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FW: Pentagon Draws Up Iraq Invasion Plans

The Herald (Scotland)
January 31, 2002

Pentagon draws up plans for invasion of Iraq

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

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

-Jan 31st

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