Report urges 'fast squeeze' attack to block preemptive WMD strike

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

The Bush administration has been urged to launch a massive and simultaneous air, missile and ground attack in attempt to quickly beat Iraqi into submission.

The proposed strategy would differ sharply from that used in the 1991 Gulf war and in the 2001 conflict in Afghanistan. In both cases, the U.S. military first established air dominance before ground troops were deployed.

But the Washington-based Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments said a "fast squeeze" option is required to avoid a drawn-out conflict that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein hopes to impose on the United States. The proposed U.S. strategy calls for heavy and immediate use of rapid, simultaneous operations by U.S. ground, air, maritime and special forces.

Such an attack could shatter Iraqi military resistance and result in its rapid collapse, the study said. It would also allow the United States to deploy a smaller force than that sent against Iraq in 1991.

"The Fast Squeeze option takes into account two key concerns," the study, "Preemption in Iraq: Rationale, Risks, and Requirements," said. "One is that sufficient forward base assets may not be available to accommodate the deployment of Desert Storm II ground and forward, land-based air forces along acceptable time lines. The other, related concern is that the deployment timelines may have to be compressed to minimize the time available for Saddam Hussein to conduct a preemptive strike against U.S. forces while they are assembling in the region prior to their attack or to concentrate forces for the defense of urban areas."

The report, authored by Andrew Krepinevich, warned of preemptive Iraqi weapons of mass destruction strikes before the completion of the U.S. military buildup. Another Iraqi goal would be to draw U.S. troops into an urban warfare campaign.

Under the proposed fast squeeze option, the U.S. military would deploy up to five carrier battle groups and eight land-based tactical fighter wings. The air force would rely heavily on the stealth B-2, and nonstealthy B-1s and B-52 bombers.

The ground force component would be comprised of three U.S. Army divisions and a Marine Expeditionary Force, along with a brigade or two of the British Army, with the main force moving from Kuwait. In all, this would amount to between 200,000 and 250,000 troops, backed by attack helicopters, with primary targets being Baghdad and the Iraqi Republican Guard forces.

"Specifically, the U.S. and British Special Forces would infiltrate into Iraq's western desert region prior to the actual start of hostilities for the purpose of identifying and maintaining awareness of any Iraqi missiles that may threaten Israel," the report said. "Special Forces may also conduct raid operations at suspected Iraqi WMD storage sites, either to facilitate their rapid destruction or to confirm the effectiveness of air attacks to achieve the same purpose."

The report by the independent research institute warns that the fast squeeze option must be prepared before Saddam concludes that war with the United States in inevitable and he launches preemptive attacks. As a result, the report recommends the heavy use of covert deployment as well as deception and misinformation.

"One would expect an emphasis on covert deployments, the use of deception and misinformation as to other deployments, and great reliance, at least initially, on 'over-the-horizon,' or extended-range forces, such as long-range bombers, so that when the conflict begins, it is characterized by speed and achieves tactical surprise," the report said.

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