Monday, March 24
Iraq's David and Goliath tactics
Jonathan Marcus, BBC defence correspondent at Central Command HQ in Qatar, March 24, 2003
While Iraqi soldiers have put up little resistance in the south, irregulars are fighting a guerrilla war There is no doubt that the Iraqi armed forces are playing a weak hand with some skill.
While regular Iraqi units in the south seem to have offered only sporadic resistance, many just melting away ahead of the US and British advance, groups of Iraqi irregulars have emerged from hiding to ambush coalition forces.
These fighters are thought by sources at the Central Command headquarters to be drawn from organisations like the Fedayeen Saddam, or the special security organisation.
Both groups are intensely loyal to the Iraqi regime.
They are lightly armed and many are said to be fighting in civilian clothes, taking sanctuary in populated areas like Nasiriya, Basra and Umm Qasr.
These fighters were clearly moved into southern Iraq ahead of the start of the US and British campaign.
They are fighting a classic guerrilla or irregular war. [...]
Nonetheless, further to the north-west, the first clashes are occurring between the US Army and Republican Guard formations.
These Iraqi units are already coming under attack from US and British war planes and helicopters.
US commanders may be missing the heavier mechanised division that is still at sea, which should have entered Iraq from Turkish soil
The southern battle is, however, only one part of the mosaic of operations that may be under way.
We know little about what is going on in the north and west of Iraq. [...]