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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Pentagon Has Plan to 'Shock' Iraq

WASHINGTON -- The United States' top military officer said the Pentagon's war plan for Iraq entailed shocking the Iraqi leadership into submission in an attack "much different" from the 43-day Persian Gulf war in 1991.

General Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, declined to give details Tuesday. But other military officials have said the plan calls for unleashing 3,000 precision-guided bombs and missiles in the first 48 hours of a short air campaign, to be followed quickly by ground operations.

"If asked to go into conflict in Iraq, what you'd like to do is have it be a short conflict," Myers said. "The best way to do that would be to have such a shock on the system that the Iraqi regime would have to assume early on the end was inevitable."

Myers gave a stark warning that the U.S. attack would result in Iraqi civilian casualties despite the military's best efforts to prevent them.

He said disarming Iraq would define victory, not capturing or killing Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

He also added that U.S. forces would open a second front from the north against Iraq, with or without Turkey's help. "It'll be tougher without Turkey, but nevertheless it'll happen," he said.

With 200,000 U.S. military personnel in the Persian Gulf and 60,000 more on their way, Myers declined to give a timetable for war other than to say the military was ready to attack on U.S. President George W. Bush's order.

But several diplomatic and military issues remained to be resolved, including the possibility of a second resolution on Iraq from the United Nations Security Council. Officials said the United States was likely to call for a vote next week.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Tuesday that he was "increasingly optimistic" about securing a majority of nine or more votes on the council. "We don't know whether we have nine votes or 10 votes, or more," he said.

With the Turkish northern-front issue unsettled and one leading alternative -- deploying the 101st Airborne Division from Kuwait -- still one to two weeks from being in place, some military officials said any attack could be delayed until late March.

That could fit with emerging diplomatic and military timetables. A vote late next week in the Security Council would roughly coincide with the arrival in Kuwait of many of the 101st Airborne's helicopters. Other units in Kuwait could deploy north sooner if needed.

Administration officials said a vote on the council resolution effectively authorizing an U.S.-led attack on Iraq could come next week, after Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, the chief United Nations weapons inspectors, report to the council on Friday on Iraq's compliance with UN demands that Iraq disarm.

As the diplomatic maneuvering intensified, General Tommy Franks, the commander of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf, arrived here for briefings with U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Bush over the next two days.

Turkey is a main topic of discussions. There are now 30 Navy cargo ships in the eastern Mediterranean, waiting for Turkish approval to unload tanks and other heavy equipment for the 4th Infantry Division. Some ships have had to refuel in other foreign ports.

"There are several options on the table," Myers said. "Some are easier to execute. As in most wars, logistics plays a very big role. It helps define what the art of the possible is. The equation changes dramatically whether or not you have support from Turkey or you have to find support some other way."

The options include dispatching the 101st Airborne Division and its fleet of helicopters north from Kuwait to attack targets in northern Iraq.

Another alternative would be to fly or parachute troopers to secure air bases in northern Iraq. Tanks and other heavy equipment could be flown in later.

In addition to the heavy use of precision-guided bombs and missiles, the war planning includes missions by allied Special Operations forces in and around Baghdad, attacking leadership, command and control and storage sites for weapons of mass destruction.

Myers said that throughout the campaign, the U.S. military would go to "extraordinary lengths" to avoid civilian casualties.

"But we can't forget that war is inherently violent," he said.

"People are going to die. As hard as we try to limit civilian casualties, it will occur. We need to condition people that that is war. People get the idea this is going to be antiseptic. Well, it's not going to be."