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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Saturday, December 21, 2002

Invading Iraq: Have we become overconfident?

The United States will be "ready to launch a wide-ranging, highly synchronized ground and air attack in six to eight weeks," the Washington Post reports. With details like that being openly discussed by Pentagon figures, you have to wonder if it's realistic to expect this force "to achieve tactical surprise by launching an attack before the U.S. military appears ready to do so."

What sounds scary about this war plan is that at least two top generals openly don't like it. Instead of the massive build-up that preceded the 1991 Gulf War, civilian war planners appear to depend heavily on a collapse of the Saddam Hussein regime "almost as soon as a U.S. attack is launched," two high-ranking generals say.

Gen. Eric Shinseki, chief of the Army, and Gen. James Jones, commandant of the Marine Corps, worry that the plan fails "to prepare thoroughly for worst-case scenarios, most notably one that planners have labeled 'Fortress Baghdad,' in which Saddam withdraws his most loyal forces into the Iraqi capital and challenges the United States to enter into protracted street fighting."

The civilians who back the present war plan say Jones and Shinseki are too conservative — as was, they say, Secretary of State Colin Powell when, as a general, he opposed the Gulf War attack.

Jones and Shinseki probably will be outvoted in the war plan's final review. We pray that's not the case; these war planners well understand that the price of their miscalculation will be American blood.