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McIntyre Interview - 2003-04-02


MR. BORGIDA:
And now joining us, our military analyst, a retired U.S. Army colonel, Dr. David McIntyre. Colonel McIntyre, before we get to the tactical situation on the ground, let's talk a bit about this rescue. What does it tell you about the situation and the ability of the U.S. troops to go in there and do that?

DR. MCINTYRE:
Well, a couple of things. Aside just from the drama of the incident itself, a couple of things. The first was that this is a very complex operation; it takes a lot of troops. You had to have ground troops to stage the diversion, mount an attack, essentially to draw them away. You had to have overhead troops that kept an eye out, helicopters overhead. You had to have somebody to cut the power to the building, somebody that actually went in and got them, a medical team waiting for her when she came back out, aviation assets to fly her out. A very complex package.

And what it tells me is that the American side is very confident that they can devote that many troops to the operation to rescue a single individual.

The second thing, which is really important, is that you can't do that without some information on the ground. And obviously there are no Americans in uniform on the ground. So, that means the local people are the ones that provided us this information, and we were able to go into what had been a hospital, now used as a command point for these irregulars, these thugs, and take her away.

MR. BORGIDA:
And now joining us, our military analyst, a retired U.S. Army colonel, Dr. David McIntyre. Colonel McIntyre, before we get to the tactical situation on the ground, let's talk a bit about this rescue. What does it tell you about the situation and the ability of the U.S. troops to go in there and do that?

DR. MCINTYRE:
Well, a couple of things. Aside just from the drama of the incident itself, a couple of things. The first was that this is a very complex operation; it takes a lot of troops. You had to have ground troops to stage the diversion, mount an attack, essentially to draw them away. You had to have overhead troops that kept an eye out, helicopters overhead. You had to have somebody to cut the power to the building, somebody that actually went in and got them, a medical team waiting for her when she came back out, aviation assets to fly her out. A very complex package.

And what it tells me is that the American side is very confident that they can devote that many troops to the operation to rescue a single individual.

The second thing, which is really important, is that you can't do that without some information on the ground. And obviously there are no Americans in uniform on the ground. So, that means the local people are the ones that provided us this information, and we were able to go into what had been a hospital, now used as a command point for these irregulars, these thugs, and take her away.

MR. BORGIDA:
The softening on the ground of the Republican Guard unit, the United States is saying that they have decimated one division, but the Iraqi Information Minister is saying no, that's not the case. Give us a little sense of what's going on in and around Baghdad.

DR. MCINTYRE:
Well, let's go to the map right quick and we'll take a look at what we've seen over the last couple of days. First of all, the Iraqi forces, you will recall that their two prime divisions were located just south -- the Medina Division being the larger of the two. And then they also had had these irregular forces that had been down to the south in Najaf. Both of those forces have been engaged by U.S. infantry troops, which is really important, because it means we had enough spare force on the ground to be able to go after these troops in the south, the irregular troops. And both of those have been taken out by units of the 101st Airborne Division.

The U.S. heavier forces, the marines and the 3rd Infantry Division, have been preparing for some time to move up to the north. And what we got overnight was very heavy bombing of those two divisions. And that 10,000-person division off the east and 20,000 off to the west were apparently largely eliminated by that bombing. And now what we're seeing is the movement of those U.S. armored forces, almost unimpaired, to the north. So, we are very soon going to find that U.S. military forces are ringing Baghdad.

MR. BORGIDA:
And again, as we have discussed in the past, when you say almost unimpaired, the question then remains, is there some trap awaiting them or is this in fact the result of this very punishing air attack?

DR. MCINTYRE:
And of course, there isn't any way for us to know. The air attack really was very punishing. We had about 3,000 to 4,000 precision munitions in the first week or so of the war. We had about 4,000 precision munitions in the last four days really laid right on top of those tanks and those units. So, it looks like those people have had to quit their equipment -- if the people haven't been killed, they have had to flee without their equipment. That's the good news. Now, the bad news is, if there is a critical moment where we might see the use of gas or some other weapon of mass destruction, this would be it, as the U.S. forces close right in on Baghdad. Because very soon they will be at or mixed right in with the people in Baghdad. And of course, then we go to the next phase. What do you do actually with this large and very populated city of Baghdad?

MR. BORGIDA:
Let me just follow up on that for a moment, because it is a disturbing notion that we've talked about now for days, but let's get at it a little more sharply today. How well are our troops, the U.S. and the British troops, prepared for the use of chemical and biological weapons? You can probably practice that at home somewhere, but in real life it's got to be a different thing.

DR. MCINTYRE:
It's very hard to do. Because if you look at what's happening, they are so engaged with fighting -- and I'm sure that after a week of fighting of this type, they're going to have to probably find that chemical suit, get that gasmask on, they've got to keep them clean and maintained every day. So, to move to a chemical protective posture right now would be very, very difficult on them. On the other hand, we have troops arriving at the rate of about two battalions a day, coming in, flowing right up those crowded roads right behind them. If we took some casualties, you can be assured it would make those soldiers fighting mad. I'm convinced that they are relatively well prepared to protect themselves, and they would be rapidly ready to move right on to the next phase, which is to find the people that okayed that, find the people that used those chemicals, and take them out.

MR. BORGIDA:
Any other thoughts you have in terms of the map and fighting in the south, or have we pretty much covered that?

DR. MCINTYRE:
I think we have pretty much covered the issues in the south. In the north, we've had some very interesting action, which you just had a clip of. Probably the key point there is that there was a unit to the north, a division to the north. Much of it apparently has broken and moved back down to the south. The Kurds have moved south but will be held up. They won't be moved too far to the south, because that's not the natural area, right around Baghdad, where they normally live. So, they will undoubtedly be held up. And what we are going to wait for in the next day or two or three is to see how the drama of Baghdad itself plays out.

I can assure you, what the Americans would like to do is have Iraqis go door to door rather than Americans [go] door to door. The question is, who would those be? How long can we wait? Can we afford to bide time while we create the Iraqi government, build Iraqi opposition? Or are we going to have to move in the relatively short term to soldiers on the ground, searching door by door, through this very large, populated city? A big drama. It's ready to play out.

MR. BORGIDA:
Well, we shall see in the days ahead. Colonel David McIntyre, thanks to much for joining us today. We appreciate it.

DR. MCINTYRE:
Good to be with you, sir. The softening on the ground of the Republican Guard unit, the United States is saying that they have decimated one division, but the Iraqi Information Minister is saying no, that's not the case. Give us a little sense of what's going on in and around Baghdad.

DR. MCINTYRE:
Well, let's go to the map right quick and we'll take a look at what we've seen over the last couple of days. First of all, the Iraqi forces, you will recall that their two prime divisions were located just south -- the Medina Division being the larger of the two. And then they also had had these irregular forces that had been down to the south in Najaf. Both of those forces have been engaged by U.S. infantry troops, which is really important, because it means we had enough spare force on the ground to be able to go after these troops in the south, the irregular troops. And both of those have been taken out by units of the 101st Airborne Division.

The U.S. heavier forces, the marines and the 3rd Infantry Division, have been preparing for some time to move up to the north. And what we got overnight was very heavy bombing of those two divisions. And that 10,000-person division off the east and 20,000 off to the west were apparently largely eliminated by that bombing. And now what we're seeing is the movement of those U.S. armored forces, almost unimpaired, to the north. So, we are very soon going to find that U.S. military forces are ringing Baghdad.

MR. BORGIDA:
And again, as we have discussed in the past, when you say almost unimpaired, the question then remains, is there some trap awaiting them or is this in fact the result of this very punishing air attack?

DR. MCINTYRE:
And of course, there isn't any way for us to know. The air attack really was very punishing. We had about 3,000 to 4,000 precision munitions in the first week or so of the war. We had about 4,000 precision munitions in the last four days really laid right on top of those tanks and those units. So, it looks like those people have had to quit their equipment -- if the people haven't been killed, they have had to flee without their equipment. That's the good news. Now, the bad news is, if there is a critical moment where we might see the use of gas or some other weapon of mass destruction, this would be it, as the U.S. forces close right in on Baghdad. Because very soon they will be at or mixed right in with the people in Baghdad. And of course, then we go to the next phase. What do you do actually with this large and very populated city of Baghdad?

MR. BORGIDA:
Let me just follow up on that for a moment, because it is a disturbing notion that we've talked about now for days, but let's get at it a little more sharply today. How well are our troops, the U.S. and the British troops, prepared for the use of chemical and biological weapons? You can probably practice that at home somewhere, but in real life it's got to be a different thing.

DR. MCINTYRE:
It's very hard to do. Because if you look at what's happening, they are so engaged with fighting -- and I'm sure that after a week of fighting of this type, they're going to have to probably find that chemical suit, get that gasmask on, they've got to keep them clean and maintained every day. So, to move to a chemical protective posture right now would be very, very difficult on them.

On the other hand, we have troops arriving at the rate of about two battalions a day, coming in, flowing right up those crowded roads right behind them. If we took some casualties, you can be assured it would make those soldiers fighting mad. I'm convinced that they are relatively well prepared to protect themselves, and they would be rapidly ready to move right on to the next phase, which is to find the people that okayed that, find the people that used those chemicals, and take them out.

MR. BORGIDA:
Any other thoughts you have in terms of the map and fighting in the south, or have we pretty much covered that?

DR. MCINTYRE:
I think we have pretty much covered the issues in the south.

In the north, we've had some very interesting action, which you just had a clip of. Probably the key point there is that there was a unit to the north, a division to the north. Much of it apparently has broken and moved back down to the south. The Kurds have moved south but will be held up. They won't be moved too far to the south, because that's not the natural area, right around Baghdad, where they normally live. So, they will undoubtedly be held up. And what we are going to wait for in the next day or two or three is to see how the drama of Baghdad itself plays out.

I can assure you, what the Americans would like to do is have Iraqis go door to door rather than Americans [go] door to door. The question is, who would those be? How long can we wait? Can we afford to bide time while we create the Iraqi government, build Iraqi opposition? Or are we going to have to move in the relatively short term to soldiers on the ground, searching door by door, through this very large, populated city? A big drama. It's ready to play out.

MR. BORGIDA:
Well, we shall see in the days ahead. Colonel David McIntyre, thanks to much for joining us today. We appreciate it.

DR. MCINTYRE:
Good to be with you, sir.

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