Fort Worth Star Telegram (Texas) March 29, 2003
A.M. Briefing; A Readers' Guide To The War In The Gulf
40 Estimated percentage of Iraqi territory no longer in Saddam's control, according to the U.S. military.
IN THE AIR
1,000 Estimated number of bombing missions in Iraq on Friday, including attacks that led to huge explosions in Baghdad.
36 Number of hours it took coalition forces to move from Kuwait to the outskirts of Baghdad.
Gateway to Baghdad
U.S. Army troops and members of Saddam's elite Republican Guard are likely headed for a showdown at the southern entry to Baghdad, a narrow passage known as the Karbala Gap.
U.S. Marines and Iraqi forces engaged in a fierce, daylong battle Friday in the city of 500,000. Nearly 10,000 members of the Army's 101st Airborne Division joined U.S. positions around the city.
The 3rd Infantry Division moved north toward Karbala after taking control of four bridges in the Najaf area. A column of about 1,000 Iraqis, mainly militia, attempted to probe the U.S. lines, but the movement was spotted and airstrikes were called to eliminate the threat.
One Republican Guard division has moved from a garrison south of Baghdad to defensive positions in the Euphrates River Valley, astride the potential path of the 3rd Infantry. On Friday, more than three dozen AH-64 Apache attack helicopters struck targets around the city. The attack was the first intense combat mission for the 101st Airborne.
U.S. FORCES' PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT
U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf are equipped with a variety of defenses against chemical, biological or nuclear attack, including the Joint Service Lightweight Integrated Suit Technology and the M40 protective mask.
Chemical suit: Used against chemical and biological agents in the battlefield.
* Chemical protective lining technology.
* Layers of carbon to absorb poisons before they penetrate the skin
* Design that is less bulky, reduces heat stress and is durable
* Multipurpose overboots and gloves
M40 mask: Provides eye, respiratory and face protection from chemical and biological warfare agents and radioactive particles.
Ground troops report problems
U.S. field commanders described unexpectedly stiff resistance from Iraqi troops as well as shortages of food, fuel and ammunition created by overextended supply lines. But at Central Command headquarters in Qatar, Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks said, "We remain on plan, and we're confident that we will accomplish our objectives."
Iraqis apparently fire on civilians
Iraqi militia fired on 1,000 civilians trying to leave the southern city of Basra, forcing many to retreat, British military officials and witnesses said. Another group of about 1,000 fled the city safely.
Baghdad blast blamed on U.S.
At least 58 people were killed and 50 wounded when a bomb or missile struck a market in Baghdad, Iraqi officials and medical workers said. The explosion was immediately blamed on the United States. U.S. Central Command in Qatar said it was looking into the report.
Marines fighting to secure convoys
Explosions from tank fire, artillery and rockets fired by Cobra helicopters reverberated through the central city of Nasiriyah as Marines battled pockets of resistance to clear the main supply route north to Baghdad. Four Marines with the 1st Marine Expeditionary
The holy city of about 550,000 people sits astride the gap. It is a stronghold for Shiite Muslims, who are a majority in Iraq but have been persecuted by Saddam and his fellow Sunnis.
U.S. military officials say Iraqi Republican Guard units near Baghdad may have chemical weapons in the form of 155 mm binary chemical artillery shells containing sarin or a form of VX.
Securing the gap, or "choke point," would allow coalition troops more movement between the cities of Karbala and Najaf. It would also allow:
* More effective range for weapons.
* Better targeting and monitoring of Republican Guard units.
* Better coverage of Baghdad.
* Control over the Euphrates River, the biggest natural barrier to the western approaches to Baghdad.
HOW THE SHELL WORKS
Two chemicals that are not lethal by themselves mix after the shell has been fired and form deadly nerve gas.
1. Shell fired from conventional cannon
2. Disks between canisters break
3. Spinning of shell helps mix chemicals into toxic agent
4. Fuse sets off burster, spraying shell's contents into air; chemical mixes with air, settles toward ground
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Help on the way
The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit will move into Iraq to bolster forces guarding the convoys supplying troops massed outside Baghdad. The Marines landed in northern Kuwait on Friday, the first wave of about 120,000 reinforcements.
SOURCE: The Washington Post
Today's highs will range from 61 in the northern city of Kirkuk, a key oil center, to 76 in the southern city of Basra. The forecast for Baghdad: HIGH 68 LOW 46
Seagonville reserve unit tends wounded in German hospital
More than 185 Army reservists from the Seagoville unit of the 94th General Hospital are helping treat the wounded at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. The majority of war wounded are being taken to Landstuhl, the largest military hospital in Europe.
The 94th contains more than 310 medical professionals based in Seagoville; North Little Rock, Ark.; and Bossier City, La. The hospital was mobilized March 10 and moved to its active-duty site, San Antonio's Fort Sam Houston, on March 12.
The reservists left San Antonio for Germany on March 18. They have joined the hospital staff at Landstuhl and are handling regular patients as well as those wounded in the war.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
DEFENSE SECRETARY DONALD RUMSFELD
"For some, the massive volume of television ... and the breathless reports can seem to be somewhat disorienting. Fortunately, my sense is that the American people have a very good center of gravity and can absorb and balance what they see and hear."
DEPUTY DEFENSE SECRETARY PAUL WOLFOWITZ
"We probably did underestimate the willingness of the regime to commit war crimes. I don't think we anticipated so many people would pretend to surrender and then shoot."
IRAQI INFORMATION MINISTER MOHAMMED SAEED AL-SAHHAF
"These are cowardly air raids."
SOURCE: The Washington Post SOURCES: KRT, CIA, Jane's NBC Protection Equipment, Tex-Shield, Chemical Defense Equipment Modern Warfare, GlobalSecurity.org, FAS.org, Knight Ridder, The Washington Post, The New York Times, CNN, U.T. Library online, Gizi map
1. Map(s): STAR-TELEGRAM STAFF GRAPHIC (2)
2. Photo: KRT
3. head shot: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
4. head shot: REUTERS
5. head shot: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
MOHAMMED SAEED AL-SAHHAF
Copyright © 2003, Star-Telegram Newspaper, Inc.