27 March: Russian military updates on Iraq war


Richard Moore

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Date: Thu, 27 Mar 2003 21:53:34 -0500
To: •••@••.•••
From: Paul Wolf <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Russian military updates on Iraq war


War in Iraq - requirement for more troops, March 27, 2003


The IRAQWAR.RU 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.

March 27, 2003, 1425hrs MSK (GMT +3), Moscow - There has been a sharp
increase in activity on the southern front. As of 0700hrs the coalition 
forces are subjected to nearly constant attacks along the entire length 
of the front. The Iraqi command took the advantage of the raging sand 
storm to regroup its troops and to reinforce the defenses along the 
approaches to Karabela and An-Najaf with two large armored units (up to 
two armored brigades totaling up to 200 tanks).  The Iraqi attack units 
were covertly moved near the positions of the US 3rd Infantry Division 
(Motorized) and the 101st Airborne Division. With sunrise and a marginal 
visibility improvement the Iraqis attacked these US forces in the flank 
to the west of Karabela.

Simultaneously, massive artillery barrages and counterattacks were 
launched against units of the US 3rd Infantry Division and the 101st 
Airborne Division conducting combat operations near An-Najaf. The 
situation [for the US troops] was complicated by the fact that the
continuing sand storm forced them to group their units into battalion 
convoys in order to avoid losing troops and equipment in near zero-
visibility conditions. These battalion convoys were concentrated along
the roads leading to Karabela and An-Najaf and had only limited 
defenses. There was no single line of the front; aerial reconnaissance 
in these conditions was not possible and until the very last moment 
the coalition command was unaware of the Iraqi preparations.

During one of such attacks [the Iraqi forces] caught off-guard a unit 
of the US 3rd Infantry Division that was doing vehicle maintenance and 
repairs. In a short battle the US unit was destroyed and dispersed, 
leaving behind one armored personnel carrier, a repair vehicle and two 
Abrams tanks, one of which was fully operational.

At the present time visibility in the combat zone does not exceed 300 
meters, which limits the effectiveness of the 101st Airborne Division 
and that of its 70 attack helicopters representing the main aerial 
reconnaissance and ground support force of the coalition. One of the 
coalition transport helicopters crashed yesterday during take-off. 
The reason for the crash was sand in the engine compressors.

The Iraqis were able to get in range for close combat without losses 
and now fierce battles are continuing in the areas of Karabela and 
An-Najaf. The main burden of supporting the coalition ground troops 
has been placed with the artillery and ground attack aircraft. 
Effectiveness of the latter is minimal due to the weather conditions. 
Strikes can be delivered only against old Iraqi targets with known 
coordinates, while actually supporting the ground troops engaged in
combat is virtually impossible and attempts to do so lead to the 
most unfortunate consequences.

Intercepted radio communications show that at around 0615hrs this 
morning the lead of a flight of two A-10 ground attack planes 
detected a convoy of armored vehicles. Unable to see any markings 
identifying these vehicles as friendly and not being able to 
contact the convoy by radio the pilot directed artillery fire to 
the coordinates of the convoy.

Later it was discovered that this was a coalition convoy. Thick 
layers of dust covered up the identification markings - colored 
strips of cloth in the rear of the vehicles. Electronic jamming 
made radio contact impossible. First reports indicated that the 
US unit lost 50 troops killed and wounded. At least five armored 
vehicles have been destroyed, one of which was an Abrams tank.

During the past day the coalition losses in this area [ Karabela 
and An-Najaf ] were 18-22 killed and up to 40 wounded. Most of the 
fatalities were sustained due to unexpected attacks by the Iraqi 
Special Forces against the coalition rears and against communication 
sites. This is a sign of the increasing diversionary and partisan 
actions by the Iraqis.

During the same period of time the Iraqi forces sustained up to 
100 killed, about the same number of wounded and up to 50 captured.

Since the beginning of the operation no more than 2000 Iraqi troops 
were captured by the coalition. The majority of the captured troops 
were members of regional defense [militia] units.

The Iraqis were able to move significant reinforcements to the area 
of An-Nasiriya making it now extremely difficult for the Americans 
to widen their staging areas on the left bank of the Euphrates. 
Moreover, the Americans [on the left bank of the Euphrates] may end 
up in a very difficult situation if the Iraqis manage to destroy 
the bridges and to separate [these US units] from the main coalition
force. The US forces in this area consist of up to 4,000 Marines 
from the 1st Marine Division and supporting units of the 82nd 
Airborne Division. Currently, fighting has resumed in the 
An-Nasiriya suburbs.

During one of the Iraqi attacks yesterday against the US positions 
the Iraqis for the first time employed the "Grad" mobile multiple 
rocket launch systems [MLRS]. As the result an entire US unit was 
taken out of combat after sustaining up to 40 killed and wounded 
as well as losing up to 7 armored vehicles.

There are no other reports of any losses in this area [ An-Nasiriya] 
except for one US Marine drowning in one of the city's water canals 
and another Marine being killed by a sniper.

During the sand storm the coalition command lost contact with up 
to 4 coalition reconnaissance groups. Their whereabouts are being 
determined. It is still unknown what happened to more than 600 
other coalition troops mainly from resupply, communications and 
reconnaissance units communication with which was lost during the 
past 24 hours.

The situation around Basra remains unclear. The Iraqis control 
the city and its suburbs, as well as the area south of Basra and 
the part of the adjacent Fao peninsula, which the British have so 
far failed to take. The British forces are blockading Basra from 
the west and northwest. However, due to difficult marshy terrain 
crossed by numerous waterways the British have been unable to 
create a single line of front and to establish a complete 
blockade of the city. Currently main combat operations are being 
launched for control of a small village near Basra where the 
local airport is located. The British field commanders report 
that there has been no drop in the combat activity of the Iraqis. 
On the contrary, under the cover of the sand storm up to two 
battalions of the "surrendered" Iraqi 51st Infantry Division were 
moved to the Fao peninsula to support the local defending forces.

Rumors about an uprising by the Basra Shiite population turned 
out to be false. Moreover, the Shiite community leaders called 
on the local residents to fight the "children of the Satan" - 
the Americans and the British.

During the past 24 hours the British sustained no less than 3 
killed and up to 10 wounded due to mortar and sniper fire.

It is difficult to estimate the Iraqi losses [in Basra] due to 
limited available information. However, some reports suggest 
that up to 30 Iraqi troops were killed during the past day by 
artillery and aircraft fire.

During an attack against a coalition checkpoint in Umm Qasr last 
night one British marine infantry soldier was heavily wounded. 
This once again points to the tentative nature of the British 
claims of control over the town.

Information coming from northern regions of Iraq indicates 
that most of the Kurdish leaders chose not to participate in 
the US war against Iraq. The primary reason for that is the 
mistrust of the Kurds toward the US. Yesterday one of the 
Russian intelligence sources obtained information about a 
secret agreement reached between the US and the Turkish 
government. In the agreement the US, behind the backs of the 
Kurds, promised Turkey not to support in any way a formation 
of a Kurdish state in this region. The US has also promised 
not to prevent Turkey from sending its troops [ to Northern 
Kurdistan] immediately following [the coalition] capture of 
northern Iraq.

In essence, this gives Turkey a card-blanche to use force for 
a "cleanup" in Kurdistan. At the same time the Kurdish troops 
will be moved to fight the Iraqis outside of Kurdistan, thus 
rendering them unable to support their own people.

Along the border with Kurdistan Turkey has already massed a 
40,000-strong army expeditionary corps that is specializing 
in combat operations against the Kurds. This force remains 
at a 4-hour readiness to begin combat operations.

All of this indicates that the coalition command will be 
unable to create a strong "Northern Front" during the next 
3-4 days and that the US Marines and paratroopers in this 
area will have to limit their operations to distracting the 
Iraqis and to launching reconnaissance missions.

During a meeting with the Germany's chancellor [ Gerhard ] 
Schroeder the heads of the German military and political 
intelligence reported that the US is doing everything 
possible to conceal information on the situation in the 
combat zone and that the US shows an extremely "unfriendly" 
attitude. Germany's own intelligence-gathering capabilities 
in this region are very limited. This is the result of 
Germany, being true to its obligations as an ally, not 
attempting to bolster its national intelligence operations 
in the region and not trying to separate its intelligence 
agencies from the intelligence structures of NATO and the 

There has been a confirmation of yesterday's reports about 
the plans of the coalition command to increase its forces 
fighting in Iraq. The troops of the 4th Infantry Division 
(Mechanized) are currently being airlifted to the region, 
while its equipment is traveling by sea around the Arabian 
Peninsula and the unloading is expected to begin as early 
as by the end of tomorrow. The Division numbers 30,000 
soldiers and officers. By the end of April up to 120,000 
more US troops, up to 500 tanks and up to 300 more 
helicopters will be moved to the region.

In addition to that, today the US President [George W] Bush 
asked the British Prime-Minister [Tony] Blair to increase 
the British military presence in Iraq by a minimum of 
15,000-20,000 troops.

At the current level of combat operations and at the 
current level of Iraqi resistance the coalition may face 
a sharp shortage of troops and weapons within the next 5-7 
days, which will allow the Iraqis to take the initiative. 
The White House took this conclusion of the US Joint Chiefs 
of Staff with great concern.

During the past seven days of the war the US Navy detained 
all ships in the Persian Gulf going to Iraq under the US "Oil 
for Food" program. Since yesterday all these ships are being 
unloaded in Kuwait. Unloaded food is being delivered by the 
US military to Iraq and is being distributed as "American 
humanitarian aid" and as a part of the "rebuilding Iraq" 
program. These US actions have already cause a serious scandal 
in the UN. The US explained its actions by its unilateral 
decision to freeze all Iraqi financial assets, including the 
Iraqi financial assets with the UN. These assets the US now 
considers its property and will exercise full control over 
them. Captains of the detained ships have already called 
these actions by the US a "piracy."


War in Iraq - fighting the people, March 26, 2003 

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 

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 of 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 fire [near Basra].

It is difficult not to not to notice the extremely overstretched 
frontline of the coalition. This frontline is stretching toward 
Baghdad through An-Najaf and Karabela and its right flank goes 
all the way along the Euphrates and is completely exposed. All 
main supply and communication lines of the coalition are going 
through unprotected desert. Already the supply routes are 
stretching for more than 350 kilometers and are used to deliver 
800 tonnes of fuel and up to 1,000 tonnes of ammunition, food 
and other supplies daily to the advancing forces.

If the Iraqis deliver a decisive strike at the base of this 
front, the coalition will find itself in a very difficult 
situation, with its main forces, cutoff from the resupply 
units, losing their combat readiness and mobility and falling 
an easy pray to the Iraqis.

It is possible that the Americans are relying on the power of 
their aviation that should prevent any such developments. It 
is also possible that this kind of self confidence may be very 

Massive numbers of disabled combat vehicles and other equipment 
becomes a strategic problem for the coalition. Already, radio 
intercepts indicate, all available repair units have been 
deployed to the front. Over 60% of all available spare parts 
have been already used and emergency additional supplies are 
being requested.

The sand is literally "eating up" the equipment. Sand has a 
particularly serious effect on electronics and transmissions 
of combat vehicles. Already more than 40 tanks and up to 69 
armored personnel carriers have been disabled due to damaged 
engines; more than 150 armored vehicles have lost the use of 
their heat-seeking targeting sights and night vision equipment. 
Fine dust gets into all openings and clogs up all moving parts.

The coalition command has effectively acknowledged its defeat 
in the information war with the strikes against the television 
center in Baghdad and now further strikes should be expected 
against television and ground satellite transmitters. The 
coalition is attempting to leave the Iraqis without information 
in order to demoralize them.

The extreme length of the resupply routes and the actions of 
the Iraqi reconnaissance units have created a new problem: the 
coalition command is forced to admit that it has no information 
about the conditions on the roads. Currently, as intercepted 
radio communications show, the coalition command is trying to 
establish the whereabouts of more than 500 of its troops that 
fell behind their units, departed with resupply convoys or 
were carrying out individual assignments. So far it was not 
possible to establish how many of these troops are dead, 
captured or have successfully reached other units.

(source: iraqwar.ru, 03-26-03, translated by Venik)

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