Joining us now, our military analyst, Dr. David McIntyre, a retired U.S. Army colonel. Dr. McIntyre,:
let's talk quickly, though, about this find that our reporter Amy Katz has been reporting about. How critical is it?
Well, it's an important piece. We've talked for some time about whether there is a link between al-Qaida, whether Saddam had allowed it to operate in the country. Some people had said no, absolutely not, he would never do such a thing. The fact that there is evidence now on the ground that he had allowed that to happen is of significance. Also, apparently there were some names, addresses, for people here in the United States that were policed up. That's one of the reports. And of course, you can bet those leads will be run down here in the U.S.
I'm sure they will. Let's move quickly from topic to topic today. The Iraqi Information Minister, apparently appearing to substitute for Saddam Hussein, called on all Iraqis to wage a jihad, a holy war, against the U.S. and British forces. It raised speculation -- there is the Information Minister now -- that Saddam Hussein either is unavailable or is just not there. What do you make of that?
It's a very curious incident, isn't it? Because they are the ones who said, coming to you next, Saddam Hussein. They are the ones who alerted that they were about to show Saddam's picture on the news. And then, when he didn't show up, they were not prepared to explain exactly why.
Now, this guy could be hiding back somewhere for a reason we don't understand and could eventually appear, but certainly, with each passing day, the possibility grows greater that he is just not available. He's either badly wounded or he's not available to talk.
MR. BORGIDA: :
Or at least they want us to believe he is not available.
DR. MCINTYRE: :
Well, the question is what impact that has on his country. And I believe that when he is gone, while there will still be a chain of command of very bad actors in charge, that chain of command will begin to unravel. I think that's why we haven't seen him.
There has been a lot of activity on the war front. Let's go to the map and see what we've got going today.
DR. MCINTYRE: :
Just quickly reviewing. We were just looking at an area to the north, where there have been a number of troops enlarging that airhead, where there had been attacks at base camps, apparently al-Qaida base camps, mounted by the Kurds. And that's what we reviewed here just recently, a few minutes ago. The attacks overnight continued around Baghdad. As we discussed yesterday, there were a number of command positions hit a second time and a third time, to drive home and to drive deep, against any deep-lying command and communications personnel. There are still these two major Iraqi divisions to the south. Those are receiving most of the air attention. And the U.S. attention, of course, the U.S. forces remain further south, a little north of Basra. If we can go to the second map, we can look at that in a little more detail.
Here in that second map we can see right where those two divisions are deployed. The one to the west here actually is about twice as big as the one to the east. And that is where the concentration is really taking place. Overnight air raids and air attacks by A-10's, by B-52's, will be striking those areas over and over again.
The U.S. forces continue to be deployed, the 3rd Infantry Division, a little south of that, the marines are moving in the center, and of course the British forces, as we said before, are down around Basra, where they are continuing to clear. At Umm Qasr they were able to turn on the water today. Relief supplies are coming in. Mines are being cleared in that area. And we are beginning to see an additional flow of troops into this area. We are going to be seeing about 2,000 American troops a day move into this area and continuously move north. So, that's going to be the story over the next couple of days, the air attacks and the continuing flow of U.S. troops into country.
Colonel McIntyre, it's pretty apparent that the nature of the battlefield is shifting to some extent, from further south in what are wide open areas to inner cities, urban environments, street to street, building to building. What kind of fighting are we to look forward to seeing, and what kind of training are U.S. troops getting to defend themselves?
DR. MCINTYRE: :
Well, U.S. troops, of course, would prefer not to fight in the built-up areas, first of all, because of the possibility of raising casualties and, secondly, for public relations reasons. We are aware of what is shown on the television. We don't want to be seen as the people that are blowing up buildings and knocking down buildings where people live. And so, if possible, we will keep the Iraqis out of that and pound them with ground and air. But if we have to go into that, this force that we have put on the ground is unusually heavy with infantry. The 173rd Airborne Brigade, the 101st Infantry Division, the follow-on troops that are coming in from the 2nd Cav and from the 3rd Cav have more infantry than you would normally find in an armored unit. And they have had extensive training in being able to go into buildings, work their way through buildings. The marines, of course, have also done that. The interesting point is that they will continue to train even in country. They have set up practice locations and they will continue this training right up to the moment of actual combat. And then, after they have been fighting for a few days, they will back up, they will go over the lessons they have learned, and they will practice some more. So, one of the unusual aspects of this war is that there will be training ongoing every moment for those troops that are not actually in combat.
MR. BORGIDA: :
Colonel David McIntyre, as usual, with an insightful assessment of the military situation on the ground in Iraq. Thanks, Colonel, for joining us. We appreciate it.
DR. MCINTYRE: I'm glad to be with you today.