Monday, Mar 31, 2003
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By Sridhar Krishnaswami
On Saturday at Camp David, the President, George W. Bush, had a tele-conference with senior members of his administration who have now come to be known as the War Council. At Camp David, Mr. Bush was joined by his National Security Advisor, the Chief of White House Staff and the head of the Central Intelligence Agency. Joining them on secure video were the Vice-President, Secretaries of State and Defence, and their Deputies, the head of the Central Intelligence Agency, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other senior Generals of the Pentagon. At this conference, Mr. Bush is reported to have endorsed the idea of his Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, and the war commander, Gen. Tommy Franks, that preparations for a final ground assault on the Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein's Republican Guards should continue. "When we say we're on plan, we're on plan. There is no pause'', an administration official has been quoted as saying.
Mr. Bush, according to one view, is said to be of the belief that coalition forces should aggressively push toward Baghdad instead of a "pause''.
A forthcoming article in the New Yorker magazine by the veteran journalist, Seymour Hersh, argues that the Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, had repeatedly rejected advice from top Pentagon military brass that substantially more armour and troops would be required for a fight inside Iraq.
"He (meaning Mr. Rumsfeld) thought he knew better. He was the decision-maker at every turn'', Mr. Hersh quotes an unnamed senior Pentagon planner in his piece. One assessment has been that Mr. Rumsfeld wanted to do the war "on the cheap'' and had believed that precision bombing would do the job. Now, the worry is that precision munitions are running out and maintenance is becoming a problem on the field.
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