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[casi] FW: War Game Preps U.S. For Iraq

Thanks to Kev Cross for this.
Having gone this far, will they stop? And again the attempt to connect Iraq
with Sept 11th, f

was constructed IN SECRET in Florida. )
Tampa Tribune

Dec 4, 2002

War Game Preps U.S. For Iraq

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

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

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, a technology policy group in

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

``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
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
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