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A. Bush backs off Iraq invasion, Guardian, 25th May B. Military chiefs defy Bush on Iraq, Telegraph, 25th May Letters: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org Letter writers: Remember to include your address and telephone number! ***************************************** A. Bush backs off Iraq invasion Military leaders recommend postponing mission after warning president of heavy casualties Matthew Engel in Washington Saturday May 25, 2002 The Guardian Senior American military leaders are believed to have turned sharply against any idea of invading Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein, and have started to gain the upper hand in persuading the White House that such a mission should be postponed, preferably indefinitely. The joint chiefs of staff have assured the White House their forces could successfully invade Iraq - or anywhere else - if instructed. But they have warned that such an invasion would be extremely fraught, given the resources depleted by the war in Afghanistan. One of the factors most alarming the generals is the possibility that their troops could be drawn into street fighting in Baghdad, without support from the local population, leading to heavy US casualties. This ties in with longstanding fears that Saddam might use such a moment to unleash biological or chemical weapons. Their instinctive caution has been strengthened by Operation Prominent Hammer, a highly secret war game recently played by senior officials, details of which have begun to leak out. It revealed that shortages of equipment could seriously hamper the operation and endanger the lives of Americans and Iraqi civilians. The air force is the most alarmed of the services, according to analysts, because they are short of planes, trained pilots and munitions. A third of their refuelling planes are reported to be under repair. But there are also concerns about the ability of special forces, currently being used in the Philippines and Yemen as well as Afghanistan, to operate successfully in Iraq at the same time, especially bearing in mind the intelligence services' need to concentrate on homeland security. It is understood that the country's senior generals - the heads of the army, navy, air forces and marines - agreed with the chairman of the joint chiefs, Richard Myers, and his deputy, Peter Pace, in their assessment. General Tommy Franks who, as head of the army's central command, would be in charge of any invasion of Iraq, has told the president that an invasion to overthrow Saddam would require at least 200,000 troops, a number that would seriously stretch even the American military, given the near impossibility of mounting an international coalition. At a Pentagon briefing yesterday, General Pace sounded what was, by military standards, an uncertain trumpet. Turning to his boss, the defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, he assured him: "Your military is ready today to execute whatever mission the civilian leadership of this country gives us to do." But he added: "The fact of the matter is, the more time you have to prepare for that kind of mission, whatever it is, the more elegant the solution could be." The head of the air force, General John Jumper, was blunter. "We never sized ourselves to have to do high force-protection levels at home and overseas at the same time. We're stretched very thin in security forces," he was quoted as saying by the New York Times. The military assessment backs up the messages pouring into the White House from elsewhere. The dangerous situation involving India and Pakistan, as well as Israel and Palestine, unnerves diplomats. World opinion ranges from the wary - in Britain - to the vehemently opposed. Even Turkey, regarded by the Iraq-hawks in Washington as a crucial and loyal ally on this issue, is said by government sources there to be "very nervous indeed" about the idea, mainly because of fears of the political instability that would result. Officials are also getting bleak assessments about the quality of the Iraqi opposition to Saddam Hussein, and about the likely reaction of the Iraqi people should the Americans invade. "The Iraqi people hate Saddam," said Judith Kipper, the Iraq expert at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, "but they blame the US for their problems. Nobody likes foreign troops marching through their country, especially the Iraqis." The cost of American military ambitions is mounting. And, with the mid-term elections only five months away, analysts believe an invasion is impossible before 2003, and that the White House is already starting to look for a way of reconciling its declared policy of "regime change" in Iraq with the need to back away from what looks increasingly like an untenable position. Some military sources believe that, even though special forces are now thinly stretched, the US will switch to covert operations to try to loosen Saddam's grip on power. This ties in with what President Bush said after his meeting with the German chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, in Berlin on Thursday: "I told the chancellor that I have no war plans on my desk, which is the truth, and that we've got to use all means at our disposal to deal with Saddam Hussein." The president added that there would be full consultation with allies and that any action would be handled in a "respectful" way. It remains possible that the US will feel its hand being forced if the Iraqis, sensing American weakness, emerge from their recent quiescence. The Pentagon says Saddam's air defence forces have attacked American and British planes three times in the last three weeks, as they patrolled the southern no-fly zone. General Pace played this down yesterday: "It's consistent with what's been going on for the past several years," he said. ******************************************************** B. Military chiefs defy Bush on Iraq By David Rennie in Washington Daily Telegraph (Filed: 25/05/2002) America's most senior military commanders have staged a joint rebellion against calls for a swift strike against Iraq. They said United States forces would face appalling casualties as they fought their way into Baghdad "block by block" if President Bush went ahead with an early invasion. Strongly advising Mr Bush to scrap a military confrontation with Saddam Hussein altogether or at least put off any action until next year, the six Joint Chiefs of Staff expressed fears that a cornered Iraqi leader would not hesitate to use biological or chemical weapons. Their revolt spilled into the open yesterday with a series of co-ordinated leaks to American newspapers, describing how the Joint Chiefs stood "shoulder to shoulder" in challenging the wisdom of attacking Saddam. Earlier this year, public statements by Mr Bush and others led many to believe a military strike on Iraq appeared inevitable. However, senior officials are now reported to be focusing more on bringing about "regime change" through intelligence operations and encouragement of Iraqi opposition groups - a policy much closer to that pursued by the Clinton administration. An official described as being familiar with the thinking of the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, told the Washington Post: "There are many ways in which [removing Saddam] could come about, only one of which is a military campaign in Iraq." Mr Bush, speaking in Berlin on Thursday, said he had told the German chancellor, Gerhard Schröder: "I have no war plans on my desk, which is the truth, and we've got to use all means at our disposal to deal with Saddam Hussein." Sources said Gen Tommy Franks, the head of United States Central Command, held a secret briefing at the White House earlier this month, at which he told the President that ousting Saddam would require at least 200,000 troops. It was reported earlier this year that if America did decide to send a force of the size suggested by Gen Franks, Britain would be asked to contribute some 25,000 men. An alternative strategy supported by some powerful conservatives in the Bush administration would see special forces, allied with local opposition fighters, trying to topple Saddam in a swift operation. Military chiefs boasted to the Washington Post yesterday that such thoughts had been quashed. One senior general talked of defusing an "Iraq hysteria" that gripped senior officials last winter. Another senior officer said: "The civilian leadership thought they could do it a la Afghanistan, with special forces. I think they've been dissuaded of that." However, other sources said that the situation was still "fluid", noting that Mr Rumsfeld had so far stayed clear of the debate, leaving it up to his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, and the chief of policy, Douglas Feith. Both men are seen as leading conservatives in favour of action against Iraq. Mr Rumsfeld refused to be drawn yesterday on whether the United States was planning for war with Iraq, saying it would be "the dumbest thing" to comment on future thinking. "With respect to any one country, we obviously don't get into discussions about what conceivably could be done," Mr Rumsfeld said. However, he insisted that the military was able to carry out any mission asked of it. He was given a public show of support by General Peter Pace, the vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who said: "Your military is ready today to execute whatever mission the civilian leadership asks us to do." Gen Pace declined to discuss his own views on Iraq, saying he and his colleagues in uniform enjoyed "very robust" dialogue with their civilian leaders. Mr Rumsfeld was no more forthcoming when asked whether the United States military was equipped to open a new front in the war against terror. "If we had a serious shortage of something, I think it would be rather stupid to stand up here and announce it to the world, don't you?" Mr Rumsfeld said. The Washington Post described a series of secret meetings this spring in the secure Pentagon facility known as "The Tank", at which the Joint Chiefs agreed on the serious dangers of an invasion of Iraq. Principal among these was the fear that Saddam, if faced with losing power, or even his life, would feel no constraints in using his chemical and biological weapons. There have been rumblings for months that the American military is "overstretched" by the new demands of the war against terrorism. In addition to the fighting in Afghanistan, which has all but exhausted stocks of some high-tech weapons, the military faces unprecedented demands to contribute to the defence of the American homeland. USA Today newspaper reported the concerns of the Joint Chiefs that special operations commandos were already stretched thin in Afghanistan, the Philippines and the Yemen. The commanders also reportedly noted that - unlike in 1991, during the operation to liberate Kuwait - neighbouring Arab nations may not offer their bases and territory to United States forces. In 1991, such support was vital in helping American commanders fly fuel and supplies to the forces attacking Iraq, and to refuel air force fighters and bombers in mid-air. But the top brass rebellion over Iraq appears to go beyond questions of supplies and manpower, straying well into the realms of politics. Sources told the Washington Post that some of the Joint Chiefs expressed misgivings about the wisdom of toppling Saddam, in the absence of a clear successor who is any better, worrying that an invasion might result in the emergence of a more hostile regime. Gen Franks, who would supervise any battle for Iraq, shared such wider strategic concerns, one officer said. "Tommy's issue is, a lot of things have to be in place, and these things are not all military things." **************************************************************** Military Bids to Postpone Iraq Invasion Joint Chiefs See Progress In Swaying Bush, Pentagon By Thomas E. Ricks Washington Post Staff Writer Friday, May 24, 2002; Page A01 The uniformed leaders of the U.S. military believe they have persuaded the Pentagon's civilian leadership to put off an invasion of Iraq until next year at the earliest and perhaps not to do it at all, according to senior Pentagon officials. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have waged a determined behind-the-scenes campaign to persuade the Bush administration to reconsider an aggressive posture toward Iraq in which war was regarded as all but inevitable. This included a secret briefing at the White House earlier this month for President Bush by Army Gen. Tommy R. Franks, who as head of the Central Command would oversee any U.S. military campaign against Iraq. During the meeting, Franks told the president that invading Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein would require at least 200,000 troops, far more than some other military experts have calculated. This was in line with views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who have repeatedly emphasized the lengthy buildup that would be required, concerns about Hussein's possible use of biological and chemical weapons and the possible casualties, officials said. The Bush administration still appears dedicated to the goal of removing the Iraqi leader from power, but partly in response to the military's advice, it is focusing more on undermining him through covert intelligence operations, two officials added. "There are many ways in which that [regime change] could come about, only one of which is a military campaign in Iraq," one official familiar with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's thinking said yesterday. Any final decision would be the president's. Appearing in Berlin yesterday, Bush offered more tough rhetoric about Iraq and other countries he has labeled part of an "axis of evil." But at a news conference in Berlin, he also said that he had told German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder: "I have no war plans on my desk, which is the truth, and that we've got to use all means at our disposal to deal with Saddam Hussein." [Details, Page A26.] In addition to skepticism from within his own military, Bush faces concern in Europe about the wisdom of expanding the war to Iraq. Schroeder embraced the effort to pressure Hussein to accept weapons inspectors but would not be drawn into discussion of a military attack. The debate inside the Pentagon is only part of a larger discussion of Iraq that also involves the White House, the State Department and the CIA, among others. Those deliberations go well beyond discussing the merits of mounting a military operation and lately have focused on the role of international diplomacy and what use to make of unwieldy Iraqi opposition groups abroad. The disclosure of the efforts by the uniformed leadership to slow the drive toward war suggests that a military confrontation with Iraq may be further away than has been suggested by many administration officials. Some of the chiefs' concerns were first reported in yesterday's editions of USA Today. However, the situation is still fluid, and Pentagon insiders say intense pressure is being brought by advocates of military action within the administration to get the chiefs on their side. In a series of meetings this spring, the six members of the Joint Chiefs -- the chairman, Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers; the vice chairman, Marine Gen. Peter Pace; and the chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps -- hammered out a position that emphasizes the difficulties of any Iraq campaign while also quietly questioning the wisdom of a military confrontation with Hussein. "I think all the chiefs stood shoulder-to-shoulder on this," said one officer tracking the debate, which has been intense at times. In one of the most emphatic summaries of the direction of the debate, one top general said the "Iraq hysteria" he detected last winter in some senior Bush administration officials has been diffused. But others familiar with the discussions held by the Joint Chiefs in the secure Pentagon facility known as "the Tank" say that it is premature for the uniformed military to declare victory. They note that Rumsfeld has so far mostly stayed out of the debate, leaving that to Paul D. Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, and Douglas J. Feith, the Pentagon's top policy official, who are seen inside the Pentagon as the Defense Department's leading hawks on Iraq. In their Tank sessions, the chiefs focused on two specific concerns about the conduct of any offensive. One was that Hussein, if faced with losing power and likely being killed, would no longer feel the constraints that during the Persian Gulf War apparently kept him from using his stores of chemical and biological weapons. The other was the danger of becoming bogged down in bloody block-by-block urban warfare in Baghdad that could kill thousands of U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians. Franks, who attended a Tank session before seeing the president, has expressed similar concerns, said one officer. "Tommy's issue is, a lot of things have to be in place, and these things are not all military things," he recounted. In addition to those tactical concerns, some of the chiefs also expressed misgivings about the wisdom of dislodging an aging, weakened Hussein who, by some accounts, has behaved better than usual in recent months. Their worry is that there is no evidence that there is a clear successor who is any better, and that there are significant risks that Iraq may wind up with a more hostile, activist regime. As the discussions of Iraq policy were culminating earlier this month, Franks briefed the Joint Chiefs and then the president on the outline of the plan he would use if ordered to attack. His plan, which was the only one presented, called for a substantial combat force that was close to half the 541,000 troops deployed for the 1991 Gulf War, which the military refers to as Operation Desert Storm. Some at the Pentagon promptly labeled the Franks plan Desert Storm Lite. When asked at a news conference in Tampa earlier this week about what military force be needed to invade Iraq, Franks answered, "That's a great question and one for which I don't have an answer because my boss has not yet asked me to put together a plan to do that." Franks's narrow response relied on the U.S. military definition of "plan" as a detailed, step-by-step blueprint for military operations. What Franks discussed with the Joint Chiefs and the president was a simpler outline for an attack that the military terms a "concept of operations." By emphasizing the large force that he believes would be needed, Franks's briefings also seemed to rule out an alternate plan that some civilians in the Bush administration had advocated. Dubbed "the Downing plan," for retired Army Gen. Wayne A. Downing, who suggested it four years ago, this approach calls for conquering Iraq with combination of airstrikes and Special Operations attacks in coordination with indigenous fighters. That option, which would have required a fraction of the U.S. troops Franks indicated he would need, was not presented as a briefing either to the Joint Chiefs or to the president, officials said. Downing serves as the White House's coordinator for counterterrorism efforts. This spring, "the civilian leadership thought they could do this ā la Afghanistan, with Special Forces," said a senior officer. "I think they've been dissuaded of that." The point of the Franks briefings, this general said, was that, "We don't need as much as Desert Storm, but we need a large competent ground force, in order to shape the other force. What forces the other guy to mass is the presence of another ground force. Then you can deal with that force with fires and air power." In this view, those who say the model of the Afghan war can be transferred to Iraq fail to take into account that the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan had thousands of troops ready to fight, some of them heavily armed, whereas there is no equivalent indigenous force in Iraq. Despite the confidence expressed by some officers that an attack on Iraq has been postponed and may never occur, some on the other side of the argument warn that it is far from concluded. There are other top officers in the U.S. military who disagree with the chiefs' assessment. Their worries, said one general, "smack to me of risk aversion." He added: "The fact is they [the Iraqi armed forces] are one-third the size they used to be. Their air force isn't there." Advocates of an Iraqi invasion note that Bush has not backed away from his tough State of the Union rhetoric. "They [the military leaders] have been ab le to defer it, so they've won this round of the bureaucratic battle," said one Republican foreign policy expert who is hawkish on Iraq. But, he continued, "I don't believe you're going to see the president sit back and say, 'Sure, containment's the way to go, keeping him in the box is working.' " _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk