collision course with Saddam Hussein's best-trained, best-equipped and most tenacious fighters: the Republican Guard.

A military intelligence officer with the 1st Marine Expeditionary force ran from helicopter to helicopter, warning pilots that Republican Guard units in a 1,000-vehicle convoy were headed south on Highway 7, which runs southeast of Baghdad, toward the city of al-Kut.

The Iraqi troops were likely taking advantage of the vicious sandstorms that have blunted U.S. air power for several days to reposition their tanks in response to U.S. forces approaching the outskirts of the capital.

US puts tactics before tanks with a fraction of Schwarzkopf's force
By Ben Rooney, Defence Staff
(Filed: 26/03/2003)


When American ground troops take on the "might" of the Iraqi army, the attacking force may be less than one fifth the size of the forces that General Norman Schwarzkopf used to rout the Republican Guard in 1991. But, say Pentagon planners, it will still defeat them.
General Tommy Franks, the allied commander, is planning to deploy his small force in a revolutionary new way, which, if successful, will transform the conduct of future battles.
Nevertheless, should things not go to plan, and resistance from the Republican Guard prove more tenacious than expected, the Pentagon is also ready to fight a more traditional war.
Concerns have been raised about the size of Franks's force, pointing to the fact that the 1991 liberation of Kuwait against only a part of Saddam's army took a force of more than 11 divisions, with some 2,000 tanks and around 550,000 troops.
By contrast, Gen Franks has the 230 tanks, 130 AH64 Apache helicopters, and 18,000 men of the 3rd Infantry Division, 70,000 men, 58 AH1 Super Cobra attack helicopters and about 200 tanks of I Marine Expeditionary Force, and the 270 helicopters and 15,000 men of the 101st Airborne (Air Assault) division. The British 1st Armoured Division is not involved in the Battle for Baghdad.
But, say US military planners, number-crunching paints a misleading picture
American planners have no intention, desire or any real capability to besiege an ancient Arab city of 5 million people, and no interest whatsoever in fighting for Baghdad block-by-block, house-by-house, as they think Saddam Hussein would prefer.
Instead, American war planners foresee a swift, violent ground attack that will rely on accurate, up-to-the-minute intelligence from the very heart of the Iraqi regime. Relying on spies, electronic sensors and other intelligence to pinpoint Saddam and other top leaders, coalition special operations forces could infiltrate the Iraqi capital from all directions.
Armor-tipped infantry columns would blast into the heart of Baghdad along several corridors and swiftly isolate key areas from the rest of the sprawling city. Company-size infantry units - Marines and light infantry from the Army's 101st and 82nd airborne divisions, supported by tanks - then would attack the areas where Saddam and others were hiding.
One expert familiar with planning such an operation said it would require lightning strikes from rooftops, sewer tunnels and "entryways" blasted into the sides of buildings by the tanks.
It probably would require three to four days to plan the operation and rehearse it, and four or five days to carry it out.
"The idea is to cut off those areas, isolate them and then, with precision maneuvers and precision strikes, take them down," the expert said, speaking only on the condition of anonymity. "You've got to focus on the head head of the snake. Look at the Israeli operations in the '73 war: You put armor attacks down specific corridors, raid the targets, then come back out."
Ha'aretz - Article
There has never been a war with such a high level of disinformation about what exactly is happening on the battlefield as the present conflict in Iraq, according to Israeli researchers and senior military officers.

Most of those interviewed agree that, paradoxically, despite the unprecedented media coverage of the war, including the many correspondents who are embedded in fighting units, nobody knows what is really happening in Iraq. Yossi Peled, former GOC Northern Command, thinks the U.S. has shown great skill in its control of the media. "You have lots of television crews in the field, yet as someone watching TV you have no overall picture."

Military historian Prof. Martin van Creveld goes further: "Everyone is lying about everything all the time, and it is difficult to say what is happening. I've stopped listening. All the pictures shown on TV are color pieces which have no significance."

"There is a lot of disinformation," he concludes. "Every word that is spoken is suspect."

Shahak says that until now the American's have managed to conceal their true battle plan. "Do you know what the Americans have planned? I don't. They also never said (what they were planning to do). How do you topple a regime in 48 hours? In a week? Seventeen days? If we don't want to make fools of ourselves, we should wait patiently. It would just be arrogant to judge from what we see on TV."
Reuters | Latest Financial News / Full News Coverage Could U.S. Drive to Baghdad Mask Surprise Attack?
Wed March 26, 2003 05:24 AM ET
By Douglas Hamilton
DOHA (Reuters) - In the 1991 Gulf War, U.S. commander General Norman Schwarzkopf presented a plan of attack so obvious that it was laughed out of the Pentagon as "Hey diddle diddle, straight up the middle."
But on the night, he had the last laugh.
Having fooled the Iraqis occupying Kuwait into believing that his main force would attack their main force head on, he surreptitiously moved an army 120 miles to the northwest at night to set up a famous "left hook" surprise.
Could the United States and Britain now be telegraphing their intentions to conceal another shock for the Iraqis?...
Tony Blair spoke this week of a "critical moment" to come when the U.S. 5th Corps meets the Republican Guard Medina Division on the approaches to Baghdad.

By Wednesday morning, every U.S. television news anchor was talking about the upcoming clash, giving it top billing as if it were a world heavyweight championship fight.

It may be that the U.S.-led forces believe they possess such overwhelming might that they can dispense with any element of surprise and simply smash through the Medina roadblock at the hour of their choosing.

Or it may be a feint.

There is an eerie silence in the north and west of Iraq.

Little is being reported about the invasion's progress there, apart from Turkey's refusal to let 60,000 U.S. armored division troops across its territory, and Ankara's own enthusiasm to get its forces into Kurdish-held northern Iraq.

Apart from the capture of two desert airfields in western Iraq last Friday, not much has been heard about that theater either, but Kurdish sources say U.S. forces might well use the airstrips to launch an attack on the northern city of Mosul.

Monday, March 24, 2003

The Scotsman - Top Stories - Missiles find in chemical plant Missiles find in chemical plant

GETHIN CHAMBERLAIN AND PAUL GALLAGHER


EXPERTS are examining suspected Scud missiles discovered by British soldiers searching a chemical plant outside Basra.

A number of the grey-painted rockets, about 23ft long, were found in the Dirhamiyah petro-chemical plant close to Iraq�s second city.

The discovery has raised suspicions that Saddam Hussein was planning to arm the missiles with chemical warheads. British officers say it is difficult to find an innocent explanation for storing missiles in a chemical plant.

The find comes a day after soldiers with the Black Watch discovered a cache of weapons, including two Russian al-Harith anti-ship cruise missiles, at the Az Zubayr civilian heliport south of Basra.
NYPOST.COM Post Opinion: Oped Columnists: WINNING BIG By RALPH PETERS WINNING BIG

By RALPH PETERS
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

March 24, 2003 -- IN combat, the ideal leader is the man who remains calm and methodical under fire. Today's 24/7 broadcast news demands just the opposite: raised voices, an atmosphere of crisis and a rush to judgment.
After declaring victory on Friday and Saturday, a number of media outlets all but announced our defeat yesterday, treating the routine events of warfare as if they were disasters.

Nonsense.

We're winning, the Iraqis are losing, and the American people have executive seats for what may prove to be the most successful military campaign in history.
CBS News | Saddam's Secret Weapon? | March 24, 2003�17:09:10

March 24, 2003
(AP / CBS)
The Fedayeen report directly to Saddam's eldest son, Odai, a powerful figure in Iraq with a reputation for extravagance and violence.
(CBS) Saddam Hussein's most trusted paramilitary militia, Saddam's Fedayeen, has assassinated the Iraqi leader's enemies, put down protests and ruthlessly cracked down on dissidents since its founding in 1995.

Now, with U.S.-led coalition troops advancing toward Baghdad, the Fedayeen - whose name means "those ready to sacrifice themselves for Saddam" - are showing putting up stiff resistance and trying to prevent regular army soldiers from surrendering.
The Command Post - A Warblog Collective 08:56 PM | Lots of fighting around Basra
Strangely enough, some of it is Iraqi against Iraqi.
This Telegraph piece has lots of interesting information about fighting near Basra. The one element that was new to me was this.
But the fighting in southern Iraq has not been restricted to British and Iraqi forces.
Militia groups have been out to settle old scores after equipping themselves from raiding Iraqi arms dumps.
Near the town of Mushrif, a squadron of the Queens Dragoon Guards intervened to stop a firefight between two groups, one of which appeared to be local Ba'ath Party members.
The fighting had left one man with a gunshot injury to his head lying in a pool of blood, and another with a bullet wound in his leg, beside him an AK-47 rifle.
"We are here to protect the oil refinery," the injured man said, although his van, loaded up with canisters seemed to suggest otherwise.
Secret weapon in US war against Iraq: the CIA | csmonitor.com Secret weapon in US war against Iraq: the CIA

Intelligence works in unprecedented concert with Pentagon in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

By Faye Bowers | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

WASHINGTON � Less than one week into the US-led war in Iraq, it is already clear that the campaign involves an unprecedented level of involvement by the CIA.
The shift was clear from the get-go.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Al Qaeda Near Biological, Chemical Arms Production (washingtonpost.com) By Barton Gellman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 23, 2003; Page A01
Al Qaeda leaders, long known to covet biological and chemical weapons, have reached at least the threshold of production and may already have manufactured some of them, according to a newly obtained cache of documentary evidence and interrogations recently conducted by the U.S. government.
lgf: skiing through the revolving door of life UPDATE: LGF reader Michael points out that the UN �inspectors� have already visited An Najah in January(where US troops found a chemical factory hidden in desert)�and drove right past the hundred-acre, camouflaged chemical weapons plant surrounded by an electrified fence.
Instead they visited a cement plant in An Najah to count their mining explosives!
FOXNews.com

But at An Nasiriyah -- on the Euphrates River 233 miles southeast of Baghdad, near the ancient town of Ur, birthplace of the patriarch Abraham -- the allied juggernaut sustained its worst casualties so far.

And in the face of that resistance, Marines officials said they expected to sidestep An Nasiriyah rather than fight to capture it -- the same strategy they employed in Basra.

American authorities detailed two bloody battles:

-- Marines encountered Iraqi troops who appeared to be surrendering. Instead, they attacked -- the start of a "very sharp engagement," said Lt. Col. John Abizaid, deputy commander of the Central Command.

These were, Abizaid said, a combination of regular and irregular forces -- in fact, he said, it was one of the few times regular Iraqi soldiers have fought, instead of surrendering or deserting.

In the end, the Americans triumphed, knocking out eight tanks, some anti-aircraft batteries, some artillery and infantry, Abizaid said. But victory came at a cost: as many as nine dead, and an undisclosed number of wounded.

An Nasiriyah was a hotbed of rebellion against Saddam Hussein in the Shiite Muslim rebellion that followed the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The Americans may have run into Saddam loyalists based there to keep a lid on the Shiites, along with some Republican Guard units.

The battles underscored the risks of the mission in Iraq, but U.S. military leaders insisted that they would not slow the drive to Baghdad.

Officials would not say when they expected to arrive at the capital city. "We'll arrive in the vicinity of Baghdad soon, and I prefer to leave it at that," Abizaid said.

Long columns of Marines and their equipment advanced along the main road from Kuwaiti border to An Nasiriyah, where units were crossing the Euphrates.

Part of the 3rd Infantry Division had reached the area of the Shiite holy city of Najaf -- further ahead from An Nasiriyah in the approach to Baghdad -- after a 230-mile, 40-hour sprint through the desert, killing 100 machinegun-toting militiamen along the way.

When more than 30 Iraqi armored vehicles were spotted heading toward the 2nd Brigade's positions, air support was called in; A-10s and B-52s hammered the Iraqis, and the Army didn't have to fire a shot.

Allied aircraft had flown more than 6,000 sorties, softening resistance in advance of the ground war and focusing on Saddam's elite Republican Guard.

Pilots who hit Baghdad on Sunday said ground fire was lighter than expected.

"It was less than the first night," said Lt. j.g. Scott Worthington, 25, an F/A-18 Hornet pilot from Seattle, Wash., and assigned to Strike-Fighter Squadron 151. "I'd say tonight was less intense. Not nearly as much."
The Sun Newspaper Online - UK's biggest selling newspaper
Injured ... Saddam Hussein
EXCLUSIVE
SOS for Saddam surgeon
By DAVID WOODING
Whitehall Editor
SADDAM Hussein�s henchmen last night pleaded with Russia to find them a top surgeon to save the tyrant�s life.
They sent an SOS to Moscow as their leader lay badly wounded at a secret hideaway in Baghdad
Special Forces Arrive in Northern Iraq (washingtonpost.com) Later today, journalists watched as a convoy of three buses and three trucks carried about 100 U.S. troops into the Halabja Valley near the Iranian border, where two nights of airstrikes have targeted an Islamic extremist group associated with al Qaeda.
The airstrikes, which a Kurdish official said may have killed more than 100 of Ansar al-Islam's 700 to 900 fighters, were scheduled to continue for at least one more night before ground forces move forward, officials said. U.S. troops will take part in the ground offensive, the Kurdish official said, but declined to say in what numbers. Before today, estimates of U.S. troops in the north ranged from 60 to 130.
Most of the arriving U.S. forces are expected to steer toward the larger war against the government of Saddam Hussein, with Special Forces troops preparing the way for an airborne assault aimed at taking the strategic oil cities of Mosul and Kirkuk. This morning and again after sunset allied warplanes bombed artillery and rocket positions near Mosul, the Kurds said.
U.S. Makes Some Gains, Suffers Setbacks (washingtonpost.com) On the least visible front of the war, in western Iraq where no journalists are "embedded" with the U.S. special forces who parachuted in and took control of two airfields, Myers said the troops "found a huge arms cache, millions of rounds of ammunition and some documentation that needs to be exploited."
This was "some papers" that will be examined by units looking for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, he said. "We have people set up to do that very, very quickly, because it might save thousands of lives if we can find out exactly where and what they have."
The Command Post - A Warblog Collective This is the best site for up to date war news period! People are posting news as soon as it happens, or they hear about it! This site is only a few days old and is now getting tens of thousands of hits a day! A Must Read!
FOXNews.com Meanwhile, State Department officials confirmed to Fox News that Russian technicians are currently in Baghdad helping Iraqis with jamming equipment -- technology that throws aircraft and missiles offcourse -- sold by Russian arms dealers. The United States has vigorously sought Russian government assistance to stop the sales but has met with "ridiculous responses," according to the officials.
Rumor has it they will be inserted behind the Republican GuardLong Sad Night With the 101st (washingtonpost.com) Another blue thread shows the 3rd Brigade Combat Team (BCT) of the 101st, the division's only major unit currently in Iraq. Once refueling bases are established, the rest of the 16,000 Screaming Eagles can join the fight, including 72 AH-64 Apache attack helicopters that are capable of obliterating an enemy armor brigade in 20 minutes. "Part of this," one officer says, "is to make the Iraqis sweat, to wonder where the 101st is with all those Apaches they've seen pictures of."
thepeople.com - homepage - NewsUS Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said that without firm evidence of Saddam's death, he had to assume Iraq's leadership was in place.

But he added: "The confusion of Iraqi officials is growing. Their ability to control their country is slipping away.

"The strike on the leadership headquarters was successful. The question is, what was in there?" The CIA has a secret sample of Saddam's DNA so they can prove it is him if a body is found. They fear he might plant a lookalike's body in the rubble.
NATIONAL POST How rare, to ask the UN to go to war

Andrew Coyne
National Post


Monday, March 17, 2003

In the history of the United Nations, only one country has ever asked the world's permission to go to war. That country is the United States.

Saturday, March 22, 2003

COOL TECHNOLOGY ALERT
Gregg Easterbrook has a fascinating piece about how information technology has made our forces incredibly more effective.
In 1997, the Army conducted an "Advanced Warfighting Experiment" at its full-scale war-games facility at Fort Irwin, California. The experiment assumed that cheap new data links could allow everybody, right down to the individual soldier, to know almost everything going on in a battle. The war game showed that having everybody know everything made units far more effective, reacting quickly to problems or acting quickly to exploit enemy weaknesses.
For instance, military units often travel close together--thus commanding less territory while making a more tempting target--in order to communicate. Members of close together units can see what other members are doing, use hand signals, officers can meet to confer, and so on. In the Advanced Warfighting Experiment, units were equipped with a tactical internet that dramatically improved communication and awareness of the position of nearby forces. Tacticians realized this meant units did not have to stay close together. Once widely spread, but still acting with knowledge of each other's moves, war-game forces became much more effective. Smaller units commanded more real estate.
Seeing the results of this war game, the Pentagon made a commitment to realizing data-linked tactics. The first fruits were displayed during the Afghan campaign, during which Army and Marine soldiers on the ground communicated in det

Friday, March 21, 2003

Little-known pilot shaped U.S. strategy in Iraq Little-known pilot shaped U.S. strategy in Iraq
Friday, March 21, 2003
By Jack Kelly, Post-Gazette National Security Writer
The man who is perhaps most responsible for the U.S. military strategy in Iraq never wore a general's stars, and, during his lifetime, was despised by most who did.

Robert Coram wrote the book on Boyd.
Accolades from the brass, like medals awarded fallen soldiers, have arrived posthumously for John Boyd.
"John Boyd is one of the principal military geniuses of the 20th century, and hardly anyone knows his name,"...
The ruse the United States may have pulled in launching the war against Iraq with a cruise missile attack on Saddam Hussein and his high command could have come straight from Boyd's keep-'em-guessing playbook, Dugan said. According to Sky News sources, the CIA planted a false rumor with the British television network that Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tarik Aziz had defected, hoping Aziz would go on Iraqi television to deny it. He did. The CIA tracked him back to a bunker, and the Navy and the Air Force destroyed it with cruise missiles and bombs.
"The ability to find out where this bunker was and the ability to react in minutes certainly was consistent with John Boyd's thinking," Dugan said. ...
Boyd attributed his success to thinking faster than his opponents did. Before anybody can do anything, he has to see what's going on, figure out what it means, decide what to do about it, and then do what he decided to do, Boyd noted. He coined the acronym "OODA loop" to describe the process. It stands for: Observation. Orientation. Decision. Action. If you can go through the OODA loop faster than your enemy, you'll live and he'll die.

From the Civil War through Vietnam, U.S. military strategy has been based on what strategists call the "firepower-attrition" model. Basically, you get more and bigger guns than your enemy, then blast away until you win. It works if you can get more and bigger guns, but the results are usually bloody.

Boyd didn't discount firepower. But he said deception and speed were more important. Confuse your enemy about your intentions and then press him so hard that he doesn't have time to think. If you get far enough inside your enemy's OODA loop, he'll get confused and demoralized. And if he gets demoralized enough, he may surrender without fighting....
After Boyd left active duty, he developed what came to be famously known within military circles as "The Brief," a six-hour slide show of his ideas. Few of the ideas were truly original.

His concept that the primary target should be the enemy's mind he borrowed from Sun Tzu, a Chinese sage who lived about 2,500 years ago.

His notion that initiative in combat should flow from the bottom up he took from German army experiments in World War I.

His insistence on close pursuit of the enemy to keep him off balance he took from Soviet military doctrine circa 1930.

But Boyd was a great simplifier and synthesizer....
Cheney was secretary of defense during the first Gulf war, and he has credited Boyd's influence as a major reason he changed the battle plan for the liberation of Kuwait from a frontal assault, which could have led to many American casualties, to the "left hook" that proved so successful.

Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf had presented Cheney with a plan for a head-on offensive. "Not only did Cheney reject it, he used Boyd's colorful language to do so," wrote Boyd's biographer, Robert Coram....
Their first combat test came in Grenada in 1983. They passed.

"We've got two companies of Marines running all over the island, and thousands of Army troops doing nothing," an Army general was quoted as saying at the time. "What the hell is going on?"

Pentagon analyst Franklin "Chuck" Spinney, Boyd's closest associate for many years, said, "The Marines [later] used Boyd's tactics in the first Gulf war, and they worked like gangbusters."

As the Marines showed success after success with their maneuver-warfare doctrine, elements of Boyd's thinking began percolating into the Army.