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Best war reporters: The Russians?

By Spork in Media
Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 05:54:00 AM EST
Tags: News (all tags)

For somebody who remembers the cold war, this seems a bit surreal. Since those days, it appears the Russian press has swung from the "pravda" of Pravda to the opposite extreme, namely actually reporting unfiltered truth.

You see, Russians are monitoring all radio traffic over Iraq, and they have some fancy toys that give them a very clear picture of what's going on. But what's amazing is that they post their findings on the internet. I started reading these a few days ago with a "this is surely a hoax" attitude. Since then, I am convinced that it's the real thing. They predict division movements and tactics with devestating accuracy, and their analysis seems very well supported. One webpage, which takes a few minutes to read, contains far more information about the war than 4 hours of CNN. So you want links, eh?

Alright. A good place to start is Venik's Military News page. Venik's English is very good, and he takes his time translating the reports from the huge GRU national intelligence agency (complete with a description of how US frequency-hopping radio transmissions are cracked). Venik had some incredibly detailed maps with division movements announced stategies mapped out, but today his site slimmed down for wartime traffic. The text is still very interesting, though.

Another page that translates the GRU reports is Война в Ираке. ("War in Iraq" - Don't worry, the link is to their English section.) What they do in addition is add a bunch of "scoop" stories that come over the air, along with some propaganda and analysis. Some of the stories are brief, like this one:

"Take him out. Make sure you know what you are aiming at," a voice on a US military radio to the Marine sharpshooters on a highway to Baghdad, before calling off the gunners seven minutes later, "it may have been livestock moving."
One neat thing about Война в Ираке is that it has a blog interface. The first post on this story was:
I see the americans have decided to liberate the livestock also?
That's just to get you ready for what to expect. (Please don't troll them; if you must, do it here!)

Anyway, I'm totally glued to this stuff. The idea of radio eavesdropping gratifies my basest voyeuristic urges. I'm honestly amazed this stuff in on the internet, and I wonder if the Iraqis are reading it too (since yesterday's edition described pretty accurately what today's tactics and targets would be).


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


The media outlets you most trust to tell the truth about this war are based in
o the USA. 5%
o the UK. 12%
o continental Europe. 18%
o Iraq. 1%
o Arab countries near Iraq. 4%
o some other place. 11%
o ... I don't trust any media! 45%

Votes: 245
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Scoop
o Venik's Military News
o US frequency-hopping radio transmissions are cracked
o В&#1 086;йна в Ираке
o yesterday' s edition
o Also by Spork

Display: Sort:
Best war reporters: The Russians? | 161 comments (123 topical, 38 editorial, 0 hidden)
Hmm (4.43 / 16) (#7)
by SilentNeo on Sat Mar 29, 2003 at 04:31:28 AM EST

I looked at it, too. However, I'm VERY skeptical about the so called "radio eavesdropping". I don't know the exact encryption techniques our troops use. What I DO know is that if the Russians have a way to break it that is a HUGE secret. They should NEVER let it out : knowledge that you can break an enemies codes should be more carefully guarded than your own codes. Thus I think this stuff is pure fictional bullshit. While some of it seemed accurate, there are reports that have not shown up anywhere else, like "the American's lost 20 tanks". Sure its possible that not only the Iraqi's have weapons that can penetrate the Abrahms MBT (not mines, direct fire. In the last war they had a tough time), and its possible the military, embarrassed, "forgot" to mention these huge losses. But is it likely? No.

Update : according to the site, on March 27 60 coalition troops may have been killed. WTF? NONE of these casualties have been reported. Only a couple died on March 27, and the TOTAL casualties including the chopper accidents is reported as just under 50. Sure, the American generals could be lying through their teeth. But I'm more inclined to believe the site is bullshit, especially since it has a link to a page about "antigravity" info.

Venik only translates the report (none / 0) (#9)
by Spork on Sat Mar 29, 2003 at 04:38:20 AM EST

The anti-gravity and maybe even the eavesdropping stuff is probably his, and that might well be bullshit. But the war reports are not written by him.

[ Parent ]
He didn't say that! (5.00 / 2) (#10)
by Spork on Sat Mar 29, 2003 at 04:46:16 AM EST

According to verified information, during the past 48 hours of the Iraqi counterattacks the coalition forces sustained the following losses: up to 30 killed, over 110 wounded and 20 missing in action; up to 30 combat vehicles lost or disabled, including at least 8 tanks and 2 self-propelled artillery systems, 2 helicopters and 2 unmanned aerial vehicles were lost in combat.
This is from the March 28 report. "Up to 30 killed" in the last 48 hours in still a pretty large sum, but certainly not the "60 on the 27th" like you said. So where exactly did you read that?

[ Parent ]
March 27 (5.00 / 2) (#12)
by SilentNeo on Sat Mar 29, 2003 at 05:03:23 AM EST

"During the past day the coalition losses in this area [ Karabela and An-Najaf ] were 18-22 killed and up to 40 wounded." the site says on March 27. That's about 10 times the reported number.

"During one of the Iraqi attacks yesterday against the US positions the Iraqis for the first time employed the "Grad" mobile multiple rocket launch systems [MLRS]. As the result an entire US unit was taken out of combat after sustaining up to 40 killed and wounded as well as losing up to 7 armored vehicles."

Not reported anywhere, that's where I get my "60" number. (20+40)

"During the sand storm the coalition command lost contact with up to 4 coalition reconnaissance groups. Their whereabouts are being determined. It is still unknown what happened to more than 600 other coalition troops mainly from resupply, communications and reconnaissance units communication with which was lost during the past 24 hours." 600 men all lost their radios? Either this didn't happen, or the site is implying we've had 600 people lost or captured. Hmm.

[ Parent ]

And (none / 0) (#13)
by SilentNeo on Sat Mar 29, 2003 at 05:14:51 AM EST

The reason the body count issue is what I'm interested in is that none of the other analysis really matters. There's no doubt that the Iraqi's will be defeated (though the coalition may have to bring in more troops to do it. They have lots). The question is how many body bags on our side will have to be filled. If you add up the supposed losses from day to day reported on this site, it would seem hundreds of troops have been killed, far more than even hawks can stomach.

[ Parent ]
how many bodies CAN a Hawk Stomach? (none / 0) (#92)
by bluemonkie24 on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 01:26:02 PM EST

So, Im wondering.....in 6 months after X dead and wounded have gone home and 100-200,000 troops continue to search iraq's and deal wih random attacks from what ever radical is still alive in that country....Is there honestly a point where any of the hawk would, could say thats enough and pull the plug on the whole thing?

How is the Bush Doctorin gonna look after all thoughs dead soldiers are shown on the news.

The casulty rates for Gulf War 1 where 1 in 1500...based on 220,000 troops (up to 80,000 that are either airforce or navel and dont engage in ground fights directly), the casulty rates (based on BBC and CNN dead numbers) is running around 1 in 3400....and they still havent hit their heavy resistance...or at lest the resistance they expected.

[ Parent ]

The point of the war. (none / 0) (#152)
by Rich0 on Wed Apr 02, 2003 at 11:20:53 PM EST

So, Im wondering.....in 6 months after X dead and wounded have gone home and 100-200,000 troops continue to search iraq's and deal wih random attacks from what ever radical is still alive in that country....Is there honestly a point where any of the hawk would, could say thats enough and pull the plug on the whole thing?

I think the whole idea is that it is better to have X dead over there than 10X dead over in the US due to a terrorist attack.  

Besides, if an arab democracy actually gets set up in the middle east it might bode well for getting rid of some of the other two-bit dictatorships.  Personally, I think that if the US reduced its dependance on foreign oil it might speed the process - those two-bit dictators need a lot of cash to keep entire populations in check.  Of course, if it weren't for the dependance on oil, the US probably wouldn't have invaded in the first place - as long as Sadaam kept his thugs out of the US the US would leave him alone.  

Keep in mind that Sept 11th caused a pretty big change in public opinion in the US.  Europe might be used to having some radical group blow up a car bomb in a capitol three times a week, but in the US this isn't exactly an everyday event.  US citizens are pretty obsessed with fairness - they like to play by the rules.  When somebody else is preceived as "cheating" (ie blowing up civilians or using human shields) the response is usually retalliation with overwhelming force.  US public opinion is strongly in favor of a war in Iraq, and as long as progress is being made there will be a lot of tolerance for body bags.  If things stagnate the public will quickly lose interest.  Things may stagnate in the future, but I doubt it will be before Sadaam is out of power.

[ Parent ]

Fairness? Rules? (none / 0) (#156)
by bluemonkie24 on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 01:50:17 PM EST

Playing Fair is a relative thing I think. One persons idea of fair, is another mans terrorism.

I do agree that if things dont keep moving forward and for the american forces, then the public would start changing their mind about the whole thing. But are their minds for this war because of the fact they get told that S.H is behind terrorism? Or are they behind this war because they realised that they used to arm nut jobs to fight other nut jobs and are trying to make good?

I think a bit of aragence still comes in to play...the "Are way is best...buy our products" type attitude is this getting preseved by lots of non-americans and people out side america...I never hated the states....still dont, but I do see why people do. Not saying that its right or wrong...but Im just saying that one should understand the world...and if you want to stop terrorism, stop pissing people off so much just because they are different. aka no money for france or german or russian or syrin companies...There was a great chance to say "hey, world...you know we dont agree all the time or often...but hey, we gotta live together on this planet...so lets try to find something to get along".....I think that the world leaders should all get together and throw a few back and shoot the shit....awh the canadian way of diplomacy

[ Parent ]

Well, he did say "up to" and backed down (none / 0) (#16)
by Spork on Sat Mar 29, 2003 at 05:32:34 AM EST

There really is no inconsistency in the reporting then. Based on the radio traffic, it may have sounded like like an entire unit of 40 was taken out. Within 24 hours the openly unconfirmed numbers were revised to a more reasonable figure, that is, 30 or less in the last 48 hours.

All in all, this sounds to me like responsible reporting.

[ Parent ]

my read.. (5.00 / 2) (#61)
by eightball on Sat Mar 29, 2003 at 10:09:55 PM EST

40 killed and wounded != 40 killed

... trying not to be antagonistic about it, so I'll leave it at that.

[ Parent ]

hmm (5.00 / 4) (#63)
by SilentNeo on Sat Mar 29, 2003 at 11:48:22 PM EST

Oops.  Crap, I saw what I wanted to see.  I still doubt strongly this radio intercept thing, and am inclined to believe the site is pure fiction.  However, yes, with modern medical procedure and evacuation better than 90% of the casualties survive.  That would imply under 4 dead, consistent with news.

At least I'm willing to admit it.

[ Parent ]

Comparisons too recent (none / 0) (#102)
by riptalon on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 04:43:42 PM EST

Even if the US isn't trying to actively hide its casualty figures they are likely to trickle out slowly over time. The US figures are likely to evolve slowly upwards over time and asymtote to the presumably correct value. For 23rd March, a week ago, the Russian source says "up to 40 killed, up to 10 captured" and figures from the US media are: 13 killed, 5 captured, 14 missing. Whether reported casualities for this day have reached their maximum or will increase more, we can only wait and see. However, since all the missing are undoubtably dead or they would have been on Iraqi TV by now, this is 27 dead and 5 captured which makes "up to 40 killed, up to 10 captured" look like a good estimate.

[ Parent ]
And I will note... (5.00 / 2) (#104)
by Eric Green on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 05:15:48 PM EST

That I have counted 8 to 10 tanks "killed" from other sources. 2 were killed by an AA gun mounted on a pickup truck managing to get behind them and shoot up their engine compartment (catching the tank on fire and causing a hasty evacuation), 2 were killed when the Iraqis ran civilian fuel trucks into them as the world's biggest Molotov cocktail, 2 were killed when Iraqi irregulars managed to sneak up behind them and plant RPG's in the engine compartment (it is unclear, however, whether this was the same 2 that were thought to have been killed by an AA gun), 2 were killed by Russian Kornet anti-tank missiles that killed them THROUGH THEIR FRONT ARMOR (apparently a shock to the American soldiers, who had previously viewed the M1A1 as invincible), 2 ran off the road into the river during the sandstorm and were unrecoverable.

In short, that paragraph about American combat losses so far matches what I already confirmed from other sources. That adds to the credibility of the rest of the info.
You are feeling sleepy... you are feeling verrry sleepy...
[ Parent ]

Sources (none / 0) (#126)
by RoOoBo on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 04:57:09 AM EST

What are your sources? Not that I don't believe you, I just want to check that info too. In Reuters I found a raw video with three(?) destroyed tanks. They all seem M1 to me, but I wouldn't bet my live, I don't have enough knowledge. I just compared them with photos from other sites.

Debka talks about the AT14 Hornet 'surprise' but I don't remember now if it talks about the number of destroyed tanks.

[ Parent ]
Check my home page (none / 0) (#146)
by Eric Green on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 10:50:44 PM EST

Lots of links there. I think it's from about 3 days down tho, so you might have to scroll down a bit. I really don't feel like going back through my vast link farm and figuring out which links I followed for all the tank kills, I'll let you do the hard work since you're the guy who wanted the sources :-).
You are feeling sleepy... you are feeling verrry sleepy...
[ Parent ]
Wrong about site and casualties! (5.00 / 5) (#41)
by freddie on Sat Mar 29, 2003 at 03:21:15 PM EST

Venik is the anti-gravity guy and he is only reposting the articles from iraqwar.ru. Just go to iraqwar.ru and click on the english flag, if you want to read it in English, Venik is not relevant to this.

As far as casualty counts, it should be obvious by now that USUK is not giving out information about how many people it has lost. Just today many media outlets had news about 4 marines killed by a suicide taxi. The official casualties are still 24.

Imagination is more important than knowledge. -- Albert Einstein
[ Parent ]
Translation (none / 0) (#89)
by RoOoBo on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 12:40:33 PM EST

I think what you get in the english version of iraqwar.ru is still Venik translation so what is the point? Reduce web traffic? And in any case there are now a lot of sites mirroring that information.

[ Parent ]
Uh. (none / 0) (#99)
by Anonymous Hiro on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 04:29:18 PM EST

Kill/capture US soldier with radio. Get radio.  

Radio should work ok for a day or so.

If they screw up it'll work for longer.

Each radio has a private key using public key crypto? I doubt it.

Why break codes when you can steal them. Battlefields aren't neat and tidy places for crypto key distribution. Esp with all that jamming going on.

[ Parent ]

Absolutely they are legitimate. (1.88 / 9) (#8)
by Mr Hogan on Sat Mar 29, 2003 at 04:31:47 AM EST

Some people on this site - the usual ants - have tried to debunk aeronautics but in my opinion they have failed - pay no attention to their ratings they don't understand the logic of vodka and anti-gravity devices is all that is - fact is aeronautics is right most of the time and way more often than mainstream media all of the time. Now it is a terrible shame the US government DDOSed Al Jazeerah off the Internet (that site was gold bursting with fact - that was the problem!) - funny way to sell democracy to the Middle East - but s'ok already the recriminations have begun first Perle then Rummy finally Hitchens their careers are all but over. So anyway in the interim aeronautics is a-ok++ though for how long I do not know I have heard rumors of assassination attempts - no one is safe from liberation.

Life is food and rape, then tilt.

hmm (none / 0) (#107)
by xmnemonic on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 08:36:20 PM EST

The site is called Venik's Aviation Page, not "aeronautics".

[ Parent ]
These are all very good sites. (3.66 / 9) (#27)
by valeko on Sat Mar 29, 2003 at 10:37:08 AM EST

But iraqwar.ru may be problematic for English-speaking people; the bulk of the "peripheral" information is still in Russian.

Russian media in general, outside of certain select sources which everyone knows about that can be likened to tabloids here (but perhaps "political tabloids" rather than "celebrity focus"), is very accurate about these matters and tends to reveal a whole lot more interesting details. This is because they have not yet cultivated the fully-fledged consumer society that would be satisfied with infotainment, and not actual substance, that flows out of American mass-media.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart

biased, but interesting (3.00 / 5) (#30)
by svampa on Sat Mar 29, 2003 at 11:55:18 AM EST

I'm against this war, I think it's just a conquer of the new empire we will have to live with. But I think that the politic anlysis of russian press I've read, are too biased against war, even for me.

In the other hand, bare facts are quite interesting. They have a lot of facts that I've never heard before, and I'm in Spain, were 91% people (January poll) and most press is against the war.

I think it is a good counterbalance to people that only read patriotic press.

Best US news site Indymedia! (3.62 / 8) (#34)
by RyoCokey on Sat Mar 29, 2003 at 12:40:17 PM EST

Seriously, are you guys that gullible?

Some other posters on this article point out reasons why this site is obviously BS.

"Some things do not change. The best way to shock and awe an enemy is still to kill him." - Ralph Peters
Believable sources. (3.50 / 4) (#47)
by BinaryTree on Sat Mar 29, 2003 at 06:44:40 PM EST

"These sources are all wrong! To disprove them, I point you to these other sources: This one, that one, this one..."

Having said that, I think Spork is full of shit.

[ Parent ]

The best war reporters... (3.60 / 10) (#35)
by tang gnat on Sat Mar 29, 2003 at 12:54:50 PM EST

... are the ones who put your favourite spin on the news. The ones who exaggerate the minor details, while ignoring important events.

This site is gaining credibility with me every day (4.41 / 12) (#36)
by MajorMajor on Sat Mar 29, 2003 at 01:35:45 PM EST

I have to say I've just done a side by side comparison of their report of the 27th vs the report, maps etc. in the UK Independent newspaper today (29th), and they seem to broadly correlate. I notice the end-of-week conclusion & analysis seems to be fairly balanced too. I'm expecting the coalition to announce their capture of Baghdad airport any day now (assuming they manage it on schedule, latest from the site seems to indicate some delay.).

I still think the stats of casualties are a bit iffy - if they were correct then I'd expect to have seen officially reported stats rising more than they have.

The explanation of how they intercept reports seems to be reasonably credible - the technology exists. As another poster here has pointed out, proper digital encryption is fiddly to perform properly in the battlefield. What's happening is the same thing that happened when the Germans used Enigma during WWII - radio operators are getting sloppy about the procedures being used when making transmissions.

Casualties (4.66 / 6) (#43)
by Znork on Sat Mar 29, 2003 at 04:34:36 PM EST

From the point of view of the administration I see little reason to release actual casualty figures. They would not help keep morale in the troops, they would not help support the war, and they would be stressful for relatives of the soldiers. There is little reason for the administration to release such numbers.

Further, theres bound to be a lot of confusion as far as wether some are MIA or actually killed, so of course the casualty stats are iffy.

Some would call it responsible, others call it part of the propaganda war. Either way, we're not going to get real number for a long while.

[ Parent ]

NPR had them (4.50 / 2) (#72)
by damiam on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 08:47:47 AM EST

Yesterday. 36 Americans killed, IIRC.

[ Parent ]
Casualty figures from the first gulf war. (none / 0) (#119)
by Mr Hogan on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 02:28:43 AM EST

382 KIA
467 Wounded
37 KIA in non-battle capacity
1947 Killed outside battle theatre (jeep accidents mosquito bites etc.)

Life is food and rape, then tilt.
[ Parent ]

COMSEC (4.50 / 8) (#40)
by Bad Harmony on Sat Mar 29, 2003 at 03:05:23 PM EST

While you may be able to track a frequency hopping radio with a wideband receiver and some clever software, that is not going to crack the digitized and encrypted (KY-57) voice signals used when the radio is operated in secure mode. That is a much more difficult task.

5440' or Fight!

Re: your sig (5.00 / 2) (#108)
by hugues on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 08:39:11 PM EST

It's not France that mattered, it was the UN support. This war does not seem to have been all that well prepared after all.


[ Parent ]

Great way to get them trolled. (4.25 / 4) (#45)
by Kasreyn on Sat Mar 29, 2003 at 04:40:20 PM EST

"(Please don't troll them; if you must, do it here!)"

Nothing excites the professional troll more than the idea of a virgin, un-trolled bunch of victim , er, ^W ^W posters.


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
silly boy! (4.25 / 8) (#49)
by Lode Runner on Sat Mar 29, 2003 at 07:02:34 PM EST

The grizzled veterans of soc.yugoslavia and soc.chechnya will quickly make minced meat out of kuro5hin's finest. Venik himself is the premier troll of rec.aviation.military.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

[ Parent ]

Isn't this stuff just more misplaced optimism? (3.42 / 7) (#48)
by glauber on Sat Mar 29, 2003 at 06:54:29 PM EST

When i read about hundreds of combat vehicles and 'chopters disabled, scores of casualties, etc, i wonder if this is not just misplaced optimism, trying to hope that there is any way the US/UK behemoth won't win this conflict.

Even discounting all the propaganda bias in the US, if these were true, we would have started hearing about them from other sources by now, wouldn't we?

glauber (PGP Key: 0x44CFAA9B)

It might be... (3.00 / 1) (#59)
by Xeriar on Sat Mar 29, 2003 at 09:49:14 PM EST

That certain important numbers are being reported on an 'hours will seem like days' scheme of some sort. I'm not sure if it's a full order of magnitude or not, but more than just casualty numbers look suspicious.

When I'm feeling blue, I start breathing again.
[ Parent ]
Not really. (4.20 / 5) (#68)
by Znork on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 06:54:55 AM EST

I cant really see much 'optimism' there. More like 'realism'. Most of the vehicles and chopters are supposedly disabled due to terrain conditions. This was known an pointed out before the conflict even started, things like the chopters lasting not much more than 30 hours between necessary servicing and parts replacement, and tanks having a serious problem with the sand. I would have supposed they would have fixed those technical issues before actually going ahead, but it appears any such fixes were not quite as thorough as one might have hoped. Maybe some elements in the US political leadership believed they would have no problem maintaining supply lines or that the war would be over fast enough this wouldnt be a problem and went ahead ignoring the issue.

As far as winning, I dont think there's any doubt the US/UK coalition will 'win' for certain definitions of 'winning'. Nailing Saddam is an achievable definition of 'winning', I think. Believing the war will be over by nailing Saddam is gross optimism of the worst kind by now, I think. The longer the war drags out, the higher chance of him getting martyrized and his death rather reinforcing the Iraqi will to fight.

Defeating the Iraqi army is another plausibly achievable defintition of 'winning'. Of course, since the war will then turn into 'fighting the guerilla, islamist suicide bombers, iranian trained shia extremeists, etc', it wont quite be a very solid definition of 'winning'.

And, of course, for the definition of 'winning' as 'imposing a peaceful democratic leadership in Iraq', the coalition had already lost before the first shot was fired.

[ Parent ]

Winning (2.00 / 2) (#69)
by Phillip Asheo on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 07:40:07 AM EST

Is defined by the price of oil on the world markets, nothing more nothing less.

"Never say what you can grunt. Never grunt what you can wink. Never wink what you can nod, never nod what you can shrug, and don't shrug when it ain't necessary"
-Earl Long
[ Parent ]

Too simplistic (3.00 / 2) (#70)
by Znork on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 08:07:39 AM EST

The oil argument is too simplistic. We all know the oil supply will end sooner or later, and higher prices just means the west will adapt faster, until prices sink again. It's not as if replacing the oil is impossible, there just isnt any immediate compelling reason.

That lesson was something OPEC learned from the Oil Embargo, and that lesson is why OPEC increases production to stabilize price during the war.

So, no, this war is not about the oil only. A few oil companies might in one way or another eventually end up benefitting from the series of wars embarked upon, but that goal could have been achieved far more easily by other means. It's not like it would have been a new radical idea to offer support for Saddam in exchange for oil, which would have been far less difficult to do, if this was only about the oil.

No, this war is more about some people who slept through history class, flunked psych 101, then unfortunately proceeded using mindaltering drugs during philosophy class and skipped out on their therapy sessions.

PNAC in other words.

I think they actually, dangerously delusional in their own little world, believe in their ideas.

[ Parent ]

Oil Dollars (5.00 / 1) (#133)
by schrotie on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 09:23:15 AM EST

I've read an article which yields a plausible explanation for the oil hypothesis. I received this article via Email so I can't give a link, sorry.

The short version is: In 1999 Irak has switched from $ to EUR for trading oil and Irak has profited from that choice. Other countries consider switching too. Many nations keep rather big $ reserves because $ is the de facto world currency, mostly due to it being the currency used for oil trade. Were these countrie to switch to EUR huge amounts of $ would flow back to the US possibly leading to inflation in the most indebted economy of the planet. This article I read even claims the US economy might crash rather swiftly if oil $ were flowing back rapidly. Now the US and the biggest non EUR based European nation (i.e. England) are making an example of Irak so that other nations think twice before considering the switch. The biggest EUR based economies (i.e. Germany and France) are opposing for obvious reasons - and not exactly from higher moral ground.

I did not verify any of this. Sounds consistent but so do most random conspiracy theories. Does anybody know more about these issues?


[ Parent ]

Halliburton, not "oil". (none / 0) (#81)
by tkatchev on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 11:44:59 AM EST

There is a difference.

Halliburton doesn't really care what the price of oil is, as long as they get to control a significant enough portion of the market.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Optimistic? (none / 0) (#98)
by Anonymous Hiro on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 04:18:08 PM EST


For most people optimism would be for a quick decisive war, with minimal deaths.

Lots of casualties is definitely is not an optimistic scenario.

[ Parent ]

Matches other sources (none / 0) (#103)
by Eric Green on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 04:45:42 PM EST

You can count on approximately 5% of combat vehicles to break down per day of continuous motion, and we have inadequate support in the field to keep them all running when they break down due to Secretary of Defense McNamara^wRumsfeld deciding that this would be a short victorious war and thus we didn't need to dispatch the entire U.S. logistics team that was requested. So yes, it is likely that hundreds of combat vehicles and choppers were disabled at the time of the report, though it's nothing unexpected and undoubtedly something that was factored into war plans. What IS unexpected is that we would actually need all those broken down tanks to secure our supply lines, instead of letting them get repaired at leisure by the stripped-down logistics team dispatched to the field.
You are feeling sleepy... you are feeling verrry sleepy...
[ Parent ]
Go and fsck yourself. (1.81 / 11) (#51)
by Tezcatlipoca on Sat Mar 29, 2003 at 08:11:42 PM EST

People are dying out there, some of them completely innocent, good as hell, fine people, and the only thing you can think of is "to gratify your basest voyeuristic urges".

Shame on you.

Might is right

Ignorant (1.80 / 5) (#53)
by holdfast on Sat Mar 29, 2003 at 08:18:06 PM EST

Your ancestors fought and died to defend your access to the truth! Are you so shallow that you don't give a sh1t for what they did for you?

And if your ancestors didn't do that, those of a lot of people here did! Go and look up the text of the constitution and, more recent, freedom of information legislation.

"Holy war is an oxymoron."
Lazarus Long
[ Parent ]
The poor children. (2.00 / 4) (#54)
by The Devil on Sat Mar 29, 2003 at 08:18:32 PM EST

Think of the poor children. They are dying and not even receiving proper burials. Think of what Allah will say! And think of this.

[ Parent ]
I rather think (3.50 / 2) (#71)
by etherdeath on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 08:34:36 AM EST

of what Alliyah would say.

[ Parent ]
It's a lot better than ignorance! (4.66 / 3) (#60)
by Spork on Sat Mar 29, 2003 at 10:05:04 PM EST

If you have never wanted to glance at an accident scene as paramedics try to save the victims, then you must be a very different kind of person indeed. But you see, when there is a tragedy, when people die, I care what happened. I call this vouyerism because it will make no difference to the situation whether or not I know what happened. I simply want to know.

You might think this is immoral or something, but I think it's far more reprehensible than sticking your head in the sand while tragedies occur around you.

[ Parent ]

Let them not die in vain, however. (4.00 / 1) (#86)
by bobzibub on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 12:17:57 PM EST

The more media outlets that actually convey the truth about war, the less likely that war will be the policy maker's first choice.

In the US, technological innovation is the addictive substance that feeds that voyeurism.  Precision guided rocketry is "cool" but the selected set of fuzzy black and white video of it honing in on its target does not convey the bloody results at the other end of that weapon--and this is the real problem.  Weapons are extremely blunt policy instruments, despite the "precision" aspects which are played up.

Let us all watch the full hard truths about war for the sake of the innocent and the fine.


"You are not authorized to view this page" ; )
Try it!

[ Parent ]

How'd this story get back here? (2.00 / 10) (#55)
by RyoCokey on Sat Mar 29, 2003 at 08:23:17 PM EST

It was already at -25 and removed earlier when I checked. WTF? This has been happening a lot recently, stories vanish from the queue, then reappear, comments still attached, after reaching -25.

"Some things do not change. The best way to shock and awe an enemy is still to kill him." - Ralph Peters
WTF, is there something I'm missing? (3.00 / 2) (#57)
by RyoCokey on Sat Mar 29, 2003 at 08:46:46 PM EST

Stories seem to get into the -20's, then disappear from the voting page... but aren't dumped, as they're still retained by Kuro5hin. See this story for example.

Is this a bug, or some kind of odd new feature I'm not familiar with?

"Some things do not change. The best way to shock and awe an enemy is still to kill him." - Ralph Peters
[ Parent ]
Yes, you're missing something (4.00 / 6) (#58)
by jubal3 on Sat Mar 29, 2003 at 09:11:45 PM EST

Like the fact that K5 has apparently lost its collective mind. *sigh*

***Never attribute to malice that which can be easily attributed to incompetence. -HB Owen***
[ Parent ]
yo (none / 0) (#74)
by relief on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 09:33:23 AM EST

there is no such thing as a collective mind. the intersection of the average minds is the null set. =D

If you're afraid of eating chicken wings with my dick cheese as a condiment, you're a wuss.
[ Parent ]
More like fuzzy logic (none / 0) (#84)
by pin0cchio on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 12:02:28 PM EST

the intersection of the average minds is the null set

The most common mathematical meaning of "intersection" is a concept from set theory. Set theory works only sets where membership is binary (either it is a member or it isn't). Minds running on vertebrate brains work more on fuzzy logic than on hard binary contrasts, and fuzzy logic has a different concept of "intersection" that doesn't result in null sets so quickly.

[ Parent ]
+1 FP Mentions fuzzy logic nt. (1.00 / 1) (#94)
by trane on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 02:21:13 PM EST

[ Parent ]
"Information wants to be free". (NT) (none / 0) (#155)
by Wulfius on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 10:39:10 PM EST

"We must believe in free will, we have no choice."
http://wulfspawprints.blogspot.com/ - Not a journal dammit!
[ Parent ]
Spork's alias is Evening. (1.33 / 12) (#62)
by The Devil on Sat Mar 29, 2003 at 11:44:03 PM EST

Notice that everyone on this thread who flames it or slightly disagrees with Spork gets rated 1 by someone called Evening? Well Spork created this account to scorebomb people who disagree with him. You know how I could tell it was an alias acct? Easy. It has no comments and no stories and a sh1tload of ratings on this story. I might be totally incorrect, but as The Devil, I am allowed lattitude.

False, and a stupid ad hominem anyway (5.00 / 5) (#65)
by Spork on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 01:37:11 AM EST

Uhh, it seems your standards of following a self-serving, conspiratorial hunch might make you the sort of person they'd hire on FOX news.

Your accusation is totally false. If I wanted to mod somebody down, I'd give them a 0 with my Spork account, the only one I have. But feel free to check my moderation record. I have nothing to hide.

This "Evening" seems like a reasonable person from his/her moderation record. But is it so hard to believe that somebody might actually agree with my views and mod down the people who troll in the comments of the last story I posted? Maybe Evening too has taken the time to follow my links and think carefully about what's there.

Anyway, somebody making these accusations, with such crappy evidence, probably takes the mechanics of these blogs a bit too seriously, and the ideas expressed in them, not seriously enough.

It's also funny on a meta-level, since this is an article about deceptive media. I could just see FOX news run a headline that says: "Saddam Hussein Has Been Assasinated" and in the story below say that they just have a hunch this is so, and that they have no evidence at all and it all "might be totally incorrect." Well, if that's so, you would think they'd choose a different title! See what I'm saying? BTW: I hope "Evening" isn't too insulted to be mistaken for me! ;)

[ Parent ]

Ahhh, well you know... (5.00 / 1) (#77)
by The Devil on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 10:19:56 AM EST

It's also funny on a meta-level, since this is an article about deceptive media. I could just see FOX news run a headline that says: "Saddam Hussein Has Been Assasinated" and in the story below say that they just have a hunch this is so, and that they have no evidence at all and it all "might be totally incorrect." Well, if that's so, you would think they'd choose a different title! See what I'm saying? BTW: I hope "Evening" isn't too insulted to be mistaken for me! ;)
So I see you got my joke. Good job, Spork! I was surprised that anyone would pick up on it. Remember, my alias is The Devil, and I try to play it close to character. Forgive my indulgence and I hope you have a good rest-of-the-weekend. Ta ta! ~liveD ehT

[ Parent ]
whats your problem man, get a life[nt] (none / 0) (#73)
by relief on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 09:31:35 AM EST

If you're afraid of eating chicken wings with my dick cheese as a condiment, you're a wuss.
[ Parent ]
well, well, well (4.00 / 2) (#75)
by Evening on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 09:47:15 AM EST

Imagine my suprise when I read that I am, infact, an alias :)
Yes I have been lurking for quite some time, never contributing anything, but hopefully that will change. This wasn't exactly how I imagine my first contribution
I find it slightly worrying that Spork is accused of creating an alias just to mod people down with sufficient evidence, after all this was just a coincidence, believe or not. Creating an alias to mod people down is despicable, but so is falsely accusing people.
Try to take a closer look at the comments I have rated 1. Yes, I have voted down comments like "Go and fsck yourself" by Tezcatlipoca and other insignificant comments who add nothing, however I do give 5's to comments like "Hmm" by SilentNeo because they, unlike the comments I have voted 1, voice reasonable doubts about the legitimacy of site.
Why is it, that everytime people disagree, it has to degenerate into flaming and accusations left and right?

[ Parent ]
Mwhahahah. (2.00 / 1) (#87)
by The Devil on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 12:19:04 PM EST

Got ya.

[ Parent ]
Well two jubal3's don't make you right. (none / 0) (#120)
by Mr Hogan on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 02:33:50 AM EST


Life is food and rape, then tilt.
[ Parent ]

Russians' role! (4.33 / 3) (#76)
by PC1 on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 09:52:04 AM EST

Any news is better than no news. CNN is still better than Fox network (where they call every body terrorists). The NPR is still an acceptable option.

The Russians have an unprecedented opportunity to test all their eves dropping toys and to observe the US forces without having to fight a war. Some of what's on that web site may be true.

This war is missing something. (1.00 / 1) (#78)
by The Devil on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 10:25:24 AM EST

What we need are a bunch of Russian nukes to somehow enter the fray. Wouldn't that be fun? I can only imagine how many souls we'd see down here in Dispater Aguadadito (our new metroplex near Dis) if that happened! I would bet it might be close to 80/20, in favor of Iraqis. The best thing possible right now would be if people believed Saddam was responsible for the next wave of Terrorist actions, which are CIA controlled mind experiments metaphased from successful rat series. That would play right into my plans for global domination. Pretty soon we'll all be learning how to duck and cover anyway. Just remember to cover your heads with arms, okay children of Earth? :)

BS? (3.40 / 5) (#79)
by DDS3 on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 10:51:54 AM EST

Last I heard, they used some crypto and maybe even from spread-spectrum stuff to prevent this exact type of ease dropping. Ease-dropping can significantly effect operational security. Something about this rings bells of it being total BS and it's certainly dated right to be an April fools joke. For now, I'm thinking this is a total BS April Fool's joke article.

Umm (2.50 / 2) (#91)
by mindstrm on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 01:17:00 PM EST

Read the link about how they intercept? It's not "easy" in the normal sense of the word.. but i'ts not as secret as you think either.

Remember, two people keeping their comms secret is one thing.. but managing secure communications with hundreds or thousands of people is *hard*, and mistakes are made.

[ Parent ]

Not really... (5.00 / 1) (#135)
by DDS3 on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 10:03:44 AM EST

...as that's one of the reasons our GPS sats are in the sky.

[ Parent ]
Read the fscking page. (none / 0) (#154)
by Wulfius on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 10:36:55 PM EST

It tells you how the spread spectrum is cracked.

"We must believe in free will, we have no choice."
http://wulfspawprints.blogspot.com/ - Not a journal dammit!
[ Parent ]
i think they are bored ex mlitary people (3.33 / 6) (#80)
by turmeric on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 11:06:30 AM EST

look, these people spent 70 years spying on the united states and learning how the united states military operates. now the cold war is over and these people have nothing to do. there are only so many chess matches and skinny dipping you can do before you get bored and want to get back to what you had been doing for the last 50 years of your life. their speciality is spying on and predicting american military action, so why not do it as a hobby

Doh! (4.00 / 1) (#115)
by max3000 on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 11:54:47 PM EST

This comment is sooooo lame. I can't believe it got 4.33.

What you are saying implicitely is that Venik is right, used as he is as spying on the US. Then, why should we care about his motives, if he gives us factual information?

I am not saying like you that I believe what Venik has to say or that he is accurate. But attacking his credibility based on his ancestry is sooooo ridiculous... Such a blatant sophism. I feel ashamed for you.

I am personnaly giving this comment a 1 (because of a lack of a lower rating). But then again, it is probably because I am a stupid Canadian jealous the United-Statians have such a wise and all-knowing prophet as Bush fighting all the evil-doers of this world.

[ Parent ]

nothing incredible (1.00 / 1) (#117)
by turmeric on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 01:13:34 AM EST

about it. im just explaining the motivation.

[ Parent ]
Helicopter.. from where ? (3.50 / 4) (#82)
by alfadir on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 11:52:14 AM EST

GRU should know this. Is there any other pointers to factual errors? Of course I am not a helicopter expert. I am just trying to find my way in all the missinformation, comming from everywhere.

US order of battle (5.00 / 3) (#88)
by RoOoBo on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 12:28:30 PM EST

From this page:

Command Element, V Corps ~ 1,500
69th Air Defense Artillery BDE [In Israel as part of Juniper Cobra]
5-7th Air Defense Artillery BN 500 ? - Patriot
Task Force 11th Aviation
2nd Sqdn, 6th Cavalry 450 21 - AH-64A
?4 UH-60
6th Sqdn, 6th Cavalry 21 - AH-64D
3rd BN, 58th Aviation
3rd BN, 158th Aviation
5th BN, 158th Aviation ? - UH-60
7th BN, 159th Aviation
1st BN, 227th Aviation

Look at the V Corps Units. The 1-227th is inside the Task Force 11th Aviation. If you follow the link in that page it shows the 1-227th information page which strangely enough shows a different unit sign than in the page you have posted (I don't know who is wrong). It says though that it is an AH64D Longbow unit.

[ Parent ]
You are right.. (5.00 / 1) (#90)
by alfadir on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 12:57:36 PM EST

The link I found states : The problem arises from the fact that the "First Team"'s Apache Longbow battalion is the 1-227th Avn (the markings on the downed Longbow indicate A Company, the "Avengers"), which is not part of the 11th Avn Rgt.

Your page states that indeed Task Force 11th Aviation contains the 1st BN, 227th Aviation. 1-227 contains, HHC "Night Riders", A Company "Avengers", B Company "Reapers", C Company "Vampires", D Company "Bone Crushers"

The problem is that I do not know the different markings. The Avengers may have different markings from 1-227? or how do that work?

I think your link is correct, which makes the GRU stuff seem ok. I still don't trust it. GRU is not the kind of people to put any information out in the public.

What would be interesting thou would be more detailed maps of the campain so far. Not have to be very detailed, but to understand what is happening. Your link is a start in trying to understand the military preassure put on the Iraqis. It is hard to tell from CNN if/how the campain is going forward. And everybody else including me becomes an armchair general. I want to avoid that and get an explination of what is happening. I think that is why so many turn to the GRU thing.

[ Parent ]

My take (none / 0) (#95)
by RoOoBo on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 02:21:24 PM EST

My first take of the site, from a link in Whatreallyhappened (which is a well known conspiracy link site) in the second of third day was that they were using public info, rumors and maybe somekind of insider (people they know at GRU or other russian services?) low security level info. That mixed with more military knowledge than most of us have. So I thought it was their interpretation of what was happening based in what they knew. Half fact half fiction. I'm still with the same impression as they use to be right sometimes and in other cases I have doubts.

Of course, as russians, they have their bias. If you are interested in another kind of bias look to Debka. It has some crazy stuff about superguns and nukes (that I find quite funny but without any chance of being true) mixed with 'secret' information about the war as the Iraqwar.ru reports. For another kind of spin the CDI has also dayly (or near dayly) updates about the war.

The only error I think I have found in Iraqwar.ru reports is when it says that the 82nd Airborne Division is in the North (or maybe I misread what they said I don't remember well now). From what I know from public info and other sites in the North there is the 173rd Airborne Brigade from Italy, from which 1000 paratroopers dropped this week in an Iraqui airfield.

A brigade from the 82nd seems to be in Afghanistan and I have read some info in normal news sites about being deployed in Naseriyah yesterday (I supose they mean components from their other two brigades), but I haven't read any confirmation yet. It doesn't seem to be in GlobalSecurity order of battle ... yet. There you can only find the brigade sited at Afghanistan.

[ Parent ]
Truth as propaganda (5.00 / 1) (#110)
by teeth on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 09:21:38 PM EST

"I think your link is correct, which makes the GRU stuff seem ok. I still don't trust it. GRU is not the kind of people to put any information out in the public.

I think it might suit the GRU very well to publicise a lot (not all) of what they know - the more embarassing the better...

Copyright is for protection against publishers
[ Parent ]

Enough is right (none / 0) (#100)
by Eric Green on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 04:30:35 PM EST

The Russians are right enough that I read their web site every day to see what may really have happened, but some of the stuff, like the "fake chopper" report, is bizarre. Still, they've successfully scooped the mainstream media enough times that I cannot dismiss everything they say. I just know to check things with several other sources before believing anything I read.
You are feeling sleepy... you are feeling verrry sleepy...
[ Parent ]
eavesdrop claim stretches credibility (4.27 / 11) (#83)
by james yonan on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 11:56:45 AM EST

I find it inconceivable, given the state-of-the-art in encryption technology (not to mention the open source availability of strong encryption algorithms) that the US military would base its command-and-control communication infrastructure on an obsolete form of communication encryption technology from WW II.

This article claims that the US military spent US$176 million in 2000 on military encryption.

It goes on to say

For years now Motorola has had radios encrypted that can carry anything classified from 'secret' up to 'top secret,' so you've been able to carry on a classified conversation for years," senior analyst Brooks Lieske told Wireless NewsFactor. "But that's in radio, and it's easily jammed by an enemy.

What I would find far more likely is that US counterintelligence is generating these plausibly bona-fide signals with weak encryption to confuse the enemy with false information, giving the Iraqis a false signal to jam, and obfuscating the real command-and-control signals.

James Yonan
Founder, OpenVPN project

Strong encryption is easy, key management is hard (4.33 / 6) (#93)
by sjmurdoch on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 01:29:11 PM EST

There are plenty of radio technologies which, if used correctly, will prevent unauthorised eavesdroppers from intercepting the communications. The US military have plenty of these.

However the important phrase is if used correctly. Managing keys securely is difficult at the best of times, managing keys securely during a war is much harder. For communications that are not all that critical it would not suprprise me if they were unencrypted since the effort to manage the keys was judged to be too much. Also using encryption lowers resiliance to intentional and unintentional jamming, for this reason it might be judged to be safer not to use encryption for some less confidential communications.

The US military were known to use unencrypted satellite and mobile phone communications during the Kosovo conflict so it would not surprise me if they did the same here.
Steven Murdoch.
web: My Home Page
[ Parent ]

They're very credible: I know the equipment (5.00 / 2) (#128)
by tres on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 06:16:09 AM EST

Although I can't go into the details too far, I can say that command and control communication between rear echelon and front line tanks and troops relies upon a number of processes for ensuring security. Strong encryption is not one of them.

Encryption does take place, but you're talking about devices that have been around for decades. As of five years ago, encryption was a minor part in a scheme that is described relatively well by the article.

There's plenty of logistical problems that make strong encryption key management in the field a big problem. As with anything else, there's a tradeoff between convenience and security.

I don't know if you've ever been in the army or not, but if not, take my word for it--there's plenty of dunderheads in uniform. The type of communication networks that are used for command and control to the front line require a lot of people to operate them. Some of them are really smart, and good at what they do, but there's plenty of others who can't do it.  Just getting these people to point an antenna in the right direction is a challenge, so making the system as idiot-proof as possible means that there may be lower security, but much higher reliability.

I worked for four years on the systems that provide commo between front line units and command centers. It's a job a trained-monkey could do. But the problems people had with such a simple job never ceased to amaze me.

[ Parent ]

My thoughts (none / 0) (#144)
by montjoy on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 09:43:30 PM EST

If I were a miltary decision-maker, I might consider *not* using the best-available encryption techniques against a third-world nation so as to keep them secret and hidden from analysis (The idea being they might be needed later on against a more resouceful foe.)

[ Parent ]
wow....did you see the pic of the female soldure (1.00 / 2) (#85)
by modmans2ndcoming on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 12:07:44 PM EST

in the desert? NICE!

Initial battlefield intelligence... (4.50 / 2) (#97)
by jason on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 04:15:21 PM EST

If this is based on intercepts from field units, then it's just initial battlefield intelligence. Each side will exaggerate its impact and underestimate its losses. Few of the reported numbers were accompanied by the source. Were the American casualty estimates from American or Iraqi units? Odds are they can intercept more of the Iraqi transmissions, so the numbers are probably biased in that direction.

Neither side has credible numbers for a few days after an event, if then. It's the "fog of war" crud. You can check the congressional reports on the first Bush's part of the war for some idea of the relative inflations that occur. (I can't find them at the moment, but they're available.)

Credible numbers (5.00 / 3) (#101)
by Eric Green on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 04:39:23 PM EST

Indeed, sitreps are filed when the commander isn't busy fighting enemy, not on a timely basis as the REA's (Rear Echelon Assholes) would like, and they state only what a particular commander saw on his own little piece of the battlefield, and his speculations thereof, which may have no relationship to reality. For example, I've heard that the Iraqis firing their own howitzer into Basra was actually them firing at a Special Forces op, not at their own citizens, but British frontline troops aren't going to know that (no Need To Know) and naturally their sitrep is going to say "Iraqis are firing at their own citizens, uprising happening?". Only after analysists have had time to put the two reports together is it possible to get any idea what *really* happened (you'll notice that the Pentagon has backed away from the uprising story, hmm?).

Still, there are some numbers that are easy to guestimate. For example, the number of disabled M1A1 tanks. According to one of the Desert Storm generals, for every day you roll M1A1's at combat speed you can expect to lose 5% to 10% of them to mechanical problems. Our tanks spent 5 days rolling miles into Iraq, so you can figure that's 25% to 50% of our tanks disabled waiting for repair. The Russian site says 50%, saying that the sandstorm killed more tanks than expected. That's credible, given the sensitivity of turbine engines to sand. Putting things through a BS test, it wouldn't surprise me if 50% of our tanks WERE disabled as of the time of that report, though undoubtedly they're in the process of being repaired as we speak and will soon be ready for combat again.

In other words, don't take anything you read anywhere as gospel truth, and try multiple sources to get anywhere near the truth. That said, the Russian site has been right enough that I check it regularly.
You are feeling sleepy... you are feeling verrry sleepy...
[ Parent ]

Its a crock (1.50 / 2) (#105)
by StephenThompson on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 05:35:34 PM EST

People who read and believe this tripe are just not paying close enough attention. The stories make claims about things they could not possibly know, even with cracked radio.

For example, they claim that an apache helicopter crashed because of "sand in the engine compressor". Identifying the cause of crashes takes weeks of investigation in the best of times, and knowing the specific cause of an engine failure is quite difficult. Also, what is an engine compressor exactly?

More subtle errors occur when they claim to know what people think, at one point claiming to know what the american troops are feeling.

All in all, its riddled with impossible claims and inflamatory spin. This doesn't mean the site is a "hoax" so much as it is fiction in the genre of psychologists blog.

No obivous errors (5.00 / 3) (#106)
by riptalon on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 06:41:14 PM EST

Identifying the cause of crashes takes weeks of investigation in the best of times, and knowing the specific cause of an engine failure is quite difficult.

If the pilot flys through a sand storm and then his engines start to pack up I think he will naturally assume, and with good reason, that it is because of sand being sucked into the engine. It is also likely that he will report it over his radio, if he has time. It is standard proceedure, even amoung civilian pilots, to report any adverse weather condition they encounter, so other pilots can divert around them. It is also standard proceedure to report if they are about to crash, since they will want some help. I think we can safely assume that the pilot would have been trying to transmit as many details as possible about the incident prior to hitting the ground.

Also, what is an engine compressor exactly?

Helicopters are powered by turboshaft engines which are similar to the turbojets used in most aircraft except that the exhaust gases are used to spin a turbine rather than being jetted out the back. The turbine is connected through reduction gears to the helicopter's rotor blades. In both turbojets and turboshaft/turboprop engines the air coming into the engine is compressed by a turbine before the fuel is added and burned. This is the engine compressor that is mentioned. Turbine blades move very fast and even though they are made of advanced alloys if you chuck too much crap into them they are likely to break with catastrophic results.

at one point claiming to know what the american troops are feeling.

This is the easiest thing to know since the individual troops on the ground will be using the weakest comunications and will be using the sloppiest proceedures. As the information flows up the chain of command the communications will likely become more secure and the proceedures for using them will be adhered to more strictly. But a couple of grunts a hundred yards appart, talking to each other over walkey-talkies; I expect even the Iraqi intellegence can intercept that.

[ Parent ]
not just cracked radio (none / 0) (#122)
by chu on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 02:47:11 AM EST

They purport to be GRU reports so would be based on a full range of inside info, not just radio eavesdropping.

[ Parent ]
Background on Venik's Aviation Page (4.72 / 11) (#109)
by xmnemonic on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 09:08:13 PM EST

I've visited Venik's Aviation Page for the past four years as an aviation enthusiast.  It has always been a good source of information on Russian military aircraft, though with an obvious pro-Russia slant.

Venik himself lives in America (hence his impeccable english), though he is a native Russian.  On the rec.aviation.military newsgroup (whose frequent viewers are just as intelligent as those who visit k5), most see Venik's site in a similar way as I do- informative, but biased.  He is/was often accused being anti-US, and a couple years ago Venik wrote an article on his site proclaiming his non-anti-Americanism (his best defense was the fact that he lives in America).

He has been caught red-handed by the rec.aviation.military folk posting incorrect data though.  During the NATO strikes in Serbia, he posted gun camera footage from Serbian aircraft, reportedly shooting down NATO aircraft.  The r.a.m people pointed out that the HUD gunsight symbology displayed was clearly from western aircraft, and that the footage was from Israeli Air Force shooting target drones.  In every conflict involving the U.S., except the War on Terror, that I've seen him report on, his stance on the issue has been strongly anti-U.S.  He did some interesting reporting on Russia's participation in the war on terror (the Russians were ready for a re-match after losing to the Afghans in the 80s), something I wasn't aware of.

Most aviation enthusiasts I've talked use Venik's info not as an authoritative source, but just as a counter-weight against pro-U.S. media.

Let me add that it is titled "Venik's Aviation Page", not "Venik's Military News".  It has always been a page about military aviation, with a focus on Russian aircraft, and is not a general military news or equipment site.  The military reporting is somewhat of an aside (though it has become more major recently).

Oh and Venik isn't his real name, it's just his online handle.

Wow! Thanks for the great background! (none / 0) (#114)
by Spork on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 11:53:13 PM EST

I'm pretty impressed we have k5 readers who are as nerdy as you! I myself am at least as nerdy about some subjects, but clearly not about military aviation. Your last two posts would have made a much better k5 front page story than the one I wrote. If in the next few weeks you come across something interesting in this field, I'd be very happy to see you mention it here!

I'm afraid my asbestos suit isn't thick enough to handle immersion into usenet discussion during wartime, but I have no doubt some interesting and intelligent stuff gets written there sometimes. If you hear of some place on the web that does something like "war media briefing" which pulls together and/or summarises/compares battlefield reports from various sources, please post a link somewhere where I could find it, like in a k5 story or as a reply to this comment.

[ Parent ]

Jane's and Stratfor (4.33 / 3) (#111)
by xmnemonic on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 09:28:04 PM EST

A bit less tabloid-ish (and hence less popular) than those Russian reports are the news from <a href="http://www.janes.com">Jane's</a> and <a href="http://www.stratfor.com">Strategic Forecasting</a>.

CNN has occasionally had Jane's journalists reporting on military affairs.  Jane's articles are less editorial than the general media and more of a questioning nature, while maintaing a professional modesty.  Jane's was originally purely a military technical reference publication company, and so their analyses of equipment usage, types and performance is always top-notch (this has always been failing point of mainstream media, even with their so-called analysts, who, among other things mis-i.d. M1A1's as Chieftains and say that they're equipped with 155mm main guns and 20mm cannons...).  Most of Jane's services require a subscription, there's a lot of good info that's free though.

StratFor has also been called upon by the mainstream media for analyses occasionally.  They've had some notable predictions that turned out to be true, like Putin's rise to power (before the mainstream media even ever heard of Putin) or the escalation of NATO activity in Serbia.  The vast majority of their reports is available very very expensive subscriptions though.

addendum (none / 0) (#112)
by xmnemonic on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 09:31:46 PM EST

"and hence less popular"
Among most kneejerk types, I mean.  Jane's and Strafor have far wider influence amonge the general populace than GRU reports.

[ Parent ]
Paid subscriptions for war news? (none / 0) (#113)
by Spork on Sun Mar 30, 2003 at 11:38:57 PM EST

I noticed that both of these sites want money for their online news reports. I'm afraid that's too much of a barrier of entry for me. I'm interested in what's going on, but I don't need huge mounds of detail. I'm only interested in sources I can trust.

I can imagine Janes and Stratfor are fairly reliable. I wish somebody who does subscribe would do a summary of what they say. This would be legal, since anyone is free to report on the content of the media, even media that charges subscription fees.

It looks like the StratFor-affiliated website US-IraqWar.com which charges some pretty serious subscription fees probably present a lot of detail, and I'd love to hear from a subscriber how their numbers and reports differ from Venik's stuff. You know, if banner ads could still be the source of a reasonable revenue plan, I bet somebody could make some money through creating a website that pulls together war news from different sources. Until then, I'll start with news.google.com, but also check some additional papers like Venik's. This discussion has made me realize that his sources aren't quite as solid as I thought when I wrote up the story, but I'm still convinced it's worth reading as a comparison point to the other stuff that's available.

You know, I would never pay for a porn site subscription, but I think I'd feel even more lame paying for an online war stories subscription!

[ Parent ]

Useful FREE Stratfor Link (none / 0) (#151)
by br284 on Wed Apr 02, 2003 at 04:17:19 PM EST

I've been using this during the war: http://www.stratfor.com/corporate/SituationReports.neo?showSitReps=1.


[ Parent ]

Jane's (none / 0) (#134)
by RoOoBo on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 09:23:49 AM EST

Jane's also has its obvious bias. I don't know Stratfor (as it seems they don't have public content).

Even if Jane's wouldn't have chosen sides (that it has obviously chosen) they still live from conflict and wars so they promote a war-like vision of the reality (for example when promoting the WMD/NBC threat).

In my opinion, sometimes Jane's seems nearer to a Tom Clancy's novel than to reality. Of course with a very large and accurate knowledge about military. But that also goes for Tom Clancy's novels.

[ Parent ]
Venik is a hoax (1.00 / 2) (#116)
by nathanwcheng on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 12:57:27 AM EST

Venik claims that all of his articles are translations of articles posted on IRAQWAR.RU. I registered for the Russian version of that site (I am fluent in Russian, having received my M.S. in mathematics from Moscow State University), and I cannot find anything on that site that even remotely resembles the things that he is posting. Of course, maybe I haven't looked close enough...

I have little doubt that the Russians have ways of listening in to at least some US communications in Iraq--but even if they do, and even if the "GRU" really exists, it is absolutely inconceivable that "Venik"--or any one at IRAQWAR.RU, for that matter--could get their hands on Russian military briefings of that nature.

Conclusion = Venik is a complete hoax.

GRU exists [nt] (none / 0) (#121)
by chu on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 02:42:41 AM EST

[ Parent ]
url please (2.00 / 1) (#123)
by nathanwcheng on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 03:22:24 AM EST

And I suppose they have a website where they make available to the public all of the intelligence they gather on American/Iraqi military communications, right?

[ Parent ]
of course not (5.00 / 1) (#130)
by chu on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 07:55:23 AM EST

But to answer the question in your post they do exist. Which is not to say that these aren't deliberate leaks from them - UK security services have already been doing this kind of thing.

[ Parent ]
correct, you haven't looked close enough. (4.00 / 1) (#136)
by sfenders on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 11:50:47 AM EST

Babelfish translations of the stuff on iraqwar.ru are close enough to what Venik posts. They aren't on the front page, but they're under one of the nav links at the top, "events" in english.

[ Parent ]
ok (none / 0) (#139)
by nathanwcheng on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 12:39:47 PM EST

I found it...but knowing the original source is the Russian government means I'm even less likely to believe it.

For example, the impossible hypothetical scenario that I used about the American government under-reporting losses was taken from an actual scenario that played out with the Russian government in their war with Chechnya. You had the Russian government saying that X number of people died, but then you had 10X mothers out in the streets holding pictures of their dead sons. It didn't add up.

[ Parent ]

truth is the first casualty. (5.00 / 1) (#141)
by sfenders on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 02:10:30 PM EST

I don't trust iraqwar.ru much at all, but I don't think it's completely worthless. In the absence of any similarly detailed and well-organized reporting from American sources, it's interesting. The American style is not to lie about losses when they can't get away with it, but neither are they going to go out of their way to report them immediately. Anyway, the hasty conclusion by you and others that it was all a hoax has me wondering why so many people go out of their way to immediately dismiss these reports as purely fictional. There's some kind of desire to disbelieve that goes beyond the rational. Where does that come from?

[ Parent ]
Not adding up (none / 0) (#150)
by lamp666 on Tue Apr 01, 2003 at 12:11:39 PM EST

Yes, but the US and british militarys have all these "helicopter crashes" which they could conceivably put their combat dead into.

[ Parent ]
What are you saying? (none / 0) (#158)
by drquick on Mon Apr 07, 2003 at 05:57:35 AM EST

You can find an English translation on www.iraqwar.ru! Just compare that to Venik's site.

[ Parent ]
...And another thing (3.66 / 3) (#118)
by nathanwcheng on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 01:30:21 AM EST

Having lived in Russia from 1992-1998, my observation is that Russians don't believe their media, and neither should you. Of course, Russians don't believe the US media either, nor any media, for that matter.

Personally, I believe the US media to be the most reliable when it comes to trying to sort out the facts. This is because Americans actually expect popular media outlets to report factual information, and when those expectations aren't met, there is a price to pay on the part of the media outlet. For example, if Network A were to report that only 5 Americans have died in combat thus far, it wouldn't take long for competing Network B to broadcast interviews with 10 families who have lost loved ones, thus proving that Network A is inferior, and thus winning over more American news consumers, and thus being able to charge more for advertising, etc.

In Russia, however, people long ago lost their trust in the media--for good reason--and therefore their expectations are much lower. In fact, it may even be the case in other countries that whoever spins the biggest lie makes the most money. In the US, it is not so--people demand and expect the truth.

For those who think that the US is under-reporting American casualties, please think again: Certainly the government realizes that at some point the war is going to end, and that all the wives, children, and parents who have not received MIA/KIA/POW notices are going to expect to get their loved ones back. What do think? Are these people going to just forget about their loved one? Of course not! Can you imagine the scandal if when all this is over media outlets do some investigating and discover that there are 10 thousand people missing? Even if for just ONE person the Pentagon says, "Oops, we seem to have lost track of that person--he must have deserted", can you imagine the scandal? Be real people, the US government is not going to knowingly under-report losses.

the networks dont compete (3.33 / 3) (#131)
by TRASG0 on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 08:14:40 AM EST

They are different arms of the same octopus, spouting the party line with different voices.  The networks aren't different from eachother any more than the political parties are.
sorry no sig now
[ Parent ]
you're right... (none / 0) (#137)
by nathanwcheng on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 12:27:21 PM EST

...the difference between the networks _does_ somewhat mirror the difference between political parties (with a general slant toward the left), and the US political parties are VERY different. I know Americans who are Republicans, I know Americans who are Democrats, and I know Americans who are Green, and believe me, these people are VERY different, and so are the people who represent them in government.

I don't know which networks you've been watching, but I get distinctly different and opposing tastes between such networks as Fox and ABC.

[ Parent ]

Re: ...And another thing (none / 0) (#145)
by MeanGene on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 10:45:03 PM EST

Having lived in Russia from 1992-1998, my observation is that Russians don't believe their media, and neither should you. Of course, Russians don't believe the US media either, nor any media, for that matter.

Nathan, were you by any chance one of those Harvard MBA boys that came to fit my country into their little economics textbooks' toy models? And stole a bunch of money under the careful guidance of Mr. Jeff Sachs?

Unfortunately, for the longest time Russians believed the media way too much (been there myself...). While it was Pravda in the "times of yore," it was equally despicable (although opposite in thrust) Ogonek and Moskovskii Komsomolets that Russians trusted in mid-late 1980s and early 1990s.

Since then, fortunately, Russia has produced a whole spectrum of media - from extreme right to extreme left. Same, sadly cannot be said about wide-circulation US media which is somewhere between extreme right and center-right.

[ Parent ]

aeronautics.ru/venik is not always accurate (2.66 / 3) (#124)
by dimaq on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 04:30:46 AM EST

Having read something with a link that way on k5 some time earlier, I did check that site, first it's quite slow and not always recently updated. While some statements prooved to be true - it was predicted another 150K troops will be brought in, and a couple days later 30K in one instance and 100K in another were reported by BBC for example (not 150K, but close enough), some statements prooved completely bogus - for example a massive push 'tomorrow' was predicted on Thu, and none happened yet, instead it appears the Allied chose to regroup and resupply for a few days before any push. While GRU does exist and surely collects loads of information, useful or otherwise, it should be expected that this info doesn't get leaked just like that, but rather on purpose - most likely political. If one takes a look at how biased war reporting is in russia, it becomes clear one should not trust any statements supposedly based on supposedly honest GRU sources. The only way in which that site is useful, is realisation how much freedom the press (in whichever country) has to bend the same facts - as in the actual facts that BBC and Aerunautics.ru report are the same, but the tone and conclusions are strikingly different. Thus one can see how much power the media has in changing mass opinion. btw., google search on Venik reveales that not everyone trust them.

aeronautics.ru/venik is not always accurate (4.75 / 4) (#125)
by dimaq on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 04:33:42 AM EST

Having read something with a link that way on k5 some time earlier, I did check that site, first it's quite slow and not always recently updated.

While some statements prooved to be true - it was predicted another 150K troops will be brought in, and a couple days later 30K in one instance and 100K in another were reported by BBC for example (not 150K, but close enough), some statements prooved completely bogus - for example a massive push 'tomorrow' was predicted on Thu, and none happened yet, instead it appears the Allied chose to regroup and resupply for a few days before any push.

While GRU does exist and surely collects loads of information, useful or otherwise, it should be expected that this info doesn't get leaked just like that, but rather on purpose - most likely political. If one takes a look at how biased war reporting is in russia, it becomes clear one should not trust any statements supposedly based on supposedly honest GRU sources.

The only way in which that site is useful, is realisation how much freedom the press (in whichever country) has to bend the same facts - as in the actual facts that BBC and Aerunautics.ru report are the same, but the tone and conclusions are strikingly different. Thus one can see how much power the media has in changing mass opinion.

btw., google search on Venik reveales that not everyone trust them.

Re: slowness (5.00 / 1) (#127)
by Uri on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 05:17:58 AM EST

Regarding the slowness of the site, that's been partly due to DoS attacks coming from US-based domains. Still, their new lightweight page serves much faster.

[ Parent ]
Attacks (5.00 / 1) (#132)
by RoOoBo on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 09:18:34 AM EST

The last update in Venik's site says there wouldn't be today (yesterday) analysis translation until tomorrow because of hackers attacks to his computer. Same goes for iraqwar.ru as their english translation was Venik's.

Unless, of course, you know russian ...

[ Parent ]
Mirror of the reports from the IRAQWAR.RU (5.00 / 5) (#129)
by kraichik on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 07:06:44 AM EST

Lightweight mirror of the original reports from iraqwar.ru is available and there's a number of other sources having this information too -- it spreads with the speed of forest fire. Reports are going day by day so anyone can carefully compare what CNN, Fox News and BBC are telling you on these days and what say reports and then what is officially confirmed by british and american authorities.

Competitive networks? "Facts" of the american news agencies, someone said? Ha. Hardly. Lots of propaganda and disinformation, deceiveful and awfully dumb looking, even for retarded PR-service, which military press-attachees never were. They're panicking, they're miscomunicating and malfunctioning trying to hide the obvious flaws in the management, direction and supplement because of underestimated threat.

Americans lie to their own forces -- that's is what is really disgusting. It's not liberation, it is conquer.

Not sure who offers the best coverage but.... (4.00 / 2) (#138)
by jonathon on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 12:36:55 PM EST

It's always interesting to view the war from different perspectives and the Russian sites posted in the article are an interesting read. Whether they offer the best war coverage is a matter of personal opinion. Personally I like to view many sources and sites like World-Newspapers.com offer easy access to worldwide media. If I'm looking for news with an anti-war edge then I'll head to What Really Happened.com, Robert-Fisk.com , Unknown News or IraqBodyCount.net

It is not clear that intelligence has any long-term survival value.
-- Stephen Hawking
For perusal of... (3.00 / 1) (#140)
by Pyrion on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 01:06:57 PM EST

Armchair commandos all over the world, eh?
"There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge." - Bertrand Russell
The Korean War (3.33 / 3) (#142)
by coulson on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 04:39:01 PM EST

Jokes aside, French soldiers acquitted themselves quite honorably with the UN forces in Korea in 1950.

I know, I was shocked to learn that too. :)

Speculation (none / 0) (#143)
by SleepDirt on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 07:28:50 PM EST

There's lots of debate on how accurate these Russian sites are but they're quite valuable - as long as you're not tricking yourself into believing they're fact. I think they're very likely 95% speculation but very informed and intelligent speculation by people who've had a lot of experience watching the American military in action.

"In a closed society where everybody's guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity." - Hunter S. Thompson
wonderful to see the healthy cynicism (none / 0) (#147)
by humble on Mon Mar 31, 2003 at 11:53:56 PM EST

Back in the '91 Gulf War I was working as an intern in the local office of Hill & Knowlton. I remember when the 60 Minutes story broke about the bullshit story that our firm had cooked up to sell that war to the American sheeple.

Now I'm an Indymedia stalwart and local sysadmin.

"Don't hate the media. Become the media." - Jello Biafra
Indymedia - Civil society's not-so-secret servicetm

Well (2.00 / 1) (#148)
by minerboy on Tue Apr 01, 2003 at 10:49:32 AM EST

The site now reporting that a US Carrier was hit with 3 Cruise Missles - Which is just not the case, and seems to be a really big Journalistic mistake - It may be that their decrypt is not up to snuff - since apparently there was a mishap with a plane malfunctioning. Then again maybe it seems wrong to me because I am not wearing my tin foil hat.

they just took the story down (none / 0) (#149)
by minerboy on Tue Apr 01, 2003 at 11:18:14 AM EST

hmmm ?

[ Parent ]
I just didn't see that - mirror site? (none / 0) (#157)
by drquick on Mon Apr 07, 2003 at 05:53:21 AM EST

Are you sure? I cannot find that news anywhere, nor do I remember reading it at all. You must be mistaken! You probably ended up on another site by mistake or downloaded an obscure page from one of the mirror sites

[ Parent ]
They also reported alien attacks (none / 0) (#159)
by Elektro Schock on Mon Apr 07, 2003 at 07:33:23 AM EST

You should know that many newspapers of the world are just crap.

Crap or propaganda?

Did you see the pictures of the burned out convoy in Northern Iraq yesterday? Friendly fire. I saw pictures of the attack in netherland's media, where blood was split over the camera lense. A BBC camera man is supposed to have died in this attack and you could also see the well known BBC correspondent fleeing. He is now missed. There is no comment on that scene by the BBC although their team was attacked. They just showed pictures of the burned out cars from US media and didn't said much about their reporters.

[ Parent ]

Report of John Simpson of the incident (none / 0) (#160)
by Elektro Schock on Mon Apr 07, 2003 at 07:38:16 AM EST


"The explosion killed a dozen or so people outright, one of them may have been an American, and a large piece of shrapnel hit our translator, Kamran Abdul Razak, in the legs.

We tried hard to save him and he had the help of the American special forces medics who were there but he died of blood loss a few minutes later.

The rest of our team suffered light shrapnel wounds and perforated ear drums. Given how close the bomb had landed to us, those of us who survived were all extraordinarily lucky."

Venik writes about war in retrospect. (none / 0) (#161)
by drquick on Fri Apr 18, 2003 at 06:06:15 AM EST

Venik one of the translators of the GRU reports. (turned out to be made by ex-GRU men it seems) Writes some thoughs on hte iraq war.

I agree about one thing with him. There is something mysterious. Why was Baghdad not fortified. No tank obstacles. No hiden positions for anti-tank missiles. No minefields or anti-tank mines. Al in all no fighting in the cities anywher in Iraq (maybe in Umm Qasr) This is a huge mystery that has not been explained. Why did Iraq not fight in the cities?


The ongoing war in Iraq is, perhaps, the most unusual armed conflict in history of modern warfare: disappearing armies and governments, illogical offensive and defensive operations on both sides of the front, information warfare on an unprecedented scale - this is not a war but a tale from Scheherazade's Thousand and One Nights. All is missing is a magic genie lamp. Well, the lamp may be there but the genie is gone. The following is not an attempt to analyze the current events in Iraq, but rather a quick look at some general impressions most of us share about this war.
All of the article can be found here.

Best war reporters: The Russians? | 161 comments (123 topical, 38 editorial, 0 hidden)
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