Thursday, Mar 06, 2003
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By Sridhar Krishnaswami
Senior military officers have also given the impression that a military campaign this time around is going to be short, swift and massive.
"If asked to go into conflict in Iraq what you'd like to do is have it be a short conflict. The best way to do that is to have such a shock on the system that the Iraqi regime would have to assume early on that the end is inevitable,'' the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard Myers, has said.
The Army has given the orders for its oldest armoured division the Old Ironsides to head to the Persian Gulf.
With this, the total number of U.S. forces that will be ready for action against Iraq is in the neighbourhood of 300,000, or well over what planners have been saying is necessary for a military conflict.
The Pentagon has five aircraft carrier groups three in the Persian Gulf and two in eastern Mediterranean and the sixth, the USS Nimitz is also heading to the area.
The Air Force has an assortment of fighters assembled over and beyond the long-range crafts that will be used out of bases in the U.S. for strikes against Iraq.
Events are moving at a fast pace.
The person who would be `running' the war against Iraq, Tommy Franks, had a meeting with the Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Gen. Franks would be seeing the President, George W Bush who called Congressional leaders for breakfast this morning.
On Tuesday, Mr. Bush spoke with the Prime Minister of India and the President of Egypt. Senior administration officials appear confident that while they could still get Turkey's permission for use of facilities, this is really not a critical factor in the impending war with Iraq.
"...we have alternative plans that will allow us to conduct any military operations that the President might order. We'll still be able to accomplish our mission," said the Secretary of State, Colin Powell.
Politically and diplomatically, the Bush administration is making the point that while a positive outcome in New York by way of a second resolution is `desirable', this is not necessary. In fact, a growing perception in the last three days has been that if Washington is unable to round up nine votes, it may not press for a formal showdown at the United Nations.
According to Gen. Powell, the administration is keen on finding out what the top weapons inspectors have to say this Friday.
"And then early next week we'll make a judgment on what we've heard and whether it's time to put the resolution up to a vote,'' the Secretary of State remarked.
The White House, according to one version doing the rounds, is also mulling with yet another option: giving the Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein a "very short deadline'' which will be the `final' ultimatum.
This could come next week depending on how things play out in New York.
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