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VOA-TV Interview with David McIntyre - 2003-04-11

VOA-TV’s David Borgida talks with David Mcintyre, with the ANSER Institute of Homeland Security, about military operations in Baghdad and elsewhere.

Now joining us, our military analyst, Dr. David McIntyre, a retired U.S. Army colonel. Colonel, what about this tough role for the troops that are inside Baghdad, peacekeepers, what is their role?

It's really hard. To make that change is just almost impossible for a human being.

There is a reason in the United States that we have police and what we call SWAT teams, different types of police. Because the normal police want to use the minimum amount of force in a situation.

But when there is a bad situation, then we want those SWAT teams that are specially trained to use the maximum amount of force. We don't have police that go from one of those roles to the other roles.

It requires soldiers to do that, to go from an engaging, fighting, aggressive role, and then switch over to using the minimum amount of force. It's very, very hard.

Very difficult. Let's go quickly to our map of Iraq to get a sense of what is going on countrywide.

Well, very quickly, what we now see is right through the center of the country the U.S. has at least military control.

Down south in Basra, An-Nasariyah, Najah, in Baghdad, just recently in Kirkuk, and up north of Kirkuk.

The fighting, of course, is taking place right around, the preparations, right around Tikrit, and we'll take a look at that in just a minute.

We had a couple of reports, very interesting, that are being followed over the last day or two of nuclear material that was found unguarded for several days, that the marines have guarded, and chemical materials perhaps that are still being tested. And out to the west, we have this very unusual situation that is just beginning to get some attention, where a number of Iraqi forces have been fighting for a considerable period of time very hard, now for about three weeks.

The question is, why is this group fighting so much harder and so differently from all of the others? One of the possible suggestions is that that might be a position where there are missiles or weapons of mass destruction.

They are being attacked by air. That is an area where traditionally the Iraqis have put weapons, far off to the west, where they can range Israel and other countries west of there.

We might take a look at the second map. We'll go to the larger view. And we can see what's really happening now is a collection of enemy forces to the south of Saddam's traditional stronghold.

We had surrenders today of a number of Iraqi forces that were regular army units. And we are getting a number of air attacks on those that are around Tikrit, to try to bleed them off.

But the question now becomes, when do you actually have to commit military forces? We know we have the 3rd Infantry Division and the marines on each side of Baghdad. Recently we put, by air, some units from the 1st Armored Division up to the north.

We're going to see additional units from the 4th Infantry Division, the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment that are going to be arriving from the south.

And what shapes up is a fight right in the center of the country, around this remaining group of organized, dedicated, fanatical groups, really in their hometown.

This is clearly, as we talked days and days ago about a battle for Baghdad, to use some dramatic language, what appears to be shaping up is a battle for Tikrit.


Just because Saddam has his power base there, it does appear that many of these forces are migrating north of Baghdad to that area to defend it.

Is it the symbolic nature of his hometown? What else is at stake there?

Part of it. But one of the issues is that's where many of them come from.

Remember that Saddam's most loyal people were the people that he selected from his own clan, his own neighborhood, the people who were close to him.

And so there was a difference, he drew a difference, between the regular citizens of Iraq and those who were near him and close to him.

Well, those people are fleeing now back home, so this is becoming something of a stronghold. You also have there some people who are not from Iraq at all. They are foreign fighters who were drawn in.

And of course they have no place to go home to now. So, there is some danger that we could have a prolonged fight.

It's one of the reasons that it's so difficult to transfer troops that you would like to have bringing peace to the country, it's so difficult to transfer them to that role.

Some of them are going to be used again in this continuing fight, until the war is over.

Difficult times. Dr. David McIntyre, retired U.S. Army colonel, giving us the kind of insight we so needed all week. Thanks so much. We appreciate it.

You bet.