Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Sunday | March 23, 2003

Urban combat in Basra

Talk about a rock and a hard place. British troops and US Marines laying siege to Basra are bogged down in house to house fighting. Not only is such fighting by its very naturextremely difficult, but it is being further slowed by the desire to avoid civilian casualties.

This morning, the British tank crews battling for Basra asked for permission to move against the Iraqi tanks and artillery dug into residential areas, but the permission was denied. "They asked for authorization to take on the targets," said Bowen. "And they were told they could not take on the targets unless they had a clear line of sight."

"If they did what they did last time [in the Gulf War] and carpet bombed it, it wouldn't have taken this long," said Atkinson. "It's not the blitzkrieg everybody thought it would be. I think it's for public opinion and not wanting to kill any civilians."

It's great that we're tying to avoid civilian casualties, but I'm catching hints of Vietnam -- with poliical concerns hampering military tactics. In this case, the political demands are just, but it underscores the difficult situation in which our leadership has placed our troops.

What's also interesting about this Basra siege is the people doing the fighting. It's not the Republican Guard, its -- SURPRISE! -- the Iraqi 51st Division.

You know, the guys who surrendered on Friday.

The Iraqis holding out in Basra are members of the Iraqi army's 51st Division, not the elite Republican Guard who have been moved to defend Baghdad and were expected to put up the stiffest resistance the U.S.-led invasion. That regular soldiers have stood so long and fought has surprised some who were predicting that Basra could be taken on the first day of fighting, to provide the American-led coalition a quick victory and deliver an early psychological blow to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

There were also predictions of mass surrender. Today, some 40 Iraqi prisoners came past the checkpoint southwest of the bridge.

"It's their country, isn't it?" said Staff Sgt. Ian Trigg. "It's different than when we kicked them out of Kuwait."

So, has anything gone as promised by the Chickenhwaks?

Posted March 23, 2003 11:59 AM | Comments (346)


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