Wartime Edition of the Aeronautics.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 23, 2003, 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 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 basis 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-rescue 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.

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 sandstorm 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 maintains 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 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 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 dangerous.

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) Copyright Venik's Aviation, 1994-2003

Wartime Edition of the Aeronautics.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 23, 2003, 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 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 basis 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-rescue 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.

March 28, 2003, 1448hrs MSK (GMT +3), Moscow

Read reports from March 26/ March 23

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 defenses.

Also during 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.

First firefights 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.

According to 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.

First conclusions 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.

The American 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 25%.

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 losse! s 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.

Two enormous 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 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 assess the social and political situation in Iraq and in the world in general. These failures led to entirely inadequate military and political decisions:

The coalition 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.

The buildup 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 positional battles.

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 of defense.

Not a single goal set before the coalition forces was met on time.

During the nine days of the war the coalition has failed:



A whole range of problems that require their own solutions was uncovered about the problem of coordination between units from different services. directly on the battlefield. Thus, combat in Iraq raised serious concerns 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]

Nevertheless, despite 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.

Overestimating 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.

Another serious 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 US commanders.

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.

The first strategic lessons of the war

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.

Elimination 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. (source: iraqwar.ru 03-28-03, translated by Venik)