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Russian Spy Daily War Reports

by Russian Military Intelligence Thursday, Apr. 10, 2003 at 9:58 AM

Get the real scoop at http://www.aeronautics.ru

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March 17, 2003, 1848hrs MSK (GMT +3), Moscow - During the March 14, 2002, emergency meeting the top [Russian] military commanders discussed the situation around Iraq. Reports were presented by the chief of Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff (GRU GSh) Col. Gen. Valentine Korabelnikov and the chief of Main Tactical Directorate of the General Staff (GOU GSh) Col. Gen. Alexander Rukshin. The GRU report contained information of the strength and composition of the US forces and its allies as well as strength and composition of the Iraqi forces. According to Col. Gen. Korabelnikov beginning at 1200 on Friday March 14 US forces operate in the high combat readiness state and are capable of initiating combat operations 3-4 hours after they receive orders to such effect. All necessary combat orders have been delivered to all levels of command structure down to the battalion level commanders.The GRU chief reported that due to the current international situation it is unlikely that the US will seek a vote in the UN Security Council on the new Iraq resolution. Doing so will inevitably lead to a failure to gain necessary support, which is most undesirable for the US. Therefore, the Bush administration will prefer to act using the previous UN resolution as an excuse for starting the war.It seems likely that the combat operations will begin on 19-22 of March at around 2-4 am local time.In connection with these developments the GRU and General Staff departments responsible for the Persian Gulf region will go to a 24-hour mode of operation. All [Russian] electronic reconnaissance brigades and divisions, intelligence agencies based in regions neighboring the conflict zone, sea- and space-based technical reconnaissance assets will be put on full combat alert.The GOU GSh report provided an analysis of the Iraqi army's defensive capabilities and possible scenarios of the war.The first phase of the operation will consist of a strategic air operation which, according to the US command, will last between 8 and 10 days. The goal of this operation will be complete suppression of Iraqi air defenses, disruption of command and control structures, destruction of main command and communication centers, disruption of the main Iraqi forces, destruction of the military infrastructure and defense industry facilities.The first wave of the attack will consist of between 200-250 Tomahawk cruise missiles followed in 30-50 minutes by an aircraft strike. The initial air attack will last up to six hours. It will consist of around 2000 combat flights and the launch of around 400 cruise missiles. During the next five days it is planned to deliver at least two major air strikes per day with a gradual shift toward sustain air operations against newly discovered targets.After the first phase of the operation is complete the US command plans to spend two more days for additional reconnaissance and destruction of any new or remaining targets. After this the available air assets will switched entirely to support the ground forces. The total time for the operation against Iraq is estimated by the US military planners to run between 15 and 21 days.According to Col. Gen. Rukshin it is unlikely that the first phase of the US attack will be able to achieve its goals and destroy most of the main Iraqi forces. This stage of the operation is likely to take between three week and one-and-a-half months. During that time the US command will put an emphasis on the destruction of Iraq's top political and military leadership, including Saddam Hussein. For this purpose the US plans to use high-power aviation bombs capable of penetrating reinforced underground facilities at great depth. Additionally, for the first time the US plans to use tactical airborne troops and special forces against Iraq's military and political command sites.GOU GSh finds it possible that the military campaign against Iraq will be considerably more difficult than expected by the US military planners. The US troops may encounter determined resistance from the Iraqi forces, which may lead to the slow down and even complete halt of the attack and will force the US to resume the mass bombing campaign. This will inevitably prolong the war into the 2-3-month timeframe and possibly longer.(source: iraqwar.ru, 03-17-03, translated by Venik)
March 18, 2003, 0126hrs MSK (GMT +3), Moscow - According to the information received from one of the Russian Defense Ministry's radio intercept units, certain aspects of the planned military operation against Iraq were uncovered by the Russian military intel. During one of the radio communications between Kurd troops information was intercepted indicating that during the next 48 hours there may be a large-scale airdrop of US troops in Kurd-controlled northern Iraq.
Information obtained from additional sources shows that Turkey's refusal to permit a large number of US ground troops on its territory threw into turmoil the US plans for invading Iraq from the north. However, after a further analysis of the situation, the US command concluded that Turkey's refusal creates a possibility for an element of surprise in the US attack from the north.
Radio intercepts of Kurdish and some Turkish sources allow for a reasonable conclusion that with the beginning of the military operation the US will rely on Turkey's permission to use its airspace to transport between 18,000-22,000 troops in two days to Northern Kurdistan. This fast-response group of forces will form the core of the northern attack force.
It is believed that by the end of the fifth day of the war this attack group will be able to initiate full-scale combat operations against the Iraqi forces. In their advance from the north the US forces are expected to make full use of the Kurdish troops and the sympathetic local population. In connection with these plans some 300 British Commandos from the 22-nd SAS regiment have been already deployed to the Kurdish-controlled territories. These troops are conducting reconnaissance of the Iraqi forces deployed in the region, organizing cooperation between the Kurdish forces and the US and British commanders in the region, and preparing landing sites for the upcoming drops of airborne troops.
Communication specialists and electronic equipment already have been delivered to Northern Kurdistan along with "Patriot" surface-to-air missile systems and are ready to support the air drop of troops.
(source: iraqwar.ru, 03-18-03, translated by Venik)
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March 19, 2003, 0403hrs MSK (GMT +3), Moscow - Based on the intercepted US military communications the Russian military intelligence believes that the US command is attempting to create a false impression of a pending massive ground attack on Basra. Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) believes that all the talk about the attack on Basra is nothing more than disinformation designed compliment a diversionary strike to pin down large Iraqi forces around this city.The main thrust of the US ground attack, Russian military thinks, will bypass Basra from the west splitting the Iraqi defenses through An Nasiriya (population under 500,000) and Al' Amarah (population under 500,000) at the end reaching the Hor-Es-Savakiya lake and forming an external encirclement facing Basra.From An Nasiriya the invaders will advance along the Euphrates river reaching the Habbaniyah lake and capturing the city of Al Habbaniyah (population under 20,000), thus creating a solid front facing Baghdad from the south and partially reaching around Baghdad from southwest.The encircled Basra forces will be contained using mass air strikes and ground troops to cut off the Iraqis in Basra from their main forces. The US command believes that the air bombardment will weaken and disorganize the Basra defenders and allow the US ground troops to further split these Iraqi forces into smaller pockets of resistance.During these operations the US command plans to rely to a large extent on tactical airborne units dropped immediately behind the forward lines of Iraqi defenses to disorganize and to demoralize them, as well as to capture pockets of territory and hold them until the arrival of the main forces. A particularly important role in these operations will be played by combat aviation as the primary means of supporting ground troops and containing the enemy.Already around 30 diversionary and reconnaissance units have been airdropped in Iraq by the US and Britain. Their primary task of these forces is provide targeting information for the upcoming initial waves of air strikes. Available information suggests that the first air strike may take place as early as Thursday morning 1.5-2 hours before the end of Washington's ultimatum. However, the sand storm currently raging over Iraq may force the US command to delay the planned attack by one or two days.(source: iraqwar.ru, 03-19-03, translated by Venik)
March 20, 2003, 1015hrs MSK (GMT +3), Moscow - The sand storm raging over Iraq is seriously interfering with the US plans for the first air strike. So far the US Air Force was unable to launch any large-scale bombing raids against the positions of the Iraqi forces along the line of contact in southern Iraq. A sand cloud is covering the Iraqi positions and air strikes were carried out by the US only using cruise missile and only against well-known stationary targets.Main air strikes are currently being carried out against the Iraqi positions in the vicinity of Basra. According to Russian radio intercepts of US military communications some 40 cruise missile launches and 200 combat flights were carried out by the US during the first 6 hours of the war against Iraq. The US command is troubled by the news of the withdrawal of the Iraqi Republican Guard division from Basra region. Available information suggests that the defense of Basra will be carried out only by the regional defense units and by the Basra garrison, which numbers some 30,000 soldiers and officers, about 200 T-55 and T-62 tanks and up to 300 pieces of artillery. This points to a possibility that the Iraqi command is not concentrating on strong defense of the border regions but, instead, withdrawing its most combat-capable units deeper inside the country.Military command of the anti-Iraq coalition demanded from its air forces an immediate increase in the intensity of air strikes. At the same time the Coalition is in a rush to process all the recon information obtained during the initial air strikes. Aerial and satellite reconnaissance forces of the Coalition are concentrating on detecting Iraqi air defenses as well as command and control facilities used by the Iraqis to deflect the first wave of air strikes.Based on radio intercepts, several US combat units deployed in the demilitarized zone were bombarded by Iraqi artillery around 0730hrs Moscow time. American commanders requested emergency artillery and air support. Up to five USAF planes were forced to return back to their bases after suffering onboard equipment failures. At 0950hrs Moscow time one of the helicopters of the US 101st airborne division crashed due to low visibility conditions. So far there is no information about casualties in this crash.In the next 24 hours Americans are anticipating news of “sharp political changes” in Iraq. Analysts believe that an overthrow plot against Saddam Hussein prepared by the CIA during the past few months is the reason behind such expectations. However, Russian agents are reporting that this plot was either uncovered in time or was under control of the Iraqi security agencies from the very beginning. This information is confirmed by a certain air of unease within the CIA command center in Qatar, as the expected overthrow of Hussein was supposed to take place several days ago.According to the information received from Baghdad, the US air strikes directed against the Iraqi leadership did not acheive their goals. Saddam Hussein and all key members of his cabinet are alive and distributed across several different locations. It is likely that Iraq’s political and military leadership will be organized in accordance with the so-called “network” principle, originally implemented in Iraq in 1991 and later adopted by Yugoslavia in 1999. Iraqi political and military leadership will be constantly moving across a network of bunkers and other secure locations, conducting all communications using only secure lines and refraining from concentrating in one place more than two key leaders.Information obtained by the radio intercept units of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian Armed Forces (GRU VS RF) shows that the majority of the Iraqi air defenses did not take part in the deflection of the initial US air strike. Not a single surface-to-air missile was launched during this first wave of strikes. Moreover, immediately following the initial air raid alert all Iraqi radars with known positions ceased operation and over 300 decoy radar transmitters were engaged. This indicates that the Iraqi command is relying on preserving as many of its air defense assets as possible and that it is preparing for long-term conflict. At the same time at least four cruise missiles were shot down by anti-aircraft artillery fire.In an emergency phone conversation with the President of the United States George Bush the British Prime Minister Tony Blair expressed his strong disappointment with the fact that the British military and political leadership was informed about the planned start of the combat operations just 20 minutes before the first air strike. Blair called this decision by Bush “unfriendly” and characterized the US actions as a breach of trust between the two allies. All of this gives a double meaning to the role of Britain in the military partnership with the US, especially against the background of a major internal split in the ruling political coalition in the UK. Update:The US military confirms the loss of an MH-53J Pave Low special operations helicopter in southern Iraq. IraqWar.Ru was the first to report the loss yesterday. The US military officials have refused to specify the exact location of the crash or the exact number of personnel aboard the helicopter in addition to the standard crew of six. The helicopter is capable of transporting of up to 38 troops. The MH-53J that crash landed in southern Iraq was later destroyed by the US forces to avoid its capture by the Iraqi forces. (source: iraqwar.ru, 03-20-03, translated by Venik)
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March 21, 2003, 0930hrs MSK (GMT +3), Moscow - In the course of yesterday’s US military command meeting on Iraq the primary topic of discussion was the unexpected tactics adopted by the Iraqi forces. The coalition aircraft over Iraq encountered a huge number of various kinds of target mockups and other decoys on the ground. Thus, for example, after the post-strike aerial reconnaissance mission of an Iraqi airbase near Basra it was determined that all of the 20 Iraqi aircraft reported earlier by the coalition pilots as being destroyed in the bombing turned out to be aircraft mockups. Additionally, nearly all Iraqi radars discovered earlier have ceased transmission and relocated to new positions. As the result, every third coalition aircraft designated for the role of suppressing Iraqi air defenses returned to base with its full combat load unused. The pilots report that there is no way to know if the weapons released against the Iraqi air defenses hit the real targets or just more decoys. “…We engaged everything that looked like a radar. But there is no way in hell we can know what it really was!” – reported one of the coalition pilots back to ground control after releasing missiles against a suspected Iraqi radar site. A particular point of concern for the coalition air force commander is the fact that after the first 24 hours of the bombing campaign by the coalition aircraft Iraq is yet to launch a single air-to-surface missile. Coalition aerial, electronic and satellite reconnaissance forces are being urged to determine the locations and composition of the Iraqi air defenses in the next 16 hours. The sources insist that the elements of the 3rd infantry division were purposefully provoked into fighting by the Iraqi mobile units, which from the first hours of the ground campaign used the “pinprick” tactics by launching more than 20 artillery attacks against the positions of the coalition forces. To prevent further such attacks the coalition command ordered its troops to pursue all attacking Iraqi units. The GRU GSh RF radio intercept units reported that during one of such pursuits the Americans lost one of their helicopters. Following the loss of this helicopter Russian reconnaissance detected the take-off of a US search-and-rescue helicopter. This was at least a third helicopter lost by the coalition during the first 24 hours of fighting. As the result of the hit-and-run tactics employed by the Iraqis almost the entire 3rd infantry division was pulled inside Iraq and spent the day by conducting reconnaissance missions and exchanging fire with the Iraqis 20-60 kilometers from the Kuwaiti border. To protect the flanks of the division the US command was forced to begin the operation to encircle Basra an by 1900hrs the coalition ground forces (possibly the US Army III Corps which includes the 4th Infantry Div. Mech. and the 1st Cavalry Div., aided by the 1st Marine Div. begun advancing with one part of their forces encircling Basra from the west, while the part moved in the direction of Baghdad. This maneuver was predicted by the Russian intelligence even before the war started. By sunrise the 1st armored division was forced to stop their advance after encountering a minefield. According to the intercepted radio communications, mines destroyed some two US armored vehicles. Additionally, at 0730hrs forward Marine units walked into an ambush and called in air support and medevac helicopters. Based on the intercepted radio communications Russian military intelligence believes that the Marines have encountered one the Iraqi mobile units. Currently this area is being bombarded by the US aviation. The US command is disappointed with its psychological campaign designed to damage the morale of the Iraqi troops. So far there were no mass surrendering of Iraqi troops. During the first day of the war only a few dozen Iraqi soldiers have surrendered. These soldiers came mainly from the border checkpoints and border patrol units. Reports by the majority of the US field commanders show that they do not see any confusion or any loss of control on the part of the Iraqi forces. So far the weak bombing attacks against Baghdad and other large Iraqi cities, analysts believe, are due to the continuing hopes by the US command that the planned coup against Saddam Hussein would finally materialize. The bombing campaign is being restricted to avoid heavy civilian casualties and provide the coup organizers with more favorable conditions in the cities. However, a step-up in the intensity of the bombing campaign against the Iraqi cities should be expected by the end of the day today, as the hope for a coup against the Iraqi president fades. At lest two of the eight supposedly Iraqi missiles that hit Kuwait turned out to be US sea-launched cruise missiles that strayed off course. This can be clearly seen even from the craters left in the ground by the explosions of these missiles. After detonation the “Scud” warhead leaves a crater as much as 8 meters deep. What was observed in Kuwait, however, is the typical crater left by the detonation of a cruise missile’s warhead. The story with the rest of the Iraqi missile launches is also unclear. Experts are leaning toward a possibility that the explosions in the Kuwaiti border regions were caused not by missiles but by 120-mm mortar shells fired by the Iraqi mobile units. The British troops failed to quickly capture the Fao peninsula. Once they landed on the peninsula they were hit with a heavy artillery barrage and held down near the shoreline. Only after the requested aviation support has arrived the British were able to advance 3-5 kilometers inland. During this operation, according to the intercepted radio communications, the British have suffered some casualties and called for medevac helicopters. Russian intelligence reports that the peninsula is being defended by up to two Iraqi regiments and by the armed civilians from the local population supported by several artillery battalions. Currently the British and the US forces are attempting to prevent the defending Iraqi forces at Fao peninsula from retreating toward Basra. The coalition casualties during the first day of war numbered 23, as war reported to the US Secretary of Defense by the coalition commander Gen. Franks. However, during the next 12 hours the casualties are likely to grow to 40 killed and over a hundred wounded. At the moment the exact coalition casualty figures are difficult to determine due to the continuing evacuation of wounded from the Fao peninsula, the Basra region, and from the battlefield 70 km from the Kuwaiti border. The first day of ground combat confirms the conclusion that the Iraqi command is organizing defenses in the central regions of the country. All main Iraqi forces have been pulled toward central Iraq leaving huge mine fields and many ambushes on the path of the advancing US forces. The defense of Basra is carried out by the part of the Iraqi 4th Army Corp. and volunteer brigades formed by the resident of Basra. It is believed that the Iraqi command is not counting on preventing the US forces from taking Basra but is simply trying to inflict as many casualties on the coalition forces as possible. The main battles of this war may begin as early as by the end of tomorrow, when the US forces reach central Iraq.(source: iraqwar.ru, 03-21-03, translated by Venik)
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March 22, 2003, 0800hrs MSK (GMT +3), Moscow - Information received during the last night is very contradictory. During all day and night fighting continued around Basra, Al-Nasiriya, and on the Faw (Fao) peninsula. Despite of numerous reports by the American and British command about the capture of Umm Qasr the coalition forces have so far failed to establish full control over this small borderline town. Exchange of fire in the city is continuing. Elements of the [Iraqi] 45-th Infantry Brigade, which is defending the town, are surrounded but continue to resist and are trying to break out toward Basra.According to intelligence reports, at Umm Qasr American and British forces have sustained 10 killed and around 40 wounded soldiers and officers. Additionally, the Iraqis have destroyed up to 8 British and US armored personnel carriers."Iraqi resistance turned out to be far more determined than we've expected," the British and US commanders are reporting. - "They are surrounded but continue fighting even after losing much of their heavy equipment. Often we could only advance after completely destroying them with artillery and aviation." So far there was no success in trying to clarify the reports about the capture or surrender of the 51st Infantry Division. According to intercepted radio communications, this division was fighting as a part of the 3rd Army Corp (Al-Nasiriya). It's brigades took up defensive positions along the northwestern approaches to Basra and participated in combat since the first day of fighting, which makes their voluntary surrender unlikely. Analysts believe that the anglo-american coalition reports refer to a surrender by a capture of one of the destroyed units or to a successful operation by their special forces.Analysis of the video footage of the captured Iraqis, distributed by the coalition press-service, makes it difficult to accept the Iraqi army's "moral breakdown" story advertised by the Americans. Most of the captives retain their dignity and show no fear or ingratiation characteristic of demoralized enemy. In addition to that, Americans did not come up with a single video recording of destroyed or abandoned combat vehicles or any other equipment, nor did they provide any interviews with the captured Iraqis.The US forces have halted their advance into Iraq and are now actively engaged in reconnaissance along the directions of Al-Nasiriya, An-Najaf and Al-Ammara. However, the main efforts of the coalition are being concentrated around the approaches to Basra. It is expected that by tomorrow they will build up a strike force to storm the city. Most major events of the upcoming several days will be unfolding in this region. Radio intercepts show that up to 25,000 British and American troops are already in the Basra region. The city is under a constant artillery and aviation bombardment.During the past night a fuel supply convoy of the US 3rd Infantry Division was attacked by Iraqi special forces. Up to 7 fuel trucks have been lost in the attack. Three US soldiers were killed and nine wounded. Another three US soldiers are considered MIA and are believed to have been captured by the Iraqis.As was expected, after realizing the failure of the coup against Hussein the US have resorted to intensive bombing of Baghdad beginning on the evening of March 21st. Just during that night Baghdad was attacked with 500 cruise missiles and over 1,000 aviation bombs. The city is engulfed by numerous fires.Additionally, more than 20 other Iraqi cities were also bombed. More than 1,000 cruise missiles were launched against various targets and over 3,000 bombs were dropped. At the moment it is difficult to estimate the effectiveness of these strikes. However, judging by the high activity levels of Iraqi radio transmitters, the US was unable to disrupt the control of the Iraqi army.Russian radio intercept units are certain that at least one coalition combat plane was shot down in these air raids.Our sources believe that the high-intensity air strikes will continue for another 24 hours and after that the coalition will be forced to scale down the attacks to conduct additional reconnaissance and to regroup its forces.A radio intercept made last night at approximately 4:40 am indicated that two British helicopters were shot down by a "Strela" SAM system after flying into a SAM trap. It is believed that the two SAR helicopters were to retrieve the pilot of the combat plane downed during the earlier air strike. The number of dead and wounded is still being established. So far the coalition command did not report these losses. (1)The coalition commander Gen. Tommy Franks demanded from the Air Force a maximum possible increase in the close air support of the ground forces. During a "radio-bridge" with the commanders of all units Gen. Franks expressed his concern with the mounting casualties and the stubborn Iraqi resistance. "We've just spent three days trying to capture one small town, so we can only guess what awaits us in Baghdad!" - angrily said the commander and demanded better aviation support to soften up the defending Iraqi forces ahead of the advancing coalition units.For the past day the coalition losses ar up to 30 killed and around 40 wounded. Ten coalition armored vehicles were destroyed my land mines. At least two armored vehicles were destroyed by anti-tank weapons.Iraqi losses are estimated in the range of 250-300 killed and up to 500 wounded. So far it is not possible to determine the damage from the night bombing raids. However, more than 500 people have been taken to hospitals in Baghdad - all of them were civilians.Update:While this article was translated the US Navy has confirmed that two British Sea Knight helicopters of the Royal Navy have crashed killing all onboard - 6 Britons and 1 American - a US Navy officer. The helicopters crashed at around 4:30 am. The official explanation for the loss was that the two helicopters crashed into each other while taking-off from a ship. It is interesting to note that during more than 25 years in British service there wasn't a single collision between the Sea Knights. The Royal Navy operates more than 300 Sea Knights and all helicopter pilots adhere to strict sets of rules during take-offs and landings from ships; rules that are designed to help pilots to avoid this type of collisions.(source: iraqwar.ru, 03-22-03, translated by Venik)
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March 22, 2003, 1300hrs MSK (GMT +3), Moscow UPDATE - Additional information about the situation in the primary combat areas in southern Iraq became available by 1300hrs (Moscow time, GMT +3). The US command reports about the supposed surrender of the entire Iraqi 51st Infantry Division turned out to be a complete fabrication. According to our sources the 51st Division continues to fight on the approaches to Basra and we can only talk about individual cases of Iraqi soldiers being captured in combat.Elements of the US 3rd Infantry Division and the 1st Marine Infantry Division ended up in an exceptionally difficult situation. While attempting to encircle Basra from the north and to block An-Nasiriya elements the 3rd and 1st infantry divisions found themselves wedged between the defending Iraqi forces. The Iraqi command used this situation and delivered a decisive counterattack with up to 80 tanks in the open flank of the US forces, slicing through their combat orders. As the result of this counterattack these US units are now at risk of being separated from the main coalition forces and being surrounded.By 1100hrs MSK Iraqi units advanced into the US attack front by 10-15 kilometers and Gen. Tommy Franks, the commander of the coalition forces, ordered his troops to switch entirely to defensive operations. At the same time he issued orders to the forward-deployed coalition tank units to halt their reconnaissance operations in the directions of Es-Samaba and An-Najaf and to move immediately to support the defending US forces. However, the situation is complicated by the fact that a part of the coalition tanks are currently disabled due to the lack of fuel and are awaiting the arrival of fuel convoys. Thus the tanks are able to gradually rejoin combat in small numbers as the fuel becomes available.Currently the US and the Iraqi tank forces are engaged in mobile head-on combat approximately 70-90 kilometers to the south of An-Nasiriya. Combat orders have been received by the carrier borne aviation in the Persian Gulf, which until now did not take part in this battle. At the same time orders were issued to all available coalition strike aircraft in Qatar to scramble in support of the defending coalition forces.Intercepted radio communications indicate that during the morning period of March 22 the US forces lost 10-15 tanks destroyed or disabled and up to 30 other armored vehicles. Medevac helicopters flew more than 30 search-and-rescue missions, which suggests heavy coalition losses.Our sources report that during the early morning hours in southwestern Iraq in the vicinity of Akashat the Iraqi forces have engaged and surrounded a tactical paratroop unit of the 101st Airborne Division. Some of the surrounded paratroopers were able to break out into the desert, where they request air support and finally lost their Iraqi pursuers. However, up to 30 US troops were killed or captured in this engagement. Additionally, [Russian] radio intercept units report that one the US attack helicopters providing close air support was shot down.The top US military command is planning to enhance the coalition command. During the Joint Chief of Staff meeting its Chairman Gen. Richard Mayers expressed strong criticism of the actions by the coalition commander Gen. Franks and proposed to strengthen his headquarters with several other senior military commanders. Gen. Franks is required to do everything he can to change the current situation on the front. Analysts believe that, if during the next 3-5 days Gen. Franks fails to achieve any significant results, than it is entirely possible that he will be replaced as the commander of the coalition forces.Update: The coalition forces were able to capture a bridge in the suburbs of Nasiriya. Their control of the Basra airport is tentative at best as large numbers of Iraqi forces continue to resist with heavy artillery and machine gun fire. Around Basra the coalition forces have advanced at most by 1.5 kilometers. Gen. Franks has announced a change in plans: the coalition forces are no longer set on capturing Basra so not to "create military confrontations in that city." The coalition forces still do not control Umm Qasr and appear to be losing territory.(source: iraqwar.ru, 03-22-03, translated by Venik)
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March 23, 2003, 1200hrs MSK (GMT +3), Moscow - The situation in southern Iraq can be characterized as unstable and controversial. Heavy fighting is taking place in the Umm-Qasr-An-Nasiriya-Basra triangle. Satellite and signals intelligence show that both sides actively employ armored vehicles in highly mobile attacks and counterattacks. Additionally, fighting is continuing near the town of An-Najaf.As of this morning the Iraqi defenses along the Basra - An-Nasiriya - An-Najaf line are holding.Following the yesterday's Iraqi counter strike near An-Nasiriya the US command was forced to halt the advance of its troops toward An-Najaf and to redirect a portion of available tank forces to cover the flanks of the 3rd Motorized Infantry Division attacked by the Iraqis. By late evening yesterday constant air strikes and increasing strength of American tank attacks forced the Iraqis to withdraw their troops back to eastern parts of Nasiriya, across the Euphrates river, were they assumed defensive positions along the river bank.During the last day of fighting the Iraqis lost up to 20 tanks, up to 2 artillery batteries, and around 100 troops.Yesterday's US losses are estimated at 10 destroyed or disabled tanks, several armored personnel carriers and up to 15 troops killed in action.By 0700hrs MSK today the fighting at Nasiriya stopped. Currently both sides are rushing to regroup their forces and to get them ready for more fighting in this area.Near Basra the advance of the coalition forces came to a complete halt at the near approaches to the western and southwestern outskirts of the city. The US and British forces are rushing to settle into defensive positions after failing to surround Basra. Eastern and northern approaches to Basra remain open and under control of the Iraqi forces.More controversial reports are coming in from the town of Umm-Qasr. As early as three days ago the US command has declared that the coalition forces have captured this small port town and the adjacent oil terminal. However, throughout these three days heavy fighting continued in the town and in the suburbs. The US forces are still unable to break the defense put up by the Iraqi 45th brigade defending the town.Moreover, several counterattacks by the Iraqi forces at Umm Qasr have pushed the US forces out of some part of the town. During last night the Iraqi 45th brigade was reinforced by a special tank battalion of the 51st Infantry Division. The reinforcement included up to 600 troops and 10 tanks. However, the coalition forces were also strengthened overnight with two tank battalions and self-propelled artillery. As of 1000hrs MSK this morning heavy fighting continues at Umm Qasr.According to intercepted radio communications, the British marine infantry units in defensive positions on the Fao peninsula have requested emergency air and artillery support after being attacked by superior Iraqi forces. So far it is not clear whether this was an actual counterattack by the Iraqis or just a nuisance attack. The British commanders report that their positions are being attacked by up to a regiment of infantry supported by tanks.Other intercepted radio traffic suggests that, as the British and US forces bend the Basra - An-Najaf line of defense, the Iraqi command will pull back its main forces to the Al-Ammara - Ad-Divaniya line. Already most of the Iraqi forces in this region have moved to the Al-Ammara - Ad-Divaniya positions and within the next 48 hours defense of Basra and Fao peninsula will be reduced to just the local units and garrisons. The goal of the remaining forces will be to tie up superior coalition forces in these areas.According to radio intercepts during today's night the coalition begun airdropping troops in northern Iraq from airfields in Turkey and Jordan. These forces are being used to form mobile strike groups in northern Kurdistan and near the western-Iraqi town of Er-Rutbah. Already up to 5,000 coalition troops have been delivered to northern Kurdistan and up to 1000 paratroopers have landed near Er-Rutbah.Russian military intelligence has uncovered a range of facts pointing to a separate arrangement between the top leadership of Jordan and the US military command. Officially Jordan has declared its neutrality in the war against Iraq and refused to provide its airspace to the coalition aviation. However, at the same time Jordan has allowed the anti-Iraq coalition to place surveillance radars and radio reconnaissance stations on its territory. Jordan has also allowed the coalition to use its military airbases. Available information indicates that coalition special ops units, including up to 400 troops and their command headquarters, have been deployed to the Jordanian Zarka military base and to the home base of the Jordan's 71st special ops brigade.Reports that have surfaced in the media in the past 12 hours about the capture of a US special ops unit near Baghdad are probably not true. It is likely that these reports refer to the capture of coalition paratroopers yesterday morning near the town of Akashat.During the past 12 hours there has been a drop in intensity of air strikes against Baghdad. Analysts attribute this to the fact that most of available coalition air assets are now deployed in support of ground forces. Intercepted coalition radio traffic shows that most of the bombing attacks against Baghdad are carried out by the US strategic aviation and by sea-launched long-range cruise missiles.So far the US was unable to destroy the air defense networks in central Iraq. As before, the Iraqis continue to covertly use their radars and SAM launchers on a limited bases while employing a huge number of decoys designed to imitate radars.The US was also unable to disrupt the central control over the Iraqi army. The US command is forced to admit that, despite the best efforts of the coalition aviation, the Iraqi forces maintain high combat readiness and reliable command and control structure.[Russian] radio intercept units have reported the loss of two coalition planes. One of the planes was a "Tornado" strike aircraft and the other one was believed to be an F-16 fighter-bomber. The F-16 was shot down over Baghdad and is believed to have crash-landed in a desert in southern Iraq. A coalition search-and-resque unit was immediately dispatched to this area.A CIA referent in the combat area Col. Davis (likely to be a pseudonym) and the US DoD Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) regional director were demoted due to their inadequate performance in estimating the strength of Iraq's forces and their combat readiness.Eyewitnesses report that Gen. Tommy Franks looks extremely exhausted and irritated. Gen. Franks has cancelled the meeting with journalists planned for this morning.Work is paralyzed at the coalition press-center in Kuwait. Journalists are not able to get any information except for the hourly press communique from the command. A variety of reasons are cited by the military to reduce the number of trips into the combat zone for the journalists. All reports coming from the journalists attached to the coalition units are now being strictly censored by the military. All live broadcasts, as those seen during the first day of the war, are now strictly prohibited by a special order from the coalition command. The required time delay between the time news video footage was shot and the time it can be broadcast has been increased to a minimum of 4 hours.More accurate information became available regarding the losses sustained by both sides during the first three days of the war. The coalition has officially acknowledged the deaths of some 25 servicemen. However, intercepted radio communications show that the actual number of coalition casualties is at least 55-70 troops killed and no less than 200 wounded. The emergency dispatch of the "Comfort" medical ship closer to the combat zone is a direct indication of serious casualties. The "Comfort" is expected to arrive to the southern tip of the Fao peninsula later tonight.It is more difficult to evaluate the losses of the Iraqi especially due to the air strikes. On the south front Iraqi losses are estimated at 400-600 killed, 1,500 wounded and up to 300 captured.(source: iraqwar.ru, 03-23-03, translated by Venik)
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March 24, 2003, 0800hrs MSK (GMT +3), Moscow - As of morning (MSK, GMT +3) March 24 the situation in Iraq can be characterized as quiet on all fronts. Attacking coalition forces have settled into positional warfare, they are exhausted, lost the attacking momentum and are in urgent need for fuel, ammunition, repairs and reinforcements. The Iraqis are also busy regrouping their forces, reinforcing the combat units and setting up new defense lines.Exceptionally heavy fighting continued for two days and nights near An-Nasiriya. Both warring sides employed large numbers of tanks and artillery. More than 20,000 troops of the US 3rd Motorized Infantry Division, supported by 200 tanks, 600 other armored vehicles and 150 artillery pieces, were opposed by the Iraqi 3rd Army Corps consisting of up to 40,000 troops, up to 250 tanks, more than 100 artillery, up to 100 mortars and 1000 rocket propelled grenade launchers (RPG) and anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM). The two-day battle ended without any significant results.The Americans have failed in trying to use their momentum in capturing An-Nasiriya and attempted to encircle the town from the west, where they encountered strong layered Iraqi defenses and forced to withdraw. The Iraqi forces used this opportunity to attack the US flanks with two brigades, breaking the US combat orders and causing panic among the US troops. The US command was forced to halt the advance of its forced toward An Najaf and once again redirect several tank battalions to support the attacked units. Nearly 6 hours was needed for the US aviation to stop the Iraqi attack and restore combat order of the US forces.During the past day the coalition aviation flew more than 2,000 close support missions in this area [An-Nasiriya]. "We can only thank God for having air dominance!” said the commander of the US 15th Marines Exp. Corps Col. Thomas Waldhauser in a private conversation with one of the CNN reporters. Later the CNN journalist cited the Colonel in a phone conversation with his editor. The conversation was intercepted.According to the intercepted radio traffic, the US forces have sustained up to 40 killed, up to 10 captured and up to 200 wounded during the fighting near An-Nasiriya. There is confirmed information about one lost attack helicopter and an unconfirmed report about a lost ground attack plane. The US forces have also lost up to 40 armored vehicles, including no less than 10 tanks. Several intercepted reports by the US field commanders stated that their troops are unable to advance due to their soldiers being demoralized by the enemy's fierce resistance and high losses.Four days of continuous advance exhausted the coalition forces, which now have settled into defensive positions nearly on every front to rest and regroup. As of this morning (MSK, GMT +3) the coalition forces are in control of the western part of An-Nasiriya but have no foothold on the left bank of Euphrates. The left bank of the river is controlled by the Iraqi forces, which are conducting engineering works to reinforce their defenses. A part of the Iraqi forces have been deployed to strengthen the defense of An-Najaf, where they expect the next coalition attack.Around 2300hrs (MSK, GMT +3) March 23 a British platoon was ambushed by Iraqi Special Forces unit near Basra. Following a powerful initial artillery barrage the Iraqis engaged the British in close combat and destroyed several armored vehicles. After the Iraqis withdrew the British commander reported up to 8 killed, two missing and more than 30 wounded British soldiers. Thus over the 30% of the unit's troops have been disabled in the attack. Reinforcements and medevac helicopters have been dispatched by the coalition to the scene of the attack.During the past day there has been a sharp increase in combat activity in the coalition's rearguard.Reports have been intercepted showing at least 5 attacks on the coalition military convoys, 8 vehicles destroyed by landmines and 2 ambushes. Iraqi special operation units are mining the roads, setting up ambushes and conduct search and reconnaissance operations. The coalition forces have been ordered to halt the movement of convoys during dark hours and to provide each convoy with combat escort units and air cover.The situation around the borderline town of Umm Qasr (population 1,500) still remains unclear. Radio intercepts and satellite images show that the town was under constant bombardment throughout out the night. The morning photos indicate its complete destruction. This shows that the coalition command, fed up with the Iraqi's stubborn resistance, ordered the complete destruction of the town using aviation and artillery. However, according to reports by the British troops ordered to "clean up" Umm Qasr the town still contains many pockets of resistance. The overall coalition losses at Umm Qasr during the past four days amounted to up to 40 killed and up to 200 wounded. Currently it is impossible to estimate the Iraqi losses at Umm Qasr. As of yesterday's morning the Umm Qasr garrison consisted of 1600 troops.The units of the British marine infantry have failed to establish control over the strategically important Fao peninsula. After yesterday's counterattack by the Iraqis the British forces have been thrown back some 3 to 5 kilometers and were forced into defensive positions. Intercepted radio communications indicate that today the British command will attempt to regain the lost ground after spending the night reinforcing their units on Fao with two additional marine infantry battalions. The overall British losses on the Fao peninsula during the past four days of fighting include up to 15 killed and up to 100 wounded. The Iraqis lost here up to 100 killed and around 100 captured.A heated exchange of fire continues near Basra. The coalition units hesitate to enter the city and limit their actions to constant artillery and aviation bombardment of Basra. So far the coalition forces have failed to completely surround the city and to cut off the defending Iraqi garrison from the main Iraqi forces.The US troops continue landing in northern Iraqi territories controlled by the Kurds. It is expected that as early as tomorrow morning these forces supported by the Kurdish units will make an attempt to capture the town of Kirkuk.Aerial strikes against Iraq continued throughout the night. A total of up to 1,500 combat flights were carried out by the coalition aviation. Additionally, B-52 bombers launched more than 100 cruise missiles from the so-called "Turkish corridor". Some 150 more cruise missiles have been launched by the US and British naval forces.Intercepted radio traffic indicates another lost coalition plane this morning. There was a confirmed loss of a "Predator" unmanned aerial reconnaissance aircraft.Any further advances by the coalition within the next 8-12 hours are unlikely. The coalition command in Qatar has been in meeting since the early morning and is expected to come up with significant changes to the overall operational plan. According to most experts the coalition command made a most serious strategic error by starting the ground phase of the operation nearly at the very start of the war. The Americans have violated their own doctrine where the ground phases of a military operation coincide in time with the destruction of the enemy from the air.The US made serious errors in their estimates of the Iraq's army strength and combat readiness. The US military intelligence and the CIA failed to uncover the true potential of the Iraqi forces and, in essence, misinformed the top military and civilian leadership of the coalition member countries.(source: iraqwar.ru, 03-24-03, translated by Venik)
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March 25, 2003, 1230hrs MSK (GMT +3), Moscow - As of morning March 25 the situation on Iraqi fronts remains quiet. Both sides are actively preparing for future engagements. Exhausted in combat US 3rd Motorized Infantry Division is now being reinforced with fresh units from Kuwait (presumably with up to 1 Marine brigade and 1 tank brigade from the 1st Armored Division (all coming from the coalition command reserves) and elements of the British 7th Tank Brigade from the area of Umm Qasr. The troops have a stringent requirement to regroup and, after conducting additional reconnaissance, to capture An-Nasiriya within two days.The Iraqis have reinforced the An-Nasiriya garrison with several artillery battalions and a large number of anti-tank weapons. Additionally, the Iraqis are actively deploying landmines along the approaches to their positions.However, currently all combat has nearly ceased due to a sand storm raging over the region. Weather forecasts anticipate the storm's end by noon of March 26. According to intercepted radio communications the coalition advance will be tied to the end of the sand storm and is planned to take place during the night of March 26-27. The coalition command believes that a night attack will allow the its forces to achieve the element of surprise and to use its advantage in specialized night fighting equipment.There have been no reports of any losses resulting from direct combat in the past 10 hours. However, there is information about two coalition combat vehicles destroyed by landmines. Three US soldiers were wounded in one of these incidents.Positional warfare continues near Basra. The coalition forces in this area are clearly insufficient to continue the attack and the main emphasis is being placed on artillery and aviation. The city is under constant bombardment but so far this had little impact on the combat readiness of the Iraqi units. Thus, last night an Iraqi battalion reinforced with tanks swung around the coalition positions in the area of Basra airport and attacked the coalition forces in the flanks. As the result of this attack the US forces have been thrown back 1.5-2 kilometers leaving the airport and the nearby structures in the hands of the Iraqis. Two APCs and one tank were destroyed in this encounter. According to radio intelligence at least two US soldiers were killed and no less than six US soldiers were wounded.The coalition forces are still unable to completely capture the small town of Umm Qasr. By the end of yesterday coalition units were controlling only the strategic roads going through the town, but fierce fighting continued in the residential districts. At least two British servicemen were killed by sniper fire in Umm Qasr during the past 24 hours.The coalition command is extremely concerned with growing resistance movement in the rear of the advancing forces. During a meeting at the coalition command headquarters it was reported that up to 20 Iraqi reconnaissance units are active behind the coalition rear. The Iraqis attack lightly armed supply units; they deploy landmines and conduct reconnaissance. Additionally, captured villages have active armed resistance that is conducting reconnaissance in the interests of the Iraqi command and is organizing attacks against coalition troops. During the past 24 hours more than 30 coalition wheeled and armored vehicles have been lost to such attacks. Some 7 coalition servicemen have disappeared, 3 soldiers died and 10 were wounded.The coalition commander Gen. Tommy Franks ordered his forces to clear coalition rears from Iraqi diversionary units and partisans in the shortest possible time. The British side will be responsible for fulfilling these orders. A unit from the 22nd SAS regiment supported by the US 1st, 5th and 10th Special Operations Groups will carry out this operation. Each of these groups has up to 12 units numbering 12-15 troops each. All of these units have some Asian or Arabic Americans. The groups also have guides and translators from among local Iraqi collaborators, who went through rapid training at specialized centers in the Czech Republic and the UK.The sand storms turned out to be the main enemy of the American military equipment. Just the 3rd Motorized Infantry Division had more than 100 disabled vehicles disabled. The repair crews are working around the clock to return all the disabled equipment back into service. This is causing serious concern on the part of the coalition command. The M1A2 Abrams tanks are not known for the their reliable engines as it is, but in the sand storm conditions multiple breakdowns became a real problem for the tank crews.All attempts by the US paratroopers to capture the town of Kirkuk have yielded no result. The Americans counted on the support of the Kurds but the latter refused to take a direct part in the attack and demanded guarantees from the US command that it will prevent a Turkish invasion. The Turkish themselves are avoiding giving any such guarantees.Additionally, the situation [at Kirkuk] is affected by the lack of heavy weapons on the part of the US paratroopers. The aviation support alone is clearly not sufficient. The northern group of forces commander Marine Brig. Gen. Osman has requested artillery and armored vehicles.All indications are that so far the US is unable to form a combat-capable strike force in this area.According to satellite reconnaissance it seems likely that the Iraqis had time to remove the captured Apache Longbow attack helicopter of the 11th Aviation Regiment. The pieces remaining at the landing site following a US bombing strike indicate that the bombs hit a crudely constructed mockup.Aerial bombardment of Baghdad has so far failed to produce the expected results. All targets designated before the war have been hit 3 to 7 times, but this had almost no effect of the combat readiness of the Iraqi army, their air defenses or the command and control structures.It seems that during preparation for the war the Iraqis were able to create new, well-protected communication lines and control centers. There is plenty of intelligence information indicating that so far the US electronic reconnaissance was unable to locate and to penetrate the Iraqi command's communications network, which is an indication of the network's high technological sophistication.A particular point of concern for the US command is the huge overuse of precision-guided munitions and cruise missiles. Already the supply of heavy cruise missiles like the "Tomahawk" has been reduced by a third and, at the current rate of use, in three weeks the US will be left only with the untouchable strategic supply of these missiles. A similar situation exists with other types of precision-guided munitions. "The rate of their use is incompatible with the obtained results. We are literally dropping gold into the mud!" said Gen. Richard Mayers during a meeting at Pentagon yesterday morning. [reverse translation from Russian]The US experts already call this war a "crisis". "It was enough for the enemy to show a little resistance and some creative thinking as our technological superiority begun to quickly lose all its meaning. Our expenses are not justified by the obtained results. The enemy is using an order of magnitude cheaper weapons to reach the same goals for which we spend billions on technological whims of the defense industry!" said Gen. Stanley McCrystal during the same Pentagon meeting. [reverse translation from Russian]Since the early morning today the coalition high command and the Joint Chief of Staff are in an online conference joined by the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. This meeting immediately follows an earlier meeting last night at the White House. During the night meeting with President Bush emergency actions were outlined to resolve the standstill in Iraq. The existing course of actions is viewed as "ineffective and leading to a crisis". The Secretary of State Collin Powell warned that, if the war in Iraq continues for more than a month, it might lead to unpredictable consequences in international politics.The Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Gen. Richard Mayers reported on the proposed actions and corrections to the plan of the operation in Iraq. George Bush demanded that the military breaks the standstill in Iraq and within a week achieves significant military progress. A particular attention, according to Bush, should be paid to finding and eliminating the top Iraqi political and military leadership. Bush believes that Saddam Hussein and his closest aides are the cornerstone of the Iraqi defense.During today's online meeting at the coalition headquarters Gen. Franks was criticized for inefficient command of his troops and for his inability to concentrate available forces on the main tasks.According to [Russian military] intelligence Pentagon made a decision to significantly reinforce the coalition. During the next two weeks up to 50,000 troops and no less than 500 tanks will arrive to the combat area from the US military bases in Germany and Albania. By the end of April 120,000 more troops and up to 1,200 additional tanks will be sent to support the war against Iraq.A decision was made to change the way aviation is used in this war. The use of precision-guided munitions will be scaled down and these weapons will be reserved for attacking only known, confirmed targets. There will be an increase in the use of conventional high-yield aviation bombs, volume-detonation bombs and incendiary munitions. The USAF command is ordered to deliver to airbases used against Iraq a two-week supply of aviation bombs of 1-tonn caliber and higher as well as volume-detonation and incendiary bombs. This means that Washington is resorting to the "scorched earth" tactics and carpet-bombing campaign.(source: iraqwar.ru, 03-25-03, translated by Venik)
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March 26, 2003, 1230hrs MSK (GMT +3), Moscow - As of the morning March 26 fierce battles have resumed in Iraq along the entire front. As was previously expected the sand storm has halted the advance of the coalition forces. Additionally, the coalition troops were in serious need of rest, resupply and reinforcement.For much of the day unfavorable weather paralyzed combat activities of one of the main attack groups of the coalition - the 101st Airborne Division, which was forced to completely curtail all of its combat operations. Combat readiness of this division is of strategic importance to the entire coalition force primarily due to the fact that the division operates 290 helicopters of various types, including the 72 Apache attack helicopters. The 101st Airborne Division along with the 82nd Airborne Division and the 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized) forms the backbone of the XVIII Airborne Corps - the main strike force of the coalition.In essence, the 101st Airborne Division provides suppression of the enemy while simultaneously conducting aerial reconnaissance and suppression of any newly-discovered enemy forces. It maintain constant contact with the enemy and contains the enemy until the main forces arrive.Currently the coalition's main forces are conducting combat operations along the approaches to the towns of Karabela and An-Najaf.During the past 24 hours the coalition units in these areas sustained 4 killed and up to 10 wounded. All indications are that one coalition special operations helicopter was lost and no communication with the helicopter could be established. The faith of its crew and the troops it carried is still being investigated. Another two coalition helicopters made emergency landings in areas controlled by friendly forces. Aircraft engines were found to be extremely susceptible to the effects of sand.As was determined by our [GRU] intelligence even before the start of combat operations, the primary goal of the coalition command was an energetic advance across the desert along the right bank of the Euphrates river, reaching the central Iraq with a further thrust toward Baghdad through Karabela. Another strategic attack was to go around Basra through An-Nasiriya toward Al-Ammara followed by a full isolation of the southern [Iraqi] forces, effectively splitting Iraq in half.The first part of the plan - a march across the desert toward Karabela - was achieved, albeit with serious delays. The second part of the plan in essence has failed. Up to this moment the coalition troops were unable to punch through the Iraqi defenses near An-Nasiriya and to force the Iraqis toward Al-Ammara, which would have allowed the coalition to clear the way to Baghdad along the strategically important Mesopotamian river valley with Tigris and Euphrates covering the flanks of the advancing forces. So far only a few coalition units were able to get to the left bank of the Euphrates, where they are trying to widen their staging areas.Additionally, the prolonged fighting near An-Nasiriya allowed the Iraqis to withdraw most of their forces from Basra region and to avoid being surrounded.Currently the coalition forces are trying to get across the river near An-Najaf and Karabela, where, all indications are, heavy combat will continue during the next two days.Harsh criticism from the top US military leadership and pressure from Washington forced the coalition command to resort to more energetic actions. In addition to that the shock of the first days of war among the coalition troops, when they expected an easy trek across Iraq but encountered stiff resistance, is now wearing off. They are now being "absorbed" into the war. Now the coalition actions are becoming more coherent and adequate. The coalition command is gradually taking the initiative away from the Iraqis, which is in part due to the reliance of the Iraqi command on inflexible defensive tactics.Now the main tactical move of the US troops is to use their aerial and ground reconnaissance forces to test the Iraqi defenses, to open them up and, without entering direct close combat, to deliver maximum damage using artillery and ground attack aircraft. The coalition has finally stopped pointlessly moving around in convoys, as was characteristic of the first three days of the ground war.The tactics allowed for increased combat effectiveness and considerably increased losses of the Iraqi side. Due to such attacks by the coalition during the previous night and today's early morning the Iraqis have lost 250 troops killed and up to 500 wounded. Up to 10 Iraqi tanks were destroyed and up to three Iraqi artillery batteries were suppressed.However, despite the increased combat effectiveness, the coalition forces have so far failed to capture a single sizable town in Iraq. Only by the end of the sixth day the British marine infantry was able to establish tentative control over the tiny town of Umm Qasr. During the hours of darkness all movement around the town is stopped and the occupying troops withdraw to defensive positions. Constant exchanges of fire take place throughout the town. Out of more than 1,500-strong local garrison the British managed to capture only 150 Iraqis. The rest has either withdrew toward Basra or changed into civilian clothes and resorted to partisan actions.Near Basra the British forces in essence are laying a Middle Ages-style siege of a city with the population of two million. Artillery fire has destroyed most of the city's life-supporting infrastructure and artillery is used continuously against the positions of the defending units. The main goal of the British is two maintain a strict blockade of Basra. Their command is confident that the situation in the city can be destabilized and lack of food, electricity and water will prompt the local population to cause the surrender of the defending forces. Analysts point out that capture of Basra is viewed by the coalition command as being exceptionally important and as a model for the future "bloodless" takeover of Baghdad.So far, however, this approach does not work and the city's garrison is actively defending its territory. Just during the past night at least three British soldiers were killed and eight more were wounded in the exchange of
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