AUSTRALIA MINISTER: U.S. UNDERESTIMATED ENEMY

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MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Mar. 30) - The Australian government says the United States has underestimated the strength of Iraq's militia forces and that has caused some delays in the progress of the war.

Defense Minister Robert Hill said American commanders have underestimated the role of the militias within the smaller cities and towns and that has caused some problems for the advancing coalition forces.

"Basically the militias are there to control the civil society, but they clearly are part of the defense plan and they've fought hard and they've certainly resulted in some delays of progress," said Hill

.Senator Hill still believes the war is unlikely to be long, but there are contingency plans for the rotations of two of the ships. They've been in the Gulf since before the war began and a decision on whether to send the guided missile frigate HMAS Sydney to replace one of the ships will be made in the next week or two.

March 31, 2003

Radio Australia: http://www.abc.net.au/ra

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