Seven Myths About Iraq’s Military Refuted

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:: 1 ::    The Iraqi army is only one-third the size it was during the 1991 Gulf War.  Morale is poor.

Iraqés active army currently totals 375,000 soldiers, including 80,000 elite Republican Guards.

Iraqés reserve army, another 650,000 fighting men, has yet to be called to duty.  When that occurs, Iraqés standing army will total 1,025,000, slightly exceeding that of the Gulf War.

Claims of low morale are speculative. It is far more likely that the Iraqi army has become reassured and invigorated in recent weeks, having observed world-wide protests against the Bush administrationés march to war.

:: 2 ::    Iraqés weapons are old and thoroughly outclassed by those of the U.S.

While most Iraqi armor was built in the 60és and 70és, this in no way decreases its lethality.  Why?  As anyone who owns a classic car knows, a schedule of sparse usage combined with meticulous maintenance can extend the performance of any well-built machine for decades.

Augmenting Iraqés older equipment are some 400-600 advanced artillery pieces imported during the Iran-Iraq War. With a range of over 20 miles, these precision systems out-distance almost every artillery piece in the U.S. Army.

Baghdad also retains a multitude of modern weapons stolen from Kuwait in 1990.  First among them are hundreds of American-made TOW anti-tank missiles that can penetrate any combat vehicle, including our M1A1 tank.

:: 3 ::    Iraqés air defense system, though large, can be overcome with relative ease, . . .

High-tech items stolen from Kuwait also include several Hawk anti-aircraft missile systems that can threaten jets at extremely high altitudes.  Dozens of hand-held Stingerés were also confiscated, complimenting Iraqés already vast array of anti-aircraft artillery and surface-to-air missiles.

We never did overcome Iraqi air defenses in the Gulf War, a key factor as to why 80-85% of Iraqi ground armor survived the war intact.

:: 4 ::    . . . while our Stealth fighters and bombers will remain  invulnerable to enemy ground fire.

Iraq is thought to have acquired a unique radar system from the Ukraine that can locate enemy aircraft without detection – including stealth aircraft.

The Kolchuga system, as it is known, éis capable of tracing practically every target in the air and at sea in the range of several hundred kilometers,é reports Alexander Kolotov of the Citizens’ Center on Nuclear Non-Proliferation.

Since they probably have four Kolchuga radar stations, Baghdad will be able to safely track stealth aircraft traveling over Iraq, eastern Turkey, Kuwait and the Persian Gulf.  Coordinates on these targets will then be relayed to anti-aircraft weapons dispersed throughout Iraq.

:: 5 ::    Saddamés air force is antiquated.  Pilots are poorly trained.

Recent estimates give Iraq up to 316 combat aircraft, but the true figure may be 503, as reported by Janes Information Group in 1993.

Among the confirmed planes are 74 relatively modern fighters including the French F-1EQ Mirage and Russian MiG-29.  These jets, though few, must be taken into serious account during any assault on Iraqi airspace.

Claims that Iraqés pilots have grown lax in their training due to the éno-fly zonesé ignore the likelihood that Saddam has sent many of his airmen to Yemen or other friendly Arab states to maintain flight proficiency.

:: 6 ::    Iraqés command and control will be taken out early on.

Among the biggest failures of the Gulf War was the inability of the U.S. to take out Iraqés communication links.  Fiber optic cables, buried deep in the ground, were the main reason and there is little reason to think we can get to these land-lines now.

Baghdad also has hundreds of hand-held field radios left over from the war with Iran.  And, as pointed out by General Schwarzkopf twelve years ago, command orders can always be delivered by a lone soldier scooting across the country on a motorcycle.

:: 7 ::    Saddam Hussein and his generals do not understand modern warfare.

It is precisely because they understand modern combat and contemporary weapons systems that the Iraqis have prepared themselves in the comprehensive manner spelled-out here.

Since the early 70és Iraqi intelligence has been steadfastly gathering information on American military capabilities, especially in the Persian Gulf region.

Moreover, up until very recently, Russian military advisers were known to be on hand in Baghdad, ready to impart their own extensive intelligence on western weapons systems.

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