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Coalition air strikes weaken Republican Guard

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (March 31, 2003) -- Air strikes continue to weaken Iraqi Republican Guard forces, the vice director for operations on the Joint Staff told reporters during a March 31 press briefing at the Pentagon.

Army Maj. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal said coalition air forces have used 3,000 precision-guided weapons since March 28, many against the Iraqi Republican Guard.

"We have been running a tremendous number of sorties, primarily against the Republican Guard divisions," McChrystal said. "And we are using an awful lot of munitions.

U.S. and British aircraft flew nearly 1,000 missions over Iraq on March 30, targeting Republican Guard divisions and command and control facilities, he said.

"We are seeing significant degradation."

In addition, the general said Republican Guard forces appear to be on the move.

"We think they are moving to reinforce other forces that have already been significantly degraded," he said. "We see some very significant weakening and it will reach a tipping point in some of their formations."

That point will come when Republican Guard forces have been so decimated that they cease to function as military units, he said. And it does not necessarily require 100 percent of the forces to be destroyed.

"Once you start to take a certain percentage of a force like that down, particularly a mechanized or armored force, the systems start to break down -- the resupply systems, the maintenance systems and the command and control," McChrystal said. "It doesn't always require taking a unit down to zero percent to make it ineffective."