analytical center was created recently by a group of journalists and military
experts from Russia to provide accurate and up-to-date news and analysis
of the war against Iraq. The following is the English translation of the
IRAQWAR.RU report based on the Russian military intelligence reports.
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March 28, 2003,
1448hrs MSK (GMT +3), Moscow - According to the latest intercepted radio
communications, the command of the coalition group of forces near Karabela
requested at least 12 more hours to get ready to storm the town. This delay
is due to the much heavier losses sustained by the coalition troops during
the sand storms then was originally believed. Just the US 3rd Mechanized
Infantry Division sustained more than 200 disabled combat vehicles of various
types. The 101st Airborne Division reported some 70 helicopters as being
disabled. Additionally, the recently delivered reinforcements require rest
and time to prepare for combat.
At the same
time the US forces have resumed attacks near An-Nasiriya and An-Najaf since
0630hrs and are continuously increasing the intensity of these attacks.
During the night and early morning of March 28 the Iraqi positions in these
areas were subjected to eight aerial assaults by bombers and ground attack
aircraft. However, so far [the coalition] was unable to penetrate the Iraqi
the early morning the British units begun advancing along the Fao peninsula.
Latest radio intercepts from this area show that under a continuous artillery
and aerial bombardment the Iraqis have begun to gradually withdraw their
forces toward Basra.
between troops of the US 82nd Airborne Division and the Iraqi forces occurred
in northern Iraq in the area of Mosula. At the same time the arrival of
up to 1,500 Kurdish troops has been observed in this area. So far it is
not clear to which of the many Kurdish political movements these troops
belong. Leaders of the largest Kurdish workers party categorically denied
participation of their troops. They believe that these may be units of
one of the local tribes not controlled by the central authorities of the
Kurdish autonomy and "ready to fight with anyone" for money.
verified information, during the past 48 hours of the Iraqi counterattacks
the coalition forces sustained the following losses: up to 30 killed, over
110 wounded and 20 missing in action; up to 30 combat vehicles lost or
disabled, including at least 8 tanks and 2 self-propelled artillery systems,
2 helicopters and 2 unmanned aerial vehicles were lost in combat. Iraqi
losses are around 300 killed, up to 800 wounded, 200 captured and up to
100 combat vehicles 25 of which were tanks. Most of the [ Iraqi ] losses
were sustained due to the artillery fire and aerial bombardment that resumed
by the evening of March 27.
can be drawn from the war
The first week
of the war surprised a number of military analysts and experts. The war
in Iraq uncovered a range of problems previously left without a serious
discussion and disproved several resilient myths.
The first myth
is about the precision-guided weapons as the determining factor in modern
warfare, weapons that allow to achieve strategic superiority without direct
contact with the enemy. On the one hand we have the fact that during the
past 13 years the wars were won by the United States with minimum losses
and, in essence, primarily through the use of aviation. At the same time,
however, the US military command was stubborn in ignoring that the decisive
factor in all these wars was not the military defeat of the resisting armies
but political isolation coupled with strong diplomatic pressure on the
enemy's political leadership. It was the creation of international coalitions
against Iraq in 1991, against Yugoslavia in 1999 and against Afghanistan
in 2001 that ensured the military success.
command preferred not to notice the obvious military failures during expeditions
to Granada, Libya and Somalia, discounting them as "local operations" not
deserving much attention.
Today we can
see that in itself massed use of strategic and tactical precision-guided
weapons did not provide the US with a strategic advantage. Despite the
mass use of the most sophisticated weapons the Americans have so far failed
to disrupt Iraqi command and control infrastructure, communication networks,
top Iraqi military and political leadership, Iraqi air defenses. At the
same time the US precision-guided weapons arsenal has been reduced by about
The only significant
advantage of the precision-guided weapons is the capability to avoid massive
casualties among the civilians in densely populated areas.
What we have
is an obvious discrepancy between the ability to locate and attack a target
with precision-guided weapons and the power of this weapon, which is not
sufficient to reliably destroy a protected target.
On the other
hand, precision-guided munitions demonstrated their superiority over conventional
munitions on the battlefield. The ability to attack targets at long ranges
with the first shot is the deciding factor in the American superiority
in land battles.
The second myth
disproved by this war is the myth propagated by the proponents of the "hi-tech"
war, who believe in the superiority of the most modern weapons and inability
of older-generation weapons to counteract the latest systems. Today the
technological gap between the Iraqi weapons and those of the coalition
has reached 25-30 years, which corresponds to two "generations" in weapons
design. The primary Iraqi weapons correspond to the level of the early
1970s. Since that time the Americans, on the other hand, have launched
at least two major rearmament efforts: the "75-83 program" and the "90-97
program". Moreover, currently the US is in the middle of another major
modernization and rearmament program that will continue for the next five
years. Despite of this obvious gap, Iraqi resistance has already been publicly
qualified by the US as "fierce and resilient". Analysts believe that the
correlation of losses is entirely acceptable to the Iraqis and they [ the
analysts ] do not see any strategic coalition advantage in this war. Once
again this proves that success in modern warfare is achieved not so much
through technological superiority but primarily through training, competent
command and resilience of the troops. Under such conditions even relatively
old weapons can inflict heavy losses on a technologically-superior enemy.
mistakes made by the US command during the planning stages of this war
resulted in the obvious strategic failure. The US has underestimated the
enemy. Despite the unique ability to conduct reconnaissance against the
Iraqi military infrastructure through a wide network of agents implanted
with the international teams of weapons inspectors, despite of unlimited
air dominance the US military command has failed to adequately evaluate
combat readiness of the Iraqi army and its technical capabilities; the
US has failed to correctly asses the social and political situation in
Iraq and in the world in general. These failures led to entirely inadequate
military and political decisions:
force was clearly insufficient for a such a large-scale operation. The
number of deployed troops was at least 40% short of the required levels.
This is the reason why today, after nine days of war, the US is forced
to resort to emergency redeployment of more than 100,000 troops from the
US territory and from Europe. This, in essence, is the same number of troops
already fighting in Iraq.
and distribution of the coalition forces have been conducted with gross
neglect of all basic rules of combat. All troops were massed in one small
area, which led to five days of non-stop fighting to widen this area. The
initial attack begun without any significant aerial or artillery preparation
and almost immediately this resulted in reduced rate of advance and heated
Today we can
see that the US advance is characterized by disorganized and "impulsive"
actions. The troops are simply trying to find weak spots in the Iraqi defenses
and break through them until they hit the next ambush or the next line
Not a single
goal set before the coalition forces was met on time.
During the nine
days of the war the coalition has failed:
- to divide
Iraq in half along the An-Nasiriya - Al-Ammara line,
- to surround
and to destroy the Iraqi group of forces at Basra,
- to create
an attack group between the Tigris and the Euphrates with a front toward
- to disrupt
Iraq's military and political control, to disorganize Iraq's forces and
to destroy the main Iraqi attack forces.
A whole range
of problems that require their own solutions was uncovered directly on
the battlefield. Thus, combat in Iraq raised serious concerns about the
problem of coordination between units from different services. Limited
decision-making time and the ability to detect and to engage an enemy at
a great distance make "friendly fire" one of the most serious problems
of modern warfare. For now the coalition has no adequate solution to this
problem. At one location or another every day of this war the coalition
troops were attacking friendly forces.
The second problem
of the coalition is its inability to hold on to the captured territory.
For the first time since the war in Vietnam the Americans have to deal
with a partisan movement and with attacks against their [the US] lines
of communication. Currently the coalition is rushing to form some sort
of territorial defense units for guarding its supply lines and for maintaining
order in the occupied territories.
A range of technical
problems with equipment has been revealed during the combat operations.
Most operators of the M1A2 Abrams main battle tank agree that the tank
was inadequate for performing the set combat tasks. The primary problem
is the extremely low reliability of the tank's engine and its transmission
in desert conditions. Heat from the sun, hot sand and the constantly present
hot dust in the air nearly nullified the advantages offered by the turret-mounted
thermal sights. Visibility range of these sights did not exceed 300 meters
during movement in convoy and reached up to 700-800 meters during stops.
Only during cold nights did the visibility range reach 1000-1,500 meters.
Additionally, a large number of thermal sights and other electronics simply
broke down. The tiny crystalline sand particles caused electrical power
surges and disabled electronic equipment.
This was the
reason for the decision by the coalition command to stop movement of troops
at night when a contact with the enemy was deemed likely.
The main strong
side of the coalition forces was the wide availability of modern reconnaissance
and communication systems that allowed to detect the enemy at long ranges
and to quickly suppress the enemy with well-coordinated actions of different
types of available forces.
In general the
US soldiers showed sufficiently high combat resilience. Even in the extremely
difficult weather conditions the troops maintained control structure and
adequately interpreted the situation. Combat spirit remained high. The
majority of troops remain confident in their abilities, while maintaining
belief in the superiority of their weapons and maintaining reasonable confidence
in the way the war is being fought.
It should be
noted, however, that the way the war is being fought did create a certain
sense of disappointment in most of the troops. Many are feeling that they've
been lied to and are openly talking about the stupidity of the high command
and its gross miscalculations. "Those star-covered Pentagon idiots promised
us a victory march and flowers on the armor. What we got instead were those
damned fanatics fighting for every dune and the sand squeaking in your
ass!" said one of the wounded recuperating at a hospital in Rammstein.
[ Reverse translation from Russian ]
despite of the sand storms the terrain favors the coalition actions by
allowing it to employ their entire arsenal of weapons at the greatest possible
range, which makes it difficult for the Iraqis to conduct combat operations
outside of populated areas.
the abilities of its airborne forces was a weak side of the coalition.
Plans for a wide-scale use of helicopters as an independent force did not
materialize. All attempts by the US command to organize aerial and ground
operations through exclusive use of airborne forces have failed. Because
of these failures by the end of the fourth day of the war all airborne
units were distributed across the coalition units and used by the attacking
forces for reconnaissance, fire support, and for containing the enemy.
The main burden of combat was carried by the "heavy" mechanized infantry
and tank units.
drawback in the coalition planning was the exceptionally weak protection
in the rear of the advancing forces. This resulted in constant interruptions
in fuel supply. Tank units sometimes spent up to 6 hours standing still
with empty fuel tanks, in essence, being targets for the Iraqis. Throughout
the war delivery of food, ammunition and fuel remains a headache for the
Among the US
soldiers there has been a wide-scale discontent with the quality of the
new combat rations. Servicemen are openly calling these rations "shitty."
Many soldier just take the biscuits and the sweets and discard the rest
of the ration. Commanders of the combat units are demanding from the coalition
command to immediately provide the troops with hot food and to review the
entire contents of the combat ration.
Among the strong
sides of the Iraqi troops are their excellent knowledge of the terrain,
high quality of defensive engineering work, their ability to conceal their
main attack forces and their resilience and determination in defense. The
Iraqis have shown good organization in their command and communication
structures as well as decisive and and well-planned strategy.
Among the drawbacks
of the Iraqi forces is the bureaucratic inflexibility of their command,
when all decisions are being made only at the highest levels. Their top
commanders also tend to stick to standard "template" maneuvers and there
is insufficient coordination among the different types of forces.
At the same
time commanders of the [Iraqi] special operations forces are making good
use of the available troops and weapons to conduct operations behind the
front lines of the enemy. They use concealment, show cunning and imagination.
strategic lessons of the war
[ Lessons of
the war in Iraq are discussed here with a focus on a possible similar war
between Russia and the US ]
The main of
such lessons is the ever-increasing significance of troop concealment as
one of the primary methods of combat. Concealment and strict adherence
to the requirements for secrecy and security become strategic goals of
the defending forces in the view of the US reliance and that of its allies
on precision-guided weapons, electronic and optical reconnaissance as well
as due to their use of tactical weapons at the maximum possible range afforded
by these reconnaissance methods. Importance of concealment is being seen
in Iraq and was clearly demonstrated in Yugoslavia, where the Yugoslav
Army preserved nearly 98% of its assets despite the three months of bombing.
Within our [Russian/European] battle theater concealment methods will offer
us [the Russian army] an enormous advantage over the US.
The second lesson
of this war is the strategic role of the air defenses in modern warfare
as the most important service of the armed forces. Only the complete air
dominance of the coalition allows it to continue its advance toward Baghdad
and to achieve the critical advantage in any engagement. Even the short
interruption in air support caused by the sand storms put the US and British
troops in a very difficult situation.
of the air defenses as a separate service branch of the [Russian] Armed
Forces and its gradual dissipation in the Air Force can be called nothing
else but a "crime". [This statement refers to the recent unification of
the Russian Air Force (VVS) and the Air Defense Force (PVO) and the secondary
role of the air defense force within this new structure.]
The third lesson
of the war is the growing importance of combat reconnaissance and increased
availability of anti-tank weapons capable of engaging the enemy at maximum
range. There is a requirement on the battlefield for a new weapon system
for small units that would allow for detection of the enemy at maximum
distance during day or night; for effective engagement of modern tanks
at a range of 800-1000 meters; for engagement of enemy infantry at a range
of 300-500 meters even with the modern personal protection equipment possessed
by the infantry.
03-28-03, translated by Venik)
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