- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 16, 2003

Gen. Richard B. Myers, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, said yesterday there is an active "war plan" for Iraq that includes foiling Baghdad's dense system of air-defense radar and missiles.
His remark, at a Pentagon press conference with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, was one of the few times a senior military official has openly discussed the war plan and some of its targets.
In answering a question about Iraq's anti-aircraft missiles and radar, Gen. Myers said, "They're in a fairly finite area, if you will. They're around the Baghdad area, and they're dealt with appropriately in the war plan."
President Bush is weighing a decision whether to invade Iraq to topple dictator Saddam Hussein and cleanse the country of its components for nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. Gen. Tommy Franks, chief of the U.S. Central Command, has presented the president with a plan for an estimated invasion force of 250,000 troops, thousands of whom are now deploying to the Persian Gulf region.
Military sources say the war would begin with extensive air strikes on Baghdad's air-defense system by B-2 Stealth bombers, the F-117 stealth fighter and Navy-fired Tomahawk cruise missiles.
Once Iraq's air shield collapsed, Gen. Franks would be able to send more aircraft, and Predator spy drones, in and around Baghdad to destroy Saddam's security forces and hunt for the man himself.
Yesterday's Pentagon press conference also revealed:
The Bush administration has formerly asked its NATO allies to supply troops and weapons to aid an invasion. Mr. Rumsfeld said the list does not necessarily exclude combat units. He specifically mentioned AWACS early warning aircraft as one item the Europeans were asked to supply, just as they did after September 11 to help patrol American air space.
A warning from Gen. Myers that Iraqi commanders and leaders would be guilty of war crimes if they position civilians as "human shields" around military sites bombed by the allies.
The general said this would violate the Geneva Convention's international law of armed conflict. If death or serious injury occurred, "the individuals responsible for deploying any innocent civilians as human shields would be guilty of grave breaches of the Geneva Convention."
He referred to overseas news reports that Saddam planned to deploy human shields, as he did in 1998 when President Clinton ordered four days of bombing.
The U.S. Army will soon begin training Iraqi exiles who have volunteered to join allied troops in deposing Saddam. The training will take place at the Taszar air base in Hungary, a NATO ally. The military will look for Iraqis to become translators, liaisons to local Iraqis and, in some situations, combatants.
The administration has offered two models of spy planes, the high-flying U-2 and the unmanned Predator drone, to Hans Blix's team of United Nations weapons inspectors. To date, Mr. Blix has accepted the U-2, which will be flown by U.S. Air Force aviators over Iraq.
The U-2 aided a previous U.N. inspector team in the 1990s. Saddam vowed to shoot it down, but his missiles apparently lack the range or accuracy. The one-seat, single-engine U-2 flies above 70,000 feet. It can send immediate surveillance photos to receiving stations.
On the question of Iraq air defenses, Mr. Rumsfeld has authorized fighter pilots to not only strike at anti-aircraft batteries that threaten them, but also at command posts and fiber-optic relays that direct the systems.
The pace of attacks in a coalition-enforced no-fly zone south of Baghdad has increased in recent months in an effort to degrade Baghdad's ability to command multiple sites.
A U.S. land invasion would start from Kuwait, while aircraft would penetrate Iraqi air space from many different southern points. Degrading the system now saves air sorties for other purposes if a war begins.
"The air defenses around Baghdad remain formidable," Gen. Myers said. "They have the same surface-to-air missiles that they've had for some time. We think they've even upgraded some on their own."
He believes the continued attacks in the south are hindering the entire network. "We think it connects all that, and so it would have an effect on it. And we think it has, actually," he said.


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