Russian Analysis Of Iraq
War Doesn't Miss A Beat

By Joel Skousen
World Affairs Brief - December 12, 2003
c. 2003 Joel Skousen. Partial quotations with attribution permitted.
Cite source as Joel Skousen's World Affairs Brief

Russian military experts, in a series of recent speeches and papers presented at a closed conference, outlined what Russia can learn from the successes and failures of the US military in Iraq. Naturally, translations of these presentations quickly made their way into the US military schools and academies, as was intended. This is not to say that the presentations were simply disinformation. The Russian analysis is chillingly accurate when cataloging US mistakes, changes in tactics and overall strategy. What the Russians are hiding, however, are their real intentions about how they are using this information to prepare for the inevitable Russian/US conflict in WWIII.
The portion of the presentations that alludes to their motivation is full of disinformation about their desire for "cooperation" rather than "confrontation." What was clear, however, though it was couched in careful language, was the Russians' sense of damaged pride at US arrogance in projecting a unipolar image of world conflict, where the US acts and thinks as if it is the only superpower. The Russians commented liberally on how the US uses its bully position to coerce the world into its own version of a New World Order, playing token attention to the UN only when convenient to do so. There was a discernable allusion in several presentations to the attitude that "We'll show them, someday, who is boss."
As part of their ongoing preparation for regaining world hegemony, the Russians were eagerly taking notes in Iraq on every aspect of the strength and capability of US military forces, and testing some new equipment of their own against the US adversary - just as the US was testing its new equipment (electromagnetic pulse weapons, microwave weapons, jumbo concussion bombs, etc) on the Iraqis during the war as well. The Russians cataloged and recorded all our communications and undoubtedly had some success in decoding secret messages, an ongoing project. They tested GPS and communications satellite jamming equipment. The Russians successfully knocked out a US tank with a tiny experimental shaped charge/penetrating rod warhead that made a hole no bigger than a fat pencil. They cataloged carefully all mechanical failures of US armor vehicles in the desert environment. They knew about our supply problems, and military organization experiments. Throughout the following quotations from these Russian presentations, my comments will be in [brackets].
Here is General M. L. Gareyev, President of the Russian Federation Academy of Military Sciences, describing the following US weaknesses: First, "Practically all of the branches of the US Armed Services depend to an enormous degree on satellite communication for targeting and orientation. It is this very thing that predetermines its vulnerability, since at any given moment it can be neutralized by taking appropriate jamming measures."
Naturally, the Russians are already planning to interdict America's satellite advantage. Major-General (ret.) V. A.
Menshikov, Doctor of Technical Sciences, Space Systems, predicted the following: "Foreign specialists believe that the shift toward controlling outer space and conducting strikes from space will be unavoidable, since their role is steadily growing. In the future it is entirely likely that not only will the enemy's satellites be destroyed in space, but also strikes will be conducted from there against ships, airplanes, ground targets and warheads in flight. That is why some space powers [Russia, for one] are in the process of developing directed energy and kinetic weapon systems for the destruction of targets. Ground complexes as well as aircraft are supposed to be used for their employment in combat. An indicator of the growing importance of space forces is their inclusion along with nuclear weapons in the combat air force." The Russians have already demonstrated significant anti-satellite weapons technology and clearly intend to use it to thwart the US advantage in satellite-relayed command and control.
Back to Gen. Gareyev's analysis: "Second, from the perspective of the development of the art of war, the experience of the war in Iraq does not allow us to draw any far-reaching conclusions, since there was no serious war with a strong enemy. It was a politically acute and technologically powerful state's harsh treatment of a country that was obviously weak in all regards, which was betrayed by its very own rulers. What kind of war is it when a grouping of [US] troops, aviation at airfields, and the headquarters of the attacking side are outside the range of influence of the enemy? [Gareyev is referring to the US "arm's length" policy of keeping its support forces outside the range of Iraq attacks.]
"The Iraqi air defenses and aviation were paralyzed. After 9 April, when Baghdad was surrendered without a fight, the military operations for all intents and purposes came to an end. Under such conditions it is difficult to say to what extent the American command and control system, weapons or strategy and tactics stood up to the test of combat. [He has a good point, and most US military leaders are also aware that our claims of success are hollow until our forces are tested against a formidable foe.]
"But even in such a simplified situation, which looked more like a one-sided exercise than a war, there were plenty of problems in the coalition grouping with the command and control of forces and weapons with their dispersed operations along wide fronts,
with recognizing their own troops, with the accuracy of guiding the artillery, tactical aviation and helicopters to the targets, and interactions between the various branches of arms. The armored equipment turned out to be insufficiently equipped for operations in the desert. Even in such a comparatively limited war they had to expend a larger amount of ammunition and GSM [fuel and lubricants] than they planned."
Colonel A. D. Tsyganok, Head of the Center of Military Forecasting, adds the following: "Coalition's Weak Points: First. The overestimation of their air mobility forces' capabilities. The massive use of helicopters as a separate branch of arms did not work out. All attempts by the American chain of command to organize the air and ground operation forces using air mobility
units ended in failure. That is why just four days into the war the air mobility units were distributed throughout the grouping and included in the make-up of the offensive groups as reconnaissance and fire support subunits. The greatest load was on the 'heavy' mechanized and tank units. [Tsyganok is referring here to organizational problems where the US took a step back into pre-WWII days and tried to centralize all helicopter lift operations. They quickly had to return to what has worked best for the Marine Corps for years: allow local commanders to control their own helicopters and close air support aircraft.]
"Second. The extremely weak logistical support. Despite the presence of a new logistical support system, there were still serious interruptions in fuel deliveries. At times the tank units sat with empty fuel tanks for up to 6 hours, essentially making them targets for the Iraqis. The delivery of food, water, ammunition, fuel and lubricants became a headache for the American commanders. Also noted was massive dissatisfaction among the soldiers with the quality of the new army MRE's." This kind of detail indicates that Russian spies have access to a wide variety of Pentagon classified information. This kind of information could not have come directly from the Iraq battlefield unless the Russians had broken US codes, which are the best in the world.
The Russians have a good handle on overall US strategy. They know all about US covert contacts with Iraqi military leaders prior to the invasion, attempting to bribe them into giving up early in the fight. These attempts explain why the US expended so many millions in cruise missiles and other expensive precision guided bombs to target Iraq's top leaders, rather than troop concentrations at first: As long as Saddam was alive and in charge, lower echelon leaders were unwilling to defect - so they had to kill or isolate Saddam first. The Russians also know all about the Bush administration's attempt to design a "war at arm's length" so as to avoid the political consequences of US casualties, something the US can only attempt when confronting a weak and powerless enemy without first rate equipment. Certainly, the long reach of Russian ICBMs will nullify any US attempts to use distance as a safe haven in the next world war. Lastly, the Russians know exactly why the recent switch to guerilla tactics by Iraqis is succeeding when everything else has failed.
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