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[casi] Detailed Plans for Attack on Iraq (NYT)

July 5, 2002

U.S. Plan for Iraq Is Said to Include Attack on 3 Sides


   W ASHINGTON, July 4 An American military planning document calls for
   air, land and sea-based forces to attack Iraq from three directions
   the north, south and west in a campaign to topple President Saddam
   Hussein, according to a person familiar with the document.

   The document envisions tens of thousands of marines and soldiers
   probably invading from Kuwait. Hundreds of warplanes based in as many
   as eight countries, possibly including Turkey and Qatar, would
   a huge air assault against thousands of targets, including airfields,
   roadways and fiber-optics communications sites.

   Special operations forces or covert C.I.A. operatives would strike at
   depots or laboratories storing or manufacturing Iraq's suspected
   weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to launch them.

   None of the countries identified in the document as possible staging
   areas have been formally consulted about playing such a role,
   officials said, underscoring the preliminary nature of the planning.
   Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld visited American bases in Kuwait
   and Qatar and the Fifth Fleet in Bahrain on his most recent trip to
   the Persian Gulf region in June.

   The existence of the document that outlined significant aspects of a
   "concept" for a war against Iraq as it stood about two months ago
   indicates an advanced state of planning in the military even though
   President Bush continues to state in public and to his allies that he
   has no fine-grain war plan on his desk for the invasion of Iraq.

   Yet the concept for such a plan is now highly evolved and is
   apparently working its way through military channels. Once a
   is reached on the concept, the steps toward assembling a final war
   plan and, most importantly, the element of timing for ground
   deployments and commencement of an air war, represent the final
   sequencing that Mr. Bush will have to decide.

   Mr. Bush has received at least two briefings from Gen. Tommy R.
   Franks, the head of the Central Command, on the broad outlines, or
   "concept of operations," for a possible attack against Iraq. The most
   recent briefing was on June 19, according to the White House.

   "Right now, we're at the stage of conceptual thinking and
   brainstorming," a senior defense official said. "We're pretty far

   The highly classified document, entitled "CentCom Courses of Action,"
   was prepared by planners at the Central Command in Tampa, Fla.,
   according to the person familiar with the document.

   Officials say it has already undergone revisions, but is a snapshot
   an important, but preliminary stage, in a comprehensive process that
   translates broad ideas into the detailed, step-by-step blueprint for
   combat operations that the Pentagon defines as a "war plan."

   Still, the document, compiled in a long set of briefing slides,
   a rare glimpse into the inner sanctum of the war planners assigned to
   think about options for defeating Iraq.

   "It is the responsibility of the Department of Defense to develop
   contingency plans and, from time to time, to update them," Victoria
   Clarke, the Pentagon spokeswoman, said today. "In fact, we have
   recently issued new general planning guidance, and that generates
   activity at the staff level."

   Officials said neither Mr. Rumsfeld, nor the Joint Chiefs of Staff or
   General Franks had been briefed on this specific document as yet.

   The source familiar with the document described its contents to The
   New York Times on the condition of anonymity, expressing frustration
   that the planning reflected at least in this set of briefing slides
   was insufficiently creative, and failed to incorporate fully the
   advances in tactics and technology that the military has made since
   the Persian Gulf war in 1991.

   Administration officials say they are still weighing options other
   than war to dislodge Mr. Hussein. But most military and
   officials believe that a coup in Iraq would be unlikely to succeed,
   and that a proxy battle using local forces would not be enough to
   drive the Iraqi leader from power.

   Nothing in the Central Command document or in interviews with senior
   military officials suggests that an attack on Iraq is imminent.

   Indeed, senior administration officials continue to say that any
   offensive would probably be delayed until early next year, allowing
   time to create the right military, economic and diplomatic

   Nonetheless, there are several signs that the military is preparing
   for a major air campaign and land invasion.

   Thousands of marines from the First Marine Expeditionary Force at
   Pendleton, Calif., the marine unit designated for the gulf, have
   stepped up their mock assault drills, a Pentagon adviser said. The
   military is building up bases in several Persian Gulf states,
   including a major airfield in Qatar called Al Udeid. Thousands of
   American troops are already stationed in the region.

   After running dangerously low on precision-guided bombs during the
   in Afghanistan, the Pentagon has said it has stepped up production of
   critical munitions. The Air Force is stockpiling weapons, ammunition
   and spare parts, like airplane engines, at depots in the United
   and in the Middle East.

   "We don't know when or where the next contingency will be," Gen.
   Lester L. Lyles, head of the Air Force Materiel Command, said in an
   interview this week. "But we want to fill up the stock bins."

   The Central Command document, as described by the source familiar
   it, is significant not just for what it contains, but also for what
   leaves out.

   The document describes in precise detail specific Iraqi bases,
   surface-to-air missile sites, air defense networks and fiber-optics
   communications to be attacked. "The target list is so huge it's
   egregious," the source said. "It's obvious that we've been watching
   these guys for an awfully long time."

   Dozens of slides are devoted to organizational details, like the
   precise tonnage of American munitions stored at various bases around
   the Persian Gulf, deployment time lines for troops leaving East and
   West Coast ports for the gulf region, and the complexities of
   interwoven intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance networks.

   At the same time, according to the source, the document is silent on
   or barely mentions other important aspects of any operation,
   suggesting that there are several highly classified documents that
   address different parts of the planning.

   For instance, the "Courses of Action" document does not mention other
   coalition forces, casualty estimates, how Mr. Hussein may himself be
   target, or what political regime might follow the Iraqi leader if an
   American-led attack was successful, the source said.

   Nor does the document discuss the sequencing of air and ground
   campaigns, the precise missions of special operations forces or the
   possibility of urban warfare in downtown Baghdad, with Iraqi forces
   possibly deploying chemical weapons.

   In fact, the discussion about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction is
   relatively terse. The document discusses the broad threat such
   pose to American forces and surrounding countries, the need to deter
   Baghdad from using them, and, failing that, devising ways to counter

   It describes the number of Marine and Army divisions, air
   expeditionary forces, and aircraft carriers. These and other forces
   add up to as many as 250,000 troops, the source familiar with the
   document said, but there is little detail about those forces beyond

   Nor does the document contain a comprehensive analysis of the Iraqi
   ground forces, including the Republican Guard and various security
   forces that are believed to be fiercely loyal to Mr. Hussein. This
   again suggests that such analysis is either incomplete or is
   in another planning document.

   By emphasizing a large American force, the document seems to reflect
   view that a successful campaign would require sizable conventional
   forces staging from Kuwait, or at least held in reserve there.

   An alternative plan, championed by retired Gen. Wayne A. Downing of
   the Army, calls for conquering Iraq with a combination of airstrikes
   and special operations attacks in coordination with indigenous
   fighters, similar to the campaign in Afghanistan. Relying solely on
   that approach appears to have been ruled out.

   General Downing resigned last week as Mr. Bush's chief adviser on
   counterterrorism, reportedly frustrated by the administration's tough
   talk against Iraq but lack of action.

   Among the many questions the military and the administration must
   address before staging an invasion is where to base air and ground
   forces in the region.

   Geography and history, specifically the gulf war, would suggest that
   countries like Kuwait, Turkey, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and
   Bahrain would be likely candidates for staging troops or air combat

   Any mention of using bases in Saudi Arabia, from which the United
   States staged the bulk of the airstrikes in the gulf war, is
   conspicuously missing from the document, said an official familiar
   with the briefing slides. The United States would need permission to
   use Saudi airspace adjacent to Iraq, if not Saudi bases themselves,
   officials said.

   The Saudis have allowed the United States to run the air war against
   Afghanistan from a sophisticated command center at Prince Sultan Air
   Base, outside Riyadh, but have prohibited the Air Force from flying
   any attack missions from Saudi soil.

   Senior Air Force officials have expressed mounting frustration with
   restrictions the Saudis have placed on American operations, and the
   Central Command is developing an alternate command center at the
   sprawling Udeid base in Qatar, should that be needed.

   The Central Command document does not contain a time line of when
   American forces could start flowing to the gulf or how long it would
   take to put all the forces in place. Nor does it answer one of the
   questions administration officials are wrestling with: how will Mr.
   Hussein react if there is a large buildup of conventional forces,
   as the United States had in the gulf war.

   "The Iraqis aren't just going to sit on their butts while we put in
   250,000 people," a military analyst said.

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