Go Tell The Russians
Iraq helped build al-Qaedas
fortifications. Will they prove
© February 2003 by Matthew Funk
Yesterdays Chechen Lessons Are Tomorrows Iraqi Nightmares
The link between Osama bin Ladin and Saddam Hussein is real. Even if neither of them knows it.
It was Osamas money, Osamas boys and girls doing the fighting, and they fought in Husseins fortifications. No, this isnt a pipe dream for the White House; this was the war in Chechnya.
The struggle in Chechnya has for years been supported and radicalized by agents of the al-Qaeda network. Al-Qaeda, while far from being a crime empire of Bond villains who meet regularly to discuss where next to extend a bloody tendril, is more like a phone tree married to a scholarship fund a very, very rich scholarship fund that supports promising Islamic radicals and helps bring them together. That means that just as it lacks the centralized control of, say, SPECTRE, its also short on the gadgets. In Chechnya, which as of 1993 looked to be the next bear-trap in the radical Muslim hunt for Russian regional power, this meant that they had the soldiers to man the ramparts but lacked the ramparts.
So, according to a study by RAND researcher Olga Oliker, they contracted some Iraqi engineers to build their defenses for them, putting our aforementioned al-Qaeda money in Generalissimo Husseins pocket.
Yes, Iraqi engineers. This may strike a lot of Americans as ironic, considering that the first Chechen war was no more than two years after Iraqs strongpoints folded like empty body bags before the advance of Coalition forces.
Putting aside the Republican Guard, who had the distinction of dying gloriously in desert combat under the guns of US Armored Divisions, the Iraqi soldier of the Gulf War was notorious for surrendering. Saddams Intelligence Chief, Wafiq al-Sammari, tells tales of whole Divisions, rated at 15,000 men on paper, being found to have only 35 a week before the ground war.
It wasnt that Iraqis are culturally disposed to desertion. Only part of it was the now-notorious shock and awe effect of thats become the military media-darling of late besides, most Iraqis cite the showers of unguided, smaller bombs from B-52s as the stunning blow, not salvos of precision guided weapons.
Mostly it was because the Iraqi regulars of the million-man army werent fighting the Gulf War they were fighting the Second Gulf War.
Iraqs War with Iran had turned an under-equipped military just smaller than that of Italy to a giant bristling with Russian metal and US electronics. It had also gone on for 2,494 days, led to large-scale invasion of Iraq, total collapse of Saddams ambitious social programs and 400,000 dead. Standing up against an American military juggernaut that claimed its only aim was to expel them from Kuwait just wasnt worth it.
The al-Qaeda fighters in Checnhya were young and while they may not have been experienced terrorist training camps are more exclusive about their enrollment than you might think they had spirit. They too died in droves, but more importantly, they saw to it that the Russians went with them. In short, they put the Iraqi defenses, plans tested by over seven years of trench warfare, to good use.
I know what youre thinking. This was the Russians, right? They blundered into the hornets nest of Afghanistan, a nest we made by giving Stingers and other weapons to the Islamic radicals there something even Jimmy Carters otherwise humanitarian Secretary of State still gets a post-orgasmic glow from when asked about it. Plus, look at World War II. Dying in droves is what they do, right?
Maybe, but not if they can help it, and in Afghanistan they could. During a comparable period of time, we lost over 50,000 dead, hundreds of thousands wounded, to the Vietnam conflict while the Russians lost just over 14,000 dead in Afghanistan. What they were taught there, the Russian military tried to apply in Checnhya; tactics like extensive forward deployment of Special Forces, mobile ground forces with immense firepower, and awesome bombardments before any attack. The same tactics we will use in Iraq.
We are, by and large, better equipped, but much of the new technology the Pentagon lets shine to dazzle the American publics eye, Russians used in Chechnya radar motion sensors that could see through walls, for example. They even had their own equivalent of the Mother Of All Bombs.
Americans are careful, meticulous in our attack. Before we go into any center of urban resistance, we will shellac it with thermobaric explosions, we will thunder kilotonnage on it for solid hours, we will turn it into ash. Then we will attack it. Perhaps we will exercise more restraint in Baghdad, as thats where the world will be watching. Perhaps not.
But it doesnt have to be in Baghdad for determined defenders to turn fortified buildings into butcher blocks. The Chechen town of Komsomolskoye, reinforced with Iraqi designs in haste and blasted incessantly by the Russians over the space of a three-week battle, saw over 200 soldiers die to defeat 800 rebels.
30,000 Iraqi irregulars defend the area of Basra.
All contents copyright © Matthew Funk 2007, all rights reserved.