Desperate Men and Desperate Measures

By Tom Evers

March 31, 2003

While most Americans understand that our military force is making progress at a record pace never before seen in military history, it's also true that the tactics of our enemies have changed considerably over the last week, which has caused a more cautious approach in the allied advance.  It's an understatement that new Iraqi tactics are of great concern for the safety of allied troops.  And it's hard for the average citizen to comprehend that warring nations should follow specific civilized "rules of engagement" particularly when facing a terrorist nation of such unprecedented barbarity.

This week, Americans were surprised to learn that the Iraqi military is operating under unfair and barbaric rules of engagement. If the visuals on Al-Jazeera television, showing murdered American troops, and POW's being paraded around and embarrassed weren't enough, consider these samples of the tactics being used by the enemy:

On at least two occasions, Iraqi military personal feigned surrender, bearing white flags and all, pulled out machine guns and attacked allied troops killing 9 and wounding 40 Americans

Iraqi military personnel are dressing as civilians, infiltrating residential areas and leading attacks on US military positions; this activity makes it far more difficult to recognize friend from foe, and innocent from aggressor

This morning in Kuwait City, Kuwait, a pick up truck drove into a crowd of US service men injuring 10 to 15 troops.

On Friday near Najaf, Iraq, a man driving a taxi drove up to a military checkpoint claiming that he had vehicle trouble; as military personnel approached he set off a bomb killing himself and 4 US troops; Iraq's vice president, Taha Yassin Ramadan rewarded the man with two posthumous medals and promised more terrorist style attacks on US interests in the Middle East and abroad

Dozens of Iraqi artillery pieces are being located in residential areas, making it more difficult for US bombers to remove them without inflicting damage to civilians and residential neighborhoods

Internal Iraqi state police are using similar tactics to maintain fear and order over civilians:

Iraqi military forces are forcing civilian men to pick up arms and fight for the regime under threat that if they don't do so, they and their families will face rape, torture and execution; many of these civilian troops are being placed on the front line, and are being placed in front of regular and republican guard troops

An Iraqi woman was seen on CNN television waving to allied planes, later she was hung for what Iraqis saw as an "act of treason"

In the City of Basra, British military forces have reported that Iraqi military forces and paramilitary forces are firing on civilians who attempt to flee the city. 

The Iraqi government continues to use Iraqi Television as a method of propagating lies and false information about the conflict; Iraqi television claims that the United States and its allies are attempting to conquer Iraq, and that allied forces are targeting civilian areas; they have further claimed that Americans are torturing and murdering Iraqi prisoners of war. 

This week Iraqi forces launched a Chinese-made silkworm missile; the missile went astray and destroyed a populated Iraqi shopping center, killing and injuring dozens; Iraqi TV used this episode to falsely illustrate allied attacks on Iraqi civilians

Most notable and frightening is the Iraqi war tactic to use suicide attacks to kill allied forces.  Allied forces haven't directly dealt with this kind of fanaticism since facing Japanese kamikaze pilots during World War II.  While Israel faces this kind of attack almost on a weekly basis, Israeli officials will tell you that these attacks are difficult to prepare for (or repel) because they occur when they are least expected.  The concept that an individual is willing to commit suicide to attack western interests is bizarre.  Further, the concept of martyrdom is purely fanatical; and illustrates the madness of the enemy.  It also illustrates the resolve of the Iraqi regime; and will most likely continue to be a factor during and long after the war is over.

Allied troops will have to safeguard against the civilian population.  Special kindness shown to the Iraqi population - particularly civilians - will have to subside dramatically.  Troops will be forced to treat all Iraqis with the same suspicion, or they will face greater causalities and more deaths.  Mercenaries found bearing weapons should be executed immediately in order to send a message that this kind of strategy carries a death sentence.  We should show fanatics no mercy whatsoever.

It's also a well-known fact that Saddam Hussein has purchased American military uniforms and will most likely stage events to attempt to frighten the Iraqi people into believing that Americans are attempting to invade Iraq for conquest purposes with the intent of murdering regular Iraqi citizens.   And it isn't beyond Saddam dress up his men in US outfits and have them gun down hundreds of innocent Iraqis in order to film a propaganda show.  Remember that in the Iraqi state, life has absolutely no value whatsoever.  As with Nazi Germany, people are used to pursue the interest of the state, even if it means putting hundreds to their deaths.

One of the key problems for allied forces is the planned desire to protect the Iraqi civilian population.  Taking this risk is noble, but also places allied forces in a dangerous predicament of not being able to remove Iraqi troops hold out in civilian areas.  The US defense department has publicized this fact to the extent that Iraqi strategists have incorporated this knowledge into their plans. They are making use of civilian human shields to protect Iraqi leaders and Iraqi military units.  They have also placed Iraqi television in the basement of a daycare center.  Despite these difficult situations, my prediction is that there will have to come a time when allied troops are forced to incorporate limited targeting of civilian targets accepting Iraqi civilian casualties as the price of war, and the price of an allied victory.

Saddam's strategy is very clear.  The longer he can hold off a surrender of Baghdad and halt the allied advance, the bloodier the conflict will become.  He will attempt to keep the conflict going until the Arab League, the international community, and our domestic liberals come to his rescue.  This is a similar strategy used by Yasir Arafat during his conflict with Israel.  Arafat was quite successful because ten years later he still remains as leader of the Palestinian people.  Saddam is clever enough to understand this; and let's face it, once the war is over, the majority of Baath party officials and members of his Gestapo force will face war crimes trials and eventual sentencing and execution.  These villains are fighting for their lives.

This recalls the statement said by one German general during World War II, "Enjoy the war, because the peace is going to be miserable."  Such will be the case for Iraqi antagonists.

The most alarming find this week, is the discovery of about 3000 chemical weapons suits.  For a nation that claimed no knowledge of plans to develop a weapons of mass destruction program, this is an incredible find.  The obvious concern voiced by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and echoed by General Tommy Franks is the potential for Iraqi forces to fire missiles and shells carrying chemical toxins.  Any use of these weapons will alter American military plans dramatically, and could create a scenario where we retaliate with small arm nuclear weapons.  And justifiably so. 

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