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Officials: Pentagon steps up Iraq war planning

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of the U.S. Central Command, presented updated war plans targeting Iraq in a Pentagon meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, CNN has learned.

The Tuesday session in the "tank" -- a secure room at the Pentagon -- involved only top officials. Military aides who might typically be present were not allowed to attend the Franks presentation.

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Several officials have confirmed to CNN that an expected part of the planning process involves a Strategic Command review and update of target lists for Iraq. Establishing such lists is part of Strategic Command's regular worldwide responsibilities, but the most recent work is part of an effort to provide specific targeting details for the plan Franks has proposed.

Strategic Command is assessing Iraqi targets and establishing what U.S. weapons can be used to destroy each target. Also included is "time phasing" -- a timetable for each sequential phase of attack on the targets.

While many options have been discussed for how a military campaign might unfold, sources tell CNN that the first targets will certainly be major Iraqi air defense command and control centers, radar sites and missile launchers. Such a strategy would ensure U.S. control of the skies over Iraq.

The Iraqi air defense network remains, in part, centrally controlled from Baghdad, but there are four regional air defense sectors that the United States will also target, the sources said. They are the northern sector at Kirkuk, the central sector at Taji, the southern sector at Talil and the western sector at the H-3 airfield.

There are major air defense targets in the Baghdad region and around the area of Tikrit, which is a Saddam Hussein stronghold. Other immediate targets some of Saddam's "presidential palaces" as a symbolic demonstration of U.S. resolve for a change of power in Iraq.

Strategic Command also is updating its list of targets believed to contain Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, a category that includes nuclear, chemical and biological weapons sites.




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