U.S. military planners deny that they have underestimated Iraqi troop strength and fighting ability, despite the assessment of a senior commander in the field that Iraqi tactics and resistance have slowed down the U.S.-led campaign.
Iraqi paramilitary forces have put up strong resistance as U.S. troops have moved north from Kuwait toward Baghdad.
U.S. forces sought to bypass towns in the south in their push northward but have come under heavy fire on the road to Baghdad. The Iraqis have also used guerrilla tactics to attack U.S. supply lines.
U.S. Army Brigadier General Vince Brooks, the deputy operations director at the U.S. Central Command, says Iraqi fighters have changed in and out of uniform and used civilians as human shields. But he says adapting to changing circumstances is part of warfare. "Our enemy always has a vote in how the circumstances go," he said. "I don't think we have necessarily underestimated [the enemy]. No one can ever predict how the battle will unfold."
Lieutenant General William Wallace, the U.S. Army's top ground commander in Iraq, earlier told reporters that unexpected tactics by Iraqi fighters and overstretched supply lines have slowed down the U.S. campaign.