- The Washington Times - Friday, February 14, 2003

A senior Air Force general, responding to anonymous complaints from some officers, says air planners strongly support Gen. Tommy Franks' proposed air campaign against Iraq.
The Washington Times quoted Air Force officers in yesterday's editions as saying the air plan, in their opinion, was too timid. They said it put too much weight on saving Iraq's infrastructure to win over the Iraqi people against the day when the American military would govern a postwar Iraq.
The officers, who were not identified for the record, said bridges and some communications and electrical power units were not on the target list, and they feared the air war would not create enough chaos to disable Saddam Hussein's elite troops.
Lt. Gen. Bruce Wright, vice commander of Air Force Air Combat Command at LangleyAir Force Base,Va., said yesterday that Air Force commanders fully support Gen. Franks, chief of U.S. Central Command.
"The Air Force is absolutely lined up in support of Tommy Franks," said Gen. Wright, who flew F-16 combat missions in Desert Storm and helped direct the air campaign against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
"We have the flexibility to leave bridges, take out bridges, take out infrastructure, leave infrastructure and accomplish this as quickly as we can to limit loss of life on both sides," Gen. Wright said in a telephone interview. "What we're bringing in this plan is the full capability of the military."
He noted that leaving bridges intact can aid offensive ground movements.
An Air Force official said yesterday that officers have criticized Gen. Franks anonymously at times. The official said the Air Force wants Gen. Franks to understand that the views expressed by the officers interviewed by The Times were expressing their own opinions and those opinions do not reflect the official view of the Air Force.
Gen. Wright, on the other hand, said he was speaking for the Air Force, including Lt. Gen. T. Michael Moseley, Central Command's top Air Force officer who is now in the Persian Gulf planning for war.
The Pentagon has positioned more than 130,000 troops in theater. The buildup may reach 200,000 by month's end. President Bush is weighing a decision to invade Iraq to topple Saddam and rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction as part of the war on terrorism.
Gen. Wright said there has been close collaboration between Gen. Moseley and Gen. Franks, and there are "absolutely not" disagreements over the target list. "It's an incredibly strong plan," he said. "We are all foursquare behind General Franks."
He said that for the first time in a war campaign, the Air Force has placed a general inside Central Command's headquarters with the command's overall ground-forces commander, now Army Lt. Gen. David D. McKiernan. The placement will help the Air Force and Army coordinate operations, Gen. Wright said.
During the Afghanistan campaign, unnamed Air Force officers complained via press reports that Gen. Franks had kept limits on the target list.
Gen. Wright said, "That was a whole new way of going to war, and there are going to be debates as there should be."
U.S. forces spared targets such as Kabul's electric power and bridges to leave much of Afghanistan in place for the rebuilding phase. Planners are making some of the same decisions for Iraq so that when the Americans take over Baghdad, Iraqi citizens know they are not the targets.
"We didn't devastate it during the Gulf war, and I don't expect we're going to devastate it if there is a conflict in the future," Secretary of State Colin L. Powell told a congressional panel this week. "Most of the infrastructure will be intact."

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide