The Economist. A new type of war in Iraq. The upshot:
- This war may not (or should not if the Iraq learned anything from the last war) be fought in the open. It will likely be fought in urban environments.
- Second, strong controls on civilian casualties will make it difficult for US soldiers to prosecute the war.
- Third, most of our high tech weaponry is useless in urban battlefields.
Here is a very interesting article on the lessons learned by the Russians in Grozny. Some interesting snippets:
The psychological impact of high intensity urban combat is so intense that you should maintain a large reserve that will allow you to rotate units in and out of combat. If you do this, you can preserve a unit for a fairly long time. If you don't, once it gets used up, it can't be rebuilt. According to a survey of over 1300 (Russian) troops, about 72% had some sort of psychological disorder (as a result of the fighting around Grozny). Almost 75% had an exaggerated startle response. About 28% had what was described as neurotic reactions, and almost 10% had acute emotional reactions.
Russian wounded and dead were hung upside down in windows of defended Chechen positions. Russians had to shoot at the bodies to engage the Chechens.
The Russians were surprised and embarrassed at the degree to which the Chechens exploited the use of cell phones, Motorola radios, improvised TV stations, light video cameras, and the Internet to win the information war.
Chechens weren't afraid of tanks and BMPs. They assigned groups of RPG gunners to fire volleys at the lead and trail vehicles. Once they were destroyed, the others were picked off one-by-one.
Russians were not surprised by the ferocity and brutality of the Chechens, but they were surprised by the sophistication of the Chechen use of booby traps and mines. Chechens mined and boobytrapped everything, showing excellent insight into the actions and reactions of the average Russian soldier. Mine and boobytrap awareness was hard to maintain.
Let us hope that Saddam and his commanders have not given up pretensions of fighting this war as a conventional army. [John Robb's Radio Weblog]