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Military Analysis by Dr. David McIntyre - 2003-03-31


We bring you analysis by our military expert, Dr. David McIntyre, a retired Army Colonel, who discusses today’s military operations and what future operations may involve. Dr. McIntyre also explains continued bombing raids on Baghdad, Saddams possible whereabouts, and protection of critical U.S. supply lines.

MR. BORGIDA:
Now joining us, our military analyst, Dr. David McIntyre, a retired U.S. Army colonel, with the ANSER Institute in the Washington area. Thanks for joining us again.

DR. MCINTYRE:
Good to be with you.

MR. BORGIDA:
On a regular basis, we're delighted to have you. Let's go right to the issue that Chris Simkins, in this previous piece, was addressing. And that is the chem/bio weapons situation. Lots of searching, but there have been no major finds on this. And it is a fair question. Why not? Why haven't they found anything yet?

DR. MCINTYRE:
Yes, it is a good question. I suppose the answer is that Saddam has had 10 years to hide it. He is very good at this. You will recall that he hid his entire nuclear weapons program, although we had inspectors on the ground for three, four years, searching on a daily basis. They found nothing of a nuclear weapons program until one of his people defected and told them exactly where to look.

So, it may be that we are not going to find much until we find exactly the right person or people that tell us where to look. But you can bet that there are teams looking and, if we find something, the world is going to know it.

MR. BORGIDA:
But at the same time, Colonel, one has to ask, if there is some intelligence on the ground or surveillance by air and we thought we had some sense of perhaps the top few, which I think they have checked and they haven't found it, does that give some confidence that they will be found or are we still to believe that they will be there but we just have to wait for the moment?

DR. MCINTYRE:
I think we're just going to have to wait. I have no secret intelligence that I can share with you. I'm reading the same sources you are. But I've watched the man over the last 10 or 12 years. I know what he produced.

I know that he refused to account for the destruction of the weapons we know we had. So, it's not a question of whether he made more. We know he had material that he refused to account for by destruction.

So, the question is, where is it? And I suspect we're going to get further into Baghdad before we find the answers to those questions.

MR. BORGIDA:
We will wait and see.

DR. MCINTYRE:
It is true, by the way, that all those weapons are controlled by special units. It's not just the average unit in the field. And we haven't run up on those special units yet, either.

MR. BORGIDA:
Let's talk a little bit about where we are today, day 11. As we reported earlier at the top, there is some probing attacks of Baghdad, softening in the area of Republican Guard and other targets. Give us some sense -- if we can look at that map -- of where we are today.

DR. MCINTYRE:
Sure, we can go to the map and review geographically what we're looking at. We continue to find that the area in the north, that airhead in the north, is expanding. And as a result, we've seen the continuing movement of Iraqi troops to the south, away from that area, because we've had a number of air strikes supporting those attacks, the enlargement of that airhead. So, we are seeing some movement to the south.

We're also seeing a rearrangement of some Iraqi forces around Baghdad itself. And the really big news of the last 24 hours has been the incessant, repeated B-52 raids and heavy air raids against those forces. So, those forces are really taking the heaviest air attacks. And that is the big story of the last 24 hours. Now, in the south, the ports are now open and we are beginning to see some relief supplies flow through, although there is still the question of the danger of mines in the area. It's still very difficult to negotiate. It's going to be some time before we have a large number of ships arriving to offload forces.

And what we're seeing the U.S. forces do -- of course, they had moved to the north, the 3rd and the marines, they had moved to the north -- what we're seeing them do now is use a series of aircraft along the side. Because what the Iraqis had been trying to do for this last several days is cut those supply lines. What the Americans now are doing is using aircraft to patrol the supply lines. So, you're seeing active patrolling to the front, heavy air raids against Iraqi positions, and active aircraft patrolling off of both flanks.

MR. BORGIDA:
It's very interesting to see that. You mentioned the supply lines. And that is that very, very long convoy from the south up toward Baghdad. How important is that, from a military strategy and tactical standpoint, to keep that supply line safe and functioning?

DR. MCINTYRE:
It's absolutely critical, because this is a modern, high-tech army, and it requires a lot of equipment to move. Now, we had talked about the risks that the American forces took early on. And they took a risk that if they broke out and ran straight at the Republican Guards, they hoped that a number of them would surrender and the war would be over early. And that didn't happen.

Now, in order to take that risk -- when we say risk, what that meant is that the Americans left behind the large number of troops that would normally go into guarding those supply lines, patrolling them -- they left behind, for example, normally you would expect a brigade, 3,000 to 5,000 military policemen, 8,000 engineers that would go along those routes, perhaps another brigade of signal personnel, they left those troops behind in order to make this rapid advance.

Now what they will do is gradually bring those troops in and build up those supply lines and protect them while wearing down the Republican Guard with air attacks. The key question, of course, that everyone wants to know is, when will the ground attack resume? Well, we don't know; neither does Saddam. And we're just going to have to wait and see.

MR. BORGIDA:
You mentioned the man to whom I want you to address your answer to my question, if you can follow me there. And that is, where is Saddam? There have been these reports that he is in some heavily fortified bunker somewhere in Baghdad. I guess all the bombing we can do may or may not get to him. This is in the department of speculation, but what's your thinking on that?

DR. MCINTYRE:
Well, some of it is not speculation. We know from sources overseas -- not U.S. sources but other sources -- that he had heavy construction of underground bunkers. We know that much of the oil for food program, without a doubt, was going to building not just palaces but what was underneath those palaces. And so Iraqi children were not getting medicine while Saddam was digging himself in. Well, now he and some of his senior people are apparently dug in. And if we could find him, we would go after him. But they are going to have to go deeper and deeper to get after him. This is the reason you will hear the bombing of Baghdad, continued bombing of Baghdad, the continual hitting of Baghdad, and yet you don't see widespread destruction in the city. Why is that? Because they're hitting some sites over and over, going deeper and deeper into those sites.

MR. BORGIDA:
Actually, that is what I was going to ask you as well. It would seem that we have been hitting Baghdad pretty relentlessly, particularly in their evening. Of course, it is eight hours ahead of Washington time, so that puts us at roughly midnight or so as we go to air. And it does seem that there have been repeated, repeated attacks on Baghdad. And you're saying they're hitting the same targets, roughly, over and over again?

DR. MCINTYRE:
Right. Look at that. As you see those television pictures, it's very important to take a look, and what do you see about Baghdad? First, the lights are still on. Secondly, traffic is still moving around the streets. What does that mean? It means the bridges have not been cut.

The attacks are not against the civilian populace. Thirdly, you're still seeing a big skyline. You're still seeing apartment buildings in Baghdad. That's because the apartment buildings have not been attacked. What you're not seeing is much flame and smoke over Baghdad. There is a lot of smoke in the air. It's from oil fires that have been set. There were a few sites that burned very brightly over the last two nights. What's important to understand is there were only a few. This is not the widespread destruction of the city, not the widespread attack of the city. This is a very precise, relentless, repeated attack against specific targets. Now, some of them will move. They will move down the target list. Some targets will change. But you're not going to see, I don't believe, a broad, widespread attack against the people and the population of Baghdad. That's just not in the cards.

MR. BORGIDA:
Colonel David McIntyre, our military analyst, we thank you for your time once again.

DR. MCINTYRE:
You bet, sir.

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