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,
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.