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Grange: U.S. attack time based on many factors

Retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. David Grange
Retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. David Grange

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Embedded with Army troops in Northern Kuwait, CNN's Karl Penhaul reports U.S. soldiers are ready for action (March 19)
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(CNN) -- Retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. David Grange, a CNN military analyst, discusses possible first targets if U.S. and coalition forces launch an attack on Iraq:

The weather -- specifically a sandstorm that has swept across Iraq today -- would not necessarily prevent U.S.-led forces from beginning operations this evening. It has advantages and disadvantages. Of course, a sandstorm would affect air operations, low-flying air operations -- like helicopters more than anything else -- and somewhat the movement of ground forces to acquire targets at long distances.

But then again, a sandstorm like this or any kind of adverse weather is a friend to tough units that want to surprise or outflank or take audacious moves on enemy forces. So it can be your friend.

I would begin the invasion tonight if the commanders told me they were ready to go -- and not just from being motivated -- but truly ready to go. And they would tell you that because they're responsible for those lives. And there's a lot of factors involved -- such as -- are the troops ready? Are logistics all in place? Is the political situation appropriate? The key factor is, are the troops ready? And if they're ready and the timing is right, then go for it.

Currently, the 3rd Army, the 101st and the Marines are all lined up along Kuwait's northern border with Iraq. It is a dangerous time when forces have moved from assembly areas to attack positions -- the last positions before they cross the line of departure on a ground-moving element. It's a dangerous time for force protection.

Enemy can fire, obviously, weapons at you. That may be one reason the Iraqi artillery weapons near the border have been taken out, because they were just too close. It may have been an intercept of a message that the Iraqi weapons may fire chemical munitions on the U.S.-led forces.

The order could have already been given for -- D-Day, or G-Hour, or ground hour, A-Hour, air attack time -- to go ahead and start the strikes. Or it could be a week from now.

The good thing about it for U.S.-led forces in the area is that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein doesn't know when it's going to happen. And so there's a lot of stress right now put on Saddam and his forces, especially the forces under him that probably have very little communications.

They're used to getting this information from their leader. And so there's a lot of stress there. And that may be beneficial for U.S.-led forces. So the time is of the choosing for coalition forces, with many different factors to be considered.

EDITOR'S NOTE: CNN's policy is to not report information that puts operational security at risk.

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