One of the reasons that the DoD may have sat on the captured IIS files without translating or releasing them, some speculate, was that the contents may embarrass some of our allies in the overall war on terror. One document released yesterday seems to support that analysis. According to document CMPC-2003-000878, the Russians gave more active support to Saddam prior to the March 2003 invasion than previously known — and they used Syria as a conduit for their materiel:
Bulletproof Vests from Russia
Thirteen thousand vests were imported from Russia by request from the Presidential Command Office; they were all turned over to Qusai Saddam Hussein eight days before the war. Three Russian experts came with the vests, and the deal had been financed through a wealthy man in al-Kut (180 km south of Baghdad). [The suits] were bought for 250 dollars and then sold to Qusai Saddam Hussein for 600 dollars; they had sneaked into [Iraq] by way of [Syria] after [being] wrapped by Swedish jackets (so as not to embarrass Syria) as well as to deceive the American Intelligence, [however] [the American Intelligence] was able to discover this operation.
This suit is characterized by its ability to withstand a round from an American made M16-A2 (which has a very high speed and a piercing head) from a distance of only 5 meters, and the MG 7.62 [mm] machine gun at the same distance.
Advanced Russian T-72 Heavy Tank Engines
This tank is considered the gem of the Russian (Armored divisions); it has a 125 mm smoothbore barrel, and is capable of firing an APFSD (armor-piercing) round. These tanks suffer from engine [problems] from their use in the Iran-Iraq and Gulf wars. Iraq at most used 25 liters of engine oil per month on these tanks [and] Republican Guard officers always complained about their [the tanks] movement (During Operation Desert Fox in 1998, they were only able to move 6 tanks a distance of 1200 meters from the other 21 tanks.) One characteristic of a Russian armored tank is that the greatest emphasis is put on fire, then force, movement, and armor, in that order. Suddenly, there were new engines imported from Russia, and Republican Guard units were provided with 70 engines for each unit; these engines passed though Syria one month before the war.
This doesn’t have much to do with WMD, of course, but the revelation of the movement of tank engines — seventy of them for every armored unit — has to raise some eyebrows about the relationship between Washington and Moscow. It also should remind people about the materiel conduit that Syria supplied to Saddam Hussein and Vladimir Putin, and whether or not that conduit operated bidirectionally. Perhaps the WMD that the US seeks did not stay in Syria at all, but made its way to Russia instead.
UPDATE and BUMP: Another look at our friends in Moscow comes in document CMPC-2003-001950, which details a meeting with the Russian ambassador in March 2003. The diplomats discussed the evacuation of Russian citizens from Iraq, but also discussed current American military assets deployed in the Gulf theater:
3- The ambassador, during the meeting, had given the following information about the American military presence in the Gulf and in the area since March 2. as follows:
– 206500 troops, including: 98000 air force troops, 36500 infantry. 90% of these forces are in Kuwait, positioned on board of American warships.
– American forces had reached Bobian Island.
– 480 tanks.
– 1132 armored vehicles.
– 296 artillery
– 735 Apache Helicopters
– 871 combat planes
– 106 US navy units, of which 68 are in the Gulf. The rest of them are in Oman, Adan, The Red Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea.
– 5 aircraft carriers, one of which is nuclear. Three are in the Gulf, one is in the Mediterranean Sea, and another one is on the way.
– 583 cruise missiles are positioned on the US navy units. They are distributed over 22 navy units.
– 64 cruise missiles are carried by planes.
– Ten B-52H heavy bombers are positioned in the Indian Ocean.
– Eight B-18 aircrafts are located at the American base in Oman (Tamarid Center).
4- The ambassador had indicated that they were concerned about the increasing number of aircrafts in Jordan . Also, he described the number of those aircrafts, positioned at Al-Sult base, as follows:
– 24 F-16 aircrafts.
– 10 Tornado aircrafts.
– 11 aircraft carrier.
Also, he indicated that there are five A-10 tank destroyer aircrafts located at King Faisal base in Jordan.
5- The ambassador also indicated that a number of the 82nd Division military personnel, which was stationed in Afghanistan, have begun arriving in Kuwait, and that the number has reached 750 to date.
I’m sure the White House would prefer not to have this get around.