Posted by Tony from 69-pool1.ras11.calan-e.alerondial.net (220.127.116.11) on Thursday, March 27, 2003 at 1:25AM :
Saddam took lessons from US failures
The Times, London
LONDON, March 26. — The Iraqi military has spent months researching US defeats in Somalia, Lebanon and Vietnam to perfect the guerrilla warfare tactics now being used so effectively against invading coalition troops.
While the stiff resistance of the Iraqi troops against the US-led assault took many coalition commanders by surprise, President Saddam Hussein and his military advisers made no secret of their preparations.
For nearly a year now, they have spoken openly about drawing coalition forces into urban areas, attacking invading troops from the rear and using concentrated fire to bring down helicopters.
Iraqi officials have frequently referred to the debacle in Mogadishu, when 19 US Army Rangers were killed after a helicopter was shot down. Somali fighters loyal to Md Aideed, a warlord, and supported by the Al-Qaida, ambushed the helicopter by firing a volley of rocket-propelled grenades simultaneously. Troops were shot when they attempted to rescue the crew. The incident led to a withdrawal by the USA from Somalia.
An identical tactic was used by the Iraqis with devastating effect on Sunday night near Karbala against 32 US Apache helicopters. All the helicopters were hit in the barrage and one was forced down and its two-man crew captured.
But the most serious threat to the coalition forces are the hit-and-run operations being launched by Iraqi irregulars up and down the extended US supply lines. Here the Iraqis have adapted lessons from Vietnam, and in particular the Vietcong guerrillas.
Last year, Mr Hussein took the first steps towards organising a similar force. He sent arms, equipment and teams of trained men to regional cities like Basra and Nasiriyah with instructions to prepare for guerrilla fighting.
Regional governors were summoned to Baghdad and told that in the event of an invasion they had the power to continue fighting even if contact with the capital was cut. Members of the Mukhabarat (secret police) were also dispatched to enforce loyalty and stop any defections. These forces operate in civilian clothes, travel in unmarked cars and often launch operations at night against vulnerable targets such as the US Army engineers ambushed at the weekend.
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