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World - Middle East

Pentagon unveils details of Operation Desert Fox

December 16, 1998
Web posted at: 7:40 p.m. EDT (2340 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Here are some of the details of Operation Desert Fox, unveiled at a Pentagon briefing Wednesday night by Defense Secretary William Cohen and Gen. Hugh Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

  • The military operation began at 1:00 a.m. Thursday in Baghdad (5 p.m. EST/2200 GMT Wednesday). It included forces from the United States and Britain. Cohen said the objective of the military attack was to erode Iraq's military capability and ability to make chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. He would not give a timetable for how long the attack would last.

  • The attack included U.S. Navy aircraft launched from the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise and land-based aircraft from both the U.S. Air Force and the Royal Air Force, operating from unspecified bases in the region.

  • Tomahawk cruise missiles were launched both by U.S. Air Force B-52 bombers and from U.S. Navy ships at sea.

  • Because the operation was not complete, neither Cohen nor Shelton would discuss specifics of the attack, including the number of missiles launched, the number of aircraft sorties, a list of targets or a damage assessment. Cohen did say, about 90 minutes into the attack, that he was not aware of any U.S. casualties to that point.

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  • In the wake of the attack, the U.S. military is sending additional firepower to the Persian Gulf area, including: an air expeditionary wing with 36 combat aircraft, including fighters, bombers and anti-air defense aircraft; F-117A stealth aircraft; the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, accompanied by the ships in its battle group, which will arrive Friday; and an additional brigade of ground troops to augment the 20,000 soldiers already in Kuwait.

  • Cohen, a former Republican senator from Maine, said that the pending impeachment of President Bill Clinton in the U.S. House played no role in the decision to bomb Iraq.

    "I have come to the conclusion, looking at the facts, that this was in America's national security interests," Cohen said. "I am prepared to place 30 years of public service on the line to say the only factor that was important in this decision is what was in the American people's best interest. There were no other factors."

  • Shelton said logistical considerations, including the pending arrival of a second aircraft carrier, made Wednesday the right time to launch the attack and that the military plan had been approved back in November. "I wholeheartedly supported the president's decision," he said.

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