As the United States approaches the possibility of war with Iraq, military sources say there will be a major effort to cripple Iraq’s air defenses in both these zones and in the south, to take out surface-to-surface missiles that pose a threat to American troops in Kuwait.
Preparations for war appear to be nearly complete.
Military sources say all the ships the Navy needs to go to war are in the region ÷ nearly 100 of them, including five aircraft carrier battle groups.
In the next several weeks, the Air Force will fly in the last 100 to 150 of its planes ÷ including B-2 stealth bombers early next week. That will bring the total of American aircraft ÷ Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps ÷ to about 900.
As for U.S. troops, there are now 210,000 in the region from the Navy, Air Force, Army and Marine Corps. In the next two weeks, 50,000 more are expected.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was asked how long this massive U.S. force could just sit there.
“It is very clear that once you flow the forces it’s stressful to maintain them for a long period of time,” Rumsfeld said. “It is clearly preferable to be engaged in Iraq in the period other than the summer.”
Temperatures begin climbing to summer levels in April.
When and if the United States does go to war, military sources say the United States is preparing a monster new weapon to be used during the first nights.
It’s called MOAB, short for “massive ordnance air burst” bomb. It is a modern, bigger version of the 15,000-pound “Daisy Cutter” used in Vietnam, the Persian Gulf War and Afghanistan.
Sources say MOAB ÷ still experimental ÷ is a 21,000-pound bomb that will be pushed out the back of a C-130 transport and guided by satellite. Because it is not dropped by parachute, as was the old Daisy Cutter, the aircraft can let it go from far higher altitudes, making it safer for U.S. pilots.
The MOAB’s massive explosive punch, sources say, is similar to a small nuclear weapon.
It is intended to obliterate a command center hidden in tunnels and bunkers or a concentration of Iraqi tanks.
Whatever the target, it must be far from cities where civilians might be hurt. But one important aspect of using this type of weapon, sources say, will be psychological impact on enemy troops. It is intended to terrorize Iraqi troops, drastically reducing their desire to continue the fight.