- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 23, 2003

FORT HOOD, Texas The biggest coordinated ground and air assault in recent history is well under way in Iraq, and the Army's most technologically advanced units are finally on their way.
The 4th Infantry Division, which has been waiting in Texas for two months, got word yesterday it will ship out soon to Kuwait instead of the initial plan of southern Turkey.
Defense officials in Washington yesterday said about 40 ships loaded with the 4th Infantry's heavy weapons had left their waiting positions off the Turkish coast and were on their way to the Persian Gulf.
A defense official at the Pentagon said the 4th Infantry Division will be used to bolster U.S. and British combat forces now occupying southern Iraq.
Military planners had hoped Turkey would allow some 60,000 troops into the country to open a northern front against Iraq, but the Turks refused.
It may be weeks before all of the 4th Infantry's troops arrive in the war theater, but military officials here have voiced confidence the 4th, known as the Army's only fully "digitized" division, will still play a key role in the invasion and eventual occupation.
"There's a possibility that the 4th Infantry could still be involved in the main combat phase" of the invasion, said Lt. Col. Daniel L. Baggio, a spokesman for the Army's 3rd Corps, although he added that the final decision rests in the hands of Gen. Tommy Franks, head of U.S. Central Command.
"Americans are used to seeing the United States military getting involved in conflicts that last weeks," Lt. Col. Baggio said. "With this particular conflict, people are assuming it will be over very quickly … but there are a lot of contingencies that could happen, a lot of branches and sequels that could lead to a prolonged conflict."
The 4th Infantry's troops, which President Bush ordered to mobilize in January, had started to express some frustrations as the war began without them and they had to watch it unfold on television.
One official said it "would be a morale killer" if the 4th Infantry got left out of the overall war plan.
"People are getting frustrated, frustrated that this thing's kicking off and we're not a part of it," said Capt. Joe McLaine of the 4th Infantry's aviation brigade. "We all knew that this was going to be a super test for the digital division … that it was going to be a super opportunity to show the world what we could do."
Since the 1991 Gulf war, the Pentagon has quietly poured resources into technological advances for the 4th Infantry and 1st Cavalry Divisions at Fort Hood.
"We've got the most technologically advanced stuff that there is, absolutely by far," Lt. Col. Baggio said.
Of the Army's 10 active divisions, the 4th is its laboratory for systems developed in the 1990s. New battle tools include the advanced M1-A2 battle tank, a digitized system of communicating from a brigade commander to individual tanks and to Bradley fighting vehicles, and a new spy drone, the Shadow 200 RQ-7A.
The division is one of the few to have had all of its Apache attack helicopters upgraded to the AH-64D Longbow version. The upgrade over the original Apache, used during the Gulf War, includes a digital communications bubble on top.
The digitization allows the 4th Infantry to "think faster than the enemy because we have more information at our disposal," said Maj. Robert M. Cassidy, an operations officer in the aviation brigade.
Maj. Cassidy keeps a quote from "The Art of War," by Chinese war philosopher Sun Tzu, as a motto for the digital communications: "Know the other, know yourself, and the victory will not be at risk. Know the ground and the natural conditions, and the victory can be total."
The war is expected to result in a months-long if not years-long U.S. involvement in Iraq to oversee the peaceful emergence of a post-Saddam Hussein government.

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