Chicago Indymedia :
Chicago Indymedia

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US reveals plans for Iraq attack

A highly classified document reveals America's military command is planning a three-pronged invasion of Iraq involving air, land and sea forces attacking from separate directions to create an overwhelming strike that will oust the dictator, Saddam Hussein.
Up to 250,000 American soldiers and marines would be involved, with land forces invading from Kuwait. Hundreds of aircraft based in up to eight countries would launch assaults on thousands of identified targets in Iraq, including airfields, roads and fibre-optic communication sites. Sites suspected of storing or producing Iraq's much-feared chemical and biological weapons infrastructure would be targeted by special forces soldiers and CIA covert operatives.

The war plan, called CentCom Course for Action was leaked to The New York Times (July 5) and is widely accepted as authentic. US military planners have been putting together options for an assault against Saddam for some time. It is understood that two months ago, one plan passed to the Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, was handed back with a "Must Do Better" label. Pentagon officials yesterday insisted President George Bush had made no final decision on an operation and no final battle plan had even been "placed on his desk".

But the document contains the kind of precise details that suggest such planning has moved well beyond the preliminary stages. "Right now we're at the stage of conceptual thinking and brainstorming," a senior defence official told the newspaper.

The document, drawn up by planners at US Central Command (CentCom) in Tampa, Florida, reflects Washington thinking that the use of an overwhelming US force is the only certain way of removing Saddam, something to which the Bush administration is committed. Other options such as the fomenting of a military coup or else the use of local opposition forces inside Iraq have been deemed unlikely to succeed.

Adding to this view was the departure last week from the Pentagon of retired General Wayne Downing who drew up a plan to fight a proxy war involving local forces, similar to what happened in the initial stages of the operation in Afghanistan using the Northern Alliance. He resigned last week as Mr Bush's special adviser on counter-terrorism.

The leaking of the document in such detail to the newspaper also suggests that many in the Pentagon wish to let it be known that a massive battle group is being planned, no doubt partly to try to intimidate Saddam.

Iraq yesterday did nothing to reduce the likelihood of a military assault from the US. The UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, said diplomats had failed to persuade Iraq to allow the return of weapons inspectors, a key demands of the US and Britain.

The document says that up to 250,000 troops would be involved in the Iraq operation, probably based in Kuwait. It also suggests that Turkey and Qatar could be bases for troops or warplanes.

The precise timing of the assault is not mentioned, nor are the names of those countries expected to support the US. Most commentators believe any operation against Saddam is unlikely to start until the beginning of next year. The document also fails to mention what Saddam's reaction might be to the build-up of a large conventional army. "The Iraqis aren't just going to sit on their butts while we put in 250,000 people,"one analyst said.

Apart from the document, there are signs on the ground that preparations for an assault are being made. Thousands of marines from the First Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton, California – the unit designated for the Gulf – have been stepping up their mock assault drills.

And the Pentagon has increased production of ordnance, its supplies low after Afghanistan. The air force is said to be stockpiling munitions and spare parts. For months, the US has been setting up munitions dumps in Gulf states, mainly Al Udeid in Qatar.



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