Iraq: September 3, 2002

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War Plans: Bits And Pieces: While no overall war plan has been seen, small elements of it have become known (or are the subject of clever guesses by pundits). Some highlights...

@ Iraqi military personnel assigned to weapons of mass destruction are being told through propaganda broadcasts that if their weapons are used, they will be tried as war criminals and will be either executed or jailed for life. US intelligence firmly believes that Saddam will use his chemical and biological weapons at the first opportunity rather than holding them as
a threat. 

@ The US plans to destroy the Republican Guard, but wants to leave the Army intact. Once purged of Saddam's cronies, the Iraqi Army will (under the US plan) run the country until a new democratically-elected government can stabilize (which should take 12 years). It will do this by using information and propaganda attacks to freeze the 11 regular army divisions in their garrisons. These troops are of little threat to the US as virtually all of the armor and artillery is in the Republican Guard units. 

@ Covert and special operations, as well as precision-guided munitions, will target the Iraqi leadership and the "Tikrit Mafia" (Saddam's cronies from the Tikrit district north of Baghdad). 

@ The US has gone into high gear producing precision-guided weapons and chemical warfare protection gear.

@ The attack will be aimed at collapsing rather than occupying Iraq. US and perhaps British troops will launch an offensive out of Kuwait to grab Basra, which will cut off most of Saddam's money and result in a victory even if the war drags on for months. US and perhaps Turkish troops will seize Mosul, which cuts off the rest of Saddam's money. Special operations units will seal the border with Jordan; roving air patrols will try to stop any serious movement across the Iranian border. With all of the oilfields and oil production facilities in US hands, Saddam cannot afford to stay in power.--Stephen V Cole
The US has quietly expanded its air base at Doha on the east coast of Qatar, vastly increasing the ramp space, munitions storage, rearming and refueling facilities, and the command bunkers. The new regional Combined Air Operations Center is being completed here; it replaces a facility built at Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War. While
farther from Iraq, the difference can be made up by tankers, and the Doha base already has a flock of them in residence with facilities for many more. The base upgrade is scheduled to be completed in December. The air portion of any war against Iraq would probably be run out of Doha. Significantly, the command facilities are not yet hardened against explosive or chemical attacks.--Stephen V Cole

Quietly, over the last few years, the United States has built new bases in the smaller nations along the Persian Gulf coast. These nations owe their very existence to effective diplomacy with much larger powers. Shrewd bargaining with Saudi Arabia, Britain, Iran and the United States kept these has kept these small states independent from Saudi Arabia and Iran. Saudi Arabia's refusal to assist the United States in any military operations against Iraq has led the smaller Gulf states to supply backup sites. 

Bahrain is a major American base in the Persian Gulf. Bahrain provides port facilities for destroyers and frigates enforcing the Iraqi embargo, and other support for the U.S. carrier task force that operates in the Persian Gulf. The Bahrain air base of Shaikh Isa is fitted out to support about a hundred U.S. warplanes. Britain bases aerial tankers in Bahrain as well. 

Further south, the U.S. has spent $1.4 billion to develop the al Udeid air base in Qatar. In addition to supporting over a hundred warplanes, Al Udeid also contains communications facilities and bunkers that can house headquarters for major military operations in the Persia Gulf. 

Still further south, another air base is being built in Oman at Musnanah. The U.S. and Britain also use several existing air bases in Oman. 

 

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