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Republican Guards Could Provide Greatest Resistance in US-Iraq War - 2003-03-20


Hours after the military campaign to overthrow Saddam Hussein began Iraqi President Saddam Hussein appeared on national television promising victory for his country.

Pentagon officials estimate that there are about 350,000 personnel in the Iraqi army, including six divisions of elite troops called Republican Guards. Four of the divisions are assigned to protect Saddam Hussein and the rest of the Iraqi leadership. There are about 12,000 to 15,000 troops in each division of the Republican Guards.

Military analysts expect the greatest resistance to come from the Republican Guards. Large numbers of regular Iraqi army troops are expected to surrender in the early stages of the war.

Research organizations in Britain and the United States estimate that Iraq has as many 2,000 older main battle tanks, most of which come from the Soviet Union. Iraq lost many of its most modern tanks during the first Gulf war.

There are about 2,400 major artillery weapons including self-propelled artillery pieces. It also has extensive stocks of modern anti-tank guided weapons.

The military analysts say Iraq has approximately 3,000 anti-aircraft guns and more than 850 surface-to-air missile launchers.

The Iraqi air force has more than 300 combat aircraft, including Mirage F-1s and a host of Soviet-built MiG aircraft.

The amount of long-range missiles in Iraqi possession remains relatively unknown. However, Iraq still has a small stock of banned Al-Samoud 2 missiles that can travel about 183 kilometers, according to chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix. Iraq said it had about 100 to 120 of the missiles before it began complying with a U.N. order to destroy them. Baghdad destroyed about 70 of the missiles before war began Thursday.

The Iraqi navy is nearly obsolete and has only one guided missile patrol craft and five inshore patrol boats.

Major Iraqi military command facilities are reported to be in hardened underground facilities with a network of radar systems and fiber-optic communications links.

After 12 years of sanctions imposed by the United Nations Iraq's military resources are depleted and the ability of its forces to wage war is severely limited, especially in comparison with the U.S. and British forces they are facing.

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