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Hi all You may recall the piece in the Guardian (reproduced below) about US war plans and intended refusal to take yes for an answer re return of weapons inspectors. I put it to my senior USAF recently retired contact who served in the Gulf and worked on war planning. I pass on his comments below Cheers Eric I would take with a grain of salt anything the Guardian has to say about the situation, and here is why: The article says :"The Pentagon and the CIA have begun preparations for an assault on Iraq involving up to 200,000 US troops that is likely to be launched later this year with the aim of removing Saddam Hussein from power, US and diplomatic sources told the Guardian yesterday." First thing, I detest writers that rely ONLY on unnamed sources. As you and I know the Pentagon and CIA do not fight the wars, nor do the Pentagon and CIA do the actual planning. The theater CINC and his staff are chartered to develop war plans and courses of action (except for Clinton and his unilateral use of cruise missiles in attacking Sudan without consulting the CINC, but Bush is no Clinton.) Therefore lumping the amorphous "train and equip" Pentagon with the CIA is nonsense, and the unnamed diplomatic sources in the article are either misquoted, misinformed terribly, or even made up. It is true that the CIA has been authorized to develop plans that would generate internal dissent and make toppling Saddam from within much more likely. However, the CIA has no technical expertise or skill or experience in making war plans. In my last posting with the Air Force I participated in such planning for certain countries. We used all sorts of intelligence sources to assist in the planning, but never included them in the actual step-by-step-how-are-we-gonna-do-this mission. Besides, right now, internally in the United States, there is no real support for the introduction of troops in Iraq to over-throw Saddam. However, given another terrorist attack and that would be irrelevant and you better not be there when it happens. While the Guardian gets it right by noting "President George Bush's war cabinet, known as the "principals committee", agreed at a pivotal meeting in late January that the policy of containment has failed and that active steps should be taken to topple the Iraqi leader," they are wrong in their assessment that "the plans for a parallel overt and covert war only landed on the president's desk in the past few days." The "active steps" are only CIA covert ops to support Iraqi dissidents. Oh, the CIA would not present a combined CIA/military plan to anyone, as the CIA has no expertise in conceptualizing or planning for massive military operations, and 200,000 troops is pretty massive. The article has it right in regard to the US administration being of one mind and one voice; Saddam must leave. However, the actual method on how to achieve that goal is still very much in doubt and debated internally. The writer of this article tips his hand and reveals he is not too bright when it comes to reporting on US military matters. He says, "The blueprint for a campaign against Iraq has evolved from a contingency plan drawn up by the joint chiefs of staff that envisaged the use of a 200,000-strong US force, the bulk of which would invade from Kuwait." Look, I am not quibbling here, but it is just plain silly to say the joint chiefs developed a plan. The joint chiefs do nothing of the sort. Again, it is the theater CINC that develops the plans, with the joint chiefs training and equipping the troops. I cannot stress enough that the joint chiefs/Pentagon have nothing to do with plans. Now, it may be possible the theater CINC asked for concepts, theory only, on how best to fight a war (much like Schwarzkopf did for the Gulf War when he asked the USAF Air Staff for planning guidance for a strategic air war). Here is another point that shows the Guardian writer is not too informed and a bit "out there." The writer says, "Central Command has already set up forward headquarters in the Gulf from which each of the component services will be able to coordinate the war." CENTCOM Forward never left Riyadh. They have remained in place from the end of the Gulf War to help run/coordinate the NFZ's and support other actions in the AOR. He is correct by reporting, "The air force headquarters (Afcent) is at the Prince Sultan air base in Saudi Arabia. The army headquarters (Arcent) is in Kuwait, while the navy (Navcent) is in Bahrain. Central Command's marine component (Marcent) is also expected to move to Bahrain in the next few days, weeks after the main marine force left Afghanistan." However, please note, just because the Marine's command element left Afghanistan doesn't have anything to do with supposed impending military action. The Marine command element left Afghanistan because there was no reason for them to stay-all the Marines left!! The command element would naturally return to their more permanent faculties, co-located with the Navy in Bahrain. Make nothing of this move. The writer is an alarmist. He notes "The US, Israel and Turkey were due to hold joint exercises codenamed Anatolian Eagle this year, but in another sign of accelerated preparations there will be three such exercises in the next few months, based at the Turkish air force base at Konya. Once upgraded, Konya could be used alongside Incirlik as a base for air strikes on northern Iraq." Let me tell you, large exercises of this nature, like Bright Star with Egypt, are not just a week or two, are planned for years, and have many different phases to test and exercise the various complex command and control and deployment and actual field exercises that make up a war plan. You take it in stages and put them together, with evaluations and adjustments all along. Smaller exercises, no problem, major ones like this one and you have to spread them out. This is especially true when much of your regional support is already engaged in real-world activities. This last point is most critical, and the major reason why the exercise is piece-meal. "The Pentagon's military planners are reported to have agonised over the Iraq plan because of the significant risk that Saddam - aware that unlike during the Gulf war his own life is at stake this time - would use chemical and biological weapons against US troop concentrations and Israel. The danger would be minimised by intensive bombing of missile launchers, but the generals reportedly remain extremely concerned that the risks cannot be eliminated entirely." The risk is certainly a concern. But Eric, don't you find it ironic that the Guardian makes a point to say Saddam is at personal risk in any supposed upcoming action, whereas the Guardian admits the US/coalition did not target personally Saddam in the Gulf War. This makes me chuckle. The points in the article about how the CIA would conduct covert operations are essentially correct. The Guardian writer uses nothing but unnamed sources to buttress his allegation. I do read the Guardian on a semi-regular basis and I am appalled at their causal and extensive use of unnamed sources. I fully appreciate the value of such sources, but a good rule when using such sources is to verify as best you can, use them sparingly, make sure they are credible and know what they are talking about, and if possible use other sources (named or unnamed) as balance. Failure to do this, as I am sure you are aware, makes one susceptible to disinformation and manipulation. An unnamed source can be a good source of information, but only when credibility has been firmly established. To make my point, the writer alleges "As the American intelligence source put it, the White House "will not take yes for an answer", suggesting that Washington would provoke a crisis. He added that he expected the war to begin soon after the May ultimatum." Just how the heck would the source know this? Just who the heck is this "intelligence source," as he would have to be the president himself to know such a thing. How does the writer know this source is truly in the know and not someone with an agenda? How does the writer know the source (if there is one) is actually high enough in the food chain to know what is going on in the minds of the NCA? Eric, plans are made all the time, and plans are never assigned a timetable, like "in six months we will invade country XX, but first we will do "a," then "b," then we will respond with military action." Congressional support is critical, as Congress are the ones to declare war and to authorize the presidents' use of military force (War Powers Act). If Bush manipulated things to invade Iraq, then Congress would be very angry and withhold support. The president is not a prime minister. He can't act unilaterally, and without Congressional support, and the support of the American people, Bush would be toast. The assertion that "US allies in the Middle East have been informed that a decision to attack Iraq has already been taken" is pretty bold. IF such a decision was made, then telling ANYONE in the Middle East would be foolish as they leak worse than a rusty bucket and there would be NAMED sources everywhere screaming to anyone who will listen. This is an apparent falsehood on the part of the writer. He is making this up, I can bet you a non-alcoholic fruit beverage on this one. "diplomats from the region said yesterday they were resigned to the inevitability of a war that may threaten the stability of a string of Arab regimes." I do not think they are "resigned to the inevitability" of any military action against Iraq. My sources in the region (unnamed, of course) do not support the writer's statement. Not at all. Besides, if their stability was so plainly to be threatened, they would in no way go quietly in the night. Can you imagine Saudi meekly accepting US action that would put at risk their own regime. Not hardly. No way. Bottom line, Eric, this article is alarmist, baseless and without merit. However, as I said from the start, it is not a good time to travel to unstable countries in the region, as one never knows what may happen tomorrow. Another terrorist attack and the whole situation changes. And that, my friend, is why I recommend you don't go there. Oh, funny thing, prior to 9-11 and Afghanistan, Bush was portrayed in the media (especially European media) as bumbling and inept, and now he is calculating enough to plan events that would trigger US domestic support for a massive US invasion of Iraq and get all those disparate Middle East regimes to go along with a plan that would put them at great risk. . .hmmmm. By way of additional information regarding war plans: Plans are made and revised all the time. Regulation and a matter of good sense require this. Situations change; alliances form and fail, force structures go up and down and political environments flail. As a result of ever-changing situations, the military regularly makes adjustments. Contingencies are thought of, options evaluated, new plans formed and old ones exercised. Some plans are adjusted on a more regular basis (Iraq), and others are pretty much left to the routine (Korea). This goes for all regions of the world. Each theater CINC has an entire staff (J-5) that dedicates each day to evaluating pre-existing plans, refining them, "what-if-ing" other scenarios, and making adjustments. That is what they do, as does the UK PJHQ. It is the smart thing to do because when the doo-doo hits the fan, that is not the time to start planning. The, "what do we do now?" is best asked a long time ago. For example, when General Schwarzkopf took over CENTCOM in early 1990, he tasked his J-5 staff to take a good look at all plans and he picked off the shelf a pre-existing plan to exercise-the Iraq invades Saudi scenario. (You can't exercise all plans, just too many of them.) As a result of his decision to exercise that plan, in late May to early June 1990, I participated in a computer-based exercise conducted at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. During this exercise Iraq invaded Kuwait and Saudi. We fought the war, won, but it took a lot longer than the actual Gulf War. The Iraq/Saudi scenario was considered the most likely scenario at the time, as Iran was very weak and no other nations in the region demonstrated external aggressions. Also, as the CINC of all US military action in theater, he selected that exercise because it was the most complicated and involved equally all the service components-not just the Navy (most plans in that region were/are Navy-centric, as basing rights in the region were essentially non-existent and very complicated). Let me summarize, that the US has plans in the works for Iraq is not news and not irregular or in response to any direction from the NCA. No sir. Things are changing in that region every day, and plans must be adjusted accordingly. Keep in mind, even as I write this email there are CINC staffs around the world making plans for a myriad of contingencies that may call upon the US military to respond-anywhere, at anytime. http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,649917,00.html US targets Saddam. Pentagon and CIA making plans for war against Iraq this year Julian Borger and Ewen MacAskill Thursday February 14, 2002 The Guardian The Pentagon and the CIA have begun preparations for an assault on Iraq involving up to 200,000 US troops that is likely to be launched later this year with the aim of removing Saddam Hussein from power, US and diplomatic sources told the Guardian yesterday. President George Bush's war cabinet, known as the "principals committee", agreed at a pivotal meeting in late January that the policy of containment has failed and that active steps should be taken to topple the Iraqi leader. But, according to a US intelligence source familiar with CIA preparations, the plans for a parallel overt and covert war only landed on the president's desk in the past few days. "I will reserve whatever options I have. I'll keep them close to my vest. Saddam Hussein needs to understand that I'm serious about defending our country," Mr Bush said yesterday. Since the principals committee decision, Colin Powell, the secretary of state and the dove of the administration, has pointedly added his voice to the calls for a "regime change". "We are looking at a variety of options that would bring that about," he told the Senate budget committee. The blueprint for a campaign against Iraq has evolved from a contingency plan drawn up by the joint chiefs of staff that envisaged the use of a 200,000-strong US force, the bulk of which would invade from Kuwait. However, it may be that the actual force used will be less numerous, relying more on covert and special forces operations. Central Command has already set up forward headquarters in the Gulf from which each of the component services will be able to coordinate the war. The air force headquarters (Afcent) is at the Prince Sultan air base in Saudi Arabia. The army headquarters (Arcent) is in Kuwait, while the navy (Navcent) is in Bahrain. Central Command's marine component (Marcent) is also expected to move to Bahrain in the next few days, weeks after the main marine force left Afghanistan. The US, Israel and Turkey were due to hold joint exercises codenamed Anatolian Eagle this year, but in another sign of accelerated preparations there will be three such exercises in the next few months, based at the Turkish air force base at Konya. Once upgraded, Konya could be used alongside Incirlik as a base for air strikes on northern Iraq. The Pentagon's military planners are reported to have agonised over the Iraq plan because of the significant risk that Saddam - aware that unlike during the Gulf war his own life is at stake this time - would use chemical and biological weapons against US troop concentrations and Israel. The danger would be minimised by intensive bombing of missile launchers, but the generals reportedly remain extremely concerned that the risks cannot be eliminated entirely. The CIA's covert war would involve arming and training Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq and Shi'ite forces in Kuwait. CIA trainers and special forces troops have already been dispatched to Kuwait for that purpose, and may already have begun work. Meanwhile, CIA and special forces will launch a campaign of sabotage and information warfare in the next few months. The CIA puts very little faith in the military capacity of the main opposition movement, the Iraqi National Congress, but it has begun intensive consultations with INC officials about the logistics of training and arming the movement's supporters. The trigger could be the expected row over weapons inspections in three months' time. America's allies are clinging to the hope that US military action will be forestalled by Baghdad's acceptance of unconditional and unfettered weapons inspections when the international sanctions regime comes up for review at the United Nations in May. However, Iraq's vice-president, Taha Yassin Ramadan, said yesterday there was no need for "spies" from the UN weapons inspection teams to return to the country. A US state department official said he thought it very unlikely that the Iraqi regime would be prepared to accept the stringent programme of inspections the US will demand. As the American intelligence source put it, the White House "will not take yes for an answer", suggesting that Washington would provoke a crisis. He added that he expected the war to begin soon after the May ultimatum. US allies in the Middle East have been informed that a decision to attack Iraq has already been taken, and diplomats from the region said yesterday they were resigned to the inevitability of a war that may threaten the stability of a string of Arab regimes. "It is a nightmare situation for us," said one Arab diplomat in Washington. "We feel the Americans will take very drastic action and we have to be prepared for such a reality. But the public opinion in the street will not see this as a benign attempt to restore order, but as American imperialism." France, Germany and others in the European Union have been queuing up to make clear to Mr Bush that they will not support him in military action against Iraq. The German foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, this week joined the French foreign minister, Hubert Védrine, by expressing publicly his concern about US policy towards Iraq. But Tony Blair and the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, have refused to join the public outcry. A Foreign Office official said yesterday that military action was not imminent, but would be "a question of months". A Foreign Office spokesman later said: "The prime minister has made it clear from the outset that the campaign would have two phases: the first focusing on Afghanistan and the second looking at different aspects of international terrorism. In that context, we have to look at issues such as weapons of mass destruction." There are regular exchanges between the US state department and the Foreign Office on strategy for tackling Iraq. The Foreign Office spokesman said: "We will proceed in consultation with our allies and the precise methods of action will be for consultation in due course." In the months after September 11, the Foreign Office repeatedly ruled out military action against Iraq, other than the regular bombing along its border with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Its line at the time was that there was no evidence linking Iraq to terrorist activity. Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Turkey, all US allies neighbouring Iraq, expect to sustain significant economic and political damage from a new conflict. Jordan believes it stands to lose $800m (£500m) from the interruption of deliveries of cheap Iraqi oil, and has already begun to hint at the need for compensation. ---------------------- Dr. Eric Herring Department of Politics University of Bristol 10 Priory Road Bristol BS8 1TU England, UK Office tel. +44-(0)117-928-8582 Mobile tel. +44-(0)7771-966608 Fax +44-(0)117-973-2133 http://www.bris.ac.uk/Depts/Politics firstname.lastname@example.org -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com CASI's website - www.casi.org.uk - includes an archive of all postings.