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Sweeping Advances Leave Sporadic Iraqi Resistance in Wake

BY Admin  March 22, 2003 at 11:45 AM EDT

General Tommy Franks, commander of coalition forces in Iraq, said Saturday that some of his troops were moving more than twice as fast as the quickest units in the 1991 Gulf War.

Franks said the military campaign was taking place “across the breadth and depth of Iraq,” simultaneously, later adding “we are on our timeline.”

Coalition troops have moved so rapidly that scattered pockets of Iraqi troops continue to fight U.S. and British forces in areas like the port town of Umm Qasr, which was reportedly taken by early Friday evening, and Nasiriyah along the Euphrates River.

The technique worries some military planning experts.

“If it turns out that even though resistance is light, there are going to be a bunch of pockets of resistance, we have to start thinking about how we are going to secure our rear area as we continue to move forward,” retired colonel and former Defense Intelligence Agency official Patrick Lang told the NewsHour on Friday.

Coalition commanders have said that speed is one of the primary elements of this conflict and they expect U.S. troops to continue moving at a rate that experts and officials have called unprecedented. The idea, commanders said, is to confuse, overwhelm, and pre-empt the Iraqi forces.

“This is shaping up to be either really risky or a brilliant campaign,” military planner and retired Army Col. Robert Killebrew told the Washington Post.