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[infowar.de] WSJ 04.10.02: U.S. Is Placing Materiel In Gulf, Opens Iraqi Psychological Drive
Wall Street Journal October 4, 2002 Pg. 1
U.S. Is Placing Materiel In Gulf, Opens Iraqi Psychological Drive
By Greg Jaffe and Carla Anne Robbins, Staff Reporters of The Wall Street
WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon quietly has amassed much of the equipment it
would need in the Persian Gulf region to launch a military campaign against
Iraq and is now kicking off a large-scale psychological campaign aimed at
causing fissures between Saddam Hussein and his troops.
As part of those psychological operations, allied forces patrolling the "no
fly" zone over southern Iraq dropped thousands of leaflets warning Mr.
Hussein's troops against tracking or firing at U.S. or British aircraft.
"The destruction experienced by your colleagues in other air defense
locations is a response to your continuing aggression," the fliers written
in Arabic read. "No tracking or firing on these aircraft will be tolerated.
You could be next," an English-language translation released by defense
The leaflet drop, begun in recent days, is the start of what will be an
escalating psychological campaign that will be delivered in a variety of
manners, including personal phone calls from former Iraqi military officers
to their onetime colleagues. The goal of the effort is to convince Mr.
Hussein's troops that the dictator has them on "a suicide mission," a
senior official said. "It's going to crank even hotter over the next few
Meanwhile, the continuing military buildup means that President Bush won't
have to wait several months to bring in materiel to support a ground force
in the region before he launches a military campaign, defense officials
said. It also suggests that Mr. Bush isn't planning a large-scale invasion
of Iraq using an earlier-estimated 250,000 ground troops, requiring a
three-month buildup of materiel, but between 50,000 and 80,000 troops, instead.
Earlier this week, for example, about 2,000 Marines and Navy sailors
initiated ground and naval training exercises, dubbed "Eager Mace," with
the military of Kuwait, which borders Iraq. Defense officials say it is
likely that the Marines will leave some support equipment behind. In July,
the U.S. Army moved a brigade's worth of heavy equipment to Kuwait from the
tiny Gulf nation of Qatar to allow the Army to conduct larger, live-fire
training exercises in the Kuwaiti desert.
And next month, the U.S. Central Command, which is in charge of military
operations in the region, plans to move 600 military planners to Qatar from
The low-key effort is a sign that a conflict in Iraq would be different
than the 1991 Persian Gulf War. "You have to stop thinking about this as
another Desert Storm," a senior U.S. official said. "The goal isn't to
invade Iraq. It's to get Saddam Hussein and the small circle around him."
There is no guarantee that there will be a war as the Bush administration
continues to struggle to piece together the international support for an
invasion of Iraq. Mr. Bush has come under increasing pressure in recent
days to scale back his push for a tough United Nations resolution in favor
of a French plan. That proposal might be more acceptable to Mr. Hussein
since, in addition to tough inspection rules, it would require a second
U.N. vote before any invasion could be launched.
Nevertheless, the buildup, conducted largely under the cover of military
exercises that have been going on for several months, will quietly proceed.
"You'll continue to see little pieces move here and there," said one senior
defense official. "If the decision is made to attack, there will be one big
rush to close out what's missing. But it's going to take days and weeks,
With much of its military gear in place, the Pentagon's psychological
campaign is expected to escalate over the coming days, targeting Mr.
Hussein's elite Republican Guard as well as his rank-and-file army troops,
one defense official involved in the effort said.
According to one Bush administration official, the U.S. strategy will
likely focus on cutting off Mr. Hussein from his military commanders in key
parts of the country in hopes of persuading them to lay down their arms or
actively turn against the Iraqi leader. For that, the war will likely begin
with a focused bombing campaign against communications sites and key
headquarters in Baghdad and Mr. Hussein's hometown Tikrit.
Once the massive air campaign has cut off the communications link between
Mr. Hussein and his military commanders, officials say they believe
regional officers will order their troops not to fight. The psychological
campaign is intended to sow doubts and fears among those commanders about
their support for the Iraqi leader.
To lay the groundwork for the military campaign, the Pentagon currently has
about 200 aircraft in the region and is working out the final details of an
agreement with the British to base as many as six of its fleet of 20
stealthy B-2 bombers on the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, closer to
Iraq. In Qatar, home to al Udeid air base, which boasts the largest runway
in the Gulf, Air Force officials have over the past few months spent more
than $10 million upgrading the base so it can accommodate more aircraft.
Those planes could be ready for combat quickly.
The Navy, meanwhile, has sped up training and maintenance schedules for
many of its ships, including three aircraft carrier battle groups. By
November, Navy officials say as many as four aircraft carriers could be
available to support a war with Iraq.
Bush officials are still hoping that just the threat of a U.S. invasion
coupled with the psychological warfare campaign could persuade military
commanders to stage a coup or kill the Iraqi dictator before the war begins.
Bush administration officials would like to be able to go on the offensive
in Iraq as soon as Mr. Hussein breaks any agreement he makes to readmit
U.N. weapons inspectors. They also want to avoid keeping large numbers of
U.S. troops in the region for an extended period of time, concerned that it
would expose them to attacks by terrorists or small cells of commandos who
are loyal to Mr. Hussein and armed with chemical or biological weapons.
Defense officials caution that President Bush hasn't settled on a final war
plan should he decide that a military invasion of Iraq is necessary. But
administration officials have said that Mr. Bush is currently weighing
several options, none of which require the massive buildup of forces that
characterized the first Gulf War.
"Look at what we have done and all that we have already in place in the
region. When it's time to move we will be able to move very, very quickly,"
said one senior defense official.
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