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Dale Brown’s Ops Report
February 2003
Copyright © 2003, TDPI

MISSION PLANNING: The war with Iraq: is it on hold?

President Bush said on 30 January that “diplomacy will give way to war in weeks.”

“Weeks?” Wasn’t the war “supposed” to start at the end of January or beginning of February at the latest? Republican senator Lincoln Chafee suggested that Saddam was no longer the threat he was a few months ago. Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge warned of more terrorist attacks if the U.S. attacked Iraq, hinting that maybe we shouldn’t attack until homeland security was stronger and better organized. Secretary of State Colin Powell said he will not present any “smoking gun” direct evidence to the United Nations in early February 2003, a la U.N. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson’s famous presentation to the United Nations in October of 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

So what’s going on? Is the war on or off? Is this whole war thing completely bogus? Was it just a giant smoke screen? Or are President Bush and his military and national security staff completely disorganized and unsure of the efficacy of this whole operation?

My observation: the mission is proceeding exactly as planned. The key to unraveling what is happening is to keep the objective clearly in mind and in sharp focus.

The objective is this: protect the United States of America from the danger of state-sponsored terrorism by systematically destroying all states that sponsor terrorism. President Bush outlined this objective in his 2002 State of the Union speech, and no one paid attention—or, more accurately, everyone heard it and immediately dismissed it as political rhetoric, saber-rattling, ego-centric bluster, or election-year propaganda. That is why there is so much doubt and worry about what in heck the United States is doing right now with regards to Iraq.

The question on everyone’s mind is: what does Saddam have to do with the war on terror? The answer is: everything.

Saddam Hussein is one of the most forthright and open sponsors of terror. He openly publicizes his gifts of thousands of dollars to the families of suicide bombers and other victims of Israeli military action against Palestinians. This is much more than mere photo-op propaganda. By extending the hand of Arab comradeship across the Arabian Peninsula, he is galvanizing the disenfranchised citizens of wealthy Arab states to rise up.

What is the target of this uprising? At face value, it is and always will be the Israelis—but below the surface it is much more than that. The primary target of Saddam’s propaganda is the monarchies that control the Arab world’s wealth--the feudal unelected governments that rake in billions of dollars a month and live a lifestyle that other Arabs, even in wealthy and completely socialistic societies, cannot even contemplate. Saddam would certainly like to see Israel and even the United States burn in the fires of an Arab nuclear weapon—but that is not his real objective.

His real objective: take over the oil-rich kingdoms of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, and Yemen. Challenge Iran as the master of the petroleum reserves of the Persian Gulf. Command respect from the entire world. Yes, Saddam himself is a dictator—he took Iraq by force of a military coup, not be popular election—but in his mind he is better than the Arab monarchs.

Saddam’s plan of attack:

First, position himself as the victim of Israeli anti-Arab hatred and American bigotry and paranoia. Second: finance and sponsor Palestinian terror groups to conduct raids against Israel in the hope that Israel will lash out against not just the hapless and powerless Palestinians but against the Syrians, Iraqis, Jordanians, Egyptians, and even the Saudis, thereby destroying any peace accords between the Arabs and Israelis and sparking another Arab-Israeli war that will certainly draw in the Americans against the Arabs.

Third: paint the warmongering Zionists and American “Crusaders” as the racist anti-Arab aggressors; coalesce and hopefully even unite the Arab world to oppose and perhaps even battle the Americans. Weaken or destroy the United States’ superpower domination of the world: open up multiple fields of battle in places such as Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and even in the United States; disrupt or destroy multiple alliances and coalitions around the world; create doubt and fear in the American people of the American government’s actions around the world in the hopes that public opinion or perhaps even the Congress will call a halt to the government’s actions.

Think Saddam Hussein doesn’t have the power or the smarts to do all this? Saddam has more resources and political savvy than Adolf Hitler ever had before he became leader of the Third Reich: access to billions of dollars in oil money, technological advances, weapons technology, and, yes, charisma. He’s an underdog, and the world loves an underdog. Saddam survived a decade-long war with Iran and a devastating war with the United States. He is still in power—Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr., and Bill Clinton, all the U.S. presidents in charge of the most powerful nation in the world at the same time as he, are not. Despite economic and political sanctions, Iraq has managed to rearm itself and finance terror around the world right under the nose of the Israelis and Americans. If Saddam doesn’t have full support from his neighbors in Syria or Jordan, he’ll buy it from the Palestinians and coerce it from the Egyptians and Saudis.

Yes, Kim Il Jong of North Korea certainly has biological and chemical weapons and may have nuclear weapons; yes, President Khatami of Iran bought nuclear weapons from Russia and has sponsored terrorism over the past two decades. But only Saddam Hussein has undertaken a systemic, organized plan to disrupt the Middle East by fermenting terror, discord, anti-Semitism, paranoia, and hatred; he holds billions of barrels of oil as a hostage; he ignores the international community and chooses to play a shell game with well-meaning but powerless United Nations inspectors.

The goal of the war against Iraq is simple: regime change, a euphemism for “getting rid of Saddam.” We don’t want Iraqi oil--although we will certainly reimburse ourselves for the cost of the war by preventing Saddam’s Republican Guard from blowing up his oil wells and helping ourselves, thereby “saving” the oil for the Iraqi people. We don’t want a presence in the heart of the Middle East—four or five aircraft carrier battle groups in the Persian Gulf already give us a pretty substantial presence—although the United States and its coalition partners, whether they join now or later, will certainly maintain a presence in Iraq in order to “democratize” the Iraqi people and prevent Saddam’s offspring or other evil Ba’ath Party leaders from gaining power after Saddam is deposed, eliminated, or forced to flee.

So when will the war really start?

This will not be a Desert Storm-type conflict. We have maintained a strike force over two-thirds of Iraq for the past twelve years—we don’t need a large force in order to dominate Iraq. We have scanned, mapped, studied, and targeted every square kilometer of most of that country over the years. We certainly have dozens of special operations military and CIA forces in place in Iraq and in nearby countries for many years. There are even rumors of abandoned air bases in Kurdish-held northern Iraq being secretly reactivated to be used as forward staging and refueling bases should war break out.

The country already in effect belongs to us… we just need to take it.

The war will still start in early February—but President Bush won’t announce it like his father announced the end of Desert Shield and the beginning of Desert Storm:

Triggered by continuing attacks against Coalition aircraft patrolling the No-Fly Zone, American and British air forces already in place in the region will step up air attacks against Iraqi command and control facilities in the central part of the country. An attack against aircraft in the northern No-Fly Zone will illicit an attack against military headquarters in Baghdad itself, rather than just against a target inside the zone itself. Yet war will never be declared or even hinted: it will be pitched as a continuation of the long-standing sanctions against Iraq begun in 1991, the fight that has lulled most everyone in the world to sleep by now.

Air attacks, still under the aegis of punitive actions against Iraqi aggression, will intensify. The first thirty days of Operation Desert Storm Two has already been fought over the past twelve years—it will simply continue at a much higher pitch in early 2003. In the meantime, special ops, unmanned aircraft, CIA, and information warfare missions that have been going on since 1991 will continue.

The war will be on before most folks realize it, and long, long before one tank rolls into Iraq.

It will be a non-war, a war of threats and perception. The world will be focused on the five armored brigades still struggling to get ready for action in Kuwait and will completely ignore the fighter and stealth bomber wings, special operations companies, and information warfare centers already hard at work chipping away at Iraq’s defenses. There will be no massive civilian casualties—very few civilian casualties at all, in fact, because the Americans will actually TELL the Iraqi people when to take cover, when to run away from a certain site, or when to stock up food and water in preparation for the next wave.

So I contend that the war for the liberation of Iraq has already begun. It is not “Desert Storm”—it is “Desert Storm: The Next Generation.” Just like bridges, concrete hangars, and tanks were the targets in Desert Storm One, it will be computer networks, the airwaves, and the minds of the Iraqi people that will be the targets of Desert Storm Two—and in fact, we’ve already been fighting that war for many months now.

So what about the hundreds of tanks and thousands of Americans being sent to the Middle East?

They will be joined in the fighting too—but the war will be fought, and won, long before they cross into Iraqi territory. It will be necessary to flush Saddam out of Iraq and secure all military installations that may command or launch a chemical or biological weapon attack against U.S., Israeli, or Coalition forces—that will be the mopping-up job of the infantry and armored forces. But Iraq’s communications networks, its radar centers, its roads and bridges, its warehouses and factories, will all be targeted, attacked, reattacked, assessed, and occupied before the ground forces move in.

That’s the nature of twenty-first century warfare. Bombs, rockets, and missiles will still be employed—but stealth, intelligence, manipulation of information, espionage, deception, interference, and subterfuge will dominate. A headquarters command-control facility or supply center that might take several days and dozens of aircraft and weapons to destroy might be rendered ineffective in a few minutes by information warfare—a computer virus, a Trojan Horse shut-down command, a mis-directed order, a reprogrammed computer routine. The kinds of secret James Bond-esque operations launched during Desert Storm—sleeper viruses implanted in computer chips installed in Iraqi printers and radios; thin wires dropped over Iraqi power transformer farms to short out transmission lines; leaflet drops and pirate radio broadcasts sent all over Iraqi cities instructing soldiers how to surrender and civilians what radio frequencies to tune in to hear the “truth”—will be the norm, not the innovation, in the upcoming war.

All this has already begun. It is underway, and has been for many weeks. Don’t ask “when will the war begin”—ask when the war began, or how long ago were the first American troops sent into Iraq. And don’t be surprised when the answer is, “Years ago. Five, ten years ago.” Stop looking at the tanks and Reservists just now being mobilized—they won’t be in a position to even begin fighting for several weeks, and even if they do take the field, they will only be part of the final “mopping-up” operation. Look and learn about the myriad of “unconventional” forces already in place.

I put “unconventional” in quotes because up until now, these forces took a supporting role in any war—they were considered “slick,” “crafty,” and definitely not reliable or “regular” methods of fighting. Today, “unconventional” warfare IS the norm. It is ongoing, pervasive, and commands a much bigger budget and level of attention. Every commander usually wanted an aircraft carrier battle group or a fighter-bomber wing at his disposal—now, theater commanders ask for special ops, intelligence, and information warfare units first, and shooters second.

So don’t be misled by journalists and commentators who will tell you only what they want you to believe. As much as it may seem disorganized and pointless, no large-scale military operation such as the one we’re in the midst of right now takes place without a plan. The details may shift—as the old saying goes, “No matter how well conceived, no plan survives first contact with the enemy”—and we as information-hungry Americans may complain about not being given full access or a complete rundown of the plan. But the plan is afoot—it just needs a chance to develop.

Robert Gottlieb
Trident Media Group
(212) 262-4810

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