Thursday, March 27, 2003

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WHO AND WHY WE'RE FIGHTING: You want to know why Saddam Hussein's regime is worth eliminating? Here's one reason:

"The aftermath of the firefight was a tableau of twisted Iraqi corpses, cans of unopened food and the dirty mattresses where they had spent their final hours.

But the Iraqi private with a bullet wound in the back of his head suggested something particularly grim. Up and down the 200-mile stretch of desert where the American and British forces have advanced, one Iraqi prisoner after another has told a similar tale: that many Iraqi soldiers were fighting at gunpoint, threatened with death by loyalists of Saddam Hussein.

Here, according to American doctors and Iraqi prisoners, appeared to be the confirmation. The wounded Iraqi, whose life was ebbing away outside an American field hospital, had been shot during a firefight Tuesday night with American troops. It was a small-caliber bullet, most likely from a pistol, fired at close range. Iraqi prisoners taken after the battle said their officers had been firing at them, pushing them into battle.

'The officers threatened to shoot us unless we fought,' said a wounded Iraqi from his bed in the American field hospital here. 'They took out their guns and pointed them and told us to fight.'"

More evidence from Basra:

"Air Marshall Brian Burridge, the top British commander in the Gulf, also reported Thursday that Iraqis loyal to Saddam Hussein were forcing Iraqi conscripts and regular army troops into combat near Basra with the threat of executing them or their families.

British forces destroyed 14 Iraqi tanks that tried to break out of the southern city of Basra on Thursday morning, and one official said the tanks were manned by Iraqi soldiers whose families were threatened.

'They are being forced to fight by these militia. They are going into, apparently, people's homes, forcing the men to drive these vehicles to try and lead the escape out of Basra,' said Group Capt. Al Lockwood. 'They are obviously coercing them into this action, whereas in fact we would have wished them to surrender.'"

Not repelled yet? Consider that the Basra story starts with this piece of information:

"Iraqi paramilitary forces are seizing children and threatening Iraqi men with execution if they don't fight for the regime, U.S. and British officials said Thursday.

The U.S. commanders around the south-central city of Najaf reported the development to Gen. Tommy Franks, who is commanding forces in the Gulf, said U.S. Central Command spokesman Jim Wilkinson."

One piece of good news -- what this means for Iraq's command and control:

"Lockwood said the most recent behavior by the Iraqis showed the center no longer was holding.

'The enemy's options are now limited. They don't know what to do and they're guessing. It shows the command and control exercised by Baghdad has broken down. It's a suicidal approach which is irrational with no military logic to it. Military cohesion is sadly lacking.'"

UPDATE: Here's another story on this topic.

posted by Dan on 03.27.03 at 12:06 PM