The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]
Thanks to Kev Cross for this. Having gone this far, will they stop? And again the attempt to connect Iraq with Sept 11th, f -- ( THE NEW, PORTABLE U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND IS NOW IN PLACE IN QATAR. It was constructed IN SECRET in Florida. ) -- Tampa Tribune http://www.tampatrib.com/MGAYWW3SA9D.html Dec 4, 2002 War Game Preps U.S. For Iraq By KEITH EPSTEIN firstname.lastname@example.org WASHINGTON - In the middle of the flat, sand-blown desert in a tiny Arab kingdom half a world away from St. Petersburg, the city of its secret birth, U.S. military personnel have unpacked their new war room. It arrived in ordinary- looking cargo containers, easily shipped by air and sea as if carrying crates of oranges instead of sophisticated gear to enable officers, generals and presidents to manage regional crises and battles. Within mere weeks, the trailer park-like village of 24 shelters arose at Camp As Sayliyah, a 262-acre U.S. Army base protected by .50 caliber machine guns, a towering wall, and vast stretches of desert nothingness an hour outside Doha, capital of the small Arab nation of Qatar. Each expeditionary 8-by-8- by-20-foot ``elasti-shelter´´ folds out like a family camper to three times its size. It is ``hardened´´ against potential biological, chemical, and traditional attack. Inside: the workings of the modern U.S. war machine - laptops, satellite uplinks, special encrypted communications lines, connections with video cameras on remote-controlled weapons such as the Predator drone. There's a joint operations center with big screens at the front, just like back home. There are cameras for video conferencing, so senior commanders can meet any time. And everything folds up, even desks, tables, and chairs. Welcome to the new U.S. Central Command - thousands of miles from Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base, nerve center for previous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And far away from St. Petersburg-(Florida) based Raytheon Co., where a team of 100 workers secretly labored around the clock to build and test the military's first portable command and control center. Military engineers originally expected to have years to perfect their mobile command. But barely a month after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld asked if the job could be done within a year. As Mike Reck, an engineer put it: ``9-11 changed everything. It changed the whole scope, and this went from being an advanced idea to becoming a rapid acquisition - a very rapid acquisition. ``We were thinking five years, and they said, `Can you do this in nine months?´ ´´ said Reck, an engineer with the Joint Precision Strike Demonstration Project Office at Fort Belvoir, Va. The military originally envisioned the futuristic mobile headquarters as an ``advanced concept´´ - a promising experiment that might eventually lead to deployment closer to fields of battle. They never expected it to become the center of operations for a major rehearsal for war that begins next week - or for war itself. Putting It To The Test Officially, the military insists that a computer-simulated war game, known as Internal Look, is just a ``simple exercise´´ to test the ability of Gen. Tommy Franks and 750 other personnel from MacDill to manage battles and crises from the new portable headquarters. It's a war game CENTCOM does periodically, but no such exercise has ever been conducted outside the United States. An exercise in 1990 that was also called ``Internal Look´´ foreshadowed the Gulf War. The computer-generated game and what really happened were so similar that fictional reports had to be stamped with a disclaimer, ``Exercise Only.´´ In his memoir, ``It Doesn´t Take a Hero,´´ Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf recalled: ``We played Internal Look in late July 1990, setting up a mock headquarters complete with computers and communication gear at Eglin Air Force Base in the Florida Panhandle. As the exercise got under way, the movements of Iraq´s real- world ground and air forces eerily paralleled the imaginary scenario of the game.´´ Now, as then, CENTCOM staffers monitoring fictitious troop or aircraft movements, executing mock decisions by commanders, analyzing hypothetical situations and going through the actions of unleashing weapons, will experience ``presence´´ - the emotional highs and lows of battle. Now, as then, complex computer-driven models determine the action on the pretend battlefield, while real people throughout the chain of command respond. Now, as then, real war seems imminent. The difference now: CENTCOM and Gen. Franks are not only ready to roll - they are close to the action. And that, military strategists say, makes a lot of difference. In The War Zone ``Bringing CENTCOM forward aligns the joint commander with all the component commanders, which should at least get everyone in the same time zone - and hopefully the same sheet of music,´´ observes John Pike, director of globalsecurity.org, a technology policy group in Washington. Virtually all of the military's senior commanders who would be involved in a full- fledged war will participate in ``Internal Look´´ - Navy, Marines, Army and Air Force from all over the region. They and their officers will be able to confer with Franks and his personnel in the Qatari desert via video teleconferencing. Intelligence information can be shared quickly, awareness of the larger and most immediate picture, and, in theory, decisions made more quickly. President Bush has signed off on a plan that envisions using 250,000 U.S. and allied forces targeting communications, Iraqi troops, and other facilities in a complicated, wide-ranging attempt to force Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's top followers to give up. Failing that, more troops and planes could move on Baghdad. Speed is the key. An early unclassified Navy report stated the ultimate goal was to be able to set conditions for military action within 24 hours of a crisis, establish control of the situation within 96 hours, and reach a ``decisive resolution´´ within 30 days. It would be like having ``a pro football team that has the best capabilities, but no schedule,´´ said Navy Capt. Justin Sherin of the U.S. Forces Command Joint Experimentation Directorate in Norfolk, Va. Sherin made the remark to Armed Forces Press Service in 2001 when the command post still seemed a distant reality. ``They can do anything they could do back in Tampa. It´s basically a cut-and-paste job,´´ said Reck, project deputy contract officer. ``We replicated what they have at CENTCOM at MacDill. It was basically making everything smaller, mobile, and moveable.´´ Personnel from Tampa are pumped about the exercise and the new command post. ``There´s a real sense of pride and excitement to be here,´´ said Lt. Col. John Robinson, a CENTCOM spokesman who operates from one of the shelters in Qatar. ``There´s an intense seriousness,´´ as well, though for many ``it´s like driving a new car - learning the way it works, but loving the way it works.´´ While flat sun-baked deserts of more than 100 degrees may sound less appealing than Tampa Bay, personnel at CENTCOM's deployable headquarters sound unusually comfortable. They work in 24-hour shifts, with meals at 6:30 a.m., noon, and midnight. They have comfortable beds, access to the Internet, and to television. On Thanksgiving Day, the military airlifted in a huge turkey dinner and, though it was late at night, officers watched football games via satellite. Some have left friends, spouses, and families behind, saying there was no telling when they would return. Others stuck to the party line: The exercise would last only a week to 10 days. ``I´m planning on spending Christmas with my family,´´ said Robinson. ``And they´re in Brandon.´´ What Lies Ahead Yet to military watchers a showdown with Saddam appears ever more likely. Large forces, armor, and support units are at the ready in Kuwait, Bahrain, and other areas surrounding Iraq. At Camp As Sayliyah, also known as Sayluhah, hundreds of M-1 Abrams tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, and other armored personnel carriers are at the ready. Such ``prepositioning´´ - arranged with the Qatari government following the Gulf War - is designed to make war happen faster. Troop and weapon movements that took weeks in the Gulf War can now be accomplished in days. Not far away, at Al Udeid Air Base, are special hardened aircraft shelters, the longest runways in the Middle East, and planes at the ready. Meanwhile, part of the Doha airport, busy with the flow of military personnel and goods, has been dubbed Camp Snoopy. ``My guess would be that there is a 70 percent chance that we´re going to go´´ to war, said former Central Command leader and retired Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni. And he predicted the new portable headquarters will prove beneficial. ``Anything you have forward makes it easier to operate,´´ he said. Especially in the region overseen by U.S. Central Command - a swath of volatile countries and oil-producing geopolitical hot spots - a portable command makes sense, military officials say. If one country proves inhospitable, or another location seems more favorable, the new CENTCOM can move - though, notes Reck: ``How fast can you move a trailer park?´´ The Pentagon isn't saying how fast. But knowledgeable insiders say it can be packed up, shipped by truck, boat or aircraft, and repositioned within weeks. Only one month ago, after all, the entire headquarters was being packed into its containers in the Raytheon Co. parking lot on 72nd Street in St. Petersburg. The military insists that no decision has been made about the operation center's fate following this war game or the war that could follow. A month ago, Franks described three possibilities: ``Pack it all up´´ and return to Tampa; leave components in Qatar with staff officers to man them; leave a caretaker detachment in charge. Said Franks: ``We haven´t decided yet which of these courses to take.´´ -- This story can be found at: http://www.tampatrib.com/MGAYWW3SA9D.html = + = = _______________________________________________ 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