Newsline Host David Borgida talks with Dr. David Mcintyre, Deputy Director, ANSER Institute For Homeland Security.
Joining me now, our military analyst, Dr. David McIntyre, a retired U.S. Army colonel. Dr. McIntyre, thanks for joining us.
You have been our regular, and we appreciate all your commentary. Let's go straight to the notion of this impending battle and what appears to be the softening of the targets in and around Baghdad.
Are we to assume that we are to see this great confrontation, as it were, in the next few days?
Well, you know from working with me that I'm a little reluctant to guess what is going to happen next, because you never know in war. And to a large extent, it depends upon the Iraqis.
If they decide to come out and fight, then I think you will see the United States willingly engage them. If they decide to hole up, I think you will see the United States attempt to pin them in place and hit them from the air.
If you see them back into Baghdad, I think you will see the United States wait for a little while, until we have more force, and try to find another way that doesn't risk Iraqi civilians so much.
It does strike me, not to diminish the importance of all this, but in some ways a boxing match, one wanting to bring the other in, the other wanting to wait and back off in a way. Is that what we're seeing, in effect?
Right. All war is a contest of wills. And frequently people think about it as just having a plan and you just accomplish your plan.
That's not true. We are waging war against a thinking enemy. And for every move that you make, he will try to make some unexpected move.
And that is what we are seeing. It's why we are moving up into the north.
Now, the United States is committing more troops to the ground force situation. Does that tell you that we underestimated the strength or this is still part of the ongoing campaign to keep adding to it?
That's a good question. First, understand that all of the troops that I have seen announced thus far are people who had been previously announced.
I know some in Texas, for example, who are now moving, moved out of their apartments weeks ago because they had had this announcement. And so they have always been scheduled.
The plan initially was to try to do this with as few forces as possible, to limit the damage to Iraq and the Iraqi people, and then to follow on with larger forces if they were required. Well, unfortunately, that first option just didn't work, and it is requiring more damage and more time. Consequently, the follow?on forces are traveling on schedule. The one thing that has been out of schedule has been the plan to move forces into the north, and, unfortunately, lack of cooperation from Turkey really hampered that plan.
Colonel, it does seem in some ways that we have not done as well when it comes to these long convoys and seeing attacks against rear-end supply convoys. We're getting attacks by some of the unofficial military of Iraq, in effect. What do you make of that and what is the U.S. doing to combat that?
Well, first of all, it's a risk that you run. Understand that the United States plan ran several risks from the outset. The first risk was that we might be able to take Saddam out at the very beginning.
Remember, we spent a day doing that. Well, of course, the first risk was we delayed into this bad weather, hoping that the inspections would take place. Unfortunately, that didn't work.
Then we hoped that we could take Saddam, and so we had that delay for the first day.
Then we took a risk that Turkey would open up and let us put forces to the north, which would have shortened the war considerably, and unfortunately that risk didn't work out.
And then, as I said, lastly, we took a risk with a little smaller ground force. None of those risks have worked; consequently, we've having to follow up with this other force.
Now, there is no question that the ground forces in the south, those Fedayeen troops, are a significant harassing factor, but they won't be a significant strategic factor. They will make it take longer; they won't change the outcome.
Dr. David McIntyre, we'll take a short break. You'll be back with us in just a moment.
Back now with our military analyst Dr. David McIntyre. It's interesting to watch that soldier actually throw that drone, which suggests they're not so special after all.
It seems like anybody could throw that. But let's talk for a moment about the Special Forces.
We seem to be hearing a lot more about them in this war. We heard some about what they did in Afghanistan, but less in the 1991 Gulf War I think.
Some of the forces did the same sorts of things. We did have people that went deep, that hid and did reconnaissance. We had people that went after the SCUD's and so forth.
The important thing to understand is that there is such a wide variety of Special Forces.
The Army has units that do everything from seize airfields ?? that's what we saw here. Their specialty would be seizing airfields or raids.
They have people who specialize in foreign language training and medical skills, to work with local indigenous leaders. I'm sure you've seen them work with the Kurds.
You have people that are trained in underwater demolitions. So, those are special operations that are working on the opposite end of the country to clear the mines, along with British special operations, down in the south.
There are people that specialize, in very small teams, in raids. That's what he was talking about last night, when you saw raids on leadership positions and clearing specific houses.
There are special operations that focus on getting others out. When a pilot goes down, it will be special troops that go after them.
What makes special operations special is that they have been selected out from the regular forces. They have had to do everything a regular force does.
Then they have had to have this very special physical training, and then special skills, like medical or how to guide airplanes in or how to care for pilots or special demolition skills. They are very highly trained soldiers.
Shift gears for a moment. I want to get your views on this. Today, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld warned Syria not to send any military equipment to Iraq.
He said that would be considered a hostile act. What should we read into this or what should we not read into this?
Well, it certainly gets my attention that he called Syria by name. And that suggests to me that he has some reason to believe that Syria is taking some specific action that we want them to stop.
At this point it's really important for all of us, for all nations, to not let passions override common sense. Passions get inflamed.
People are upset by accidents. I understand why they would be upset by Iraqi civilians being hurt. I'm upset by that.
It's very important to understand what this is about. This is about a man who has mistreated his own people, who has developed weapons of mass destruction.
And I am convinced that in the coming days we will find where those have been developed. And that is the core, that is the focus, of this war.
Briefly and quickly, in about 30 seconds or so, apparently there have been some other incidents in which the U.S. forces have been either run over by their own truck or those kinds of things, these friendly fire, friendly incidents. Can we expect them to continue? This is, again, part of the fog of war?
Unfortunately, this is just the terrible truth. I will tell you that in exercises, just in exercises, I have taken part in in peacetime, when you have this many troops on the ground, it's not unusual to run an exercise that's a month long and have 15, 18, 20 people killed and injured, when there is no fighting take place.
So, it is a sad truth. The fact that we've had so few just demonstrates to me thus far a high discipline among the troops.
Dr. David McIntyre, our military analyst. Stay with us; he'll be back tomorrow.