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to the main page:       It illuminates, both, military preparations and political plannings
Iraq under attack       of the Bush administration and their military forces (09/09/02).

US-UK Air Might Knocks out Iraq’s Air Force-Air Defense Front Lines

DEBKAfile’s Military Sources http://directory.kol-israel.com/asites/? 8 September 2002: The importance of the massive US-UK air raid over Western Iraq Friday night, September 6, cannot be exaggerated. Although the Bush administration is bidding hard for broad international support for the US offensive against Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction, DEBKAfile ’s military sources report that, since last month, a combined American-British air blitz has been proceeding to systematically knock out the first line of Iraq’s air force and air defenses. This week, the limelight moves to New York, where President George W. Bush prepares to address the UN General Assembly Thursday, September 12, the day after ceremonies marking the anniversary of the terrorist atrocities that struck New York and Washington. He is expected to give Saddam Hussein the option of accepting UN arms inspectors unconditionally or facing action against him, as well as warning unsupportive governments that American will go ahead on its own. Sunday, September 8, British prime minister Tony Blair, on his return from seeing Bush at Camp David, declared “total determination” to deal with Iraq. US and European diplomats in New York are working on a joint draft resolution to put before the General Assembly, calling for a coercive UN inspection force to go into Iraq escorted by an international military force and be given a deadline for establishing finally whether or not Iraq has developed weapons of mass destruction. However, Iraqi spokesmen have already rejected UN arms inspections without the lifting of sanctions, while Arab League Secretary Amr Mussa, has declared the whole Arab world supports Iraq’s position. On Saturday, September 7, he said no Arab government would brook outside interference in Iraq, even by the world body. The diplomatic flurry and the White House bid for support at home effectively post-date the start of the US offensive against Iraq, which took place three months ago - not with a bang but by cautious, prefatory steps. Unlike the softening-up air blitz against Afghanistan’s Taliban and al Qaeda last year, US forces have been quietly filtering into Iraq (as DEBKAfile informed its readers). To date, American and allied Turkish special forces have gained control of some 15 percent of Iraqi soil – mostly in the north. They are poised at a point 10-15 miles from Iraq’s two northern oil cities of Mosul andKirkuk, together with pro-American Kurdish and Turkman paramilitary groups, with no Iraqi force in the way of their advance, if ordered to occupy the two towns. The massive US-UK air raid last Friday, September 6, by 100 fighter-bombers, reconnaissance and air tanker craft against the Iraqi air base cluster known as H-3 and the al Baghdadi air installation was Strike Number Two against the first line of Iraqi air and air defense command structures, the tactical prelude to any US offensive. It was also the first blow to systems for deliveringIraq’s weapons of mass destruction. Strike Number One was carried out on August 5, when American and British bombers and fighter craft demolished the Iraqi air command and control center at al-Nukhaib, in the desert between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, 260 miles southwest of Baghdad. This strike disposed of Iraq’s southern air defense line and left central Iraq including Baghdad vulnerable to US air, missile and ground attack from Saudi Arabia,Kuwait, Qatar,Oman and Bahrain. Strike Number two last week completed the destruction of Iraq’s air defenses in the west, leaving the Saddam regime exposed to attack from the south, the southeast, the west and the north, as well as a US troop presence actually inside northern Iraq. DEBKAfile ’s military sources sum up American tactical gains in Iraq thus far: A. Hitting the H-3, site of the bulk of the ground-ground-missile batteries and air defense installations threatening Israeli, Jordan and US Eastern Mediterranean forces, as well as al Baghdadi, cleared the way for US special forces to be flown by helicopter across the border into Iraq from the West. Nothing now stops them from reaching as far as Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s tribal stronghold northwest of Baghdad, where the Iraqi ruler is believed to be hiding under- ground with his family and top officials. There too he has concentrated the bulk of the loyal units of the Iraqi army. The first mission for the US units crossing in from Jordan will be, according to DEBKAfile’s military sources, to capture the bombed air installations and prepare them quickly for the use of US air force units and for more US and Jordanian special forces landings. H-3 is designated their jumping off base for the next stage of the campaign.
B. Since August 5, the way for an American advance into Iraq is also clear from the south. Therefore, the general contours of the next US steps begin to take shape: 1. A combined US-Turkish force, backed by local groups, will complete the capture of northern Iraq and its oil cities. 2. The combined US-Jordanian force will advance on Baghdad and Tikrit. 3. The heavy military and armored units massed on the Kuwait-Iraq frontier will advance north in two heads – one forking off to the east and heading for Basra, while the other makes for the Shiite towns of Najef and Karbala on the Baghdad highway. C.Our sources report that the air strike against H-3 and al Baghdadi destroyed some of Saddam’s ground-to-ground missiles, reducing the missile threat to Israel,Jordan and US East Mediterranean forces, though not eliminating it. Also destroyed were some of the Czech-manufactured LA-29 trainer planes sighted at al Baghdad in recent months, with aerosols fitted to their wings that are capable of spraying poison substances on the ground like anthrax. Some of the LA-29 have been adapted for kamikaze missions. D. No less important politically,DEBKAfile’s military sources stress, is that some of the US assault craft took off from and returned to the Saudi Prince Sultan air base, 35 miles northeast of Riyadh, as well as from Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar. As DEBKA-Net-Weekly reported in its last issues, the Bush administration is resolved to brush aside the public objections of Saudi leaders to the use of the kingdom’s bases against Iraq. American generals do not propose to heed the public declarations of rulers of lands where US bases are located, but to use them according to American military exigencies. Copyright © 2002 DEBKAfile. All Rights Reserved http://directory.kol-israel.com/asites/?

Remarks added by the editor of BLUEPRINT magazine : - The original source of the above information is an Israeli agency (DEBKA, http://www.debka.com) cited by Radio Israel (KOL-ISRAEL, 09/09/02, http://directory.kol-israel.com). I checked the authenticity of that information which reached me via email. - It should be added that there was another, more recent attack of allied planes on Iraqi air defence (09/09/02) near Al-Amarah, 270 km southeast of Baghdad. [reported by DAILY TELEGRAPH, Surry Hills, Australia, 10/09/02] - For detailed information on Al-Udeid Air Base, important U.S. Air Force facility in Qatar that is presumed to play a decisive role in the attack on Iraq, click here ! It seems to be proven that Qatar air base has been provided with further tactical facilities (aircraft parking area and extended drive-in shelters) since the beginning of 2002. - As to the combined U.S.-Jordanian force, mentioned above (American tactical gains / section A and B.2.), here a report on Jordanian diplomacy that has been published by ARAB NEWS in Saudi Arabia (14/07/02):

Jordan firm on Iraqi stand

The Jordanian government said yesterday that the participation of Prince Hassan, uncle of King Abdallah, in a meeting of former Iraqi Army officers and opponents of Saddam Hussein in London will not change Amman’s stand that opposes the planned US attack on Iraq, Asharq Al-Awsat reported today. Jordan described the prince’s participation in the meeting as “a personal act.” Earlier, Prince Hassan said he was not in a position to comment on questions regarding the re-establishment of monarchy in Iraq. “I'm not a Jordanian government official,” he told reporters.
Prince Hassan at the inaugural meeting of a conference in London picture: ASHARQ-AL-AWSAT, Riyadh (14/07/02) uniting Iraqi officers text: ARAB NEWS, Riyadh (14/07/02) who are opposing the regime of S. Hussein. King Abdallah II of Jordan in his interview conducted by the French magazine L'EXPRESS (20/06/02) on the possibility of a U.S. attack on Saddam's Iraq : "I made it clear to the U.S. what I think of such a possibility, and I think of [France, Germany, Britain, Russia, Egypt] being on the same wavelength." "Everybody is realizing that an attack of Iraq, namely in the present state of crisis between Israel and Palestine, would have a devastating influence on the the Middle East." To understand the official Jordanian position and certain inofficial acti- vities of the Royal Jordanian Family, it should be noted that Iraq had once been reigned like Jordan by the Hashemite dynasty.
- To understand the discrepancy between U.S. military plannings and official Jordanian policy, it is necessary to have a closer look at the U.S. way of dealing with their partners. As has already been proven in Chile and elsewhere, U.S. policy always relies on the establishment of excellent relations with their partner's mostly conservative military forces, yet following a different policy of appeasement and "treatment on the same level" with the official government or any other widely accepted political power. As to the U.S.-Jordanian relations, here an article published in July 2002 by the British paper THE GUARDIAN / THE OBSERVER (07/07/02):

US 'to attack Iraq via Jordan'

Military planners prepare to use British forces in an allied assault within months American military planners are preparing to use Jordan as a base for an assault on Iraq later this year or early in 2003, The Observer can reveal. Although leaked Pentagon documents appear to show that Turkey, Kuwait and the small Gulf state of Qatar would play key roles, it is believed that Jordan will be the 'jumping-off' point for an attack that could involve up to 250,000 American troops and forces from Britain and other key US allies. Jordan, with good roads and communications, would be perfect for the launch of an American armoured force, military analysts say. Its capital, Amman, is linked to Baghdad by a 600-mile motorway that cuts through a virtually featureless desert - perfect terrain for US tanks and high-precision air-launched munitions. Iraqi dissidents in Amman have told The Observer that hundreds of American advisers have arrived in Jordan in the past few months. The Amman-based Iraqi National Accord (INA), which contains many of the key military dissidents, has held talks in Washington about plans for a strike on Iraq. They expect the US to begin with intensive bomb- ing and missile raids launched from the Gulf and Turkey, leading to a military rebellion within Saddam Hussein's elite Republican Guard. The INA, they say, could play a military role from Jordan. They envisage a military coup, leading to transitional military rule. Eye-witnesses claim preparations are under way at the Muafaq Salti air base in Azraq, 50 miles east of Amman on the road to Baghdad. Ten days ago the Jordanian news agency, Petra, reported that the head of the US Central Command, General Tommy Franks, met Jordan's chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Lieutenant-General Khalid Jamil Surayrih. The agency said 'the two sides reviewed the general situation in the region and areas of co-operation between Jordanian and US armed forces...' Officially, Jordan is opposed to a war on Iraq, but informed sources said that there is a tacit agreement on the issue between the Jordanian government and Washington. The US has apparently given Jordan and other Arab states the freedom to pay lip-service to support for Iraq. News of a military build-up coincides with a US attempt to wean Jordan from its deep economic ties with Iraq, and some observers see a growing military role for Jordan in the country once ruled by its Hashemite royal family. 'Jordan's role will be that of Pakistan in the US-Taliban war,' said a prominent Jordanian analyst. Jordan's economy is inter-woven into Iraq's, and the kingdom shares a close military and economic alliance with the US. Others say Jordan will pay a heavy price for co-operating with an attack. 'A US strike against Iraq will increase the influence of radicals [in Jordan],' said former Prime Minister Taher al-Masri. 'The feeling that the US is an enemy will be enhanced.' Although Marwan Moasher, the Jordanian Foreign Minister, denied the presence of any American troops in his country, government sources confirmed that major manoeuvres involving the American and Jordanian forces took place in March. Moasher issued denials after the Lebanese daily Al Safir reported that 2,000 American forces in Jordan are preparing to carry out military operations against Iraq. Observers point out that President George Bush has met King Abdullah of Jordan at least five times since taking office. The US is expected to double its aid to Jordan to $500m next year, and Congress is now considering a request by the administration to increase it by another $100m. The American planners now believe only military force can remove Saddam from power. Earlier this year American intelligence operatives were sent to northern Iraq to gather information on Iraqi defences and gauge the fighting capability of the Kurdish militias. The Americans reconnoitred Iraqi frontline positions and requested maps of minefields from demining agencies working in the area. They decided the Kurds would be no match for the Republican Guard. Some elements in the US administration still hope that disaffected military officers in Iraq can stage a coup. Next week about 70 former Iraqi officers will gather in London for the biggest dissidents' meeting yet to discuss the overthrow of the Iraqi President. The US hopes some of them retain links with brother officers still in Iraq. The conference is being organised by a former brigadier, Tawfiq al-Yassiri, who took part in an uprising in the Babylon region south of Baghdad at the end of the Gulf war. The co-organiser of the conference is a former general, Saad Ubeidi, who was the Iraqi army's head of psychological operations. The three-day conference will discuss ways of mobilising military efforts in support of political opposition to Saddam.
- As CHICAGO TRIBUNE (20/01/03) and LE MONDE, Paris (22/01/03) reported, Iraqi exiles are trained in the remote Hungarian military camp of Taszar. I found two links that might give an idea of that tiny U.S. base : Taszar Air Base (general site description) Staging Area Operations in Taszar, Hungary: Operation Joint Endeavor

Iraqi exiles to gather in Hungary for U.S. military training

Chicago Tribune, Jan. 20, 2003 11:00 AM TASZAR, Hungary - In coming weeks, the seed for a postwar Iraqi military force will be planted in the unlikeliest of places, an aging former Soviet air base amid the rolling, snow-covered farm fields of southwest Hungary. As many as 3,000 Iraqi exiles loyal to opposition groups will arrive later this month at the Taszar air base, about 120 miles southwest of Budapest. Their immediate task is to be trained as translators and logistical support personnel upon whom American soldiers can rely in a potential war to topple Saddam Hussein. But the exiles also will get civil and military administration instruction that will help lay the groundwork for a post-Hussein army, Hungarian offi- cials familiar with the program said. They will not receive combat training, a condition set by Hungary before it would allow Taszar to be used for the program. U.S. officials will say little about the operation. The Hungarian government says it has agreed to allow as many as 3,000 exiles to train at the base for up to six months. The trainees will not be involved in combat once called into action, but they will be expected to act as liaisons for U.S. forces, assist- ing in translation while also guarding prisoners and serving as air strike spotters. Analysts believe the exiles might prove doubly valuable to Washington if they could encourage defections among Iraqi officers and commanders. Christopher Langton, an analyst with the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies, recently told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that the exiles "could make contact with other Iraqis on the ground and deal with the very real problem of what happens if army commanders want to" defect. Little is known about how the trainees were selected. The London-based Iraqi National Congress, the umbrella group for several parties opposed to Hussein's regime, submitted a pool of 4,000 names to the U.S. military. But it isn't known how the U.S. ensured that Islamic extremists and operatives loyal to the Hussein regime were weeded out. Defense Department spokesman Maj. Tim Blair said only that candidates "would be carefully vetted prior to coming into the training." He added that the se- lection process likely was structured to prevent infighting between opposition factions by ensuring that no single group dominated the ranks of the trainees. U.S. Major Gen. David Barno, who will head the program, said exiles are being recruited from all over world - including Europe, the U.S., Iran and the U.S.- controlled section of northern Iraq. Roughly 1,500 U.S. trainers will be as- signed to the program. The Bush administration has earmarked $92 million in military equipment and training for six Iraqi opposition groups: the Iraqi National Congress, the Iraqi National Accord Movement, the Kurdistan Democra- tic Party, the Constitutional Monarchy Movement, the Patriotic Union of Kur- distan and the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. Those organizations were key players last month in a London conference for Iraqi opposition parties. Leaders agreed to form a committee to serve as a liaison between opposition factions and to represent them in talks with world leaders. Dissident leaders had been scheduled to meet in northern Iraq on Wednesday to discuss an Iraqi transition to democracy, but concerns about security forced the postponement of the meeting until Feb. 5. For Hungary, hosting the training program serves as a degree of redemption after its dismal track record as a NATO member since 1999. In the past, NATO has regarded the former Soviet satellite as an unreliable partner, burdened with antiquated military technology and a reputation for poor decision-making. Hungary was one of two NATO nations that did not take part in the war in Af- ghanistan. The other, Iceland, has no army. "With the training program at Taszar, we are showing our goodwill, showing that we want to help," said Peter Matyuc, a spokesman for Hungary's Defense Ministry. "That's the best we can give." Hungary has rented the Taszar air base to the United States for the past seven years. The base was a staging area for U.S. peacekeepers during the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s. Hungarian officials have assured local and regional officials that security will be increased in the region during the training. As a further precaution, the exiles will not be allowed to leave the base, said Zoltan Gal, spokesman for the Hungarian government. Such assurances have supplied little comfort to villagers in Taszar, a remote hamlet of about 2,100 people in southwest Hungary and a place where the sight of horse-drawn carts plodding along dirt roads is commonplace. Villagers fear the presence of Iraqi exiles will transform their peaceful burg into a target for reprisals, either from Iraq or terrorists. They com- plain that neither local officials nor the U.S. government has given them enough information about what to expect. "We're very much afraid of some kind of chemical weapon attack from Iraq, or some kind of terrorist act," said a Taszar mother as she led her children out of a kindergarten school adjoining the base. Her husband, a Hungarian soldier, works at the base and she asked that her name not be used. "And the government is not telling us anything about what's going on," she said. "My husband is a soldier there and even he isn't told what's going to happen."
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