baghdad war plan

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    White House, Pentagon split in Iraq war game at Brookings

    SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM Tuesday, November 12, 2002

    A simulation of a U.S.-led attack on Iraq resulted in a split between the military and the Bush administration.

    The Brookings Institute's Saban Center conducted the war game with the participation of former senior U.S. officials and diplomats.

    The U.S. force was composed of nearly 300,000 troops who moved quickly through Iraq and toward Baghdad. At Baghdad, however, the war game encountered major disagreements between the U.S. political and military leadership, Middle East Newsline reported.

    The simulation, held on Oct. 23, included scenarios of Iraqi missile attacks on Israel, an insurgency in Jordan and fighting between Kurdish forces and Turkish troops in northern Iraq.

    Organizers of the war game reported that in the first stage of the simulation, U.S. military chiefs urged a rapid advance toward Baghdad and resisted any diversion of forces to other missions. This included the deployment of U.S. troops in northern or western Iraq.

    Northern Iraq contains opposing Turkish and Kurdish forces and western Iraq is the likely launching pad for Iraqi missile attacks against Israel.

    Political leaders advocated a diversion of U.S. forces in an attempt to satisfy the concerns of such allies as Israel, Jordan and Turkey.

    "Once U.S. forces reached the outskirts of Baghdad, however, the political echelon changed its tune," a Saban Center memorandum on the war game said. "With Baghdad surrounded and the final showdown with Saddam looming, the American political leadership made a rapid denouement its highest priority. Their assumption was that, at that point, the best and fastest way to solve most of the political problems created by the invasion and Saddam's efforts to strike back, was to put the final nail in the regime's coffin as quickly as possible, even at the expense of higher casualties."

    But at this point, U.S. military chiefs advocated imposing a siege on Saddam's remaining forces in an attempt to minimize U.S. and Iraqi civilian casualties. The Bush administration, however, decided for the rapid conclusion of the war despite estimated losses of 1,000 Americans and up to 10,000 Iraqi civilian casualties.

    The simulation — headed by former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Martin Indyk and National Security Council adviser Kenneth Pollack — envisioned a major dispute within the United States over a replacement for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. The war game included an offer by an Iraqi Republican Guard general to assassinate Saddam to prevent a U.S. invasion of Baghdad. The administration, divided over the issue, ended up dismissing the offer.

    Other questions encountered in the simulation concerned whether the United States should support Turkey or the Kurds in northern Iraq. In the end, the United States sided with Turkey, which has provided military bases for an attack on Baghdad.

    Other difficulties that emerged during the war game were Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Under the scenario, Saudi Arabia refused to allow its territory to be used for any ground attack on Iraq.

    For its part, Jordan was rocked by large-scale Palestinian unrest during the war. The protests targeted the presence of U.S. Special Forces operating from the Hashemite kingdom in the search for Iraqi missiles. The war game envisioned an Iraqi missile attack on Israel and a U.S. refusal to deploy a large number of American ground forces in western Iraq.

    "While the American political leadership was willing to consider such a shift of resources, the military echelon resisted the diversion of resources from the main attack on Baghdad," the Saban memo said. "However, the issue was decided on practical grounds: it was impossible to move ground forces to western Iraq without staging them from Saudi Arabia or Jordan and the Jordanians would not go along because of internal strife."

    "While the United States and its allies will have an overriding military goal -- defeat Saddam's military and overturn the regime — Washington will also have numerous, important political goals that will impinge on — and possibly even dictate — certain military operations," the Saban Center said. "The Middle East region is politically fragile, and ensuring that an invasion does not cause harm to the interests of our allies in the region — in particular Jordan, Israel and Turkey — may necessitate attention to military considerations other than the primary drive on Baghdad."

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