Skip to comments.US Could Be Ready for War in Iraq This Year
Posted on 10/10/2002 8:23:39 AM PDT by NormsRevenge
US Could Be Ready for War in Iraq This Year
Thu Oct 10,10:33 AM ET
By Charles Aldinger
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military could be prepared for war with Iraq as soon as December even though President Bush (news - web sites) has not decided whether to pull the trigger on Baghdad, according to U.S. officials and analysts.
Experts in and out of government said five U.S. aircraft carriers with 350 warplanes could be off Iraq before year's end if ordered and tens of thousands of troops could be sent much more quickly than the six-months build-up to the 1991 Gulf War (news - web sites).
"We are not now on a war footing," stressed one of the U.S. officials, who asked not to be identified, in interviews with Reuters. "But this isn't 1991. We have tanks, lots of stuff in the region waiting for drivers and shooters."
"If there's a fight, winter would be better," a senior military officer said, referring to major discomfort that U.S. -- and perhaps British and other strike troops -- would suffer if forced to don bulky biological-chemical warfare protective suits in Iraq's summer desert heat.
A contrasting background of cold ground would also help heat-seeking missiles and bombs to find warm targets from anti-aircraft missile emplacements to tanks.
Even as the Bush administration presses the United Nations (news - web sites) and U.S. Congress to give strict disarmament deadlines to Baghdad, the White House and Pentagon (news - web sites) expect that President Saddam Hussein (news - web sites), who Washington accuses of developing chemical, biological and nuclear arms, will trigger a war by eventually halting unfettered U.N. arms inspections.
While the Pentagon is counting on major military help from Britain and other European and Gulf allies, officials said U.S. military preparations had been accelerated since August, including plans to send up to three aircraft carriers from bases in California and Japan if ordered.
POWERFUL PUNCH FROM CARRIERS
They could join the carriers Abraham Lincoln in the Gulf and the George Washington, now in the Mediterranean. Five battle groups would include several dozen cruisers and destroyers armed with long-range cruise missiles.
The carrier jets would join nearly 300 U.S. aircraft already in the region at bases from Turkey to a British airfield on the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.
The U.S. officials confirmed a New York Times report that some elite Special Operations forces have been told to separate temporarily from the military and join up with clandestine CIA (news - web sites) paramilitary units for any early "shadow" campaign against Saddam and his top supporters.
British newspapers have reported that Prime Minister Tony Blair (news - web sites)'s government is ready to offer at least 20,000 troops and dozens of warplanes to the war effort. And the Jerusalem Post reported last week that Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer predicted an American attack on Iraq by late November.
While media reports of U.S. war plans have varied widely from the use of 50,000 to 200,000-plus troops, officials and private experts have said an invasion would lean heavily on air power and not require the massive U.S.-led assault of 500,000 troops used to drive Iraqi forces from Kuwait 11 years ago.
"You could start a reasonably good war in December by getting at least a couple of heavy divisions (about 40,000 troops) into the region," said former Assistant Defense Secretary Larry Korb, now with the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.
"You could start bombing them and initially send troops in from the south and see what happened. That could be accelerated, but if the Iraqi military quickly collapses from air strikes, it's going to take about 100,000 troops to hold down the country," Korb added.
FINAL BUILD-UP HARD TO HIDE
He and other analysts stressed that any unscheduled movement of carriers could not be kept secret and would signal a final build-up.
Bush, they said, would also have to use emergency powers to call tens of thousands of part-time U.S. military reserve and National Guard troops to active duty ahead of any action.
There are 60,000 such "weekend warriors" on active duty from a major call-up for the war on terrorism declared after last year's attacks on America. But many more would be needed for tasks from fighting and refueling attack planes to providing intelligence and directing traffic.
The U.S. Central Command, which would oversee fighting in Iraq, openly reported last month that it would move 600 members of its key headquarters staff from Florida to Qatar near Iraq for an exercise in November and was considering making that shift permanent.
Central Command chief Army Gen. Tommy Franks will take part in what is scheduled to be a three-week deployment to modern Al Udeid Air Base near Doha in friendly Qatar for command post exercise "Internal Look."
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has flatly refused to discuss any war plans and denounced detailed media reports on military options being studied by Bush to end Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs and perhaps oust Saddam.
But he suggested to reporters who traveled with him to a NATO (news - web sites) meeting in Warsaw last month that any invasion of Iraq would directly target Baghdad's "dictatorial, repressive" government while attempting to spare the Iraqi people.
The Washington Post reported that massive U.S. air strikes and simultaneous ground attacks could concentrate on "regime targets" such as Saddam's palaces, bodyguards, bunkers and hometown power center of Tikrit.
There are more than 250 U.S. attack jets based in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Turkey and being used to patrol "no-fly" Zones over northern and southern Iraq. The Saudis have indicated that jets based on their territory could not be used for an invasion of Iraq unless it was fully supported by the United Nations.
But a large number of warplanes could be flown out of al Udeid in Qatar, and the United States is discussing with Britain permission to build shelters for bat-wing B-2 stealth bombers on Diego Garcia.
He HAS decided to launch war, and within the next few weeks. The American military ramp up that anyone can notice, in addition to 'training' in areas near Gulf, and other call ups, and the Senate and House votes, shows that we are in fact going to war. The worldwide press knows this as well.
|Thu Oct 10,11:28 AM ET|
The U.S. military could be prepared for war with Iraq as soon as December, according to U.S. officials and analysts. Experts in and out of government said five U.S. aircraft carriers with 350 warplanes could be off Iraq before year's end if ordered and tens of thousands of troops could be sent much more quickly than the six-months build-up to the 1991 Gulf War (news - web sites). An F-16CJ patrols the Northern No-Fly Zone over Iraq in an undated photo. (Vincent A. Parker/USAF via Reuters)
And if they take in more than a couple divisions (which they should), that number could be as high as 100,000 reservists.
I thought that was a done deal!
Excuse? Try breach of 16 UN resolutions, or attempted assassination of G.H.W. Bush.
I know who the simpleton is. He signed up 28 Sep. 2002 on FR.
Stress on "former." It's going to be dangerous even if the enemy sits on their country estates and watches the parade go by. There are tons of chemicals and biologicals that would be hard to deal with and dispose of in the best of times.
So we're going to war for the UN, huh?
...or attempted assassination of G.H.W. Bush
According to Bill Clinton, that is.
Only they dont vote in the US elections or give money to U.S. candidates since Bill Clinton left office (at least not as often)
So.. who cares what they think? And who cares what you think besides Michael Moore, Barbie Streisand and Noam Chomsky??
What planet are you hopping your clods on?
Yesterday the house and senate passed what Bush asked for by better than a 2 to 1 margin. That to you is problems?
Bush continues to enjoy extremely favorable ratings. That to you is problems?
What does Israel have to do with the current agenda, by the UN and by the US for Iraq? Or for you, does Israel ALWAYS pop up as a principle subject?
Noting your signup date 28 Sep. 2002.
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