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VOA-TV Interview with David McIntyre - 2003-04-04

VOA-TV’s David Borgida talks with Dr. David McIntyre of the ANSER Institute of Homeland Security, and a defense analyst, about the war in Iraq.

Now joining us, our military analyst, Dr. David McIntyre, a retired U.S. Army colonel. Colonel McIntyre, what do you make of the seizure of the airport and what does it all mean?

Yes, it's important actually for both physical reasons and for a moral reason. It's important for a physical reason because it will give the U.S. troops a base closer in, something where they can bring aircraft, they can bring in helicopters, bring in reinforcements.

They don't have to make that long drive 350 miles, coming up from Kuwait and from the ports in the south. So, it will make a difference to those troops.

But it will also make a moral difference. Those people that had been waiting out those troops, those Iraqi troops, some of whom might have actually believed what the information minister has been saying, that there are no Americans nearby, it's pretty hard to deny now that coalition troops are inside the limits of Baghdad and that they are very serious about this.

Should we take a quick look at the map of Baghdad just to get a sense of what you're talking about.

Yes. Let's take a look at what we've seen today. First of all, the airfield's exact location and this isn't the exact location, but it's near this area in the southwest part of the city.

And so what we saw yesterday was that a number of Iraqi units had pulled back into that vicinity. Both of them were taken under air attack and direct attack and eliminated.

So, what we are seeing today is elements of that 3rd Division, the tanks from that 3rd Division, the tanks from the marines on the other side of the river.

And so that southern half is being closed off. And then you're seeing a number of mobile troops, those that were at that dam that was mentioned a few minutes ago, some mobile troops to the north, that are beginning to ring around the city.

The Iraqi troops are really kind of broken up and distributed in areas somewhat haphazardly.

They are being brought under air attack as they try to make their way, actually not in a very coordinated fashion but kind of as individuals and as individuals units, as they try to make their way into the city.

And the U.S. effort will be to draw a ring around the city, blunt them, and keep as many troops out as possible. So, I think what you're going to see is an attempt to seal those entrances, not necessarily engage the city or block it off from food or anything like that, but block off the fighters from coming in closer so they can deal with them from outside.

In other words, this is not a siege of Baghdad, preventing civilians from getting out, Colonel, rather, it is really just an effort to box in whatever fighters are left?

Well, it's a really interesting point. And what they're going to do is keep them from getting in and keep them from getting out.

What they're going to try to do is keep other Iraqi troops from streaming into the city as well as maintain those, get some control over those, who are inside the city. They really have a confused situation, not just the U.S. but the Iraqis too.

And at this point I don't think the Iraqi people know who is going to come down on what side.

Individual units are having to decide, individual soldiers are having to decide. What they have been told is now obviously a lie. And so a few of them can fight.

They can fight to the death. But it is going to be to the death. That is becoming very obvious to them now.

Let's talk for a moment about the Republican Guard, because we have been reporting, as others have, that the Republican Guard will present a difficult level of resistance, but that hasn't been the case so far.

Well, remember that essentially we used U.S. military forces in a little bit different fashion.

The ground forces essentially pinned them in place, kept them from moving, while the air forces hammered them very heavily.

And so very few of the weapons, of the tanks and armored personnel carriers, were actually able to get out.

But there are a lot of individual soldiers, Iraqi Guard soldiers, still in the area, and they're facing a difficult decision now. This is clearly a fight to the death for them, not just for Iraq but for them personally.

Because they can see that when a new regime comes to power, these are the people who have been doing the rapes, these are the people who have been committing the crimes, they are now facing jail time or worse.

Briefly, in about 30 seconds, are we to expect more of the kinds of suicide attacks that we have now seen in the last couple of days?

It's very hard to tell. A scholar here in the Washington, D.C. area made an interesting point this week, Michael Ledeen, when he said that every totalitarian regime kills its people in the same says, but those regimes die in different ways.

Every one is a little different. So, whether there is going to be an implosion or this one will fritter out, we don't know.

Perhaps the best comparison we can draw to what's happening right now is what happened with the Japanese at the end of the Second World War, where they forced citizens to commit suicide in the face of advancing troops. It was a terrible situation.

Very, very sobering. Dr. David McIntyre, joining us all week, and we hope you'll stay with us into next week. Thank you.

Glad to.