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War Analysis by Dr. David McIntyre


MR. BORGIDA:
Joining us now, Dr. David McIntyre, our military analyst from the ANSER Institute, and a retired Army colonel.

Dr. McIntyre, thanks for joining us again. Let's go right to things that are so important right now. The major battlegrounds now inside Iraq, help us out with that.

DR. MCINTYRE:
We've had a number of events in the last two days. One is the securing of the area around the ports, and then the movement of the armored forces much farther north, some reports are saying within about 80 to 100 miles of Baghdad itself. If you want to go to the map, we can take a look at that.

MR. BORGIDA:
Let's go to the map and have a look at what you want to show us today.

DR. MCINTYRE:
We looked yesterday at the movements out of Kuwait that secured the early parts, the lower parts, the ports, and the U.S. marines who moved out of Kuwait and surrounded Basra. They did not go into Basra. They moved to the left and right of it. And now those same forces are moving out of Basra and moving, apparently, to the northwest, toward Baghdad.

At the same time, you had a number of folks, armored units, that had moved out of Kuwait and crossed the river, and then continued to move, some reports are saying, within 80 to 100 miles of Baghdad itself.

There were a number of other incidents today, and we'll take a look at some details later, with those armored units and some with the marines. And then the journalists that were just discussed, were up in the northern part of Iraq; those were ambushes.

MR. BORGIDA:
Let's do that. We'll go to our other map for a moment and talk about some of the other incidents that occurred today.

DR. MCINTYRE:
Again, putting it back into perspective, the British marines are the ones that moved up and seized the lower part of the port, which is so important when ships come in. And then the U.S. marines are the ones that moved into Basra and moved around it, not trying to seize and control the population, just trying to make sure the port facilities are available. And then we're preparing to move on further to the north, on the flank of the armored units.

The armored units are the ones that had left, the 3rd Infantry units, Kuwait, moved north, crossing over the river, and then went around the town further to the north. It looked like they were probably going to move from there, and they're the ones that had moved up to within 80 miles of Baghdad.

The two major incidents today concerning, first, the marines. We don't know the exact location, but somewhere, we believe, just north of Basra, there was a fake surrender. A large number of Iraqis appeared to be surrendering. And when the marines went in and tried to take their surrender, it was apparently an ambush. The marines, many of them were wounded, some of them were killed. A particularly dangerous way of doing business, because it makes it so dangerous for other Iraqis that might want to surrender.

And then, secondly, this incident where a supply unit apparently got off from the main unit -- and we're not exactly sure where -- but either east or west of this northward movement. This supply unit got off to the side, were caught without any combat support, and they're the ones where soldiers were killed and apparently taken off, some perhaps killed later -- the reports are not clear -- and a number of them taken prisoner.

MR. BORGIDA:
Let's keep the map up for just another moment or two, because Nasariyah is the place where even the U.S. officials briefing reporters said some of the fiercest fighting was going on. Why there?

DR. MCINTYRE:
That's an important question, because it is a major river crossing and road network that lets you get across the Euphrates River, so that you can move forces up, as we were discussing just a minute ago, so you can move armored forces up between the Tigris and the Euphrates, in that river valley, toward Baghdad. And the supply forces are largely going to be lightly protected as they move to the north.

Now, this is an important tactical consideration. The Americans have apparently made a decision that they're not going to occupy places where there are large numbers of civilians. They're going to try to bypass them. That's very good for the civilians, but it leaves the soldiers more exposed.

MR. BORGIDA:
Let's talk for a moment, too, about this move into Baghdad. Closer and closer, apparently within 150-160 kilometers of Baghdad now are the U.S. and British troops. Can we expect that there will be even more resistance from perhaps the elite Republican Guards as they move into closer proximity of Baghdad?

DR. MCINTYRE:
Yes, I think you'll see two types of fighting. First, a point that has been made today is that the resistance that was met thus far was not organized resistance. By that, I mean it wasn't commanders and organized units. It was small units and ambushes. So, I think you will see some of that continuing. But the larger forces, the larger contact, will be drawn up, I would expect, just ahead of, just outside of Baghdad. And that's where you will see the tank fights.

MR. BORGIDA:
And, Dr. McIntyre, this is perhaps what the President and other U.S. officials have been warning Americans about in recent days, at least rhetorically, saying that we ought to be careful not to get too complacent, and this will be a longer, protracted affair.

DR. MCINTYRE:
Right. There are some people who had jumped to the conclusion that because there was a heavy air bombardment of command-and-control facilities and air defense facilities earlier on, and because the movement across the border was not met with resistance, there have been some who have imagined that this might fall quickly. I don't think that will be the case. I think there are people, remember, whose lives will be in danger because they have done such evil things, they don't wish to be captured.

MR. BORGIDA:
Let's talk for a moment, too, about some of these other events that we reported at the top of the program, friendly fire and this action in one of the camps, apparently by an American soldier.

DR. MCINTYRE:
By an American soldier.

MR. BORGIDA:
The fog of war and so many things can be created from it. Talk to us a little bit about that. And is this to be expected or is this unusual?

DR. MCINTYRE:
It absolutely is to be expected. In fact, it has been unusually light thus far. When you put this many people, a quarter-of-a-million soldiers, in amongst a population, you're just going to have instances, somebody is going to be run over by a truck, there is going to be a mistake in coordination.

Now, the Patriot units have a very clear procedure for aircraft to coordinate as they come back through airspace. There is a very clear procedure. I'm not sure what happened. I suspect we'll find at the end that the equipment functioned fine, both the aircraft and the Patriot, and that someone made a human error, induced a human error, and failed to properly identify themselves as they were coming in, so we had the accident.

MR. BORGIDA:
And quickly, Dr. McIntyre, in the last 30 seconds or so we have -- and I know this is a big question and we'll tackle it some more during the week -- but people are wondering about chemical and biological weapons. Would you think that the potential for that use to be greater as more troops approach Baghdad?

DR. MCINTYRE:
Right. Remember that there are two places you can use them. One is in the rear, in places like Kuwait and the ports and so forth. And the second is actually up with the units, the combat units. If we're going to see them, it won't be as they're racing through the desert. It will be when they're stopped and in contact with Iraqi forces. That's the point at which you will see the chemical weapons pulled out, I suspect.

MR. BORGIDA:
A disturbing notion. We'll keep our eyes on this one. Dr. David McIntyre, thanks for joining us.

DR. MCINTYRE:
Glad to be with you.

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