April 3, 2003
Coalition special operations forces (SpecOps, including Special Forces, rangers, CIA mercenaries and commandos) have not been much heard from. But they have been very active. Secrecy is a matter of life and death for SpecOps people, so little is said about their operations for that reason. But some details have gotten out. Last weekend, for example, bombing were made on nine Baath party headquarters and locations around Baghdad based on information collected by SpecOps troops. In Basra, SpecOps forces located a building, that was bombed, where 200 Iraqi irregulars were holding a meeting. Out in the western Iraqi desert, U.S. Army Rangers raided an Iraqi commando headquarters, destroyed it, took fifty prisoners and captured weapons and documents.
For several months there have been rumors about commandos operating in and around Baghdad. One rumor (sort of confirmed) is that CIA hit squads are looking for senior Iraqi leaders. In the past, the CIA has hired locals, promising large bonuses if key tasks were successfully carried out. These teams were working with SpecOps teams who were collecting information, and also on the lookout to get a shot at senior Iraqi leaders. The SpecOps teams were apparently the ones who discovered the location of a meeting between Saddam Hussein and some of his close associates on March 20th. This led to a cruise missile attack on the location, and death and injury to some of those attending the meeting. Along the same lines, it's thought that some of the explosions heard in Baghdad are not the result of bombs or missiles, but explosives planted by commandos.
It has been an open secret that SpecOps personnel are operating in northern Iraq (with the Kurds) and in western Iraq (where the commandos and rangers basically control most of that desert region.) No losses have been reported, although Kurds speak openly of one Special Forces A team that was overrun by Iraqi troops while on an operation in Iraqi controlled territory. However, it's thought that if the Iraqis got their hands on any commandos, dead or alive, they would make a photo op of it.
There have been some first hand reports of commandos near Baghdad. In the past week, some American journalists, expelled from Baghdad, were driving south on the main highway. Not far outside the city, they were stopped by a group of Australian SAS (Special Air Service commandos) who, at gunpoint, demanded identification. When the American journalists were able to identify themselves, the Australians allowed them to continue their journey. The Australians remained to watch the highway, and their presence was reported by many other travelers along the road from Baghdad to Jordan..