Rumsfeld is crafting a victory in the geopolitical realm which may be divorced from reality on the ground. The Russians are giving us information that helps us see the difference. I have recently discovered a couple of very interesting sites that are giving me the kind of detailed information that I crave, but don't tell Ashcroft.
The first and foremost is Venik's Aviation. He's blogging the best he can and boy does he come up with the details.
American troops continue massing near Karabela. As was mentioned in the previous update, the US group of forces in this area numbers up to 30,000 troops, up to 200 tanks and up to 230 helicopters. Latest photos of this area suggest that the [US] troops are busy servicing and repairing their equipment and setting up the support infrastructure.
According to radio intercepts, the coalition commander Gen. Tommy Franks has visited the US forces near Karabela. He personally inspected the troops and had a meeting with the unit commanders. Currently no information is available about the topics discussed during the meeting. However, it is believed that the [coalition] commander listened to the reports prepared by the field commanders and formulated the main objectives for the next 2-3 days.
The current technical shape of the coalition forces was discussed during the meeting at the coalition central headquarters. During a personal phone conversation with another serviceman in the US one participant of this meeting called this technical state "depressing". According to him "...a third of our equipment can be dragged to a junk yard right now. We are holding up only thanks to the round-the-clock maintenance. The real heroes on the front lines are not the Marines but the "ants" from the repair units. If it wasn't for them we'd be riding camels by now..." [Reverse-translated from Russian]
I've seen nothing like that to date. But Venik isn't the only site that provides some interesting analysis in English. There is also the specially built warblog War In Iraq. The transalation is not quite as good, but the message gets through. What I find especially useful at this site in its efforts to spin against the Allies, is that the perspective is a bit more elevated than the mendacity of the pacifists' poster children. Here you have actual military analysts with a bit more credibility than American ex-military with political axes to grind.
I seem to have lost the story in which some authorities of some sort commented on the oft-quoted failure of the seige of Leningrad, but also of Bagdad itself. Apparently it has never been taken in all of human history.
Now here's a new word. History. We haven't been looking at history much here in the US outside of Vietnam and GW1. Reading Russian websites brings Chechnya immediately to mind. No doubt there are ugly memories in Russian military minds about their own conflicts with muslim militants. Surely the Russians have not bothered to be as meticulous as we are attempting in their battles, but why should American generals listen to Russians who crashed and burned in Afghanistan where we made quick work of the Taliban in our demi-war?