CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Showdown Iraq: Tentative Pentagon Plan
Aired November 11, 2002 - 12:24 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: If the U.N. resolution fails, what would it take to wage war against Iraq?
CNN military analyst, retired Major General Don Shepperd, joins us in Atlanta with a closer look.
MAJ. GEN. DON SHEPPERD, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Hi, Carol. How are you?
LIN: Usually, you're up here and I'm down there, so we've swapped places for the day.
LIN: Let's take a look at some of these numbers that we're hearing out of the White House today. A massive troop buildup it seems, though smaller than what we saw in the Persian Gulf War, some 200,000 to 250,000 land, sea and air troops. Does that sound about right for the goal that the United States has?
SHEPPERD: It sounds about right to me, Carol. There's been a lot of talk about blitzkrieg attacks and a small Special Forces, like Afghanistan, and a limited number of troops. But the harsh reality is, you may have a plan, but you've got to have the forces to back it up.
And if we are forced to go into Iraq and take Baghdad, you're going to have to have full sea, land and air forces. And you're going to start out much like the Gulf War with a massive air attack, but it's going to be simultaneous this time with Special Forces and ground action, rather than like the Gulf War which was a sequence.
LIN: And why is that, General? Because it seems to me that that would put ground troops at risk much sooner.
SHEPPERD: Well, we're going to be very careful about that, and General Franks and the things that he did in Afghanistan shows that he's very capable of thinking very carefully and coming up with a very, very good plan. Basically, the reason it is different this time than last time, is last time we had to defend and take care of troops that were deployed throughout Iraq, and in Kuwait as well. The first thing was to get them out of Kuwait, and then attack field-deployed forces all over the country.
This time it probably is much simpler, because he's about half as strong, has about half the equipment, half the number of troops, and you won't have to do everything that you did before.
So, I think it's going to be easier this time, but by no means is this going to be any kind of cake walk.
LIN: So, what's going to be the focus? What are the first targets they're going to try to take out?
SHEPPERD: Well, the first thing you have to do if you have to take out the eyes and ears of the enemy. You want to take down his air defense system, so that you can bring airplanes and things that you need to do, and so our troops are not subject to attack.
You also want to get rid of the missiles, the SCUD missiles that can attack our forces, and of course also Israel -- any other missiles out there. And you're going to go against his field enforcers. Then, you're going to go against selected targets -- against where you have intelligence that things are stored, such as weapons of mass destruction or leadership themself.
Fairly common sense, the same thing you would do if you had to put together a plan, Carol.
LIN: All right, well, speaking of putting together a plan, we're getting some e-mail here.
This first one from Bruce in Portland, Oregon. He says: "U.S. policy should be a strong and prolonged military attack first; then send in the U.N. weapons inspectors into Iraq. Who's to say Saddam won't detain any and all U.S. weapons inspectors, and then use them as hostages for negotiations?" A good point.
SHEPPERD: It's a good point, but it would be a serious, serious mistake. The world has come together with this muddled approach to this resolution that leaves a lot of questions and a lot of interpretations out there. But if Saddam Hussein would do anything like that, he would lose all world support, I believe, from everywhere, and give us the excuse to do anything that we would need to do. It would be a serious mistake to do that.
LIN: All right, we've got an e-mail here from Patrick from Ontario, and he writes: "I think that President Bush has the right to send up B-2s to perform a strike in the most hostile places in Iraq, take out any and all defensive installations so it's safer for the ground forces to move in, instead of sending them in under fire."
But you're saying, it's actually the opposite scenario. They're going to send ground troops in at the same time.
SHEPPERD: Well, I don't want to make it sound like -- what I want to say is that it's going to be instead of sequential with a 37- day air war and then a 3-day ground war, you're going to see things happen at the same time. You're going to see Special Forces going in this time against selected targets, but you are going to see B-2 attacks going in and taking down the things that would attack our troops. We always have our troops and their welfare in mind, and you are going to see air power used in a massive air attack against command and control networks, this type of thing, and against targets that we think could really harm our troops. But it is going to be more simultaneous this time, is my prediction.
LIN: Lessons learned from Afghanistan. Thank you very much, Major General Don Shepherd -- good to see you.
SHEPPERD: Good to see you.
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