DHAHRAN, SAUDI ARABIA, JAN. 25 -- New cloud cover slightly slowed bombing raids on military targets in parts of Kuwait and Iraq today, while some American ground commanders reported serious delays in moving armored vehicles and spare parts toward the border, which could leave U.S. forces unprepared for major combat operations for several weeks.

Allied warplanes struck at Iraqi Republican Guard forces throughout the day, however, with many pilots spotting prolonged explosions as they roared over the Kuwaiti and Iraqi deserts, indicating their bombs had hit ammunition or fuel depots considered critical to maintaining the Iraqi forces. Other pilots reported that their assigned targets were obscured by clouds, but that they picked off Republican Guard artillery pieces and other "targets of opportunity" rather than return to their bases with their bomb loads.

Aerial efforts to root out Iraq's mobile Scud missile launchers again proved unsuccessful today, and missiles launched at Israel and Saudi Arabia killed two persons and injured scores in separate attacks on the cities of Tel Aviv and Riyadh.

Two of seven Scuds fired into northern and central Israel evaded Patriot anti-missile defenses, and one exploded in a residential neighborhood of Tel Aviv, killing one person. One of at least two Scuds fired at Riyadh penetrated Patriot defenses there, slamming into a six-story building. Witnesses reported seeing a body being pulled out of the wreckage there.

Two other Scuds fired toward the Saudi coastal city of Dhahran were intercepted by five Patriot missiles.

Even though clouds continue to hamper the military's ability to assess its bomb damage in Iraq and occupied Kuwait, Marine Maj. Gen. Robert B. Johnston, the U.S. Central Command's chief of operations, said, "The fact that we've had a good number of secondary explosions, I think, assures us that we're hitting hard targets, that we're hitting military targets which are going to explode when they're hit with the right kind of munitions."

Officers and troops deployed with newly arrived armored divisions, which would be assigned to conduct attacks deep inside Kuwait, reported that many of their heavy armored vehicles have not arrived at their desert positions yet, which could delay preparations for the ground phase of the attack on Iraqi forces.

Military commanders said the ground assembly and supply problems could be an additional incentive for prolonging the air raids, which senior military commanders originally expected to continue for up to four weeks from the start of the operation. Military commanders reportedly are willing to wait weeks if necessary to prepare the ground troops and equipment for combat.

"I feel no pressure to do it tomorrow," said Col. Bill Nash, commander of the 1st Brigade of the Army's 3rd Armored Division, which is struggling to reassemble its Germany-based operation in the Saudi desert.

Minor sea skirmishes continued today as Navy A-6 Intruder bombers and F/A-18 fighter bombers dumped 1,000-pound bombs and other ordnance on four Iraqi ships, which were left burning near an Iraqi naval base on the Persian Gulf.

Military officials warily eyed a massive oil slick sliding down the Kuwaiti and Saudi coastline, reportedly created when Iraqi troops opened the valves on Kuwaiti oil-loading facilities.

While military officials publicly discounted any threat to military operations, Navy officials said the oil could foul the water-intake systems of ships and amphibious vehicles used in seaborne assualts.

U.S. military officials today said the more than 110 Iraqi military defectors and prisoners of war now held by allied forces appeared to have been poorly cared for by their own commanders.

"A large number, if not all of the Iraqi enemy prisoners of war, are covered with lice, and they have some open sores," said Johnston. "And some, if not all, report having pretty slim rations, a few saying that they're down to one meal a day.

"It doesn't mean to say that they are diseased and totally falling apart," added Johnston. "But {it gives} some indication of the conditions that they're experiencing on the other side of the wire."

The allied air campaign continues to aim its bombs and missiles at critical Iraqi communications networks, which help commanders coordinate the 545,000 Iraqi troops operating in southern Iraq and Kuwait.

"We see consistently a degradation in {Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's} ability to command and control," said Johnston. But Johnston and other commanders also say they have been frustrated by Iraq's ability to rebuild its communications links, airstrips, bridges and roadways as they are demolished by aerial bombardments.

And military commanders are being even more cautious in assessing the damage they have imposed on the Republican Guards -- 150,000 of Iraq's best-trained soldiers.

"There is a big difference between a building in downtown Baghdad and success on troops in the middle of the desert dug in," said Lt. Gen. Thomas Kelly, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "We think we're having an impact, but we can't prove it."

Meanwhile, logistical problems have delayed the massive effort to move thousands of troops and vehicles to the front lines in preparation for a ground attack on Iraqi forces.

Many troops in some armored divisions are still awaiting the arrival of critical equipment, including their Bradley Fighting Vehicles, armored personnel carriers designed to take troops into battle.

"Everyone may have forgotten this with all the bombs falling and all," said one Army officer. "But we were never going to be fully to strength by Jan. 15. And even if the war has started, we're going to need more time."

Shiploads of equipment are continuing to arrive at Saudi ports from U.S. military bases in Europe. Unloading the tanks, weapons and other equipment, and moving the materiel onto the already congested desert highways takes days if not weeks.

The lack of equipment also is hindering commanders' ability to orient the Bradley, the newest addition to desert warfare, after years of practicing in the hills and forests of Germany, officials said.

"I really feel for you guys not having your Bradleys here yet," Maj. Mark Heartling, operations officer for a sister unit, told the officers of one frustrated infantry battalion.

Other logistical problems are surfacing among allied military air-control operators, who are working feverishly to prevent their own aircraft from becoming entangled in the skies above the Persian Gulf, Kuwait and Iraq.

In the soft, bluish-green glow of the computerized combat-information center aboard the Aegis guided-missile cruiser USS Valley Forge in the Persian Gulf, Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Johnstone warned his colleagues of the latest message: The Italian air force is flying its French-built Mirage F-1 fighter planes today -- the same aircraft used by the Iraqi military.

Minutes later, an air warfare officer at a radar scope across the crowded room barked into the intercom: "Anyone know who the F-1s are?"

"Yeah," another voice responded into the intercom. "Italian."

"The problem we are having with a multi-nation force simply is that some of the allies have the same weapons the Iraqis do," said Chief Petty Officer David Huff, who supervises the enlisted men working in the combat information center.

But air-control officers are just as worried about accidentally shooting their own aircraft. Last week, an American F/A-18 flew toward the starboard side of the battleship USS Wisconsin with its fire-control radar illuminated, seconds after the ship had received reports of hostile patrol craft in the area.

The ship's gunners were ordered to a "warning red, weapons free" alert, but the plane flew overhead, just high enough to avoid being shot, according to reports from the ship.

"There have been a couple of things like that," said one officer aboard the Valley Forge. "There will always be. But it's been a lot better than I would have thought."

The problem became even more complicated today when Qatar added its Mirage fighters to the allied effort against Iraq.