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VOA-TV Interview with David McIntyre - 2003-03-21

VOA-TV Host David Borgida talks with David McIntyre, Deputy Director of the ANSER Institute for Homeland Security, about the War in Iraq.

Joining us now, Dr. David McIntyre, our military analyst with the ANSER Institute in the Washington, D.C. area.

Dr. McIntyre, thanks for joining us. We brought along some of those very leaflets that Margaret Kennedy was talking about. Let's show those to our viewers here.

Let's see if we can get a little tight shot on this one. This one appears to be, Dr. McIntyre, a look at a radio transmitter of some sort. Explain to us what this is about.

Well, it’s frequencies. All of these are built to communicate with the Iraqi people. There have been radios delivered.

They are frequencies they can tune into to learn something about what's happening, so they can get direct information.

So, we're telling them where to go to. There are aircraft broadcasting in their language, so that they don't have to depend upon the unreliable broadcasts that are coming from the Iraqi Government.

So, this again is a way to communicate information to them, how to stay safe, how to stay out of harm's way, what to expect when the coalition forces arrive, how to be sure that they send a non-threatening message to the coalition forces, and, in general, just to explain that this is not a war against the Iraqi people.

I will show another one. This one appears to be soldiers in gas masks.

And while I'm doing that, I'll put it down now, but we should move into the military strategy at the moment, and it relates back to this issue.

It appears that this “shock and awe” strategy that we were expecting for the first 24 hours of the operation has just taken place. And before that we were waiting, because there were some discussions apparently with Iraqi military officials, to see if they would lay down their arms and surrender, based on this very material that we have just showed you. What happened there?

Well, it's really a shame that we're having to see these attacks at all. There was a great opportunity here.

It's very clear that Saddam Hussein is not going to listen. It's clear that he has the weapons that he said he did not.

But there was a great opportunity for other Iraqi leaders, military leaders, to step forward and save their country and save their citizens from this suffering.

And so there was a pause, even beyond the long pause that was given for the inspectors.

There was a pause after the ground troops entered, to demonstrate that we really were serious about this and there was a chance that the leaders could step forward and say, you don't have to attack, you don't have to do the bombing.

Now that time is up and we're having to move forward to those military targets.

We're seeing pictures of bombing of Baghdad, obviously taped earlier, but very dramatic footage.

What is happening in terms of the bombing of Baghdad, and then of course, further south, the effort to take Basra?

Well, there are a couple of important things you can see right there. The first one that gets my attention as a military officer is that the lights are still on.

This is not an attack against electrical systems and water systems and against the people and the hospitals and the housing areas in downtown Baghdad.

This is an attack against specific, carefully selected targets, military/police/intelligence-related. The second thing you can see is the secondary explosions. When you get one explosion and then a lot of heat and light immediately following that, that tells you they've hit something that was there on the ground.

You wouldn't get that from a housing area or a hotel or a place where people live. So, when you see a multiple explosion in one place, you can tell they hit something really serious.

You see that, that flickering. You can tell they hit something really serious.

Now, while this is going on, there is another front that is being opened, and that is of course on the ground, U.S. and British troops moving on several fronts on the ground. What is happening with that?

One way to think about this, to sort of capture it, is to think about it as a layer cake.

And the top layer, the layer furthest to the north, has apparently been British Marines.

Now, we don't have any special intelligence and we are not going to give away any secrets that might harm any of the operations, but it appears from all the reports that the sort of top layer of that cake was British Marines, who moved a short distance and sort of hooked to the right and took those very first port facilities right at the end of the Gulf, where relief supplies would come in aboard ships.

Then the U.S. Marines were the second layer. They moved in the middle. They moved to Basra, and completed the seizing of the port facilities and the road facilities, again, so that more troops and also where relief supplies could come in.

And then the lowest layer of that cake is the U.S. armored units that have struck out across the desert and headed for the Iraqi Republican Guard around Baghdad.

Now, there remains a role for special operations forces. And as I understand, Australian special forces troops are also on the ground, helping out. What are they doing as the continuing campaign goes on?

Special operations have many, what makes them special is that they don't have the heavy armor that we've seen and the heavy artillery.

They have a variety of other skills, however. Some of them will be looking for these weapons depots and trying to seize weapons of mass destruction or destroy them before they can be used against soldiers.

Others will go after specific communications facilities. Some are trained in the language and the customs of the local people, to help with those who would like to fight back, and so they will be leading local people to fight back.

And others will just provide intelligence, sort of eyes on the ground, to tell us the things that you can't tell from a satellite or overhead.

All of them combined across this huge area, 700 miles on a side.

Let's talk a little bit more about what you were describing in terms of downtown Baghdad, because that's very dramatic footage.

I believe we may still have some of that. We can talk about it. But is there is a symbolic point about Baghdad, the capital of Iraq?

I understand that it may take days before troops actually arrive in the Baghdad area, but what is so important about Baghdad?

That's a really good point, because Baghdad is mentioned as though our goal were to seize the capital, and then you would have the fall of the government.

In fact, that's not the case. What the United States troops are really after, sort of in order, are the weapons of mass destruction, the people who have created those weapons of mass destruction, and facilities for them, the leaders that have ordered the use of those weapons, and then, lastly, the military forces that protect them.

So, none of those have really to do with the Iraqi population.

So, what you're seeing is the bombing of communications facilities, ammunition facilities, troop facilities, intelligence, places where leaders would collect and try to command and control the resistance against the U.S., and then, finally, actual troops, tanks and positions themselves.

Again, I would really urge you, as you look at this very compelling footage in Baghdad, look for what's not happening.

No strikes on houses, no widespread fires, no strikes against lit-up housing areas and hotels; repeated strikes in a few locations, and then multiple explosions, which means they're hitting something significant.

We're learning a lot with you and we will continue to learn a lot with you, Dr. David McIntyre, our military analyst. Thank you for joining us. We appreciate it.

Glad to be with you.