War Deployment News

January 22, 2003

Stratfor Intelligence

Tuesday, Jan. 21, was dominated by news of troop movements. Two additional U.S. aircraft carriers were ordered to the Persian Gulf: One, the Lincoln, standing by near Australia; the other, the Theodore Roosevelt, traveling from Norfolk, Va. That will bring the number of carriers in the Persian Gulf to four within a few weeks, one short of the number that has been discussed as optimal for an attack. The Truman, in the Mediterranean, is expected to transit the Suez Canal, while the Constellation is already in the Gulf. The Ark Royal, a British carrier, is en route to the Gulf.

The 4th Infantry Division, based at Fort Hood, Texas, and Fort Carson, Colo., also is being deployed. The 4th Infantry at Fort Hood had been involved in the Force XXI experiments during the 1990s and now has some of the most sophisticated equipment of any U.S. division. Beyond the 4th infantry, Defense Department officials let it be known that a total of 37,000 troops received deployment orders today and that some of them -- the total number unspecified -- would be deploying to Turkey rather than Kuwait, where the main buildup of ground forces is taking place.

The status of Turkey remains curious. The government still appears to be opposed to war. At the same time, the Turkish military is having substantial discussions about something with British and U.S. military teams. There is clearly tension between the Islamic government and the military, which is traditionally the guardian of secularism in Turkey. The military is quite capable of forcing the government into a position it doesn’t want to take out of fear of a coup; it also is quite capable of negotiating its own relationship with the United States on military matters.

The possibility of U.S. deployment under the aegis of agreements with the military, but in opposition to the government, is not inconceivable. In fact, that seems to be what is happening. The United States –- or at least the famous "senior Defense Department official" formerly known as Donald Rumsfeld -- is saying that troops are moving to Turkey. The government in Ankara is calling a conference to prevent the war and is opposing it. So, if the United States is sending troops and the government is opposing military action, either the government is lying or the military has cut the government out of the decision-making process. This makes an interesting basis for the northern thrust.

We are still left with the troubling question of when an attack will take place. Three U.S. carriers can be in the Gulf by the end of January. The fourth, which is still training in the Caribbean, probably could get there, what with returning to Norfolk and such, before late February. The army units that are currently being deployed -- even assuming that much of their equipment is already in-theater -- at best will still take several weeks to get there, and then will need some time to marry up with their equipment and train. It’s hard to see how they will be ready before early March.

If the air war begins in early March, it will take several weeks for it to conclude. We know that the Air Force predicts the air campaign can be completed in as little as a week. We don’t believe that, simply because attacking Iraq’s ground forces will be a time-consuming process, by the nature of the mission. Ground attacks could begin prior to the conclusion of the air campaign, but since attention must be paid to Republican Guard units around Baghdad -- to limit the number of forces available for the defense of the city -- and since that will be a priority, it is not clear that sufficient air power will be available to support the ground attacks immediately. Bottom line, we still think it will be three to four weeks before the ground campaign is in high gear.

So, if the air war doesn’t begin until March, ground forces will have only a few weeks to complete their mission before weather turns into a real problem. That could be managed, but no one who has a choice would choose to fight beyond mid-April. Yet, if we are to believe the slow-motion buildup and the things being said by our "senior official," it is hard to see how the war could begin sooner.

That is, unless one disregards what is being said and assumes that the Air Force’s capabilities in Qatar and Kuwait, as well as out of theater in Diego Garcia and elsewhere, are already sufficient to launch the air campaign very quickly -- allowing the ground attack to commence in earnest by March 1, using troops already in place and supplementing them with other forces as they become ready.

Only two conclusions can be drawn from Tuesday’s news. One is that the United States is really going to be hard-pressed to launch a war before the weather window closes and will wait until autumn instead. The other is that the war is actually closer than it appears. That seems to be the Iraqi leaders’ view: Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan said Tuesday, "It is possible any minute, any second that while the inspectors are still here, the aggression will take place."

Cutting Edge Note: We have been receiving some very interesting war news from soldiers being deployed. One U.S. Army Major, a subscriber, told me that he and virtually his entire base, were shocked beyond measure late last week when news of their deployment came down from HQ. The numbers of men deployed to the Middle East were "more than double" what they had anticipated.

However, the most shocking news was that the deployments will virtually empty this base! We received information from another source yesterday that the deployment from Ft. Hood will take most of those soldiers based there.

For years, we have been stating that the Plan calls for American troops to be so emptied out of this country, going to both the Middle East and Korea, that when the planned city riots begin erupting, the depleted ranks of police and state troopers won't be able to restore order. Either the president or FEMA, depending upon who is in charge at the moment, will then ask the United Nations to send in forces. At this point, the U.S.A. will become five military patrol zones instead of a sovereign nation.

Are we beginning to see the working out of this part of the plan? Only events will tell.

David Bay, Director