DESERT TACTICS OF CHADIANS — LIKE OLD WEST — NYTimes.com

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DESERT TACTICS OF CHADIANS: OLD WEST

By BERNARD E. TRAINOR, to the New York Times

Published: 5, 1987

NDJAMENA, Chad, 4 Chadian tactics that led to the defeat of 5,000 Libyans at Dum last week are described in a of colorful ways by Chadian, and American officials in the capital

Americans liken the attacks of the northern tribesmen of the Chadian to attacks on wagon trains of the Old The French see tactical similarities to the old the series »Rat Patrol.» officials say their forces swarmed over their

All of these descriptions seem but they fail to convey the preparation that has made tactics successful.

Military officers here say at both the battles of Fada, the Chadians won last January, and Dum a week ago, the fate of the was sealed well before the was landed. Extensive Reconnaissance

In for the battle of Wadi Dum, the forces of the field commander, Djamous, and his compatriot, Ahmed who commands the presidential guard and is a of the United States Army’s school at Fort Benning, Ga. extensive reconnaissance at the Libyanheld


They also gathered some of which, according to sources, came from and French communications intercepts and photography. They knew the base was encircled by heavy to a depth of about six miles.

An extensive mine field the airfield and likely approaches to the were also heavily Now hundreds of captured Libyans are those mine fields.

The commander was known to be Col. Belkacem, who was rated by the Chadians as one of the officers in the Libyan Army. officers said they reluctant to … the strongly base and sought to entice the out of their positions through ruses designed to convey weakness. Orders From

Officials in Chad say they believe the Libyan garrison was orders from Col. el-Qaddafi, the Libyan leader, to an … to recapture Fada.

in March, two separate Libyan columns left Wadi The lead column with troops and 100 armored vehicles and moved 30 miles in the direction of but then stopped at Bir Kora. 12 miles separated the two Libyan

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The Chadians were puzzled by the but speculate that Colonel of Libya was half-heartedly carrying out his from Tripoli; they he was delaying an … on Fada in that the order would be

The Chadians took advantage of a halt to test the Libyans for »When we decided to …, we to surprise the Libyans by doing the a Chadian military spokesman A Feeling of Safety

The Chadian the Libyans counted upon air to help them and so felt from daytime …. On the of March 18, the Chadians moved to the stalled Libyan column.

At probing attacks were on one flank to attract Libyan and the main force remained in among the desert rocks a away on the opposite flank. force, organized in units of 200 then attacked in camouflaged trucks mounting machine anti-tank weapons and American grenade launchers.

The Chadians knew their trucks were no match for the of the Libyans’ tanks and armored carriers. But, like the troops in the »Rat Patrol» against the Germans, the Chadians’ was to hit the Libyans before they react.

To deal with Libyan air attacks, hand-held missiles and antiaircraft machine were set up to ambush incoming The Chadians did not use artillery and mortars they believed that the of … made such unnecessary.

With the commanders at the of their units, the Chadians fire in a daylight … and at high speed against the flank. They quickly into the Libyan positions, and fanned out in different directions the Libyan defenses, firing as went.

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