Report: Iraq victory is template for coming rogue state fixes

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

The U.S. military's lightning defeat of Iraq could serve as a model for a similar campaign against Iran, North Korea or Syria.

A report said the U.S. victory in Iraq has bolstered the doctrine of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that Washington can quickly attack a rogue state in a relatively cost-free military operation. The report said this could serve as a model for regime changes in several of Iraq's neighbors.

"Possible preemptive attacks against Syria, Iran, and North Korea are in," a report by senior researcher Michael O'Hanlon of the Washington-based Brookings Institution said. "Long-term great-power competition against China is likely. Future warfare will be characterized more by space, missile, naval, and air-power operations than the ground armies of old."

The report was released as several leading members of Congress have refused to rule out a U.S. strike on either Iran or Syria. They said the U.S. military has becoming increasingly emboldened into entering Syrian air space to strike suspected leaders of the regime of Saddam Hussein, Middle East Newsline reported.

On Monday, President George Bush again accused Iran and Syria of remaining sponsors of terrorist groups. Bush warned that the two countries would be held accountable for the actions.

"Today, Syria and Iran continue to harbor and assist terrorists," Bush said. "This behavior is completely unacceptable and states that support terror will be held accountable."

Rumsfeld, the report said, is regarded as one of the most influential Cabinet secretaries since Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in the early 1970s. Rumsfeld's advocacy of special operations units, high technology and flexible tactics could replace the doctrine of overwhelming force formed by then chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Colin Powell, in the 1991 Gulf war.

O'Hanlon said U.S. special operations gave an impressive performance, with dozens of small special operations teams disrupting Iraqi command and control, seizing oil infrastructure, preventing dams from being demolished, and capturing of airfields in regions where Scud missiles might have been launched toward Israel. The report said special operations and intelligence units also appear to have disrupted Iraqi lines of communication in Baghdad that helped hasten the capture of the city.

"These operations were brave, creative, and effective," the report said. "They also prevented some nightmare scenarios."

The report also cited the U.S. military's success in tracking Iraqi forces in all weather and at any hour. Moreover, U.S. air and ground forces also showed a high level of coordination in defeating the Republican Guard divisions south of Baghdad. The report called the capture of Baghdad and Basra an operation that combined "genuine cleverness and creativity."

"On balance, the main pillars of the coalition's success in Iraq new technology and traditional skills provided a remarkable pair of capabilities," the report said. "In terms of equipment, of particular note were the all-weather reconnaissance systems, all-weather bombs, and modern communications networks developed in the last decade. In addition, one is struck by the competence of American and British troops and their commanders, and the excellence of their doctrine and training. Indeed, old-fashioned tanks performed extremely well, and urban combat operations were executed magnificently."

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