Fighting from the air at night is a military capability Iraq neither had nor understood, according to Maj. Gen. John L. Matthews, adjutant general of the Utah National Guard.
"I quite frankly find it amazing that a man in as responsible a position as Saddam Hussein would not be more familiar with that deficiency in his forces."Few military forces in the world have a working capability to work efficiently from the skies at night. "It requires expensive equipment and highly trained personnel. Most countries would find it extremely expensive and difficult for them to maintain that kind of capability, and so they don't," Matthews said.
The United States has that capability both with the conventional and Stealth fighter aircraft used so far in the offensive against Iraq and with the Army's newest "Apache" attack helicopter, which has also seen action in Operation Desert Storm.
But the Iraqi's older Soviet MiG and French-made Mirage jets don't have the technical capability to maneuver and attack at night like the U.S. F-115 and Stealth F-117.
Even getting some of the older Iraqi fighter inventory off the ground at night can be dangerous. "They are at high risk if they attempt to fly at night," Matthews said.
The offset plays into the allied forces' success in the air raids into Iraq.
"We've had a lot of debates in the past about the defense budget and the procurement of so-called expensive weaponry. And this particular capability is expensive, but the significance of those purchases ought to be obvious after this experience," Matthews said.