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Pentagon Draws up Plans 

for Invasion of Iraq


by Ian Bruce

The Herald (Scotland) January 31, 2002

Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG),  globalresearch.ca,   1  February 2002


 Military planners at the Pentagon have drawn up a blueprint for a two-pronged invasion of Iraq involving up to 100,000 US troops in support of local Kurdish and Shi'ite rebels.

The plan calls for a "sandwich" strategy which would see 50,000 Americans attacking from the Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq while another 50,000 advanced from Kuwait, and possibly Saudi Arabia, under cover of an overwhelming air umbrella of fighters and helicopter gunships.

The operational headquarters of the US 3rd Army was moved to Kuwait in mid-December to prepare for the mission and a team of air force analysts at the custom-built Prince Sultan airbase near Riyadh, the Saudi capital, has begun to compile "target sets" for a high-intensity aerial blitzkrieg.

State department officials under Ryan Croker, the man responsible for Middle East affairs, were in the region last week to assess Kurdish support for a US-backed revolt against Saddam Hussein's regime.

Despite the political imperatives outlined in President Bush's State of the Union call to arms, however, many senior officers are sceptical of the prospects for success of local insurgency on the Afghan model.

Others feel that a decisive result would require US deployment on the 500,000-man scale of the 1990-91 Gulf war, and would risk inflaming relatively moderate Muslim opinion in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt.

Lieutenant General Paul Mikolashek, 3rd army commander, has told the US joint chiefs of the armed services that he would need between 150,000 and 200,000 combat troops to guarantee success, and possibly twice that number in support and logistical roles.

Military leaders are concerned that politicians may be tempted by the relatively easy and bloodless victory in Afghanistan into trying a repeat performance on an infinitely more militarily capable Iraq.

Despite defeat in 1991 and a decade of punishing sanctions, Saddam still fields one of the largest armies in the region, with 350,000 men under arms, 2700 tanks, 90 jets and 100 helicopters.

While many of the rank-and-file troops are of doubtful fighting quality, the core of his power rests with the 50,000 soldiers of the seven Republican Guard divisions and the 26,000 men of his "special guard" recruited from his own tribal area of Tikrit.

These units have 1200 T72 Russian-designed tanks, receive the best equipment and rations, and are paid four times as much as their regular army counterparts to help assure their loyalty.

More importantly, Iraq is believed to have 300 mobile anti-aircraft missile launchers, some of which have been upgraded with cash from the proceeds of oil smuggled via Turkey, Syria and Jordan to keep Saddam's military machine and chemical, biological and long-range missile programmes functioning.

The Iraqi air force, short of spares and outclassed in technology, would be no match for US fighters, but the missile threat means there would be no rapid repeat of Afghan-style total domination of the skies over the battlefield.

Copyright  The Herald, Scotland 2002. Reprinted for fair use only

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