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The War Nerd May 3, 2003
Syria: Plenty of Nuthin'
By Gary Brecher Browse author Email

First, a little endzone gloating: I scooped the big papers' military correspondents once again. And all I did was sit at home and watch the networks' war coverage. But I watched smart. I watched careful. Not like a lot of you guys, who believe every crap story out of the Pentagon press/psyops factory.

In my last column, "Lynch Mobs and Apaches," I said the AH-64 Apache attack chopper that was supposed to replace armor in the original Rumsfeld GW II plan didn't cut it in battle. And sure enough, a week later, Slate ran an article by Fred Kaplan titled, "Chop the Chopper: the Army's Attack Helicopter Had A Bad War."

The good part about the Kaplan article was he was "embedded" so he got the skinny on what happened. Here's his version:

"The U.S. Army's only disastrous operation in Gulf War II (at least the only one we know about) took place on March 24, when 33 Apache helicopters were ordered to move out ahead of the 3rd Infantry Division and to attack an Iraqi Republican Guard regiment in the suburbs of Karbala. Meeting heavy fire from small arms and shoulder-mounted rocket-propelled grenades, the Apaches flew back to base, 30 of them shot up, several disablingly so. One helicopter was shot down in the encounter, and its two crewmen were taken prisoner....After that incident, Apaches were used more cautiously - on reconnaissance missions or for firing at small groups of armored vehicles. Rarely if ever did they penetrate far beyond the front line of battle."

Kaplan went on to say how it was the poor old A-10 that did CAS for the rest of the war: "Though the statistics aren't yet in, the A-10s seemed to do well in Gulf War II, especially now that the Army, Air Force, and Marines are more inclined to coordinate their battle plans."

I should find a bookie to take my bets. I'd be making money on this war.

Meanwhile I've been checking out the Syrian Army, because Syria's being set up as the next target. Bush's people are claiming Saddam and his WMDs are in Syria. By the way, have you seen any proof of WMDs in Iraq? I haven't. Nobody even seems to ask any more. That's what I mean about how trusting you suckers are.

But if Bush's people want to invade, they'll invade. Trying to stop them right now would be like a girl telling Mike Tyson that second base was as far as he was getting on a first date.

If they do hit Syria, it'll be because of this idea they have in DC: make a "crescent of democracy" stretching from Iraq to Syria and on to Lebanon, all the way from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean. Now that democracy is bursting out in Iraq, all we have to do is franchise it out to Lebanon, the bloodiest, most messed-up country this side of Afghanistan. Should be a piece of cake. That was sarcasm, by the way.

But the first part of it, blasting the Syrian Army -- that part really will be pretty easy, as far as I can tell. Like a lot of Arab countries, Syria has a decent-sized army: 215,000 fulltime soldiers and another 200,000 reserves. But then, as you may remember, we were all supposed to be scared because Iraq had "the fourth-biggest army in the world." That was before we found out that it was more like the fourth-biggest looting and fleeing team.

If I was commanding an American unit, I'd rather fight 100,000 Iraqis or Syrians than 100 North Koreans or Vietnamese. Because the Asians would fight, and the Arabs wouldn't, no matter how many there were.

The only time the Syrian Army even looked good was in the first days of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when they took the Israeli lines in the Golan Heights. Judging by what I've read, it wasn't so much that the Syrians attacked well as that the Israelis' intelligence had failed totally. So the Israeli lines were nearly empty, everybody on leave for the holiday, and the Syrian tanks just had to drive in. But the Syrians were so weirded out at the easy way they'd rolled in that they sat there, jabbering about how it must be some clever Israeli trick. They Egyptians, who really were fighting well down in Sinai, supposedly begged the Syrian commanders to do their part of the coordinated attack by sweeping down from the Heights and attacking the Galilee. But the Syrians just sat there on their plateau, scared shitless. The Israelis finally woke up, warmed up the tanks and rolled back the Syrians in a few days. They would've headed all the way to Damascus if the US hadn't ordered them to stop.

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Gary Brecher
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Email Gary at, but, more importantly, buy his book.

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The future of The eXile is in your hands! We're holding a fundraiser to save the paper, and your soul. Tune in to Gary Brecher's urgent request for reinforcements and donate as much as you can. If you don't, we'll be overrun and wiped off the face of the earth, forever.

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