Iraq outguns the multinational force in artillery, but the mobility and high-tech accuracy of U.S. artillery more than make up for Iraq's numerical advantage, allied military officials say.
"We don't worry about the numbers. It's accuracy that's going to count," said Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Speichintor, 43, of Lawton, Okla., who serves with the Army's 75th Artillery Brigade.Iraq has 2,700 artillery pieces in the Kuwait theater of operations, according to the U.S. Central Command.
Saddam Hussein's troops have a formidable array of hardware from France, the Soviet Union, Austria and Brazil, which it used effectively in the 1980-88 war with Iran. But most of the big guns have to be towed.
U.S. officials refuse to say how many artillery pieces they have. But Jane's Defense Weekly says 636 pieces, most of them self-propelled, are in the U.S. front lines. The Marines have about 100 artillery pieces.
The U.S. arsenal includes 60 radar-guided multiple launch rocket systems, laser-guided Copperhead missiles and an unreleased number of new Army Tactical Missile Systems.
These systems, which have a range of more than 60 miles, help give the United States a "major advantage" over Saddam's men, according to Lt. Col. Patrick Sweeney, operations officer for the U.S. Army's 18th Airborne Artillery Corps.
"We plan to move and shoot. That's our big edge," Sweeney said.
"The Iraqi hasn't faced this kind of system, this kind of quality before. He's used to sitting in one position and firing a lot of shells. He can't do that against us. He's got to remember that or it'll be his last conscious memory," he said.
Allied forces can also target their fire more effectively if they choose to breach selected spots of Iraq's 160-mile-long defensive wall that runs from the gulf coast along the Saudi border, independent analysts said.
"The Iraqis have to cover every approach. The allies have a choice where to go so they can concentrate their artillery," said Col. Andrew Duncan of London's International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Because U.S. artillery is self-propelled, the big guns can fire and move, or "shoot and scoot," as artillerymen say.
Iraq's artillery has to be towed on trailers through the sand, and most of their guns are dug in.