Infantry: February 8, 2003

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When the media reports on possible urban warfare in Iraq, especially Baghdad, it is usually ignored that most of the people in Baghdad hate Saddam. The most numerous enemies of Saddam are the Shia Arabs, who form a majority of the Iraqi population. The Shias have been tyrannized by the minority Sunnis for centuries and are not likely to fight to the death for Saddam in some desperate form of urban warfare. Maps of Baghdad have been prepared which show the neighborhoods most likely to contain Saddam loyalists. These would be the areas where members of the secret police and senior Baath Party leaders live, and might resist. Also, north of Baghdad are towns that have long been loyal to Saddam, mainly because they contain many people who belong to his tribe or clan. The town of Tikrit, north of Baghdad, is considered a potentially hostile area. Also considered dangerous are Arab populations in northern towns like Kirkuk. For over a decade, the Sunni Arab Baath Party has been forcibly expelling Kurds, Turks and Assyrians (Iraqi Christians) from Kirkuk and other northern areas near oil fields, and replacing them with Arabs from the south. Those Arabs know they would be in danger if Saddam is replaced. To minimize heavy infantry fighting in these areas, the army is doing several things. First, it is putting the infantry through intensive urban combat training. If there is fighting, the army knows that the best way to discourage the armed Iraqis is to show them that American troops can quickly and efficiently root out resistance and kill those who shoot at U.S. soldiers. Next, thousands of Iraqi exiles are being trained to accompany American infantry units so that resisting Iraqis can be negotiated with. Even if hostile Iraqis see how deadly U.S. troops are, it does little good if they see no easy way to give up. Finally, special equipment is being brought in for urban combat. This includes smaller UAVs to give ground commanders a TV camera in the sky where they are fighting, fifty ton armored bulldozers to knock down buildings and special electronic weapons to jam enemy radios or make them feel like their skin is on fire. It all comes down to knowing who the enemy is, where he will be and what will scare him into surrendering, or quickly kill him if he doesn't.


 


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