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|Bush's War Plan for Iraq|
|07/06/02 at 12:09:39|
|"President Bush early this year signed an intelligence order |
directing the CIA to undertake a comprehensive, covert program to
topple Saddam Hussein, including authority to use lethal force to
capture the Iraqi president, according to informed sources."
- Washington Post, June 16, 2002
* "Saddam Hussein has issued a presidential order barring civil
servants from traveling abroad."
- Iraq Press, June 30
* "...diplomatic sources have disclosed to "as-Safir" that the United
States of America has begun to carry out a plan of security and
military operations aimed at Iraq, that American troops have entered
areas in northern Iraq, and that major bases have been set up for them
- As-Safir, Translated from Arabic, July 1
* "Saddam Hussein has sent more troops... backed by tanks, artillery
and rockets are now positioned a few kilometers south of Arbil, the
administrative capital of the semi-independent Kurdish enclave in
northern Iraq.... Saddam has sent emissaries to the leaders of the
major Kurdish factions, threatening unspecified consequences if they
take part in any U.S. bid to overthrow him."
- Iraq Press, July 1
* "Saddam Hussein's relatives are reported to have left the village
of Uja as fears of a U.S. military strike mount in Iraq."
- Iraq Press, July 2
* "Saddam Hussein signed Military Directive 531 ordering commando
units from the Republican Guards and special military intelligence
combat units to head into northern Iraq. He had just received
intelligence reports indicating that the US special forces and CIA
personnel he knew to have landed in the northern region were making
impressive strides in recruiting and training Kurdish fighters..."
- DebkaFile, July 3
July 5, 2002
U.S. Plan for Iraq Is Said to Include Attack on 3 Sides
By ERIC SCHMITT
WASHINGTON, July 4 — An American military planning
document calls for air, land and sea-based forces to attack
Iraq from three directions — the north, south and west — in a
campaign to topple President Saddam Hussein, according to a
person familiar with the document.
The document envisions tens of thousands of marines and soldiers
probably invading from Kuwait. Hundreds of warplanes based in
as many as eight countries, possibly including Turkey and Qatar,
would unleash a huge air assault against thousands of targets,
including airfields, roadways and fiber-optics communications sites.
Special operations forces or covert C.I.A. operatives would strike
at depots or laboratories storing or manufacturing Iraq's suspected
weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to launch them.
None of the countries identified in the document as possible staging
areas have been formally consulted about playing such a role,
officials said, underscoring the preliminary nature of the planning.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld visited American bases in
Kuwait and Qatar and the Fifth Fleet in Bahrain on his most recent
trip to the Persian Gulf region in June.
The existence of the document that outlined significant aspects of a
"concept" for a war against Iraq as it stood about two months ago
indicates an advanced state of planning in the military even though
President Bush continues to state in public and to his allies that he
has no fine-grain war plan on his desk for the invasion of Iraq.
Yet the concept for such a plan is now highly evolved and is
apparently working its way through military channels. Once a
consensus is reached on the concept, the steps toward assembling
a final war plan and, most importantly, the element of timing for
ground deployments and commencement of an air war, represent
the final sequencing that Mr. Bush will have to decide.
Mr. Bush has received at least two briefings from Gen. Tommy R.
Franks, the head of the Central Command, on the broad outlines,
or "concept of operations," for a possible attack against Iraq.
The most recent briefing was on June 19, according to the White
"Right now, we're at the stage of conceptual thinking and
brainstorming," a senior defense official said. "We're pretty far
The highly classified document, entitled "CentCom Courses of
Action," was prepared by planners at the Central Command in
Tampa, Fla., according to the person familiar with the document.
Officials say it has already undergone revisions, but is a snapshot
of an important, but preliminary stage, in a comprehensive process
that translates broad ideas into the detailed, step-by-step blueprint
for combat operations that the Pentagon defines as a "war plan."
Still, the document, compiled in a long set of briefing slides, offers
a rare glimpse into the inner sanctum of the war planners assigned to
think about options for defeating Iraq.
"It is the responsibility of the Department of Defense to develop
contingency plans and, from time to time, to update them," Victoria
Clarke, the Pentagon spokeswoman, said today. "In fact, we have
recently issued new general planning guidance, and that generates
activity at the staff level."
Officials said neither Mr. Rumsfeld, nor the Joint Chiefs of Staff or
General Franks had been briefed on this specific document as yet.
The source familiar with the document described its contents to The
New York Times on the condition of anonymity, expressing frustration
that the planning reflected at least in this set of briefing slides
was insufficiently creative, and failed to incorporate fully the
advances in tactics and technology that the military has made since
the Persian Gulf war in 1991.
Administration officials say they are still weighing options other than
war to dislodge Mr. Hussein. But most military and administration
officials believe that a coup in Iraq would be unlikely to succeed,
and that a proxy battle using local forces would not be enough to
drive the Iraqi leader from power.
Nothing in the Central Command document or in interviews with
senior military officials suggests that an attack on Iraq is imminent.
Indeed, senior administration officials continue to say that any
offensive would probably ba delayed until early next year, allowing
time to create the right military, economic and diplomatic
Nonetheless, there are several signs that the military is preparing
for a major air campaign and land invasion.
Thousands of marines from the First Marine Expeditionary Force at
Camp Pendleton, Calif., the marine unit designated for the gulf,
have stepped up their mock assault drills, a Pentagon adviser said.
The military is building up bases in several Persian Gulf states,
including a major airfield in Qatar called Al Udeid. Thousands of
American troops are already stationed in the region.
After running dangerously low on precision-guided bombs during
the war in Afghanistan, the Pentagon has said it has stepped up
production of critical munitions. The Air Force is stockpiling
weapons, ammunition and spare parts, like airplane engines, at
depots in the United States and in the Middle East.
"We don't know when or where the next contingency will be," Gen.
Lester L. Lyles, head of the Air Force Materiel Command, said in
an interview this week. "But we want to fill up the stock bins."
The Central Command document, as described by the source familiar
with it, is significant not just for what it contains, but also for
what it leaves out.
The document describes in precise detail specific Iraqi bases,
surface-to-air missile sites, air defense networks and fiber-optics
communications to be attacked. "The target list is so huge it's
almost egregious," the source said. "It's obvious that we've been
watching these guys for an awfully long time."
Dozens of slides are devoted to organizational details, like the
precise tonnage of American munitions stored at various bases
around the Persian Gulf, deployment time lines for troops leaving
East and West Coast ports for the gulf region, and the complexities
of interwoven intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance
At the same time, according to the source, the document is silent on
or barely mentions other important aspects of any operation,
suggesting that there are several highly classified documents that
address different parts of the planning.
For instance, the "Courses of Action" document does not mention
other coalition forces, casualty estimates, how Mr. Hussein may
himself be a target, or what political regime might follow the Iraqi
leader if an American-led attack was successful, the source said.
Nor does the document discuss the sequencing of air and ground
campaigns, the precise missions of special operations forces or the
possibility of urban warfare in downtown Baghdad, with Iraqi
forces possibly deploying chemical weapons.
In fact, the discussion about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction is
relatively terse. The document discusses the broad threat such
weapons pose to American forces and surrounding countries, the
need to deter Baghdad from using them, and, failing that, devising
ways to counter them.
It describes the number of Marine and Army divisions, air
expeditionary forces, and aircraft carriers. These and other forces
add up to as many as 250,000 troops, the source familiar with the
document said, but there is little detail about those forces beyond
Nor does the document contain a comprehensive analysis of the
Iraqi ground forces, including the Republican Guard and various
security forces that are believed to be fiercely loyal to Mr. Hussein.
This again suggests that such analysis is either incomplete or is
contained in another planning document.
By emphasizing a large American force, the document seems to
reflect a view that a successful campaign would require sizable
conventional forces staging from Kuwait, or at least held in reserve
An alternative plan, championed by retired Gen. Wayne A.
Downing of the Army, calls for conquering Iraq with a combination
of airstrikes and special operations attacks in coordination with
indigenous fighters, similar to the campaign in Afghanistan. Relying
solely on that approach appears to have been ruled out.
General Downing resigned last week as Mr. Bush's chief adviser on
counterterrorism, reportedly frustrated by the administration's tough
talk against Iraq but lack of action.
Among the many questions the military and the administration must
address before staging an invasion is where to base air and ground
forces in the region.
Geography and history, specifically the gulf war, would suggest that
countries like Kuwait, Turkey, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates
and Bahrain would be likely candidates for staging troops or air
Any mention of using bases in Saudi Arabia, from which the United
States staged the bulk of the airstrikes in the gulf war, is
conspicuously missing from the document, said an official familiar
with the briefing slides. The United States would need permission
to use Saudi airspace adjacent to Iraq, if not Saudi bases
themselves, officials said.
The Saudis have allowed the United States to run the air war
against Afghanistan from a sophisticated command center at Prince
Sultan Air Base, outside Riyadh, but have prohibited the Air Force
from flying any attack missions from Saudi soil.
Senior Air Force officials have expressed mounting frustration with
restrictions the Saudis have placed on American operations, and
the Central Command is developing an alternate command center
at the sprawling Udeid base in Qatar, should that be needed.
The Central Command document does not contain a time line of
when American forces could start flowing to the gulf or how long it
would take to put all the forces in place. Nor does it answer one of
the big questions administration officials are wrestling with: how will
Mr. Hussein react if there is a large buildup of conventional forces,
such as the United States had in the gulf war.
"The Iraqis aren't just going to sit on their butts while we put in
250,000 people," a military analyst said.
July 5, 2002
The Warpath: Pressures Build on Iraq
By PATRICK E. TYLER
The pressure on the Pentagon to produce a plan for President
Bush to make war on Iraq underscores the failure of either
diplomacy or covert operations to dislodge Saddam Hussein or
force him to open up to United Nations inspectors hunting for
weapons of mass destruction.
The emergence of a detailed concept for a military attack on Iraq
also suggests that Mr. Bush's new approach to solving the conflict
between Israel and the Palestinians may be part of a shift in focus
toward preparations for an Iraq campaign.
Mr. Bush was briefed on the state of war planning on June 19 by the
top general in the American central command, Tommy R. Franks.
Five days later, the president delivered his long awaited Middle East
policy address, calling on Palestinians to jettison their leader, Yasir
Arafat, and warning that otherwise they can expect little in the way
of support or assistance from the United States.
Effectively, that stalled the American mediation effort in the Middle
East, a state of affairs reflecting the broad view of Mr. Bush's more
conservative advisers, among them Vice President Dick Cheney and
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, that the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict does not present a strategic threat to American interests in
the Middle East — but Iraq's interest in developing weapons of
mass destruction does.
The evidence that Mr. Hussein still possesses such weapons remains
murky — particularly in the view of America's European allies, most
of whom have argued strongly against a new war on Iraq.
In the United States and its principal Middle East ally, Israel,
however, a number of senior officials — including Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak — believe that
a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq could be fashioned into some form of
In this view, an Iraq under new governance could become a new
Western ally, helping to reduce American dependency on bases in
Saudi Arabia, to secure Israel's eastern flank and act as a wedge
between Iran and Syria, two of the most active sponsors of
The obstacles, risks and costs to such a strategy remain largely
unaddressed by the Bush administration, and its planning for any
eventual war is tightly wrapped in secrecy.
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, the administration's
leading advocate for the centrality of Iraq in American strategic
planning in the Middle East, was host this week to Iraqi opposition
leaders, according to opposition officials, and received a bleak
report from them on the chaotic state of opposition forces in Iraq.
Nonetheless, the Pentagon is pursuing efforts to unite the Iraqi
opposition so that it might play the same kind of adjunct role of
intelligence collection, target identification and combat that
anti-Taliban partisans played in the Afghan campaign.
According to the opposition officials, the meeting was attended by
representatives from the State Department's and C.I.A.'s task forces
on Iraq, along with American military officials.
Kurdish leaders in Northern Iraq are riven by internal disputes and
have yet to come to any agreement with the C.I.A. to allow
American intelligence officers, Special Forces trainers or diplomats
to set up camp there and begin preparations for a new campaign
against Mr. Hussein.
In April, Kurdish and other Iraqi opposition officials said that
Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani, the principal Kurdish leaders,
traveled to Frankfurt, and then to a C.I.A. training base in southern
There, the opposition officials said, their leaders were told that the
United States had decided to overthrow Saddam Hussein and was
seeking to send C.I.A. teams to train Kurdish fighters in how to
work with United States forces much as Afghan fighters helped
United States forces against the Taliban.
A spokesman for the C.I.A. declined comment.
For now, Kurdish leaders appear reluctant to sign on to American
war planning unless they get strong guarantees that the Bush
administration plans to go all the way to Baghdad.
They also want Kurdish cities protected from the kind of onslaught
that Mr. Hussein unleashed during the Clinton administration's failed
attempt to dislodge Mr. Hussein, a failure that forced the C.I.A. to
evacuate thousands of partisans from Iraq at a cost of more than
$100 million, according administration officials.
On the diplomatic front, a number of moderate Arab leaders have
advised the White House in recent months that if President Bush
hopes to build a consensus for removing Mr. Hussein by force, the
best way to achieve that goal is to first achieve an Israeli-
These leaders said that any peace agreement must address
Palestinian aspirations for statehood, which in turn would undermine
Arab radicals who have stoked anti-Americanism in the region and
threatened the stability of moderate Arab governments that are
At their March summit meeting in Beirut, Arab leaders offered Israel
recognition and peace in return for withdrawal from lands it seized
in 1967. They also took a strong position on Iraq, calling on Mr.
Hussein to open his borders to inspections, but — in a pointed
warning to Washington — stated that an attack on Iraq would
threaten the national security interests of all Arab states.
Many of the moderate Arab states have expressed a willingness to
assist in Mr. Hussein's removal if he does not accept the kind of
intrusive inspections needed to reassure the world that he does not
possess nuclear, chemical or biological weapons or the means to
produce or deliver them, nor will he ever have them.
But when Mr. Cheney toured Middle East capitals in March to
discuss American plans to topple Mr. Hussein, his efforts made little
headway in light of Mr. Sharon's military campaign in the West
Still, Mr. Bush can count on some support from other allies — like
Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain — whose positions have shifted
over the last year.
Even Russia, with its longstanding military relationship with Iraq
during Soviet times and its heavy investment in Iraq's oil sector, has
signed on to the notion that Mr. Hussein has just one final chance to
live up to the obligations given at the end of the Persian Gulf war to
disarm and submit to long-term monitoring
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