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The Iraq Mess

Having read your February piece at the time - along with various pieces on logistics on Chuck Spinney's website - I have to say you have been completely vindicated.

Two questions:.

1.  What is now our least worst option out of this mess?  Obviously, that's a question which is part military, part political.  It's difficult, both because all the options are ghastly, and also because putting military and political considerations together is precisely what we have been so catastrophically bad at.  But how does it look to a thinking American soldier?

2.  What should surely be clear is that you need to get rid of the Zionist clique who have got you into this mess.  (No, this is not anti-Semitism, simply an accurate account of Perle, Wolfowitz et al.)  We need to get rid of lingering delusions of imperial grandeur and our megabungler of a PM.  It's clear our professional military didn't like this, any more than Zinni and Schwarzkopf.  I can't think of a PM before who would have ignored them in such a cavalier manner.

I hope this doesn't up costing the lives of too many of your soldiers and of ours - also Iraqis.

                                                                               David Habakkuk

We Liberated Iran 

We seem to have "liberated" Iraq much as Jimmy Carter "liberated" Iran from the Shah: at least in southern Iraq we have replaced one brand of tyranny (the Baath party) with something much worse, the tyranny of the religious fanatic Shiite Ayatollahs.


Ed: We should pull out ASAP.  Many embed reporters now say the US troops are angry that they fought a war only be find no weapons of mass destruction, just a lot of poor and hostile Iraqis.

False Casualty Figures

I enjoy your editorials.  There was something in the latest one that caught my interest; your comment on the USA Today story. Would you say that the reported casualties by the US media are accurate? If not, what is your estimate?


Ed: I sent this inquiry to CENTCOM twice and once to the Pentagon.  

Dear PAO,

1) Have any American servicemen wounded in Iraq been later classified as Died of Wounds (DOW) since Operation Iraqi Freedom began?

2) Are deaths of US Special Operations Command Forces operating in Iraq included in CENTCOM casualty figures?

3) Have the names of any KIAs or DOWs been withheld from the press at the request of next of kin?

4) Have the names of any US military personnel killed on classified missions in Iraq been withheld? 

Thank You,

Carlton Meyer

Editor G2mil Magazine (

They have refused to answer after two weeks, saying they had "forwarded" the request upward.  As for request #4, I'm not requesting information on classified missions, just how many American GIs died in fighting there.

Russian Intel?

That link in the April editorial is a pile of crap.  The biggest disinfo campaign since DEBKA Files.  I went through about a week's worth of these so-called GRU reports, after which I lost interest.  Some of Venik's 'GRU' reports actually claim to quote Franks' radio conversations verbatim.  This means a)  GRU has both broken CENTCOM's crypto and also doesn't care if CENTCOM finds that out or b)  pure b.s.  I'm betting on the latter.


Ed: But then CENTCOM announced:

7115 South Boundary Boulevard
MacDill AFB, Fla.
33621-5101 Phone: (813) 827-5894; FAX: (813) 827-2211; DSN 651-5894

April 3, 2003
Release Number: 03-04-43



CAMP DOHA, Kuwait -- Recent intelligence reporting indicates Thuraya satellite phone services may have been compromised. For this reason, Thuraya phones use has been discontinued on the battlefields in Iraq.

The phones now represent a security risk to units and personnel on the battlefield. This impacts the more than 500 Thuraya phones that were being used by U.S. Forces in the CENTCOM area as well as the media traveling with units in Iraq.

Military units have been directed to assist journalists, to the greatest extent possible, with transmission of their news products using military means. News organizations that desire to provide their reporters in the field with alternative communications equipment can deliver it to the Coalition Information Press Center and efforts will be made to deliver that equipment during normal resupply operations.


The next day, that Russian  website reports:

08.04.2003 [18:46]
Events of the last 2 days have made further work of Ramzaj group in its current format impossible.

However, this article says it was not credible info.  But maybe the Moscow Times is reporting disinformation claiming the source was bogus to protect a real source. 

Diesel Engine Expert

Ed: After the fuel consumption problem of the gas turbine powered Abrams tank stalled the offensive on Baghdad, and several GIs were killed from a lack of gun shields, I received several positive e-mails based on my M1A3 Tank  article, including this one:

The advantage of the diesel in a tank designed for one is real, but there is another issue in retrofitting the M1 family that you fail to address.  The smallest diesel with the power and speed to drive this main battle tank is significantly larger and heavier than the turbine.  In order to fit one in the chassis, something will have to be sacrificed, probably ammunition and fuel capacity, new suspension, new transmission, different final drives, etc.   Detail studies done by BMY for DOA in the 1980's including trial fits produced a massive change list.  And there was a minor issue of air transport which is limited to 70 tons, the weight of the current M1A2.  In the end, the cost outweighed the benefits.  

That said, the newest diesel technology will offer a advantages and it should be possible to install a current technology engine that is a major improvement.  Dieselizing the tanks will also greatly simplify the logistics issues for the Army by having all of its vehicles running on one fuel, diesel.  After all, all of the M88's, M2's, M109's, M992's, humvees, trucks, etc are all diesels.  In fact, the M1's currently running in Iraq are probably using diesel fuel (with reduced performance) to simplify the supply problems.  And diesel is cheaper to buy than JP-8.   There is also the major advantage in combat of the ability of a diesel to sit idling with little fuel consumption while the M1 must shut down to save fuel.  When the M1 was first fielded, the units found the M1 could last a single day under combat conditions before refueling whereas the M60 could go 3 to 4 days.  If a column were caught by surprise, an idling M1 diesel would be able to respond while a turbine engined unit must still fireup.  After all, the only other first class battle tank in the world is the British Challenger 2 which is a diesel.

And a final point of note, It might also be pointed out to DOD that the turbine engine is a major polluter, spewing NOx, CO and all sort of unpleasant things out in the air.  Maybe you can get a tree hugger or two to help.  After all, most Army vehicles are painted green.

Are we going to change the M1 A3 to a diesel?  Probably not.  Should we? yes.

James Barends

Ed: Some info from last year:

The Army's response to this idea of tripling the gas mileage for its tanks was to ignore it, and has now proposed gas turbine engines for its Crusader artillery gun.  I just found a March 31, 2000 press release from General Dynamics about its tests of an M1A2 tank operating a diesel engine.  They want to sell M1A2 tanks to the Turks, but they are too smart to want the gas turbine engines.  General Dynamics found the tests successful, and proclaimed: "The tank moves as well as the  standard turbine-powered tank with no difference in target detection, identification or main gun accuracy. The testing confirms that the tank's performance is not changed by the diesel engine and that it has a significantly lower operating cost".

     A May 2001 study by the Defense Science Board "More Capable Warfighting Through Reduced Fuel Burden" noted that fuel makes up 70% of the cargo tonnage needed to position the US Army in battle.  The study said that if M1A1 tanks were 50% more fuel efficient , the Persian Gulf War buildup could have been 20% faster and ground forces ready to fight one month sooner.  They noted that a fuel delivered by ocean tankers costs only around $1 a gallon at the port, but transporting it inland can drive the cost up to $50 a gallon.