- IT has all begun to go horribly wrong for Donald Rumsfeld.
The White House's No1 hawk dreamed of a swift, hi-tech precision war. Smart
bombs and Special Forces would triumphantly sweep all before them.
- Basra would revolt, Baghdad would follow. Saddam would
be his. But, nine days in, it hasn't quite turned out like that.
- And yesterday, as US Defence chief Donald Rumsfeld's
grand design for a quick victory lay in tatters, the coalition's top brass
were frantically redrawing battle plans. The rethink came as the US army's
most senior ground commander admitted they had underestimated Iraqi tactics
and the fierce levels of resistance.
- Lt General William Wallace said: "The enemy we're
fighting is a bit different than the one we war-gamed against, because
of the paramilitary forces.
- "We knew they were here, but we did not know how
they would fight."
- General Wallace, head of US 5th Corps, said he was aware
of pressure for a quick victory, but admitted it will take longer than
- He said: "We've got to take this pause. We're still
fighting the enemy every night. We're doing things to keep him operating
at a higher tempo than the one we're at."
- The general confessed he was stunned by Iraqi tactics.
- He said: "The attacks we're seeing are bizarre.
Technical vehicles with .50-calibre weapons - any kind of weapon - leading
the charge. They were even charging tanks."
- Pentagon chiefs now do not expect to launch a major offensive
on Baghdad for at least a month in an attempt to quell huge pockets of
fighting raging across Iraq.
- Despite all evidence to the contrary, Mr Rumsfeld is
still convinced the people of Baghdad will rise up and overthrow Saddam.
- HE says that the US will now lay siege to the capital,
but he also admits: "It could take some time."
- His tone is starkly different from when he confidently
crowed at a US air base at Aviano on February 7: "It could last six
days, six weeks. I doubt six months."
- One senior military official said last night: "We're
not going back to the drawing board completely - but it's pretty close."
- The US now plans to step up the air strikes - aping the
35-day bombing campaign that started the first Gulf War - as spy chiefs
confirmed Saddam was alive and in full control of his forces.
- Colonel Ben Hodges, commander of the 1st Brigade of the
101st in northern Iraq, said: "Everybody's frame of reference is changing.
The enemy always gets a vote. You fight the enemy and not the plan.
- "I personally underestimated the willingness of
the Fedayeen to fight, or maybe overestimated the willingness of the Shi'ites
to rise up."
- A snapshot of the coalition problems is Nassiriya where
intense fire-fights have resulted in heavy casualties on both sides.
- Injured Gunnery Sergeant Tracy Hale said: "Nassiriya
was supposed to be a six-hour battle. It's already been five days of non-stop
- It was anticipated that Saddam would go for an urban
defence, centred on Baghdad.
- But what the war-planners didn't expect was house-to-house
battles in every major town while militia fighters attacked troops from
the rear and sabotaged supply lines.
- TROOPS less than 60 miles from Baghdad are unable to
go any further as they run low on food, fuel and water.
- A 300-truck US convoy carrying 160,000 gallons of fuel
and 180 tons of ammunition has been trying to get north from Kuwait for
more than three days, but has been blocked by guerrilla-style attacks.
- Iraq has said troops will have to fight their way into
Baghdad street by street. "The enemy must come inside Baghdad and
that will be its grave," said Defence Minister Sultan Hashem Ahmed.
- Rumsfeld was warned by the CIA in February that fedayeen
fighters would pose the greatest threat.
- And in Qatar, Brigadier General Vincent Brooks hinted
that Central Command may be out of touch with the real situation on the
- He said: "There is a different view on planet Earth."
- AWFUL TRUTH IS DAWNING ON ALL OF US
- The prospect of our troops fighting their way into Basra
and Baghdad will mean it's going to be a very basic and bloody war, not
the hi-tech video game politicians led us to believe.
- A tough time lies ahead for our troops and the Iraqi
civilians they are there to liberate.
- These are things British and American military planners
have always known but, it seems, the politicians never listened to.
- The awful truth is now dawning on all of us as stories
of deaths and Iraqi resistance continue to reach our TV screens hourly.
- We shouldn't be surprised Iraqis are fighting in civilian
clothes.That is how you tackle a superior force. The troops have likened
our equipment to Ferraris and compared the enemies' to Austin Allegros.
- But as they know only too well, once you are fighting
house-to-house instead of on open terrain it doesn't really matter what
the weapons are like. Even if it's 60 years old and firing at you from
a window it will kill you.
- This sort of urban guerrilla war boils down to our troops
fighting house-to-house, street-to-street with bayonets fixed and as much
ammunition as they can carry.
- Mobility and manoeuvre hit a dead end in the condensed
and confusing concrete of Baghdad. Hi-tech equipment and armour is of limited
use as our troops push into the city trying to keep the infrastructure
intact, and civilians alive at the same time.
- Iraqi soldiers have the advantage. They know its streets
and alleyways. They have prepared booby traps and set up "killing
areas" to try and lure our troops into.
- None of this will come as a surprise to our troops. After
all, they train to fight against an enemy such as this and are excellent
at it. As the Army saying goes. Train hard - fight easy. Train easy - fight
hard and die. But that doesn't mean they are immune to the danger. There
will be fear as they approach the capital.
- I get angry when politicians tell us that the Iraqi Republican
guard are no match for our troops and equipment. They tend to be people
who have never seen combat.
- The fact is the Republican Guard have artillery pieces,
plenty of tanks, and are certainly much better armed than soldiers our
troops have so far faced in the desert.
- We just have to look at what an inferior force such as
the Palestinians can inflict when taking on the Israelis in their home
- Over the last few days we've seen the war escalate and
- What the politicians led us to believe isn't quite shaping
up. They began by telling us that this war would be quick and easy. They
are now beginning to shift uncomfortably.
- America is suddenly doubling its forces in Iraq - something
the military had wanted all along. Politicians were not listening.
- But Rumsfeld - and the others like him- have never been
in combat and never properly listened to military advice.
- Military planners who wanted more men from the outset
were told this war was too important to be left to the generals. But these
generals must be listened to.
- They can then operate in a way that wins the war quickly
- and saves our troops' lives.