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OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM

MARCH 2003

Terrifying reality of shock and awe smashes into a stunned Baghdad


Source: Daily Mail - London
Publication date: 2003-03-22
Arrival time: 2003-03-23

SHOCK and Awe - for weeks it has been no more than a menacing catchphrase.
But last night the Allies' unleashed their overwhelming air power and for Baghdad
the long-threatened bombing blitz became a terrible reality.
Cruise missiles and bunkerbusting bombs slammed into the capital one after
another, their devastating impact captured on live TV.
Many appeared to strike the same targets time after time, gouging deeper and
deeper craters in an effort to reach the Iraqi leadership hiding deep within
reinforced bunkers.
But Shock and Awe was not simply designed to kill Iraq's leaders and destroy its
war machine.
Its other target was the enemy's will to fight. It is hoped the huge concentration
of firepower will stun Iraq into surrender.
With that in mind, it was assumed that the tactic would be employed at the very
start of the allied campaign.
Indeed, it emerged yesterday that that had been the original plan.
But at the very last minute the timetable had to be redrawn after the Pentagon
received intelligence reports that the Iraqi leadership planned to set the nation's
vast oil fields on fire.
Determined to prevent that happening, the order was given to send ground troops
into action in advance of the bombing campaign.
Only when key oil fields had been secured did General Tommy Franks, the Allies'
supreme commander, give the signal for the bombing to begin.
Military headquarters, communication sites and air defenses all feature on the list
of targets, as well as Saddam's palaces and bunkers, with the campaign expected
to be ten times more ferocious than that at the start of the 1991 Gulf War.
This time, British and American jets have a much more substantial array of
precision-guided missiles in their arsenal.
Among them are Tomahawk cruise missiles - costing pounds 1million each - which
were last night launched from warships, submarines and the wave of American-B-
52s that earlier in the day had left RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire.
Meanwhile, 44 RAF Tornado GR4 bombers armed with Paveway 'smart bombs' are
expected to join U.S. F-15 Strike Eagles, F-117 Nighthawk fighters, B-2 Stealth
bombers and Australian Hornets conducting sorties in 60-strong aircraft
'packages'.
RAF Harrier GR7s, armed with Maverick missiles, and Jaguar GR3As are also
expected to take part in the assault, while VC10s and Tristars will refuel the
aircraft in the air.
Among the weapons are blackout bombs, which shower power stations with
carbon filaments to short-circuit grids.
'E-bombs' will release an electromagnetic pulse of two billion watts to fry any
electronic equipment within 1,000ft.

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The newly released Massive Ordnance Air Blast - a weapon the troops have
nicknamed the Mother of All Bombs - packs the biggest punch of all.
The 21,000lb 'Moab' weapon succeeds the 'daisycutter' which was dropped on the
Al Qaeda cave complexes in Afghanistan and is also known as Big Blu, from its
technical name, BLU82.
The conflict could also see the first use of the Storm Shadow 3,000lb cruise
missile - described by officials as the deadliest weapon developed for the RAF and
capable of being launched by Tornado jets more than a hundred miles from its
target.
For its ferocity, there were signs last night that the blitz had been slightly scaled
down because of the prospect of surrender talks with senior Iraqi officials.
A senior U.S. official said that General Franks would adjust the intensity of the
bombardment in accordance with progress in these surrender talks.
But he warned that if the talks have not reached a successful conclusion within a
matter of hours then Shock and Awe would go 'full-throttle'

THE IRAQ CONFLICT: `They are the villains, we are fighting against
mercenaries and criminals
Source: Independent - London
Publication date: 2003-03-22

YESTERDAY WAS the day of the paperclips. Back in 1945, they say that as the first
Soviet tanks roared down the Bendlerstrasse in Berlin, German civil servants in a
neighboring building were working out the Third Reich paperclip ration for 1946.
No one had looked out of the window.
And in Baghdad yesterday, the paperclips actually lay in their countless hundreds
on office desks, along with pins and old binders and computer instructions, pro-
forma papers and card index racks.
The files are long gone, along with the computers, the glass desktops, the books
and the government art that always adorns Baath party offices. Just across the
road, almost in view of the villa's windows, an annex of the Iraqi planning ministry
was still smoldering after its destruction by cruise missiles a few hours earlier.
But President Saddam Hussein's ministers know how to deal with the day of the
paperclips. Iraq will fight on. The invading armies are mercenaries. Not a single
Iraqi soldier has surrendered. The Americans tried to murder President Saddam's
family, and they failed. The Anglo-American mercenary army will meet defeat.
Indeed, President Saddam has himself offered a range of rewards for individual
acts of courage by his troops, of which more later. So now let's go back to the day
of the paperclips.
The scene: a villa annex of the ministry of information on the banks of the Tigres
river, presided over by a framed portrait of Saddam Hussein. The time: just after
1.0 PM, as the world's satellite television stations were announcing the imminent
capture of Umm Qasr port by US Marines, the accidental crash of a US helicopter
with 12 lives lost, and showing pictures of men in Iraqi uniforms surrendering to
British troops.

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The characters: Mohamed Said al-Sahaf, the bespectacled Iraqi minister of


information, and Mahmoud Diab al-Ahmed, the Iraqi minister of the interior who is
holding a silver-painted Kalashnikov rifle in his right hand. Attendant lords: more
than 100 Iraqi and foreign journalists.
Journalist: "Is it true the Americans are about to capture Umm Qasr?"
Mohamed al-Sahaf: "They admitted that they didn't go to Umm Qasr and that
they had failed to capture it. They say they have gone 100 miles into the desert
and they are lying to you. They have showed a tape and it shows only a desert."
Journalist: "But they are in Iraq"
Mr. al-Sahaf: "Are they? We don't know. Are they?"
Journalist: "Are you worried?"
Mr. al-Sahaf: "Not at all. Not at all. I think they are frightened. We have destroyed
two of their aircraft. We don't judge things by the first day, the second day. We
know them very well since their wide-scale aggression (sic) of 1991. We know
their tricks, their tactics. We know that our morale and the morale of our armed
forces are not dependent on this or that.
"Our morale is in our resilience, in our good understanding of the situation, in our
deep belief that we are the just side and they are the villains. We are fighting
against mercenaries and criminals."
Journalist: "What about the Iraqis taken prisoner?"
Mr. al-Sahaf: "There is nothing in this, not at all. They are not Iraqi soldiers; they
are not members of the Iraqi armed forces. They are just some people in the
hands of the British."
And so it went on. The most important part of Mr. al-Sahaf's peroration was an
expression of his moral horror that the Americans should have tried to
assassinate President Saddam on Thursday morning. He provided photographs of
wounded Iraqi civilians - they were pinned to a drawing board behind him - who
were also the victims of "these villains in Washington and London". And all the
while, Mr. al-Ahmed watched in silence, his silver Kalashnikov dangling from his
right hand or resting on his right shoulder, his ammunition belt threaded around a
khaki flak-jacket.
The script continued, fit for any performance of Macbeth. "They also targeted the
family of Saddam Hussein," Mr. al-Sahaf said. "They targeted them, but God has
protected them. His own family! But they are safe. This is a game. This is the
Devil. This is a complete disgrace. They are a superpower of villains; they are a
superpower of Al Capone.
"He [President George Bush] is the official tyrant of America. The Devil is in the
White House. We will continue to capture these villains, these mercenaries. He
will face this tragedy."
Mr. al-Ahmed spoke more quietly. A former minister of irrigation - and one whom
they say was often hard at work far from his office - he dealt even more briskly
with the preposterous idea that Umm Qasr might fall. "This is silly talk. Umm Qasr
is an Iraqi port and is going to remain an Iraqi port. It will be hard for them to take
it."
From time to time, Mr. al-Ahmed lifted his silver rifle to rest it meaningfully across
his shoulder as the camera auto-drives purred. "We don't want to kill the people

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of America and Britain; we don't have a problem with them, but they got a first
taste of what to expect when 12 of them were incinerated."
And now for President Saddam's latest reward. Unfortunately, it is being offered in
the ever-declining Iraqi dinar. But it goes like this: for the downing of an American
or British aircraft 100 million Iraqi dinars (pounds 30,810); For the capture of an
American or British soldier pounds 15,405; and for the killing of an American or
British soldier pounds 7,703. Which shows how much the Iraqis would value a
prisoner, with all its propaganda uses, rather than a dead enemy soldier.
There were other, less impressive exhortations to Iraqi victory yesterday. There
was, for example, the Friday sermon of Sheikh Abdul- Latif Humayen, who called
upon "Arabs and Muslims" to strike at America because "wherever you are, your
Iraq, the country of strugglers and believers, is coming under the most
unprecedented aggression in history by one of the most arrogant states of
history". It was the same old "kill the infidel" stuff we have heard so often before.
And the truth? Across the road, the great hulk of the planning ministry - did Tarik
Aziz have an office there, we all asked ourselves? - Continued to emit white
smoke from its carcass. There were, of course, no tanks outside. Not today
anyway. Not when eternal victory lies within reach of Iraq. But I did find a truck
idling there, piled high with mirrors, bookshelves, fridge's, televisions and even a
work of modern Iraqi art, all green pixilated paint against a rendering of the Tigres
river. The paperclips remained inside the building.

Fragging attack an echo of Vietnam


Source: Scripps Howard
Publication date: 2003-03-23

The grenades that a U.S. serviceman is accused of throwing into three tents at
Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait rekindled a term commonly used in Vietnam:
"fragging," the killing of an American by another American during war.
In this instance, the so-called "fragging" took the life of one Army captain and
injured 15 others. Sgt. Asan Akbar was detained in the attacks.
Akbar, 31, worked for the 326th Engineer Battalion, part of the 101st Airborne
Division. As a sergeant, Akbar may have supervised anywhere from four to eight
people, but George Heath, a public affairs officer for Fort Campbell, Ky., where
Akbar was based, said it may have been less.
"All indications are he was a leadership challenge," Heath said. "But I've not
gotten an official statement on that."
Another U.S. Army spokesman said the motive for the attack was most likely
"resentment."
Akbar was born Mark Fidel Kools and apparently grew up in California. He was
living in Moreno Valley, Ca. in 1999.
According to Army records, he enlisted April 15, 1998, at Fort Gordon, Ga., and
was assigned to work with Army signal corps. His record indicates that he
progressed up the ranks to sergeant quickly and was assigned to the Army's
satellite systems operations, an elite group in the corps.

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The attack shocked other members of the 101st Airborne, including soldiers with
the 3rd Brigade.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the 1st Brigade," said Sgt. Maj. Iuniasolua
Savusa of the 101st Airborne's 3rd Brigade. "Whatever the outcome of that
incident, the 1st Brigade is a strong unit with a great reputation. I'm sure they'll
make it through this."
Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld, appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," said, "If
it's anything like what's being reported, it's the kind of an incident that occurs in
cities and towns from time to time, and it's always unfortunate, always tragic, and
one has to go through a process of investigation to try to determine what in fact
happened and why it happened."
Killed in the incident was Army Capt. Christopher Scott Seifert, 27, of the 101st
Airborne, the Department of Defense said Sunday. Seifert was based in Fort
Campbell, KY.
"Fragging," named after a fragmentation grenade, was a frequent occurrence
during the last few years of the war when troops knew that the war was supposed
to end soon but were disheartened by continuing battles. The victim traditionally
was a superior officer who had ordered the would-be killer out into the battlefield.
The weapon of choice was typically a grenade or gun.
It is the first incident of fragging during this war and possibly the first since
Vietnam.
Fragging during Vietnam reached its peaks from 1969 through 1973. Terry
Anderson, a history professor at Texas A &M University in College Station, Texas,
says the military reported at least 600 murdered in fragging incidents, with
another 1,400 dying under mysterious circumstances. In 1970 alone, 383 were
believed killed by fragging.
The increase in the attacks led superiors not to trust the troops they were
commanding and others to negotiate with their troops rather than deal in the
traditional military commands, Anderson said. Ultimately, it led the U.S. Army to
come to a realization: it had reached the lowest morale of all time, Anderson said.
"The Army was at war with itself over the war in Vietnam by the early '70s," he
said.
Still, Heath, the public affairs officer, pondered what caused Akbar to attack his
fellow soldiers.
"There'd have to be some rationale external to his normal day-to-day operations
that would cause him to turn against the people he eats with, lives with, survives
with on a day-to-day basis," he said. "Others have thrown themselves on a hand
grenade to save their fellow soldiers. What caused him to throw a grenade?"

Battle gets real for hard-charging units


Source: Scripps Howard
Publication date: 2003-03-24

WESTERN IRAQ -- The rear ramp of the Bradley fighting vehicle yawned open to
reveal war's basic horror — men bleeding profusely and their buddies struggling
for a way to save them.

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"I wanted to shoot that (expletive) in the face so bad," one of the wounded 3rd
Infantry Division soldiers bellowed as others fought to staunch his bleeding.
That moment of horror came when a small convoy traveling with Brig. Gen.
Charles Fletcher, the Army's highest ranking commander in this part of the Iraqi
theater, was first to join a five-man Bradley team with two soldiers injured.
The two had been outside the armored vehicle on patrol when either a rocket-
propelled grenade or a "Sagger" — a Russian wire-guided missile, struck it.
The older of the two soldiers was severely wounded in his left arm and hand. The
second took it all in his left foot, the force of the impact splitting his boot in two.
The younger soldier gamely projected a posture of bravery and cool. "I saw it
coming," he said, as medics prepared him to be evacuated by helicopter.
"It was like 'Black Hawk Down,' only a lot louder."
The nightmare had erupted with the suddenness of lightning.
Also evolving very quickly is the realization that coalition forces are in for a much
tougher go of it than anticipated.
"I think they tremendously underrated the enemy's willingness to fight," said
Master Sgt. Maurice Phinney, who is part of a mission to establish the Army's V
Corps toehold in very hostile territory.
"I didn't underestimate it, but I think the Army did."
They're not underestimating it any more, not after the capture of several
American fighters and reported subsequent executions of some.
And they're not underestimating it in the face of continued fighting in this
immediate vicinity, south of Najaf. An American infantryman was confirmed killed
here Monday. The United States is reporting the deaths of about 100 Saddam
loyalists, and the capture of many more.
The Marines late Monday were also reported to be heavily engaged again with
regular Iraqi Army units plus militia elements south of here at the Euphrates River
crossing in Nasiriyah.
The seriousness of the resistance was apparent in the aftermath of a skirmish at a
defunct pumping station a few miles from here.
A dead Iraqi was still seated in a Toyota pickup truck, the back of his head blown
away. Two shoulder-launching anti-aircraft missiles were in the bed of his truck.
Sgt. Maj. Anthony Aubain, a hard-charging but highly disciplined veteran of the
Army's Special Forces now assigned to its V Corps, was one of those who visited
the pumping station while assessing the uncertain security in the area Monday.
Aubain studied the missiles in the pickup and looked at the dead fighter who was
wearing clothes that looked like casual business attire. Aubain noted that so far,
instead of Saddam's suspected weapons of mass destruction, Americans were
squaring off against "guys going around in little white trucks."
But every military man and woman here expects the fight to grow in dimension
and gravity, on a schedule hard to anticipate.
Meanwhile, the Army's remarkable ability to launch a substantial encampment on
enemy soil in less than 24 hours was displayed again here, at what they're calling
Objective Rams.
Following a 230-mile, 40-hour mad-dash by a convoy featuring thousands of
military vehicles of every size, shape, description and function coursing up Iraq's

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westernmost north-south arteries from the Kuwait-Iraq border Saturday and


Sunday, many fighting units have proceeded closer to Karbala to win a position
for an anticipated fight for control of Baghdad.
That mechanized march was, at times, as chaotic in its staging as it was
ambitious in scope, with non-combat logisticians somehow finding themselves
racing — in tandem with Brig. Gen. Fletcher's Humvee — uncomfortably far ahead
of battle-oriented units. At one point, near the front of one group in that charge,
portable mess kitchen trailers were seen outpacing Bradley Fighting Vehicles and
Abrams tanks.
"Great, we're invading Iraq with cooks," Maj. David Accetta of the Army's 3rd
Corps Support Command cracked from the back of the Humvee in which he was
riding, cradling an M-16 rifle.
Several hundred of the soldiers in that convoy have stopped at Objective Rams,
which sprung in one day from the barren and sandy soil here, in a bid to create a
logistical staging area of some permanence.
As tents were hastily erected, soldiers acknowledged some surprise and dismay
at news they were catching in drips and drabs. Particularly upsetting was the
report that an American Muslim soldier still back at Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait
had killed a fellow soldier with a grenade.
But there was a lot of pride in what the troops have accomplished as well.
Air Force Maj. Mark Burman, attached to the Army's 101st Airborne Division,
noted the Army engineers' ability to reclaim the defunct Tallil air base south of
here on Sunday in six hours, despite wreckage from the first Persian Gulf War
having been placed all over the runways to frustrate the coalition forces.
"I think that's a pretty incredible feat," he said.
Equally incredible to watch was the response of the small convoy when they came
across the two wounded soldiers.
In a rapid sequence of reactions, the driver in the Humvee behind Fletcher's, Sgt.
Roger Scott Wilson, grabbed Aubain's emergency field medical kit and climbed
into the Bradley's bloodied interior and put his combat life-support training to use.
Fletcher got on the satellite-supported communications system mounted in his
amped-up, heavily armored Humvee and put in a med-evac order. Accetta, who
had been riding with Aubain and a journalist in the Humvee that Wilson was
driving, grabbed a ride from another vehicle to race back to Camp Adder to
ensure the med-evac happened.
And Aubain, remembering that just minutes before his group had passed a
medical unit, took over Wilson's Humvee and raced back to pull two medics from
their gridlocked vehicle and race them back to the scene.
There, as IVs were set up for both wounded soldiers, the back and forth between
the two ranged from the hysterical to poignant to the darkly comic.
"At least I'm guaranteed of getting a medal," said the kid whose foot was a bloody
mess.
"You ain't gonna get (expletive)," the older of the two wounded shouted back at
him, before adding, "Aren't you glad you changed your socks today?" The kid,
then spotting a reporter, cracked, "I always wanted to be a journalist. I have a
typewriter back in my tent."

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But then he propped himself up on one elbow for a moment, there on his
stretcher on a Iraqi highway, and said this: "I went into battle with a clean
conscience."

WAR IN IRAQ: How events unfolded overnight


Source: Coventry Evening Telegraph
Publication date: 2003-03-22
Arrival time: 2003-03-24

1705 (GMT): Anti-aircraft guns open fire in Baghdad.


1705: US begins a 'major escalation' of its aerial campaign in Iraq, officials tell the
BBC.
1745: Air strikes against northern city of Mosul.
1815: Heavy bombardment of Baghdad.
1815: US-led forces now 100 miles inside Iraq.
1910: Presidential palace in Baghdad destroyed.
1930: After a short lull, a second wave of bombs begin to hit Baghdad.
1930: Turkey gives permission for US forces to use its air space, Defense Minister
Vecdi Gonul says.
2020: Air raid sirens sound in Kuwait for the third time in the day.
2021: It emerged that the coalition forces aimed to hit 1,000 targets in the 'shock
and awe' bombing campaign.
2100: Iraqi TV said al-Samoud II missiles and long-range Fatah missiles have been
fired at Kuwait.
2136: Turkey will send troops into northern Iraq to prevent an influx of refugees,
Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul says.
2232: Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations attacks Secretary General Kofi
Annan over new proposals for oil-for-food programme.
2339: Fresh air strikes on Baghdad.
2357: The 51st division of the Iraqi army has surrendered en masse to coalition
forces in southern Iraq, US defense officials say.
2358: About 1,500 Turkish troops have crossed the border into northern Iraq,
Turkish military officials say.
0024: Iraq denies torching oil wells, saying troops had set oil- filled trenches
ablaze in an effort to prevent coalition warplanes from finding their targets.
0219: American B52 bombers return to UK.
0236: Air attacks on Baghdad resume at dawn, with reports of at least three
missile strikes and explosions rocking the city centre.
0320: About 70 missiles are reported to have pounded Iraqi Kurdish areas
controlled by Ansar al-Islam, a hard-line Islamist group, accused of having links to
al-Qaeda.
0556: Two Royal Navy Sea King Early Warning helicopters were involved in a mid-
air collision over international waters in the Gulf. Seven crewmembers feared
dead, UK Central Command in Qatar said.
0640: Mohammad al-Sahhaf, Iraq's minister for information, reported 207 civilians
were injured in the overnight blitz on Baghdad.

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0825: An Iranian military commander confirms two allied rockets fell in the
southwest, near to the Iraqi border.
0837: A US Marines officer confirms battle' on the western outskirts of Basra.
0920: Officials confirm a massive contingent of UK forces, including elements of
the Desert Rats, has crossed into Iraq.

7th Infantry Regiment Sees First Combat


Source: Associated Press
Publication date: 2003-03-24

NEAR NAJAF, Iraq (AP) - As the sun sets, nearly 3,000 vehicles are lined up single
file on a highway deep inside Iraq.
"Holy ... will you look at that," says Capt. Chris Carter, commanding officer of A
Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, glancing over his shoulder. "Looks
like a traffic jam in Atlanta."
Seated in the right hand chair in the turret of a Bradley fighting vehicle, Carter,
from Watkinsville, Ga., begins singing. The five others in the vehicle hear him
over their headsets, the only way possible because of the roar of the diesel
engine and the clack-clack of the metal tracks.
It's been more than 24 hours of hard driving to get here, about 60 miles from the
holy Shiite city of Najaf. After 14 hours more on the road, A Company would see
its first combat of the war.
Spc. Zachary Watkins, driving the Bradley, requests Hank Williams Jr.'s, "Family
Tradition."
"I said leave me alone, I'm singing all night long," Carter warbles in a perfect
country and western croon. The others join in. After a few bars, they can't
remember the rest.
"I forgot the words," sings Carter. "I guess we'll just ride in this Bradley singing all
night long. Cuz it's . . . family tradition."
So it goes, on the road to Baghdad as coalition forces speed toward the waiting
enemy.
It was dawn on Friday when A Company, known as "Attack," began rolling toward
the Iraqi border. Overnight, members of the 1st Marine Division had begun the
ground war, crossing the six-mile demilitarized zone between Iraq and Kuwait,
heading north toward Basra, Iraq's second largest city.
Carter's A Company was temporarily assigned to the Army's 4th Battalion, 64th
Regiment, a fast-maneuver unit that comprises part of the Second "Spartan"
Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division.
The 3rd's two other brigades had already moved north with the main thrust,
heading for An Nasiriyah, where coalition forces would experience their first
heavy casualties over the weekend.
Spartan Brigade was to sneak in behind them and make a flanking move west
across the desert, intending to surprise the enemy by turning up near Najaf.
At 6:30 a.m., Carter's Bradley cleared the final sand berm in the demilitarized
zone. Carter's voice crackled in the headsets: "Gentlemen, we are now in Iraq."

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Riding next to Carter was Staff Sgt. Bryce Ivings, his bald-headed master gunner
from Sarasota, Fla. Ivings, Carter and Watkins, the driver, had an easy rapport, a
product of hours spent together in tight quarters.
Ivings had strapped a pink and white stuffed bunny to the top of their vehicle and
Carter kept threatening to get rid of it, part of their constant ribbing.
Three other men - the secondary gunner, secondary driver and a communications
man - were also crammed into the Bradley, which is like an iron box on the back
of a high speed bulldozer.
They are part of the armored portion of the brigade, dubbed Team Heavy Metal,
more than 70 M1-A1 Abrams tanks and 60 Bradley fighting vehicles, leading the
way. More than 2,000 support vehicles - Team Rock and Roll would follow.
Team Heavy Metal crossed the desert in a wedge formation, kicking up waves of
dust as they passed rusted hulks of Iraqi tanks and armored personnel carriers
destroyed in the first Gulf War.
It was three hours of orangey, flat terrain before they saw the first signs of life.
Bedouins grazing their sheep, goats and camels, came out of their tents to watch
the 21st Century army rumbles past.
At 11 a.m., the convoy stopped for a few hours to refuel and clear their air filters,
then got underway again.
Through his thermal sights, Ivings spotted a child playing on a rusting tank hulk.
"If I saw the American army coming like this, I don't think I'd be playing on an old
Iraqi tank," he said.
By nightfall, the convoy hit rougher terrain. Bouncing up and down the gullies,
Watkins struggled to keep their Bradley from overturning.
It was 4 a.m. when they reached the first assembly area where they waited for
the support vehicles to catch up. The men, surprised they hadn't seen any
fighting yet, tried to catch a few hours of sleep.
"This war is boring," said Watkins, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
By sunrise Saturday, it had started raining, turning the sand into a muddy mess.
Around noon, in nearby As-Samawah, an Iraqi armored battalion was spotted
making a move as if it were going to confront the convoy. The 1st Battery of the
9th Field Artillery opened fire. The Iraqi units stopped.
The radio crackled with a report from a scouting party. About 45 Iraqi soldiers had
approached as if to surrender, then raised their weapons. The scouts killed them.
Mid-afternoon, they broke camp for Najaf. By nightfall, nearly 3,000 vehicles were
on one highway. Commanders, more worried about rear-end collisions than being
spotted by the enemy, ordered their men to drive with their headlights on.
At 8 p.m., the lead unit, 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment encountered Iraqi
Baathist Party militia in pick-up trucks mounted with machine guns. They were
maneuvering in muddy farmer's fields, where the tanks and Bradleys risked
getting stuck.
The convoy pulled over to allow the artillery unit to move up and join the fight. A
few hours later, news came that the 1st Battalion had knocked out 12 trucks and
captured 20 prisoners.

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The convoy rolled on briefly, only to stop again as the artillery units lit up the
night sky. The Iraqis, thinking they were being attacked by planes, fired bursts
from an anti-aircraft gun.
Just after midnight, Col. Philip DeCamp, 4th Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment's
energetic leader, called a meeting of his commanders, including Carter.
"We've got a big ass firefight, it's like the OK corral out there," said DeCamp,
jabbing his finger at a spot on a map spread out in the back of Carter's Bradley.
He told his battalion leaders to move into the fight, replacing the tiring 1st
Battalion.
Looking at Carter and using his company's nickname, Decamp said: "Attack,
you've got to get them out of there. Just hose them down if you see anything
hostile."
DeCamp, a Desert Storm veteran, barked orders for his tank commanders to use
a shell that explodes in the air against the enemy's infantry.
"You hit them with an impact air round and it looks like a bowling strike; all the
pins fall down."
As Carter conferred with his platoon leaders later, his style was more laid back.
He spoke slowly with his easy drawl.
Still, he was excited. "The game is on," he told his men.
"If you see a silhouette with a weapon, kill it," he said. "You think they are using a
building, you see suspicious activity, shoot the building."
As they prepared to move forward, word came that 100 Iraqi fighters already had
been killed and 15 of their vehicles destroyed in the fight.
At 5:15 a.m., A Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, made its first
enemy contact of the war.
It was pitch dark, except for the lights of Najaf in the distance and some
streetlights around a nearby grain elevator.
A Company was guarding the southern edge of the battle zone. Infantry soldiers
piled out of their Bradleys and fanned out.
In front of them, an abandoned commercial building, with sandbags on the roof,
sat next to a mosque. The mosque had an antennae strapped to the minaret. Just
behind the buildings were several houses, one with a white flag in front.
Through the Bradley's scope, Ivings spotted a man moving furtively around the
commercial building, about a thousand meters away.
American tanks opened fire. In support, Ivings fired his 25-mm cannon, equipped
with high explosive, depleted-uranium shells.
"Wow, look at that," Ivings said, as two basketball-sized holes open up in the
building. He was unused to the full strength rounds. Troops use weaker munitions
in training.
He fired again, knocking down the wall. "Whoa, that was awesome."
Carter ordered a Humvee, equipped with a computer and megaphone, to roll up
to the building. Inside, soldiers typed in a message and out it came, loud, in
Arabic: Please lay down your weapons and come out. Carter ordered his
infantrymen to search the building.
Ivings thought he saw a man with a white turban in a nearby trench.
"Do you have hostile intent?" Carter said.

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"Yes!" Iving said excitedly, then quickly said, "No!"


He paused. "He's in the trench . . . Do I have permission to fire?"
About to fire the Bradley's cannon, he suddenly stopped.
"Hold it, hold it," Ivings said. "It's a horse."
The infantry search of the building turned up nothing. Later, Ivings was teased
mercilessly about the horse.
"I could only see it's head and it looked like a turban," he said in his defense.
Carter hushed him. "We would have never lived that down," he said.
The convoy packed up and rolled on past Najaf.
Toward Baghdad.

Advance Pauses For Bloody Battles - U.S. Forces Sustain Worst


Casualties Yet In Ambushes
Source: The Commercial Appeal
Publication date: 2003-03-24
Arrival time: 2003-03-25

U.S.-led forces suffered their worst casualties of the war Sunday in two bloody
battles near An Nasiriyah that raged for hours before Iraqi resistance was
vanquished. Marines said they would move around the city rather than march
through it on the road to Baghdad.
The battles at An Nasiriyah drew some attention from the relentless advance of
the U.S.-led forces, now less than 100 miles from Baghdad after four days of the
ground war. Outside Najaf, at the northern end of the advance, U.S. soldiers
skirmished with Iraqi forces before dawn today.
Scores of American military personnel landed in Kurdish territory, as the move to
open a northern front gathered strength.
"I think we're advancing more rapidly than anyone could have expected," said
U.S. Maj. Gen. Daniel P. Leaf, who coordinates the coalition's air campaign.
But at An Nasiriyah - on the Euphrates River 230 miles southeast of Baghdad,
near the ancient town of Ur, birthplace of the patriarch Abraham - the allies
sustained their worst casualties so far.
Separately, two British soldiers were missing after coming under attack Sunday in
southern Iraq, the British Defense Ministry said. Officials would not specify where
the attack took place.
American authorities detailed two bloody battles at An Nasiriyah:
-- Marines encountered Iraqi troops who appeared to be surrendering. Instead,
they attacked - the start of a "very sharp engagement," said Lt. Col. John Abizaid,
deputy commander of the Central Command.
These were a combination of regular and irregular forces, Abizaid said, including
Hussein's Fedayeen Saddam militia and possibly hard- core members of Hussein's
Baath party.
In the end, the Americans triumphed, but victory came at a cost: as many as nine
dead, and dozens wounded.
-- A six-vehicle Army supply convoy apparently took a wrong turn, ventured into
dangerous territory and was ambushed. The vehicles were destroyed, and a

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dozen soldiers were missing. It was believed that it was they who were shown on
Iraqi TV, some of them dead in a morgue and the others interviewed. Four others
were wounded, and were rescued later by Marines passing by.
Officials would not say when they expected to arrive at the capital city. "We'll
arrive in the vicinity of Baghdad soon, and I prefer to leave it at that," Abizaid
said.
Through the night, explosions and the red streaks of missiles flashed in the sky
over the Najaf area's farmlands. Small groups of Iraqi fighters approached U.S.
positions in pickups or on foot before dawn today but were driven back by tank
and artillery fire.
In the first such strike of the war, a pilotless Predator drone fired a Hellfire missile
Friday at an Iraqi anti-aircraft gun outside the city of Amarah, on the Tigris River
north of Basra, said Lt. Col. Brian Pierson, chief of reconnaissance operations.

Military tries to reassure America the war going as planned


Source: Scripps Howard
Publication date: 2003-03-24

Coming off the bloodiest day of the invasion of Iraq, the Pentagon strived Monday
to reassure the public that the campaign against Iraq President Saddam Hussein
is going as planned, with U.S. troops pulling to within 50 miles of Baghdad.
Victoria Clarke, the spokeswoman for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, noted
that "most people think extraordinary progress has been made. Some say historic
progress has been made."
"We have made considerable progress toward our objectives that they have
spelled out," Clarke said. "You know, we're securing the oil fields for the benefit of
the Iraqi people. We have quite a bit of dominance from the air. We continue to
make good progress heading toward Baghdad."
But for the first time since hostilities began Wednesday, there was palpable
concern on the homefront. The stock market, which soared last week with the
start of the war, dropped 300 points on Monday. Global oil prices, which sank to
four-month lows last week in anticipation of a quick coalition victory, resumed an
upward climb amid reports that southern Iraqi oil fields had not been secured by
coalition forces as first reported.
Delta Air Lines on Monday became the fifth major American airline to cut back
schedules because of the war, reducing flights 12 percent. White House Press
Secretary Ari Fleischer said the administration continues to work with the airlines,
but he refused to predict whether aid will be forthcoming.
For the first time publicly, the Bush administration placed an estimated price tag
on the war: about $75 billion. That request is being prepared for congressional
consideration.
And there's a sense that the U.S. propaganda war isn't going so well.
State-controlled Iraqi television on Monday aired an address by Saddam Hussein
— a speech that British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon insisted was not proof he's
still alive. But Saddam's deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, also rumored to have

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been killed in the U.S. attacks, proved he's very much still alive by appearing at a
press conference in Baghdad where he said Saddam is still in control.
Army Gen. Tommy Franks, the U.S. war commander, said that American troops
have not yet uncovered any weapons of mass destruction, although he expected
they will. And military troops are finding in Baath Party offices in southern Iraq
boxes of leaflets U.S planes dropped urging Iraqis to surrender.
Anthony Pratkanis, an expert on how governments use propaganda, said that
America's image continues to plunge around the globe — even in countries like
Spain that had favorable views of the United States before the war began.
"If this were a football game, we've been blown out in the first quarter," said
Pratkanis, a professor of psychology at the University of California-Santa Cruz and
co-author of the book "Age of Propaganda."
"Nobody likes to be bullied and told what to do," he said.
The U.S. military puts almost as much emphasis on propaganda in wartime as it
does on bombs and bullets. The leaflet campaign before the outbreak of the 1991
Persian Gulf War prompted many Iraqi troops to give up without fighting. Part of
the job of U.S. special forces who enter war zones before regular troops is to
demoralize the enemy with radio jamming, as well as inserting their own
programs on Iraqi media.
Meanwhile, sandstorms delayed the further advance of coalition troops and Iraqi
resistance tightened around the southern city of Basra. The count to date shows
22 Americans and 17 British troops killed. Coalition forces are coming to the
realization that taming Saddam might prove more difficult than first anticipated.
"I think they tremendously underrated the enemy's willingness to fight," said
Master Sgt. Maurice Phinney, who is part of a mission to establish the Army's V
Corps toehold in hostile territory in western Iraq. "I didn't underestimate it, but I
think the Army did."
If the coalition ever underestimated Iraqi determination, it's not doing so any
longer given the capture of several American fighters and the reported execution
of some. Harsh fighting south of Najaf resulted in the confirmed death Monday of
an American infantryman. The United States reported the deaths of about 100
Saddam loyalists and the capture of many more.
Marines late Monday reportedly were heavily engaged with regular Iraqi army
units plus militia elements near Nasiriyah in southeast Iraq. Ten Marines were
reported killed there on Sunday.
Around Nasiriyah, the traffic often was so heavy going north that the military took
up both sides of the six-lane highway known as Iraq Route 1. Many of the vehicles
hitting the road were tanks, each bearing a message on the cannon barrel — such
as "Sinister Minister," "We Love Bush," "The Final Solution" and "Size Matters."
Missile shell casings were as prevalent as cigarette butts along the highway. The
only discards more numerous were the empty brown plastic packages that
enclose the military's MREs. Homes along the highway were small, earth-covered
shacks with tiny square openings for windows.
The Marines welcomed the Seabees, the Navy construction unit, who arrived to
repair a broken bridge over the Euphrates.

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"It will make the bridge last a lot longer," said Cpl. Tony Allen of the Marines' 8th
Engineering Support Battalion. "This damn bridge will just start busting up with all
this traffic."
The bridge, which is being used by military personnel headed to Baghdad, is one
that the Iraqis abandoned before finishing. It has no ramps up or down from the
concrete span. So when vehicles approach the bridge they go over several deep
dips and then hit the edge of the unfinished concrete bridge. The bridge is
already starting to chip away.
Smoothing the ramps to the bridge will speed the military vehicles to battle.
Despite dangers in the area, the Seabees were glad to get to work.
"Sitting around that camp the last couple days makes you think you're going to
rot," said Steelworker Chief Michael Neumann. "You start wondering, what am I
doing here."

Hidden enemy tanks destroyed in vital struggle for peninsula; IRAQ


WAR,IRAQ WAR-LAND BATTLES,TANKS
Source: Evening Standard - London
Publication date: 2003-03-24

BRITISH and US forces today destroyed at least two Iraqi tanks and an artillery
piece in a key battle for the southern Al Faw peninsula.
The T55s, which had lain hidden among the date palms bordering the Shatt al
Arab waterway ever since the invasion began, were spotted late last night by a
reconnaissance unit.
The battle raged throughout the morning as armoured vehicles backed up by air
support and British artillery fired on the Iraqi positions.
Two T55s were destroyed in the first hour of the battle - one by a guided missile
fired from a Striker armoured vehicle - and an attack helicopter hit an artillery
piece with a Tow missile.
The British forces also came under accurate artillery fire from among the date
palms near the town of Abu al Khasib. "Bloody hell," said a crew member from a
support vehicle. "This is savage."
The British also fired on civilian vehicles after it emerged the Iraqis were using
them to ferry troops to and from bunkers.
One officer said: "The guys have been forced to shoot 4X4s and trucks and
buses."
At least 15 tanks are believed to have been hidden among the trees, although
judging by the engine noise and smoke there could well have been more.
C Squadron of the Queen's Dragoon Guards has for two days been operating
some 20 miles north of the rest of 3 Commando Brigade, where Royal Marines
have been clearing the lower part of the Al Faw peninsula. The squadron has been
putting out feelers to find tank and artillery positions long known to have been
hidden south-east of Basra.
Today's engagements confirms that the invasion of Iraq is proving to be far from a
walkover, and some Iraqi units are determined to hold out to the last.

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The forces involved in today's battle are from the Iraqi army's 51st Division,
whose commander has surrendered.
The tanks were first spotted around midnight when the recce force identified
them using thermal imaging sights.
When the Iraqis saw them at first light, the British opened fire with a Swingfire
guided missile, destroying one T55. C Squadron then drew up a "reconnaissance
matrix", so they could see the enemy without being seen themselves, and called
in air and artillery support.
Attack helicopters, US Harriers and A10 Thunderbolt tankbusters flew in to attack
while AS90s from British artillery positions opened fire from the west. "Oh yeah,
baby come on down," said a crew member listening to the battle over the radio.
"They are going to ****ing get some."
A "kill box" was established in the area around the date palms which meant
anything moving could be regarded as a fair target.
"All hell has broken loose," said squadron second in command, Captain Nick
Thomas, as the firing began.

Explosions Shake Buildings in Baghdad


Source: Associated Press
Publication date: 2003-03-25

Huge explosions shook buildings in the heart of the capital Tuesday, apparently
from U.S. forces bombing Iraqi positions on the city outskirts. With coalition troops
closing in, the streets were nearly empty as people hunkered down in anticipation
of the battle for Baghdad.
Thousands of Marines poured toward the city in convoys, taking dirt roads to
avoid cities and towns and creating traffic jams in the push north.
A cold, howling wind blew gray smoke over Baghdad from fuel fires that Iraqi
authorities started to conceal targets. Blasts could be heard in the distance.
The explosions started at midnight Monday, flashing a faint orange glow on the
horizon to the south, where units of Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard are
located. In Washington, Pentagon officials said Monday that U.S. helicopters had
begun attacking Saddam's forces arrayed around the capital.
Baghdad's many dogs stopped barking during the explosions but the late-night
Islamic call for prayer continued to sound from minarets.
At about the same time, in northern Iraq, heavy bombing was heard from near the
key northern city Mosul, indicating that coalition forces were hitting positions
closer to the border with the Kurdish area.
On Monday in Baghdad, security and police officers dug more trenches around
military offices in the center of the capital, as smoke from fires set to conceal
targets from bombing hung over the city.
Daytime traffic was heavy in some areas, youngsters played soccer on side
streets and Iraqis walked the city despite the tension from days of bombing by
coalition forces.

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MARCH 2003

Some shops reopened along the commercial Al-Rasheed Street, but most were
suitcase vendors. The upscale area of Irasat al-Hindiah, where Baghdad has its
fashionable restaurants and boutiques, was nearly deserted.
Saddam tried to rally his people in a TV appearance Monday calculated to show
that U.S. bombs and missiles had missed him. Iraq also claimed Monday to have
shot down two American helicopters and taken pilots prisoner.
During a briefing at Camp As Sayliyah in Qatar, U.S. Commander Gen. Tommy
Franks acknowledged an attack helicopter operating south of Baghdad was
missing with its two-man crew.
The Iraqi government continued to urge citizens to resist invaders as the military
prepared defenses against U.S.-led troops advancing on Baghdad.
Anti-aircraft guns that had been removed earlier were placed once again atop one
of the main gates to the Old Palace, a presidential compound hit in earlier
attacks. Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf said the U.S.
bombardment of Baghdad had injured 194 civilians.
Announcers on Iraq's two TV stations have started wearing olive-green military
uniforms to introduce patriotic songs, archival footage of Saddam and old films
with a patriotic message.
"You Iraqis are in line with what God has ordered you to do, to cut their throats,"
Saddam said in his television appearance.
Saddam looked strikingly more vigorous than he did in the speech that aired
hours after the first airstrikes on Baghdad last week. Saddam referred specifically
to U.S. tactics and the fighting around Umm Qasr in an obvious attempt to show
that the address was current.
In Washington, a senior U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity said U.S.
intelligence had determined that Saddam's speech was recorded. However, it is
unclear when it was taped.

U.S.-Led Soldiers Advance on Baghdad


Source: Associated Press
Publication date: 2003-03-25

Aiming for Saddam Hussein's seat of power, U.S.-led warplanes and helicopters
attacked Republican Guard units defending Baghdad on Monday while ground
troops advanced to within 50 miles of the Iraqi capital. President Bush put a $75
billion price tag on a down payment for the war.
The helicopter assault marked the first known engagement between forces in
central Iraq, and many of the American craft were hit by Iraqi groundfire. One
went down behind enemy lines - the cause was unknown - and the Pentagon said
the two-person crew had been taken prisoner.
Five days into Operation Iraqi Freedom, resistance prevented American and
British forces from securing the southern cities of Basra and An Nasiriyah and
thwarted efforts to extinguish burning oil wells.
"These things are never easy," conceded British Prime Minister Tony Blair, on the
day his country suffered its first combat casualty of the war. "There will be some
difficult times ahead but (the war) is going to plan despite the tragedies."

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Saddam sought to rally his own country in a televised appearance. "Be patient,
brothers, because God's victory will be ours soon," he said, appearing in full
military garb and seeming more composed than in a taped appearance broadcast
last week.
Despite Saddam's defiant pose, a military barracks in the northern part of the
country was bombed, and Baghdad fell under renewed air attack by day and by
night. Iraqis set up mortar positions south of the city and piled sandbags around
government buildings and other strategic locations, in evident anticipation of a
battle to come.
"Coalition forces are closing in on Baghdad," Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal told
reporters at the Pentagon.
U.S. officials said they believe Iraq is more likely to use chemical or biological
weapons against coalition troops the closer they get to Baghdad. The Iraqi
Republican Guard controls the bulk of Iraq's chemical weaponry, most of which
can be fired from artillery guns or short-range rocket launchers, according to U.S.
officials.
U.S. Apache helicopters attacked Saddam's Republican Guard forces arrayed
around Baghdad while an official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a
"large portion" of the day's bombing runs - there were more than 1,500 sorties
over Iraq - were dedicated to hitting the same units.
The Apaches encountered heavy groundfire during their assault on the Medina
armored division, but the helicopters managed to kill about 10 Iraqi tanks before
cutting off their attack.
The Pentagon says 80 percent of its bombs and missiles are precision-guided, but
Iraq claimed that 58 civilians had been killed Sunday and 469 injured. It did not
give any figures for military deaths.
Heavy fighting continued Monday in An Nasiriyah, which is important because of
its bridges across the Euphrates which could be used by advancing troops.
McChrystal said coalition ground forces have not gotten into direct firefights with
Republican Guard forces.
That seemed a matter of not much time, though.
The Army's 3rd Infantry Division was within 50 miles of the capital, battling
sandstorms more than Iraqi fire as it neared the approaches to Baghdad.
Some Iraqis waved or gave a thumbs-up as the convoy passed on its dash
through southern Iraq, while others stood stoically.
The advance of long columns of thousands of vehicles was aided by heavy air
protection that wiped out a column of Iraqi armor at one point and sent some of
Saddam's outer defenses withdrawing toward the capital. The convoy passed
bombed anti-aircraft guns, empty foxholes and berms dug for tanks that had been
abandoned.
President Bush invited senior lawmakers to the White House, and aides said he
would ask Congress for nearly $75 billion. Of that, $62.6 billion would be in direct
war costs, according to these aides, for 30 days of combat. The request was also
expected to include up to $3 billion to guard against terrorist threats, as well as
aid to Israel, Afghanistan and other U.S. allies, a down payment on humanitarian

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OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
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aid for Iraq and for rebuilding the country, and money to increase security for
American diplomats.
Bush, scheduled to confer in Washington later this week with Blair, also talked
with Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone, complaining that Russia is selling
anti-tank guided missiles, jamming devices and night-vision goggles to Iraq.
National security adviser Condoleeza Rice visits U.N. Secretary-General Kofi
Annan on Tuesday to discuss humanitarian issues.
Polls taken since the war began show growing support for the military campaign.
But there were fresh anti-war protests across the United States and abroad. Police
arrested more than 123 people in San Francisco, and at least 50 in Hartford,
Conn.
In the world's first war with live broadcasts from the battlefield, news and images
of American and British setbacks competed with pictures of military successes.
Iraqi television showed pictures of one American helicopter in a grassy field, men
in Arab headdresses brandishing automatic rifles as they did a victory dance
around the aircraft. Hours later, Iraqi television showed two men it said made up
the crew.
"We have a two-man crew missing," confirmed Gen. Tommy Franks, the U.S. war
commander. But he denied Iraqi reports that the craft had been shot down by
farmers, and that two choppers had been lost.
Franks told reporters that 3,000 Iraqi prisoners had been taken. But he and other
U.S. officials were more concerned with the fate of a handful of American POWs
whose convoy was ambushed in the Iraqi desert over the weekend.
At the Pentagon, spokeswoman Torie Clark accused Iraqis of violating the rules of
war by misusing white flags of surrender and other deceptions.
In London, the Ministry of Defense announced the first British combat death, a
soldier who fell in fighting near Az Zubayr in southern Iraq, near the city of Basra.

U.S., Coalition Forces Left Vulnerable in Fast-Moving Advance on


Baghdad
Source: Chicago Tribune
Publication date: 2003-03-24

Mar. 24--WASHINGTON--In their breakneck charge to Baghdad, U.S. forces have


relied on a strategy dubbed "bump and run," with fast-moving Abrams tanks,
Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Humvees racing to objectives, securing the
outskirts of towns and then moving quickly to the next target.
The strategy has allowed American armored columns to converge on Baghdad in
just a few days. But the dangers of trading security for speed bloodied the United
States on Sunday.
Along a line of cities that U.S. and British forces had subdued but not secured--
Umm Qasr, Basra, Nasiriyah--the coalition suffered its most serious casualties yet.
Nine Marines died in an ambush. A dozen members of a supply-and-maintenance
unit were unaccounted for after their convoy was attacked. Across southern Iraq,
members of the Republican Guard discarded their uniforms and melted into the
civilian population.

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OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
MARCH 2003

The Iraqi subterfuges--such as a group of soldiers acting as if they were ready to


surrender, then opening fire--seemed to surprise the U.S. troops, many of them in
combat for the first time.
Sunday's attacks could well be the first deadly indications of an emerging Iraqi
strategy, one that will employ guerrilla tactics, ambushes and sniping at U.S. and
British forces well away from the main battlefront.
Spearheading the effort is the Fedayeen Saddam, a 15,000-member paramilitary
organization led by Saddam Hussein's son Udai.
"The majority of the resistance we have faced so far comes from Saddam's
special security organization and the Saddam Fedayeen," said British Maj. Gen.
Peter Wall. "These are men who know that they will have no role in the building of
a new Iraq, and they have no future."
In a briefing at U.S. Central Command in Qatar on Sunday, military leaders said
members of Iraq's Republican Guard--the troops most loyal to Hussein--had been
found scattered throughout regular army units in the south. Many were wearing
civilian clothes.
Sniping, bombings and other attacks on U.S. forces and supply lines would be a
serious distraction for allied commanders.
Sunday's attacks appear designed to play on coalition vulnerabilities. In Nasiriyah,
for instance, a handful of Marines were killed by artillery fire Sunday as a group of
Iraqis approached with a white flag. In another incident, troops dressed as
civilians welcomed U.S. forces, then ambushed them.
Those sorts of low-intensity assaults could prove especially effective in Baghdad,
where Republican Guard forces already have dispersed and, according to some
news reports, moved into houses left vacant by residents fleeing the city.
U.S. commanders said their forces already were adapting to the new threat, and
that more changes would be made to counteract them.
"I'm certain that the land force commanders will make some adjustments," said
Army Lt. Gen. John Abizaid of the U.S. Central Command in Qatar. "But I'm also
certain that when the history of this campaign is written, that people will look at
this move that the land forces have made in this amount of time as being not only
a great military accomplishment, but an incredible logistics accomplishment."
Still, Abizaid allowed that combat losses throughout sectors already taken would
continue.
"We do not consider loss of life within the sector as a defeat of any kind," he said.
Even so, Sunday's attacks concern U.S. troops and their commanders.
The Pentagon's war plan always envisioned moving quickly past the southern
cities, recognizing that Hussein's center of power is Baghdad and that he is not
popular in southern Iraq, which is dominated by Shiite Muslims who have long
been repressed by his Sunni-dominated regime.
Intelligence before the war suggested that Basra in particular was protected
mostly by Iraqi army regulars, the troops considered most likely to surrender, as
some have.
But U.S. and British commanders have announced several times a city or sector
conquered, only to encounter pockets of resistance that keep popping up. And

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OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
MARCH 2003

while they call these fights "mopping up," veterans of past wars say the phrase
does little to convey what can be a dangerous operation.
"You can't secure every square foot of terrain," said David Grange, a retired Army
major general and chief operating officer and vice president of the McCormick
Tribune Foundation. "But we are moving fast, and in an operation like this you're
infantry-poor, MP [military police]-poor. The guys needed for security are very,
very few, because they're fighting. That's an issue."
The U.S. battle and support forces in southern Iraq are stretched more than 200
miles from their starting point, and keeping ammunition, fuel, water and supplies
running to the vanguard of the advance without encounters with enemies in the
rear is a major challenge.
"You're trading speed for risk in a rear area," Grange said. "That is part of it. They
have units, security forces designated to run the roads and respond by helicopter-
to-[enemy] and ground-to-enemy activity that may try to hit convoys."
Part of the risk has to do with the large amount of rough terrain to cover. But
more of the trouble is due to a change in military doctrine since the end of the
Cold War, one that puts less emphasis on conventional hulking masses of armor
and more on fast, light, flexible forces.
Some of the new tactics were first evident in Afghanistan, where forces were
airlifted into battles, armed only with mortars and small arms. Their artillery
support came from helicopter gunships and precision bombs dropped from high
above.
In Iraq, a far larger ground force is involved, but the war's first hours have
revealed the methods and machinery of a lighter, more mobile U.S. force
designed for what military planners believe will be this century's challenges.
An early order of business was to capture airfields, so equipment and soldiers
could be moved in quickly.
U.S. forces captured a single airfield in western Iraq Friday, an area that Special
Forces troops have been covertly entering from Jordan for several weeks, officials
said. "There has been no resistance there," one official said.
In the north, Special Operations soldiers have joined with Kurdish units, and they
also have secured airstrips for use by U.S. Air Force C-17 and C-130 cargo aircraft.
That was designed to help the coalition forces create a northern front. But a U.S.
force advancing on Baghdad from the north may have many of the same rear-
sector threats that the troops in the south encountered over the weekend.
And none of that sniping, analysts say, is going to end soon.
U.S. intelligence believes Fedayeen members were dispatched from their
strongholds in the Baghdad area to outlying areas over the last few weeks to
embolden regular Iraqi troops, a senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of
anonymity, told The Associated Press.
The Fedayeen are specially trained in guerrilla warfare and paramilitary tactics,
and have been used by Saddam's regime to oppress internal foes. In recent years,
the Fedayeen have trained recruits in provinces across Iraq, even schoolchildren
as young as 12.
"They're specialists in this form of warfare, and we've seen them dress in civilian
clothing or drive civilian vehicles," a senior U.S. military official said. He said

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OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
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military planners already were making adjustments to ensure U.S. forces can
detect and repel such tactics.
"We've been in Afghanistan for a year and half now, and they're still shooting at
us," said John Pike, director of Globalsecurity.org. "I think one of the concerns all
along on Iraq is that it would take a long time to pacify."

Weary Iraqi POWS Appear Content in Capture


Source: The Boston Globe
Publication date: 2003-03-24

Mar. 24--AN NASIRYAH, Iraq--As rounds from US howitzers thundered around An


Nasiryah early Saturday morning, many artillery soldiers got their first look at an
enemy who, until then, had been only a coordinate on a radar-linked battle grid.
Five Iraqi soldiers sat on their haunches, knees bent up to their chins, on the sun-
baked mud outside this strategic Euphrates River city. Voluntary prisoners of war,
the men sat silent, 20 feet apart, with a bottle of water placed on the ground
before each of them. They looked gaunt, tired, and compliantly resigned to what
lay ahead.
Ali Table, their sergeant, had his hands tied behind him as two US soldiers toting
M-16s kept guard, slightly uneasy with a task that is not usually the role of an
artillery soldier.
Table, 36, a father of three from Baghdad, said he and his men surrendered a few
hours earlier yesterday because they were terrified of the death that rains from
the sky.
"We no fight pilots," said Table, whose neatly trimmed hair and pressed olive
uniform set him apart from his four subordinates. "We are not asking for that."
They walked toward Bravo Battery after dawn, approaching the camp through a
field of grain with hands raised, white towels clearly displayed. They carried no
weapons, were searched, given food and water, and told to sit on the ground until
the artillerymen could hand them off to someone else.
The prisoners seemed relieved to be out of the war, said Sergeant Sam Chance,
28, of Apex. N.C. "Yeah, I'd be glad, too," he said.
Chance's unit, the Third Brigade of the Third Infantry, had pounded the 11th Iraqi
Division throughout the night and achieved all its objectives with only one US
soldier out of 5,000 wounded in the fight.
Table ensured he was not one of the undetermined Iraqi dead and wounded from
the airstrikes, artillery fire, and two infantry assaults. In the end, Table said, he
had no desire to die for Saddam Hussein. "I no fight for him," Table said. "From me
to you, I am very, very tired."

Iraqi trap kills 9 Marines ; Fake surrender starts 1 of 2 battles in worst


fighting of the war
Source: Chicago Sun - Times
Publication date: 2003-03-24
Arrival time: 2003-03-25

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OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
MARCH 2003

AN NASIRIYAH, Iraq--U.S.-led forces suffered their worst casualties of the war


Sunday in two bloody battles near An Nasiriyah that raged for hours before Iraqi
resistance was vanquished. Marines said they would move around the city rather
than march through it on the road to Baghdad.
The battles at An Nasiriyah drew some attention from the relentless advance of
the U.S.-led forces, now less than 100 miles from Baghdad after four days of the
ground war.
Scores of American military personnel landed in Kurdish territory, as the move to
open a northern front gathered strength.
"I think we're advancing more rapidly than anyone could have expected," said
U.S. Maj. Gen. Daniel P. Leaf, who coordinates the coalition's air campaign.
But at An Nasiriyah--on the Euphrates River 233 miles southeast of Baghdad, near
the ancient town of Ur, birthplace of the patriarch Abraham--the allied juggernaut
sustained its worst casualties so far.
And in the face of that resistance, Marines officials said they expected to sidestep
An Nasiriyah rather than fight to capture it-- the same strategy they employed in
Basra.
American authorities detailed two bloody battles:
*Marines encountered Iraqi troops who appeared to be surrendering. Instead, they
attacked--the start of a "very sharp engagement," said Lt. Col. John Abizaid,
deputy commander of the Central Command.
These were, Abizaid said, a combination of regular and irregular forces--in fact, he
said, it was one of the few times regular Iraqi soldiers have fought, instead of
surrendering or deserting.
In the end, the Americans triumphed, knocking out eight tanks, some anti-aircraft
batteries, some artillery and infantry, Abizaid said. But victory came at a cost: as
many as nine dead and an undisclosed number of wounded.
*A six-vehicle Army supply convoy apparently took a wrong turn, ventured into
dangerous territory and was ambushed. The vehicles were destroyed, and a
dozen soldiers were missing. It was believed that it was they who were shown on
Iraqi TV, some of them dead in a morgue and the others interviewed.
Four others were wounded and were evacuated later by Marines passing by.
The Iraqis were jubilant. "Our valiant forces were lying in wait for them, inflicting
heavy losses on the covetous invaders, killing at least 25 of them, and injuring a
large number of them. Also, a number of their mercenaries were captured," the
Iraqi military said in a communique.
An Nasiriyah was a hotbed of rebellion against Saddam Hussein in the Shiite
Muslim rebellion that followed the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The Americans may
have run into Saddam loyalists based there to keep a lid on the Shiites, along with
some Republican Guard units.
The battles underscored the risks of the mission in Iraq, but U.S. military leaders
insisted they would not slow the drive to Baghdad.
Officials would not say when they expected to arrive at the capital city.
"We'll arrive in the vicinity of Baghdad soon, and I prefer to leave it at that,"
Abizaid said.

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OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
MARCH 2003

Long columns of Marines and their equipment advanced along the main road from
the Kuwaiti border to An Nasiriyah, where units were crossing the Euphrates.
Part of the 3rd Infantry Division reached the area of the Shiite holy city of Najaf--
further ahead from An Nasiriyah in the approach to Baghdad--after a 230-mile,
40-hour sprint through the desert, killing 100 machinegun-toting militiamen along
the way.
When more than 30 Iraqi armored vehicles were spotted heading toward the 2nd
Brigade's positions, air support was called in; A- 10s and B-52s hammered the
Iraqis, and the Army didn't have to fire a shot.
Allied aircraft has flown more than 6,000 sorties, softening resistance in advance
of the ground war and focusing on Saddam's elite Republican Guard.
Pilots who hit Baghdad on Sunday said ground fire was lighter than expected.
"It was less than the first night," said Lt. j.g. Scott Worthington, 25, an F/A-18
Hornet pilot from Seattle who is assigned to Strike-Fighter Squadron 151. "I'd say
tonight was less intense. Not nearly as much."
Early Sunday, Iraq fired a missile into northern Kuwait, but it was destroyed by a
Patriot missile, a Kuwaiti military spokesman said.
In the north, air strikes were reported against strongholds of Ansar al-Islam, a
militant Islamic group with alleged ties to al- Qaida and Baghdad. Bursts of anti-
aircraft fire were heard from the direction of Mosul, and Iraqi television reported
that Saddam's hometown, Tikrit, had been bombed several times.
Kurdish officials reported that scores of American military personnel had landed in
the northern zone they control. Abizaid would only say forces were "reinforcing
our presence and targeting elements of regime support units in the Republican
Guard."
In western Iraq, he said, the forces went after Iraqi logistical targets, command
and control facilities and commando units.
Authorities said the number of Iraqi prisoners in allied custody was about 2,000.
About 200 were being held at the Tillil Air Base, a dilapidated complex near An
Nasiriyah.
Sgt. 1st Class William Jordan of St. Mary's Court, Md., guarded three prisoner pens
surrounded by concertina wire.
The prisoners sat impassively as identification tags were pinned on them. They
were given MREs and water; ultimately, they were expected to be moved toward
Kuwait for "processing," interrogation by military intelligence officials.
As soldiers from the 101st Airborne division moved through the Iraqi desert,
villagers lined up along the highway to greet the troops with two pressing
questions: Are you friendly? And is food coming?
Through an interpreter, Col. Michael Linnington assured village leaders that U.S.
forces were indeed friendly and that UN relief workers would bring food.

Halfway to Baghdad: ; Difficult tasks ahead; Killing, neutralizing


Republican Guard, taking Baghdad will be tough chores
Source: Sunday Gazette - Mail - Charleston, W.Va.
Publication date: 2003-03-23

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OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
MARCH 2003

Arrival time: 2003-03-25

WASHINGTON - The war against Iraq, off to a smooth and potent start, could
become more difficult and deadly in the coming days. The tasks ahead may
include fighting the battle-ready Republican Guard troops, avoiding chemical
attacks, seizing the streets of Baghdad and tracking down Saddam Hussein.
"There will be surprises," Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of the U.S.-led forces,
said Saturday. "We have not yet seen them."
One new complication is how to secure northern Iraq. The U.S. military on
Saturday abandoned plans to use Turkish bases to move ground forces there. The
United States needs troops in the north not only to fight Iraqi forces, but also to
avert possible conflicts between Kurds and neighboring Turkey.
U.S. officials are currently relying on special operations forces in the north, but
may have to send conventional forces into the area.
President Bush renewed his warning that the war "could be longer and more
difficult" than some think. Franks, in his first news conference since the war's
start Wednesday, spoke of the "potential for days and for weeks ahead" of
fighting.
In particular, the six fighting divisions of the elite Republican Guard appear ready
for combat and are mostly dug in around Baghdad.
At least one top deputy of Saddam is believed alive and commanding some Iraqi
military and security efforts, a senior U.S. official said. That deputy, known as
"Chemical Ali," led the chemical weapons attack against rebellious Kurds in the
1980s that killed thousands of civilians.
That raises the fear that U.S. troops could face chemical or biological attacks. The
troops have yet to find weapons of mass destruction, which the White House
contended Saddam was concealing and President Bush said was a prime rationale
for war.
Saddam himself has proved elusive.
Franks said he did not know if the Iraqi president were alive or dead, after a
massive U.S. bombing strike at dawn in Baghdad on Thursday that was intended
for him and his sons. More footage of Saddam appeared on Iraqi television
Saturday, but it was unclear when it had been taken.
If Saddam or either son is alive and in control, that could mean greater resistance
by the better-trained and more loyal Republican Guards as U.S. troops draw near
the capital.
"We've still got significant Iraqi forces in front of us. They may fight," said Major
Gen. Stanley McChrystal of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
U.S. war planners long have worried these soldiers will try to mount street-to-
street fighting inside sprawling Baghdad, leading to both greater U.S. casualties
and more deaths among Iraqi civilian men, women and children. Baghdad has
about 5 million people.
Such urban fighting - though scattered - already has occurred in the southern
seaport of Umm Qasr, now mostly under U.S. control.

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OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
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The possibility of similar fighting in the key southern city of Basra led U.S. and
British officials to announce Saturday they will not storm the city, but instead try
to gain an Iraqi surrender through defections.
That might not be an option in Baghdad if the Republican Guard chooses to fight.
The Iraqis still have workable air defenses, which they are moving around in the
obvious hope of saving them for future use, Franks said.
In addition, more than two dozen Scud missile launchers remain unaccounted for
from the Persian Gulf War, Franks said, noting that the Iraqis have fired six
surface-to-surface missiles into Kuwait in the last few days. None have been
Scuds.
In any assault on Baghdad, the deaths of Iraqi civilians would give Saddam's
government a powerful propaganda tool, hurting America's political aims in the
war. U.S. officials have said they are being as careful as possible to avoid civilian
casualties.
Even the fast and successful pace of the attack so far might cause a problem: The
challenge of keeping spread-out troops supplied and moving quickly.
Traffic along one supply route near Nasiriyah in the south was at times so heavy
Saturday that the huge military flatbeds and Humvees were brought to a
standstill.
That could be deadly if Iraqi forces were somehow able to open fire.

Explosions Shake Buildings in Baghdad


Source: Associated Press
Publication date: 2003-03-25

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Huge explosions shook buildings in the heart of the capital
Tuesday, apparently from U.S. forces bombing Iraqi positions on the city outskirts.
With coalition troops closing in, the streets were nearly empty as people hunkered
down in anticipation of the battle for Baghdad.
Thousands of Marines poured toward the city in convoys, taking dirt roads to
avoid cities and towns and creating traffic jams in the push north.
A cold, howling wind blew gray smoke over Baghdad from fuel fires that Iraqi
authorities started to conceal targets. Blasts could be heard in the distance.
The explosions started at midnight Monday, flashing a faint orange glow on the
horizon to the south, where units of Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard are
located. In Washington, Pentagon officials said Monday that U.S. helicopters had
begun attacking Saddam's forces arrayed around the capital.
Baghdad's many dogs stopped barking during the explosions but the late-night
Islamic call for prayer continued to sound from minarets.
At about the same time, in northern Iraq, heavy bombing was heard from near the
key northern city Mosul, indicating that coalition forces were hitting positions
closer to the border with the Kurdish area.
On Monday in Baghdad, security and police officers dug more trenches around
military offices in the center of the capital, as smoke from fires set to conceal
targets from bombing hung over the city.

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OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
MARCH 2003

Daytime traffic was heavy in some areas, youngsters played soccer on side
streets and Iraqis walked the city despite the tension from days of bombing by
coalition forces.
Some shops reopened along the commercial Al-Rasheed Street, but most were
suitcase vendors. The upscale area of Irasat al-Hindiah, where Baghdad has its
fashionable restaurants and boutiques, was nearly deserted.
Saddam tried to rally his people in a TV appearance Monday calculated to show
that U.S. bombs and missiles had missed him. Iraq also claimed Monday to have
shot down two American helicopters and taken pilots prisoner.
During a briefing at Camp As Sayliyah in Qatar, U.S. Commander Gen. Tommy
Franks acknowledged an attack helicopter operating south of Baghdad was
missing with its two-man crew.
The Iraqi government continued to urge citizens to resist invaders as the military
prepared defenses against U.S.-led troops advancing on Baghdad.
Anti-aircraft guns that had been removed earlier were placed once again atop one
of the main gates to the Old Palace, a presidential compound hit in earlier
attacks. Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf said the U.S.
bombardment of Baghdad had injured 194 civilians.
Announcers on Iraq's two TV stations have started wearing olive-green military
uniforms to introduce patriotic songs, archival footage of Saddam and old films
with a patriotic message.
"You Iraqis are in line with what God has ordered you to do, to cut their throats,"
Saddam said in his television appearance.
Saddam looked strikingly more vigorous than he did in the speech that aired
hours after the first airstrikes on Baghdad last week. Saddam referred specifically
to U.S. tactics and the fighting around Umm Qasr in an obvious attempt to show
that the address was current.
In Washington, a senior U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity said U.S.
intelligence had determined that Saddam's speech was recorded. However, it is
unclear when it was taped.

Drive to Baghdad slowed by sandstorm, resistance AP Photos


Source: Associated Press
Publication date: 2003-03-25

NEAR KARBALA, Iraq (AP) -- Thousands of U.S. Marines rumbled north toward
Baghdad on Tuesday, taking safer dirt roads to avoid cities and towns where they
could face Iraqi resistance.
The buildup came as U.S.-led warplanes and helicopters attacked Republican
Guard units defending Baghdad. The intermittent sound of explosions from the
outskirts of Baghdad could be heard in the center of the city of 5 million.
Despite stiffening resistance by Iraqi units and the failure to secure southern
towns, the coalition troops have so advanced to within 80 kilometers (50 miles) of
the Iraqi capital.
U.S. and British troops have refused to enter Basra, Iraq's second largest city, for
fear of being caught in an urban bloodbath. At the southern oil fields, once

27
OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
MARCH 2003

considered secure, shadowy Iraqi forces apparently ambushed a British unit by


feigning surrender. At the port of Umm Qasr, battles continue.
The resistance, sporadic and sometimes fierce, is generally the work of irregular
Iraqi forces like the Fedayeen, Saddam Hussein's most trusted paramilitary
fighters. They wear no uniforms and hide among civilians, striking and then
receding.
On Monday, President George W. Bush put a $75 billion price tag on a down
payment for the war.
The helicopter assault around Baghdad marked the first known engagement
between forces in central Iraq, and many of the American craft were hit by Iraqi
groundfire. One went down behind enemy lines -- the cause was unknown -- and
the Pentagon said the two-person crew had been taken prisoner.
``These things are never easy,'' conceded British Prime Minister Tony Blair, on the
day his country suffered its first combat casualty of the war. ``There will be some
difficult times ahead but (the war) is going to plan despite the tragedies.''
Saddam sought to rally his own country in a televised appearance. ``Be patient,
brothers, because God's victory will be ours soon,'' he said, appearing in full
military garb and seeming more composed than in a taped appearance broadcast
last week.
Despite Saddam's defiant pose, a military barracks in the northern part of the
country was bombed, and Baghdad fell under renewed air attack by day and by
night. Iraqis set up mortar positions south of the city and piled sandbags around
government buildings and other strategic locations, in evident anticipation of a
battle to come.
Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal told reporters at the Pentagon U.S. Apache
helicopters attacked Saddam's Republican Guard forces arrayed around Baghdad
while another official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a ``large portion''
of the day's bombing runs were dedicated to hitting the same units.
Defense officials at the Pentagon said the Apaches encountered heavy groundfire
during their assault on the Medina armored division. One official said many
Apaches were hit by fire, but managed to kill about 10 Iraqi tanks before cutting
off their attack.
The U.S. Air Force flew more than 1,500 sorties over Iraq on Monday. So far, 80
percent of the bombs and missiles used by the Air Force have been guided by
lasers, radar, satellites or video cameras, a defense official said.
The Pentagon says the munitions are highly accurate, but Iraq claimed that 58
civilians were killed Sunday and 469 were injured. It did not give any figures for
military deaths.
The Army's 3rd Infantry Division was within 80 kilometers (50 miles) of the
capital, battling sandstorms more than Iraqi fire as it neared the approaches to
Baghdad.
Some Iraqis waved or gave a thumbs-up as the convoy passed on its dash
through southern Iraq, while others stood stoically.
The advance of long columns of thousands of vehicles was aided by heavy air
protection that wiped out a column of Iraqi armor at one point and sent some of
Saddam's outer defenses withdrawing toward the capital. The convoy passed

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OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
MARCH 2003

bombed anti-aircraft guns, empty foxholes and berms dug for tanks that had been
abandoned.
President Bush invited senior lawmakers to the White House, and aides said he
would ask Congress for nearly $75 billion. Of that, $62.6 billion would be in direct
war costs, according to these aides, for 30 days of combat. The request was also
expected to include up to $3 billion to guard against terrorist threats, as well as
aid to Israel, Afghanistan and other U.S. allies, a down payment on humanitarian
aid for Iraq and for rebuilding the country, and money to increase security for
American diplomats.
Bush, scheduled to confer in Washington later this week with Blair, also talked
with Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone, complaining that Russia is selling
anti-tank guided missiles, jamming devices and night-vision goggles to Iraq.
Polls taken since the war began show growing support for the military campaign.
But there were fresh anti-war protests across the United States and abroad. Police
arrested more than 123 people in San Francisco, and at least 50 in Hartford.
Gen Tommy Franks, the U.S. war commander, told reporters that 3,000 Iraqi
prisoners had been taken. But he and other U.S. officials were more concerned
with the fate of a handful of American POWs whose convoy was ambushed in the
Iraqi desert over the weekend.
At the Pentagon, spokeswoman Torie Clark accused Iraqis of violating the rules of
war by misusing white flags of surrender and other deceptions.
In London, the Ministry of Defense announced the first British combat death, a
soldier who fell in fighting near Az Zubayr in southern Iraq, near the city of Basra.
Two other British troops were missing after their convoy was hit by continuing
resistance in southern Iraq.

Coalition Troops Wonder Who Is Enemy


Source: Associated Press
Publication date: 2003-03-25

U.S. and British forces speeding through the Iraqi countryside on the way to
Baghdad are facing a classic problem for soldiers fighting guerrillas: Who's the
enemy?
In southern Iraq, troops of the U.S.-led coalition have encountered seemingly
friendly civilians who suddenly pull out guns and open fire. Outside the city of An
Nasiriyah, Iraqi soldiers approached U.S. troops as if to surrender, then went on
the attack, killing nine U.S. soldiers in the most devastating battle so far in the
war.
U.S. Army troops outside this Shiite Muslim city, preparing the assault on
Baghdad, are running into other tactics that make it hard to distinguish between
friend and foe: trucks parked in farm fields that may or may not have mortars
hidden inside, and attackers in civilian garb who melt away into nearby villages.
Army officers are blaming some of these attacks on a group of loyalists to
Saddam Hussein called the al-Quds Brigade, which was in theory founded to
liberate Jerusalem - al-Quds is the Arabic name for the city - but has grown into a
vast paramilitary force.

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OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
MARCH 2003

"The al-Quds are all along this area, dressed like civilians and driving civilian
vehicles and they come out at night," Lt. Col. Philip DeCamp, commander of the
4th Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, told his officers Monday. "The al-Quds are
madmen, taking over people's houses and making them get out."
DeCamp noted how on Saturday night, militiamen used a commercial area to
stage guerrilla attacks on U.S. Army tanks, but when the tanks advanced just a
few hundred yards, they were suddenly in a civilian neighborhood, with women
and children coming out of houses at dawn to see the advancing American troops.
"It's hard - isn't it? -figuring out who's friendly, who's not, who's a bedouin, who's
not, who to hose, who not," DeCamp, who was a tank company commander
during the Gulf War, said to younger soldiers.
Staff Sgt. Bryce Ivings, the master gunner for A Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th
Infantry Regiment, worried that after serving in Kosovo, many of the troops were
still thinking like peacekeepers. In Kosovo, they were more like police, but in Iraq,
they must be more aggressive, he said.
Since Sunday's deadly ambushes, U.S. forces have regarded Iraqis warily.
"This means we will get more watchful. We sent out a whole squad to take down
those two people," said Marine Cpl. Clint Bagley, 21, of Shreveport, La., gesturing
toward the road where two Iraqi civilians were walking under a while flag and
about 10 Marines were running to intercept and search them.
Civilians are made to lie down in the road, and when the Marines are convinced
that they are no threat, they are let go.
In general, Bagley said, "If they are holding a white flag, and are holding a gun,
that's ROE (rules of engagement). We shoot."
On Monday, Marines on the road to Baghdad forced some Iraqi men out of their
vehicle, questioned them, and shoved them down onto the rocky sand - slashing
their tires to ensure they would not tail a convoy again any time soon.
"It felt great when we came in, with the crowds waiting and smiling. Now you
wonder what's behind those smiles - and what lies behind those crowds," said Lt.
Col. Michael Belcher of the 1st Marine Division. "It's tough to win over their hearts
and minds now, when you have to hold them at arm's length."
On Monday, the 2nd Brigade of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division came under
mortar fire outside Najaf. The troops went through a lengthy exercise to try to
protect themselves against further attack without accidentally turning on
civilians.
Radar identified the area where the fire came from, and scouts were sent to check
out nearby several pickup trucks with men around them to see if they had fired
the mortars.
U.S. warplanes overhead spotted no weapons, and the pilots asked the scouts if
they saw any "hostile intent" that made the pickups legitimate targets. The scouts
said no, the Iraqis were just standing around their pickups in a farmer's field.
The convoy of tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles was then ordered forward, and
a few hours later some supply trucks came under mortar fire from the same area.
The officers wound up debating whether their decision not to hit the trucks had
been right or wrong. But they decided the rules of engagement applied: Unless a
target is clearly military or hostile, troops must hold their fire.

30
OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
MARCH 2003

Forces meet setbacks, fiercest fighting of war ; Captured U.S. soldiers


paraded on Iraqi television
Source: Chicago Sun - Times
Publication date: 2003-03-24
Arrival time: 2003-03-25

Coalition forces were dealt a number of bloody setbacks on their path to Baghdad
on Sunday that included troops seeing the fiercest fighting to date and ended
with more than a dozen soldiers being killed in combat and a handful of American
prisoners of war being paraded on Iraqi television.
In what was described as the "sharpest engagement of the war" since Operation
Iraqi Freedom began, U.S and British officials admit that resistance is still strong
in the desert and not all of the Iraqi soldiers are laying down their weapons.
"Clearly, they are not a beaten force," said Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff. "This is going to get a lot harder."
Among the setbacks faced by coalition forces Sunday and early today included a
wayward mission that resulted in U.S. soldiers being captured, an increase in the
number of casualties, a British airplane mistakingly shot down by friendly fire and
having troops encounter "pockets of resistance" in areas once considered under
control.
"It was a tough day of fighting for the coalition," said Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks.
But even with those setbacks, U.S. and British forces continued to pound away at
Iraq's capital. Witnesses told of thunderous explosions rocking Baghdad while a
cloud of smoke engulfed the city.
Bombs also fell on Mosul and in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit.
Coalition troops were about 50 miles--just a couple of hours-- outside of Baghdad,
officials said.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Army identified Sgt. Hasan Akbar as the man who allegedly
lobbed four grenades at tents of the 101st Airborne Division's 1st Brigade in
northern Kuwait early Sunday, killing one soldier and wounding 15 others.
Akbar reportedly is a Muslim who had recently been reprimanded for
insubordination.
Meanwhile, Iraqi leaders said the coalition was doomed to failure and that the
Iraqi soldiers who appeared to have surrendered were really impostors.
Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf also said Sunday the
situation in the Iraqi port city of Umm Qasr, taken by British troops Saturday but
still the site of fighting as U.S. Marines try to flush out resistance, differed from its
portrayal in Western media reports.
"Those Iraqi fighters, those heroes at Umm Qasr, are teaching the American and
British invaders a lesson," he said according to a CNN translation. "Those Iraqi
fighters are slapping those gangsters on the face, and then when they flee, they
will kick their backsides."
He said the United States was so desperate to show progress in its campaign to
oust Saddam that it "kidnapped" thousands of Iraqi civilians and forced them to
dress up like soldiers, pretending to surrender to coalition forces in the oil-rich
Faw peninsula of southern Iraq.

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OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
MARCH 2003

American POWs on TV
Looking by turns frightened or stoic, five captured U.S. soldiers from Fort Bliss,
Texas, were thrust in front of an Iraqi TV microphone and peppered with questions
Sunday, a move that angered President Bush and caused an uproar among U.S.
military officials.
The scenes of interrogators questioning four men and a woman were broadcast
by the Arab satellite station Al-Jazeera with footage from state-controlled Iraqi
television. Each was interviewed individually. They spoke into a microphone
labeled "Iraqi Television."
U.S. officials said the crew made a wrong turn and were confronted by a group of
Iraqi soldiers.
Some of the prisoners looked terrified. One captive, who said he was from Kansas,
answered all of his questions in a shaky voice, his eyes darting back and forth
between the interviewer and another person who couldn't be seen on camera.
Asked why he came to Iraq, he replied, "I come to fix broke stuff."
Prodded by the interviewer, he was asked if he came to shoot Iraqis.
"No, I come to shoot only if I am shot at," he said. "They [Iraqis] don't bother me, I
don't bother them."
Another prisoner, who said he was from Texas, was lying on a mat. The camera
panned from his feet to his head, showing one of his arms to be wounded and
folded across his chest.
Iraqi TV attempted to interview him, at one point trying to cradle his head to
steady it for the camera. They eventually helped him sit up, but he seemed to
sway slightly.
Bush said he did not have all the details of what he called a potential capture, but
he added:
"We expect them to be treated humanely, just like we'll treat any prisoners of
theirs that we capture humanely. If not, the people who mistreat the prisoners will
be treated as war criminals."
Casualties mounting
With some of the fierce fighting going on, coalition leaders said casualties Sunday
could result in the highest one-day combat toll since the 1991 Gulf War.
Intense fighting throughout the country left dozens of coalition troops either dead
or missing.
Since the war started five days ago, 31 coalition troops have been killed: 14 from
the United States and 17 from the United Kingdom.
On Sunday, officials confirmed that 12 soldiers were missing after Iraqi forces
ambushed an Army supply convoy around An Nasiriyah, a major crossing point
over the Euphrates northwest of Basra, that made a wrong turn. Some of the
soldiers were the ones later seen on television as prisoners of war, but the others
remain unaccounted for.
In a separate incident, Brig. Gen. Brooks said nine Marines were killed in a faked
surrender by Iraqi forces outside An Nasiriyah.
The Marines came under fire while preparing to accept what appeared to be
surrendering Iraqis.

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OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
MARCH 2003

U.S. tanks were unable to enter the town of An Nasiriyah after three attempts
Sunday and were forced to retreat, said Iraqi Defense Information Minister Sultan
Hashem Ahmad in a briefing in Baghdad.
Two Marines riding in a light armored vehicle in An Nasiriyah were hit by a rocket-
propelled grenade and taken to a nearby tent hospital. Another Marine was killed
in the attack, and two others were evacuated to a British burn unit, CNN reported.
Casualties overwhelmed another tent hospital run by a U.S. shock trauma
platoon, CNN said.
Bombing continues
Allied planes and ships continued their assault on cities throughout Iraq, including
a blistering attack on Baghdad--the fourth straight day of bombing-- and Tikrit.
U.S. officials said more than 2,000 sorties had been flown over Iraq over the last
24 hours, including about 900 combat missions.
Air raid sirens went off as clouds of smoke hung over Baghdad and explosions
from U.S.-led bombing boomed in the distance.
German public television ARD said a cruise missile hit a residential area in the city
Sunday morning, destroying five houses and injuring at least two people.
Bombs also rocked the northern Iraqi city of Mosul again after nightfall Sunday as
anti-aircraft fire streamed into the sky.
Friendly fire deaths
Coalition forces suffered their first confirmed "friendly fire" deaths of the Iraq war
Sunday, when a U.S. Patriot missile battery downed a British fighter jet near the
Iraqi-Kuwait border, killing the two pilots on board.
Military analysts said the downing was rare, since the Royal Air Force Tornado GR4
would have been outfitted with a transponder, an electronic device identifying
itself as a coalition military aircraft.
The shootdown was a blow for Britain, which already suffered 14 dead in
accidents: the crash Friday of a CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter that killed eight and
a collision Saturday of two British Royal Navy helicopters that killed six.
Five American servicemen were killed in those incidents, as well.
The Tornado was returning from operations in Iraq when it was hit, the British
military said. The Royal Air Force base at Marham, in Britain, confirmed the two
crew members were dead.
Over Iraq, the fighter had been taking part in strikes that destroyed Republican
Guard forces outside Baghdad, Brig. Gen. Brooks said in Qatar.
"I have to say it is not the beginning that we would have preferred," said Group
Capt. Al Lockwood, spokesman for British forces in the Persian Gulf.
But, he said, "this is not training, this is war. And we expect tragically,
occasionally that there are accidents."
Suspect detained
The U.S. soldier detained on suspicion of throwing grenades into three tents at a
101st Airborne command center in Kuwait was with the 326th Engineer Battalion,
said George Heath, a civilian spokesman at Fort Campbell, Ky. Heath said Akbar
had not been charged with a crime but was the only person being questioned in
the attack that killed one and wounded 15 other soldiers Sunday, three seriously.

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Jim Lacey, a correspondent for Time magazine, told CNN that military criminal
investigators said Akbar was recently reprimanded for insubordination and was
told he would not join his unit's push into Iraq.
Heath also said Akbar, 31, had been having "an attitude problem."
The motive in the attack "most likely was resentment," said Max Blumenfeld, an
Army spokesman.
The Army identified the dead soldier as Capt. Christopher Scott Siefert, 27, of
Easton, Pa. Heath said Siefert was married.
A woman who said she is Akbar's mother, Quran Bilal, told the Tennessean of
Nashville that she was concerned her son might have been accused because he is
a Muslim, adding he was not allowed to participate in the first Gulf War because
of his religion.
"He said, 'Mama, when I get over there, I have the feeling they are going to arrest
me just because of the name that I have carried,"' Bilal told the newspaper for a
story published on its Web site Sunday night.
NBC News reported Sunday night that Akbar, who was born Mark Fidel Kools, was
opposed to the killing of Muslims and opposed to the war in Iraq, according to two
high-ranking U.S. Army sources.
Pockets of resistance
CNN reported that U.S. Marines waged a four-hour firefight with pockets of Iraqi
troops in the southern city of Umm Qasr on Sunday, a day after British troops
captured the strategically important port.
The clash ended with a quick airstrike from a Harrier jet. A staff sergeant from the
15th Marine Expeditionary Unit called the incident "effectively over" and said
Marines were heading out to pick up prisoners of war.
Coalition forces moved into Umm Qasr, Iraq's only Persian Gulf port, Saturday and
began preparing it as a hub for shipments of humanitarian relief, but Iraqi
resistance remained in some areas, including a concrete building not far from the
harbor.
"We had been receiving sporadic fire from that location for the last two days,"
Staff Sgt. Nick Lerma told CNN. "This morning, we noticed a couple of silhouettes
of bodies up in the window, and that was the first visual we'd had instead of just
shadows."
Similar battles raged in Basra, where coalition forces appeared to have captured
the airport and major bridge in Iraq's second- largest city.

U.S. Troops Guard Against Fake Surrenders


Source: Associated Press
Publication date: 2003-03-25

The U.S. Marines, M-16s pointed, forced the Iraqi men out of their vehicle,
questioned them, and shoved them down onto the rocky sand - slashing their
tires first to ensure they wouldn't tail a convoy again any time soon.
After the hoped-for popular welcome in Iraq turned out to be deadly ambushes by
ruse, U.S. forces heightened their vigilance Monday of a people they hoped to win
over.

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"It felt great when we came in, with the crowds waiting and smiling. Now you
wonder what's behind those smiles - and what lies behind those crowds," said Lt.
Col. Michael Belcher of the 1st Marine Division.
"It's tough to win over their hearts and minds now, when you have to hold them
at arm's length," Belcher said.
His men dealt with the three Iraqis - suspected ex-Iraqi soldiers, holding
suspected Iraqi military goods.
In two cases Sunday near An Nasiriyah, Iraqi forces deceived Americans into
believing they were surrendering or welcoming them.
U.S. officials said one Iraqi unit indicated it was giving up, but as the Marines
approached, the Iraqis opened fire, killing nine Americans. U.S. military sources
said about 40 were wounded.
Another ambush in An Nasiriyah, in which 12 soldiers were listed as missing, may
have involved a surrender situation, U.S. officials said.
U.S. forces have been skirting cities and towns as they push toward Baghdad. On
Monday, residents of the border town, Safwan - one of the few towns directly
taken by U.S. forces - stoned the passing military convoy.
With resistance tougher than expected, there have been no joyous scenes of
liberated towns as there were in Kuwait in the 1991 Gulf War.
"When you're at war in someone's homeland, it's a different story," said another
Marine of the 1st Marine Division, a Gulf War veteran digesting word about the
ambush and killings.
"Last time everyone was happy to see us. We were heroes. We won and we went
home," said the Marine, whose car pulled away before he could give his name.
This time the few sightings U.S. forces have of Iraqis in the desolate, little-
populated impoverished south are of Iraqi deserters.
The ex-soldiers walk on the scorching sides of the highway in clusters, belongings
strewn over their shoulders, scrounging for food, searching for water to drink in
culverts.
Some waved big and smiled wide when U.S. forces passed. But especially since
Sunday's ambushes, U.S. forces have looked at them warily and kept their
distance, weapons trained.
On Monday, U.S. Marines lay sprawled on the sides of the road by halted convoys,
machine guns and rifles trained on parched fields and flocks of sheep.
The three Iraqis stopped by Belcher's unit Monday were pulled over after they had
made a long swing by the U.S. convoy, doubled back, and swung by again.
The Marines suspected they were Iraqi deserters and looters with military goods
in their apparently stolen car.
They slashed their tires to keep them from continuing on, and put them face
down in the dirt. The Iraqis stayed there under the hot sun, sprawled and not
daring to raise their heads, for the hour or so until the convoy passed.
Catching a stranger's eye, one man ventured a thumbs up and a grin. It faded
and he pressed his face back down again in the sand in defeat.
Camels crossed the highway path of the U.S. tanks, tow-mounted vehicles,
machine gunners and other hardware.

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Desperately poor families stood in baked clay courtyards of the rough stone
houses watching the invading army go by - but they only stared.
Only the youngest among them waved back and smiled at the strangers.
Not all interactions between U.S. forces and Iraqi people are negative.
Unable to trust the grown-ups, U.S. troops turn to the children as outlets for the
goodwill they all say they feel for the Iraqi people. Daily, ragged, barefoot children
make their way to the highway route of the invasion to beg for food.
On Monday, one little boy in a grimy Arabic gown brought his even younger
brother, wide-eyed and still wobbly on his toddler feet.
The older brother raised his arms in supplication to the troops.
His little brother looked over at him, and copied him, thrusting both arms toward
the convoy.
Plastic bottles of water - sorely craved in the desert - bounced down around them,
and military ready-to-eat rations pelted the pavement. The boys moved back and
forth before the grinding treads of tanks to retrieve the bounty and fold it into a
roll of the older boy's gown

Seabees finally get chance to help battle effort


Source: Scripps Howard
Publication date: 2003-03-24

NASIRIYAH, Iraq -- As the Seabees traveled to Nasiriyah to help rebuild a bridge


for the Marines, a small boy outside an earth-covered shack blew them a kiss.
The mood changed once they arrived at their destination.
"About 4:30 this morning, two guys ran up on us with weapons," said Lance Cpl.
Jeremy Terrell, of the Marines 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Division, who
was guarding the bridge they would soon fix. "They were shot."
He also said the Marines had taken about 100 enemy prisoners of war from the
area. But, protected by both the Marines and their own security division, the
Seabees decided to work.
"This will be your first real mission," Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4
commanding officer James Worcester told the group of less than 100 before they
set out. "Go out and make us proud."
The Seabees are a unit of the Navy that concentrates on building and
construction and, then defending those structures. On their four-hour drive to the
broken bridge, they were accompanied almost exclusively by military vehicles.
Only two civilian vehicles were on Iraq's Highway 1. One was an old Chevy sedan
in which the car passenger waved a white cloth from the window. The other was a
taxi.
Often the traffic was so heavy going north that the military took up both sides of
the six-lane highway. Many of those traveling toward Baghdad and Nasiriyah were
tanks, each which bore a name on the barrel of its cannon including: "Sinister
Minister," "We love Bush," "The Final Solution" and "Size Matters."
Missile shell casings were as prevalent as cigarette butts next to the highway,
showing where battles had been waged. The only discards more numerous were
the empty brown plastic packages that enclose the military's MREs.

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OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
MARCH 2003

The homes along the highway were small, earth-covered shacks with tiny square
openings for windows.
The Marines were glad to see the Seabees.
"It will make the bridge last a lot longer," said Cpl. Tony Allen of the Marines 8th
Engineering Support Battalion. "This damn bridge will just start busting up with all
this traffic."
The bridge, which is being used by military personnel headed to Baghdad, is one
that the Iraqis abandoned before finishing. It has no ramps up or down from the
concrete span. So when the vehicles approach the bridge they go over several
deep dips and then hit the edge of the unfinished concrete bridge. The bridge is
already starting to chip away.
Smoothing the ramps to the bridge will speed the military vehicles to battle.
Despite dangers in the area, the Seabees were glad to get to work.
"Sitting around that camp the last couple days makes you think you're going to
rot," said Steelworker Chief Michael Neumann. "You start wondering, what am I
doing here."
Equipment Operator 2nd Class Ethan Townsend, 25, of Huntington Beach, Calif.,
said getting to work softens the blow of missing time with his wife Angel.
"Today's my first anniversary. I'm stuck in this hellhole," he said. "But I'm finally
doing what I'm supposed to — so it finally feels like we are needed."
But before the first dump truck could move some dirt to level out the road and
onramp, work stopped again.
Three groups of shepherding families moved through the military area toward
their homes on the other side of the river. Children rode burros, brown and white
spotted dogs nipped at the heels of sheep and the occasional child on foot.
Women in black dresses and colorful scarves hit donkeys and sheep with
smoothed out branches.
The Seabees ran to their packs for cameras. Construction electrician 3rd Class
Justin Powell, 23, of Henderson, Nev., tried to help a 7-year-old boy who was
carrying a sick lamb. He took the lamb and encouraged it to walk on its own.
But then the boy's father called to the boy angrily. So Powell gave the boy his
MRE dinner as well as all the Charms candies he had in his pocket. The boy took
the food with a smile, picked up his lamb and joined his family.
After the photos were snapped and the sheepherders moved on, work started for
real.

Iraq's big blunder: bridges ; Why didn't Saddam's troops blow them up?
Treachery may be culprit
Source: Chicago Sun - Times
Publication date: 2003-03-24
Arrival time: 2003-03-25

LONDON--The war in Iraq is developing a pattern.


Before the outbreak, it was suggested that it might be fought on two fronts,
northward from Kuwait but also southward from Turkey. Immediately after the war
began, there was a brief expectation that a third front might be opened around H-

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OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
MARCH 2003

3, the former pumping station in the west, now an airfield, seized by special
forces operating out of Jordan.
It now seems certain that, because of a Turkish refusal to grant staging facilities,
there will be no northern front involving U.S. armored units. Ships carrying the
equipment of the U.S. 4th Mechanized Division, which were waiting in the eastern
Mediterranean to unload, have now been rerouted to Kuwait and perhaps
southern Iraq through the Suez Canal. The personnel of the division, still in Texas,
will be flown to rejoin their equipment when it has been landed.
The operation will not be complete for seven to 10 days. Meanwhile, there is no
sign of a front being opened from H-3, though it is possible that airborne units
may be based there to fly to the coming battle around Baghdad when or before it
starts.
The focus of action lies, therefore, in the south. It must be recognized that the
allies have had one tremendous piece of good fortune, which is to have captured
the bridges across the Euphrates at An Nasiriyah before they were blown.
Their seizure has absolved the allies from the necessity of bridging themselves, a
task for which they are well-equipped, but a time-consuming and potentially risky
business had the Iraqis opposed the crossings.
When the campaign is over, the capture intact of the An Nasiriyah bridges may be
seen to have had the same significance as the capture of the Remagen bridge
over the Rhine on March 7, 1945, which significantly advanced victory over
Germany in World War II.
The main allied thrust, apparently a completely American operation, is now
located in Mesopotamia proper, the "land between the rivers" of the Tigris and
Euphrates. The Americans are expected to be outside Baghdad by Tuesday. That
presupposes that they do not encounter further obstacles and stiffer resistance
on the way.
There are numerous small waterways in Mesopotamia, most flowing westward
into the Euphrates. A properly organized army, which the Iraqi army is not, would
find plentiful opportunities to stand and fight on defensible water lines before
Baghdad is reached. The failure to blow the An Nasiriyah bridges suggests that
Saddam Hussein's defense of his territory has been badly organized.
It is inconceivable that Saddam cannot have realized how important it was to
keep the invaders west of the Euphrates, the great moat protecting Baghdad. He
must have issued orders about protecting the bridges for as long as possible and
blowing them when the defense failed. Why his orders were not obeyed is the
chief mystery of the campaign so far. Among his many other anxieties at the
moment must be the suspicion of treachery.
But the loss of the An Nasiriyah bridges does not automatically entail the fall of
Baghdad. The city has physical defenses of its own, including the Tigris, which
encircles it, and is also the principal concentration area of the main body of
Saddam's army, including his Republican Guard divisions. There are at least
100,000 Iraqi troops in and around Baghdad, and some will fight.
Moreover, the approach of the American armored columns presents Saddam with
an opportunity to use his weapons of mass destruction. His biological weapons

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are too undirectional and slow-acting to alter the course of the campaign in the
short term.
The defeat of Saddam's regime is by no means concluded. There is still serious
fighting ahead, and the best that can be hoped, if more American lives are not to
be lost, is that Iraqi surrender will become infectious.
Saddam, if he has time at present to reflect on his mistakes, must be bitterly
regretting his decision to invade Kuwait in 1990.
Had he refrained from annexing Kuwait, it is unlikely that that state, weak as it is,
would have granted the United States basing facilities in any effort to bring
Saddam down.
Saddam is the architect of his own failure, which will shortly be complete.

Forces meet setbacks, fiercest fighting of war ; Captured U.S. soldiers


paraded on Iraqi television
Source: Chicago Sun - Times
Publication date: 2003-03-24
Arrival time: 2003-03-25

Coalition forces were dealt a number of bloody setbacks on their path to Baghdad
on Sunday that included troops seeing the fiercest fighting to date and ended
with more than a dozen soldiers being killed in combat and a handful of American
prisoners of war being paraded on Iraqi television.
In what was described as the "sharpest engagement of the war" since Operation
Iraqi Freedom began, U.S and British officials admit that resistance is still strong
in the desert and not all of the Iraqi soldiers are laying down their weapons.
"Clearly, they are not a beaten force," said Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff. "This is going to get a lot harder."
Among the setbacks faced by coalition forces Sunday and early today included a
wayward mission that resulted in U.S. soldiers being captured, an increase in the
number of casualties, a British airplane mistakingly shot down by friendly fire and
having troops encounter "pockets of resistance" in areas once considered under
control.
"It was a tough day of fighting for the coalition," said Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks.
But even with those setbacks, U.S. and British forces continued to pound away at
Iraq's capital. Witnesses told of thunderous explosions rocking Baghdad while a
cloud of smoke engulfed the city.
Bombs also fell on Mosul and in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit.
Coalition troops were about 50 miles--just a couple of hours-- outside of Baghdad,
officials said.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Army identified Sgt. Hasan Akbar as the man who allegedly
lobbed four grenades at tents of the 101st Airborne Division's 1st Brigade in
northern Kuwait early Sunday, killing one soldier and wounding 15 others.
Akbar reportedly is a Muslim who had recently been reprimanded for
insubordination.
Meanwhile, Iraqi leaders said the coalition was doomed to failure and that the
Iraqi soldiers who appeared to have surrendered were really impostors.

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OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
MARCH 2003

Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf also said Sunday the
situation in the Iraqi port city of Umm Qasr, taken by British troops Saturday but
still the site of fighting as U.S. Marines try to flush out resistance, differed from its
portrayal in Western media reports.
"Those Iraqi fighters, those heroes at Umm Qasr, are teaching the American and
British invaders a lesson," he said according to a CNN translation. "Those Iraqi
fighters are slapping those gangsters on the face, and then when they flee, they
will kick their backsides."
He said the United States was so desperate to show progress in its campaign to
oust Saddam that it "kidnapped" thousands of Iraqi civilians and forced them to
dress up like soldiers, pretending to surrender to coalition forces in the oil-rich
Faw peninsula of southern Iraq.
American POWs on TV
Looking by turns frightened or stoic, five captured U.S. soldiers from Fort Bliss,
Texas, were thrust in front of an Iraqi TV microphone and peppered with questions
Sunday, a move that angered President Bush and caused an uproar among U.S.
military officials.
The scenes of interrogators questioning four men and a woman were broadcast
by the Arab satellite station Al-Jazeera with footage from state-controlled Iraqi
television. Each was interviewed individually. They spoke into a microphone
labeled "Iraqi Television."
U.S. officials said the crew made a wrong turn and were confronted by a group of
Iraqi soldiers.
Some of the prisoners looked terrified. One captive, who said he was from Kansas,
answered all of his questions in a shaky voice, his eyes darting back and forth
between the interviewer and another person who couldn't be seen on camera.
Asked why he came to Iraq, he replied, "I come to fix broke stuff."
Prodded by the interviewer, he was asked if he came to shoot Iraqis.
"No, I come to shoot only if I am shot at," he said. "They [Iraqis] don't bother me, I
don't bother them."
Another prisoner, who said he was from Texas, was lying on a mat. The camera
panned from his feet to his head, showing one of his arms to be wounded and
folded across his chest.
Iraqi TV attempted to interview him, at one point trying to cradle his head to
steady it for the camera. They eventually helped him sit up, but he seemed to
sway slightly.
Bush said he did not have all the details of what he called a potential capture, but
he added:
"We expect them to be treated humanely, just like we'll treat any prisoners of
theirs that we capture humanely. If not, the people who mistreat the prisoners will
be treated as war criminals."
Casualties mounting
With some of the fierce fighting going on, coalition leaders said casualties Sunday
could result in the highest one-day combat toll since the 1991 Gulf War.
Intense fighting throughout the country left dozens of coalition troops either dead
or missing.

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OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
MARCH 2003

Since the war started five days ago, 31 coalition troops have been killed: 14 from
the United States and 17 from the United Kingdom.
On Sunday, officials confirmed that 12 soldiers were missing after Iraqi forces
ambushed an Army supply convoy around An Nasiriyah, a major crossing point
over the Euphrates northwest of Basra, that made a wrong turn. Some of the
soldiers were the ones later seen on television as prisoners of war, but the others
remain unaccounted for.
In a separate incident, Brig. Gen. Brooks said nine Marines were killed in a faked
surrender by Iraqi forces outside An Nasiriyah.
The Marines came under fire while preparing to accept what appeared to be
surrendering Iraqis.
U.S. tanks were unable to enter the town of An Nasiriyah after three attempts
Sunday and were forced to retreat, said Iraqi Defense Information Minister Sultan
Hashem Ahmad in a briefing in Baghdad.
Two Marines riding in a light armored vehicle in An Nasiriyah were hit by a rocket-
propelled grenade and taken to a nearby tent hospital. Another Marine was killed
in the attack, and two others were evacuated to a British burn unit, CNN reported.
Casualties overwhelmed another tent hospital run by a U.S. shock trauma
platoon, CNN said.
Bombing continues
Allied planes and ships continued their assault on cities throughout Iraq, including
a blistering attack on Baghdad--the fourth straight day of bombing-- and Tikrit.
U.S. officials said more than 2,000 sorties had been flown over Iraq over the last
24 hours, including about 900 combat missions.
Air raid sirens went off as clouds of smoke hung over Baghdad and explosions
from U.S.-led bombing boomed in the distance.
German public television ARD said a cruise missile hit a residential area in the city
Sunday morning, destroying five houses and injuring at least two people.
Bombs also rocked the northern Iraqi city of Mosul again after nightfall Sunday as
anti-aircraft fire streamed into the sky.
Friendly fire deaths
Coalition forces suffered their first confirmed "friendly fire" deaths of the Iraq war
Sunday, when a U.S. Patriot missile battery downed a British fighter jet near the
Iraqi-Kuwait border, killing the two pilots on board.
Military analysts said the downing was rare, since the Royal Air Force Tornado GR4
would have been outfitted with a transponder, an electronic device identifying
itself as a coalition military aircraft.
The shootdown was a blow for Britain, which already suffered 14 dead in
accidents: the crash Friday of a CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter that killed eight and
a collision Saturday of two British Royal Navy helicopters that killed six.
Five American servicemen were killed in those incidents, as well.
The Tornado was returning from operations in Iraq when it was hit, the British
military said. The Royal Air Force base at Marham, in Britain, confirmed the two
crew members were dead.
Over Iraq, the fighter had been taking part in strikes that destroyed Republican
Guard forces outside Baghdad, Brig. Gen. Brooks said in Qatar.

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OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
MARCH 2003

"I have to say it is not the beginning that we would have preferred," said Group
Capt. Al Lockwood, spokesman for British forces in the Persian Gulf.
But, he said, "this is not training, this is war. And we expect tragically,
occasionally that there are accidents."
Suspect detained
The U.S. soldier detained on suspicion of throwing grenades into three tents at a
101st Airborne command center in Kuwait was with the 326th Engineer Battalion,
said George Heath, a civilian spokesman at Fort Campbell, Ky. Heath said Akbar
had not been charged with a crime but was the only person being questioned in
the attack that killed one and wounded 15 other soldiers Sunday, three seriously.
Jim Lacey, a correspondent for Time magazine, told CNN that military criminal
investigators said Akbar was recently reprimanded for insubordination and was
told he would not join his unit's push into Iraq.
Heath also said Akbar, 31, had been having "an attitude problem."
The motive in the attack "most likely was resentment," said Max Blumenfeld, an
Army spokesman.
The Army identified the dead soldier as Capt. Christopher Scott Siefert, 27, of
Easton, Pa. Heath said Siefert was married.
A woman who said she is Akbar's mother, Quran Bilal, told the Tennessean of
Nashville that she was concerned her son might have been accused because he is
a Muslim, adding he was not allowed to participate in the first Gulf War because
of his religion.
"He said, 'Mama, when I get over there, I have the feeling they are going to arrest
me just because of the name that I have carried,"' Bilal told the newspaper for a
story published on its Web site Sunday night.
NBC News reported Sunday night that Akbar, who was born Mark Fidel Kools, was
opposed to the killing of Muslims and opposed to the war in Iraq, according to two
high-ranking U.S. Army sources.
Pockets of resistance
CNN reported that U.S. Marines waged a four-hour firefight with pockets of Iraqi
troops in the southern city of Umm Qasr on Sunday, a day after British troops
captured the strategically important port.
The clash ended with a quick airstrike from a Harrier jet. A staff sergeant from the
15th Marine Expeditionary Unit called the incident "effectively over" and said
Marines were heading out to pick up prisoners of war.
Coalition forces moved into Umm Qasr, Iraq's only Persian Gulf port, Saturday and
began preparing it as a hub for shipments of humanitarian relief, but Iraqi
resistance remained in some areas, including a concrete building not far from the
harbor.
"We had been receiving sporadic fire from that location for the last two days,"
Staff Sgt. Nick Lerma told CNN. "This morning, we noticed a couple of silhouettes
of bodies up in the window, and that was the first visual we'd had instead of just
shadows."
Similar battles raged in Basra, where coalition forces appeared to have captured
the airport and major bridge in Iraq's second- largest city.

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Threat of Saddam's Martyr Battalions ; IN MIDST OF THE DIFFICULT


BASRA CAMPAIGN, TROOPS LIVE IN FEAR OF FANATICS WHO HAVE
VOWED NEVER TO SURRENDERPalestinian recruits bolster Iraqi soldiers
Source: Evening Standard - London
Publication date: 2003-03-24

THEY call them the Martyr Battalions, diehard troops who are fighting Saddam
Hussein's battles to the death. Here in Basra, in Umm Qasr to the south and on
the road to Baghdad, allied forces are encountering Saddam's trump card in the
battle for Iraq - fanatics who have vowed never to surrender.
These fighters, expertly trained in urban warfare, have thrown coalition plans into
confusion with their dogged defence of strategic towns.
According to allied intelligence reports, these troops have been recruited not just
from the ranks of Saddam's loyalists, but from among the Palestinian diaspora
and Islamic extremists in countries including Jordan and Lebanon.
Hundreds - possibly thousands - of young men have entered Iraq in recent
months, lured by Saddam's promise that he will strike Israel during his struggle
against the Americans and British.
And they are fighting with a ferocity that defies belief. At 2am here, a group of
these Fedayeen holding out in Basra tried to ward off an air strike attack with
machinegun fire.
The sky was lit by tracer rounds as a helicopter moved in; missiles flashed down,
there was a halo of fire, then silence. Elsewhere, the so-called martyrs are
fighting on.
As dawn broke a huge explosion, possibly from the impact of a cruise missile,
rocked the city. More earpopping thumps tore apart the still early morning air.
Basra is a densely-populated city and resorting to firepower on this scale has
caused consternation among coalition commanders. They want desperately to
avoid the massive civilian casualties major air attacks inflict, but they are anxious
not to allow their troops to be drawn into potentially disastrous house-to-house
battles.
The advance into Basra began well, and at first it seemed the city would fall
quickly. American troops from the 7th Marine Division moved swiftly across the
Kuwait border with tanks and helicopter gunships in support.
By the time Evening Standard photographer Cavan Pawson and I drove into Iraq
through a remote desert crossing on Saturday morning the first lines of defence
had been swept aside. At Safwan and on the vital highway to Baghdad, defending
troops dug into trenches and holding positions in ageing Russian-built tanks were
pounded with heavy artillery and helicopter-launched missiles.
The blackened husks of four tanks littered the arid fields each side of the highway
which itself bore the deep scars of cluster munitions.
Cluster bombs - and their artilleryfired equivalent - have already acquired a
fiendish reputation in this war. The initial blast of the round scatters smaller
bomblets which cover a wide area and then explode, either immediately or at
random intervals.

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MARCH 2003

At Safwan, we saw the horrific injuries they can cause. A young woman, a baby at
her breast, sat semicomatose in the back of a pickup truck, bleeding from a
shrapnel wound in the leg. As British soldiers guarding the highway directed the
truck through to a medic unit, the air was filled with the shrieks of a woman
approaching in another truck in which a man in civilian clothes lay unconscious in
the back. He had a shrapnel wound in the abdomen and was apparently close to
death. It was an infernal scene.
The woman screamed and waved her arms hysterically as a young British
squaddie, his face deathly pale, tried to help.
Across the intersection 29 Iraqi prisoners of war sat on the ground inside rings of
barbed wire, their shoulders covered in blankets given to them by their captors.
"They are getting food, water and exercise," a British military policemen told me.
"They are a lot better off now than they were a few hours ago." In the trenches in
the surrounding fields, the bodies of dead Iraqis bore testament to that.
On the road to Basra, punctured oil pipelines belched flame and smoke as
American marines and men of the British 7th Armoured Brigade moved forward at
breakneck speed.
A British tank commander waved at us with a glove puppet as his Challenger tank
thundered past; the crews of Warrior armoured vehicles grinned as they headed
for Basra.
Suddenly, the advance came to a halt. A mine had been spotted on the road
ahead. We took our vehicle to the front of the convoy and watched with a mixture
of concern and sheer admiration as a sapper from 33 Engineer Regiment strode
out alone on to the highway, armed only with a mine detector. He reported that
he had found something and the convoy switched to the opposite carriageway.
It roared onward.
In the villages, ragged children clapped their hands at the sight of these
formidable war machines, come at last to deal with Saddam.
The mainly Shi'ite population of southern Iraq has suffered desperately since
rising up against Baghdad in the final days of the last Gulf war.
After slaughtering thousands, Saddam turned this oil-rich area into a dustbowl.
His soldiers drained the fertile marshes and cut off towns and villages from aid.
"We have nothing," Eid Gumar, head man of a village near Safwan, said. Baghdad
allowed no state money to be spent in areas Saddam considered disloyal. "There
is hunger and disease," Gumar said.
"No medicine, no help. We hope this time you won't abandon us."
As he spoke women filled cans and jugs at a watering hole nearby. A child, timid
but hungry, nibbled at the biscuits we gave her. Coalition forces are carrying
4,500 ration packs to be distributed in Basra once the fighting is over, but for now
they remain stacked in trucks.
The Fedayeen who have taken up positions in the south west of the city and in
locations along the strategic Shatt al Arab waterway have defied all efforts to
dislodge them. Apart from fighting with suicidal fervour, these Martyr Battalion
troops have prevented regular army conscripts from surrendering. Some soldiers
who abandoned their weapons and uniforms have been forced back into the fight
upon pain of death.

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In another twist, allied soldiers have been confronted by soldiers who have
switched their uniforms for civilian clothes, hiding out in the streets and buildings
of the city.
So far the diehards have accounted for at least two American tanks. It was not
the kind of war envisaged by the coalition and it is not the kind of war allied
commanders want to fight.
The strategy called for a lightning strike on Baghdad, bypassing towns and cities
on the way. It was believed all but Saddam's loyalist Republican Guard would
agree to stand down, pending a change of regime.
Indeed, in Basra, the Iraqi army commander of the 51st Infantry agreed a
ceasefire with coalition
troops, but could not deliver the Martyrs who fight on stubbornly.
Most of the US marines who began the assault on Basra have joined the push
towards Baghdad, leaving British forces to take the town. It is a reluctant fight.
The population here welcomed the Allies, but if there are significant casualties
during efforts to subdue the fanatics, that could change. Saddam knows that. The
dilemma for the Allies is that while they would prefer to bypass Basra, they
cannot ignore pockets of resistance at their back.
On the outskirts of the city, soldiers of the First Battalion of the Royal Regiment of
Fusiliers and the Black Watch talk of their frustration over the Allies' stalled plans.
And there is dismay over reports of deaths caused by friendly fire. The Fusiliers'
regimental quartermaster John Mulheran, a 35-year-old veteran, has seen it
before. He was a section commander when 11 British soldiers from his regiment
were killed in a US air strike in 1991.
His driver is one of several women here on the brink of the battle. Amanda
Morgan, 18, from Bournemouth, heard guns fired in anger for the first time.
"It is disturbing," she said, "but I worry about our men in the thick of it.
They are all our friends and you pray they'll come back safe."
There has been no word here so far about casualties. Four wounded Iraqis were
airlifted from here to a field hospital in Kuwait, but no allied casualties have come
through.
Saddam's Martyrs seem bent on creating a Stalingrad in Basra, but the Allies
cannot countenance a siege here, or anywhere else on the road to Baghdad.
Iraq's information ministry stooge Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf said resistance
had forced allied troops to "run like rats".
Perhaps someone should tell him the last person who described British desert
troops in that vein did not live to see them win their heroic victory - and wear the
insult as a badge of honour.
THE BATTLE at Umm Khuwaysah was brief, but left a US tank destroyed, an
unknown number of casualties and a new understanding of the enemy the Allies
face in Iraq, writes Keith Dovkants.
When American marines advanced on this shanty town near a municipal rubbish
tip, the Iraqi crews of an old Russian tank and a few armoured vehicles
surrendered, coming out of their dugouts with white flags.
But then one defender fired a shoulder-launch missile at an Abrams tank from just
over 100 yards, tearing off its tracks and bucking its armour.

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Now the Americans trust no one here - and there is talk of guerrilla-type forces
popping up all around Basra.

Navy Seabees help out lost Army sergeants


Source: Scripps Howard
Publication date: 2003-03-24

NASIRIYAH, Iraq -- When Navy Seabees arrived at a bridge that needed their
attention, they were approached by two Army sergeants who needed help in a
bad way.
Sgt. 1st Class Carlos Hudson of Savannah Ga., and Staff Sgt. Richard James of
Chicago were left behind by their battalion when their truck broke down four days
ago.
"They said we'll come back for you," said James. But then the soldiers were told to
drop the trailer that carried a medical generator and just catch up. They tried but
their fuel filter clogged and their truck couldn't go more than 10 mph.
They couldn't find their unit. Their unit never found them.
The two Army sergeants ended up at the Marine camp and the Marines promised
to lead them to their Army camp. So the next morning, they got up and headed
out.
But the Army sergeants followed the wrong battalion and went straight to the
front lines. The Marine convoy was ambushed. There was a firefight. The Army
sergeants kept their heads down and stayed safe at the back of the convoy. They
realized they were with the wrong group and headed back.
Then they blew a tire.
"Is there anyway you could spare a 5-ton dump truck tire," Hudson asked Naval
Mobile Construction Battalion 4's Lt. Bill Butler. "We can't get a message to our
unit. We've been missing for four days. We have to get back."
Apparently the Seabee and Marine radios can't call the Army units in the field. So
Butler agreed, even though it was the only spare the Seabee battalion had. He
said he expected new supplies the next day.
"If nobody helps them out, who knows if they'll get snatched and next we'll see
them on TV," Butler said. "If it was me, I'd want someone to help me out."
So Construction Mechanic 2nd Class Jason Basham, 25, of Belleville, Mich., and
Construction Mechanic Chris Martine, 21, of Portsmouth N. H., pulled a spare from
a dump truck and took it to the luckless Army duo.
"They are our people," Basham said. "One team; one fight."

Ground campaign enters crucial 48 hours


Source: Evening Standard - London
Publication date: 2003-03-24

HARD pounding, gentlemen, but we will see who can pound harder," said the
Duke of Wellington. The ground war for Iraq is now in the crucial 48 hours. In
attempting to control the key points on the advance on Baghdad from the south,
the campaign is reaching what military planners call a "decision point". In other

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words the opening phase of the ground battle should be completed, and forces
rested, replenished and reinforced before moving on to the next stage - the battle
for Baghdad.
The problem is that the first phase has not yet been completed. The whole
operation looks hugely complex with pockets of resistance from Basra and Umm
Qasr in the south to Najaf, the furthest point of advance in the north. Oil fields are
ablaze, and a main port for logistics and humanitarian aid has not been secured
at either Umm Qasr or Basra.
General Tommy Franks, commanding the allied forces, has described the ground
campaign as a "mosaic", and that resistance by the Iraqis has been "fierce" in
several places. The US and British forces are now strung out in an arc of 150
miles from the Al Faw peninsula and the Kuwait border in the south to Najaf on
the Euphrates in the north.
The biggest worry for General Franks is that his forces could become spread thin
with a long and vulnerable supply line. His strong card is total air superiority - but
supply helicopters and road convoys are open to ambush from bands of
Republican Guard and the "Fedayeen Saddam Hussein" - hard men of the Ba'ath
Party militias who feel their fate depends on Saddam's survival.
The strength of the Iraqi resistance and their tactics are the biggest surprise so
far. This is where there appears to be a major failure of tactical intelligence. The
plan for the war in the south was based on the assumption that few hardened
forces were there, and most of the Republican Guard were in the north or in
Baghdad. Most Iraqi soldiers were expected to surrender, as they did by the
thousand when allied forces went into Kuwait in 1991.
The role of the so-called Martyrs' Brigades, a concept taken from the diehard
Revolutionary Guard of Ayatollah Khomeini in the Iran- Iraq bloodbath of 1980-
1988, and Fedayeen Saddam Hussein was hardly considered. It is now clear they
are part of a carefully calculated plan of defence and tactical withdrawal prepared
by Saddam's military staff, whose tactical skills appear to have been
underestimated.
The tactics seem to be based on controlling key choke points - such as the
approach routes to Baghdad, the crossings of the Euphrates at Nasariya. They
seem prepared to hold out to the death and to mount sudden counterattacks and
ambushes. Some ambush parties, Saddam militias in civilian clothes, are accused
of "surrender ruses" by General Franks' staff - of raising white flags to lure allied
troops into killing zones prepared by snipers and artillery. A crucial part of the
Iraqi thinking was revealed by Iraqi TV last night when a spokesman more or less
said the Allies were welcome to the vast wastes of desert, which they now
appeared to control, but it would be very different when they came to fight for the
cities. This appears to call General Franks' bluff of trying to bypass cities where
the Iraqis are putting up a fight.
This suggests that the pounding will get even harder when it comes to the fight
for Baghdad.
The Iraqi high command is preparing to fight in the city, which they know the
Americans are desperate to avoid. They have kept their best forces, at least three
Republican Guard divisions, and best equipment, including the T-72 tanks not

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seen so far, for this final showdown. The Iraqis appear to have worked out a plan
for total national defence, a mixture of conventional and radical guerrilla tactics
prepared by Tito for defence of his country. It means we might soon be embedded
in a long and uncertain campaign.
Baghdad Fourth night of bombing sees heaviest strikes since Day Two Mosul B-52
bombers struck Mosul in effort to secure northern oilfields Special forces fighting
Western airbases Capture of two key Iraqi airbases opens way for coalition
airborne landings Mosul B-52 bombers struck Mosul in effort to secure northern
oilfields Special forces fighting
Kurdish area Cruise missiles launched on mountain stronghold of Ansar al-Islam,
extremist group linked with al Qaeda US special forces dropped in Sulaymaniyah
Southern front 'choke points' US 3rd Infantry advanced to Najaf Heavy resistance
at Nasiriyah - where 20 Americans reported killed or missing - and holy city of
Najaf Key bridges across Euphrates: defence sources uncertain whether yet
secure Suspected huge chemical factory found outside Najaf
PROGRESS OF BRITISH FORCES 7th Armoured Brigade Heavy-infantry 'Desert
Rats' - nickname dates back to 1938 campaign in North Africa - dug in around
Basra, port city of 1.3 million, after fierce resistance. Brigade includes 1st
Battalion Royal Reg't of Fusiliers, three of whom missing pressumed dead after
ambush
3 Commando Brigade 4,000 Royal Marines of 3 Commando launched coalition
ground offensive on Day One with helicopter/amphibious assault on Al Faw
peninsula. Still in Umm Qasr, where small knot of enemy troops continues to slow
coalition plans to open "gateway" for humanitarian aid and troop resupplies
16 Air Assault Brigade Backed by Lynx-TOW antitank helicopters, and modeled on
US 101 Airborne division, this is British Army's most flexible force.
Currently engaged in securing oilfields and taking Iraqi airbases for use by
coalition aircraft for push on Baghdad
Al Faw Penisula Royal Marines and US 15th Expeditionary Unit endure two days
fierce fighting in battle at Umm Qasr; port town still unsecured Two British soldiers
missing after ambush outside Basra as Desert Rats surround city Rumaila oilfields
still unsafe; fires burning

Snipers wave the flag of defiance ; WAR ON SADDAM In an ominous sign


of what may lie ahead, Iraqis show dogged resistance in the battle for
two key towns WAR ON SADDAM
Source: Daily Mail - London
Publication date: 2003-03-24

INTENSE firefights and house- to- house battles raged in the strategic port town of
Umm Qasr yesterday as marine commandos moved to crush fierce Iraqi
resistance.
The allied effort was made more difficult as some Iraqi soldiers switched from
their distinctive olive green uniforms into civilian clothes - and used innocent
families as shields.

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RAF Harriers were twice called in to attack entrenched positions held by an


estimated 120 Republican Guards.
The jets dropped two 500lb bombs, their impact shaking the town, on a complex
of dilapidated buildings, cranes and pylons.
Dazed and bloodied, several Iraqis walked from the ruins brandishing a white flag.
But others fought on, employing guerilla hitandrun tactics to draw allied forces
towards their snipers.
Tanks used heavy machineguns to rake buildings and a line of trees where Iraqi
forces were believed to be dug in. They inflicted heavy damage on a three-storey
building in a compound where the Iraqi flag was still flying.
Thick coils of black smoke scarred the skyline as gunfire clattered around the
residential streets - three days after U.S.
Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had claimed British and American marines
were in control.
The organisation and intensity of the resistance in the town at the entrance to the
Shatt al Arab waterway - until a few days ago it was the gateway for Iraq's oil
smuggling - have surprised commanders.
With the allies desperate to avoid both civilian casualties and damage to the
country's infrastructure, it illustrated the problems they could face in Baghdad.
The policy had to be put on hold in Umm Qasr yesterday, one U.S.
commander admitted after calling in the Harrier air strikes. 'Rather than send
men in there, we're just going to destroy it,' he explained.
The port is vital to the allies, who want Umm Qasr as the hub of humanitarian aid
efforts in southern Iraq. A British ship had been due to arrive with aid yesterday
but had to wait.
Air Marshal Brian Burridge, Britain's commander in the Gulf, described the Iraqis
as 'small pockets of determined men'. He said regular soldiers had been bolstered
by Saddam's special forces 'to put in some backbone'.
A military spokesman added: 'Pockets of diehard snipers take some time to
wheedle out. It only takes a few people to pop up out of a sewer, a couple of
snipers, and you have got a firefight.' The intensity of the resistance to the
U.S.15th Expeditionary Unit and the UK 3 Commando Brigade has been seized on
by the Iraqis.
Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf said: 'The heroic fighters in Umm
Qasr will throw the infidel British and American mercenaries to certain death.'
Fighting erupted yesterday when snipers opened up on a U.S. tented camp in the
modern docks complex - still adorned with huge portraits of Saddam Hussein.
Sergeant Chris Demuro, 31, of the U.S. Fox Company, gave a vivid description of
the three days of fighting. He said: 'They opened up with rockets, small arms and
mortars and all hell broke loose.
'We called in artillery from British units behind us but the explosions were coming
in so close we were forced to pull back - it was terrifying. There was noise and
confusion and we could see the white muzzle flashes from buildings up ahead.
'We hit back with heavy machineguns and artillery and their position was getting
hammered as we moved forward. Two Cobra helicopter gunships finally flew in to
check there was no sign of life or resistance before we passed the smoking

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building.' He went on: 'There was more incoming fire as we pressed into the town,
then a blue Toyota truck appeared with a car behind it heading straight for our
column.
'We tried to flag it down but it kept on going and when it passed an Abrams tank
weapons were seen inside the cab. We had no option but to stop it and a Humvee
jeep blasted it with a 50 calibre machinegun.
'The bullets lit up the truck and in an instant it was a rolling fireball - no one inside
would have stood a chance. As I went I saw a blackened body at the wheel.
Others said they saw another man crawling away and he died too.' Fox Company
were advancing on the gates of the dockyard complex when they spotted a lone
gunman high in a sentry post above the main gates.
U.S. forces decided to signal their intent by blasting him with a tank shell from a
range of just 40 yards.
'I saw him up in the post during the fighting but when the tank fired he just
vanished,' said Sgt Demuro. 'I guess he's somewhere over the Arabian Gulf right
now.
'As we worked our way through the building, I saw an Iraqi colonel in one of the
offices.
'He stepped away from his weapons and put his hands in the air as soon as we
burst in.
'He looked scared and pretty angry but he knew he had no choice but to
surrender. He's still being questioned.' Fox Company Lieutenant Robert Johnessee,
25, from Buffalo, New York said: 'There was a lot of fear - it's been very hairy out
there.' Dozens of Iraqis are believed to have died during the continuing battle for
Umm Qasr. One U.S.
marine was killed by sniper fire.
At least 450 Iraqis surrendered and groups were ferried to a ratinfested
warehouse. Others were lined up on a grubby strip of sand nearby to be
processed. Their shoes were removed to stop them running away.

Allies Target Elite Force Near Baghdad


Source: Associated Press
Publication date: 2003-03-24

Coalition planes targeted Republican Guard forces just south of Baghdad on


Monday in perhaps the largest assault to date on Saddam Hussein's highly trained
troops, U.S. officials said.
Meanwhile, the Army's 3rd Infantry Division dashed north Monday toward the
Shiite holy city of Karbala, only 50 miles south of Baghdad, but was stalled by a
sandstorm that blew out of the desert.
While Iraqi paramilitary units harassed coalition troops from the rear, U.S.-led
forces tried to maintain their advance on Baghdad. The troops made a rapid
advance under heavy allied air protection that wiped out a column of charging
Iraqi armor and sent some of Saddam's outer defenses withdrawing toward the
capital.

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But the weather - not Iraqi troops - halted the long columns of thousands of
vehicles that were stretched across the desert and farms.
To get here, the troops drove north through flat, desert terrain, passing bombed
trucks that had anti-aircraft guns mounted on them, empty foxholes and berms
dug for tanks that had been abandoned by Iraqi forces. Cabs of the anti-aircraft
trucks were peeled back missile blasts, which scorched the ground around the
trucks. Some had bodies still inside, burned beyond recognition.
There were also incidents reported in southern Iraq's Rumailah oil fields. At one
point, five Iraqis in civilian clothes who appeared to be surrendering sprayed
machinegun fire at British soldiers. Reports of casualties were not immediately
confirmed, but civilians trying to put out fires in the oil fields were forced to leave,
and U.S. Marines declared the fields unsafe for journalists.
Meanwhile, a British soldier was killed in combat in southern Iraq, the first British
combat death since the war began the Ministry of Defense said.
The soldier, whose name was not made public, was killed near Az Zubayr in
southern Iraq, the ministry said. A spokeswoman declined to provide further
details but said the soldier's family had been notified.
In the southern Iraqi navy port of Az Zubayr, which the coalition claimed Sunday,
a U.S. Marine patrol reported being fired on Monday from a stand of trees;
Marines responded with tanks and artillery fire. It was not clear who fired on the
patrol or if the firefight was related to the British death.
In northern Iraq, coalition warplanes bombed a military barracks Monday,
shattering windows for miles around and igniting huge plumes of smoke.
Frightened residents fled the area around Chamchamal in a stream of cars, taxis
and buses.
A top Kurdish military official, Rostam Kirkuki, said the Americans bombed the
entire corridor between Chamchamal and Kirkuk, a key oil center.
An American officer confirmed Monday that U.S. forces have been in northern Iraq
for about 24 hours. He would reveal no details or numbers of the troops.
U.S. Marine Col. Keith Lawless, speaking to reporters before a news briefing in the
city of Salahuddin in Iraq's Kurdish autonomous region, said the American forces
had arrived but would not say from where they had come nor where they were.
Over the weekend, U.S. air strikes in northern Iraq pounded positions of the
militant Ansar al-Islam group, an Islamic group with alleged al-Qaida and Baghdad
ties.
Fierce fighting was still erupting in southern Iraq. British troops were engaged in
artillery exchanges with Iraqi forces on the outskirts of Basra, some of it heavy,
British military officials said. British troops have remained outside the city, the
second largest in Iraq, unable to move through it because of pockets of
resistance.
A British spokeswoman at U.S. Central Command said the resistance was coming
from irregular units, either the elite Republican Guard, Special Security
Organization forces or Saddam's Fedayeen, the Baath Party paramilitary
organization. U.S. commander Gen. Tommy Franks said the Fedayeen militia had
been harassing troops and creating "difficulties" at the rear.

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Outside the Shiite holy city of Najaf, south of Karbala, U.S. soldiers skirmished
with Iraqi forces before dawn Monday. Iraqis shot rockets and anti-aircraft guns at
the Americans.
Small groups using pickup trucks or on foot tried to approach U.S. positions but
were driven back by tank and artillery fire.
To the southeast near An Nasiriyah, a convoy of hundreds of vehicles - including
tanks, TOW missiles and armored personnel carriers - was backed up along the
road leading to a pontoon bridge across the Euphrates River.
Two bloody battles a day earlier near An Nasiriyah, 230 miles from Baghdad, had
deepened the Marines' sense of just how treacherous the drive to the Iraqi capital
could be. Some of the Americans had been killed by Iraqis pretending to
surrender.
In the southern desert, where some of the fiercest fighting has taken place,
Marines stormed squat adobe cinderblock buildings. They found no one there, but
discovered abandoned clothing for chemical or biological attacks.
People who had been in the buildings departed so quickly they left their boots
behind as well as a relatively new picture of Saddam Hussein.
U.S. troops were digging in with long lines of amphibious armored vehicles
stretching across the desert disguised by camouflage.
At one position Marines constructed a .50 caliber machine gun nest to cover three
buildings in the near distance.
Officials would not say when they expected to arrive at the capital city. "We'll
arrive in the vicinity of Baghdad soon, and I prefer to leave it at that," said Lt.
Gen. John Abizaid of U.S. Central Command.
Because of the resistance at An Nasiriyah, Marine officials said they expected to
sidestep the city rather than fight to capture it - the same strategy they employed
in Basra.

Sandstorm respite before decisive assault


Source: Evening Standard - London
Publication date: 2003-03-24

BRITISH and American forces expect to close with elite Republican Guard divisions
in the next two days to begin the decisive battle for Baghdad. They are poised at
key crossing points into the most populous part of Iraq, between the rivers
Euphrates and Tigris, before the final march on Baghdad from the south.
The aim is to engage Republican Guard divisions now known to be manning a 30-
mile perimeter around the capital. In the past 10 days two armored divisions of
the Republican Guard have been withdrawn from the northern border with the
Kurdish autonomous territories.
The guard is equipped with T72 main battle tanks equipped with laser sights, and
are backed by hundreds of artillery pieces. They are better paid than the rest of
the army, and are pledged to defend Saddam and his family.
However, a large proportion of their 80,000 soldiers are conscripts whose loyalty
to the WAR BRIEFING By Robert Fox Defense Correspondent regime is not
guaranteed. The onset of a dramatic sandstorm expected to last three days will

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give the Americans and British time to regroup and resupply their forces for the
thrust on Baghdad expected to start at the weekend.
The sandstorm will also give cover to Iraqi "stay-behind" troops and suicide
squads to move around and reorganize.
The Americans are likely to bring in elements of the 4th Infantry Division, which
they had hoped to move in from Turkey in the north.
With a thumb's down from Turkey's president and government, they are now
being moved by sea to the Gulf, but can be flown forward into the Iraqi desert by
Chinook helicopters and Hercules fixed- wing aircraft.
They will fight alongside the 3rd Infantry Division, which is now preparing
positions at Najaf and Karbala along the Euphrates and getting ready to cross into
the central plain of Iraq and Nasiriyah.
The assault on Baghdad is expected to be launched by the 101 Airborne Division,
the "Screaming Eagles", with paratroopers from Britain's 16 Air Assault Brigade as
a strategic reserve.
Most of the firepower will come from the air, however, with Apache helicopter
gunships and A10 Thunderbolt tank-buster aircraft flying in constant close-air
support. RAF and US Marine Harriers and US Navy F18s will also support assault
troops.
The Iraqis want to drag the Allies into close quarter street-by- street fighting,
where they can use their primitive but highly effective Soviet weaponry,
bazookas, rocket-propelled grenades and short-range missiles.
General Tommy Franks and his commanders have said they have no intention of
getting into bloody scraps in areas of civilian population. The air power should
mean that the Allies have the advantage and can choose to bring Saddam's
diehards to battle at a time of their own choosing.
The biggest problem may well be logistics - how long the Allies can sustain
themselves. If the standoff runs into next month, the Allies may have to consider
bringing in reinforcements. The Americans have at least one division on standby
in Germany.
Junior defense minister Dr Lewis Moonie said the Government had "no thought" of
sending British reinforcements at the moment, but admitted the picture could
change.
Some analysts believe Britain may have to send an additional infantry brigade of
three to four battalions to help secure the oilfields and southern ports and towns
for which the Americans have given them responsibility.

U.S. Halfway To Baghdad- Soldier Killed In Grenade Attack-


Source: Dayton Daily News
Publication date: 2003-03-23
Arrival time: 2003-03-25

BAGHDAD - American and British war planes rattled Baghdad with thunderous
around-the-clock bombardments through this morning while to the south in
Kuwait, one U.S. soldier with the 101st Airborne Division was killed and 13 others
were wounded in a grenade attack.

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OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
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Early today, an Army spokesman said an unidentified U.S. soldier with an


engineer platoon had been detained as a suspect. The spokesman said the
motive "most likely was resentment," but did not elaborate.
The attack occurred at 1:30 a.m. (5:30 p.m. EST Saturday) when at least two
grenades were tossed into a command tent in the division's 1st Brigade Camp
Pennsylvania base near the Iraqi border. The Army said many of the soldiers were
evacuated by helicopter to field hospitals.
The incident was initially described as a terrorist attack.
"The area has been secured and an investigation is under way to determine the
circumstances of the attack," a military statement said.
At another 101st Airborne Division staging area in northern Kuwait, Patriot
missiles downed a missile, believed to be Iraqi, flying near the camp. Detection of
the missile prompted soldiers at the 101st's Camp New York to scramble into
chemical protective suits. Iraq fired a long-range Scud at Israel during the 1991
Persian Gulf War.
Earlier Saturday, a car bomb exploded close to Iraq's northern border, killing an
Australian journalist, 39-year-old Paul Moran, on assignment for ABC News. A
civilian and three Kurdish soldiers also were killed. Kurdish officials blamed Ansar
al-Islam, a group that the Bush administration has accused of having ties to
Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network.
On Saturday, the Iraqi military set fire to at least 20 oil- filled pits ringing the
capital city, creating huge pillars of smoke that blackened the sky. Two fires raged
in pits about 50 yards long and a few feet deep as soldiers stood nearby, tending
the burning. The fires may have been set in hopes they would interfere with laser-
guidance systems used on some American munitions. However, they did not
deter the strikes by warplanes from the USS Theodore Roosevelt, a carrier in the
Mediterranean, in the destruction of Saddam Hussein's war machine. The latest
air strikes shattered one of Saddam's palaces and destroyed a nine-story
intelligence headquarters.
Also, hundreds of miles to the south of Baghdad, U.S. and British forces
encountered heavy resistance from Iraqi artillery and machine guns as they
tightened the noose around Basra, Iraq's second largest city. The allies eventually
took the airport and an important bridge over the Euphrates River. Al Jazeera TV
reported 50 Iraqi civilians killed in the bombardment of Basra.
U.S. and British forces in Iraq are attacking "on our terms" and "on our time line,"
Gen. Tommy Franks, head of U.S. Central Command, told reporters at his Persian
Gulf base of operations in Qatar. It was Franks' first briefing since the start of
Operation Iraqi Freedom Wednesday.
Franks said that so far, allied forces have found no evidence of weapons of mass
destruction in Iraq, but expressed confidence that they would be discovered.
Franks said he had no idea about the fate of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, the
target of the opening missile salvo in the war. "Actually, I don't know if he's alive
or not," the general said.
But Iraqi state television, in an effort to show that the regime is firmly in control,
broadcast images of what it said was Saddam chairing meetings Saturday with
senior government ministers and with his son Qusai.

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Franks said between 1,000 and 2,000 Iraqi troops have surrendered and been
taken into custody, and "thousands more have laid down their weapons and have
gone home." Even so, he warned that "there will be tough days ahead."
Four U.S. soldiers, reconnaissance scouts in Humvee vehicles at the head of a
column of troops, were wounded Saturday in central Iraq, apparently the victims
of an ambush. But allied forces had advanced more than 150 miles into Iraq by
Saturday, about half way to Baghdad.
After two days of skirmishes, U.S. and British Marines continued to struggle to
gain full control of Umm Qasr, Iraq's only deep- water port, which lies close to the
Kuwaiti border.

THE IRAQ CONFLICT: GUERRILLA WARFARE - Iraqi snipers kill the Allied
hope of fast, easy victory
Source: Independent - London
Publication date: 2003-03-25

IRAQI SOLDIERS and fanatical militiamen are using classic guerrilla tactics -
sniping, attacking supply lines and harrying the flanks of advancing troops - to
disrupt the efforts of British and US forces to secure southern Iraq, and embarrass
Allied commanders who predicted a swift, easy victory.
The spearhead of Allied forces continues to advance on Baghdad, but efforts to
stabilise and make safe the south of the country have so far failed. Four days
after the US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, said US forces had taken
control of Umm Qasr, last night snipers were still targeting Allied forces, and the
port remained closed to ships carrying humanitarian supplies and aid.
In towns such as Basra and Nasiriyah and at the Rumaila oilfields, Iraqi fighters
were harrying Allied forces after areas declared safe suddenly turned treacherous.
The Desert Rats at one point had Basra surrounded, but some of the 7th
Armoured Brigade, including the Challenger 2 tanks of the Royal Scots Dragoon
Guards pulled away from the southern city under fierce mortar fire.
Yesterday, in Umm Qasr Allied commanders deployed Royal Marines from 42
Commando, hoping their experience in Northern Ireland's urban warfare would
help root out the final pockets of resistance. US Marine Captain Rick Crevier said
100 Iraqi fighters were holding out in the port, a mile from the Iraqi border.
Exactly who has been hampering the Allied forces is not clear. Initial predictions
suggested that Umm Qasr, Basra and much of the south would be largely
undefended, with only the poorly equipped Iraqi regular army positioned there.
But as the resistance has continued - one battle close to Najaf raged for seven
hours - commanders have been suggesting that President Saddam Hussein has
deployed other elements. At first they thought Special Republican Guards had
been sent to strengthen the army, but it now seems fedayeen militia have been
deployed south to surprise the approaching forces. Reports saying Islamist
mujahadeen fighters have been engaging Allied forces have not been confirmed.
But US commanders have reported several instances where fedayeen militia,
controlled by President's Saddam's son Uday, have surprised their troops, in some
cases targeting supply lines. They believe thousands of fedayeen fighters, are

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now in southern Iraq. They have been responsible for the worst US casualties so
far, their fervour and readiness to fight catching the Americans by surprise.
Lieutenant-General William Wallace, commander of the US forces driving to
Baghdad, said he had expected to encounter the militia in the cities but had not
anticipated they would come out to meet his troops on the open battlefield.
Intelligence reports suggest four suicide squads have been sent south to target
Royal Marines. Yesterday morning, 3 Commando Brigade immediately stepped up
their official threat level. The situation in the south has been made more
dangerous by the presence of Baath Party officials, or security officers, initially
deployed with regular army units but now taking up arms after some regular army
surrenders.
The guerilla tactics being used in the south are a sign of the way in which this
Gulf war is effectively becoming two campaigns. While there appears little doubt
that in the broader sense the US and British forces are winning militarily, the
Iraqis have been surprisingly successful in disrupting wider Allied plans.
Even the circumstances of some Allied successes have turned out to be different
than was initially thought. Yesterday it was reported that the "general" controlling
the Iraqi 51st Infantry Division - large portions of which surrendered last week -
turned out to be a junior officer posing as someone more senior so he could
secure better treatment.
It is also becoming clear that ordinary Iraqi civilians have not shown British and
US forces the enthusiastic welcome some planners predicted. "Last time [in
Kuwait] everyone was happy to see us," a US Marine from Camp 29 Palms said.
"We were liberating the country. So we did it, we won, everyone was happy and
we went home. But when you're at war in someone's homeland, it's a different
story."
By this stage of the campaign, planners believed the Umm Qasr port would be up
and running, providing a landing point for aid organisations and non-government
organisations to bring in food and medicine. It was also to have been the entry
point for military supplies.
Instead, much of the town remains much of a no-go area. "Don't go to the
residential area," one British marine warned. "That's where the bad guys are."
The problems being encountered by the US and British also raises questions
about the allied tactics, including the relatively slim size of their 130,000 force.
Some analysts, as well as soldiers in the field, have suggested that while the
thrust of forces to Baghdad was continuing to plan, there were insufficient troops
behind them to secure the supply lines and deal with prisoners-of-war.
As a result, it is often troops from the logistics units - usually travelling in soft-
skinned vehicles - who have been the targets of the Iraqi snipers.
Another British Marine said of the situation in Umm Qasr: "We were lulled into a
false sense of security. It's now clear the area was not properly searched. They let
too many non-fighting forces through too quickly after the US assuring us they
had secured the road, and the surrounding area the supply teams were moving
into."
U.S. Army Forces Kill at Least 150 Iraqis
Source: Associated Press

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OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
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Publication date: 2003-03-25

U.S. Army forces killed between 150 and 500 Iraqi troops Tuesday in a fierce fight
after coming under attack near the central Iraqi city of An Najaf, a senior defense
official said.
No U.S. casualties were reported, although the official cautioned that few details
were immediately available.
Elements of the 7th Cavalry Regiment were east of An Najaf when they suddenly
came under fire from rocket-propelled grenades, the official said. The Iraqis were
on foot and it was not clear whether they were from regular army units,
paramilitary forces or the Republican Guard.
Some of the 7th Cavalry's equipment was damaged in the attack, the official said.
Early estimates of the number of Iraqis killed in the fight varied widely, from 150
to 500. It was not immediately clear what weaponry the Americans used.
The 7th Cavalry is part of the Army force driving toward Baghdad. Some elements
of the force are farther north, near Karbala, with only the Medina armored division
of the Republican Guard between them and Baghdad.
U.S. intelligence, meanwhile, has picked up signs suggesting the closer ground
troops get to Baghdad the greater the chance they will face chemical weapons,
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Tuesday.
The Army's 3rd Infantry Division has drawn to within about 50 miles of Baghdad,
with the Medina armored division of Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard in its
path. Elements of the 1st Marine Division are approaching the capital from a more
easterly direction, and some analysts believe the Army's 101st Airborne Division,
now in southern Iraq, will join the battle for Baghdad.
Asked about reports that Republican Guard forces ringing Baghdad have been
given authority to use chemical weapons, Rumsfeld cited "scraps" of intelligence
suggesting that the closer the 3rd Infantry gets to the capital, the greater the
danger.
He did not offer details of the intelligence indicators because "who knows how
accurate they are," he said.
Iraq denies it has any chemical or biological weapons. The Bush administration
insists it has both and is trying to gain nuclear weapons. The risk of Iraq using
chemical, biological or nuclear weapons or providing them to terrorist networks
was the central reason President Bush went to war.

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Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the commander of
U.S. forces fighting the war, Gen. Tommy Franks, has plans in place should Iraq
use chemical weapons. He would not elaborate.
Secretary of State Colin Powell, in an interview with France 3 television, cited
speculation that "there is a box around Baghdad, that if we penetrate that box,"
Saddam would unleash a chemical attack. "If he did," Powell added, "it would not
stop the (U.S.) assault."
U.S. forces are equipped with full-body chemical protection suits and gas masks.
At a joint Pentagon news conference with Myers, Rumsfeld tried to dampen public
expectations that the war would be won quickly and to reiterate the message
delivered daily by senior military commanders here and in the Persian Gulf that
the war is progressing as planned.
"We're still, needless to say, much closer to the beginning than the end,"
Rumsfeld said.
Rumsfeld brushed aside suggestions that U.S. war planners underestimated the
Iraqis' will to fight and overestimated the ability of U.S. precision airstrikes against
the pillars of Saddam's power to end the conflict before it reached the stage of
having to initiate a battle for Baghdad.
Some private analysts, including former military officers, have suggested that the
Army needs more armored forces in Iraq than the 20,000 troops of the 3rd
Infantry Division, including forces that could better protect the 3rd Infantry's long
and vulnerable supply lines.
"Forces increase in the country every minute and every hour of every day, and
that will continue to be the case," Rumsfeld said. He apparently referred to the
Army's 4th Infantry Division, which is expected to deploy from its Fort Hood,
Texas, home base toward the end of this week.
Also headed for Kuwait soon is the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment from Fort
Carson, Colo., followed by the 1st Infantry and 1st Armored divisions from
Germany, as well as the 1st Cavalry Division from Fort Hood, Texas, and the 2nd
Armored Cavalry Regiment from Fort Polk, La., officials said.
The 4th Infantry had been designated to deploy to Turkey in February to open a
northern front against Iraq, but the Turkish government refused to grant access.
So Franks has ordered the division's weaponry and equipment shipped to Kuwait,
where it is due to arrive in about two weeks

319th Sets Up Camp Amid Carnage From '91


Source: The Augusta Chronicle
Publication date: 2003-03-24
Arrival time: 2003-03-25

Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Fields parked his Humvee on a strip of asphalt and sat
waiting for two Marine Chinook helicopters to move out ahead of him.
Behind him a line of the Augusta-based 319th Transportation Company's tanker
trucks, which had just finished unloading fuel in bladders in the sand, waited to
pass.

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In the distance he saw a crowd of Marines dash toward one of the helicopters, a
few of them carrying a stretcher. They pulled out what appeared to be a wounded
man, laid him down and rushed him away.
"That there, boy, that's reality," said Sgt. 1st Class Fields, 39, of Hephzibah.
The 319th has moved into the thick of things in the war against Iraq. After an
exhausting night moving its entire fleet from Camp Coyote in Kuwait, the Army
Reserve Unit spent its first day on Iraqi soil Sunday at Camp Viper, a base in
American-controlled territory deep in southern Iraq.
A small group of trucks arrived at the camp in the morning while most of the fleet
delivered nearly 300,000 gallons of fuel to a depot farther north, then
rendezvoused at the camp in the evening.
The constant roar of helicopters coming and going from battle can be heard at
Camp Viper.
Some Cobra helicopters landed at a nearby landing strip Sunday with what
appeared to be bullet holes on their frames.
The landscape surrounding the camp is full of carnage, but it's carnage from the
last Persian Gulf War.
Shelled brick buildings and craters in roadways are remnants of American
bombings that helped Allied forces drive the Iraqis out of Kuwait in 1991.
Because this camp is farther forward, solders and Marines weren't huddling in
bunkers, as they were regularly back at Camp Coyote in Kuwait.
Here they watch their step, trying to walk in the path of tire tracks, fearing mines.
A mine set off by Marines exploded in the distance Sunday. Some 319th members
mistook it for a Scud missile and strapped on their gas masks.
"I'm nervous. I'm not going to tell you I'm not," said Spc. Jeffery Key, 32, of
Augusta. "We're walking on unknown land. You might step on something, and
there goes your leg."
But Sgt. 1st Class Fields, who was deployed with the 319th a decade ago in
Desert Storm, said the move into Iraq had barely fazed him.
"It still looks like Kuwait," he said. "There's nothing here but American military."

Sandstorms slow coalition forces; reports of civilian uprising in


Source: Associated Press
Publication date: 2003-03-25

NEAR KARBALA, Iraq (AP) -- American infantry troops fought off an attack by Iraqis
in the desert Tuesday, inflicting heavy casualties in a clash less than 160
kilometers (100 miles) from Baghdad.
U.S. Defense officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity in Washington, said
between 150 and 500 Iraqis were killed in the ground battle near An Najaf, adding
there were no immediate reports of American casualties.
Iraqis launched their attack on a day of howling sandstorms, which slowed U.S.
and British forces to a crawl as they edged closer to the Iraqi capital. In Basra to
the south, Irawqi troops were firing on civilians staging an uprising, reports said.

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A British military commander confirmed Tuesday that Iraqis were in the streets of
Basra in what appeared to be a civilian rebellion against Saddam Hussein's
government.
Iraqi troops were firing mortars at the civilian protesters, and coalition forces were
firing missiles at the pro-Saddam Hussein forces, British correspondent Richard
Gaisford reported.
``I'm confirming that there are events in Basra,'' said Maj. Gen. Peter Wall, who is
second in command of British troops. ``We don't know what has spurred them, we
don't know the scale, we don't know the scope of it. We don't know where it will
take us.''
In Baghdad, Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed al-Sahhaf denied any uprising
in Basra. ``This announcement (of an uprising) ... stems from a feeling of
frustration'' by the British, al-Sahhaf told Qatar-based satellite station Al Jazeera.
Gaisford, who is embedded with British forces, said British troops backed by tanks
and armored vehicles were massing on the outskirts of Basra and were poised to
enter the city to support the anti-Saddam elements.
British military spokesman Col. Chris Vernon said earlier that armed irregular
units, with civilians in front of them, were firing at British forces outside of Basra.
Vernon said the use of civilians as human shields meant the British troops could
not fire on the guerrillas.
He also said two British soldiers were killed in a ``friendly fire'' incident near
Basra when their Challenger II tank mistakenly was targeted by another
Challenger crew Monday evening.
About 16 kilometers (10 miles) from Basra, British forces attacked a Baath party
headquarters in Az Zubayr early Tuesday, capturing at least one Baath official and
killing 20 Iraqi troops from irregular units,
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, providing an overview of the military campaign,
said the coalition had secured a key southern port despite tenacious resistance,
and had much of the western desert in hand.
He said the allies launched air attacks on targets in the northern oil centers of
Mosul and Kirkuk, as well as Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, and that troops were
making advances in eastern Iraq to help defend two main bridges over the
Euphrates.
Blair stressed that the final stretch on the road to Baghdad would be the most
challenging as U.S. Army troops face the Medina division of Saddam's Republican
Guard.
``This will plainly be a crucial moment,'' he said.
The U.S. Army met sporadic resistance on its journey north. A report from the 3rd
Infantry Division's headquarters estimated 500 Iraqis were killed during a two-day
sweep past the holy Shiite city of Najaf, said Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Preston
of the Army's V Corps. At least 20 U.S. troops have been killed and 14 captured or
missing since the operation began.
In other developments:
-- In another friendly fire incident, an American F-16 fired on a U.S. Patriot missile
battery in Iraq after the battery's radar locked on the plane, the U.S. Central
Command said Tuesday. No U.S. casualties were reported.

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-- Coalition forces destroyed six satellite jamming devices, which Iraq was using to
try to thwart American precision guided weapons, U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Victor
Renuart said. He said the devices have had ``no effect'' on U.S. military
operations.
-- U.S. forces sealed off 36 bunkers around the captured Tallil air base near An
Nasiriyah that had been earmarked as potential sites for possible weapons of
mass destruction. Some of the bunkers, which were to be opened later with news
media present, had been looted.
Bad weather caused the military to call back combat missions from two aircraft
carriers, and two U.S. Army divisions were virtually stalled in a vicious sandstorm
that reduced visibility to less than a meter.
Thousands of Marines trekking north toward Baghdad traveled only about 30
kilometers (20 miles) in five hours, buffeted by heavy winds and blowing sand.
As explosions grew louder and closer, Baghdadis hunkered down. Security and
police officers patrolled the streets and people carved bigger defensive trenches
around the capital.
``I was not afraid a week ago,'' one store owner in central Baghdad said. ``Now,
I'll be lying to you if I say I am not afraid.''
Saddam, meanwhile, urged the chiefs of Iraq's tribes and clans to step up the
fight against the allied forces.
``Fight them in pockets, and when their columns move, hit their front and rear,''
he said, according to state television. ``Those of you who have been reluctant to
fight and waiting for the order, consider this to be the command of faith and
jihad.''
Despite the obstacles, the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division advanced to within 80
kilometers (50 miles) of Baghdad early Tuesday and pounded military installations
with howitzers and rockets. British troops attacked Republican Guard units from
the air.
In the south, a pattern of deadly ambushes and ruse attacks by Iraqi militiamen in
civilian clothes have hampered the efforts of coalition forces, and sporadic
fighting forced firefighters to withdraw from burning oil fields.
British officials said Umm Qasr, Iraq's only deep-water port, was secure, though it
could take several days before humanitarian aid deliveries begin because the
waterway must be swept for mines.
Heavy fighting continued in An Nasiriyah, considered a strategic prize because of
its bridges across the Euphrates. Navy pilots pounded Iraqi artillery and
ammunition posts northwest of Basra overnight into Tuesday morning, U.S.
officials said. Two British soldiers were killed in Az Zubayr.

Stretchered away, the British troops caught in ambush ; BUT SOLDIERS


FACE SNIPER RAIDS IN BASRA'S BANDIT COUNTRY
Source: Evening Standard - London
Publication date: 2003-03-25

THESE pictures show the latest British casualties being carried from the
battlefields that have now claimed the lives of two of their countrymen.

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OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
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As troops engage in some of the fiercest fighting of the war, British soldiers
wounded outside Zubayr, near Basra, are put on stretchers.
Today three of them, one in a critical condition, were airlifted to a field hospital.
Last night a soldier from the Black Watch died at Zubayr.
Earlier, a tank commander, Sgt Steven Roberts, was shot dead as he tried to quell
rioting Iraqi civilians.
The latest battle erupted when allied forces fell prey to an opportunistic attack
similar to the one launched against an American convoy a few hundred yards
from here.
Bursts of gunfire raked their vehicles from behind a desert mound.
British soldiers camped nearby cocked their weapons and ran to the scene - but
the gunman had vanished. "How can you fight an enemy you can't see?" a burly
Black Watch corporal asked as the hunt for the attacker was abandoned.
The unsophisticated but deadly rocket propelled grenade is a favourite weapon. It
seems Saddam's men have stockpiled vast quantities of this shoulder-fired missile
which can destroy Land Rovers and the Humvee used by the Americans. It can
also inflict serious damage on tanks.
British soldiers have come up with a new name for the Basra province in southern
Iraq: bandit country. Sniper ambushes, hit-and- run raids and an unseen enemy
are beginning to turn the war into an army's worst nightmare.
And as the assault on Baghdad begins to the north there is increasing concern
over the threat from the rear. For southern Iraq could become south Armagh - the
original bandit country for British forces.
Mines have been laid on roads, booby traps set, and small arms fire keeps British
troops moving. And the attackers are wearing both Iraqi uniforms and civilian
clothes.
Captain Jim Bowen, with a British signal unit on Iraqi Highway 8, said: "What
you're seeing here is an asymmetrical battle. Instead of going in like last time
with a clenched fist, we're kind of poking.
"Unfortunately, we've got many years of experience in Belfast. This has taken on
more of a counterinsurgency feel." And a fusilier at a checkpoint outside Basra
confirmed: "This is more like Northern Ireland."
Coalition soldiers came here to fight a conventional war against a dictator and his
standing army. But before the conflict is a week old, the game has changed. By
adopting guerrilla tactics, Saddam's loyalists are forcing the Allies to be far more
heavyhanded than they envisaged and this, of course, is enraging the people
coalition forces want on their side.
New orders have been issued to units in the front line in Basra province.
They are pulling back from the towns to allow pinpoint air and artillery strikes.
The new plan calls for a cleanup operation in Basra, Zubayr and the surrounding
villages, sweeping through streets to flush out the hidden enemy.
British soldiers are also about to embark on a series of humanitarian missions to
try to secure popular support. But for now the threat is too great too contemplate
such forays.

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Saddam's Paramilitary Sows More Confusion


Source: Associated Press
Publication date: 2003-03-25

First, the 8,000 men of Iraq's 51st Infantry Division were reported to have
surrendered to American-led invading forces. Then defense officials said they
really had just fled.
But in another twist Tuesday, they appeared to have risen again - to do battle
with British troops in the southern city of Basra.
The Pentagon said the confusion was probably more work of the Fedayeen
Saddam - Saddam Hussein's most trusted paramilitary accused of organizing such
battlefield ruses as posing as civilians and faking surrenders.
"I think we think the 51st has surrendered," Air Force Gen. Richard Myers,
chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, said Tuesday.
Defense Department officials reported Friday, just hours after the start of the
ground invasion, that they won the surrender of the entire 51st Division
(Mechanized), a regular Iraqi army unit deployed in southern Iraq to defend Basra,
the nation's second largest city.
The division was reported to have about 200 tanks.
On Saturday, officials backtracked, saying they had only taken a couple of
commanders and the rest of the men had "melted away" - a term used for those
who laid down their arms and returned home.
On Monday there were reports that one of the "commanders" turned out to be a
junior official who misrepresented his rank in hopes of getting better treatment.
Then on Tuesday, British forces reported a tank battle with elements of the 51st
outside of Basra. Asked about the confusion at a Pentagon press conference,
Myers said he believed the division's equipment was taken over by the Fedayeen
and possibly members of Saddam's Republican Guard, his best-trained troops.
"Some of their equipment may have been used by the Fedayeen perhaps, or
other folks that Fedayeen brought with them," he said. "I mean, supposedly there
were some, maybe perhaps a Republican Guard members who changed to civilian
clothes and came south. But I have seen no reliable evidence yet - and it may be
because we haven't seen it yet - that the 51st is reconstituted."
Myers said most of the division ran away but left their equipment in place.
"They did have a tank battle today with some of their equipment," he said of
British troops, adding "they were defeated by the British."
Fedayeen Saddam - whose name means "those ready to sacrifice themselves for
Saddam" - have been putting up stiff resistance and trying to prevent regular
army soldiers from surrendering.
Reports from the front suggest Fedayeen members dispatched from Baghdad to
outlying areas in recent weeks may have organized battlefield ruses, then turned
on invading troops. Such scenes played out in An Nasiriyah and Umm Qasr, where
the advancing troops suffered their first major casualties.
"The regime has committed acts of treachery on the battlefield, dressing their
forces as liberated civilians and sending soldiers out waiving white flags ... with
the goal of drawing coalition forces into the ambushes, using Red Cross vehicles

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to courier military instructions," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said in


Tuesday's news conference with Myers.
He said they are a violation of the rules of war and the acts of a desperate regime

U.S. Forces Seal Off Suspicious Bunkers


Source: Associated Press
Publication date: 2003-03-26
Arrival time: 2003-03-25

U.S. forces sealed off 36 bunkers earmarked as potential sites of weapons of mass
destructions at an Iraqi air base outside An Nasiriyah, military police said.
A U.S. Army infantry battalion also seized six vehicles loaded with weapons and
ammunition at the base, killed two men and captured 11, officials said.
Some of the bunkers, which were to be opened later with news media present,
had been looted.
The three trucks, one fuel truck, one taxi and one bus were seized Monday when
one of them tried to speed into the air base, which is under the control of U.S.
forces, said Capt. Jeff Searl of the 709th Military Police Battalion.
All of the captured and killed were wearing civilian clothes, and it was not clear
why the vehicle was headed toward the base. The men appeared to be trying to
get hold of weapons from different caches stored earlier.
"There seems to be plenty of weapons around - enough to cause concerns for the
security of our troops," said Lt. Col. Richard Vanderlinden of Gladstone, Mich.,
commander of the MP battalion.
The unit is holding almost 250 prisoners of war, and MPs started putting up tents
to protect them from sandstorms.
Two wounded POWs have died in the past two days, despite receiving medical
care. They were buried and their personal details were recorded so their families
will be able to claim the bodies.
A large prisoner camp for 8,000 people is being built closer to the Kuwaiti border.
Some Marines In Advancing Unit Yearn For Chance To Battle Iraqis
Source: Virginian - Pilot
Publication date: 2003-03-24
Arrival time: 2003-03-25

For the first 30 hours, Task Force Tarawa's advance into Iraq felt more like a
training exercise than an invasion.
Kilometer after kilometer, the light-armored reconnaissance Marines rolled and
stopped, rolled and stopped. The only Iraqis in sight were shepherds and their
waving children, to whom Marines threw MREs - meals ready to eat - and bottles
of water.
"You see the little kids, and this has got to be scary for them," said Gunnery Sgt.
Russell Strack of Baltimore. "I don't know what I would think if I saw this
happening in my neighborhood."

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Then, around 4 p.m. Saturday - 8 a.m. back in Norfolk - task force artillery
slammed into a nearby enemy mortar position detected by the Americans' radar
system, and the Camp Lejeune-based Marines cheered their unit's first taste of
battle.
Elsewhere, part of the task force stumbled onto abandoned Iraqi positions,
capturing rocket-propelled grenade launchers and other equipment.
Shortly before the artillery barrage, Iraqi soldiers - some in uniform, others in
civilian clothes - appeared in the distance. There were several dozen of them
looking to surrender.
The Marines offered chow to some, but soon the new prisoners outnumbered the
unit's extra rations.
"We gave a little bit out, but we have way too many to feed them all," said
company commander Capt. Greg Grunwald.
Except for the brief artillery barrage and the surrendering Iraqis, action has been
hard to find for Grunwald's company, including these men at the leading edge of
the infantry column. The reconnaissance unit operates ahead of the bulk of the
brigade, scouting terrain before the Marines move ahead.
Progress has come in a series of stops and starts, as the scout company waits for
the infantry to catch up. Every hour or so, the Marines gather around a shortwave
radio to listen to updates from others heading deeper into Iraq.
"It feels more like we're running a drill against the Sumerians than invading a
country," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Nick Miramontes, a Navy corpsman assigned
to the company. He had just pitched an MRE to a group of excited children
running toward his light-armored vehicle.
Lance Cpl. Brian Anderson of Durham lobbed water to the parched Iraqis.
"Just by looking at what they have, I realized that they could use it," he said.
Task Force Tarawa crossed the barbed-wire fence and the anti- tank ditch
separating Kuwait from Iraq at 10:14 a.m. Friday, completely unopposed.
That first day, the company's light-armored scout vehicles rolled cautiously
through the Iraqi desert, passing flocks of sheep and herds of camels.
At sundown, members of the company slept - or tried to sleep - in or on their
vehicles in the Mesopotamian desert, awaiting further orders. The Marines looked
for sleep on boxes or anywhere else they could find off the ground, hoping to
avoid the scorpions that are among the desert's denizens.
Sleep was hard to come by. Temperatures dropped dramatically, and a light
drizzle fell at times. Rockets and artillery from positions in the rear and Tomahawk
missiles fired from Navy ships roared overhead.
The unit's orders came at dawn Saturday, when the company and the rest of the
task force pressed further northward into south-central Iraq, again unopposed.
Many in the task force moved forward with mixed emotions - relieved that they
were unharmed, but disappointed that they had not seen serious action.
"I think I'm going to walk out of here with a ribbon and a T- shirt and that's it,"
said Lance Cpl. Brian Norman, 19. "I'm totally disappointed. I wanted to shoot
somebody."
Norman may yet get his chance.

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As the sun set Saturday on the company's forward position, most of Iraq's
populated areas, and its fighting forces, lay ahead.

U.S. military prepares to meet Republican Guard


Source: Scripps Howard
Publication date: 2003-03-25

The last time U.S. soldiers met the Medina Division of Iraq's Republican Guard
troops was during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, and this was the toll:
In what was one of their roughest battles of that conflict, American forces
destroyed 82 of the division's tanks, 31 armored personnel carriers, 11 artillery
pieces, 48 trucks and three antiaircraft guns. Seventy-two Iraqi soldiers were
captured.
Iraq destroyed two U.S. Bradley personnel carriers, killed one American GI and
wounded 30. Even though they were outgunned, the Medina soldiers stood and
fought tenaciously — unlike many of Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein's regular
army.
"No unit withdrew without authorization," said Amatzia Baram, an Iraq military
expert affiliated with the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington.
With the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division in the early stages of battle Tuesday
with the same division, the results won't be known for some time. But word from
the front is that these volunteer enemy troops — among the best-paid, -trained
and -equipped of Saddam's army — are putting up a muscular fight.
Soon, if the Pentagon's plans hold, U.S. forces will engage at least two more
Republican Guard divisions as the push toward Baghdad enters a perilous phase.
Saddam has arrayed a three-ring defense of Baghdad, with the Republican Guard
the outer ring some 30 to 50 miles from the capital city.
In all, when the Army's V Corps also joins the fight against the Republican Guard,
American forces will pit their 60,000 combat troops, 400 M1A1 Abrams tanks and
100 Apache helicopters against at least 30,000 Iraqi soldiers and a sizable
percentage of the 500 T-72 Russian-made tanks believed to be possessed by the
entire Republican Guard.
Here is a look at the three Republican Guard armored divisions most directly in
U.S. gun sights Tuesday. All three have about 10,000 to 20,000 troops, perhaps
250 tanks, 250 armored personnel carriers and 60 artillery pieces:
— Medina Division. Now dug in near the south-central city of Karbala, this division
is Saddam's premier Guard division. It starred during the 1980s war between Iraq
and Iran and was one of the four divisions to invade Kuwait in 1990, setting in
motion Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
In what already is being called the Battle of Karbala Gap, the Medina division has
already bedeviled U.S. forces, apparently downing one Apache helicopter (whose
two-man crew was later captured by Iraq), and beating back more than 30 of the
attack aircraft with punishing antiaircraft fire on Monday.
— Hammurabi Division. Named for the Mesopotamian ruler who created a huge
empire and assembled a code of laws, this division now is in southeastern Iraq
near the city of Al Khut. The U.S. 1st Marine Expeditionary Force is closing in on

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this division, which suffered heavy casualties during Gulf War I. It was the
Hammurabi that was decimated on the "Highway of Death" heading north to
Baghdad.
— Al Nida Division. Arrayed between the Medina and Hammurabi divisions, the Al
Nida force is commanded by officers from Saddam's hometown of Tikrit and is
considered the most loyal of the Guard divisions. During Gulf War I, it was based
in northern Iraq where it focused on keeping the ethnic Kurd population under
control.
The division suffered substantial losses during the U.S. Operation Desert Fox
cruise missile attack in 1998, which President Bill Clinton ordered after Iraq
interfered with U.N. weapons inspectors.

British Forces Engage Iraqis Near Basra


Source: Associated Press
Publication date: 2003-03-25

British forces at the gates of Basra engaged in fierce battles Tuesday with more
than 1,000 Iraqi militia fighters, supporting what they said appeared to be civilian
unrest developing against Saddam Hussein in the key southern city.
Maj. Gen. Peter Wall, second in command of British troops, said Basra's civilians
were out in the streets "in significant numbers" and were "essentially being less
compliant with the regime than they are normally."
"We don't know what has spurred them, we don't know the scale, we don't know
the scope of it," he said. "We don't know where it will take us."
Coalition forces have made no secret of their hopes to spur such uprisings. The
British were distributing leaflets and telling citizens on loudspeakers that aid was
waiting outside the city, where many of the million-plus residents are drinking
contaminated water and living under threat of outbreaks of diarrhea and cholera.
The main military goal remained the capital, Baghdad, and allied forces were
closing in, their progress thwarted by blinding sandstorms. U.S.-led warplanes
bombed targets in northern Iraq, and U.S. troops in control of a vast Iraqi air base
sealed 36 bunkers, earmarked as possible sites of Saddam's elusive weapons of
mass destruction.
Marines in the southern city of An Nasiriyah secured a hospital being used as a
military staging area for Iraqi forces, capturing about unarmed 170 Iraqi soldiers
and confiscating over 3,000 chemical suits with masks, stockpiles of ammunition
and military uniforms, U.S. officials said. The Marines also found a T-55 tank on
the compound.
The Marines had been fired at from the hospital the day before, officials said in a
statement. The building had been clearly marked as a hospital by a flag with a
Red Crescent, the symbol used in the Muslim world for the Red Cross.

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Two British soldiers were killed by friendly fire near Basra. Col. Chris Vernon said
the two men died when their Challenger II tank was mistakenly targeted by
another Challenger crew on Monday evening.
American F/A-18 Super Hornet warplanes dropped satellite-guided bombs on
central Basra, according to British reporters attached to military units - the first
strikes into the center of the city, aimed at military sites hidden in civilian
buildings.
The British pool reports described thousands of residents of Iraq's second-largest
city rampaging through the streets in the early evening and setting dozens of
buildings ablaze. Basra's population is predominantly Shiite Muslim, and during
the 1991 Gulf War the city took up arms against Saddam's Sunni Muslim regime
in Baghdad. Government forces crushed the rebellion, killing thousands across
the south.
In a telephone interview with Al-Jazeera television, Iraqi Information Minister
Mohammed al-Sahhaf denied any uprising in Basra.
"The situation is stable," he said. "Resistance is continuing and we are teaching
them more lessons."
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he had not seen reports of an uprising
in Basra, but was aware that fedayeen guerrillas loyal to Saddam were infiltrating
the city.
Rumsfeld said he was "reluctant" to encourage uprisings explicitly. "I guess those
of us my age remember uprisings in Eastern Europe back in the 1950s when they
rose up and they were slaughtered," he said. "I am very careful about
encouraging people to rise up. We know there are people in those cities ready to
shoot them if they try to rise up."
But he added: "Anyone who's engaged in an uprising has a whole lot of courage
and I sure hope they're successful."
Earlier Tuesday, British forces staged a raid into Az-Zubayr, a Basra suburb, and
captured a senior Baath party politician for the region while killing 20 of his
bodyguards, said Vernon, the British army spokesman. The official was in custody.
Vernon also said armed irregular units were firing at British forces outside Basra,
and that the Iraqis were apparently using civilians in front of them as human
shields.
Coalition forces had hoped to avoid entering Basra, for fear of getting bogged
down in urban warfare. But tenacious resistance in the city - there are an
estimated 1,000 pro-Saddam fighters, plus an unknown number of regular troops
- and growing shortages of food and clean water have compelled them to change
their strategy.
The Iraqis were firing artillery from the center of the city at British troops, Vernon
said, while the British confined their artillery to the city's outskirts, trying to
identify clear military targets, especially tanks, and avoid civilian casualties.
The health threats in Basra appeared dire.
"The humanitarian situation in Basra is difficult, and very, very tense," said Muin
Kassis of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in neighboring
Jordan.

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Attempts by The Associated Press to reach Basra residents by telephone were


unsuccessful, but international relief agencies had satellite-phone contact with aid
workers in the city and expressed deep concern about the fate of trapped
civilians.
"It's very alarming, very critical," said Veronique Taveau of the U.N. humanitarian
office for Iraq.
The city's electrical power was knocked out Friday during U.S.-British bombing,
apparently because high-voltage lines were destroyed. That in turn shut down
Basra's water pumping and treatment plants.
The U.N. Children's Fund estimated up to 100,000 Basra children under the age of
5 were at immediate risk of severe disease from the unsafe water, especially life-
threatening diarrhea.
The Red Cross reported Tuesday that its technicians reached the Wafa al-Quaid
plant, north of the city, after getting security assurances from both sides. But the
generators are only a stopgap.
As for Basra's casualties in the current conflict, no official word was directly
available, although the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television quoted Iraqi medics on
Saturday as saying 50 people were killed in U.S. bombings.
The Arab network also broadcast grisly footage of civilian casualties in Basra,
including a dead child with a horrible head wound - a picture that aroused anger
across the Arab world.
As coalition forces pressed on to Baghdad, British Prime Minister Tony Blair
stressed Tuesday that the final miles on the road to the capital would be the most
challenging, as U.S. Army troops faced the Medina division of Saddam's
Republican Guard.
"This will plainly be a crucial moment," he said.
The Army met sporadic resistance on its journey north. Military reports estimated
500 Iraqis were killed during a two-day sweep by the Army's 3rd Infantry Division
past the holy Shiite city of Najaf, said Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Preston of the
Army's V Corps. At least 20 U.S. troops have been killed and 14 captured or
missing since the operation began.

Sandstorms Slow Advance on Baghdad


Source: Associated Press
Publication date: 2003-03-25

Blinding sandstorms plagued the American-led advance on Baghdad but U.S.-led


warplanes overcame adverse weather and bombed targets in the northern part of
the country and briefly knocked government television off the air in the capital.
And U.S. troops in control of a vast Iraqi air base sealed 36 bunkers, earmarked as
possible sites of Saddam's elusive weapons of mass destruction.

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"We cannot know the duration of this war, yet we know its outcome," President
Bush said after receiving an update at the Pentagon on the 6-day-old military
campaign. "We will prevail. ...The Iraqi regime will be ended ... and our world will
be more secure and peaceful."
Not surprisingly, Saddam saw it differently. State television carried what it
described as a message from him to tribal and clan leaders, saying, "Consider this
to be the command of faith and jihad and fight them."
There were few reliable details of the chaotic situation inside the southern city of
Basra, Iraq's second-largest with 1.3 million residents. British journalists reported
that residents were staging an uprising against pro-Saddam forces and that Iraqi
troops were firing mortars at them.
A senior British commander, Maj. Gen. Peter Wall, said "We don't know the scale"
of any revolt, but added, "Of course we would be very keen to capitalize on it."
The Iraqis denied all of it. "The situation is stable," Information Minister
Mohammed al-Sahhaf said in an interview with Al-Jazeera, an Arab satellite
television network.
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and others have warned of a
possible humanitarian crisis in the city. The International Red Cross said during
the day that it had begun repairs at a war-damaged water-pumping station
serving the city.
Thus far in the campaign known as Operation Iraqi Freedom, Americans said they
had taken more than 3,500 Iraqi prisoners. There was no accurate death toll
among Iraqi troops or civilians.
American losses ran to 20 dead and 14 captured or missing. The remains of the
first two to die were flown overnight to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.
A total of 20 British troops had also died, including two killed Monday by friendly
fire.
Weather or not, the U.S.-led invasion moved ahead.
The U.S. Central Command, which overseas the war, announced the capture of an
Iraqi military hospital used as a military staging area. Officials said Marines
confiscated more than 200 weapons and stockpiles of ammunition and more than
3,000 chemical suits with masks, as well as Iraqi military uniforms. The Marines
also found a T-55 tank on the compound.
Elements of the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division were about 50 miles from Baghdad and
hit Republican Guard units defending the Iraqi capital with an all-night artillery
barrage.
Thousands of other troops hastened - as much as the sandstorms would allow - to
join them for the coming battle against Saddam's seat of power.
But some helicopters were grounded by the weather, and combat aircraft taking
off from the USS Harry Truman returned a few hours later without dropping bombs
on their targets.
Distant explosions could be heard in Baghdad, and efforts were underway to dig
deeper defensive trenches around the city. Witnesses said Saddam's intelligence
headquarters as well as a sprawling defense complex were hit in overnight
bombing.

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In the early hours of the invasion, military commanders had hoped that Basra's
population would welcome the invading forces.
Instead, resistance by irregular and other forces has kept British troops from
securing the city and paving the way for the flow of relief operations.
And in an about-face, a British spokesman told reporters, "We are seizing tactical
opportunities as they occur on our terms."
Still, the spokesman, Col. Chris Vernon, described a situation of enormous
difficulty. "We are not firing into the center of the city because we cannot risk the
collateral damage to civilians, even though we are being fired on by their
artillery," he said.
In addition, Vernon said Iraqi troops are using the local population as human
shields, marching them toward the British troops, then firing from behind them
before retreating.
Bush, after receiving his war update, said U.S. forces were clearing approaches to
the port city of Umm Qasr of Iraqi-laid mines. "Coalition forces are working hard to
make sure that when the food and medicine begins to move it does so in a safe
way," he said.
Sensitive to international criticism that relief was slow in reaching Iraqis, the
administration dispatched national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to the
United Nations for a discussion of the issue. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer
blamed Saddam for slowing the flow of goods by placing mines near Umm Qasr,
adding, "There's a massive stockpile that stands by and ready," he said.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who will confer with Bush this week at the
presidential retreat at Camp David, Md., was at pains to prepare the British public
for difficult days.
"There will be resistance all the way to the end of this campaign," he said.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld also made clear he didn't know how long
the war would take. "We're still, needless to say, much closer to the beginning
than to the end," he said.
The war unfolded side by side with diplomatic maneuvering.
Speaking in Toronto, the American ambassador Paul Cellucci said Canada's refusal
to send troops to the war effort has upset and disappointed the United States and
caused a "bump in relations."
In Saudi Arabia, Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said his country has contacted the
United States and Iraq with a peace proposal, and was awaiting a response.
He did not disclose the proposed terms. The Bush administration said it was not
aware of any Saudi peace proposal, and there was no response from the Iraqi
government.

Sound of explosions in Baghdad as residents dig in, prepare for


Source: Associated Press
Publication date: 2003-03-25

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- The streets of Baghdad were deserted early Wednesday as
residents hunkered down in their homes and security forces got into position
behind sandbags in anticipation of U.S-led forces.

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A series of explosions starting at 11:15 p.m. (2015 GMT) Tuesday shook the city.
Power was out in some places, and state and Al-Shabab television were
temporarily knocked off the air.
Street lights swayed in the wind as a fierce sandstorm swept over the capital.
Security and police officers deployed throughout the city covered their faces with
scarves to keep the sand out.
Throughout the day, explosions to the south grew louder and more frequent. U.S.
ground troops were firing howitzers and rockets some 80 kilometers (50 miles)
from Baghdad while British forces attacked Republican Guard units south of
Baghdad from the air.
Saddam sent a message to Iraq's tribal and clan chiefs ordering them to step up
the fight against the allied forces.
``Fight them in pockets and when their columns move, hit their front and rear,''
he said, according to state television. ``Those of you who have been reluctant to
fight and waiting for the order, consider this to be the command of faith and jihad
and fight them.''
``Inflict damage on them, and although it may not be big, you'll see how they will
flee because they are away from home and because they are aggressors,''
Saddam said.
State radio and television continued to broadcast patriotic songs and archival
footage of Saddam, their president of 23 years.
Television showed an unmanned aircraft that apparently was downed in Basra. An
Iraqi boy no more than 12 years old was shown hitting it with his slipper, an act of
extreme contempt in the Arab world.
Tuesday's edition of Babil, a daily paper owned by Saddam's son Odai, published
pictures of decapitated bodies it said belonged to Iraqi civilians killed in bombing
raids. All newspapers' front pages carried the text of Saddam's address to the
nation Monday, along with pictures of the Iraqi leader.
Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf said Tuesday that eight coalition
soldiers were killed and three armored carriers destroyed the previous day in a
battle in Suq ash-Shuyukh, about 29 kilometers (18 miles) south of An Nasiriyah.
British military officials at U.S. Central Command said they had no information
about the report.
Al-Sahhaf also said 15 Iraqis were killed Monday. Witnesses said the intelligence
headquarters was hit again in air raids Monday. The sprawling defense complex
was also hit, with a large building severely damaged.
The information minister singled out an Iraqi woman named Mayssoun Hamid
Abdullah for praise for striking an armored vehicle with a rocket-propelled
grenade.
He said that the Iraqis ``await surprises on how the American game of shock and
awe will fail.''
Also Tuesday, Trade Minister Mohammed Mehdi Saleh lashed out at U.N.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the United States and Britain, accusing them of
preventing food and medicine from reaching his country via the U.N. oil-for-food
program.

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``America and Britain should not punish this great people with it barbaric
methods,'' he said.
Nevertheless, he said the government has distributed six months' rations to its
citizens, and ``we assure them that we have enough food and medicine to
confront the enemies.''
Also, Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan complained that other Arab
countries have failed to support Iraq, and he suggested instead that they impose
an oil embargo on the United States and Britain.
``Don't you think that halting the flow of oil to America and Britain will break the
back of the aggression?'' Ramadan asked.
Tuesday morning, some shops were open and traffic had picked up. Some faithful
attended prayers at Baghdad's mosques.
More and bigger trenches were being dug around the city, including at least one
in the courtyard of the Iraq Museum, home to priceless antiquities, some dating
back to 7,000 years B.C.

``I was not afraid a week ago,'' one store owner in central Baghdad said. ``Now,
I'll be lying to you if I say I am not afraid.''

Possible Bloody Fight for Baghdad Draws Closer


Source: Knight Ridder Washington Bureau
Publication date: 2003-03-25

Mar. 25--NEAR AL KUT, Iraq -- Both sides girded for the battle of Baghdad as U.S.
armored columns advanced from two directions Monday. They came within 50
miles of the capital before sandstorms -- and a formidable Iraqi army -- forced a
delay.
Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and top aides vowed continuing resistance, and U.S.
and British leaders warned that the contest for Baghdad could be bloody and just
days away.
Two divisions of Hussein's elite and loyal Republican Guard troops -- about 20,000
fighters -- were believed to stand between allied forces and the center of the Iraqi
regime. U.S. officials said Hussein had given the Republican Guard authority to
use chemical weapons.
Airstrikes by Air Force, Navy and Marine jets targeted the guard southwest of
Baghdad on Monday and early today, preparing the battlefield. Some bombers
shifted from precision guided bombs, used mostly on buildings and other high-
value targets, to MK-83 air-burst bombs deployed mostly against the infantry.
"We're about to put the 1st Marine Division in scoring position . . . and swing for
the fences," said Col. David Pere of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.
Meanwhile, 30 AH-64 Apache attack helicopters engaged in a frenzied battle with
Republican Guard units stationed outside Karbala, about 50 miles southwest of
Baghdad. One U.S. helicopter was downed and others were riddled with bullets,
officials said.
Two Americans aboard the lost helicopter were listed as prisoners of war. The
Pentagon identified them as Chief Warrant Officer David S. Williams, 30, of an

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unknown city in Florida, and Chief Warrant Officer Ronald D. Young, 26, of Lithia
Springs, Ga. Both were from the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.
Iraqi television showed videotape of what it said were the two crewmen, who
appeared uninjured.
U.S. officials said they recovered the bodies of two U.S. soldiers killed in an
ambush near Nassiriyah on Sunday. No new word emerged about the 10 U.S.
soldiers still reported missing in that incident, though many were apparently killed
or taken prisoner.
At least one American soldier was killed in action Monday and an unknown
number of U.S. soldiers suffered wounds. The first British combat death was
reported.
"It's the wild, wild west out there," Marine Capt. Joseph Bevan said near
Nassiriyah as combat raged in nearly every region of the country.
On one road in central Iraq, U.S. forces in M1A2 Abrams tanks, M2 Bradley
Fighting Vehicles and countless support vehicles reached Karbala; along another
road, they reached al Kut, about 100 miles southeast of the capital.
In the north, U.S. warplanes pounded Iraqi positions around the oil-rich city of
Kirkuk and in Mosul. Local officials said many Iraqi soldiers were killed or
wounded. For the first time, some planes flew over Turkey, taking advantage of
shorter routes to northern Iraq now that the Turkish government has opened its
airspace.
In the south, allied ground troops attempted to consolidate their positions, but
ferocious skirmishes still erupted between them and Iraqi fighters.
From time to time, civilians were caught in the crossfire.
At the Pentagon, Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal apologized for an incident in which
a U.S. bomb hit a bus carrying Syrian civilians.
Syrian officials said five were killed and 10 wounded when the bus was bombed
on a bridge about 100 miles from the Syrian border.
Hussein spoke on Iraqi television, wearing a battle uniform, appearing vigorous
and attempting to rally his people. "Those who are believers will be victorious," he
said. "Iraq will strike the necks" of its enemies.
U.S. and British officials said the message might have been taped before the war
began, and Hussein's actual condition remained unknown following last week's
missile strike that targeted him.
Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, whose condition also had been questioned,
appeared at a news conference and said he, Hussein and the rest of the Iraqi
leadership were in good shape and "in full control of the army and the country." In
Baghdad, Iraqi forces dug defensive trenches in the heart of the city and set more
fires around the capital in futile attempts to conceal key targets from U.S. and
British air attacks.
Marine officers said there were early reports that Hussein was redeploying some
of his troops from the greater Baghdad area to defensive positions further away
from the capital.
"That's exactly what we want him to do," said Pere, the Marine officer. U.S. forces
would rather take on Hussein's best troops in open terrain than in an urban
setting such as Baghdad, a sprawling city of more than five million people.

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At the same time, U.S. and British leaders attempted to prepare their troops and
citizens for difficult days ahead.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair warned that coalition forces soon will encounter
the Medina division of the Republican Guard, which is positioned between Karbala
and Baghdad.
"This will be a crucial moment," Blair said. "These are the closest to Saddam that
are resisting and will resist strongly." In Washington, Pentagon officials made
similar statements, and the Bush administration finally estimated the financial
cost of the war, asking Congress to approve about $75 billion in emergency
spending for military action in Iraq and the war on terrorism.
Bush and Blair were expected to meet in the United States, probably at Camp
David, on Wednesday and Thursday.
Though the Iraqi military resistance seemed stubborn and widespread, U.S. and
British officials framed the hostilities as isolated and anticipated confrontations
launched by small forces.
"You can expect that our cleanup operations are going to be ongoing across the
days," U.S. Army Gen. Tommy Franks, the allied commander, said at his Qatar
headquarters. "As our troops fight, even in these isolated areas, there will be
casualties." He said allied forces have captured 3,000 Iraqis as prisoners of war
and U.S. officials are holding surrender talks with leaders of several units.
Resistance flared here and there along the front lines, and it seemed to stiffen
behind the spearhead of the invasion.
"Looks like we're going to run the gauntlet," said Maj. Marty Korenek, a company
commander in the U.S. Marines 4th Assault Amphibious Battalion.
His unit took a position a few miles west of Nassiriyah, preparing to cross the
Euphrates River over a bridge that has been a flash point for battles with the Iraqi
paramilitary force known as the Fedayeen.
The area was repeatedly struck Monday with suppressing fire from U.S. attack
helicopters, artillery fire and infantry forces. Medivac helicopters were seen flying
into and out of the area.
The unit's intermediate objective was al Kut, where other U.S. units already had
formed a staging area for the assault on Baghdad.
Along a distant but parallel front, the Army's 3rd Infantry Division reached the
outskirts of Karbala. The sandstorms blocked further movement Monday, a delay
that also allowed food, fuel and ammunition to catch up to the leading elements.
Much of that crucial materiel remained locked in traffic along the main road west
of the Euphrates.
U.S. military officials acknowledged that, as ground forces continue their march to
Baghdad, they are leaving behind pockets of resistance that will cost time and
possibly lives to eliminate.
Some coalition troops remain in or near Basra, Nassiriyah and other southern
cities to remove members of the Fedayeen.
Those "irregular fighters" have dressed as civilians and then clashed with allied
forces, Central Command officials said.

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Said Navy Capt. Frank Thorp, a military spokesman: "We will deal with them."
Tamayo is with the Marines in southern Iraq; Peterson is with the Marines in
central Iraq.

Dolphins Help Spot Mines in Iraq War


Source: Associated Press
Publication date: 2003-03-26
Arrival time: 2003-03-25

Coalition forces have brought in two specially trained bottle-nosed Atlantic


dolphins to help ferret out mines in the approaches of the port of Umm Qasr, Maj.
Gen. Victor Renuart of the Central Command said Tuesday.
The dolphins will help clear the way for the shipment of humanitarian aid to
allied-held southern Iraq, Renuart said.
"Our maritime forces are hard at work supporting air operations, maintaining
security to the Arabian Gulf for all shipping and completing the difficult task of de-
mining Iraqi waters," Renuart said. "They're even using some unique techniques.
We have some specially trained dolphins that are out there helping us to
determine where mines may be in the channels."
The dolphins, named Makai and Tacoma, were flown into Umm Qasr by U.S. Navy
helicopters Tuesday night and were expected to begin searching for mines on
Wednesday, according to pool reports.
The dolphins are taught to avoid touching the mines, which might cause them to
explode, said Capt. Mike Tillotson, a Navy bomb disposal expert. He said there
was little risk to animals doing this kind of work.
The biggest hazard could come from other indigenous dolphins in the waters of
Umm Qasr.
Dolphins are territorial and there is a fear local dolphins might drive the
interlopers out, causing them to go AWOL.
The Navy started using marine mammals in the early 1960s, when military
researchers began looking into how sea mammals' highly developed senses - like
dolphins' sonar - could be harnessed to locate mines and do other underwater
tasks.
Dolphins were used in the 1970s during the Vietnam War. In the late 1980s, six
Navy dolphins patrolled the Bahrain harbor to protect U.S. ships from enemy
swimmers and mines and escorted Kuwaiti oil tankers through potentially
dangerous waters.

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'I was OK until I saw one of our own Marines dead'


Source: Scotland on Sunday
Publication date: 2003-03-23
Arrival time: 2003-03-25

US MARINE Lance Corporal Joseph Willems was approaching one of many bunkers
dug into Iraq's desert sand when he saw the muzzle flash from an enemy rifle.
"I looked down and saw shots being fired, and I just went 'ooooh,' and jumped
back," said the 19-year-old from Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Willems killed the Iraqi soldier in the first action by Echo company's 1st Platoon of
the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit after it entered Iraq from northern Kuwait.
"The only time I freaked was when I saw his eyes, and my weapon jammed. I kept
backing up and it kept jamming," said Willems.
By the end of the first day of fighting by the company's 1st Platoon, five Iraqis
had been killed and roughly 400 had surrendered. One Marine died, too,
apparently the victim of so- called friendly fire by his own troops.
Some of the young Marines said they were shaken by the loss of their buddy - and
even by the deaths of young Iraqis - as they explained their feelings about facing
combat for the first time.
"I was OK until I saw one of our own Marines dead. I thought, 'Oh, we can die
too,"' said Lance Corporal Daymond Geer, 20, of Sacramento, California.
"It was totally different than any experience in my life. Even seeing the enemy
get shot, well, he was squirming in the dirt. It was not good," said Geer.
"But I did my job," he added. "I actually fought and I helped liberate Iraq."
The Marines were clearing bunkers in southern Iraq, near the port of Umm Qasr,
after scores of Iraqi soldiers surrendered.
But there were still a few holdouts. The Marines scrambled from bunker to bunker,
covering each other as they searched for Iraqi soldiers. There were bursts of
gunfire and the heavy thud of hand grenades.
"It was very eerie," said platoon leader Lt. William Todd Jacobs, 24, of Cincinnati.
"There was smoke everywhere. It's our first time in Iraq, and you see these guys
walking toward you with their hands up. We knew they were surrendering."
"But then somebody shouts, 'There's two in the hole. There's two in the hole,'"
said Jacobs, referring to two Iraqis hidden in a bunker.
The Marines reacted immediately, shooting the two Iraqis who had not
surrendered, then throwing a hand grenade into the bunker.
"I didn't want to get shot so I shot him first," said Cpl. Juan B. Elenes, 21, of
Portland, Oregon. "I saw the top part of his head, so I shot him."
The men who witnessed the death of the US Marine believe he was killed
mistakenly by his fellow Americans. An investigation is under way.
Corporal Clint Bagley, 21, of Shreveport, Louisiana, said he had expected more of
a fight in southern Iraq, but that he found the troops he helped take prisoner were
"like ragged soldiers, not warriors. They were small and ill-prepared."
He said that as he searched for enemy forces in the bunkers, he would say to
himself, "Oh my God, am I going to have to shoot that guy?"

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Iraqi Loyalists Pose Threat to U.S. Army Troops, Marines


Source: Knight Ridder Washington Bureau
Publication date: 2003-03-25

Mar. 25--NORTH OF NAJAF, Iraq--With preparations in place for an assault on


Baghdad, U.S. Army troops and Marines throughout central Iraq turned their
attention to more immediate danger Monday: Iraqi loyalists who harassed them
throughout the day with fire from automatic rifles, mortars and rocket-propelled
grenades.
There was no report on total casualties, but at least one 3rd Infantry Division
soldier died after a small group of Iraqi militiamen crept up in a vehicle close to
where the soldiers were encamped west of the Euphrates River and opened fire
with automatic rifles. Apache helicopter gunships responded by firing Hellfire
missiles at the vehicle, killing its occupants.
Farther south, Marines fought battles near Nasariyah, and helicopters could be
seen ferrying wounded from the area.
Military commanders at Marine headquarters near Nasariyah said the harassment
hadn't slowed the advance of the main Army and Marine columns toward an
eventual confrontation with Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard units near
Baghdad.
But many of the units from north of Najaf to Nasariyah in the south spent the day
holding off snipers, then setting out armed sentries and arranging their vehicles
in defensive positions.
Commanders warned soldiers that they should no longer assume that Iraqi
civilians are friendly. They were warned specifically to be suspicious of anyone
approaching vehicles in a pickup truck.
"The problem is that we're sitting out here by these populated areas along the
river, where they can see us and push out here and take potshots at us," said Lt.
Col. Jack Kammerer, 40, the commander of Task Force 3-7 Infantry of the 3rd
Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team.
Marines were still battling Iraqi loyalists at Nasariyah, the scene Sunday of the
toughest fighting so far in the campaign to topple Saddam's regime. Iraqi forces
counterattacked Monday with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades.
Marines responded with Cobra helicopters, tank fire and heavy artillery, leveling
an entire block in the city where Marines had identified an enemy emplacement.
North of Nasariyah, the Marines' 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance unit, which
crossed the Euphrates on Sunday, ran into a powerful ambush by Iraqi troops on
Highway 1 about 12 miles northwest of Nasariyah. The unit withdrew, according
to commanders familiar with the operation, and called in airstrikes. The unit was
then able to advance without casualties.
Commanders at all levels warned their troops to be cautious. At Kilo Company of
the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, Capt. Joseph Bevan, the executive officer, told his
unit that Iraqi defenders reportedly were sending women and children in front of
U.S. tanks. When the tanks stopped, the Iraqis fired rocket-propelled grenades at
the vehicles, Bevan said. So when U.S. units go through Nasariyah, Bevan
concluded, "anything that moves, dies."

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Staff Sgt. Dustin Hoopers of Delta Company of the 7th Engineering Support
Battalion summoned his 20-man support team to warn them about Saddam
supporters dressed as civilians and to make sure they are prepared to deal with
them. "I have no intention of sending anyone home in a body bag," he said. "If
we're going to meet fanatics wanting to go in glory to Allah, I want you to be
ready to send them there."
Iraqi civilians generally had been seen as unthreatening during the dash through
the largely unpopulated desert of southern Iraq. The attacks came as the troops
entered the more populated areas along the banks of Iraq's two historic rivers,
the Euphrates and the Tigris.
Skirmishes took place all along the lengthy American lines.
Armored columns from the 3rd Infantry Division's 2nd and 3rd brigade combat
teams came under sporadic artillery and mortar fire from Iraqi positions in Najaf
late Sunday. A journalist accompanying U.S. troops was reported wounded and
evacuated by helicopter. Tanks from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team fired back at
Iraqi positions in the city with several 120 mm high explosive rounds and 25 mm
fire from their Bradley fighting vehicles.
At around 9:30 a.m. local time Monday, 155 mm artillery batteries attached to
Task Force 3-7 Infantry fired nearly three dozen shells at Iraqi positions east of the
Euphrates, but it was unclear what they had targeted. Sporadic artillery fire and
airstrikes continued throughout the day. Visibility was cut to less than 300 yards
most of the day by haze and periodic sandstorms.
Iraqis also mounted actions in other parts of Iraq. Three Iraqi T-55 tanks tried to
infiltrate the southern Rumeila oilfield -- which U.S. Marines captured Friday -- but
they were knocked out by British air assault units guarding the 1.6 million-barrel-
a-day field.
Two British bomb-disposal experts were missing and two were wounded when
they came under fire near the southern city of Basra, Iraq's second-largest, which
remained under Saddam's control despite predictions that its mainly Shiite
Muslim population would revolt quickly against his predominantly Sunni Muslim
regime.
British troops sweeping the northern end of the al Faw peninsula ran into a
battalion of Iraqi mechanized infantry and called in U.S. Marine attack helicopters
and Harrier "jump jets" to strike them, said spokesman Maj. Fraser Smith of the
Royal Marines.
With sniping around them and combat ahead, soldiers prepared.
Near Nasariyah, Marine Hospitalman 2nd Class Juan Bernardo began wrapping
gauze cravats into tourniquets, as the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines got ready to
cross the Euphrates. Other Marines cleaned their weapons or stocked up on
ammunition. First Sgt. Mark Lopez of Alpha Company reminded everyone to take
a grenade. "I'm going to kill some Iraqi soldiers," Lopez said.
Capt Chris Griffin, the commanding officer of Alpha Company, warned his platoon
leaders not to let their men become complacent, noting that early advances in
rural southern Iraq might have made American forces overconfident so that they
went "too far, too fast."

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Tension was high. One angry platoon leader spent part of the morning ranting
about a Marine who had turned his back on watch duty to protect himself from
the wind.
Halfway through the morning, two Iraqi men in civilian clothes walked freely along
the stretch of road the 1st Battalion controlled while its vehicles were on the
shoulders, until a reporter pointed out their presence. Someone farther back in
the column, presumably trying to be
friendly to locals, had let them through. Finally, several Marines escorted them
outside a berm that marked the battalion's territory.
Later in the day, several vehicles containing men in civilian clothes approached
the controlled area to deliver a message to the battalion. This time, they were
met by a large team of marksmen and snipers.

A little kick in the pants to keep troops motivated, safe


Source: Scripps Howard
Publication date: 2003-03-25

NASIRIYAH, Iraq -- They haven't showered for a week. Five of those days, they've
worn chemical-protection gear 24/7, long-sleeved charcoal-filled suits that don't
allow chemicals in or any air out. Sandstorms blow grit that sticks to sweaty
brows.
On top of that, they damn well better pay attention.
"The lack of urgency that runs through your guys' brains is going to get you
killed," Steelworker Chief Michael Neumann, 37, of Norris Town, Pa., shouted at
Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4 Tuesday morning.
He was angry because when they woke up after sleeping in their trucks or on top
of them, they didn't seek him out for assignments.
Battalion 4 Seabees face not only the threat of chemical weapons and hostile
Iraqis, they also must deal with harsh conditions and the expectations of leaders
who want to keep them alive.
Neumann is leading a small contingent of Seabees in a mission to fix a bridge in
the area of Nasiriyah.
Before noon Tuesday, the Seabees finish their first mission: to make a bridge safer
and more easily passable. And they did it in less than eight hours.
The bridge had been started by Iraqis, but never finished, so the military traffic
was slowed and the bridge foundation was being eaten away by tank treads. The
Seabees filled in the gaps between the bridge foundation and the road, and
smoothed the on-ramps and off-ramps. They graveled the roadway so it would
last longer.
Tanks and Humvees and water trucks started to move much more quickly over
what had been an obstacle the day before. The last roller smoothed out the road
just before the onset of a major sandstorm.
Their successful mission was a triumph over fear, harsh conditions and
complacency.
Neumann believes a little kick in the pants now and then will not only keep the
soldiers alive but help them accomplish more.

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"This isn't the place to stop thinking," Neumann said. "If they don't start thinking,
they could end up walking in front of a firefight. Or just slipping and falling off the
quarry and killing themselves."
"In Desert Storm, we killed more of our people than they killed of us."
The troops don't shirk from the screamed reminders. They sit up. Focus. As
Equipment Officer 1st Class Michelle Mathis, 32, of Gatesville, Texas, said: "He
only yells when it's important."
And it would be easy to lose focus in this harsh environment. There are not only
life-threatening elements to worry about but also more mundane woes.
There are no bathrooms, only the holes they dig in the sand with their E-tools,
tiny foldable shovels they carry in their packs. Gnats and flies gather in ears,
noses and mouths, undeterred by insect repellents Although MREs include
Jambalaya, Pasta with Alfredo Sauce, and hamburgers, the meals all reach a
sameness after being consumed three times a day.
The temperature is getting into the 90s, so the soldiers sweat profusely in their
chemical-protection suits, especially when working hard. But there's nowhere to
wash their clothes.
While in camp at night, they can't turn on lights to read or play cards. It would
allow the enemy to find them. And almost all of Battalion 4 still hasn't received
any mail or been able to make phone calls.
But they find ways to make the environment more palatable. Hospital Corpsman
Chief Dennis Gray, 44, of Quincy, Ill., uses the heaters contained in his MREs to
make himself hot coffee each morning.
"I usually eat all the MREs cold except the four fingers of death, the frankfurters,"
he said. "It's good to have coffee in the morning."
But they do miss the normal things: beds, home cooking, showers. "If I didn't
need money to pay off my sports car, I'd go home right now," said Steelworker
3rd class Bobby Ray Barker Jr., 22, of Houston. "Anytime it goes past a week with
a shower, it really gets to me

Coalition Troops Wonder Who Is Enemy


Source: Associated Press
Publication date: 2003-03-25

NEAR KARBALA, Iraq (AP) - U.S. and British forces speeding through the Iraqi
countryside on the way to Baghdad are facing a classic problem for soldiers
fighting guerrillas: Who's the enemy?
In southern Iraq, troops of the U.S.-led coalition have encountered seemingly
friendly civilians who suddenly pull out guns and open fire. Outside the city of An
Nasiriyah, Iraqi soldiers approached U.S. troops as if to surrender, then went on
the attack, killing nine U.S. soldiers in the most devastating battle so far in the
war.
U.S. Army troops outside this Shiite Muslim city, preparing the assault on
Baghdad, are running into other tactics that make it hard to distinguish between
friend and foe: trucks parked in farm fields that may or may not have mortars
hidden inside, and attackers in civilian garb who melt away into nearby villages.

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Army officers are blaming some of these attacks on a group of loyalists to


Saddam Hussein called the al-Quds Brigade, which was in theory founded to
liberate Jerusalem - al-Quds is the Arabic name for the city - but has grown into a
vast paramilitary force.
"The al-Quds are all along this area, dressed like civilians and driving civilian
vehicles and they come out at night," Lt. Col. Philip DeCamp, commander of the
4th Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, told his officers Monday. "The al-Quds are
madmen, taking over people's houses and making them get out."
DeCamp noted how on Saturday night, militiamen used a commercial area to
stage guerrilla attacks on U.S. Army tanks, but when the tanks advanced just a
few hundred yards, they were suddenly in a civilian neighborhood, with women
and children coming out of houses at dawn to see the advancing American troops.
"It's hard - isn't it? -figuring out who's friendly, who's not, who's a bedouin, who's
not, who to hose, who not," DeCamp, who was a tank company commander
during the Gulf War, said to younger soldiers.
Staff Sgt. Bryce Ivings, the master gunner for A Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th
Infantry Regiment, worried that after serving in Kosovo, many of the troops were
still thinking like peacekeepers. In Kosovo, they were more like police, but in Iraq,
they must be more aggressive, he said.
Since Sunday's deadly ambushes, U.S. forces have regarded Iraqis warily.
"This means we will get more watchful. We sent out a whole squad to take down
those two people," said Marine Cpl. Clint Bagley, 21, of Shreveport, La., gesturing
toward the road where two Iraqi civilians were walking under a while flag and
about 10 Marines were running to intercept and search them.
Civilians are made to lie down in the road, and when the Marines are convinced
that they are no threat, they are let go.
In general, Bagley said, "If they are holding a white flag, and are holding a gun,
that's ROE (rules of engagement). We shoot."
On Monday, Marines on the road to Baghdad forced some Iraqi men out of their
vehicle, questioned them, and shoved them down onto the rocky sand - slashing
their tires to ensure they would not tail a convoy again any time soon.
"It felt great when we came in, with the crowds waiting and smiling. Now you
wonder what's behind those smiles - and what lies behind those crowds," said Lt.
Col. Michael Belcher of the 1st Marine Division. "It's tough to win over their hearts
and minds now, when you have to hold them at arm's length."
On Monday, the 2nd Brigade of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division came under
mortar fire outside Najaf. The troops went through a lengthy exercise to try to
protect themselves against further attack without accidentally turning on
civilians.
Radar identified the area where the fire came from, and scouts were sent to check
out nearby several pickup trucks with men around them to see if they had fired
the mortars.
U.S. warplanes overhead spotted no weapons, and the pilots asked the scouts if
they saw any "hostile intent" that made the pickups legitimate targets. The scouts
said no, the Iraqis were just standing around their pickups in a farmer's field.

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The convoy of tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles was then ordered forward, and
a few hours later some supply trucks came under mortar fire from the same area.
The officers wound up debating whether their decision not to hit the trucks had
been right or wrong. But they decided the rules of engagement applied: Unless a
target is clearly military or hostile, troops must hold their fire.

U.S. Army's man behind the scenes in Iraq war is Arabic speaker,
Source: Associated Press
Publication date: 2003-03-25

CAMP AS SAYLIYAH, Qatar (AP) -- U.S. Army Lt. Gen. John Abizaid speaks fluent
Arabic, is a Middle East scholar and professes that he ``loves the Arab world.''
He's also a three-star general, deputy commander of the U.S. Central Command
and the No. 2 official leading the war against Iraq.
Abizaid made his public debut this week at the U.S. Central Command in Qatar,
providing a precise rundown of where the war stood days after ground forces
crossed the Iraqi border.
His performance was indicative of his climb up the U.S. military ladder and the
way he runs the war: studied and detailed, right down to writing his briefing notes
in longhand.
``He is the planner,'' said Daniel Goure of the Lexington Institute, a Washington-
based think tank. ``That's the person who moves the pieces on the chessboard to
be approved by (Gen.) Tommy Franks.''
Goure worked with Abizaid on the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, where Abizaid was
director of the Joint Staff before he was tapped for the deputy commander job at
Central Command in January.
Before that, he was executive assistant to then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen.
John Shalikashvili.
The Pentagon experience, coupled with an impressive Army resume and an
academic and personal background in the region, make him particularly well-
suited for the Iraq campaign, analysts say.
``You begin with the fact that he's a great soldier,'' said Bill Nash, a retired U.S.
Army general who commanded an armored brigade in the 1991 Gulf War. ``And
then you add to that the fact that he is savvy to the world of political military
affairs.
``And of course, in this particular case, his unique qualification is that he is fluent
in Arabic and understands that region extremely well,'' said Nash, who has known
Abizaid for over 20 years. They worked most recently in Kosovo.
Abizaid's grandparents emigrated to the United States from Lebanon, and he
grew up in Coleville, California, raised mostly by his widowed father.
He learned Arabic as an adult, studying at the University of Jordan in Amman. He
also picked up a master's degree in Middle East studies at Harvard.
``John would do a good job in any part of the world,'' Nash said. ``There are some
for whom the word unique is appropriate. John is uniquely qualified.''
Abizaid referred to his knowledge of the Arab world in his first news conference
Sunday. A reporter asked if the region's growing anti-war movement might

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compel Arab governments to revoke commitments to the United States in its


campaign against Saddam Hussein.
``Well, I really wouldn't want to make any statement that might mark me as a
State Department official,'' Abizaid said to laughter.
``I'm a soldier and I do my best, but I would say, as a person who has studied the
Arab world and loves the Arab world, that the majority of educated Arabs that I
talk to know that Saddam Hussein has been a plague on the Arab world and on
his own people, and they welcome his removal.''
A typical Abizaid response, Nash said.
``He's very quiet and unassuming,'' said Nash. ``But he's tough as nails and
smart as all can be.''
Abizaid first encountered the Saddam regime just after the 1991 Gulf War. He
commanded the 3rd Battalion, 325th Airborne Battalion combat team, which was
deployed to the Kurdish territories in northern Iraq during the humanitarian
Operation Provide Comfort.
Other stops in his career have included commandant at the U.S. Military
Academy, where he graduated in 1973, and operations officer for the United
Nations Observer group in Lebanon.
His most storied assignment came in 1983, when he commanded companies in
the 2nd and 1st Ranger Battalions, leading a Ranger Rifle Company during the
invasion of Grenada.
One of his exploits has since been immortalized in Hollywood: Legend has it that
Abizaid ordered a sergeant to commandeer a bulldozer to lead the charge -- a
tactic later emulated by Clint Eastwood in the 1986 film ``Heartbreak Ridge.''

Coalition Forces Bombard Iraqi State TV


Source: Associated Press
Publication date: 2003-03-26

Using missiles and warplanes, allied forces struck Iraqi state-run television early
Wednesday, and the station's signal was knocked off the air.
After a series of explosions along with the sound of low flying aircraft, smoke was
seen next to the information ministry and the Iraqi TV building.
The signal from Iraqi Satellite TV, which broadcasts 24 hours a day outside Iraq,
went off the air around 4:30 a.m. (8:30 p.m. EST Tuesday), according to monitors
in Britain.
Iraq's domestic television service does not normally broadcast at that time, so it
remained unclear if that signal was knocked out.
At the Pentagon, a U.S. military spokeswoman said coalition aircraft struck the
Iraqi state-run television channel. Damage assessment was not complete, she
told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The coalition airstrikes targeted not only Iraqi television but also government
communications and satellite links at several sites in the capital, U.S. military
officials said. The strikes used Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from U.S. Navy
ships and bombs dropped by coalition aircraft.

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"These targets are key regime command and control assets," said Jim Wilkinson, a
spokesman for U.S. Central Command.
On Tuesday, gray smoke from fuel fires and a swirling sandstorm enveloped Iraq's
capital, where intermittent explosions once again rattled residents who embraced
life's simple routines even as U.S.-led troops moved closer.
Garbage trucks rolled the streets picking refuse, which was piled high in some
neighborhoods, while public transportation buses were running normally. Traffic
was on the increase, and more stores and shops were open than at any time since
the first missile hit Baghdad last week.
The smoke hanging over the city came not from those missiles, but from fuel fires
set by Baghdad authorities, an effort to obscure military targets in the city.
Visibility was further hampered by a powerful sandstorm that seemed to cover
everything in the city with a fine coat of sand.
The sandstorm eased Wednesday morning.
U.S.-led troops were within 50 miles of the capital, setting up a seemingly
inevitable fight for control of the historic city of 5 million residents. Iraqi
Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf said his countrymen were
unshaken by that prospect.
The Iraqis "await surprises on how the American game of shock and awe will fail,"
al-Sahhaf said.
The wind in Baghdad became so wicked Tuesday that palm trees and traffic lights
swayed madly, with security men and police hiding behind sandbags - ordinarily
military outposts - in search of respite.
At the height of the sandstorm, the explosions that echoed through the capital for
most of the day ceased.
More security and police officers were seen around the city than last week, and
residents reported members of Saddam Hussein's feared intelligence agencies
were also posted on the streets.
The bombing Tuesday was on the outskirts of the city, with its echoes easily
audible in the heart of Baghdad. Some residents were busy digging new defensive
trenches or expanding existing ones; some were dug in the courtyard of the Iraq
museum, home to priceless antiques.
Iraqi state television went off the air for about 45 minutes after explosions were
heard in the city Tuesday evening. There were unconfirmed reports in Baghdad
that the outage followed a hit on a television transmission tower north of
Baghdad in Abu Ghareib.
Television, like state radio, constantly played patriotic songs and messages of
support from Iraqis for their president.
Tuesday's edition of Babil, a daily paper owned by Saddam's son Odai, featured
back page photos of decapitated bodies that it said belonged to Iraqi civilians
killed in bombing raids. A day earlier, all newspapers ran the text of Saddam's
address to the nation on Page 1, accompanied by pictures of the Iraqi leader.

10st slowed by sandstorms, encounter hostile towns


Source: Scripps Howard

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OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
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Publication date: 2003-03-25

AO RAKASSANS, Iraqi Desert -- One minute the sky was dirty yellow, with the sun
blotted out by northbound dust. Minutes later, the dust clouds turned burnt red
and winds whipped to the south, leaving a scene like a Martian's dreams of home.
Then the rains came. There were a few drops at first, prompting one filth-covered
soldier to strip down to his underwear, hoping for his first shower in six days in
Iraq. Instead, all he got was a mud bath when winds started gusting near 50 miles
per hour, coating him in even more dust.
An hour later, at 5 p.m., skies were back to orange and yellow.
Mother Nature has entered the war — and she's not on the American side.
Two days of blinding dust storms have grounded some of the attack helicopters
that the 3rd Brigade (Rakkasans) of the 101st Airborne Division are gearing up to
use in air assault operations.
At the forward operating base now dubbed Area of Operations (AO) Rakkasans,
they await the arrival of more soldiers and equipment. Meanwhile, they're trying
to learn to live with the wicked winds that are a harbinger of spring in Iraq.
"Everything we do is conditions-based. It's not based on timelines," said Col.
Michael Linnington, commander of the 3rd brigade. "If the conditions aren't set for
movement on to the next step, we don't move. Otherwise you overextend
yourself and you are irrelevant."
The Rakkasans are known for using helicopters to insert infantry troops deep into
enemy territory, but it's too dangerous flying in high winds, when pilots can't see
through the dust when taking off, landing or attacking.
On Monday, some helicopters that were trying to reach the forward operating
base had to go back where they came from. In all the swirling dust they simply
could not find the base. One helicopter ran low on fuel, so it landed in a remote
area and had to be guarded by a passing convoy of other 101st elements until it
was refueled.
Linnington was taking weather delays in stride. "I think when the weather returns,
you'll see a rapid movement to the north," he said.
Besides the weather, U.S. troops must deal with scattered pockets of small militia
groups that mingle with civilians in and around small villages to attempt quick
strikes on allied convoys and troops.
For example, when the 3rd Brigade's convoy moved through one small village in
the middle of the night, local residents — mostly men in long black flowing robes
— lined the sidewalks and stared, emotionless. Once through the town, the
convoy found that someone had placed a makeshift roadblock in the way, causing
the vehicles to halt.
Linnington said it was a perfect opportunity for an ambush but the 3rd Brigade
escaped without incident.
In other towns during daylight hours, men, women and children lined the side of
the road waving, smiling and flashing thumbs-up signs. But those moments seem
less friendly now with reports that militia members are posing as civilians and
trying to attack the convoys.

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The 3rd Brigade is already deep inside Iraq. Ahead, the Army's 3rd Infantry
Division is moving tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles closer to Baghdad. But
sandstorms have slowed its march toward a pivotal showdown with Iraq's elite
Republican Guard units.
The storms are so bad that even Linnington admits to getting mixed up when
wandering around camp. "It's very difficult to navigate even in a tactical assembly
area," he said. "You can't find the sun and you get disoriented."
Sandstorms are a seasonal phenomenon in Iraq, usually ending by early April. But
when that happens, it will be a mixed blessing. Once the winds die down there
won't be as much dust in the air and the desert sun can beat down on the troops
at full strength.

'Cut their throats,' Saddam urges On TV he comments on current


fighting, showing he is alive
Source: International Herald Tribune
Publication date: 2003-03-25

The morning after the bloodiest day yet in the war to topple Saddam Hussein's
regime from power, the Iraqi leader appeared on state television Monday to
condemn the U.S.-led invasion, praise his soldiers and exhort them to continue to
battle the allied armies. "Strike them until they come to the conclusion that they
are not in a position to commit crimes against you and your people," said
Saddam, who sat at a desk in front of a white curtain wearing a drab olive-colored
military outfit. "God has ordered you to cut their throats." The speech
demonstrated a knowledge of the events of recent days and even praised
individual commanders in armies fighting in southern Iraq, confirming the
conclusion of U.S. and British intelligence that the Iraqi leader is alive and
remains in touch with the far-flung deployments of his forces. In his speech,
Saddam seemed to put to rest speculation about whether he survived the first
night of American bombing that U.S. officials said was an attempt to "decapitate"
the regime. Although the broadcast may have been taped, Saddam was clearly
aware of events of the past 24 hours. He said the soldiers of the 11th Brigade had
waged a "heroic" battle at Umm Qasr, where pockets of resistance continued to
make the small port city a dangerous place. "Therefore, after underestimating
you," Saddam said, "the enemy is trapped in the sacred land of Iraq, which is
being defended by its great people and army." He encouraged the people of Basra
to fight the Americans and show patience. "Victory is imminent," he said. The
Iraqi leader repeatedly tried to appeal to the national pride of his country. "It has
always been our aim to avoid evil, but when evil comes to us armed with the
sword of destruction, then we have no choice," he said. He ended his address by
appealing to Arabs around the region, calling for a Palestinian nation "from the
river to the sea." "Strike them until they come to the conclusion that they are not
in a position to commit crimes against you and your people," he said. According
to American military officials, Saddam has in recent weeks sent scores of
members of Fedayeen Saddam (Saddam's Fighters), to launch guerrilla assaults
on the rapidly advancing allied ground forces south of Baghdad. The Fedayeen,

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perhaps joining other Iraqi irregulars, are thought to have attacked marines
around An Nasiriyah, resulting in the heaviest fighting of the war. In sporadic
battles across Iraq on Sunday, military officials reported at least 20 American
soldiers missing or killed and up to 82 wounded. Saddam appeared to celebrate
those battles Monday. "The Ba'ath Party, the people, the clans, the Fedayeen of
Saddam and national security forces alongside our brave armed forces have done
great things which match their caliber," he said. The Iraqi leader appeared calm
and satisfied as he read from what appeared to be prepared remarks. Saddam's
speech was broadcast by Iraqi national television, which continues to operate
despite the bombing campaign. The television station plays a useful role in
Saddam's attempts to show himself in control of the country. There are daily
briefings by an assortment of Ba'ath Party officials as well as frequently aired
footage of the damage caused by the most recent allied air bombardment.
Monday morning, the first reports of downed American Apache helicopters came
from the station. On Sunday, the station aired graphic footage of captured and
killed American soldiers. The footage was then picked up by Al Jazeera, the
Arabic- language network, and beamed around the world.

Desert Rats take a trophy of war ; Big new gains but second Briton dies
in fighting
Source: Evening Standard - London
Publication date: 2003-03-25

MEN from the 7th Armoured Brigade "Desert Rats" killed 20 of Saddam Hussein's
fanatical followers in a daring raid, it was revealed today.
Zulu Company of the Royal Fusiliers, part of the legendary brigade, together with
Royal Marines, launched a night attack on the headquarters of Saddam's ruling
Ba'ath party in the city of Basra.
The soldiers later posed with a trophy of war, a painting of the Iraqi dictator.
A few hours later the southern port of Umm Qasr was declared "safe and open"
after days of street fighting.
Umm Qasr will allow the Allies to land vital aid to feed Basra to the north and
head off a humanitarian crisis. The first shipment was expected within 36 hours.
A US commander this afternoon confirmed that 500 Iraqi fighters had been killed
in the last two days in the southern part of the country.
Today also saw 20 Iraqi tanks and armoured vehicles destroyed by British forces
near Basra.
At the same time, US forces pounded Republican Guards defending the
approaches to Baghdad while American marines further south finally punched a
path through stubborn Iraqi resistance in the city of Nasiriyah on the Euphrates.
This allowed them to pour thousands more men towards the Iraqi capital.
US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Richard Myers, warned: "We think the
toughest fighting is ahead of us."
A second British soldier was killed in action on the outskirts of Basra, sources
confirmed.

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The dead soldier, from the 1st Battalion the Black Watch, was killed near Zubayr,
15 miles west of Basra.
British forces engaged in fierce fighting there have likened the tactics of Iraqi
guerrillas to their experiences in Northern Ireland.
The drama involving the Desert Rats also took place in Zubayr, seen as a hotbed
of resistance led by Ba'ath party loyalists armed with machineguns.
Soldiers stormed a building identified as the Ba'ath party's key regional
headquarters in the early hours of today.
The Iraqis who were killed included Ba'ath party officials, Special Security
Organisation members and Fedayeen fighters, Saddam's personal militia. A senior
Ba'ath party official was taken prisoner and is to be questioned on the resistance
effort in and around Basra.
The commander of British forces in the Gulf, Air Marshal Brian Burridge, promising
similar actions in the future.
He said: "We made it quite clear to them that we, the British Armed Forces, are up
for this and you are going to have a very hard time."
British forces now plan to use their expertise of operations in Bosnia and Kosovo
to separate the Ba'ath party
from the local people. A senior military source said: "We want to split the
oppressive regime away from the people who do not want to resist us."
Earlier in the day British self-propelled AS-90 guns and air power destroyed the
most significant concentration of Iraqi armour they had encountered around
Basra.
A column of 20 Iraqi vehicles, including a handful of T55 tanks heading for the Al
Faw peninsula, were destroyed by British light tanks and helicopter gunships
Outside Baghdad, US ground forces probed Republican Guards ringing the city
while bombers pounded their positions for a second day. Three loud explosions
rocked the city centre, prompting panic as cars sped away and pedestrians raced
for cover.
A British defence source said this afternoon that troops approaching the capital
would pause while support lines are strengthened. He added: "They are moving
into that area now. Initial positions are being taken up today and then we have to
consolidate combat support." US intelligence sources warned that Saddam would
be prepared to unleash chemical weapons as a final resort if the Republican
Guard started to crumble.
More than 4,000 US marines finally forced their way across a bridge over the
Euphrates today after a fierce street battle in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah
that opened up a new line of advance toward Baghdad.
The marines created a two-mile corridor of armoured vehicles through which a
convoy of trucks was driven.
Once the trucks and other vulnerable vehicles were across, the tanks and other
armour rolled out behind, leaving Iraqi fighters still operating in Nasiriyah.
"All of the convoy seems to have come through," said a Reuters correspondent
travelling with the First Marine Division.

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Street fighting holds key to campaign


Source: The Scotsman
Publication date: 2003-03-25

ROYAL Marines and Commando-trained Royal Engineers were last night rolling in
to the Umm Qasr battle zone with plans to finish off the remaining Iraqi
resistance.
The elite troops are taking over from the United States forces that have been
fighting in the streets of the southern Iraq port for four days.
A force of 150 US Marines had been battling the Iraqi hold-outs whose numbers
were estimated at no more than 100 yesterday, holed up in positions around
Umm Qasr.
The Marines let loose with shoulder-launched missiles and heavy machine guns.
They were backed by tanks, and called in air strikes by fighters and ground attack
jets.
But British soldiers and their officers have experienced urban warfare in the
Balkans and Northern Ireland.
Coalition commanders have faced from the beginning the prospect of street
battles in Baghdad with elite Iraqi forces most loyal to Saddam Hussein.
But urban warfare is threatening too fast to become the central theatre of the
Iraqi war. Saddam's loyalists would rather see the devastation of Iraq's major
cities than lose control to coalition troops.
Street fighting is a slow, methodical and bloody business.
One British commando was badly injured in a firefight after his company searched
a building for Iraqi hold-outs - while his mother watched the battle back home on
television.
Royal Marine Glenn McCoy, 26, was one of three members of 40 Commando's
Alpha Company injured in an operation to quell fierce Iraqi resistance in the al-
Faw peninsula.
The commando suffered burns to his face and hands when a bullet hit a gas
canister which exploded.
His mother, Diane McCoy, of Donnington, Telford, in Shropshire, sat down to
watch a BBC news bulletin when she heard her son's company was under attack.
"I spotted Glen kneeling down by a wall and he appeared fine," she said. "They
then showed his company firing on the building - the next thing I saw was Glen
running out of the building on fire."
The British mission in Umm Qasr is to bring the strategic town quickly under
complete control, with the urgent need to open the deep-water port for aid
shipments for southern Iraq.
The British force is made up of 42 Commando, Royal Marines and 3 Troop from 59
Independent Commando Squadron, Royal Engineers, who were both involved in
the battle for the al-Faw oil facilities last week.
Lieutenant Iain Lamont, 3 Troop's commander, said before leaving for the port:
"We have just come from contact battles on the al-Faw and we are ready to deal
with any enemy in Umm Qasr.

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"We are keen to get in there, although we are not entirely sure of what we are
going to be meeting.
"We know the US have met some real resistance there and I am still expecting
some pockets of resistance."
The British teams will take over from US 15 Marine Expeditionary Unit, under the
command of 3 Commando Brigade.
They went in to Umm Qasr on Friday morning shortly after the al- Faw was taken.
But they have been embroiled in street fighting and sniper attacks ever since,
despite taking several hundred prisoners.
The Marines and Royal Engineers are armed with light anti-tank guns, light
support weapons, SA 80s and grenades - all suitable for the kind of fighting
necessary.
Reconnaissance soldiers, who were handed Iraqi PoWs captured by the
Americans, described the enemy as little more than "rag tag locals in flip flops".
Team member Sergeant Nigel Barton, from Gillingham, Kent, said: "They were in a
very sorry state. They had no shoes on and looked scared.
"They didn't look like highly trained soldiers, more like rag- tags in flip flops."
US forces are set to bear the brunt of the battle for Baghdad's streets, however. If
the GIs of the 101st Airborne Division go into the city, their equipment will include
lightweight ladders, sledgehammers and grappling irons.
These are the tools of the "urban warrior", who looks at the battlefield in a
fundamentally different way to soldiers in jungle, desert or open country.
Street fighting has jargon of its own - Fighting in Built-up Areas (FIBUA) or Military
Operation in Urban Terrain (MOUT) - and it takes specialized training to master it.
In urban warfare, standoff missiles or hi-tech surveillance systems don't work.
Soldiers must find and kill the enemy at close range, exposed to hidden snipers
and machine gunners.
They operate in small groups assigned to a target. Eight soldiers assigned to clear
a single building, for example, will form "fire teams" of four men each. One team
will take up covering positions while an assault team tries to move forward and
enter the building.
Urban warriors move forward by breaking into houses through walls, windows,
roofs or sewers.
They may use explosives to blow a hole in a wall, and, in the confusion, throw
hand grenades into the building to kill or wound anyone inside.
Buildings must be systematically cleared - floor by floor if necessary - or hidden
defenders may attack later.
Tank crews can drive through towns assuming they are empty - only to find the
enemy have hidden in buildings until the vehicles are gone.
This seems to have been the case at Umm Qasr.
Helicopters are a key element of their urban warfare tactics. They allow
commanders to direct the battle from the air and offer a means of landing troops
on buildings' roofs. This takes the enemy by surprise and avoids the negotiation
of barricades and booby traps placed in doorways or windows.
At the same time, helicopters are highly vulnerable to small arms, shoulder-fired
rocket launchers and machine guns.

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This is the Blackhawk Down nightmare scenario.


Civilians will suffer heavily if they are caught between rival forces, an added
complication. US troops in Baghdad are likely to launch a leaflet and megaphone
campaign to warn civilians to leave target areas.
A US officer, Captain Rick Crevier, described the mixture of Fedayeen militia,
infantry troops, fighters from Saddam's ruling Baath Party and possible
Republican Guard members holding out in Umm Qasr.
"There are still probably about 100 folks in there," Crevier said. "The British have
techniques used in Ireland for urban control. They feel they may be a little better
off."

British, Iraqi Fighters Battle at Basra


Source: Associated Press
Publication date: 2003-03-26

British forces at the gates of Basra waged fierce battles with more than 1,000
Iraqi militia fighters, supporting what they said appeared to be civilian unrest
developing against Saddam Hussein in the key southern city.
"There seemed to be an uprising in Basra last night," British military spokesman
Group Capt. Al Lockwood said Wednesday. "We are assessing the situation very
carefully to see how we can capitalize on it and how we can assist.
Lockwood said on Tuesday afternoon, Iraqi civilians started attacking fighters who
were defending the city from British forces.
"The attack from the local population obviously gave (the defenders) cause for
concern to the extent that they started mortaring them," Lockwood said. British
forces shelled the mortar positions, stopping the fire, and later dropped a guided
weapon on the local headquarters of Saddam's Baath party, he said.
Coalition forces have made no secret of their hopes to spur such uprisings. The
British were distributing leaflets and telling citizens on loudspeakers that aid was
waiting outside the city, where many of the million-plus residents are drinking
contaminated water and living under threat of outbreaks of diarrhea and cholera.
The main military goal remained the capital, Baghdad, and allied forces were
closing in, their progress thwarted by blinding sandstorms. U.S.-led warplanes
bombed targets in northern Iraq, and U.S. troops in control of a vast Iraqi air base
sealed 36 bunkers, earmarked as possible sites of Saddam's elusive weapons of
mass destruction.
Marines in the southern city of An Nasiriyah secured a hospital being used as a
military staging area for Iraqi forces, capturing about 170 unarmed Iraqi soldiers
and confiscating over 3,000 chemical suits with masks, stockpiles of ammunition
and military uniforms, U.S. officials said. The Marines also found a T-55 tank on
the compound.

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The Marines had been fired at from the hospital the day before, officials said in a
statement. The building had been clearly marked as a hospital by a flag with a
Red Crescent, the symbol used in the Muslim world for the Red Cross.
Two British soldiers were killed by friendly fire near Basra. Col. Chris Vernon said
the two men died when their Challenger II tank was mistakenly targeted by
another Challenger crew on Monday evening.
American F/A-18 Super Hornet warplanes dropped satellite-guided bombs on
central Basra, according to British reporters attached to military units - the first
strikes into the center of the city, aimed at military sites hidden in civilian
buildings.
British pool reports described thousands of residents of Iraq's second-largest city
rampaging through the streets in the early evening and setting dozens of
buildings ablaze. Basra's population is predominantly Shiite Muslim, and during
the 1991 Gulf War the city took up arms against Saddam's Sunni Muslim regime
in Baghdad. Government forces crushed the rebellion, killing thousands across
the south.
The reports also described supporters of Saddam driving four-wheel-drive pick-up
trucks close to the crowd, apparently seeking to intimidate people and suppress
the revolt.
In a telephone interview with Al-Jazeera television, Iraqi Information Minister
Mohammed al-Sahhaf denied any uprising in Basra.
"The situation is stable," he said. "Resistance is continuing and we are teaching
them more lessons."
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld reacted cautiously to reports of the unrest,
saying he was "reluctant" to encourage uprisings explicitly. "I guess those of us
my age remember uprisings in Eastern Europe back in the 1950s when they rose
up and they were slaughtered," he said. "I am very careful about encouraging
people to rise up. We know there are people in those cities ready to shoot them if
they try to rise up."
But he added: "Anyone who's engaged in an uprising has a whole lot of courage
and I sure hope they're successful."
The exiled Iraqi National Congress opposition party confirmed that "a large
uprising has taken place in Basra," calling it a "fierce battle" involving hand-to-
hand combat and bayonets.
Earlier Tuesday, British forces staged a raid into Az-Zubayr, a Basra suburb, and
captured a senior Baath party politician for the region while killing 20 of his
bodyguards, said Vernon, the British army spokesman. The official was in custody.
Vernon also said armed irregular units were firing at British forces outside Basra,
and that the Iraqis were apparently using civilians in front of them as human
shields.
Coalition forces had hoped to avoid entering Basra, for fear of getting bogged
down in urban warfare. But tenacious resistance in the city - there are an
estimated 1,000 pro-Saddam fighters, plus an unknown number of regular troops
- and growing shortages of food and clean water have compelled them to change
their strategy.

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The Iraqis were firing artillery from the center of the city at British troops, Vernon
said, while the British confined their artillery to the city's outskirts, trying to
identify clear military targets, especially tanks, and avoid civilian casualties.
Gunner Neil Hughes of the Royal Horse Artillery said the Iraqis were using civilian
targets as a shield.
"There's some tanks refueling - five or six of them - but we couldn't engage them
because they were right next to a built-up area, a hospital," he said. "So it was
left to other means."
The health threats in Basra appeared dire.
"The humanitarian situation in Basra is difficult, and very, very tense," said Muin
Kassis of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in neighboring
Jordan.
Attempts by the Associated Press to reach Basra residents by telephone were
unsuccessful, but international relief agencies had satellite-phone contact with aid
workers in the city and expressed deep concern about the fate of trapped
civilians.
"It's very alarming, very critical," said Veronique Taveau of the U.N. humanitarian
office for Iraq.
The city's electrical power was knocked out Friday during U.S.-British bombing,
apparently because high-voltage lines were destroyed. That in turn shut down
Basra's water pumping and treatment plants.
The U.N. Children's Fund estimated up to 100,000 Basra children under the age of
5 were at immediate risk of severe disease from the unsafe water, especially life-
threatening diarrhea.
The Red Cross reported Tuesday that its technicians reached the Wafa al-Quaid
plant, north of the city, after getting security assurances from both sides. But the
generators are only a stopgap.
As for Basra's casualties in the current conflict, no official word was directly
available, although the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television quoted Iraqi medics on
Saturday as saying 50 people were killed in U.S. bombings.
The Arab network also broadcast grisly footage of civilian casualties in Basra,
including a dead child with a horrible head wound - a picture that aroused anger
across the Arab world.
As coalition forces pressed on to Baghdad, British Prime Minister Tony Blair
stressed Tuesday that the final miles on the road to the capital would be the most
challenging, as U.S. Army troops faced the Medina division of Saddam's
Republican Guard.
"This will plainly be a crucial moment," he said.
The Army met sporadic resistance on its journey north. Military reports estimated
500 Iraqis were killed during a two-day sweep by the Army's 3rd Infantry Division
past the holy Shiite City of Najaf, said Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Preston of the
Army's V Corps. At least 20 U.S. troops have been killed and 14 captured or
missing since the operation began.

U.S. Forces Face Old Enemy in Division of Iraq's Republican Guard


Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer

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Publication date: 2003-03-26

Mar. 26--WASHINGTON--The Republican Guard division now arrayed against


American forces on the approach to Baghdad has tangled with the U.S. Army once
before.
The result was a disaster for what a Pentagon official described as one of Saddam
Hussein's most powerful divisions.
The Medina Division has 10,000 to 12,000 troops in two armored brigades and
one mechanized brigade. Like all Republican Guard units, it is considered more
loyal to the regime than the regular army. But the defense of Baghdad itself is
assigned to a Special Republican Guard, known more for its fealty to Saddam than
its military prowess.
On Feb. 27, 1991, at a place that has gone down in military lore as Medina Ridge,
the tankers and gunners of the Medina al Munawara (Medina, the Luminous)
Division came face to face with the U.S. 1st Armored Division.
Within an hour, the M1 Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles of the 1st
Armored's 2nd Brigade had destroyed 61 Medina Division tanks and 34 of its
armored personnel carriers.
Also on Feb. 27, 1991, in the vanguard of U.S. forces sweeping across Iraq in a
"left hook" attack, the 3rd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division plowed, head on,
into the Medina Division and elements of four other Iraqi divisions.
That opened a battle in which the American forces destroyed 82 tanks, three
armored personnel carriers, 11 artillery guns, 48 trucks and three anti-aircraft
batteries, according to a later count.
In the battle, the U.S. forces lost two Bradley fighting vehicles. One American was
killed in action and 30 were wounded.
Now the Medina Division faces the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division again, along with
Marine forces.
The ground fighting in the first Gulf War, though lasting only 100 hours, was on a
scale much larger than in the current Iraq war to date. Tank fights took place in
open desert, where the superior firepower and mobility of the Americans forces
were used to great advantage.
Today, if the U.S. Army battled the Medina Division in open desert, the Iraqi unit
would likely be even more devastated than it was in 1991.
Its Soviet-made T-72 and T-52 tanks have only gotten a dozen years older.
Saddam's plan may be to avoid a full-scale battle in the open and to pull the
Medina division back to Baghdad. The American strategy appears to be to pin it
down and destroy it where it is.

U.S. Marines Storm into Nasiriyah, Iraq


Source: Knight Ridder Washington Bureau
Publication date: 2003-03-26

Mar. 26--NASIRIYAH, Iraq--U.S. Marines, moving through this still-contested city,


opened fire at anything that moved Tuesday, leaving dozens of dead in their
wake, at least some of them civilians.

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Helicopter gunships circled overhead, unleashing Hellfire missiles into the squat
mud-brick homes and firing their machine guns, raining spent cartridge cases into
neighborhoods. Occasionally a tank blasted a hole in a house. Several bodies fell
in alleys.
It was impossible to know which casualties were civilians and which had been
members of Iraqi loyalist militias. The militias have ambushed Marine convoys
here for days as the Marines tried to cross the Euphrates River on a rapid march
north to Al Kut, where they are expected to engage elements of Iraq's Republican
Guard.
Signs of battle were everywhere. Burnt-out shells of Russian-made tanks lay along
the road. Other tanks facing a bridge clearly had been taken out by U.S. aircraft.
Official versions of the battles were unavailable. U.S. casualties appeared light,
but it was likely that many civilians had been killed. U.S. troops searching houses
found one woman with her husband, who was wounded, and her two sons, who
were dead. All had been hit by stray bullets.
The shooting came as U.S. forces, targeted in recent days by Iraqis dressed in
civilian clothes, became increasingly aggressive in dealing with resistance.
Marines were told a tracked amphibious vehicle had been ambushed by a group
waving a white flag, and the plan for moving the 3rd Platoon of the 4th
Amphibious Assault Battalion of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force was
aggressive, calling for so-called "suppressive fire" throughout the area to keep
insurgents at bay.
It was early in the morning, and each of the platoon's dozen 27-ton Amtracs
carried 18 infantrymen. The vehicles formed a herringbone pattern along the
street, and the Marines opened fire as they advanced.
"I started feeling comfortable, like I knew what I was doing," said Cpl. David
Barringer, 25, a reservist who, in civilian life, is a firefighter from Gulfport, Miss.
"I never really felt scared," he said, saying he had shot one militiaman and maybe
three. "Everything we were taught, it all comes back to you."
A few hundred yards past the bridge, the Marines came upon the grisly scene of a
failed ambush by the Iraqis. U.S. infantrymen reported that a group of 40 Iraqi
soldiers on buses apparently had attacked an artillery unit. Approximately 20
Iraqis were killed when the Americans returned fire; the rest were captured. The
buses were burned-out hulks.
"I saw a lot of bloodshed," said Sgt. Ken Woechan, 23, a reservist and assistant
Wal-Mart manager from Ocean Springs. Miss.
Woechan said at Nasiriyah he saw what he believed were militiamen hiding
behind women and children. "A family would run across and there would be a guy
behind them," he said.
The crossing of the Marines' 4th Amphibious Assault Battalion was one of the few
detailed accounts that emerged from Tuesday's fighting. Reports of combat
elsewhere were sketchy, in part because a fierce sandstorm disrupted
communications between units. The Marine forward headquarters at the Tillil
airfield near this city was forced to transfer command back to Kuwait because it
lost communications and power.

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Radio traffic indicated that a company of the 1st Marines was caught in a firefight
near here and summoned "emergency supplies," but there was no further
information available.
The Army's 141st Mechanized Infantry killed two men and captured 11 others
trying to pierce security near the airfield, and Army officers also reported an
unsuccessful ambush of U.S. troops within a mile of the airfield. Army officers said
they had repeated run-ins with Iraqis within two miles of the command post,
seizing three trucks, one fuel truck, one taxi and one bus, all loaded with weapons
and ammunition.
Marines said they seized 500 young men thought to be members of a pro-
Saddam militia aboard several buses at a checkpoint near Nasiriyah. A Marine
raid on a hospital in Nasiriyah reportedly turned up several weapons, chemical
protection suits and some U.S. military uniforms. It was not immediately clear if
the uniforms were taken off some of the American POWs captured there on
Sunday, or were part of Saddam's alleged plans to infiltrate his troops behind
American lines using U.S. uniforms.
The Marines also claimed to have captured the headquarters of the 23rd Brigade
of the Iraqi army's 11th division northeast of Nasiriyah, but there were no details
on the fighting.
Concerns about security near Nasiriyah remained high. Even public affairs officers
assigned to assist reporters who have been "embedded" with the units at the
airfield were issued weapons and given guard duty along a sand berm that is still
being built to protect the base.
Reporters traveling with troops all along the 155-mile supply route that stretches
from Nasiriyah to north of an Najaf reported tension. At one forward position,
soldiers asked a reporter to carry a pistol to help protect the perimeter.
North of an Najaf, the 3rd Infantry Division's Charlie Company 3-7 Infantry killed
three Iraqi soldiers who fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a Humvee loaded with
U.S. soldiers. They also cleared what was described as an Iraqi command-and-
control facility, blowing it up and destroying some equipment.
Southeast of an Najaf, elements of the 3rd Infantry Division's 7th Cavalry were
attacked by unknown assailants who shot at the U.S. vehicles. There were no U.S.
casualties and Iraqi casualties were unknown.
There were also reports of logistical difficulties throughout the American lines.
One lead Army element north of Iraq had not received fuel in two days.
And Marines of the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, crossing the Euphrates and heading
north through hostile territory, were plagued with breakdowns of their amphibious
vehicles. Two of the unit's vehicles were out of service and being towed up the
roadway to the coming battle

Being There, Almost ; They Also Serve Who Watch, Wait And Wish
Source: Richmond Times - Dispatch
Publication date: 2003-03-23
Arrival time: 2003-03-26

The mood in Charlie Company was one of resigned frustration.

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It wasn't the blustering wind of the Iraqi desert that was getting them down. Nor
was it the fact that their gruff Gunnery Sgt. Leon Carrington, a Lynchburg, Va.,
native, was being stingy with water and rations.
The problem was the war: It was going well, and they weren't a part of it. Not yet.
The roughly 200 men of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, 1st Marine
Division, and the 30 or so drivers of the amphibious armored vehicles that had
carried them from the Kuwaiti desert the day before had awakened early
yesterday expecting to take part in a big fight against one and possibly two Iraqi
divisions.
The battle was to have been the kind a young Marine could look back on in his
later years and entertain his grandchildren with.
But Charlie Company and the rest of the battalion were on the sidelines for now.
Mostly because things were going so well for the United States and United
Kingdom forces elsewhere that the higher- ups decided the company's help was
not needed.
The 5th Marines had Basra in hand, the Army's 3rd Infantry Division was
surrounding Naseriyeh, Iraq's 51st mechanized division had surrendered en
masse, and up to 1,000 missiles had struck Baghdad.
The big battle Charlie Company had dreamed of never came off.
So yesterday morning, as the sun was bearing down and heating the sand in the
Iraqi desert, the young Marines of Charlie Company sat on boxes of rations
around a radio tuned to the BBC and listened to all the good news about the war.
It was tough to find a smile in the bunch.
"They better let us fight somebody, after we came all this way," said Lance Cpl.
Michael Richey, of Illinois.
"I came all this way to shoot somebody," joked Sgt. Walter Bell, of San Antonio.
"People are going to ask me, hey, what did you do in the war? Oh, I ran out of fuel
in the desert."
It's true, the company was low on fuel. That was frustrating because they were
low on fuel only because they had raced hell-bent for 30 consecutive hours in
their dozen AAVs and assorted Humvees in order to get to this spot in the desert.
For more than a day, they had sat jammed into the AAVs, (which are the size of
service elevators turned on their sides), sweating and struggling to catch a few
hours sleep as they headed to what they were certain would be combat.
When they arrived, though, they were told to sit and wait. For this
disappointment, they had lived in tents in the Kuwaiti desert for a month, lugged
around 50-, 80- and 100-pound packs, spent hours cleaning M-16 rifles, machine
guns and mortars. For this, they had not seen their wives and young children for
two months.
For young Marines trained to fight, watching others do so is a peculiar taste of
bitter.
But wait and watch is what they did yesterday. They cleaned their weapons,
stowed their gear and picked up spare water. Seventeen of them held a church
service in the shade of one of the armored vehicles.
Others sat around and listened to the BBC. Soon, the British commentators said,
U.S. forces would begin the push across the fabled Euphrates River and onto

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Baghdad. Maybe there, the Marines of Charlie Company consoled each other,
they would find the fight they had come looking for

Australia's 'desert phantoms' wreak havoc among Iraqi military deep


Source: Associated Press
Publication date: 2003-03-25

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) -- The military's top brass call them ``Phantoms of the
Desert.''
They are Australia's 150 battle-hardened commandos in Iraq, running ``shoot and
scoot'' missions deep behind enemy lines -- attacking hard and fast before
melting back into the sand.
The special forces commandos are at the core of the country's 2,000 troops -- far
outnumbered by U.S. and British forces -- committed to the coalition war in Iraq.
Many have served in conflicts from Afghanistan to East Timor.
They are ``the best of the best,'' army chief Lt. Gen. Peter Leahy said Tuesday,
while giving an unprecedented public profile of soldiers whose operations and
identities usually are cloaked in secrecy.
``This is not your Hollywood movie super hero. This is a quiet, resolute, very
intense man, a man who can make very intelligent judgments, a man who can
operate as part of a team,'' said Leahy. ``They are physically fit but not
supermen.''
Trained in Australia's harsh Outback deserts and tropical northern jungles, their
exploits already have earned high praise from coalition allies.
``From left to right and top to bottom in the west and also in the north ... they
have accomplished some wonderful things out there,'' U.S. Cmdr. Gen. Tommy
Franks said Monday of Australian special forces and their British counterparts.
Warrant Officer Paul Dunbavin, 34, is a member of the 4RAR special forces
regiment, which along with the Special Air Service Regiment, has sent
commandoes to Iraq. He's trained to be ``inserted'' behind enemy lines by air,
sea or land to attack enemy targets. He's been schooled to fight in urban,
amphibious, desert and jungle conditions.
His group's motto is simple.
``Duty first,'' says Dunbavin, a soldier of 16 years and a commando for 12.
``There's a lot of camaraderie and the boys are well trained. It's good to know
you are part of a well disciplined team,'' he told The Associated Press in Canberra.
A commando typically will carry an M4 assault rifle with grenade launcher, night
vision targeting system and 450 rounds of ammunition; a browning 9mm pistol
with 50 rounds; up to 12 gun-launched grenades, two hand grenades and a
hunting knife.
His backpack includes a daily rations pack, first aid kit including intravenous drip,
red and green light sticks, a flashlight that attaches to his rifle, sand goggles,
night vision goggles, 10 liters (quarts) of water, two spare pairs of socks, cold
weather underclothing, wet weather gear, a small tent-style shelter and mosquito
net.

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Added up, the pack, weapons and uniform weigh more than 60 kilograms (132
pounds).
When the first bombs began dropping on Baghdad last week, men like Dunbavin
already were deep in Iraq to track key military targets and destroy them, either
with their own weapons or by calling in coalition air strikes.
Working in small teams of about five men in jeeps, they can operate for up to six
weeks without logistical support; if necessary, they are trained to live off the land
indefinitely.
The teams mostly work independently, but according to Leahy they can quickly
coalesce into a ``significant force,'' strike hard and then ``melt away'' into the
desert.
``Their preference is to observe and not be seen; if required to attack they will be
speedy, vigorous, resolute and bold,'' said Leahy.
According to several media reports, none of which Canberra will comment on,
some teams have been operating in western Iraq, seeking to destroy missile
bases that might have been capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction
into Israel.
In the past week Australian defense officials have revealed that the commandos
destroyed a ballistic missile base, a command center for Iraqi troops and a
column of Iraqi soldiers heading toward battle zones in the south. They have had
several skirmishes with Iraqi troops, taking an unknown number of enemy lives
but sustaining no casualties of their own.
``They are generally creating havoc and uncertainty behind lines, and are
constantly redeploying in their area of operations,'' Leahy said.
According to an unconfirmed report in a British newspaper, Australian special
forces captured an Iraqi military airport that is now being used for coalition air
operations.
Dunbavin said he wants to see the war over as soon as possible, and want his
friends back home safe, but he does feel a touch of envy for those now in Iraq.
``There is a bit of professional jealousy,'' he says with just the hint of a smile. ``I
just hope that the thing pans out very quickly and everyone's safe and comes
home. But, if I get to go, I get to go.''

Family losing hope for GI Jessica


Source: Daily Mail - London
Publication date: 2003-03-26

AN AMERICAN teenager who enlisted because she could not find another job was
feared yesterday to have become the first woman soldier killed in Iraq.
Last night a second woman from the same unit was also reported to be missing in
action.
Private Jessica Lynch, 19, and Private Lori Piestewa, 22, have not been heard of
since the weekend when a supply convoy was ambushed in southern Iraq.
Five of their comrades were captured and have been paraded on Iraqi TV.
In the same chilling broadcast pictures were shown of four dead U.S.

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soldiers - two apparently with bullet holes to the head. There was no reference to
Private Lynch or Private Piestewa.
'The only thing the military can tell us is she's missing,' said Private Lynch's father
Greg, who feared the worst after learning that the PoWs were members of his
daughter's unit, the 507th Maintenance, stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas.
'We saw it on TV and kind of suspected,' said Mr Lynch. 'I just wanted her to be
brought back safely, with all the rest of the kids.' Residents in the town of
Palestine adorned the neighbourhood with yellow ribbons for Jesse, as she is
known, as details emerged about her upbringing in an impoverished corner of
West Virginia.
The middle of three children, Private Lynch followed her older brother Gregory
into the army.
She signed up before leaving school and had been working as a supply clerk.
Lorene Cumbridge, a 62-year-old cousin, added: 'She's just a West Virginia
country girl. Warm-hearted. Outgoing.
'I really thought growing up she would become an elementary school teacher. But
for West Virginia children in some of the more rural areas, the military is the one
good chance of getting an education and making something of themselves.' Mrs
Cumbridge added: 'You turn on the TV and it just breaks your heart.' The other
missing woman, Private Piestewa, joined the army two years ago.
'Our prayers and wishes will go out, not just for our sister but everyone else, once
a day,' said her elder brother Wayland, whose family is from Arizona.
Meanwhile, the mother of chief warrant officer Ronald Young, one of two American
Apache helicopter pilots taken prisoner on Monday, told how she had had a
premonition that something was wrong hours before she learned of his capture. 'I
just had a mother's feeling,' said Kaye Young.
'I just felt like Ron was there with me. I felt like he put his arms around me.' The
26-year- old was captured after his helicopter went down in Karbala, about 60
miles southwest of Baghdad.
Mrs Young, who lives in Georgia, saw footage of the Apache and noticed it had the
batwing insignia of her son's unit, the Vampires - who usually fly at night.
She later received a visit from an Army chaplain and an officer.
'I started screaming, "I knew it, I knew it, I knew it!",' she said.
Of the pictures of her son, she said: 'He looks good, he looks like he always looks
when he's angry. He's a tough soldier and he believes in what he's doing. He
wanted to go.' Grasping a picture of the missing airman, his sister Kelly Lively
said: 'I want everybody to know that we support what he's doing, and that we just
love him, and we know that even if he loses his life or whatever, it is for a good
cause.

Charlie Company Marines Introduced To Business Of War


Source: Roanoke Times & World News
Publication date: 2003-03-25
Arrival time: 2003-03-26

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For many of the Marines in this outfit, it was one of those profound, sobering
moments - a "first" that can never happen again.
Most of the men in Charlie Company of the 2nd Light Armor Reconnaissance
batallion had never been in combat before. Many had never seen a dead body.
Monday morning, on the road to Baghdad, all that changed. And for two Iraqi
soldiers, it was a first - and a last.
In the dark of night, Charlie Company was patroling farm land near a bridge over
the Euphrates River that it had secured the day before.
At about 4 a.m., from his seat inside a light-armor vehicle, Sgt. Herb Phinney
spotted something in the distance.
At first, Phinney had trouble believing what he saw.
Since crossing into Iraq three days ago, the company had not seen any uniformed
Iraqi soldiers. It had seen many deserters - dozens had come through checkpoints
to give up the fight - but none was in uniform.
But here in front of him were two Iraqi soldiers - in uniform and, more importantly,
carrying automatic weapons.
With his magnified night-sight, Phinney could see the Iraqis long before they saw
him or heard the muffled engine of the LAV.
Phinney, the vehicle commander, ordered his driver to creep the eight-wheeled
LAV slowly toward the Iraqis.
As the LAV inched along, Phinney could tell when the Iraqis first heard the
approaching vehicle.
They stopped. They tensed up. They turned slowly toward the LAV, and Phinney
waited no longer, opening fire with the LAV's 7.62-mm machine gun.
One Iraqi took a shot in the throat, and fell dead. The other ran into a field.
Phinney ordered his gunner on the LAV's 25-mm cannon to trap the man between
two high-explosive shots.
The Iraqi stopped and turned around. Phinney's next burst from the machine gun
went through his chest, killing the Iraqi instantly.
When daylight broke, about 5:30 a.m., men from Phinney's platoon began burying
the dead Iraqis.
A backhoe dug two parallel trenches, and the Marines quietly laid the dead
soldiers in them. The graves were marked with metal posts.
The Marines took only the dead soldiers' weapons, a pair of Russian-made AK
weapons. The guns, with the dead soldiers' blood still fresh on them, were passed
around among the Marines.
The names of the dead, taken from their Iraqi military identification cards, and the
location of the graves were noted.
The information will be relayed to the back lines, where such details are recorded
for when the war is over.
There were no wisecracks. No boasts. It was morbid business done businesslike.
The Marines did not rejoice, but neither did they show remorse.
"I'm just glad it was them, and not one of us," Phinney said.
For the rest of the day, convoys hauling equipment rolled northward over the
bridge, heading toward Baghdad.

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Up the river a few miles is An Nasiriyah, site of a pitched engagement between


coalition and Iraqi forces.
From here you could see the explosions from that battle.
By nightfall, Charlie Company was on the move again. North.

Kurds, U.S. Team Prepare Assault on Militant Group in Northern Iraq


Source: The Boston Globe
Publication date: 2003-03-25

Mar. 25--HALABJA, Iraq--Kurdish militia troops, with assistance from US Special


Forces, mobilized yesterday for a ground offensive against the Islamic militant
group Ansar al-Islam, after two nights of allied airstrikes in the mountain hide-outs
of the group the United States has linked to Al Qaeda.
Kak Fakhradin, a senior military commander of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan,
which controls the eastern half of the semiautonomous state for the 3.5 million
Kurds in northern Iraq, said the assault was imminent.
"The time is very soon. Ansar al-Islam will be finished," he said at the military
headquarters here in the rugged terrain near the Iranian border, where the
assault was being planned by Special Forces and senior Kurdish military
commanders.
More than 150 members of US Special Operations and other combat units arrived
in planes loaded with supplies and helicopters Sunday, joining about 150 forward
troops and tacticians who have been preparing air bases and scouting the front
lines for months, Kurdish military officials said.
The troop buildup was widely seen here as setting the stage for more intense
fighting on the northern front, which eventually will include not only the advance
on Ansar al-Islam but also the more difficult task of invading and securing the oil-
rich northern cities of Kirkuk and Mosul, which are heavily protected by President
Saddam Hussein's elite Republican Guard and other forces.
There were signs that the push on Kirkuk and Mosul was beginning to get
underway, as US airstrikes pounded the ridge line at Chamchamal on the border
that separates the Kurdish zone and the rest of Iraq still under the control of
Hussein's crumbling regime. Heavy bombing also was reported in Mosul.
In Halabja, staff at a hospital were preparing 100 beds in a triage unit for
expected casualties. A US military official had been to the hospital in recent days,
informing staff that when the fighting began, American medics would be on hand
to treat any trauma victims.
On the dirt roads that lead into the mountains, thousands of Kurdish fighters
known as "peshmerga," or "those who face death," traveled to the front lines in
mud-covered troop transports laden with ammunition and rocket-propelled
grenade launchers.
A half-dozen US military jeeps with recoilless artillery cannons mounted on them
rumbled up the tracks. US Special Forces troops were visible within the convoy of
vehicles heading into the mountains throughout the day.
By late afternoon, bursts of machine gun fire could be heard along the snow-
capped ridge where Kurdish fighters hold six positions overlooking Ansar al-Islam

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strongholds. Last night, there was sustained artillery shelling and a machine gun
battle between the two sides. A Kurdish militia member was killed, six were
wounded, and three Ansar al-Islam fighters were killed.
The estimated 600 fighters of Ansar al-Islam have for nearly two years waged a
bloody insurgency and a campaign of suicide bombings and assassinations. US
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell has painted the group as an Iraqi conduit to Al
Qaeda.
Scores of Arab fighters from various Islamic militant groups gathered here after
fleeing Al Qaeda training camps after the Afghan war. Although they have
theological inspiration from Al Qaeda, no direct link between Ansar al-Islam and
the Iraqi government has been established. Even Kurdish security officials who
have been probing the possible connections acknowledge that. But Ansar al-
Islam's willingness to fight against the secular Kurdish government that it sees as
"Kuf'r," or "infidels," is certain.
On the road to Halabja, villages were hit with artillery fire from Ansar al-Islam
positions. In the village of Tapisefa, a half-dozen families were fleeing the shelling.
The first shelling began just before 8 a.m. and was followed by eight other
attacks. Six shells slammed into a Patriotic Union of Kurdistan military
encampment on the outskirts of Tapisefa. Three shells landed in the village,
apparently causing no injuries.
As part of the brutal Anfal campaign during the mid- to late-1980s, Hussein's
regime destroyed about 2,000 villages and killed an estimated 100,000 people
with helicopter gunship attacks. Chemical weapons attacks killed 30,000 people
in about 200 villages.
Tahef Marouf, 30, standing along the roadside with a group of men and women,
said: "Hatred is heaving in our hearts . . . Who are these Islamic parties? "God and
the Koran says don't slaughter innocents, and they do. God and the Koran says
don't slay those who come to the negotiating table, and they killed Kak Shawkat,"
he said, referring to suicide bombings carried out by Ansar al-Islam and its
assassination of Shawkat Haji Mushir, a senior military commander with the
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan gunned down in January while trying to negotiate a
cease-fire with Islamic militants. This is "the proof I offer that they are not
representing Islam, but evil," Marouf said.

Elite Iraqi Guard Heads Toward Marines


Source: Associated Press
Publication date: 2003-03-26

A large contingent of Iraq's elite Republican Guard headed south Wednesday in a


convoy of at least 1,000 vehicles toward U.S. Marines in central Iraq - an area that
already has seen the heaviest fighting of the war.
In Baghdad, Iraqi officials said two cruise missiles hit a residential area, killing 12.
Intelligence officers with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force said the Republican
Guard units were headed from Baghdad on a route that avoids advancing U.S.
Army forces and leads them directly to the Marines who have been fighting in
recent days around An Nasiriyah.

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The advance appeared to signal that the Republican Guard, Saddam Hussein's
best trained and most loyal force, was still prepared to go on the offensive
despite several days of allied air strikes and missile attacks on its positions.
In the far south, British forces fought on the fringes of the beleaguered city of
Basra, while the first substantial relief convoy reached Iraq on Wednesday after
weathering a blinding sandstorm.
To the west of where the Republican Guard was advancing, the U.S. Army's 3rd
Infantry Division drew to within 50 miles of Baghdad, and other American forces
were expected to join soon in squeezing the capital from several directions.
A military source said the U.S. Central Command in Qatar now had evidence that
the Iraqi regime had wired many of the bridges around Baghdad for destruction.
In Baghdad, there were reports of bombs or missiles had landed in a crowded
market. The Arabic satellite television channel Al Jazzier showed scenes people
carrying away casualties.
En route to Baghdad, units from the 7th Cavalry Regiment fought a fierce running
battle Tuesday and Wednesday with Iraqi forces near the central city of Najaf.
According to preliminary reports from American military officials, U.S troops killed
up to 500 Iraqi fighters, suffering the loss of two tanks but no casualties.
Hoping to cripple the Iraqi government's communications, the allies attacked the
state-run television headquarters in Baghdad before dawn Wednesday with
missiles and air strikes. The station's international satellite signal was knocked off
the air for a few hours before it was restored; regular broadcasts started on
schedule after daybreak.
Far to the south, British forces on the edge of Basra waged artillery battles with
more than 1,000 Iraqi militiamen, who reportedly also faced an insurrection by
civilians opposed to Saddam Hussein.
British officers said Wednesday that the uprising became so threatening that the
militiamen fired mortars to try to suppress it. British forces then silenced the Iraqi
mortar positions with an artillery barrage, said Lt. Col. Ronnie McCourt, a
spokesman for British forces.
McCourt said British troops also were firing at some of the militiamen who were
trying to flee Basra.
"The bunch of desperadoes who've lived above the law ... they're obviously
resorting to desperate measures and trying to intimidate the population,"
McCourt said. "We are making certain that we neutralize them as quickly as
possible."
The British - while awaiting an opportune moment to enter the heart of Basra -
have been telling residents over loudspeakers that aid is waiting outside the city.
Relief officials say many of the 1.3 million residents are drinking contaminated
water and face the threat of diarrhea and cholera.
British forces staged a raid on a suburb of Basra, capturing a Baath party leader
and killing 20 of his bodyguards, officials said.
The Iraqis denied there was any uprising in Basra. "The situation is stable,"
Information Minister Mohammed al-Sahhaf told the Arab satellite television
station Al-Jazeera.

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Assigned to bring aid to another battle-scarred southern city, a seven-truck relief


convoy - loaded with food and water - left Kuwait and reached the port of Umm
Qasr on Wednesday.
"We planned for 30 trucks but we only got seven loaded because of the severe
sandstorm," said E.J. Russell of the Humanitarian Operations Center, a joint U.S.-
Kuwaiti agency. The storm cut visibility to about 100 yards.
A handful of Iraqi children watched the convoy cross into Iraqi territory. One boy,
about 10, pointed to his mouth and shouted, "Eat, eat!"

As Sandstorm Rages, U.S. Detains Iraqis


Source: Chicago Tribune
Publication date: 2003-03-27

Mar. 27--IN SOUTH-CENTRAL IRAQ -- Six Iraqi men, suspected by American


soldiers of being members of the Republican Guard, were detained Wednesday
near the perimeter of a section of desert occupied by the 101st Airborne Division.
The Iraqis, all wearing traditional red-and-white Arab headscarves, were rounded
up by the American soldiers, put in plastic handcuffs and instructed to sit on the
ground while a sandstorm that had plagued the region for almost three days
raged around them.
"What's your name?" an interpreter asked one of the detained men.
"What military unit are you from? Why are you here?"
The Iraqi did not directly answer the questions. Struggling to breathe through the
thick, blowing dust, he seemed on the verge of tears and kept requesting
medicine he had inside the SUV that the men had been driving when the U.S.
soldiers spotted them. He repeatedly took deep, ragged breaths, pantomiming
that he needed an inhaler, which the soldiers eventually found and brought to
him.
The dramatic scene--made eerie by the whipping dust that floated in the glare of
the headlights of the half-dozen Humvees that encircled the Iraqis-- began around
6 p.m. Baghdad time, when crew members guarding their grounded Chinook
helicopter spotted a white SUV with the kind of red markings that coalition forces
have been warned may indicate a vehicle being driven by Iraqi special forces
soldiers.
Capt. John Knightstep of the 7th Battalion of the 101st Aviation Regiment said the
vehicle had been traveling in American-occupied territory at about 5 m.p.h., with
the driver clearly struggling to navigate through the storm conditions.
"At first we were observing them," he said, "but darkness was falling fast so we
seized them."
Knightstep, who wore sand goggles and a flak vest over his flight suit, did not
hesitate when asked whether he was certain the Iraqis were soldiers and not
simply men traveling in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"They weren't supposed to be here, that's all I know," he said.
"Even if they were locals--and there are virtually no locals around here--we have
to detain them for our safety and theirs."

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The detention of the six Iraqis came on the heels of several days of intense
fighting in which a number of U.S. troops were ambushed as their units moved
north toward Baghdad.
The Iraqis were not armed when they emerged from their vehicle after being
surrounded by soldiers brandishing rifles. Because of the adverse weather,
soldiers planned to guard the vehicle throughout the night and search it at dawn.
"We'll see then what we find," said Sgt. Maj. Iuniasolua Savusa of the 101st
Airborne's 3rd Brigade. "Then we'll have a better idea of what we're dealing with."
Each of the men had thick rolls of Iraqi currency bound tight with rubber bands in
their pockets. After nearly two hours of being detained in the cold desert night--
sometimes on their knees, sometimes made to lie face down in the dirt with their
headscarves tied over their eyes and their shoes removed--the Iraqis were taken
to a tent to be interrogated by interpreters.
Most of the interpreters are members of the Free Iraq Forces, Iraqis who were
forced into exile because of their opposition to Saddam Hussein.
One of the FIF soldiers showed a little sympathy to his countrymen, even as he
did preliminary interrogations in the blowing dust.
Before the Iraqis were loaded up in a cargo Humvee and driven away, he went
around to each of them, patting them on the shoulder and talking to them softly.
One terrified Iraqi told the interpreter that he was a police officer who had wanted
to "surrender to the Americans to save my life." The interpreter told him: "You
won't be hurt. You won't be killed. This is all just procedure. Please stay calm."
The detention capped a day in which the 101st remained grounded because of
severe weather. Winds blew down tents, bowed communication antennas until
they looked as if they would snap in two and stirred up dust that coated skin and
hair that had already seemed as if they couldn't absorb any more filth.
The 101st has yet to fly a deep air assault in this campaign, and on Tuesday and
Wednesday it even had to abort several non-combat missions.
While trying to transport supplies into the division's makeshift camp in Iraq,
several helicopters had to make emergency landings.
Infantry soldiers were dispatched to guard the grounded helicopters.
Col. Michael Linnington, commander of the 3rd Brigade, said that when the
sandstorms died down, his units would push north. Although he asked that
reporters traveling with the division not reveal the exact location of the troops, he
said his soldiers were "just a fuel tank away from Baghdad."

Iraqi Desert Sandstorms Are an Old Foe to U.S., British Forces


Source: The Dallas Morning News
Publication date: 2003-03-27

Mar. 27--It's an old enemy familiar to U.S. troops who fought in the first Gulf War.
Coalition forces again must deal with sandstorms.
The fierce seasonal storms, known as shamals, rage across the Iraqi desert at
speeds up to 85 mph, throwing up huge clouds of sand that gum up weapons and
grind away at engine parts like sandpaper.

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For a second day Wednesday, the U.S.-British advance toward Baghdad was
slowed by the powder-fine sand that dims the military's stunning array of high-
tech targeting devices and grounds flight operations.
"It gets into everything," said Matthew Baker, senior analyst at Stratfor.com, an
Austin-based military strategy group. "It wears on engines, it wears on any
moving part of any vehicle. It messes with your optics, it will affect laser
targeting."
Military officials emphasize that the M1 Abrams tank and the AH-64 Apache
attack helicopter, mainstays of the coalition forces, proved themselves on the
battlefield during the first Gulf War.
Technological advances since that war greatly enhance U.S. forces' ability to
survive the limitations of sandstorms.
Since 1991, the U.S. military has conducted annual military exercises in Kuwait to
give combat units a chance to learn the terrain and acclimate to the weather.
"Sand might be a slight blessing," said Michael Rip, a professor of security studies
at Michigan State University, assuming that the military has enough air filters and
spare rotor blades on hand. "Unless the weather is something outrageous, this
shouldn't be a problem."
The U.S. military learned invaluable lessons from fighting in a desert terrain
during the first Gulf War.
In 1991, laser-guided "smart" bombs often proved useless in blowing sandstorms
or the billowing clouds of smoke from burning Kuwaiti oil wells.
The new line of precision-guided bombs includes the Joint Direct Attack Munitions
– commonly known as JDAMs – which are guided by global positioning satellites
and not affected by severe weather and oil smoke.
The new variant of the Apache uses a millimeter radio wave radar, known as the
Longbow, to guide up to 16 Hellfire missiles to enemy targets from more than five
miles away.
New maintenance helps resolve problems the Apache had during the first Gulf
War, when sand sucked into the engines caused extensive downtime.
Technology has not removed the fog of war, however.
On Feb. 25, high winds contributed to the crash of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter
in Kuwait, killing all four soldiers aboard.
As the war began last week, eight British Royal Marines and four U.S. Marines
died when their CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter crashed before dawn in southern
Iraq. Blowing sand may have been a contributing factor.
A shamal is also a likely suspect in the downing of an Apache helicopter that
resulted in the capture of its two crew members.
The Apache, however, is now generally grounded during severe sandstorms
because the sand quickly erodes its rotors.
The latest version of the Abrams, the military's main battle tank, is fitted with
filters to keep out sand. A device is also fitted to blow compressed air through the
engine to clean it.
According to GlobalSecurity.org, a military research organization in Alexandria,
Va., the Abrams' sighting and targeting systems have performed well in haze, fog
and swirling sand.

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"Battlefield performance is the weightiest evaluation a weapon system can


receive," GlobalSecurity.org wrote in its report on the Abrams. "On that score, the
Abrams can be said to have performed very well."

Setting Up in Iraq Desert Requires Grit


Source: Chicago Tribune
Publication date: 2003-03-26

Mar. 26--IN WESTERN IRAQ--Unlike much of their oft-heralded history, the job of
getting into position for an air assault on Baghdad wasn't what the paratroopers
of the Army's 101st Airborne Division consider "sexy."
It was dirty. It was time-consuming. And after a two-day haul across the desert
from Kuwait, it wasn't anywhere near the glamorous, drop-from-the-sky kind of
mission that earned the 101st its fame in World War II.
But in the western desert of Iraq, commanders say the job that has been given to
the 101st during the early days of the war with Iraq eventually will be one of the
most crucial steps to the U.S. military's success.
The assignment: Secure a huge area deep inside enemy territory and set up a
forward area rearming and refueling point, or FARRP. This is something like a gas
station and ammunition depot for the helicopters that likely will take to the skies
of Iraq to attack Baghdad and enemy tanks and troops in coming days or weeks.
"Having this here basically allows us to project our combat power to the north,"
said Col. Michael Linnington, commander of the 101st's 3rd Brigade. "Without it,
it's very hard to do any of the things that people think of when they think of the
101st Airborne."
Those are the things that make it one of the most lethal units in the Army: its fleet
of Apache helicopters and its perfection of the air assault, the method of inserting
light infantry units deep behind enemy lines with such helicopters as the Chinook
and the Black Hawk.
Setting up this refueling and rearming station wasn't simple.
The 101st worked 24 hours a day, moving an enormous number of troops,
vehicles, artillery pieces and fuel lines from Kuwait through Iraq, even as the war
raged around them.
They did it with long and uncomfortable convoys of hundreds of vehicles that
drove through desolate desert and on unpaved roads, creating a dust storm of
such severity that drivers and passengers had to wear dust scarves and goggles
inside their Humvees.
"I've been in the military for a lot of years," Linnington said, "and that convoy is
unlike anything I've ever seen--the number of personnel, the number of vehicles,
the sheer discomfort of the trip."
Once at the designated location, the work by soldiers of the 101st almost doesn't
feel like it is part of a war effort. Gas pumps are set up with attachments on the
hoses that allow for the fueling of helicopters. Helipads are constructed with rocks
that won't fly up like the desert sand when helicopters take off and land.

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The soldiers securing the perimeter of the site, armed with heavy artillery and
TOW anti-tank missiles, are among the few there who are constantly reminded
they are doing a job related to battle.
On Monday morning, as day came to life with helicopters circling overhead and
fuel liners parking along a roughly dragged road in the middle of the area, Sgt.
Maj. Marvin Hill, the senior non-commissioned officer in the 101st Airborne, sat
drinking a cup of coffee, looking around.
"Listen," he said, "I know this looks like it's not much. I know it's not a sexy
mission. But in modern warfare we live off the helicopter, and these FARRPs feed
the helicopters. This place may not look like much now, but it will play such a role
in what is to come."
Though the 101st has been unwilling to reveal how many of its nearly 100 Apache
"tank buster" helicopters will operate from this location, they do say that the
refueling site is fully functional and capable of supporting air strike missions
bound for Baghdad.
Further, any 101st air assault missions, sending infantry companies into battle by
helicopter, will almost certainly come out of this region.
"We use helicopters as a mode of transportation, as a weapon, as a way to
resupply, as a way to extract casualties from battle and for deep insertions of
soldiers," Hill said. "With all that in mind, I think you come to see how important
this FARRP is, as unglamorous as it may seem to set up and manage here in its
initial stages."
Hill said that getting the helicopters in a place where they can stage from and
return for resupply of artillery and fuel is the crux of the 101st's mission in this
war.
"The 101st's claim to fame is that we are both lethal and agile at the same time,"
he said. "We need those birds in the air to live up to that claim to fame. So far it's
been dogs' work. But, you'll see, it's as essential as it gets."

Iraqi Soldiers' Civilian Clothes Keep U.S. Troops Struggling


Source: Knight Ridder Washington Bureau
Publication date: 2003-03-27

Mar. 27--NEAR AN NAJAF, Iraq--Sgt. Tony Menendez spent the last three days in
the Iraqi desert, fighting a hit-and-run battle that left hundreds of Iraqis dead and
resulted in no U.S. casualties.
But Menendez, back in camp for his first shower in days, wasn't boastful. He was
sad.
"Their technology is sad, so outdated," said Menendez, of Miami, an Abrams tank
gunner. "I saw their faces, and I felt so bad for them."
Menendez and others of the 3rd Infantry Division who have been struggling for
control of An Najaf, 80 miles south of Baghdad, have battled against Iraqi fighters
armed with AK-47 rifles, grenade launchers, anti-tank rockets and mortars, as well
as 30-year-old, Russian-built tanks. The Americans lost four tanks in the three-day
battle, two apparently to laser-guided, Russian-made, anti-tank missiles. Two
others ran off bridges into canals during sandstorms.

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But what strikes the U.S. soldiers most is that Iraqis are coming to battle in
civilian clothes packed into pickup trucks, cargo trucks, taxis and buses with
velvet curtains.
The Iraqis have armed apparently civilian vehicles -- white vans -- with rocket-
propelled grenades. On Wednesday, one of them attacked, wounding an
American. A hundred miles away along Highway 7, busloads of civilian-garbed,
poorly armed and sometimes shoeless Iraqis have driven directly at American
convoys. The outcome is always the same: U.S. forces pour fire from Humvee-
mounted .50-caliber machine guns into the buses. Most of the Iraqis onboard die.
The rest are taken prisoner.
"The Iraqis took it bad. It was suicide," said Pfc. Ionathan Simatos of Los Angeles,
who drives a Bradley fighting vehicle.
Army intelligence officers say the attackers are "fedayeen," irregular militia
members loyal to Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, who are part of an Iraqi plan to
catch U.S. troops off guard and take advantage of the Americans' unwillingness to
harm civilians.
"The Iraqi military knows if they look like civilians they can fire first, and they do,"
said Capt. John Wilson of Army intelligence.
"The lesson is, never drop your guard," said Army Spec. Timmy Melia. "All it takes
is one straggler. The straggler will get you killed."
Further complicating matters, a number of Iraqis have been caught with cell
phones and hand-held global positioning locaters. Some had rolls of American and
Iraqi money, suggesting that locating promising U.S. targets has become a
lucrative business in Iraq.
But because so many Iraqi fighters lack uniforms and arms, and in some cases
even shoes, American soldiers are having difficulty telling civilians from
combatants -- and friend from foe.
Elements of the 3rd Infantry Division began sweeping An Najaf's outskirts,
including an air-defense compound, in an effort to stop Iraqi hit-and-run attacks
that have disrupted the main supply route for U.S. forces advancing toward
Baghdad.
The operation began just after dawn Thursday under clear skies after more than
three days of driving sandstorms.
An artillery barrage preceded the attack. But the assault itself appeared to catch
militia and nearby civilians unawares. As a U.S. armored column moved toward
the air-defense compound, through a series of sand dunes west of An Najaf,
militia and civilians fled in vehicles and on foot.
Curious villagers gathered on rooftops to watch. Mortar rounds fell almost from
the start around the column, but most landed too far away to cause damage. Iraqi
gunners, apparently firing blindly, were unable to adjust their fire effectively.
Uncertain where the mortar fire originated, Apache Company soldiers searched a
nearby collection of mud-brick farmhouses after several men were spotted
loading several large objects into a white Toyota pickup and speeding away.
As four Bradleys roared to a stop and soldiers poured out to take up assault
positions in a long horizontal line, frightened villagers huddled outside their
homes, waving large white flags. Many held their hands up.

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"I don't think we're going to find anything here," said Pvt. Joshua Stevenson, 19,
of Cocoa Beach, Fla., as he kept watch over the men, his weapon at the ready.
"It's just a lot of women and children."
The women sat silently in one group, dark tribal tattoos covering the hands of the
older ones. The men seemed slightly amused by the aggressive show of force,
smiling and chatting among themselves and gesturing at the soldiers. One man
wore an ancient transistor-style hearing aid.
One villager said members of Saddam's ruling Baath party fired the mortars and
gunshots.
"They will never surrender," he said, speaking through Lt. Gregory Holmes, 32, of
Cobleskill, N.Y., an Arab interpreter.
"He says they're all for us around here," Holmes said, after talking to the man for
a while longer. "He says everybody here loves us."
Maj. Frank McClary, operations officer for the 3rd Squadron of 7th Cavalry
Regiment -- known simply as the 3-7 -- let the man go, then turned to Holmes,
telling him to give the group small handouts of food and water. "Tell them we're
here to help them," he said. "Not harm them. I don't want to leave here with them
thinking that we're here to harass them."
The rules of engagement were clear: Don't shoot anyone who isn't armed, but if
they're armed, shoot them.
"We're looking for black flags, black uniforms and people with weapons," one
commander told his troops.
U.S. troops had been briefed to keep an eye out for Iraqis dressed in black
uniforms and for buildings flying black flags, both alleged trademarks of the
fedayeen.
But the guidance proved confusing for a number of soldiers because Shiite
Muslims traditionally wear black clothing and adorn their houses with black prayer
flags. So officers ordered restraint.
"Remember, a lot of people around here wear black clothes," said Apache
Company commander Capt. John Whyte, 31, of Billerica, Mass., speaking to
Bradley crews and troops over company radio. "What we're looking for are
weapons, military equipment and vehicles. You know, army stuff."
At one point during the sweep, soldiers rounded up 48 villagers, forced the men
to lie face down in the sand and, in a violation of Islamic custom, patted down the
women. They found no weapons on the civilians.
"This is about the oddest situation I've ever been through in my life," said Pfc.
Matthew Pedone, 19, of Springdale, Ark., as he cradled a light machine gun across
one knee. "Just look at the primitive living conditions. Some of them don't have
shoes."
When asked if he thought the villagers were Iraqi militia who had fired mortars,
Pedone said he was unsure.
"I don't know," he said. "Intel said it was a training camp or something. I'm just
doing what I'm told to do. If the leadership tells me to check them for weapons, I
do it."
The lengthy search of the homes and villagers unearthed no weapons.

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The Iraqis attacking in civilian clothes are generally thought to be fedayeen, and
they haven't had much military success. Hundreds of Iraqis have been killed,
wounded and taken prisoner, while only a few Americans have.
More fighting is expected on Friday. Troops here reported that a column of 50 Iraqi
tanks left An Najaf and were within 20 miles of an American supply post west of
the town. American planes were showering the tanks with bombs, and the
explosions could be heard by soldiers at the supply post who were getting their
first hot meals and showers after three days of fighting.
Since Monday, the 3-7 has been met again and again with resistance from Iraqis
in pickup trucks and buses with curtains on their windows. On Thursday, units of
the 3-7 battled Iraqi militia in a six-hour battle marked by sporadic mortar and
small arms fire. One American soldier was wounded by mortar fire; another was
injured when his Bradley Fighting Vehicle crashed into a small building.
Lt. Col. Jack Kammerer, 40, the Task Force 3-7 commander, told his troops
Thursday night that they can expect more harassing attacks.
"We've still got a long way to go," he said.

Early-Morning Battle Destroys Iraqi Columns


Source: The Boston Globe
Publication date: 2003-03-27

Mar. 27--NAJAF, Iraq -- American airstrikes and artillery barrages early yesterday
destroyed two Iraqi armored columns as they tried to move south from the
Baghdad area to challenge the US Third Infantry Division at its encampment
about 50 miles south of the capital, US officials here said.
In making the dash toward the US forces, the Iraqis appeared to be trying to stave
off an expected assault on Baghdad and to motivate stubborn holdouts behind
the American lines.
The fighting began about 2 a.m. and ended after dawn. It flared on both sides of
the Euphrates River near this strategic south-central Iraqi city, and was the most
intense since the Third Infantry Division encamped near here over the weekend.
Also yesterday, US military officials reported that two Iraqi rockets, seized by
American troops Tuesday southeast of Najaf, were suspected of containing
chemical munitions. It was unclear whether they had been fired or where they
were found. The rockets were undergoing testing in a military lab, said Lieutenant
Christopher Pike, an intelligence officer with the Third Infantry Division.
In Washington, a spokesman said the Pentagon could offer no immediate
comment on the suspected chemical munitions.
Reports later in the day said a large Iraqi column was moving south from Baghdad
toward US forces. It was not known whether that movement was related to the
predawn fighting here.
The clashes early yesterday on the east bank of the Euphrates River demolished a
column of Iraqi reinforcements headed south to reinforce paramilitary fighters
trapped in Najaf between US armored troops, Major Rob Bailes, an operations
officer with the Third Infantry Division, told a Globe reporter traveling with the
division.

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Almost simultaneously, another column of Iraqi troops on the west side of the
river was pounded as it approached the sprawling desert camp where the Third
Infantry has been resupplying since its rapid drive north from Kuwait. B-1
bombers dropping 2,000-pound bombs and F-18 attack aircraft were used in the
assault, which routed the Iraqis after they had advanced to within three miles of
the camp.
"We were kind of on edge," Bailes said. "We had our engines running and were
readying to leave here and respond to the attack."
Intelligence officers said the western Iraqi advance might have been a feint to
distract attention from the eastern move against the US camp at Najaf, located on
one of the main supply routes for US forces heading toward Baghdad.
In all, the Army estimated that the combined attacks, which unleashed a barrage
of hundreds of artillery rounds and rockets, destroyed about 30 vehicles, including
tanks and armored personnel carriers, and killed hundreds of troops, some of
whom are believed to be from Republican Guard units. According to Bailes, one
Iraqi officer wore the uniform of the Republican Guard, the elite force that Hussein
has entrusted with the defense of Baghdad.
"This tells us that Najaf is pretty important to them," Bailes said. Although US
troops still surround Najaf, military officials today described the city as "contained
but not secure."
In other developments in the area:
US forces discovered what is believed to be the major ammunition depot for the
Najaf area. Approximately 90 buildings stocked with artillery rounds, ammunition,
and logistical supplies were seized.
US armor relieved three tanks and three Humvees that had been trapped on the
east side of the Euphrates after the bridge they crossed was destroyed by Iraqis.
The relief crossed the river north of the isolated troops and rumbled south to
protect their withdrawal.
Of more immediate concern were the Fedayeen, the stubborn resistance fighters
who had prevented US forces from gaining complete control of Nasiriyah,
Sanawah, and Najaf, all of which had been skirted by the Third Infantry on its
push north. US military officials have said the Fedayeen attacks, including
terrorist-style hit-and-run missions, could pose significant problems as the US
supply route is extended farther during the push to Baghdad.
During the fighting around Najaf, for example, a civilian fuel tanker tried to ram a
US tank in an apparent suicide mission, officials here said.
"We have to get bullets and supplies up the road," Bailes said.
Another unexpected discovery yesterday was the presence of a blond, blue-eyed
soldier among the Iraqi troops, Bailes said. The operations officer speculated that
the soldier is Chechen, although his nationality had not yet been confirmed.
In addition to the possible use of Muslim fighters from outside Iraq, Bailes said,
Hussein apparently has taken some cues from fighting in Somalia and Chechnya,
where small, determined resistance has been shown to be effective in protracting
a conflict against superior numbers and technology.
Quick, harassing strikes are "difficult for an armored force to defend against,"
Bailes said

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Into The Fray ; Fighting fatigue, nerves--and the enemy--U.S. forces can
never let down their guard as they relentlessly press forward
Source: People
Publication date: 2003-04-07
Arrival time: 2003-03-27

As he churns through the sands of southern Iraq in his Bradley M2A2 fighting
vehicle, hell-bent for Baghdad, perspiration streams down Sgt. Jeff Bush's face in
dusty rivulets. The quarters of his gun turret are cramped, but at least some of
the sweat comes from an apprehension that never goes away. As Bush, 34, his
Bradley's master gunner, scans the barren landscape for enemy tanks, trucks or
troops, he knows that he and the rest of his unit could become targets of a
guerrilla ambush. "All my training," says Bush, "is so I can aim my gun accurately
on the move and pull the trigger without hesitation."
Bush's vehicle, which carries a crew of three, is part of a team that includes
another Bradley and three Humvees. Their mission is to provide a forward
command post for the air defense artillery, which provides protection for the
Army's 3rd Infantry Division. Numbering more than 5,000 vehicles and 20,000
troops, the division's columns stretch as far as the eye can see both forward and
backward. There is not necessarily safety in numbers. Every time the column
slows to a stop-and-go pace, says Bush, the tension mounts, because "we're
sitting out here like ducks in a row." Scout Humvees with .50-caliber machine
guns and Mark 19 grenade launchers race ahead of the convoy to search for any
Iraqi positions. All the same, there were reports that on March 22 two Humvees
were hit by rocket-propelled grenades that wounded four GIs.
Inside the Bradley, which allows roughly 25 sq. ft. of living space, the roar of the
diesel engine, not to mention the bone- jarring bumps in the road, makes normal
conversation impossible. Even sitting side by side, crew members must
communicate through headphone radios. Except for refueling stops, the convoy
rarely pauses. In darkness the driving is done without headlights, the crew
donning night-vision goggles and trying to keep in tight formation. They grab
snatches of sleep a few minutes at a time.
To keep from getting dehydrated, they must drink five or six liters of water a day.
In all the vehicles the claustrophobia can set nerves on edge. In one of the
Humvees a captain gets into a spat with a sergeant for littering--throwing an MRE
(meals ready to eat) wrapper out the window. "Put it in the trash bag," commands
the captain. "Come on, man," shoots back the NCO. "This is Iraq. F- -- 'em." In
another Humvee the crew passes the time by debating which actors would play
them in the movie version of the war. One GI insists that Bruce Willis is the only
star who could do him justice.
For Bush, one of the toughest parts of the conflict is being separated from his
wife, Ruby Roberts, 25, and his daughter Maya, who turned 2 on March 20. He
regrets that his military service has prevented him from seeing Maya's first steps
and hearing many of her first words. "I picture being together with her and my
wife at the park, riding the little horse with the springs or going on the slide,"

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Bush says. "I picture her in the morning calling my name, and picking her up." His
favorite photo of his family is one he received recently showing Ruby holding
Maya, both with big smiles. That is the image he holds in his mind as he nods off
to sleep.
Back home in Hinesville, Ga., at Fort Stewart, Ruby proudly displays her favorite
picture of her spouse. He is asleep sitting up in a chair, cradling his daughter. "He
can fall asleep anywhere," laughs Ruby, a former fourth-grade teacher, "which is
a good thing with what he's going through right now." Both she and her husband
grew up as Army brats, so she is accustomed to the disruption that military
service can sometimes bring to families' lives. But that only enables her to handle
the ache of separation a bit better, not eliminate it. As for Maya, she asks
constantly where her daddy has gone. "We draw pictures for him," says Ruby.
"And talk about him all the time."
Bush says he is excited to be fighting in Iraq. Though he joined the Army when he
was 18, this is his first deployment in a combat zone. All the same, he asks that a
message of love be relayed to his wife and daughter, to whom he says, "I can't
wait to get home."
* Kurt Pitzer with the 3rd Infantry in Iraq and Gail Cameron Wescott at Fort
Stewart

Iraqi Soldiers' Civilian Clothes Keep U.S. Troops Struggling


Source: Knight Ridder Washington Bureau
Publication date: 2003-03-27

Mar. 27--NEAR AN NAJAF, Iraq--Sgt. Tony Menendez spent the last three days in
the Iraqi desert, fighting a hit-and-run battle that left hundreds of Iraqis dead and
resulted in no U.S. casualties.
But Menendez, back in camp for his first shower in days, wasn't boastful. He was
sad.
"Their technology is sad, so outdated," said Menendez, of Miami, an Abrams tank
gunner. "I saw their faces, and I felt so bad for them."
Menendez and others of the 3rd Infantry Division who have been struggling for
control of An Najaf, 80 miles south of Baghdad, have battled against Iraqi fighters
armed with AK-47 rifles, grenade launchers, anti-tank rockets and mortars, as well
as 30-year-old, Russian-built tanks. The Americans lost four tanks in the three-day
battle, two apparently to laser-guided, Russian-made, anti-tank missiles. Two
others ran off bridges into canals during sandstorms.
But what strikes the U.S. soldiers most is that Iraqis are coming to battle in
civilian clothes packed into pickup trucks, cargo trucks, taxis and buses with
velvet curtains.
The Iraqis have armed apparently civilian vehicles -- white vans -- with rocket-
propelled grenades. On Wednesday, one of them attacked, wounding an
American. A hundred miles away along Highway 7, busloads of civilian-garbed,
poorly armed and sometimes shoeless Iraqis have driven directly at American
convoys. The outcome is always the same: U.S. forces pour fire from Humvee-

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mounted .50-caliber machine guns into the buses. Most of the Iraqis onboard die.
The rest are taken prisoner.
"The Iraqis took it bad. It was suicide," said Pfc. Ionathan Simatos of Los Angeles,
who drives a Bradley fighting vehicle.
Army intelligence officers say the attackers are "fedayeen," irregular militia
members loyal to Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, who are part of an Iraqi plan to
catch U.S. troops off guard and take advantage of the Americans' unwillingness to
harm civilians.
"The Iraqi military knows if they look like civilians they can fire first, and they do,"
said Capt. John Wilson of Army intelligence.
"The lesson is, never drop your guard," said Army Spec. Timmy Melia. "All it takes
is one straggler. The straggler will get you killed."
Further complicating matters, a number of Iraqis have been caught with cell
phones and hand-held global positioning locaters. Some had rolls of American and
Iraqi money, suggesting that locating promising U.S. targets has become a
lucrative business in Iraq.
But because so many Iraqi fighters lack uniforms and arms, and in some cases
even shoes, American soldiers are having difficulty telling civilians from
combatants -- and friend from foe.
Elements of the 3rd Infantry Division began sweeping An Najaf's outskirts,
including an air-defense compound, in an effort to stop Iraqi hit-and-run attacks
that have disrupted the main supply route for U.S. forces advancing toward
Baghdad.
The operation began just after dawn Thursday under clear skies after more than
three days of driving sandstorms.
An artillery barrage preceded the attack. But the assault itself appeared to catch
militia and nearby civilians unawares. As a U.S. armored column moved toward
the air-defense compound, through a series of sand dunes west of An Najaf,
militia and civilians fled in vehicles and on foot.
Curious villagers gathered on rooftops to watch. Mortar rounds fell almost from
the start around the column, but most landed too far away to cause damage. Iraqi
gunners, apparently firing blindly, were unable to adjust their fire effectively.
Uncertain where the mortar fire originated, Apache Company soldiers searched a
nearby collection of mud-brick farmhouses after several men were spotted
loading several large objects into a white Toyota pickup and speeding away.
As four Bradleys roared to a stop and soldiers poured out to take up assault
positions in a long horizontal line, frightened villagers huddled outside their
homes, waving large white flags. Many held their hands up.
"I don't think we're going to find anything here," said Pvt. Joshua Stevenson, 19,
of Cocoa Beach, Fla., as he kept watch over the men, his weapon at the ready.
"It's just a lot of women and children."
The women sat silently in one group, dark tribal tattoos covering the hands of the
older ones. The men seemed slightly amused by the aggressive show of force,
smiling and chatting among themselves and gesturing at the soldiers. One man
wore an ancient transistor-style hearing aid.

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One villager said members of Saddam's ruling Baath party fired the mortars and
gunshots.
"They will never surrender," he said, speaking through Lt. Gregory Holmes, 32, of
Cobleskill, N.Y., an Arab interpreter.
"He says they're all for us around here," Holmes said, after talking to the man for
a while longer. "He says everybody here loves us."
Maj. Frank McClary, operations officer for the 3rd Squadron of 7th Cavalry
Regiment -- known simply as the 3-7 -- let the man go, then turned to Holmes,
telling him to give the group small handouts of food and water. "Tell them we're
here to help them," he said. "Not harm them. I don't want to leave here with them
thinking that we're here to harass them."
The rules of engagement were clear: Don't shoot anyone who isn't armed, but if
they're armed, shoot them.
"We're looking for black flags, black uniforms and people with weapons," one
commander told his troops.
U.S. troops had been briefed to keep an eye out for Iraqis dressed in black
uniforms and for buildings flying black flags, both alleged trademarks of the
fedayeen.
But the guidance proved confusing for a number of soldiers because Shiite
Muslims traditionally wear black clothing and adorn their houses with black prayer
flags. So officers ordered restraint.
"Remember, a lot of people around here wear black clothes," said Apache
Company commander Capt. John Whyte, 31, of Billerica, Mass., speaking to
Bradley crews and troops over company radio. "What we're looking for are
weapons, military equipment and vehicles. You know, army stuff."
At one point during the sweep, soldiers rounded up 48 villagers, forced the men
to lie face down in the sand and, in a violation of Islamic custom, patted down the
women. They found no weapons on the civilians.
"This is about the oddest situation I've ever been through in my life," said Pfc.
Matthew Pedone, 19, of Springdale, Ark., as he cradled a light machine gun across
one knee. "Just look at the primitive living conditions. Some of them don't have
shoes."
When asked if he thought the villagers were Iraqi militia who had fired mortars,
Pedone said he was unsure.
"I don't know," he said. "Intel said it was a training camp or something. I'm just
doing what I'm told to do. If the leadership tells me to check them for weapons, I
do it."
The lengthy search of the homes and villagers unearthed no weapons.
The Iraqis attacking in civilian clothes are generally thought to be fedayeen, and
they haven't had much military success. Hundreds of Iraqis have been killed,
wounded and taken prisoner, while only a few Americans have.
More fighting is expected on Friday. Troops here reported that a column of 50 Iraqi
tanks left An Najaf and were within 20 miles of an American supply post west of
the town. American planes were showering the tanks with bombs, and the
explosions could be heard by soldiers at the supply post who were getting their
first hot meals and showers after three days of fighting.

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Since Monday, the 3-7 has been met again and again with resistance from Iraqis
in pickup trucks and buses with curtains on their windows. On Thursday, units of
the 3-7 battled Iraqi militia in a six-hour battle marked by sporadic mortar and
small arms fire. One American soldier was wounded by mortar fire; another was
injured when his Bradley Fighting Vehicle crashed into a small building.
Lt. Col. Jack Kammerer, 40, the Task Force 3-7 commander, told his troops
Thursday night that they can expect more harassing attacks.
"We've still got a long way to go," he said.

60 Iraqi officers killed as warning


Source: The Scotsman
Publication date: 2003-03-27

SADDAM Hussein has executed 60 army officers and replaced them with some of
his most fanatical supporters to dissuade soldiers from deserting in the face of
allied attack, according to an exiled Iraqi general.
Mohammed Nafee, who was a commander in Saddam's forces in the Iran-Iraq
war, claims the purge of the army higher ranks took place at the weekend. He has
contacted Iraqi military sources in Kurdish- controlled northern Iraq, who passed
on news of the mass executions.
Mr Nafee said the commanding officers of army units considered most likely to
surrender were ordered to be removed from their posts and killed. The officers
were colonels and captains in Saddam's regular army. Some were replaced with
members of the Saddam Fedayeen militia, otherwise known as Saddam's
Commandos, or his "brigade of martyrs".
Fedayeen militiamen have been paraded as suicide fighters through Baghdad in
recent weeks, dressed entirely in white, the colour of self-sacrifice in Islam.
Led by Saddam's elder son, Uday, they are among the most feared elements of
the dictator's machinery of government.
Mr Nafee, who fled Iraq five years ago and has settled with his family in
Edinburgh, said: "The soldiers in the army are very frightened. I am told that more
than 60 army officers were executed to cull deserters.
"The regular army has been told that if they don't fight, they will be shot. More
than 1,000 members of Saddam Fedayeen have been attached to army units to
prevent them surrendering. The soldiers can't do anything until they are sure they
will be safe because they remember from 1991, when the uprising against
Saddam resulted in the deaths of thousands of Iraqi people. They can't test the
situation because it is too dangerous if they get it wrong."
Mr Nafee said members of the Fedayeen had no option but to fight because they
were too closely associated with the Iraqi dictator.
"These people are given great benefits in terms of money and power. They can do
what they like in Iraq and get away with it," Mr Nafee added. "They know that
when Saddam goes they have no future in Iraq, so they must fight to save his
regime."

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Marine in Iraq Worries About Civilians


Source: Associated Press
Publication date: 2003-03-28

IN THE IRAQI DESERT (AP) - Lance Cpl. Jack Self is killing people for the first time
in his life.
In the past week, he has blown down buildings with the grenade launcher he
mans atop a Humvee and has seen bodies in the rubble.
The 24-year-old Marine has no qualms about what he's done. But because of the
many civilians on the battlefield - and the difficulty in telling friend from foe - he is
a little worried about what he may have to do before the war is over.
Besides doing battle with uniformed Iraqi soldiers, Marines have been shot at by
Iraqis in civilian clothes hiding in buildings. U.S. troops were further infuriated by
reports that some American servicemen were killed by Iraqis who were waving a
white flag and pretending to surrender.
U.S. officials have blamed irregular forces like Saddam's Fedayeen for much of the
resistance that has hampered the American-led advance through Iraq, accusing
them of faking surrender or posing as civilians, only to shoot Americans.
As a result, the Marines of the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Infantry have become far
more suspicious of the Iraqi people, looking at each one as a possible attacker.
"I didn't expect the whole civilian thing," Self said. "And that bothers me."
The Bentonville, Ark., native sat in the turret of his tan Humvee, from where he
mans his Mark-19 rapid-fire grenade launcher, which he has fixed up with a CD
player and speakers that are invariably blasting country music.
As he spoke, he was providing cover for scores of Marines searching lone stone
houses to make sure there were no snipers inside.
A few minutes before, a woman with two heavily weighed down donkeys had
walked out of one house and into the desert. Self assumed he would be ordered
to blast the house to pieces, as he has done to several other building in recent
days.
"I hope there's nobody in that building when I destroy it," he said. "Unless they
are soldiers. Then I'll kill them. That's what I am here for."
In the end, the building was left standing.
When the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Infantry first rode into Iraq last week, an Iraqi
soldier with a Kalashnikov opened fire on the Marines from a building. Self, with
his Mark-19, and another Marine with a .50-caliber gun opened up on the building,
destroying it.
The next day, Self saw Iraqis pulling the bodies of people in civilian clothes out of
the rubble.
"I look at it as if he killed them," he said referring to the Iraqi sniper. "Not me."
Later, the Marines were shot at from a military barracks. In Az Zubayar, Self
responded by shooting at least 60 grenades into the building. Then he saw people
running out with white flags. "There's got to be people dead in that building," he
said.

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Self joined the Marines last year at age 23, after three years of college followed
by manual labor jobs. Before he enlisted, he had never been on an airplane or
gone anywhere much beyond his Arkansas town.
"I wanted to do something that I could look back on and be proud of," he said.
He strongly believes Saddam Hussein was involved in the Sept. 11 terrorist acts
and believes the fight here is just.
Self sometimes speaks with bravado about killing Iraqis. ("Part of me wants to kill
everything I see.") But in more contemplative moods, he is deeply disturbed by
how many Iraqi civilians seem to be around the battlefield.
"I'm not heartless," he said.
However, he insisted he would not hesitate for an instant to kill an Iraqi soldier -
even if that soldier were shooting at him from a crowded schoolyard.
"I'm going to do what I am told, without any doubt," he said.
As the Marines drive through the Iraqi countryside, the self-described farm boy is
reminded of farm families back home and wonders what it would be like for his
family to be confronted suddenly by an enormous column of foreign troops.
He recalled that on his first day in Iraq, he saw a father, mother, two little boys
and a little girl at their front door, giving him a tentative wave as he drove by.
He wanted to wave back. But then he worried that maybe they were trying to
distract him, make him take his finger off the trigger for just a second
"You just can't trust anybody," he said. "But at the same time, it feels good to be
a hero

'SUICIDAL' IRAQI CONVOY BLITZED; HUGE ARMOURED COLUMN


DESTROYED IN DESERT AS ALLIES ATTACK BAGHDAD IN NEW DAWN
BOMBING RAID; 14 tanks are knocked out in mad flight from Basra
Source: Evening Times
Publication date: 2003-03-27
Arrival time: 2003-03-28

BRITISH troops today destroyed 14 Iraqi tanks outside Basra in what is believed to
be the largest tank battle involving UK forces since the Second World War.
The fight happened when the Iraqi tanks - thought to be Russian- built T55s -
began moving south out of the city towards the Al Faw peninsula.
They were part of a major Iraqi armoured column - about 120 tanks in all, as well
as Type 59 artillery pieces and armoured personnel carriers - heading towards
British forces.
RAF Harrier ground attack jets and US Navy F-18 Super Hornets dropped
precision-guided munitions and cluster bombs on the convoy, which was also
pounded by a massive artillery bombardment from British troops.
Much of the convoy was destroyed, but 14 tanks managed to escape into open
countryside and that was the force met by a similar number of British Challenger
2s from the Royal Scots Dragoon guards this morning.
All the Iraqi tanks were destroyed and a military source said: "It was 14-0 to the
Brits."

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The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards also overran two Iraqi infantry positions, the
source said.
One tank officer said of the contest between the T55 and Challenger 2: "It's like
the bicycle against the motor car."
The Challengers, which would have used depleted uranium shells, can fire up to
eight rounds a minute.
Brigadier Jim Dutton, commander of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines,
described the tank battle as "very successful".
However, Allied military chiefs said it was "madness" for the Iraqis to move such a
large force on the open desert plains risking air strikes, rather than staying in the
relative safety of Iraq's second city.
Major Mick Green, the officer commanding the battle room of 40 Commando,
which has secured the area on the Al Faw peninsula, said: "We have no idea why
this column came out. To move tanks around in daylight is suicide."
UK commanders claimed Iraqi soldiers in Basra were being forced by Saddam
Hussein's security forces to get into their tanks and attack British forces.
Air Marshal Brian Burridge said the troops involved appeared to have been
coerced by Baath party militiamen in the city to fight.
He said there was evidence of "exemplar executions" being carried out. "They go
to their houses and hold a gun to the heads of their families," he said.
"These militias go through a neighbourhood, round up the existing soldiery, put
them in their tanks and say 'go that way'.
"You can tell this isn't a fighting formation that really knows its business. It is
disorganised, but there is someone trying to organise it."
There was an amazing escape today for an American tank crew who had to run
for their lives near Najaf after its gun misfired and the vehicle erupted in flames.
The two soldiers suffered second-degree burns in their desperate efforts to get
out of the blazing vehicle after a shell jammed.
It also emerged today that 30 American troops were wounded, two "very
seriously", in a 'friendly fire' incident near Nasiriyah, central Iraq.
ITV correspondent James Mates, on the phone to GMTV from the town, said: "It
happened late last night. There was a very heavy firefight going on, which we
could hear from our position.
"A small group of Iraqis had gone effectively round the side of the American
advance and started attacking the less well defended logistics and command
positions in the rear.
"Two American forces were detailed to deal with this threat, they both moved
towards it, but ended up fighting each other. Very heavy fire came in from light
armoured vehicles on the one side, and a group of troops on the other, and the
ones not in the armoured vehicles came off much the worse.
"We have 30 wounded, two very seriously, though they are expected to survive."
In northern Iraq, about 1000 US paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne parachuted
into Kurdish-held areas.
The paratroopers, including elite Army Rangers, jumped out of low- flying C-17
Globemaster transport planes into Bashur airstrip. They deployed in an airfield

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just before midnight local time and the move was thought to be part of the
American strategy of opening a northern front.
Mosul and Kirkuk are the strategic cities in the north and another key target is
Tikrit, Saddam's home town and the tribal centre for most of his inner circle.
Most of the Adnan Division of Iraq's Republican Guard relocated from the Mosul
area to the Tikrit area shortly before the war began.
Waves of explosions again rocked Baghdad today. Seven heavy blasts struck the
southeast of the city about 8.25am (5.25am in Britain) and six more big
explosions came from the same direction in the next 75 minutes.
More than 30 blasts had been heard around the city in at least four rounds
through the night, keeping sleep-deprived residents on edge, especially after up
to 15 Iraqis were killed in a residential district yesterday.
More than 1000 Iraqi Republican Guard vehicles - containing up to 5000 troops -
were today thought to be heading for a direct confrontation with US troops south
of Baghdad.
They were travelling near the city of Kut in a convoy armed with a number of T-72
battle tanks.
They were believed to be heading for a showdown with US Marines near
Nasiriyah, where American forces have been bogged down for days fighting local
militia for control of vital bridgeheads leading to Baghdad.
An American TV reporter said Iraqi children fired at the allies.
Allied chiefs condemned the treatment of two British soldiers whose bodies were
shown lying in the dust on Iraq TV as a "flagrant breach" of the Geneva
Convention.
Air Marshal Burridge, commander of UK forces in the Gulf, branded the decision
by the al-Jazeera TV station to show the footage as "deplorable".
The soldiers were captured and killed in fighting around the town of Al Zubayr, 15
miles outside Basra.
The footage showed the dead soldiers spread-eagled on their backs on a dusty
road near their vehicle.
One of the soldiers appeared to have been shot in the chest.
Prime Minister Tony Blair also expressed his "horror" at the television pictures.

Saddam Calls Troops Brave Guerrillas; Coalition Sees Them As Death-


Squad Thugs
Source: The Dallas Morning News
Publication date: 2003-03-28

Mar. 28--JERUSALEM–To many Arabs, the word "fedayeen" conjures images of


brave guerrillas who risk death to challenge a far superior force. To governments
like the United States and Israel, it is a word that evokes emotions of dread,
frustration and anger.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld let those emotions show Thursday when he
lashed out at the fighting tactics employed by an irregular force, known as the
Fedayeen Saddam, that is harassing troops around southern Iraq.
"In fact, what they are is death squads," Mr. Rumsfeld said in Washington.

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U.S. and British authorities complain that Fedayeen Saddam guerrillas are not
fighting fair, utilizing tactics that include taking up combat positions inside
hospitals, dressing as civilians with weapons hidden under their clothes and
pretending to surrender, only to open fire as soon as coalition troops lower their
guard.
According to descriptions by U.S. officials, the Fedayeen Saddam may well be
behind many of the casualties suffered by coalition forces so far in southern Iraq
and could be responsible for luring at least 10 American soldiers into a trap near
An Nasiriyah in which at least five were killed and another five were taken
prisoner.
On Thursday, a British military spokesman, Group Cmdr. Al Lockwood, said that
paramilitary "irregulars" resembling the Fedayeen Saddam were responsible for
an inexplicable exodus of military vehicles from the southern city of Basra on
Wednesday.
Cmdr. Lockwood, citing reports from captured prisoners, alleged that the convoy
was formed of civilian men whose families were being held hostage by the
irregulars, who threatened to kill the hostages unless the civilians took up arms to
fight.
It is a motivational tactic that analysts say is typical of the Fedayeen Saddam.
Iraqi military statements do not openly acknowledge the involvement of Fedayeen
Saddam in such actions but laud the activities of Iraqis leading the resistance to
coalition forces in such areas as Umm Qasr, An Nasiriyah and Najaf.
"The enemies... clashed with the people and army first in Umm Qasr, thinking
that they were facing fighters affiliated with Republican Guard and the Saddam's
Fedayeen in Umm Qasr and in other parts of Iraq," said a military statement
issued in Baghdad on Wednesday.
The Fedayeen Saddam has a short but bloody history in modern Iraq, according to
academic studies and analyses published by the British and Danish governments
well before the current war began.
Formed in 1995, the Fedayeen Saddam "started out as a rag-tag force of some
10,000-15,000 bullies," said a British intelligence report released in January.
Today, the force is believed to comprise 30,000 to 40,000 mostly young Iraqi men
and women said to be fiercely loyal to President Saddam Hussein, from whom the
Fedayeen takes its name.
"The Fedayeen Saddam include a special unit known as the death squadron,
whose masked members perform certain executions, including in victims' homes,"
the British intelligence report said. "The Fedayeen operate completely outside the
law, above and outside political and legal structures."
A joint Danish-British fact-finding mission in 2002 reported that the Fedayeen
Saddam had evolved from its original duty, as an anti-smuggling unit, to a secret
police force charged with quelling domestic opposition.
The report alleged that, in an effort to discourage prostitution, the Fedayeen had
beheaded numerous women who were not necessarily prostitutes but rather
political targets.
The word "fedayeen" in Arabic means "those who sacrifice." It originally was the
name adopted by Palestinian guerrillas who launched hundreds of hit-and-run

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attacks against Israel in the 1950s. In Israel, "fedayeen" is synonymous with


terrorist.
The original Fedayeen Saddam commander was Mr. Hussein's oldest son, Uday,
37, a figure with a reputation for brutality. He nearly died in a 1996 assassination
attempt.
In September 1996, the Iraqi president removed Uday from command of the
Fedayeen and placed his younger son Qusay, 35, in control.
Uday eventually regained control, but the rivalry between the two brothers – as
well as the forces they command – has grown in intensity with clashes in the
street reported between their forces.

Saddam's yacht sunk in air raid


Source: The Herald - Glasgow
Publication date: 2003-03-28

Saddam Hussein's presidential yacht is believed to have been sunk in a coalition


air strike.
The Al Mansur was the largest ship in the Iraqi navy, but it had no military
capability. Following an attack by allied bombers on Basra , Saddam's floating
pride and joy is now understood to be partially submerged.
Also destroyed in the attack were virtually the entire remnants of the Iraq navy.
With at least one other Iraqi patrol boat sunk in the Persian Gulf and six patrol
boats under allied control at the port of Umm Qasr, Saddam now has no effective
maritime force.
The Royal Navy and US navy now effectively have control of the waterways.
Captain Michael Cochrane, commander of HMS Chatham, which is guarding both
the mouth of the Shatt Al Arab and two oil platforms, said: "It is reported that the
remainder of Saddam Hussein's navy has now been destroyed.
"There are reliable reports indicating that, in a blow to Saddam's presidential
pride, the huge presidential yacht is among the ships sunk."

Iraqi ambushes stall critical supply convoy for 3 days WAR IN IRAQ /
'We're going to have to wait'
Source: International Herald Tribune
Publication date: 2003-03-28

The American convoy loaded with fuel and ammunition resumed its northward
march Thursday, marshaling its 300 trucks in a line that stretched for miles. Then
the Iraqis began firing, and the convoy turned around, leaving its stores of shells
and diesel fuel in the same place it was three days ago. The firefight that
unfolded Thursday in front of the American caravan illustrated the difficulty the
military is having here in resupplying its troops at the front line. The rapid
advance of American forces through Iraq has left the spearhead of the army 500
kilometers, or roughly 300 miles, away from its main base. As a result, the supply
lines are stretched thin and vulnerable to the kind of attacks that have left this
convoy standing still since Tuesday. "The firing was very close," said Colonel John

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Pomfret, who is leading the convoy. "We're going to have to wait." Pomfret will try
again Friday to take his convoy north in hopes of supplying the 22,000 American
Marines gathered about 16 kilometers to the north. He says that despite the
recent attacks, he will be able to get his supplies through without any disruption
to the force's ability to fight. But here in the parched plains of central Iraq, it is
much less clear that the American military can stop the harassing Iraqi attacks
that have been slowing the caravans down. The Marines running the convoys say
they can fight their way through just about anything the Iraqis can throw at them.
With their supply lines reaching all the way back to Kuwait, the experience of this
convoy suggests that the Marines may be doing a lot more fighting than they
bargained for. The Marine convoy is a gigantic thing, involving trucks and tankers
and jeeps and tanks, carrying thousands of gallons of diesel fuel, millions of
rounds of ammunition, and crate upon crate of ready-made meals. So large is this
caravan that it takes several hours for all of its vehicles to pass through a single
point. Among its cargo is 160,000 gallons of fuel and 180 tons of ammunition. Yet
it is a measure of the voraciousness of the modern army that this convoy, 300
vehicles long, carries only enough supplies to last the First Marine Division a few
days. Its guns can shoot thousands of shells in a single day; it takes as much as
five gallons of diesel fuel just to start the engine of an M-1 tank. The key to the
Marines logistical success is its ability to keep the train going, to keep more
caravans, just as big, rolling north. So far, the path of the convoys as they travel
across central Iraq has been anything but smooth. They have come under
constant fire from Iraqi soldiers, who often wait for the tanks and heavy armored
vehicles to pass by before opening fire. Each attack, however small, almost
always requires the convoy to stop, if only to allow their soldiers to respond. In
the past three days here, the Iraqi attacks against the Marine convoy have been
almost ceaseless. First came an ambush Tuesday night, which left 23 Iraqis and
one American dead. Then a group of Iraqis attacked the convoy's base
Wednesday, resulting in a firefight that left five Marines wounded. Then Thursday,
as the convoy tried to resume its journey north, it ran into a battle between
American and Iraqi forces less than two kilometers from the base. In each case
here, the Iraqi attacks have been carried out by small groups who capitalize on
surprise assaults. Since Thursday afternoon, the fighting has been continuous.
Cobra gunships raced back and forth to the front lines, their racks full of rockets
on the way out, and empty on the way in. Twice on Thursday evening, American
officers sounded warnings for poison gas. All through the night, the ground shook
from the tell-tale explosions of American B-52 strikes. All the while, for three days,
the convoy was still. The needs of the Marines battling at the front are not dire
yet, officers here say. But the constant fire from the Iraqis suggests that the effort
to supply American fighters at the front could be a battle itself. "The logistical
people do not want to be the cause of a pause in operations," Lieutenant Colonel
Bob Weinkel said. The Marine convoys have armed themselves heavily to repel
the Iraqi attacks. Each caravan is shadowed by several tanks and armored cars,
and they have responded ferociously to the recent ambushes. The Marine
commanders say they need to respond quickly and decisively to such attacks, in
large part because they are so vulnerable. The Marine convoy stuck near

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Diwaniyah, for instance, has more than a dozen 18-meter (60- foot)-long fuel
tankers, each carrying 19,000 liters (5,000 gallons) of diesel fuel. "I think about it
a lot, getting hit," said Gervonne Bell, a diesel truck driver. "I'm a sitting duck."
Each of the Marines, even the driver of the smallest water truck, is ready to taken
down his gun and fight. It is that, more than anything, the Marines say, that
makes them confidant they will be to keep the caravans rolling north. "We're not
just truck drivers," Weinkel said. "We're truck drivers with guns."

Biggest bombs yet strike Baghdad; Iraqis say allies will pay high
Source: Associated Press
Publication date: 2003-03-28

IN SOUTH-CENTRAL IRAQ (AP) -- U.S. Marines clashed repeatedly with Iraqi forces
in south-central Iraq on Friday during a push north toward Baghdad that has been
slower and more frustrating than planners foresaw. British forces outside Basra
tried to rescue thousands of civilians as Iraqi paramilitary forces fired on people
fleeing the key southern city.
Explosions rocked Baghdad on Friday and a towering column of churning orange
smoke rose over the skyline in some of the mightiest bombardment of the Iraqi
capital in days. Iraqi officials said at least seven people were killed, and news
reports said eight more died Friday afternoon.
U.S. Marines battled pockets of Iraqi resistance in and around the south-central
town of An Nasiriyah throughout the day Friday. Explosions from tank fire, artillery
and rockets fired by Cobra helicopters reverberated as Marines battled to clear
the main supply route to Baghdad. Helicopter crews flying over the area drew
almost continuous small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades.
The Marines are engaged in ``blue-collar warfare,'' said Lt. Col. B.P. McCoy,
commanding officer of the Marine 3rd Battery, 4th Regiment. ``There's no magic
solution to it. It is just the hard-grinding work of patrols.''
At least one American was reported killed in the fighting and two other Marines
were killed after they were accidentally run over by one of their vehicles as they
slept.
To the south, Iraqi paramilitary forces in Basra fired mortars and machine guns on
a ``couple of thousand'' Iraqi civilians trying to leave the besieged city, British
military officials said.
Members of Britain's 7th Armored Brigade were trying to evacuate the civilians
and treat the wounded, said Lt. Col. Ronnie McCourt, a spokesman for British
forces in the Gulf.
British forces have ringed the southern city -- Iraq's second-largest, with a
population of 1.3 million -- in hopes of eliminating units still loyal to Iraqi leader
Saddam Hussein and opening the way for badly needed humanitarian aid.
The British supply ship Sir Galahad, loaded with the first military shipment of aid
for Iraqi civilians, docked at the hard-won southern port of Umm Qasr on Friday.
The bombings in Baghdad -- led by two 2,115-kilogram (4,700-pound), satellite-
guided ``bunker-busting'' bombs -- were aimed at disrupting communications
between Saddam Hussein's leadership and his military, U.S. officials said.

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Bombardments of the ruling Baath Party headquarters Friday afternoon killed


eight more people, Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television and Al Manar of Lebanon
reported.
Husein Moeini, telecommunications director of Baghdad, said he believed people
were buried beneath the rubble, but journalists who arrived at the scene less than
three hours after the attack did not see a rescue operation under way.
The U.S. Army's senior ground commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. William S. Wallace of V
Corps, told reporters of The New York Times and Washington Post that unexpected
tactics by Iraqi fighters and stretched supply lines were slowing down the
campaign. ``The enemy we're fighting is different from the one we'd war-gamed
against,'' the papers quoted Wallace as saying during a visit Thursday to the
101st Airborne Division headquarters in central Iraq.
Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, at the daily briefing at U.S. Central Command in Qatar,
insisted U.S. war planners had not underestimated Iraqi fighting capabilities but
acknowledged that battlefield commanders may be seeing a ``more precise''
reality of resistance than headquarters sees. He accused the Iraqis of using
``terrorist death squads'' who changed in and out of civilian clothes.
Wary of engaging the better-armed allies in open desert warfare, Saddam's
government has been goading them to send ground troops into the city.
``The enemy must come inside Baghdad, and that will be its grave,'' said Defense
Minister Sultan Hashim Ahmed. ``We feel that this war must be prolonged so the
enemy pays a high price.''
U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, briefing congressional committees in
Washington, suggested American troops might lay siege to Baghdad rather than
invade, in hopes its citizens would rebel against the government.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, back in London after talks with U.S. President
George W. Bush on strategy and postwar plans, told BBC radio Friday that
unseating Saddam will be ``tough and difficult.''
Russian President Vladimir Putin called the war the most serious crisis since the
end of the Cold War and warned that it threatened ``global stability and the
foundations of international law.'' However, Putin said it would not damage
Russia's relations with Washington.
Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf told reporters that 75
civilians had been killed and 290 wounded in U.S. and British bombardments
Thursday.
Sahhaf also rejected allied contentions that Iraq planned to use chemical
weapons -- speculation that arose after advancing forces found chemical weapons
protective suits and gas masks left behind by retreating soldiers. Sahhaf said
having such equipment is standard for any army.
Nine days into the war, Pentagon officials said close to 90,000 U.S. troops were in
Iraq, with 100,000 to 120,000 more on the way. Some will be deployed in northern
Iraq, joining 1,000 airborne troops who parachuted in Wednesday night to secure
an airfield.
A paramount U.S. objective in the north is to seize the valuable oil fields near the
city of Kirkuk, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the airdrop site.

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``Kirkuk is key,'' said Maj. Mike Hastings of the Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade.
``The Iraqis want it, the Kurds want it, the Turks want it.''
At the United Nations, the Security Council reached agreement Thursday on a
plan to restart a humanitarian aid program for Iraq that uses Baghdad's oil
revenues to get in medical supplies and food.
The resolution aims to hasten delivery of aid by giving Secretary-General Kofi
Annan control for 45 days over the oil-for-food program, which had provided food
to 60 percent of Iraq's 22 million people but was halted last week before war
erupted.
The ship Sir Galahad, guarded by patrol boats, assault helicopters and the British
mine-detecting ship HMS Sandown, reached the port of Umm Qasr with a cargo of
100 tons of water and 150 tons of rice, lentils, cooking oil, tomato paste, chick
peas, sugar, powdered milk and tea.
Also Friday, two trucks of Kuwaiti aid arrived in the border town of Safwan. A near-
riot erupted as about 500 people engulfed the trucks, ripped open the cargo
doors and emptied them of boxes of bottled water, cheese and other food in
about 10-15 minutes

Army Brigade Still Waits for Big Battle


Source: Associated Press
Publication date: 2003-03-29
Arrival time: 2003-03-28

Every day, they're told they'll be moving soon, but every day has brought more of
the same - waiting.
As other units fought near Nasiriyah and in Najaf, the men of A Company, 3rd
Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment washed their hair and enjoyed the desert sun.
Earlier this week, A Company, along with the rest of the U.S. Army 3rd Infantry
Division's 2nd Brigade, dashed full speed across the western desert, intending to
surprise Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard near the holy city of Najaf.
Now it appears it may have moved too quickly. Other U.S. troops in the invasion's
main thrust have become bogged down by unexpected resistance along the way.
The rest of the 3rd division has paused at Najaf, and the 1st Marine Division has
been struggling to catch up to their Army counterparts.
So the soldiers of "Attack" Company have been idling 50 miles south of Baghdad,
waiting for the big battle to come.
They reached Najaf Sunday, covering more than 225 miles in less than 40 hours,
one of the fastest penetrations of hostile territory ever recorded. After a night
punctuated by artillery and tank fire, the 2nd Brigade was ordered to push their
2,500 vehicles northwest toward Karbala.
Along the way, they came under mortar fire, which fell harmlessly. The convoy
arrived near Karbala without further incident and set up camp in the desert.

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Attack Company's job was to protect the battalion's western flank. Capt. Chris
Carter, the company commander, ordered his men to set their eight Bradley
fighting vehicles 100 yards apart with machine gun nests between them.
After their first good night's rest in days, most woke Tuesday in good spirits. They
shaved and cleaned themselves as best as they could with baby wipes.
Tuesday, when a sandstorm hit, the men retreated to their cramped Bradleys as
winds reached 50 mph. The company positioned two Bradleys and an armored
personnel carrier as a windbreak and stretched green tarps in the gaps. They
unrolled sleeping bags on the ground, zipping them over their heads in a vain
attempt to keep out the grit.
Wednesday, the 3rd Division's 1st Brigade came under attack nearby, so two
Bradleys kept watch for Attack Company constantly.
Inside their vehicles, gunners took apart their 25 mm cannons and their 7.62
coaxial machine guns, spreading the parts out in front of them. Using shaving
brushes, toothbrushes and thick tissues, the men cleaned and oiled their sand-
coated weaponry.
"I'm not sure how much sand this equipment can take," said Staff Sgt. Bryce
Ivings, a baldheaded master gunner from Sarasota, Fla. "But I'm not taking any
chances."
Later, conversation turned to food - the kind you can't get in the desert.
"Have you ever tasted a Krispy Kreme doughnut as soon as it has left the
assembly line?" Ivings asked. "Pure heaven."
Outside, visibility was zero. Soldiers tied strings around their waists and attached
them to their Bradleys so they wouldn't get lost walking away to go to the
bathroom.
The sandstorm broke just after midnight Thursday. A water tanker arrived, and the
men rushed to wash. Although the temperature was in the mid-40s, infantrymen
stripped to the waist and poured water over their heads, washing their hair for
the first time in nearly a week.
Later, as they sat on the ramps of the vehicles cleaning their weapons, the
conversation again turned to food. Specifically, which variety of the Army's
prepackaged meals, known as MREs, should be phased out.
"Thai chicken. They need to get rid of that one," said Spc. Dean Bryant, in his
Oklahoma accent.
They'd had their fill of that one after going days without a resupply, and they
were overjoyed now that new supplies had finally arrived. With new boxes of
MREs to choose from, the men dug in for their favorites.
"Where's the spaghetti?" Ivings said, shoving away the vegetarian meals and the
bean-and-rice burrito.
In the distance, A-10 Warthogs swooped on Iraqi vehicles. Iraqi armored
personnel carriers had been probing U.S. defenses during the sandstorm, and the
sudden clearing of the skies exposed them to a pounding from the Warthogs.
Thursday morning, one of the Warthogs' missiles struck an oil pipeline, and an
engineering unit set out to fix it, accompanied by one of Attack Company's
Bradley's.

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As they approached, a single Iraqi in civilian clothes walked toward them, hands
raised in surrender. The infantrymen ordered him closer, but he refused. He
looked over his shoulder repeatedly, then dropped to the ground.
The Bradley pulled back and called for reinforcements, but by the time it arrived,
the Iraqi was gone. He may have been trying to lure the men into an ambush; two
dust plumes in the distance appeared to give away two trucks speeding off.
Suddenly, from behind some sand berms, several groups of Iraqis emerged
waving white flags.
At the same time, a call over the radio: "Pull back, now!"
"We have made contact with people waving white flags," Carter replied. "We plan
to investigate."
"Pull back now," an operations officer repeated.
Following orders, Carter coordinated a withdrawal.
Later, the battalion commander explained he thought Carter's men might have
ventured too far north and exposed themselves to ambush.
As night fell Friday, Carter and his men heard reports that Republican Guard
troops were moving toward Karbala and might test their defenses.
"Do you think there will be a hell of a fight?" said 1st Lt. Eric Hooper.
"I don't think it will be a hell of a fight," Carter said, "but it will be something."

Potentially pivotal battle looms in 'place of sorrow'


Source: Scripps Howard
Publication date: 2003-03-28

For more than 1,300 years, the land where U.S. forces are preparing for a
potentially pivotal battle has been described as a "place of sorrow and calamity."
What now is known as the central Iraq city of Karbala was first described that way
in 680 by Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Mohammed. Along with his 72
followers and family members, he was martyred there when an expected local
uprising against other Muslims fell flat.
For Shiia Muslims ever since, Karbala has stood as one of the holiest of sites, on
par with Jerusalem for the Jews, Calvary for Christians and Mecca for all Muslims.
And, perhaps within days, this Euphrates River valley city, home to more than
200,000, could again be the center of a bloody battle with historical echoes. U.S.
Marines are positioning themselves outside Karbala, where they expect to mount
the first assault on Iraq's Republican Guard forces, also massing nearby.
The coming battle — which the Pentagon considers the first in its march on
Baghdad, some 40 miles northeast — will essentially be an extension of combat
already raging outside Najaf, another holy Shiia Muslim city south of Karbala.
American Shiia Muslims are worried that these revered areas, home to
spectacular mosques, the largest Muslim cemetery in the world and age-old
centers of learning, will be harmed.
"There is concern because of the religious significance," said Harris Ahmad, a
Shiia Iraqi American who is head of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, in
Michigan.

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Ahmad says he is heartened that the American military says it intends to proceed
with care there. "To be fair, the U.S. forces have been very sensitive in general,"
Ahmad said Friday. "They're definitely taking precautions."
University of Michigan professor Juan Cole warns that damage to the shrines
could reverberate far beyond Iraq.
"If a U.S. bomb goes astray and hits either shrine, Shiites from Lebanon to
Afghanistan could become enraged at the U.S.," Cole, a professor of modern
Middle Eastern history, wrote this month.
At the same time, Shiia Muslims worry that the soldiers of Iraqi President Saddam
Hussein, a Sunni Muslim who gassed and killed thousands of rebellious Shiias and
ransacked the shrines in the past, will again defile and destroy the holy places.
So far, the fighting around Najaf has occurred outside the city proper in a valley
called, in Arabic, the "Valley of Peace." Located about 100 miles south of
Baghdad, Najaf, with an estimated population of 200,000, is the site of the tomb
of Imam Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammed. It also is a cultural center
of scientific, literary and theological studies.
Pilgrims from all over the world come to pray at the gold-domed mausoleum; for
many believers, there is no finer place to be buried than in the nearby Muslim
cemetery, the world's largest and the second-biggest overall on Earth.
During the Shiia revolt after the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Saddam's forces looted
and burned many of Najaf's treasures. Last week, Saddam's troops parked a MiG
warplane in the cemetery, apparently attempting to either protect the plane or
draw U.S. bombs to the sacred spot, Pentagon officials said.
Further north, in Karbala, is another major pilgrimage destination, the holy shrine
to the martyrs Imam Hussein and his brother, Abbas, and the others who died
there.
Karbala has had an equally long history of upheaval. In 1801, members of the
Islamic Wahhabi sect looted the shrine. In 1977, the Sunni-based government of
Iraq closed the city to pilgrims, triggering bloody riots. More riots broke out two
years later after the Islamic revolution in Iran, led by Shiia Muslim Ayatollah
Khomeini.
Like Najaf, Karbala was ransacked by Saddam's forces after the March 1991 Shiia
rebellion, which had been encouraged but not aided by the United States. After
two weeks of fighting between the Shiia rebels and Saddam's elite Republican
Guard fighters, much of the city was destroyed.
Now Karbala stands in the path of U.S. Marines, who are preparing to root out
Saddam's paramilitaries from within the city and stomp the Republican Guard
now arraying outside it.

Wounded troops say Iraqis fought in disguise


Source: International Herald Tribune
Publication date: 2003-03-28

When combat finally came for three American soldiers wounded in southern Iraq,
it erupted with bewildering swiftness and it wore a civilian's guise. The soldiers, a
Marine corporal and two army sergeants, told harrowing stories of their

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experiences Thursday at a military hospital here, where they are being treated for
bullet and shrapnel wounds. They are among 24 soldiers who have been flown
here from field hospitals in and near Iraq. These men were injured during two
ambushes last weekend by armed Iraqis who were dressed in traditional robes. In
the first attack, Sergeant Jamie Villafane said he captured four Iraqis, who took off
their robes as they surrendered to reveal Iraqi army uniforms underneath. In the
second, a Marine unit patrolling a bridge in the southern town of An Nasiriyah
came under fire from people in civilian clothes carrying AK-47 assault rifles. It was
not clear who they were. Lance Corporal Joshua Menard, who was shot in the
hand during that attack, said he was surprised, not just by the fact that his
assailants wore civilian clothes, but by the ferocity of their resistance. "We were
told when we were going through Nasiriyah that we should look to see little or no
resistance," Menard said. "Then when we got in there, it was a whole different
ballgame." Just how different became clear in an account by Villafane and his
gunnery sergeant, Charles Horgan. They, too, clashed with Iraqis while on a
bridge, a few miles south of An Nasiriyah. Their unit, a part of the army's
Headquarters Company, had been asked to detour there last Saturday at 1 p.m.
to check on a group of civilians, who were described as acting in an unruly
manner. As the convoy of five vehicles crept across the bridge, Villafane peered
through his windshield at several men standing in a trench off to the side. He
worried that some were hiding guns under their robes. The last thing he recalls
was a frantic cry from Horgan, "RPG!" as the sergeant spotted what he believed
to be a rocket-propelled grenade bearing down on their Humvee. The impact blew
Villafane out of the truck, leaving him on the ground, dazed and bloodied. Horgan
was catapulted out of his gun turret onto the roof of the Humvee, his foot nearly
blown off. The truck had been hit by a wire-guided missile fired by a man on the
far side of the bridge. Villafane said he regained consciousness in time to see
another missile streaking toward him. He threw himself out of its path, hearing it
whistle, as it plowed into a second Humvee. By then, the air was thick with smoke
from the burning trucks, and gunfire from across and beneath the bridge. As he
collected himself, Villafane's first thought was that his men were surrounded. "We
weren't nonchalant going in there," said Villafane, 31, a native of Brentwood, New
York, who spoke in a matter-of-fact tone with flashes of wit. "But I did not expect it
to escalate the way it did." While Villafane scrambled for his M4 machine gun,
Horgan hopped down from the Humvee, collapsing when he landed on the
ground. His foot, torn open by shrapnel, could not support him. "I tried to get up a
couple of times, but I kept falling," Horgan said. "I looked down again at my foot,
and it looked like it was gone, by the way the boot was hanging. It was blown
open." As Horgan crawled back toward the rear of the convoy, Villafane returned
fire from several people shooting from the far side of the bridge. He believes he
hit one person. Then he spotted four men lurking underneath the bridge. They
seemed intent on reaching two mud huts next to the pilings. From where he
crouched, Villafane said he could see that the huts held a cache of weapons. He
clambered down the embankment, shouting after the men to give themselves up.
The first man he encountered threw down his gun, an AK-47 assault rifle, and
threw up his hands, speaking in Arabic. "He looked absolutely terrified," Villafane

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said. Three other Iraqis emerged from behind a bridge piling, and seeing their
comrade held at gunpoint, laid down their weapons and raised their hands. They
shed their robes to reveal Iraqi uniforms underneath. The first man gestured that
Villafane had hurt his hand and reached out to help but got a stiff rebuke from the
sergeant, who was wrapping a bandage on his hand while keeping his gun trained
on the prisoners. "I was so aggravated by the whole situation," he said. After
rounding up the prisoners, Villafane herded them back up to the bridge, throwing
a smoke grenade to obscure the view of the people still huddled at the far side.
He moved them to the rear of the convoy, where there was a Bradley infantry
vehicle and an Abrams tank. After turning the prisoners over to the tank
commander, Villafane went back to get his men. He threw another smoke
grenade and laid a wall of covering gunfire, as the soldiers fell back in stages.
Along with another man, he helped Horgan hobble back to the safety of the
Bradley. As the ramp drew shut, they said they could still hear the roar of machine
guns, as the tank fired on the Iraqis. Once inside, Horgan noticed that Villafane
was bleeding from his arm. Horgan cut open his sleeve to reveal a gaping wound
on his forearm just below the elbow. Villafane sustained nerve damage, as well as
a shattered ring finger, from the shrapnel. Villafane then looked at his friend's
wounded foot, concluding that it too was more serious than first thought. A piece
of his right heel had been blown off. Doctors here said Horgan would not lose his
foot but would require physical therapy to regain its use. Villafane still seethes
when he thinks about fighting soldiers disguised as civilians. "I thought it was
disgusting," he said. But he added that he understood why, in their desperation
against better- equipped, better-trained American troops, the Iraqis might have
resorted to such methods. "They have to do whatever they can do," he said. The
soldiers said that the fury of the gun battle, which lasted about 10 minutes,
actually focused their minds, rather than confusing them. The soldiers said they
drew on their training to avoid panic. "I was being oddly rational about what was
happening," said Horgan, an articulate 21-year-old from Helena, Montana. "I
thought, 'O.K., my foot might be gone; I better crawl.'" As they reviewed the
horrific events of last Saturday afternoon, the two soldiers of Headquarters
Company drew a simple conclusion about the lessons of war, according to
Villafane. "We talked about how getting shot at wasn't really that bad," he said. "It
was just the getting shot part that sucked."

Potentially pivotal battle looms in 'place of sorrow'


Source: Scripps Howard
Publication date: 2003-03-28

For more than 1,300 years, the land where U.S. forces are preparing for a
potentially pivotal battle has been described as a "place of sorrow and calamity."
What now is known as the central Iraq city of Karbala was first described that way
in 680 by Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Mohammed. Along with his 72
followers and family members, he was martyred there when an expected local
uprising against other Muslims fell flat.

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For Shiia Muslims ever since, Karbala has stood as one of the holiest of sites, on
par with Jerusalem for the Jews, Calvary for Christians and Mecca for all Muslims.
And, perhaps within days, this Euphrates River valley city, home to more than
200,000, could again be the center of a bloody battle with historical echoes. U.S.
Marines are positioning themselves outside Karbala, where they expect to mount
the first assault on Iraq's Republican Guard forces, also massing nearby.
The coming battle — which the Pentagon considers the first in its march on
Baghdad, some 40 miles northeast — will essentially be an extension of combat
already raging outside Najaf, another holy Shiia Muslim city south of Karbala.
American Shiia Muslims are worried that these revered areas, home to
spectacular mosques, the largest Muslim cemetery in the world and age-old
centers of learning, will be harmed.
"There is concern because of the religious significance," said Harris Ahmad, a
Shiia Iraqi American who is head of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, in
Michigan.
Ahmad says he is heartened that the American military says it intends to proceed
with care there. "To be fair, the U.S. forces have been very sensitive in general,"
Ahmad said Friday. "They're definitely taking precautions."
University of Michigan professor Juan Cole warns that damage to the shrines
could reverberate far beyond Iraq.
"If a U.S. bomb goes astray and hits either shrine, Shiites from Lebanon to
Afghanistan could become enraged at the U.S.," Cole, a professor of modern
Middle Eastern history, wrote this month.
At the same time, Shiia Muslims worry that the soldiers of Iraqi President Saddam
Hussein, a Sunni Muslim who gassed and killed thousands of rebellious Shiias and
ransacked the shrines in the past, will again defile and destroy the holy places.
So far, the fighting around Najaf has occurred outside the city proper in a valley
called, in Arabic, the "Valley of Peace." Located about 100 miles south of
Baghdad, Najaf, with an estimated population of 200,000, is the site of the tomb
of Imam Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammed. It also is a cultural center
of scientific, literary and theological studies.
Pilgrims from all over the world come to pray at the gold-domed mausoleum; for
many believers, there is no finer place to be buried than in the nearby Muslim
cemetery, the world's largest and the second-biggest overall on Earth.
During the Shiia revolt after the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Saddam's forces looted
and burned many of Najaf's treasures. Last week, Saddam's troops parked a MiG
warplane in the cemetery, apparently attempting to either protect the plane or
draw U.S. bombs to the sacred spot, Pentagon officials said.
Further north, in Karbala, is another major pilgrimage destination, the holy shrine
to the martyrs Imam Hussein and his brother, Abbas, and the others who died
there.
Karbala has had an equally long history of upheaval. In 1801, members of the
Islamic Wahhabi sect looted the shrine. In 1977, the Sunni-based government of
Iraq closed the city to pilgrims, triggering bloody riots. More riots broke out two
years later after the Islamic revolution in Iran, led by Shiia Muslim Ayatollah
Khomeini.

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Like Najaf, Karbala was ransacked by Saddam's forces after the March 1991 Shiia
rebellion, which had been encouraged but not aided by the United States. After
two weeks of fighting between the Shiia rebels and Saddam's elite Republican
Guard fighters, much of the city was destroyed.
Now Karbala stands in the path of U.S. Marines, who are preparing to root out
Saddam's paramilitaries from within the city and stomp the Republican Guard
now arraying outside it.

Two 4,700-Pound Bombs Hit Baghdad Tower


Source: Associated Press
Publication date: 2003-03-28

The biggest bombs dropped on Baghdad so far - two 4,700-pound "bunker


busters" - struck a communications tower Friday in an intense U.S. bombardment.
Four U.S. Marines were missing after fierce fighting in Nasiriyah.
U.S. and Iraqi forces traded tank and artillery fire throughout the day in Nasiriyah,
a strategic southern city that has been the scene of some of the toughest fighting
of the war. Several buildings, including a power plant, were ablaze.
Nasiriyah, a city of about 500,000 on the Euphrates River near a junction of roads
that lead from Kuwait to Baghdad. Helicopters flying over the area were drawing
almost continuous small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades.
The report of the four missing Marines was in addition to eight Marines that the
Pentagon said Thursday haven't been seen since a battle near Nasiriyah on
Sunday.
In the south, British officers said Iraqi fighters defending the besieged city of
Basra fired on hundreds of civilians trying to flee.
The British have encircled Basra and said their troops were trying to rescue and
aid civilians wounded by the mortar and machine-gun fire from paramilitaries
loyal to Saddam Hussein.
About 1,000 people made it out safely, fleeing to the west of Basra, and British
forces gave them food, water and medical attention, said Lt. Cmdr. Emma
Thomas, a British spokeswoman in the Persian Gulf. She said the firing started
when a second group of about the same size tried to flee.
"Here perhaps are the first pieces of evidence of Iraqi people trying to break free
... and clearly the militia don't want that," said Col. Chris Vernon, a British
spokesman.
British officers said soldiers from the 1st Black Watch battalion, in armored
fighting vehicles, were trying to wedge themselves between the militia fire and
the civilians.
At nearby Umm Qasr, the first ship arrived at the allied-controlled port with relief
supplies for Iraqi civilians. The Sir Galahad, a British ship, carried 255 tons of
water, rice, cooking oil, sugar, beans and powdered milk, as well as medical
supplies, blankets and emergency ration packs.

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Near the south-central city of Diwaniyah, one Marine was killed and another
injured in fighting with Iraqi irregulars at a cement plant. Two other Marines were
killed when a vehicle ran them over while they slept.
A showdown in central Iraq over Baghdad was clearly drawing closer. With a new
front opened by paratroopers in the north, U.S. forces are poised to move on the
capital from multiple directions.
Wary of engaging the better-armed allies in open desert warfare, Saddam's
government has been goading them to send ground troops into the city.
"The enemy must come inside Baghdad, and that will be its grave," said Defense
Minister Sultan Hasidim Ahem. "We feel that this war must be prolonged so the
enemy pays a high price."
U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has suggested American troops might
lay siege to Baghdad rather than invade, in hopes its citizens would rebel against
the government. Rumsfeld drew comparisons with Basra, where British troops
have delayed an assault in hopes Iraqi defenders give up or are toppled by anti-
Saddam civilians.
Rumsfeld on Friday also warned Syria to stop sending military equipment to Iraqi
forces, saying such shipments have included night-vision goggles.
"We consider such trafficking as hostile acts and will hold the Syrian government
responsible for the incidents," Rumsfeld said at the Pentagon.
There was no immediate Syrian comment. Syrian President Bashar Assad has
described the military action as "clear occupation and a flagrant aggression
against a United Nations member state."
The Army's senior ground commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. William S. Wallace of V
Corps, told The New York Times and The Washington Post on Thursday that
unexpected tactics by Iraqi fighters and stretched supply lines were slowing down
the campaign. "The enemy we're fighting is different from the one we'd war-
gamed against," the papers quoted Wallace as saying during a visit to the 101st
Airborne Division headquarters in central Iraq.
Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, at a briefing at U.S. Central Command in Qatar,
insisted U.S. war planners had not underestimated Iraqi fighting capabilities, but
said acknowledged that battlefield commanders may be seeing a "more precise"
reality of resistance than headquarters. He accused the Iraqis of using "terrorist
death squads" who changed in and out of civilian clothes.
Brooks also said U.S. and British troops were expanding TV and radio broadcasts
in Iraq, including Baghdad, aimed at reassuring civilians and encouraging soldiers
to capitulate.
In Baghdad, smoke drifted across the city - from fires started by authorities to
conceal targets as well as from sites struck overnight in one of the heaviest allied
air assaults of the war.
U.S. officials said bombs and Tomahawk missiles struck several communications
and command-and-control facilities in the city, including the tower hit by two
"bunker-busters" dropped from a B-2 bomber. One of Baghdad's main telephone
exchanges - a seven-story building - was hit and gutted, but phones were working
Friday in many parts of the city.

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Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al Sahhaf said 75 civilians had been
killed and 290 wounded in U.S. and British bombardments overnight, including
seven deaths in Baghdad. He also said Iraqi forces destroyed or damaged several
allied vehicles and killed four soldiers in an attack on a convoy near Najaf, less
than 100 miles south of Baghdad.
Sahhaf rejected allied contentions that Iraq planned to use chemical weapons -
speculation that arose after advancing forces found chemical weapons protective
suits and gas masks left behind by retreating soldiers. Sahhaf said having such
equipment is standard for any army.
A U.S. official involved in military planning and intelligence said Iraqi troops also
have been seen between U.S. and Iraqi lines wearing full chemical protection
suits and unloading 50-gallon drums from trucks. U.S. intelligence doesn't know
what was in the drums, but fear it could be chemicals.
Iraqi state TV broadcast a sermon by cleric Abdel-Ghafour Al-Quisi; a Kalashnikov
rifle was seen resting against the pulpit. "May God install terror in the hearts of
our enemies," he said.
Nine days into the war, Pentagon officials said close to 90,000 U.S. troops were in
Iraq, with 100,000 to 120,000 more on the way. Some will be deployed in northern
Iraq, joining 1,000 airborne troops who parachuted in Wednesday night to secure
an airfield.
A paramount U.S. objective in the north is to seize the valuable oil fields near the
city of Kirkuk, about 80 miles from the airdrop site.
Russian President Vladimir Putin described the war Friday as a threat to global
stability and the most serious crisis since the end of the Cold War. He called for an
end to the fighting, and resumption of U.N. efforts to forge a political settlement.
The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution to restart its
humanitarian food program for Iraq once the war winds down. The program,
which uses Iraq's oil revenues for medical supplies and food, had been feeding 60
percent of Iraq's 22 million people.

Rear-Seat View Of U.S. 'March' ; At Times, Aching Feet, Heavy Gear And
Delays Can Be A Bit Too Much
Source: Denver Rocky Mountain News
Publication date: 2003-03-27
Arrival time: 2003-03-28

The Army is calling the push from Kuwait to Baghdad the longest "march" into
enemy territory since the Allies stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6,
1944 - even though soldiers don't walk anymore.
For most embedded journalists, this incredible endeavor has raised the window on
a world so different from everyday life that it might be an alternate universe.
These are sketches of part of that journey, made from my vantage in the rear
seat of a Humvee.
First, professional soldiers are, in some profoundly fundamental ways, different
from you and me.

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Take, for example, Brig. Gen. Charles Fletcher, who helped lead the V Corps'
charge into southern Iraq this past weekend. Chiefly responsible for logistical and
supply issues, Fletcher and his small sub-convoy nevertheless sped by the U.S.
Marines and armored cavalry brigades right and left as he raced to establish this
Army base 100 miles south of Baghdad.
Fletcher is a techie in love with his digital camera and exotic forms of
communications hardware. He looks like a balding accountant or soccer dad,
thrust into a uniform. He paused the convoy more than once to take pictures, as if
on a family vacation.
In that spirit, each morning of the charge north, before piling back into his
Humvee, he insisted on a group picture. But a soccer dad wouldn't make a remark
like this:
"We'll take a picture at the start of each day," he said Sunday. "That way, if
someone gets killed, we'll know it, because he won't be in the next day's picture."
Laughter, all around.
Formalities do apply
Driving the Humvee to which this reporter was assigned was a cigarette-smoking
veteran of service during the U.S. military's stabilization of Kosovo, 28-year-old
Sgt. Roger Scott Wilson. A Philadelphia native, Wilson seemed to have more fun
the worse things became. Most of the time.
Riding shotgun, and commanding not just his own personal space but that of
those around him, was 44-year-old Special Forces veteran Sgt. Maj. Anthony
Aubain, from St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. His sense of humor is matched only
by his forcefulness and insistence upon doing things right.
The fourth man in the truck was Maj. David Accetta, a 38-year- old public affairs
specialist and veteran of the first Gulf War from Cranston, R.I. He treats the media
professionally and patiently. But he clearly has more passion for the music of The
Clash, and for warfare, than staying trapped in cushier circumstances at his base
in Camp Virginia, Kuwait.
Not once in the 40-hour drive from Kuwait to their destination 100 miles south of
Baghdad, did one of the soldiers call one another Roger, Dave or definitely not
Tony.
Although they were living more closely than family members in the same house,
it was always, "How's the fuel looking, Sergeant Wilson?"
"Looking fine. Just over three-quarters of a tank, Sergeant Major."
Ask any soldier for the first name of the guy next to him, and you'll just get
"Specialist" or "Sergeant" as your answer.
To be young again
Having left Camp Virginia at around 3:30 a.m. Saturday, the group crossed the
Kuwait-Iraq border about 7:45 a.m., rolling through "Breach Lane 5," the key
passage through the berms at the demilitarized zone designated for supplies
passing north into Iraq.
Aubain, who believes breakfast each day starts with cleaning your weapon, shook
his head ruefully. "Damn," he said, "I wish I was young again so I could have been
one of those kids coming through here the other night."

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He was talking about soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Brigade who roared through
the breach at 10 p.m. a couple nights before, nearly 24 hours before the massive
air assault was initiated against Baghdad.
Being "young again" is not really an issue in the case of Aubain, as solidly built as
a fullback and whose hair is shaved too short to reveal any gray anyway.
An aficionado of cigars from the Dominican Republic (he's chewing them, not
smoking, he wants his wife to know), Aubain is a soldier who has done things -
and it's other people who will say this, not him - that he'll never tell you about.
One is his successful completion of the Army's highly secretive and notoriously
difficult SEREs school. It stands for Survival, Escape, Resistance and Evasion
training, and it isn't easy.
But Aubain did share just one anecdote.
"I almost quit SEREs because the mosquitoes were so bad," he said. "There would
be so many, they would crawl into your nose, set up camp in your ears and eyes. I
said, '(Expletive) I can't stand this no more.' But then, you know what? I just
decided, 'OK, eat me.' I'd let 'em get fat and then just squish 'em."
'I am, now'
One of Aubain's pet peeves throughout the convoy's push north was the too-
frequent sight of soldiers out of full uniform. He said they were creating "a target-
rich environment."
Many could be spotted without even a helmet or a Kevlar vest, stripped down to
their T-shirts, almost seeming to be working on a tan.
Aubain would yell "Pull over, sergeant," so that he could enforce his passion for
"uniform discipline."
Sometimes, he'd just shout out the window: "Uniform discipline, wild man,
uniform discipline!" He'd pat the helmet atop his own head.
But upon arriving the other night at Camp Adder, the southernmost Army
resupply point in Iraq, he couldn't contain himself when he saw nearly a dozen
soldiers at a refueling point in the most casual of military attire.
Wilson pulled up to one young woman wearing her boots, her chemical-protection
pants, a T-shirt and a bandana around her head.
"Can you tell me where your commanding officer is, who told you that you could
dress like this?" Aubain barked.
She started to say something, but Aubain cut her off.
"Are you in the Army, ma'am?"
"What?"
"I said, are you in the Army?"
"I am, now."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Well, I'm in the reserves . . ."
Aubain turned to Wilson.
"Get me out of here, sergeant, before I hurt somebody."
This triggered a long rant, to which Aubain would return often, out loud, still in
disbelief. "Are you in the Army?" Then, affecting a female voice, "I am, now."
It became one of the group's running jokes, as the convoy continued its
seemingly endless push. "I am, now."

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Hey, it guaranteed a laugh.


Spooky traffic jam
There is a liberal dose of gallows humor about death and dying. Surely it is bred
by the proximity to the subject.
At the start of the push, Wilson, Aubain and Accetta were joking that the heavily
armored Humvee carrying Gen. Fletcher would protect everyone in that vehicle
from high-caliber arms fire. But the thin doors and plastic sheeting that served for
windows on their own vehicle offered something less.
"This," Accetta said with a laugh, knocking a knuckle against the door beside him,
"might stop a rock. I don't think it would stop a knife."
But the laughter tapered off by the convoy's second day when, further into Iraq,
they started traveling a road that was not cleared of enemy threat. They
responded by removing three of the vehicle's four doors - leaving only the
reporter's, at his request.
"That way, if this thing blows, I can get out of it faster," Wilson explained.
And the mood turned darker still a few hours later when Fletcher's convoy came
upon a "lost" fleet of 5,000-gallon Army fuel tankers. Confused about their route
north, the tankers pulled over by what appeared to be an abandoned power plant.
This forced the Humvees onto a narrow dirt road with high, crude berms on either
side. The soldier's lines of sight were blocked to anyone or anything that might be
approaching. There were also a number of Iraqi civilians strolling the road, teens
or young adults, who appeared to be sifting through scattered trash.
After Fletcher directed the fuel fleet back on course, his own Humvees ended up
sitting there an hour longer, as the afternoon turned to night, and shadowy
figures moving near the berms grew more menacing.
"This is going to (expletive) my life up," said Wilson, whose fourth child is due in
June. "I just know it is. Someone drop a grenade on us, easy as that."
Attack of the lights
During the convoy's final hours, the five Humvees in Fletcher's party had
managed to outpace most of the Army's fighting units. As a logistician and supply
guy, it was the general's mission to support these troops with food, water, fuel
and ammunition.
That resulted in the group speeding by areas such as An Nasiriyah, where the
Marines themselves would be stoutly challenged a day later.
Near midnight, the adventure was enhanced by the telltale green tracers of Iraqi
missiles, coursing the sky overhead. Not long after, that was answered by volley
after volley of U.S. missiles.
And, in the fields immediately adjacent to the dirt road on which the Fletcher
convoy was pounding north, American parachute- illumination devices were being
deployed into the air to light up suspected enemy positions.
"This is the most asinine (expletive) I've ever seen," grumbled Aubain. "Who the
(expletive) is fighting this war, if we're passing all of them?"
Aubain was exasperated by Fletcher's instructions not to use "blackout" driving
techniques, which would mean turning off the Humvees' headlights and using
night-optical devices to watch the road.

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"I give up," he said, nevertheless keeping his rifle leveled out the right-passenger
side at the menacing night.
And noting in his running commentary that the lead vehicle in Fletcher's group
was, to him, inexplicably, using its top-mounted flashing yellow lights, Aubain
contemptuously snorted, "This is the attack of the killer whoopee lights."
Aching dogs
The agony of the feet.
It's a problem as old as warfare, and it doesn't go away. An army may march on
its stomach, but a fighter's feet have to be in good shape, too. This is a challenge,
particularly going days without a chance to slip into anything other than the high-
laced boots that are the only hope of keeping out sand.
When a reporter mentioned to Wilson that going 48 hours without removing his
own Danner boots had caused vicious blisters across the tops of several toes,
Wilson laughed. He pointed at his left foot.
"That boot," he said, "has not come off in a week. A week. That other one, I took
off this morning, just long enough to cut off a blister."
A week. That's what the man insisted. And over many days he's never shown any
tendency to exaggerate.
Nature's call thwarted
The amount of gear needed to merely exist in the war environment - gear
required to perform even the simplest of tasks - can, all by itself, wear out a
newcomer.
To even crawl from a tent and answer the call of nature in the middle of the night
is laborious. If one is being attentive to the risks, knowing an attack could come
at any time, it would require the donning of a chemical protection suit, a helmet,
grabbing a gas mask and a flak jacket. Then you'd head out into the darkness
where there is no latrine. There isn't any illumination, and light restrictions might
be in place that would discourage use of a flashlight.
At times, it can get to be a little much.
So it wasn't even surprising when Insun Kang, a South Korean journalist, appeared
one evening in the command center of the Rams Army base in west-central Iraq,
where the Fletcher convoy had ended, with her helmet on backward.
"Insun," said Master Sgt. Maurice Phinney, a Fort Carson alum. "Your helmet."
"What?"
"Your helmet," he said. "It's backward."
As she hurriedly turned it around, another soldier chimed in, "In the Army, if it's
comfortable, you're probably wearing it wrong."
Roger, that.

Air Strikes Blast Elite Units, City of Chamchamal, Iraq


Source: Chicago Tribune
Publication date: 2003-03-28

Mar. 28--CHAMCHAMAL, Iraq--U.S. warplanes delivered some of the most intense


bombing of Baghdad yet Thursday, while American soldiers and their Kurdish

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allies bolstered a newly established northern front against the regime of Saddam
Hussein.
U.S. and British warplanes focused hundreds of bombing missions on Republican
Guard units that are trying to blunt the allied coalition's advance on the capital.
With huge explosions rocking central Baghdad and a blistering sandstorm ending
across southern Iraq, U.S. military planners turned their attention to how best to
quickly rout heavily armed Republican Guard forces outside the capital.
Iraq's defense minister predicted allied forces would encircle Baghdad within five
or 10 days but that the battle for the city would take place on its streets.
"The enemy must come inside Baghdad, and that will be its grave," Defense
Minister Sultan Hashem Ahmed said, shortly before the most powerful allied
bombing in days targeted communications and command-and-control facilities.
Outside the strategic northern oil city of Kirkuk, Iraqi troops fled their bunkers
after four days of allied air strikes. Groups of pro-U.S. Kurdish forces entered Iraqi-
controlled territory for the first time.
On Capitol Hill to testify in support of a $75 billion emergency funding request for
the war, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the war plan calls for coalition
forces to encircle Baghdad and isolate the capital.
He held out hope that the approach of coalition troops would provoke an
insurrection among the capital's Shiite residents, saving U.S. troops from a bloody
street-by-street battle to conquer the city of 5 million. He pointed out that Shiite
Muslims comprise about half the population of Baghdad.
The Iraqi regime is run by minority Sunni Muslims.
Rumsfeld also predicted that the combat likely would grow more difficult as
coalition forces move closer to Baghdad. "The campaign could well grow more
dangerous in the coming days and weeks," he told senators, "as the forces close
in on Baghdad and begin to have to deal with the Republican Guard forces north
of Tikrit [and] south of Baghdad."
President Bush vowed to keep allied forces in Iraq "no matter how long it takes" to
topple Hussein as military officials announced plans to send 100,000
reinforcements to Iraq, doubling their forces on the ground in the next month.
Officials at Camp Lejeune, N.C., also disclosed another sobering statistic: Within
the past 24 hours, as many as 11 Marines from the 2nd Expeditionary Force were
listed as missing and 14 as wounded.
The troops had most recently been fighting near Nasiriyah. In the same region, 25
U.S. Marines were reported wounded in a friendly fire incident, according to U.S.
officials.
None of the resistance in cities such as Nasiriyah and Najaf was anticipated in the
military's plan, officials said Thursday. It was built around bypassing population
centers and severing the central government, then awaiting surrenders from
smaller commands.
"I honestly think they had us move so fast because they thought it'd be a fast
collapse," said Capt. Steven Barry, commander of Cyclone Company in the 4-64
Armored Battalion. "Now that they realize it's not going to be a fast collapse,
they've decided to slow down and be more deliberate."

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Allied officials suggested one reason a fast collapse never transpired: They
alleged that death squads were threatening the families of anyone who dares
surrender.
In another case of apparent coercion, 14 Iraqi tanks rolling out of Basra were not
doing so by choice, according to Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks. He said he thought
the crews came from the Iraqi 51st division, which allegedly collapsed in the first
days of the war.
"They were pressed back into service, as best as we can tell, by the
paramilitaries," Brooks said at a briefing at U.S. Central Command headquarters
in Qatar. All of the tanks were destroyed by tank and aircraft fire, British officials
said.
U.S. and British forces continued to struggle with stiff resistance and
overstretched supply lines. At least one Marine unit has been forced to ration its
food provisions to one a day.
Reports from Baghdad said an unknown number of people were killed and injured
when a housing complex for employees of a weapons-producing facility was
attacked in the Al-Youssifiah neighborhood about 12 miles south of the city.
Iraq's health minister said 36 civilians were killed and 215 wounded in U.S. air
strikes on Baghdad on Wednesday, and he accused U.S.-led forces of targeting
civilians to break the people's will.
Allied officials said they still had not determined what caused two explosions that
killed 14 civilians in a Baghdad marketplace Wednesday. But in the briefing at
Central Command headquarters, Brooks said it may have been caused by Iraqi
missile fire.
"We've seen uncontrolled surface-to-air missile fire," he said, adding that the
blasts also may have been deliberate attacks fired by Iraq to arouse anger at the
United States.
The allied coalition's attempts to open up a charm offensive of humanitarian relief
remained bogged down Thursday when suspected mines were discovered in the
channel leading to the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr.
Despite arguments over what role the UN will play in postwar Iraq, the world body
made progress on humanitarian aid. Security Council members reached broad
agreement to free billions of dollars of Iraq's oil revenues; about 60 percent of
Iraq's 26 million people rely on rations from the nation's oil-for-food program
begun several years after the 1991 gulf war.
Small-scale fighting flared up along the sprawling supply line between Kuwait and
forces aligned 50 miles outside Baghdad.
Artillery batteries pounded Najaf on Thursday with rockets and guided missiles,
sending plumes of smoke thousands of feet high for more than 12 hours as the
Army's 3rd Infantry targeted gatherings of guerrilla troops and Iraqi military
communications sites.
"There [were] considerable gains made today," said Maj. Eric Wick, the executive
officer of 2-70th Armor Battalion, a part of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division. "We
encountered resistance last night.
Those rocket-propelled grenades can do some damage and it seems their whole
goal right now is to strike at us quickly, and then flee."

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Third Infantry officials said taking Najaf is critical to their overall plans. It is one of
the few Iraqi cities with modern roads that would provide U.S. forces with a swift
means of getting troops into Karbala and Baghdad.
U.S. officials have said forces are bracing for a major battle with Iraq's Republican
Guard near Karbala on the road to Baghdad--a fight that could determine the next
stages of the war.
U.S. planes carrying critically needed supplies began landing at one airstrip in
northern Iraq and also at another in the south, renamed "Bush International
Airport."
On the newly opened northern front, the first large coalition ground forces settled
in after a parachute drop the previous night of about 1,000 Army troops. The
growing military pressure is spawning unconfirmed reports of Iraqi crackdowns
against tribes refusing to take up arms against the U.S. and its allies.
After meeting with Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair spoke of "the depravity
of Saddam's regime" after Al-Jazeera TV showed pictures of two British soldiers
Blair said were executed.
In Washington, the House of Representatives called for a national day of prayer
and fasting to secure divine blessings for U.S. troops at war in Iraq and for
protection for Americans from terrorism.

U.S. Copters Raid Republican Guard Units


Source: Associated Press
Publication date: 2003-03-29
Arrival time: 2003-03-28

Apache helicopter gunships raided Republican Guard units south of Baghdad late
Friday in the first major attack by the 101st Airborne Division during the war. Two
of the Apaches crashed but all crew members escaped injury, officials said.
Helicopters from the 2nd Battalion took out four tanks, six armored personnel
carriers, 15 vehicles, a fuel site and a fiberoptics tower, said Maj. Randall Haws,
the battalion's executive officer. The battle assessment from the 1st Battalion was
not available.
The attack force also included artillery and Air Force jets, officials said.
The crashes were blamed on "brown-out" conditions, which are caused by clouds
of brown desert sand created when a helicopter approaches the ground. That
makes it difficult for the pilot to see to ground.
The pilots have trained on brown-out landings extensively in the last year and
since arriving in the Iraqi theater a month ago. But it is still a high risk - some
even consider it the most dangerous part of a mission like the one Friday night.
"It's literally the scariest thing I've done in my life," Haws said.
The first crash happened just minutes into the mission, which began about 8 p.m.
The pilot from the 2nd Battalion over-torqued the helicopter during the take-off,
Haws said. The decision was made as a precaution, but the helicopter crashed a
short time later, Haws said.
The second helicopter crashed as it landed after completing its mission at about
10:30 p.m.

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"I saw the dust cloud over the entire helicopter," said Spc. Russell Buckhard, 23,
of Miami, who was on standby to reload Hellfire missiles onto the aircrafts. "I
heard a loud smash with sparks flying,"
A pilot from the first crash had a possible broken leg, but the others were
considered in relatively good shape.
"They're already joking about taking parts off the aircrafts," Haws said. "These
guys will bounce back. They'll be OK."
Haws, however, said losing the aircraft is a loss: One cost $22 million; the second,
with a more advanced radar system cost $27 million.
"We can't crash two every night," Haws said.
A third Apache from the 1st Battalion was grounded after its computer system
malfunctioned. A security team was dispatched to recover it.
There was no substantial damage from enemy fire to the choppers, but they did
take some small arms and anti-aircraft fire, Haws said.
Pilots participating in the mission were not told about either crash until after they
had safely landed.
"It was a little scary until I got out and realized what happened," said Chief
Warrant Officer 2 Jeff Lamprecht, 31, of Woodlawn, Tenn., of the second crash,
which he saw after taking out three Iraqi tanks with Hellfire missiles during the
mission

Experts: Saddam Trying to Prolong War


Source: Associated Press
Publication date: 2003-03-28

Militias fighting in Iraqi towns, guerrillas attacking U.S. military convoys, the
Republican Guard moving south to greet approaching coalition forces.
Saddam Hussein's war strategy may look chaotic from the outside, but military
experts believe it's a carefully crafted plan meant to drag out the fighting and
prolong a humanitarian crisis that would prompt the international community to
push for a political solution.
"That's his only hope for survival," said retired Army Maj. Gen. William Nash, now
a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
So far, Saddam's tactics seem to be having an impact.
Lt. Gen. William S. Wallace, the senior ground commander in the conflict, said
Thursday that a longer-than-expected war now seems likely, in part because of
the surprisingly tough resistance by forces loyal to Saddam.
Fighting in the southern Iraqi cities of Nasiriyah and Basra has provided two
striking examples of Iraq's determination.
U.S. Marines traded fire with Iraqi forces Friday in Nasiriyah, site of some of the
fiercest fighting in the war. Coalition ground forces called in Cobra support
helicopters in the battle, which drew almost continuous small arms fire and
rocket-propelled grenades.
In Basra, Iraq's second largest city, Iraqi forces said to be members of the
paramilitary Fedayeen prevented British troops from taking the city and fired on
about 1,000 civilians trying to flee.

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British forces have encircled the city for days, but have been reluctant to enter for
fear of becoming trapped in urban warfare.
In such a situation, the defenders almost always have the advantage and many
believe that is why Iraq appears to be waiting for coalition forces to get to
Baghdad.
Nash said that strategy would also "give Saddam a decision point of whether he
wants to revert to chemical warfare."
"When the troops are gathering close together, they become a lucrative target.
It's much harder to successfully strike at soldiers spread across the desert," he
said.
Iraq's defense minister said the real fight will be in the Iraqi capital - home to 5
million people.
"The enemy must come inside Baghdad, and that will be its grave," Sultan
Hashim Ahmed said. "We feel that this war must be prolonged so the enemy pays
a high price."
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, however, suggested American troops might
lay siege to the capital rather than invade, in hopes its citizens will rise up against
the government.
The United States had hoped for uprisings in several small, Iraqi towns heavily
populated by Shiite Muslims, who are culturally and religiously tied to Iran, not
Saddam.
When some of those communities rose up during the 1991 Gulf War, they were
left later to deal with an even angrier Iraqi dictator who remained in charge when
the fighting was over. The bad experience likely kept home this time many would-
be supporters of the U.S. effort.
Uprisings would certainly help U.S. troops avoid an urban-warfare scenario, where
they could end up fighting in unfamiliar territory surrounded by a hostile
population.
"American doctrine is not geared to urban fighting," said William Hopkinson, an
analyst with the Royal Institute for Strategic Studies in London. "Urban fighting is
very messy and fairly primitive."
But for Iraq, it could counteract the disadvantages of its aging military hardware,
diminish the value of the coalition's advanced weaponry and keep fighters close
to supplies and support.
"If you are not terribly sophisticated in your equipment, bringing your opposition
down to the same level and making them fight room to room with hand grenades
and rifle ... is a step in the right direction," Hopkinson said.
He said fighting in the open would be suicidal for Iraqi tank brigades that lack the
coalition's sophisticated intelligence and equipment, such as optics and night
vision.
"Some of those (tanks) destroyed in the last week are T-55s, which are really half
a century old in design, not up to modern warfare," he said. "They couldn't have a
general tank battle out in the desert and hope to survive."
U.S. convoys, including supply vehicles and those carrying offensive forces, have
been slowed since the beginning of the war by Fedayeen and other irregular
troops.

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The Republican Guard, however, is based in and around the capital, and there are
indications that the well-trained force could be armed with chemical weapons.
Ahmed, the Iraqi defense minister, suggested the country's defenses were
organized to protect the capital.
"At the end, the enemy will have to enter the city. What's important is that the
enemy should pay a dear price to reach Baghdad," he said.

Loyalty to Hussein Appears to Wane


Source: Chicago Tribune
Publication date: 2003-03-28

Mar. 28--AZ-ZUBAYR, Iraq -- In the first days after coalition forces rolled through
this dusty mud-walled town just south of Basra, Saddam Hussein had plenty of
friends. Young men waved posters with his face for the cameras. Small boys
yelled "Saddam! Saddam!" The few that criticized the regime did so in nervous
whispers.
Less than a week later, after a coalition raid netted the top Baath Party official in
town for questioning and tanks took out some of the young men firing rocket-
propelled grenades from the roadside, Hussein's public popularity is nose-diving.
"All Iraqis want to be rid of this regime. We just can't say that," said Jasser, a stout
and serious older man in a blue robe who showed up at a coalition medical center
Thursday looking for antacid tablets for his wife.
"Resistance is dangerous," he said. "When troops first came in they didn't
demolish the party apparatus here, and that created problems.
But now we feel more secure."
The process of winning Az-Zubayr is proving a lesson for coalition troops as they
move toward bigger objectives such as Basra and eventually Baghdad. Surgical
strikes, aimed at political leaders as well as military targets, are being combined
with humanitarian aid to ease the two biggest worries for local Iraqis: that
coalition forces are simply an occupying force and that they aren't serious about
removing Hussein's regime.
Iraqis "like to be on the right side, and finding out which is the right side is the
hardest thing for them," said British Maj. Andy "Jock" Docherty, an Arabic-
language translator working with troops of the Black Watch Regiment trying to
pacify Az-Zubayr.
But military and humanitarian successes are slowly winning over southern Iraqis.
Several key members of the ruling Baath Party have been found hanged in the
region in recent days, Docherty said, and coalition forces hope successes in the
south may fuel uprisings to the north.
"If we can crack a few nuts in Basra and Al Nasiriyah, I think Baghdad could fall
overnight with the right moves," Docherty predicted. If Iraqis are convinced the
coalition is winning, they will attack the ruling party and "do the cleanup we can't
and find the people we can't find."
From the highway passing through it, Az-Zubayr doesn't look like much.
Mud-walled compounds pock the desert, and concrete buildings and bunkers--part
of former Iraqi military installations--line the road.

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Outside of town, women gather drinking water from stagnant roadside pools. At
its center, Az-Zubayr is a warren of increasingly narrow streets, where young men
in black robes with red-and-white-checked headscarves gather, sometimes with
assault rifles in their arms.
Iraqi militia members, now out of uniform, have fought back here, firing rifles and
rocket-propelled grenades at military vehicles passing through town.On Monday,
British military officials in Az-Zubayr got word that a leading Baath Party official
was organizing the resistance. Early Tuesday they went to get him.
At dawn they rammed tanks through the high wall surrounding the man's two-
story house. As soldiers kicked open the door, shots came from the building and a
firefight broke out. When it was over, 20 Iraqi fighters were dead or wounded, and
the ruling-party leader was led away for interrogation.
"He was certainly surprised," said Maj. Dougie Hay, a Black Watch commander
who led the raid. "It was a demonstration we could mount successful operations
in the area and show them they are dealing with a highly capable force."
Coalition forces followed up with an assault on Iraqi soldiers holding a large
military camp west of town. Under heavy fire, the remnants of the resistance fled
or were killed, leaving behind buildings strewn with gas masks, military briefing
books, boxes of grenades and lines of anti-aircraft guns.
Since then, British troops passing through the town's narrow streets have come
under limited fire and have in turn taken out men launching rocket-propelled
grenades. Little by little, Az-Zubayr is coming under control.
That slowly building dominance is changing the reception for coalition troops.
"It's obvious people have been intimidated by the militias," Hay said. Now "most
of the locals have been very pleased to see us."
That was evident Thursday as British and U.S. soldiers held the town's first large-
scale aid distribution outside the seized Iraqi military base. An attempt to hand
out food Wednesday was aborted when a rocket-propelled grenade was fired at
the base. But on Thursday women in black robes with blue crosses tattooed on
their faces and clamoring young men and dusty children jostled to get their share
of bottled drinking water and food.
Tanks accompanied the trucks of supplies into the camp and then formed a
defensive ring around the distribution site. Truckloads of armed men also sat
ready, their guns pointed over the crowds. But the distribution, which lasted more
than three hours, ended without incident. One female U.S. soldier even got a shy
kiss on the cheek from a little Iraqi boy.
"We are afraid of Saddam's fighters. Things are better since you got here," Talia
Sharfa, one woman in the crowd, told soldiers as she clutched her toddler
daughter, Sara.
A few Iraqis, injured in the skirmishes of recent days, also limped into the base
Thursday to visit an ambulance-size coalition mobile hospital brought to the site
for the day. Wounds were cleaned and antibiotics handed out; residents who
arrived with chronic health problems also got treatment.
"There's been years here of not having appropriate treatment," said Capt. Sue
Everington of the British general support medical regiment as she cleaned the
ulcerated wound of a man whose foot was mangled in a 1986 car accident.

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Residents said that the humanitarian assistance was much appreciated but that
decisive military action--like that in Az-Zubayr--was even more urgently needed.
U.S. forces "should bomb [the ruling party] wherever they are.
Baghdad is the most important. When it's done everything will change," said
Jasser, who agreed to an interview only out of the sight of others.
He asked the question everyone in southern Iraq asks: "Will the Iraqi regime
remain or not?"
"If this coalition does not remove the regime, half of us will die," he said. "We will
be killed just for talking to you. Saddam's eyes are all over here."
He pointed toward an area he said remained a Baath Party stronghold in town.
"The Iraqi regime kills civilians for going against it. If they even think you're
against the regime they kill you," he said.
Military force, like the raids in Az-Zubayr, he said, is key to making sure that
threat is erased for good in this town and others in Iraq.
"I suspect somebody will have to do more of those [raids]," agreed Sgt. John
Hardy, a Scots Guards tank commander with the Black Watch.
"That is what has worked."

Forces rumble forward to fortify an airbase


Source: Scripps Howard
Publication date: 2003-03-28

AT A FORWARD AIRBASE IN IRAQ -- When the men of the Air Force's 17th Security
Forces Squadron finally rolled onto the airstrip here mid-afternoon Friday, a huge
painted cement monument of Saddam Hussein greeted them.
So the new conquerors grabbed their M-16s and their disposable cameras and
climbed on top.
"First in!" yelled a member of the 13-man team from Goodfellow Air Force Base in
San Angelo, Texas, as the unit stood on Saddam's monument. "Mark this one for
the history books."
It was a moment of pure adrenaline in a five-day trek across Kuwait and Iraq that
thousands of Marine, Army, Air Force and Navy Seabee teams are now
attempting, as they fortify airstrips and towns. The path is dangerous; several
convoys have been ambushed and there are still parts of some convoys reported
missing.
"Treat everything as a threat," said Master Sgt. Todd Fuller, leader of the 17th
Security Forces.
"We are not stopping for little Timmy Jihad, we are not stopping to fight people on
the ground," Fuller said, referring to earlier convoys getting ambushed because
they stopped after kids threw their bicycles in the paths of the trucks to try and
make them pull off the road.
This convoy made it safely to the airstrip, without a shot fired. This is partly
because the forces learned from the earlier ambushes, and beefed up the convoy
numbers — this one included nearly 100 vehicles from the British, the Army and
Air Force. And it stretched out over several miles.

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They're traveling mostly by day, filling each highway lane with different convoys,
some carrying hundreds of troops, some carrying semi after semi of construction
equipment. But size also creates a different danger for the men — pure
exhaustion. Nothing could get moving without hours of delay, and the "hurry up
and wait" factor was cutting into the team's ability to remain safe and alert.
Finally, the team crossed the border. Adrenaline carried them into Iraq, where
scores of Iraqi men, women and children lined the roads, trying to get them to
stop and give them water or food.
Staff Sgt. Chad Wurm gave some of the Iraqis who were cheering the "V" sign
with his fingers. Turret gunner Cortez Valentine rotated his gun to give the
Humvee 360-degree protection, and each click sounded like a fisherman slowly
reeling in a line.
Not everyone is friendly. Two kids tried to get into the path of the convoy, but the
vehicles maneuvered around them.
Another Iraqi tried to yank equipment off a Hummer when the convoy had
slowed, and others tried to get in the back gate of the maintenance truck. The
highway is dotted with the charred metallic skeletons of Iraqi military vehicles and
occasionally destroyed U.S. trucks or tanks from battles in the preceding days.
Intelligence reports of hostility in the road diverted the team to Camp Bucca, a
new Army stronghold in southern Iraq, and slowed them even more. Even after
taking two hours to re-line all the trucks up to depart North, further enemy fire in
the distance and intelligence reports that the road is hostile held the convoy back
for the night.
The troops desperately want to be a part of the fight.
Then, cold set in. Even though the daytime heat dehydrates the troops, the
nighttime air freezes them.
They lined up cots in the sand, in between their tightly parked fuel truck and
Humvee, in the hopes of making it safer for them to sleep with the military
vehicles moving around at night. To reduce chances of hostile fire finding them,
the vehicles prowl the night with their lights off. But it makes it more dangerous
for the men trying to sleep.
The night is so cold, Airman 1st Class Brian Kolfage rolls up into the fetal position
in his sleeping bag to try and conserve body heat.
"I still froze," Kolfage said in the morning.
Finally, just before 8 a.m. Friday, the convoy began its final journey to the airfield.
The team is needed to form a perimeter, because the airfield has 12,000-foot
runways on it — long enough to land the Air Forces large cargo planes. It also has
deep, fortified mud-brick "hazzes" — triangular hangars for ammunition and
aircraft. But only a few miles away, bombs continue to fill the sky with smoke and
troops find pockets of resistance.
The guys, who immediately went to work transforming this evacuated, dusty
airfield into a temporary home, did not stop grinning about getting to be the first
Air Force security team inside to have a role in the war.
Said Wurm: "Let's put our markings on the hazzes before the 820th gets here, so
everyone knows we got here first."

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Helmets tell the Seabee story


Source: Scripps Howard
Publication date: 2003-03-28

SOUTHERN IRAQ -- In a world where dressing with any individuality can get a
Seabee dressed down by the Navy's top brass, the troops here are using their
heads to flaunt personal style.
They are putting pen to helmet.
On the top of John Tunis' desert-camouflage-covered Kevlar is a Celtic cross
surrounded by the words: "Lord Protect Us."
"I think it will keep me more focused; you don't get to go to church much around
here" said Tunis, 23, a construction electrician 3rd class with Naval Mobile
Construction Battalion 4. "And yeah, I think it might make me a little safer."
Dress code still applies in the heat of war even though the Seabees have been
living out of tents or sleeping on the sand of the Iraqi desert, eating out of brown
plastic bags and digging holes to use as a latrine.
Women who wore scarves to protect their hair from the insidious dust were told to
knock it off. They don't leave their tents without a "cover," either their desert
camouflage cloth hat or their helmet. And, they don't dare get caught wearing
flip-flops rather than desert boots.
Part of it is safety. The other part is just pure military.
But the helmets have been another matter entirely. It started after the troops
arrived in Kuwait a month ago: some wrote just their names and blood types. But
then it grew — a wife's name on the strap of dust goggles that stretch across the
helmet, a tiny drawing by the right ear. Then, like the proliferation of bumper
stickers on a VW van, an explosion of intricate personal statements covered many
heads.
"It's just one way to express our personalities," said Builder 3rd class Wes Bryant,
25, of Bagwell Texas, "It's just one of the small things we can get away with."
Some are incredibly politically incorrect statements. Others are simply
expressions that erupt in the heat of war like: "Eat s——— Saddam." There are
crossed cannons and nuclear explosions. There are the names of fight teams and
quotes from favorite movies. Many of the symbols and words tie them to what
they call their "real lives."
Steel worker construction man Casey Morton, 20, put his home town of Jasper,
Texas, on his helmet near the initials of his ethnic heritage: Cheyenne River Sioux
Tribe. He has a cow skull dripping with Eagle feathers on the crown of his Kevlar
and a bloody hatchet crossing a peace pipe on the back.
"They did it in 'Full Metal Jacket,' "he explained. "After I got here I wanted to do it,
but didn't because I didn't want to get griped at. But then I saw a couple other
people and so I went ahead."
He didn't put the basic information that other Seabees thought necessary.
"Most people have their blood type, but I think it's bad luck," he said. "It's like you
think you're gonna get hurt."

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MARCH 2003

Builder construction man Caymus Abbott, 22, of Napa, Calif., wrote the nickname
that "Fat Sean" gave him back in high school: "C-Murdermus," as well as the
name of his girlfriend "Glyna."
"It's so if I get blown up, she knows I was thinking about her," he said.
For many the pictures and words have little meaning. Drawing them is just
another way to pass a dry hot desert day in the shade of a tractor-trailer as they
await the next mission.
Builder 3rd class Jonathan Hall, 21, of Salem, Ore., who wrote "Dolphins taste just
like tuna" on his helmet, explained: "I just scribble."

101st Division Sets Up in Central Iraq


Source: Associated Press
Publication date: 2003-03-28

SOMEWHERE IN THE IRAQI DESERT (AP) - In a remote part of central Iraq so


barren that even camels are rare, a base camp with thousands of soldiers from
the 101st Airborne Division has emerged in just a matter of days.
Soldiers endure blinding dust storms and bone-chilling nights in Humvees and
truck cabs; the rest sleep in hand-dug "shallow graves" in the sand without any
covering.
The Screaming Eagles - as the 101st Airborne is known - have arrived in slow-
moving convoys and dust-churning helicopters by the hundreds from Kuwait since
Monday, adding to the bustling area within striking distance of Baghdad that will
soon house all three brigades of the 20,000-strong division.
It's equipped with all the necessities to run a small city, like a jail and medical
clinic - just none of the luxuries. Just getting water, food and fuel here has been a
challenge. There are few latrines and no showers.
"The living conditions out here, this is probably the worst I've ever seen, and will
ever see," said Spc. Albert Nadeau, 24, of McGaheysville, Va., a communications
specialist standing in the desert sun. "There's nothing to look forward to. There's
no privacy out here ... and there's always the threat of coming under attack."
Commanders make no excuses for the living conditions. Showers, a post
exchange and a dining facility were left behind in Kuwait, said Command Sgt. Maj.
Iuniasolua Savusa.
"This is war," Savusa said, from the front seat of his Humvee on a trip to visit
soldiers sleeping and patrolling the perimeter. "You live with what you brought
with you."
The division is resupplied by ground or air, but prefers the air trip; three hours
from Kuwait, compared to three days on the ground. But one day this week, a
load of automotive parts hung from a Chinook helicopter was cut in transport
because of dust winds.
"It's very challenging, especially in bad weather," said Capt. Sean Davis, 32, of
Poolesville, Md., who oversees brigade logistics. "The pilots reserve the option of
cutting sling loads en route because of being attacked, the load becomes
unbalanced or weather."

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A reconnaissance team has been dispatched to tap a deep water well so troops
won't have to bring in all their bottled water in containers called "water buffalos,"
Davis said.
Nadeau sat in his truck Friday reading a book and listening to headphones. He
said he has no complaints.
"I live in my truck. It's been all right," Nadeau said, adding conditions weren't
much different from those during his six months in Afghanistan. "We're used to
being deployed. You're home after a while."

U.S. and British forces clash with Iraqis in south; bomb kills at
Source: Associated Press
Publication date: 2003-03-28

IN SOUTH-CENTRAL IRAQ (AP) -- U.S. Marines clashed with Iraqi forces in south-
central Iraq during a push north that has been slower than planners predicted.
Meanwhile, in the capital, Iraqi officials said a coalition bomb struck a bustling
market, killing at least 58 people.
To the south, British forces outside Basra tried to rescue thousands of civilians as
Iraqi paramilitary forces fired on people fleeing the key southern city.
There were conflicting reports on the number of casualties of Friday evening's
blast in northwest Baghdad at al-Nasr market.
Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf said 58 people were killed
and that the number was likely to rise.
A hospital director put the death toll at 30 and the injured at 47, a surgeon said
47 were killed and 50 injured, and witnesses at the scene said they counted as
many as 50 dead.
Blood-soaked children's slippers lay in the street not far from where the bomb
exploded at about 6 p.m. (1500 GMT) Friday. Witnesses said they saw an aircraft
flying at a high altitude just before the blast. Hours later, another powerful
explosion shook downtown.
The U.S. Central Command in Qatar said it was looking into reports of the attack.
Iraqi officials have blamed U.S. forces for an explosion at another market that
killed 14 people on Wednesday. The Pentagon has denied targeting the
neighborhood.
In another incident, Britain said it is urgently investigating reports of a ``friendly
fire'' incident involving British troops in Iraq.
Britain's Press Association news agency, citing defense sources, said one British
soldier had been killed when troops came under attack from U.S. aircraft on Friday
afternoon.
Before Friday, four British servicemen had been killed in ``friendly fire'' incidents
since the conflict began.
Early Saturday, a missile fell into the sea and rocked a major shopping mall in
Kuwait City, but officials said it caused no injuries and little damage.
Police Brig. Ahmed al-Rujaid said the missile landed at about 1:45 a.m.
``There were no injuries and material damage is very small,'' al-Rujaid said.

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In Iraq, four U.S. Marines from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force are missing
after fierce combat at the south-central town of Nasiriyah, U.S. Central Command
said Friday. It did not say when the Marines disappeared.
At both Nasiriyah and Diwaniyah to the north, U.S. Cobra helicopters and other
aircraft pounded Iraqi ground forces. British Harrier jets, along with U.S. A-10
``Warthog'' jets, dropped laser-guided bombs and fired missiles at Republican
Guard positions, 97 kilometers (60 miles) southeast of Baghdad.
``It is not carpet-bombing, it is still precision stuff. I got two good hits on Medina
Division artillery pieces,'' said British Lt. Scott Morley, a Harrier pilot.
The U.S. Marines are engaged in ``blue-collar warfare,'' said Lt. Col. B.P. McCoy,
commanding officer of the Marine 3rd Battery, 4th Regiment. ``There's no magic
solution to it. It is just the hard-grinding work of patrols.''
At least one American was reported killed in the fighting and two other Marines
were killed after they were accidentally run over by one of their vehicles as they
slept.
To the south, Iraqi paramilitary forces in Basra fired mortars and machine guns on
a ``couple of thousand'' Iraqi civilians trying to leave the besieged city, British
military officials said.
Members of Britain's 7th Armored Brigade were trying to evacuate the civilians
and treat the wounded, said Lt. Col. Ronnie McCourt, a spokesman for British
forces in the Gulf.
British forces have ringed Basra -- Iraq's second-largest, with a population of 1.3
million -- in hopes of eliminating units still loyal to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein
and opening the way for badly needed humanitarian aid.
In Washington, President George W. Bush accused Saddam's regime of
committing scores of atrocities and said those responsible would be ``judged
severely.''
Bush accused Saddam's forces of murdering Iraqis who refuse to fight coalition
forces, brutalizing and executing prisoners of war, and opening fire under the flag
of surrender.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld issued a stern warning to Syria to stop
sending military equipment, including night-vision goggles, to Iraqi forces.
``We consider such trafficking as hostile acts and will hold the Syrian government
accountable,'' Rumsfeld said at a Pentagon briefing.
Asked if the United States was threatening military action against Syria, Rumsfeld
said: ``I'm saying exactly what I'm saying. It was carefully phrased.''
Iraq's Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf denied the claims and
said Rumsfeld ``makes such lies on a daily basis.''
``These accusations against brotherly Syria are of course baseless,'' he said in an
interview with Lebanon's Al-Hayat LBC satellite channel.
The bombings in Baghdad were aimed at disrupting communications between
Iraq's leadership and its military, U.S. officials said.
The United States stopped firing missiles through Turkish airspace toward Iraq on
Friday after a missile in flight fell in southeastern Turkey, a Turkish official said. No
one was injured. Turkish airspace, however, was not closed to U.S. and British
aircraft.

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Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, at the daily briefing at U.S. Central Command in Qatar,
insisted U.S. war planners had not underestimated Iraqi fighting capabilities but
acknowledged that battlefield commanders may be seeing a ``more precise''
reality of resistance than headquarters sees. He accused the Iraqis of using
``terrorist death squads'' who changed in and out of civilian clothes.
Al-Sahhaf, Iraq's information minister, rejected allied contentions that Iraq
planned to use chemical weapons -- speculation that arose after advancing forces
found chemical weapons protective suits and gas masks left behind by retreating
soldiers. Al-Sahhaf said having such equipment is standard for any army.
Nine days into the war, Pentagon officials said close to 90,000 U.S. troops were in
Iraq, with 100,000 to 120,000 more on the way. Some will be deployed in northern
Iraq, joining 1,000 airborne troops who parachuted in Wednesday night to secure
an airfield.
A paramount U.S. objective in the north is to seize the valuable oil fields near the
city of Kirkuk, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the airdrop site.
The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution Friday to restart the
U.N. humanitarian program, which was providing food to 60 percent of Iraq's 22
million people, once the U.S.-led war winds down.
The resolution gives Secretary-General Kofi Annan control for 45 days over the
humanitarian side of the U.N. program that uses Iraq's oil revenues for medical
supplies and food.

Air Force Jets Destroy Building in Basra

A pair of F-15E Strike Eagles destroyed a two-story building in Basra where some
200 Iraqi regime paramilitary members were believed to be meeting Friday night,
the U.S. Central Command said.
The U.S. Air Force jets used laser-guided munitions to destroy the building, while
leaving undamaged the Basra Christian Church 300 meters (yards) away, the
officials said. They said a delayed fuse allowed the bombs to penetrate the
structure before detonation, minimizing the effects of the blast.
Earlier Friday, Iraqi paramilitary forces fired mortars and machine guns on about
1,000 Iraqi civilians trying to leave the besieged city of Basra, forcing some of
them to retreat, British military officials and witnesses said.
Britain's 7th Armored Brigade apparently tried to fire back, but stopped out of
fear that civilians would be wounded, said Lt. Cmdr. Emma Thomas, a
spokeswoman for British forces in the Gulf. As a result, some civilians retreated
into Basra in trucks, she said. It's unclear how many did manage to escape.
British forces have ringed the southern city of 1.3. million in hopes of eliminating
units still loyal to Saddam Hussein and opening the way for badly needed
humanitarian aid.
But Col. Chris Vernon said Friday that British forces are "nowhere near" capturing
the city, Iraq's second largest.
Basra was "clearly nowhere near yet in our hands," Vernon told Sky News
television. "We have no way at the moment of getting humanitarian aid into
Basra."

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He said coalition forces have underestimated the level of resistance by loyalist


forces and paramilitaries and said Basra's civilians need to be convinced that
coalition forces will support them if they revolt against Saddam.
Significant numbers of Iraqi civilians have been going outside Basra on a daily
basis to get food aid - and then returning home.
"Our interpretation of this is here perhaps are the first pieces of evidence of Iraqi
people trying to break free from the Baath party regime and the militia," he told
Sky News Television.
"And clearly the militia don't want that. They want to keep their population in
there, and they fired on them to force them back in."
Iraqi forces with mortars mounted in pickup trucks fired on the fleeing civilians
Friday morning, sending some running back into the city Friday morning, British
pool reports said. Panicked women and children scattered on a bridge over the
Shatt Al Basrah Canal and down its embankments to avoid machine-gun fire, the
reports said.
Some civilians made it safely over the bridge and out of town. One Iraqi woman
badly wounded by shrapnel was carried into a British vehicle that whisked her off
for treatment.
A British tank destroyed the gun-mounted truck and two Lynx helicopters later
fired missiles on positions manned by fighters with Saddam's Fedayeen
paramilitary.
British troops in the town of Zubayr, near Basra, took over a children's health
center that apparently had been converted into an armory by the Iraqi militia and
Baath Party, according to a reporter with The Scotsman who was with the Black
Watch forces.
Major Douggie Hay, whose men found the clinic, said: "I believe this is where they
mounted the attack on us from yesterday."
A 30mm anti-aircraft gun was perched on the roof and boxes of children's
medicines were discovered next to rooms packed with rocket propelled grenades,
AK47 rifles and thousands of rounds of ammunition, the news report said.

Weapon of the week: MOAB, killer of the helpless


Source: Village Voice
Publication date: 2003-03-19
Arrival time: 2003-03-28

Exultation over the new MOAB-perhaps the ugliest and most stupid of new
weapons in the U.S. armory-reveals a poverty of intellect and heart in the country.
A clumsy multi-ton monster bomb tested in Florida last week has no practical war
purpose other than terror, in a military whose signal achievement in the last
decade has been to make smaller weapons unerringly accurate.
The MOAB is the natural result of allowing munitions engineers to run amok, a
design by the aggressively mediocre who in a better time and place would be
sent into early retirement for the good of the taxpayer.
The Massive Ordnance Air Blast, or Mother of All Bombs (quite the rib-tickler), is
so big it must be shoved out the tail of a lumbering transport plane on a sled

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attached to a drag parachute. This means MOAB can only be used against the
helpless-an enemy who cannot shoot back because its air force has already been
utterly smashed, its anti-aircraft missile network erased from the target area. A
very large, undefended mosque would be a good hit for MOAB- meeting the
bomb's criterion of use for "psychological" effect.
An idiot stationed in the Pentagon TV newsroom jabbered about the MOAB's
"guidance" by Global Positioning System-great precision being unnecessary on
the 21,000-pound bomb, another clue to its construction by
governmentsanctioned ninnies.
A small part of the blame for the MOAB must go to Dynetics, one more in a
dismaying number of corporations that exist to provide applications in mayhem.
The company's logo on the MOAB's tail was probably thought of as a coup in
corporate advertising, although a bracing "Fuck You!" might have better created
the impression that the thing was made by real people rather than a labful of
killer androids on Eglin Air Force Base.
The MOAB is said to be a long-awaited improvement on the 15,000- pound
Commando Vault ("Daisy Cutter") bomb, a canister of aluminum powder mixed in
a slurry originally made to clear landing spaces of underbrush and demolish
minefields. Daisy Cutters were used in
Gulf War I and again in Afghanistan, to no obvious effect other than the creation
of media and Pentagon erections. These cost $27,000 and change per bang, so
even allowing for a three-ton increase in weight, MOAB should be cheap by
Defense Department standards.
If the MOAB makes an appearance over Iraq, count on it to be enthusiastically
superfluous due to the military axiom: A handful of really big bombs dropped in
the open can't compare to thousands of much smaller ones smashing through
windows, doorways, and hidey- holes.

Battles Amid The Storm ; An Nasiriyah: U.S. Marines Capture 170


Paramilitary Troops In Fierce Fight; 'Point Of The Spear'; It's Hardball
Time For Marines Racing North
Source: Richmond Times - Dispatch
Publication date: 2003-03-26
Arrival time: 2003-03-28

U.S. Marines call any highway the "hardball," and driving it is called hardballing.
Yesterday, after crossing the Euphrates River at An Nasiriyah, the Marines of the
1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment did a whole lot of hardballing - racing north
along Route 7 and leaving in their wake dead Iraqi soldiers, burned buses, trucks
and cars, and demolished weapons.
Along the way, the battalion's Charlie Company also took about 40 prisoners,
among them a major in the Iraqi army and a member of the Republican Guard.
Three days ago many of Charlie Company's Marines grumbled to a Richmond
Times-Dispatch reporter accompanying them that they felt as if they were being
left out of the war.
No more.

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"This is now the point of the spear" aimed at Baghdad, said Col. Joe Dowdy,
regimental commander, as he surveyed the Humvees and amphibious assault
vehicles belonging to Charlie Company and the 1st Battalion.
The vehicles were parked on the side of the road next to a dusty field where more
than three dozen Iraqis - it was unclear whether all of them were soldiers - lay
face down in the dirt. Their hands were tied behind their backs. Seven or eight of
them wore the desert camouflage uniform of the Iraqi army.
Lt. Col. John Mayer, commander of the 1st Battalion, looked out on the field of
prisoners and grinned. "It's a great day to be us," he said.
Second Lt. Ilario Costa, leader of Charlie's 2nd Platoon, said the Iraqi prisoners
were cooperating with interrogators and had told them of a weapons cache
hidden behind an adobe-style building roughly 500 yards from the dirt field.
"Often these weapons caches are booby trapped, so we'll pass the information
along to engineering and let them handle it," Costa said, keeping a wary eye on
the prisoners.
The roughly 1,000 men of the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines are part of several
thousand Marines and British troops approaching Baghdad from the southeast
while the Army's 3rd Infantry Division approaches from the southwest.
The Marines began their push up Route 7 early yesterday morning when they
drove through a section of An Nasiriyah controlled by Saddam's Fedayeen, a
paramilitary force that considers itself a "martyrs brigade." Its members say they
would rather die than surrender.
The 2nd Marine Regiment remains in An Nasiriyah.
U.S. military leaders believe Route 7 is lined with Fedayeen all the way to Al Kut, a
town about 180 miles north of An Nasiriyah. Yesterday, the Marines - which
included not only the 1st Battalion but the 3rd Battalion of the 1st Marine
Regiment and the 2nd Battalion of the 23rd Marine Reservist Regiment - made
frequent stops to check out possible ambushes as they rolled north.
As evening approached, the convoy stopped to refuel. Suddenly three men in a
pickup opened fire from the east side of the highway, then hid in a line of palm
trees.
Capt. Brian Collins of Springfield, the Charlie Company commander, led a group
out behind a dirt berm to investigate. Then an enemy tank shell whizzed
overhead from north to south. Then small- arms fire erupted from south to north.
The Marines returned fire with M-16s, .50-caliber machine guns, artillery and
mortars. They didn't hear anything more from the three who had originally fired
upon them. But they knew they were in for a long night.

From Watery Hideouts, Subs Play Valuable Role During Desert War
Source: Chicago Tribune
Publication date: 2003-03-28

Mar. 28--WASHINGTON--Once criticized as expensive and unnecessary after the


Cold War, the Navy's nuclear-powered submarines have found a modern-day
combat role, vividly illustrated by the unfolding campaign against Iraq.

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Two Los Angeles-class attack submarines, the USS Montpelier and the USS
Cheyenne, were among the six U.S. vessels that opened the war by firing
Tomahawk cruise missiles at an Iraqi leadership compound believed occupied by
Saddam Hussein.
Since then, Navy attack subs have been contributing to cruise missile salvos now
numbering in the hundreds.
It might come as a surprise that submarines would contribute heavily to a war in
a desert nation. The vessels' ability to silently glide to a secret location, then
suddenly unleash a barrage of missiles, gives them a valuable role.
"The enemy can predict the flight of missiles fired from surface ships, but not
those from submarines," said retired Rear Adm.
Charles Beers, a board member of the U.S. Naval Institute. "Their stealthiness is a
definite advantage."
Because of the Persian Gulf conflict and other world trouble spots, about a third of
the U.S. submarine fleet of 54 vessels is deployed--more than at any time since
the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War.
"More than a third of the Tomahawks that have been launched in Operation
Enduring Freedom [in Afghanistan] were launched by submarines," said Capt. Bill
Toti, assistant chief of staff of U.S. submarine forces. "I wouldn't be surprised if in
this war it isn't higher."
Submarines are part of five aircraft carrier battle groups the Navy is operating in
the eastern Mediterranean or Persian Gulf area.
Others are operating independently. One of the new post-Cold War duties for
nuclear submarines is to serve as floating bases for special operations missions,
launching Navy SEAL teams, Army Rangers, Marine Corps reconnaissance units
and other special warfare forces.
But the submarine program long has had its share of critics, who argue that the
subs' contribution to modern warfare falls far short of their expense to taxpayers.
Each attack sub costs about $1.3 billion to build, and some consider them
expensive missile launchers.
"Tomahawks can be launched more efficiently by surface vessels," said naval
analyst Norman Polmar, who opposes several aspects of the submarine program.
Still, Polmar acknowledged that the vessels add to the available missile supply in
the gulf region.
"They're in the fleet; they have the missiles, and we might as well use them," he
said.
Retired Adm. Steve Baker, a military analyst for the Center for Defense
Information, agreed.
"They're part of the team," Baker said. "They move around and can provide
Central Command with flexibility and a backup."
Most submarines fire their missiles through torpedo tubes, as many as four at a
time, and a typical Los Angeles-class sub can carry as many as 20 missiles. Some,
such as the new Virginia class, also have vertical launch tubes and can carry 32
Tomahawks.

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The Navy is currently spending $3 billion transforming four huge ICBM-firing Ohio-
class subs into Tomahawk shooters, each of which will carry 154 of the cruise
missiles.
In addition to firing missiles, the subs also take on reconnaissance and
intelligence-gathering missions. Submarines are equipped with a complicated
array of sensors that allow them to monitor activities in the air, on the surface
and underwater.
While the military is otherwise busy with the Iraq campaign, subs are lying off
coastlines all over the world, keeping watch on nations such as North Korea in
case they attempt to take advantage of America's preoccupation with Saddam
Hussein.
"Anywhere the president thinks our presence would be helpful to monitor world
situations, if there's a coastline, we'll be there," Toti said. "The great thing about a
submarine is it's like a ghost."
Under a post-Cold War reduction program, the nation's fleet of nuclear attack
subs has been cut by nearly half, from 95 to 54, while the number of missions has
tripled.
"During the entire Cold War, the nuclear submarine was devoted to countering
the Soviet submarine force," said Vice Adm. John Grossenbacher, commander of
U.S. naval submarine forces. "We made sure we dealt with the Russian submarine
force in their backyard, not ours, and made the oceans free for the rest of our
Navy."
The underwater cat-and-mouse games played by Soviet and American subs
sometimes risked igniting a broader confrontation between the two superpowers.
But Grossenbacher said U.S. submarines contributed to the end of the Cold War
because the Soviets "realized they couldn't compete in an area where they
devoted an enormous amount of their resources."
After the Cold War, with many Russian subs rusting away in harbors, the U.S.
submarine program came under criticism as a waste of money.
"The predictions of many people were, `What do we need these submarines for?'"
Grossenbacher said. "The predictions were that the submarine force was going to
get smaller and less relevant."
Although the force has been drastically reduced, the admiral says subs have
become more relevant because of their stealth and ability to project U.S. power
and surveillance.
North Korea has been threatening confrontation, while China remains a potential
enemy if it should attack Taiwan. Both nations have long coastlines where U.S.
submarines would play a significant role.

Soldiers Barter With Cigarettes, Cheese Sauce


Source: The Commercial Appeal
Publication date: 2003-03-27
Arrival time: 2003-03-28

Money is useless to soldiers in the desert. But cigarettes are just like gold.

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"I traded a pack of cigarettes for a Mini-Mag light worth $15," said Marine Lance
Cpl. Tyler Joki, 20.
"Cigarettes are cash out here," he said. "If someone offered me $20 for a pack, I
wouldn't sell."
Joki and other Marines with the 7th Engineer Support Battalion, based at Camp
Pendleton, are making their way through southern Iraq. They spend their days
waiting for orders, cleaning the sand from their ears and finding a decent place in
the desert for their own private time.
But one thing they don't do is spend cash. Money holds no value. There is no
place to spend it. It doesn't make a good meal, and for the most part, it is
worthless.
Cigarettes, food or services? Now those are worth something.
The cigarette brand doesn't matter. Generic. Camels. Newports. But if it's a pack
of Marlboro reds, even better.
Joki keeps his stashed in a secret spot inside the Humvee he drives. He'll leave
everything else out in plain sight - his radio, water, food, even candy.
But not the cigarettes.
Lance Cpl. Evan Hoyt trades a service for his smokes.
"Since my truck pulls the generator, I can charge razors," he said with a smile.
Something as routine as a charged electric razor is priceless. Each of the Marines
must shave each morning to ensure that the rubber face mask of his gas mask
will seal properly against the skin.
While cigarettes are the trade du jour of the camp, food is next.
And cheese sauce is king of the desert.
Packed away in the daily rations that Marines eat, which are issued randomly, are
small packages of peanut butter and cheese sauce. These little brown packs,
especially the jalapeno cheese sauce, can buy a favor or the good graces of a
superior officer.

U.S. troops walk tightrope in northern Iraq to appease Turkey


Source: Associated Press
Publication date: 2003-03-28

DOHUK, Iraq (AP) -- U.S.-trained Kurdish militiamen stood guard on the stony
outcrops and peaks surrounding this tense northern trading city, well within
artillery range of thousands of Iraqi troops just a mile (1.5 kilometers) to the
south.
The militiamen, and the U.S. Special Forces patrolling at their sides, walk a dual
mission tightrope -- on one hand, trying to flush out nearby Iraqi forces while also
trying to deter Turkey from sending in its own troops from across the border.
The growing importance of this emerging northern front was underlined Friday
when the region's main Kurdish factions -- whose members usually disagree on
almost everything -- issued a joint statement with other regime opponents, urging
everyday people across Iraq to defy Saddam Hussein.

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The call came as more than 1,200 newly arrived American troops helped bolster
Kurdish militiamen and U.S. forces already on the ground. U.S. troops here are as
focused on maintaining local stability as they are on moving south to Baghdad.
``We don't want to precipitate a crisis between Turkey and the Kurds in northern
Iraq, but we want to continue to prosecute the war in the south,'' said Lt. Col.
Robert Waltemeyer, commander of U.S. special operations troops in the area.
Turkey has said it could send thousands of troops into northern Iraq, ostensibly to
provide humanitarian aid for people displaced by fighting.
But Turkey also worries that Kurdish attempts to move into the oil-rich areas
around the northern city of Kirkuk could create a bigger and richer Kurdish
enclave that might incite Turkey's large Kurdish population to revolt.
Kurdish militia leaders have promised the United States they will not attempt a
takeover of Kirkuk. But on Friday, Kurdish militiamen said they would police areas
relinquished by fleeing Iraqis.
``We're here for security, to prevent robbing and looting,'' said Nazim Hussein,
toting a Kalashnikov rifle to an outpost near the autonomous region's southern
checkpoint.
Like many Kurds, Hussein was driven from his property and his home when
Saddam's regime declared much of northern Iraq military areas.
On Thursday, when Iraqi troops quietly abandoned hilltop bunkers from which
they had shelled and terrorized Chamchamal for 12 years, people there rejoiced.
They jammed taxis, pedaled bicycles and ran on foot to the emptied bunkers, and
exulted in claiming a site that had brought destruction and death to their city.
Twenty kilometers (12 miles) inside government-controlled Iraq, Qala Hanjir
offered a clear view of Kirkuk on Friday. Raging fires and smoke plumes were seen
there, possibly the result of American bombing. Iraqis had used Qala Hanjir to
defend Kirkuk.
Iraqi soldiers appeared to have abandoned other positions near the Kurdish region
and moved closer to Kirkuk.
But Kurdish control of those newly deserted locations was tenuous. In
Chamchamal on Friday, shells and rockets fired from Kirkuk landed nearby,
injuring at least one person, witnesses said.
Kurdish militiamen who guard the line are poorly equipped, and were no match
for Saddam until American special forces arrived to help them fight.
Small detachments of Kurdish soldiers now work with their American counterparts
to identify Iraqi positions and call in U.S. airstrikes.
The U.S. is eager to open a northern front against Iraq, but does not want to
destroy the civil infrastructure of northern Iraq in the process. Stability of the
region is a primary goal and so is preserving the oil-producing infrastructure.
Waltemeyer spent the day meeting Kurdish civic leaders and military officials to
stress the need for stability and outline plans for rebuilding the area after the war.
``Americans can be impatient people, and soldiers are perhaps the most
impatient Americans,'' Waltemeyer said. ``But if we came in here shooting, we
could destroy the region in a way that would result in decades of recovery.''

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Marines Batter Nasiriyah With Artillery,


Source: Associated Press
Publication date: 2003-03-29

Artillery and rocket barrages set buildings on fire and raised a pall of thick, black
smoke over Nasiriyah on Friday as Marines outside the Euphrates River city tried
to stamp out Iraqi resistance on a key supply route to Baghdad.
At least some units at the front end of the lightning advance toward the capital
have been ordered to halt for what officers in the field called an operational pause
to give them a chance to resupply. The closest U.S. forces are about 50 miles
south of Baghdad.
Marines set up makeshift camps on the side of a road, waiting for badly needed
fuel supplies and working to improve communications with units further back.
"We're trying not to screw ourselves up and to watch our rear by establishing
these lines of communication," a lieutenant in the battalion said.
Helicopter gunships tried to wear down Saddam Hussein's best fighters protecting
the approaches to the capital. In the 101st Airborne Division's first known
offensive mission of the war, its Apaches hit tanks and installations of the
Republican Guard.
Two Apaches crashed as they returned to the 101st's base in a remote part of the
southern Iraqi desert, but all crewmembers escaped injury.
In Iraq's second largest city, Basra, U.S. warplanes firing laser-guided missiles
destroyed a building where 200 paramilitary fighters were believed to be
meeting. The paramilitaries, known as Saddam's Fedayeen, have kept a fierce
grip on Basra even as British forces encircle the city.
The battle over Nasiriya, meanwhile, gave a sample of the kind of firefight that
may await coalition forces in Baghdad, 200 miles to the north.
All day, Marines fought pockets of Iraqi fighters. Cobra helicopters fired rockets
into the city, raising plumes of white smoke. Artillery and tank fire rumbled,
sparking bursts of white flame low on the horizon. Helicopter crews drew almost
continuous small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades.
Four Marines with the 1st Expeditionary Force were reported missing.
Heavy smoke from a burning power plant poured over the city of 500,000, and
other buildings were also on fire. In Nasiriyah's eastern neighborhoods, some
buildings were reduced to shells, with debris scattered in the streets.
U.S. forces were trying to clear the strategic road around Nasiriyah, which lies at a
junction of highways leading up to Baghdad and has been the scene of fierce
fighting the past week.
In the chaos, progress elsewhere on the Iraqi battlefield seemed distant.

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But further up the road, troops were pushing north toward Baghdad with food,
fuel and other supplies. North of Najaf, the Army's V Corps defeated paramilitary
attacks, military officials said.
Air attacks focused on the Republican Guard's Medina division.
F/A-18s from the USS Kitty Hawk in the Persian Gulf attacked a fuel depot and
another site with missile canisters belonging to the Medina division, said Capt.
Dick Corpus, chief of staff of the Kitty Hawk battle group. Royal Air Force pilots
also hit Republican Guard positions 60 miles southeast of Baghdad.
"There was fantastic visibility and I could even see the camels on the ground as
well as a number of bomb craters around the encampment," Flight Lt. Scott
Morley, a Harrier pilot, told a reporter for Britain's Sunday Express. "I got two
good hits on Medina division artillery pieces."
At least 1,200 troops are in place in northern Iraq, and special operations forces
have secured air fields and other strategic targets in the west.
The big target is Baghdad. "We'll attack when we're ready," Air Force Gen. Richard
Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said.
But they won't be ready until more forces reach the environs of a city where
Saddam's forces were expected to mass for a last stand of house-to-house
fighting. And continuing attacks by Iraqi irregular forces - along with almost
perpetual traffic jams on roads north - have turned last week's sprints across the
desert into a distant memory.
Marine units pushed forward. Instead of trying to avoid engagements, they looked
for them, trying to clean out pockets of regime loyalists as they go. Convoys
moved day and night, taking food, fuel and other supplies north, traveling in total
darkness without headlights.
It's "blue-collar warfare," said Lt. Col. B.P. McCoy, commanding officer of the U.S.
Marines 3rd Battery, 4th Regiment. "There's no magic solution to it. It is just the
hard-grinding work of patrols."
But they did advance. Authorities said the 1st Marine Expeditionary force was
north of Qalat Sikar, 50 miles up the road from Nasiriyah.
Behind them, some pockets of resistance were vanquished. Authorities said the
port of Umm Qasr was secured after days of sporadic fighting, allowing the
delivery of humanitarian aid for desperate Iraqis.
Elsewhere, battles raged. At Diwaniyah, a Marine died and another was wounded
in fighting with irregular Iraqi forces at a cement plant. In Basra, the airstrike
appeared aimed at helping break the grip of Saddam's Fedayeen on the city.
Central Command said it didn't yet know what happened to the occupants of the
targeted building. Earlier in the day, the paramilitaries opened fire on civilians
trying to flee the city.
Saddam's Fedayeen were spotted in and around Nasirayah. Some of the Iraqis
wore uniforms and others were in civilian clothes, riding in white pickup trucks
and taxis. They waved white T-shirts, and then started shooting.
On Thursday, a CH-46 Marine transport helicopter trying to pick up casualties and
deliver supplies to Marines in battle was forced to turn back when it came under
fire from small arms and rocket-propelled grenades.

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