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Odessa American Newspaper Archive: March 25, 2003 - Page 3

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   Odessa American (Newspaper) - March 25, 2003, Odessa, Texas                                 TUESDAY, March 25, 2003 ODESSA AMERICAN  3A  War in Iraq has had many disappointments  By Sally Buzbee The Associated Press  WASHINGTON — The U.S. military has made an astonishingly rapid push to the edges of Baghdad, but troubling setbacks so far could stiffen the resolve of Saddam Hussein's most loyal forces and prolong the fighting.  To experts assessing the war to date, the disappointments include: few Iraqi citizens rushing to welcome Americans, the military's failure to open a northern front and the Iraqi government's ability to talk to its people — and try to rally them — by claiming success on TV.  Those setbacks, none great by itself, could together make the push on Baghdad both longer and costlier than initially expected.  "We made a series of  Analysis  optimistic assumptions, each one probably justified on its own," said Loren Thompson, a military analyst in Washington and a strong supporter of the war. "But together, it's now clear, they probably generated more risk than was necessary"  Few doubt the United States still will prevail militarily, and probably within a few weeks or a month at most. Experts predict the United States will destroy Republican Guard units on the sovithern outskirts of Baghdad, and then advance into Baghdad to eliminate Saddam's government.  "But I think the next couple of weeks could be much more difficult than we had anticipated," said Kurt Campbell, a former top Pentagon official who now  works at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.  Sen. Carl Levin, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Monday: "This could go on for a long time."  The U.S. military's ability to get a huge and deadly infantry force so close to Baghdad in such a short time is clearly the war's key success so far, military experts say  "It's an incredible accomplishment — unprecedented," said Phil Anderson, a retired Marine colonel.  "When the dust settles, that will go down as one of the greatest military feats in history"  U.S. and British forces also have managed to prevent the destruction of Iraq's southern oil fields, and have kept Iraq from launching  chemical weapons either toward troops in the field or toward Israel.  Either case would have been a disaster  Yet the disappointments are stacking up, too:  ■ The war's strongest proponents had hoped that ordinary Iraqis would spill into the streets to welcome U.S. troops, aiding the military's progress by creating momentum and prompting more Iraqi troops to surrender.  Asked why he thought few Iraqis had done so, war commander Gen. Tommy Franks said: "Fear tactics are still being applied in many of these locations. And that will change over time."  ■ The United States has so far not sent significant troops into northern Iraq. That has allowed the Republican Guard units defending Baghdad to mass on the  south, increasing their relative strength.  ■ U.S. officials had hoped to do sufficient damage from the air by bombing only key Iraqi military targets, avoiding targets like electrical grids and television and radio towers.  Such a strategy is kinder toward Iraqi civilians, but also has allowed the government to use the airwaves, "painting a false picture for its people of success," said Anderson.  In short, the decision to have a less-devastating air war might result in more pumped-up Republican Guard units and a tougher ground war, Thompson said.  ■ The United States began the war with several key ground units still not in place, the so-called rolling start, which now has left it with fewer troops on the ground, many experts say  Most notably the 4th Infantry Division is still in Texas while its equipment is rerouted from Turkey to Kuwait.  "They're trying to use speed and maneuver to make up for numbers," said Daniel Goure, an analyst at the I,exington • Institute. "But they're a division or two light, and it's going to take time to get reinforcements there."  ■ The U.S. decision to rush toward Baghdad, leaving cities in the south relatively untouched, has left both regular Iraqi troops and some guerrilla-type resisters in place. That already has allowed deadly attacks on U.S. forces and could mean more.  Secretary of State Colin Powell insisted Monday the United States has a solid strategy "that will work." But Powell cautioned: "This is not a video game. It's a war. It's a real war."  Apaches are the attack helicopters of choice in Iraqi battle  WASHINGTON (AP) — The AH-64 Apache helicopter, built to destroy tanks and other hard targets, is often in the thick of the fighting in any U.S. ground war in the last 15 years.  Apaches saw heavy action Monday in strikes against Iraqi Republican Guard units defending the southern approaches to Baghdad. Ten Iraqi tanks were destroyed  during the fighting, according to Pentagon officials, and a single Apache went down for unknown reasons. Its crew survived and were captured by Iraqi forces. Other Apaches were hit by small-arms fire but made it back to base.  The downed heUcopter was an AH-64D Apache Longbow ti-om the 227fh Aviation Regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division, based  at Fort Hood, officials at the base said.  The Apache Longbow is an enhancement of the AH-64 Apache that fired the first shots of Operation Desert Storm.  First fielded in the mid-1980s, the Apache has a crew of two — a pilot and a gunner. Early models had maintenance problems, but it has seen action in most U.S. conflicts since then.  The attack helicopters can operate solely with other helicopters or work above tank formations, picking otT enemy ground vehicles that may be concealed from friendly ground units. They can dart above just above the trees and hover behind hills, rising to unleash their missiles and giving an enemy ground target scant seconds to return fire.  Washington D.C. mayor signs bill moving up presidential primary  WASHINGTON (AP) — The District of Columbia's mayor signed legislation Monday that could give the capital the nation's first presidential primary  The measure would move the D.C. primary to Jan. 13, 2004, two weeks before the tentatively scheduled New Hampshire primary and a week before Iowa's party caucuses.  Mayor Anthony Williams said putting the district's primary first would draw attention to the lack of fuU congressional voting rights for people in the capital.  The Constitution gives Congress legislative control over the district, and it still must approve the early-  primary bill for it to become law.  "The citizens of the district need the same rights as other Americans, and that includes congressional voting rights and full self government," Williams said.  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