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SPECIAL FORCES HARASS SCUD MOVEMENTS

AUSTRALIAN AND BRITISH SPECIAL FORCES HARASS SCUD MOVEMENTS

29 Mar 03. Defense and Foreign Affairs Daily reports that until the deployment of March 27-28, 2003 when Saddam Hussein conducted what it regarded as a successful test to deploy and fire medium-range ballistic missiles against Israel, the respective Australian and British Special Air Service Regiments (SAS) had been able to harass Iraqi deployments of mobile SSM units so that they could not achieve a coherent array to initiate attacks against Israel. This was regarded as one of the key successes of the early phase of the Coalition war against Iraq. However, a statement on March 28, 2003, by British Prime Minister Tony Blair (following his Camp David meeting with US Pres. George W. Bush) to the effect that the major Iraqi base at H3 had been entirely neutralized was premature and incorrect. Indeed, apart from the inability of the US to react rapidly and effectively to the actyivities of Iraqi SSM forces on the night of March 27-28, 2003, there has been growing disenchantment reported among Australian and British SAS forces with their US counterparts in the Western desert of Iraq. Sources indicate that the Australian and UK forces felt that the US special forces lacked the skills required for the task. At the same time, most Israeli special forces, who had been operating for as much as two years in the region, have withdrawn because the US would not provide any IFF (identification, friend or foe) capability to the Israelis to ensure that they were not hit by US ‘friend’.

The US had insisted that the Israeli special forces operate only as attachments to the US special forces. The Israelis, like the Australians and British, felt that working with the US special forces jeopardized the safety and effectiveness of the missions, and refused this approach. As a result, the Coalition forces were now denied the support of one of the most effective reconnaissance and guerilla capabilities with knowledge of the terrain and targets. It is not known whether all of the Jordanian special forces had also withdrawn for the same reason. They, too, had been operating in the area for some years, and were, like the Israelis, thoroughly familiar with the targets and terrain.

On March 30, 2003, Israeli Military Intelligence Director Maj.Gen. Aaron Ze’evi -Farkash briefed the Knesset on the conflict and singled out, the unique, sacred work, of the Australian special forces in preventing missile attacks on Israel. The entire operation in the Western desert has escaped Western media attention because the special forces units have not allowed journalists to accompany them. Similarly, the absence of ’embedded media’ reporting from the US Marine Corps artillery units deployed around an-Nasariyah, on the Tigris River, had, in the days leading up to March 30, 2003, enabled USMC firepower to devastate parts of the city in order to enable the bridges near the city to be used by Marine forces moving up toward Baghdad. In this, the Coalition had moved away, for the first time, from its careful policy of explicit and precise targeting of known military objectives in order to ensure the safety of movement of USMC forces across the Tigris.

The US Government continued to apply pressure on Israel not to strike at Iraqi targets in the Western desert, even if it was apparent that SSM units were being prepared for fire against Israeli targets. It is known that the Iraqi SSM forces have designated firing positions which they must reach from Syria in the Iraqi territory adjacent to the border. Syria has been insistent that all firings must be, and must appear to be, from Iraqi territory in order that Syria avoid retaliatory strikes by the Coalition or Israel. The vehicles must move to to the firing positions, elevate their flat-bed trucks and set whatever coordinates were pre-determined, fire and depart the scene. Given the Iraqi shortage of rounds for the firing units, it was believed that some o

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