U.S. Plan Calls for Massive Attack on Iraq - Report
by Reuters, New York Times, 5 July 2002
Filed at 2:58 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A draft U.S. military plan for an invasion of Iraq envisions a multi-pronged attack with tens of thousands of Marines and soldiers probably invading from Kuwait, The New York Times reported Friday.
Citing a person familiar with the document, the newspaper said the highly classified plan calls for air, land and sea-based forces to attack from three directions in a campaign to topple Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
Another source familiar with U.S. strategy toward Iraq told Reuters the plan described to the Times appeared to be an outdated version of one prepared by the Pentagon's Central Command many months, if not years, ago.
Central Command commander Gen. Tommy Franks has since presented a refined version of the plan, putting more emphasis on the use of Iraqi opposition forces and U.S. air power, said the source, who asked not to be named. Central Command is the part of the U.S. military responsible for the Middle East.
President Bush has openly declared his desire to remove Saddam by military force if necessary, but has offered few details of how he plans to accomplish that goal.
According to the Times, the document envisions hundreds of war planes based in as many as eight countries unleashing a huge air assault against thousands of targets, including airfields, roadways and fiber-optics communications sites.
Special operations forces or covert CIA operatives would strike at depots or laboratories storing or manufacturing Iraq's suspected weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to launch them, the report said.
Underscoring the preliminary nature of the planning, officials were cited as saying that none of the countries named in the document have been formally consulted about playing a role in any U.S. action against Iraq.
Nothing in the document or in interviews with senior military officials suggests an attack on Iraq is imminent, the newspaper said.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, asked to comment on the report, said: "The Pentagon engages in contingency planning of all types around the world." He dismissed any speculation about the significance of the reported plan.
The source familiar with the document described its contents to The New York Times on the condition of anonymity, expressing frustration that the planning "failed to incorporate fully the advances in military tactics and technology since the Persian Gulf war in 1991," the report said.
The Times said the plan, entitled "CentCom Courses of Action," was prepared by officials at Central Command in Tampa, Florida, again citing the person familiar with the document.
It said the outline indicated an advanced state of planning in the military even though Bush continued to say publicly that he has no plan on his desk for an invasion of Iraq.
"Right now, we're at the stage of conceptual thinking and brainstorming," a senior defense official told the Times. "We're pretty far along."
Officials told the newspaper that neither Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, nor the Joint Chiefs of Staff nor Franks had been briefed on this specific document.
"It is the responsibility of the Department of Defense to develop contingency plans and, from time to time, to update them," Victoria Clarke, the Pentagon spokeswoman, told the newspaper Thursday.
© 2002 Reuters
© 2002 New York Times
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