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The Memory Hole > The Gulf War: Secret History by William M.

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The Gulf War: Secret History


by William M. Arkin
>>> This extensive history of the first Gulf War by William M. Arkin
draws on lots of declassified documents and inside information to present
previously unknown facts about that conflict. It was published in
installments on the Website of the magazine Stars and Stripes (a
privately-owned magazine, not the US military newspaper of the same
name). At some point the Website disappeared and with it, unfortunately,
went this important piece of work. A full copy had survived in the
Internet Archive until just a week ago. Now that it has completely
vanished from the Net, The Memory Hole is extremely pleased to
resurrect it.

Week 1 through Week 10 (below)


Week 11 through Week 20
Week 21 through Week 30
Bio for William M. Arkin

Week One: The 'Green Light'


"We have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border
disagreement with Kuwait."
It is perhaps one of the most famous lines of the Persian Gulf War.
The venue was a July 25, 1990, meeting between U.S. Ambassador April
Glaspie and President Saddam Hussein.
In two years as ambassador to Iraq, it was her first private audience with
Saddam. And it was her last.
A week later, on Aug. 2, 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait, and to some,
Glaspie's statement would symbolize appeasement in offering a "green
light" to invade.
Glaspie's statement, and her "belief" that Iraq did not want to have a war,
is cited as proof of ineptitude.
We now know that Glaspie presented exactly Washington's stance, and
was, in fact, a minor player in a long-standing White House policy of
support and accommodation for Iraq. Saddam Hussein may have been
given a green light to invade, but April Glaspie can hardly be blamed.
More Oil Than You Think

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Where to start?
On Oct. 3, 1989, after assuming a host of covert Reagan-era
arrangements with Iraq that were intended to "balance" the Arab country
against fundamentalist Iran, President George Bush signed National
Security Directive 26 (NSD-26) "U.S. Policy Toward the Persian Gulf."
With regard to Iraq, the Top Secret directive stated: "The United States
should propose economic and political incentives for Iraq to moderate its
behavior and to increase our influence."
Reconstruction of Iraq's economy after eight years of war with Iran,
particularly in its oil sector, was seen as a way of securing "a U.S.
foothold in a potentially large export market." Saddam's nuclear,
biological and chemical weapons ambitions were recognized irritants, but
the administration thought commercial incentives would be more
attractive to Saddam than political ambitions.
By April 1990, when the Iraqi leader thrust himself into the public
limelight, announcing that Iraq would "make the fire eat up half of
Israel," the Bush administration had made quite an investment. The CIA
reported that month that "U.S. purchases of Iraqi oil have jumped from
about 80,000 barrels per day [b/d] in 1985-1987 to 675,000 b/d so far in
1990 -- about 24 percent of Baghdad's total oil exports and eight percent
of new U.S. oil imports." Iraq had become America's number two trading
partner in the Arab world, and was the largest importer of Americangrown rice. The Department of Energy had even purchased Iraqi oil for
use in the strategic petroleum reserve for a future war.
Yet there was also mounting congressional pressure to impose economic
sanctions on Iraq because of its human rights record, its weapons of mass
destruction programs and its increasingly hostile policy. Intelligence
specialists wrote of the country's increasingly precarious financial
position, and there were enormous financial improprieties in Iraqi
dealings, leading the Agriculture Department to recommend a cut-off of
Iraqi loans, as was mandated by law.
But the Bush White House would have none of it. In May, National
Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft personally asked Agriculture Secretary
Clayton Yeutter to stop any public announcement of a suspension.
Yeutter then overruled the Agriculture official administering the
program.
Administration spokesmen and apologists would later argue that their
Iraq policy had not contributed to the very capabilities American
servicemen and women would soon be facing. It is an argument that can
hardly be accepted. The Reagan and Bush administrations had authorized
$5.08 billion in loan guarantees to Iraq between 1983 and 1990.
Investigators later found that the Italian-owned Banco Nazionale del
Lavoro (BNL) issued another $4.5 billion in unauthorized loans, $1
billion of which were guaranteed by the Department of Agriculture.
Between 1985 and 1990, the Commerce Department approved 771
licenses for dual-use technology exports to Iraq, of which 82 went
directly to Iraqi military-related establishments. Fifteen times between
1983 and 1990, the U.S. government waived restrictions to allow items
that appeared on the State Department's restricted "Munitions List" to be

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exported to Saddam. The United States might not have armed Saddam,
but it freed up resources that effectively achieved the same goal.
Talking Points
As April Glaspie rushed to her meeting with Saddam on July 25, 1990
(she had gotten only two hours' notice), the July 18th "talking points"
from Washington, now declassified, governed her discussions. "The
United States takes no position on the substance of the bilateral issues
concerning Iraq and Kuwait," it directed. The day before the snap
meeting, in fact, Glaspie got yet another secret cable from the State
Department. "The U.S. is concerned about the hostile implications of
recent Iraq statements directed against Iraq's neighbors," it read. Yet it
repeated the now standard "we take no position" line, merely imploring
Iraq to be mindful of the fact that use of force was contrary to the United
Nations charter.
Were threats against Iraq emanating from other quarters? On July 19,
then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney was quoted publicly as saying
that the U.S. defense commitment extended to Kuwait during the IranIraq war was still valid. Later that day Pentagon spokesman Pete
Williams said that Cheney's remarks had been taken "with some degree
of liberty." Five days later, when Secretary of the Navy Lawrence Garrett
told a congressional committee that "our ships in the Persian Gulf were at
a "heightened state of vigilance," his spokesman said that he had made a
mistake.
The day before Glaspie's meeting, State Department spokeswoman
Margaret Tutweiler said "we do not have any defense treaties with
Kuwait, and there are no special defense or security commitments to
Kuwait." Assistant Secretary of State John Kelly told the House Foreign
Affairs Committee on July 30 that the United States was not obligated to
come to the military aid of Kuwait if Iraqi forces crossed the border.
Did the U.S. military leadership think an Iraqi invasion likely?
Conventional wisdom right to the 11th hour was that if the Iraqis moved
south, they would perhaps take the Bubiyan and Warbah islands off the
Iraqi coast, and possibly the southeastern sector of the Rumaylah oil
fields, which extended into Kuwait.
Up to the very last minute, while analysts at the Defense Intelligence
Agency (DIA) and CIA argued that a full-scale invasion seemed
imminent, U.S. military leaders didn't believe it. Lt. Gen. Thomas Kelly,
director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Gen. Colin
Powell: "They're not going to invade. This is a shakedown."
On July 31, Chairman Powell chaired a meeting in the "tank," the Joint
Staff's secure conference room, to discuss the situation in Iraq. Gen. H.
Norman Schwarzkopf, commander of the U.S. Central Command, which
is responsible for the region, had flown up from his Tampa headquarters
to give his assessment of the situation. DIA hard-liners said there was
little doubt that an attack into Kuwait was imminent. Schwarzkopf didn't
agree. Like Kelly, he thought Saddam was bluffing, seeking to extort
concessions from Kuwait. A senior Kuwaiti military official had told

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Schwarzkopf that they weren't even going to go on alert so as to not


"play Saddam's game and give him an excuse to attack."
According to an Air Force oral history, "Heart of the Storm," when the
meeting broke up, "The mood around the table was `Ho hum, thanks for
the briefing, Norm. We'll try to attend your retirement next summer.'
Seven thousand miles away in sand and darkness, Iraqi tankers were
fueling for the push into Kuwait. When dawn broke, they would be
rolling south."

Week Two: The Threat to Saudi Arabia


At 11 p.m. on Aug.1, 1990, Col. John Mooneyham, chief of the U.S.
military liaison office in Kuwait, got a telephone call from several
Westinghouse Co. civilian contractors who were manning a radar
observation balloon south of the Iraqi border.
The radar image, they said, was clear: a massive armor formation
resembling an iron pipe several kilometers long was rolling downhill
toward the Kuwaiti border. Mooneyham advised them to cut the tether to
the aerostat radar and move out smartly.
Two hours later, three Iraqi Republican Guard divisions crossed the
border. The Tawakalna mechanized and Hammurabi armored divisions
conducted the main attack along the four-lane Highway 6 from Safwan.
The Medina armored division crossed further to the west, through the
Rumaylah oil fields.
Soon Iraqi warships appeared off the coast, some firing shells into
Kuwait City. Iraqi special forces commandos using helicopters and small
craft assaulted the city, keying on government buildings such as the
foreign and defense ministries, and the emir's Dasman and Bayan
palaces. At daylight, Iraqi ground attack MiG -23 Flogger and Su-25
Frogfoot jets entered the battle, bombing Kuwait's two airfields.
Within five hours of crossing the border, the two main divisions had
linked up with the commando units, and Iraqi forces had secured the
Kuwaiti capital.
What is your final destination?
It wasn't as if Iraq faced any opposition. Kuwaiti forces had gone on full
alert on July 17, but Emir Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmed al-Sabah subsequently
ordered his troops back to their garrisons, fearful of provoking Saddam
Hussein.
And Kuwaiti forces were hopelessly outmatched anyhow. One of
Mooneyham's deputies, Army Lt. Col. Fred C. Hart, a liaison officer to
Kuwait's armed forces, later said in a personal account of the invasion
that the ruling family was "comfortable with this small force and felt they
had no real cause to have a large or modernized Armed Forces." The

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reason, Hart said, was that the al-Sabah family believed "a small, poorlytrained and equipped force was less of a threat" to Iraq than a
professional military force. The Kuwaiti Air Force got more defense
dollars "because you can't occupy a palace with a fighter jet," Hart
recalled Kuwaiti officers saying.
Hart's eyewitness account, written while a student at the U.S. Army War
College following the Persian Gulf War, was never officially released by
the Army but has circulated on the internet.
Of Kuwait's three Army units, Hart recalled after the war, only the 35th
Armored Brigade moved to block the Iraqi invasion. Kuwait Air Force
(KAF) A-4Q Skyhawk and French Mirage F1 pilots flew sorties against
attacking Iraqi units, but within a day and a half, the planes had retreated
to Saudi Arabia or Bahrain after their two home bases were overrun.
By mid-day Aug. 3, Iraqi forces had taken up positions south of Kuwait
City. Iraqi tanks continued south along Kuwait's coastal highway to
occupy the emirate's main ports. An Iraqi force pursued elements of the
35th Brigade into the neutral zone north of Saudi Arabia.
"I don't think there's any question at all that he [Saddam Hussein] would
have eventually attacked Saudi Arabia," Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf
would tell David Frost in a PBS interview at the end of the war. "Nobody
on our side knew his intent; we had to assume that if he was militarily
capable of something, he might do it," Schwarzkopf would later write in
his autobiography, It Doesn't Take a Hero (Bantam Books, New York,
1992). Gen. Colin Powell, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
later said that at this juncture, everyone was "scared to death" of the
possibility of an Iraqi invasion of Saudi Arabia.
On the day before the invasion, U.S. intelligence agencies estimated that
Iraqi forces between Basra and the Kuwaiti border numbered 150,000
troops and more than 1,000 tanks, supported by at least 10 additional
artillery battalions. Hundreds of logistics vehicles were moving men and
massive quantities of munitions and supplies south right after the
invasion. By Aug. 6, intelligence was reporting elements of at least 11
divisions either in or entering Kuwait. Though there was no firm
evidence that an invasion of Saudi Arabia was Saddam's intention, no
one wanted to be caught flat-footed a second time.
Tanks a Lot
But as Lt. Col. Hart reported from his vantage point inside Kuwait City,
"Saddam's forces had reached their logistics culminating point and his
units would have to live off the land." Iraqi units immediately began
scavenging food and water in Kuwait, confirming the lack of in-depth
supplies.
There were a lot of other signs that Iraq's performance in the invasion
had hardly gone like clockwork. The emir and the crown prince of
Kuwait escaped to Saudi Arabia, we now know, because the Iraqi
operation to seize the emir failed when Baghdad planners failed to
recognize a one-hour time difference between Kuwait City and Baghdad.
Thus the seizure operation became an uncoordinated attack by special

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forces and the Republican Guard units that failed to capture the senior
royal family members.
When Iraqi armor made it to Kuwait City, Hart later wrote, they decided
to push their tanks and tracked vehicles through the city instead of
circumventing the built-up urban area. As a result, the heavy units
became bogged down and often lost. This permitted the bulk of the
Kuwaiti 15th Brigade, located south of the city near the Al Ahmadi oil
fields, to escape to Saudi Arabia. Despite the fact their command had not
been placed on alert, some 30 Kuwaiti fighters still managed to fly to
safety. And Iraq's naval force also failed to prevent two Kuwaiti missile
boats from escaping the harbor.
The intelligence system might not have wanted to focus on this evidence,
given valid concerns of Iraq's short-term intentions toward Saudi Arabia.
But there were also reports that Kuwaiti military units succeeded in
inflicting damage on Iraq that made it seem as if the vaunted and battlehardened force was less formidable than its equipment inventories
suggested.
The KAF claimed that its airplanes destroyed 37 Iraqi helicopters and
shot down two Iraqi fighters in two days of battle, and killed numerous
enemy armored vehicles on the ground as its aircraft flew to safety.
Three Kuwaiti air defense units equipped with U.S. Hawk surface-to-air
missiles reported that they shot down 23 Iraqi aircraft and helicopters.
Were the Kuwaiti claims valid? Who had time to validate them? Analysts
from the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and Defense Intelligence
Agency evaluated the Iraqi force as more than sufficient to conduct a
successful follow-on attack into Saudi Arabia's oil-rich Eastern Province.
The White House was told that Saddam Hussein intended to further his
advance into Saudi Arabia, and the Saudis didn't particularly want to
quibble, given that the Iraqis never made an attempt to contact the Saudi
government to express otherwise.
At the end of the war, U.S. Army intelligence would learn from the seven
Iraqi general officers that were captured in the ground campaign that
Hart's skepticism on the ground in Kuwait City was closer to reality than
the tale told from satellite images.
"Regardless of how difficult and frustrating the mobilization and
deployment of U.S. and coalition forces may have seemed to us, ours
was a clockwork operation compared to that of the Iraqi Army," a now
partially declassified CENTCOM debriefing summary says. "Most
infantry divisions were sent to the Kuwait theater undermanned, short of
equipment (or with poor equipment), and with little to no idea of what
they were to do upon arrival in their areas of responsibility, other than to
dig in and await orders."
It was a terrible quandary, and one that would confound U.S. intelligence
through the war and beyond: not knowing in the least what Iraq's
intentions were, and having to rely on mechanistic interpretations of the
enemy's military capabilities based upon huge numbers of hardware and
an enormous military infrastructure.

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Week Three: Operation Stigma


When the first shots of Desert Shield were fired on Aug. 18, many of the
complications, internal and international, were hidden from public view,
such as the conflicts over the frenzied movements to hold Iraq, deploy
forces, build an international consensus and decide what to do next.
On Aug. 16, President Bush authorized U.S. naval forces to enforce
sanctions under Security Council Resolution 661, passed four days after
the Iraqi invasion. The resolution did not address the use of force, and the
Soviet Union expressed its view that it did not consider the U.N. Charter
or the resolution sufficient authority to do more than seek voluntary
compliance.
Washington itself was not clear. According to Marvin Pokrant's
wonderfully detailed Desert Shield at Sea: What the Navy Really Did,
when Gen. Powell issued the first order on Aug. 11, he used the word
"quarantine," a term that definitely connoted a belligerent stance,
evoking images of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Within hours, the order was
rescinded and quarantine was changed to "interception." Gen.
Schwarzkopf's headquarters in Tampa followed with its own order for
Operation Stigma, better known as maritime interception operations
(MIO). Tampa authorized the use of force.
Starting WWIII
Within hours of the commencement of Stigma, the cruiser USS England
had the first confrontation when it intercepted two small cargo ships, the
Al Abid and the Al Bayaa, in the Persian Gulf. The two Iraqi ships
claimed to be empty and refused to stop. The England asked what to do
next.
Vice Adm. Henry H. Mauz, the newly appointed naval commander in the
region, telephoned Schwarzkopf at Central Command (CENTCOM)
headquarters in Tampa, who said there was nothing in his Operation
Order or the U.N. resolutions that would suggest anything be done
against empty ships returning to Iraq.
"Let them go," Schwarzkopf recounts telling Mauz in his autobiography,
It Doesn't Take a Hero. "There's no use starting World War Three over
empty tankers." A few hours later, Powell was on the phone from
Washington: Secretary Cheney felt Schwarzkopf had failed to follow
orders. Well, Schwarzkopf recalls saying, "Now that you've made it clear
what you want, the next tanker that comes through, we'll blow it away."
Okay, they weren't tankers, and Schwarzkopf's own Operation Order
stated explicitly at the time that even empty ships were not to be allowed
to sail to Iraq. And according to Pokrant's account, "blowing away" was
hardly that simple. On Aug. 18, the day after the two Iraqi ships were
allowed to go, the England conducted the first boarding of a suspect
vessel. But this time, it was a Chinese-flagged ship, the Heng Chun Hai,
and though the England ordered the ship back to Iraq with its cargo,
higher authority overruled, and the ship was allowed to proceed to Qing
Dao without being diverted.

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That same day, the destroyer USS Scott intercepted a Cyprus-flagged


ship, the Dongola, which was carrying caustic soda and aluminum sulfate
from Sudan to Aqaba, Jordan. The Dongola agreed to return to its port of
origin. But the governments of Jordan and Sudan both protested,
claiming that the ship was scheduled to pick up 800 Sudanese refugees
from Kuwait who were trying to get home.
First Shots
Late on Aug. 18, the frigate USS Reid intercepted the Iraqi tanker, the
Khaniqin, while in Iranian territorial waters of the Persian Gulf. Two
other tankers were also intercepted by other ships, but Mauz decided to
deal with the Khaniqin first. After a tense standoff, where the Iraqi
master originally agreed to return to Basra and then quickly got his own
new orders to go to Yemen, Reid requested permission to fire warning
shots if the Khaniqin did not slow, and then fired six 25- and 76-mm
rounds across the Iraqi ship's bow.
The Iraqi master sounded "terrified," the Reid commander reported. But
still, he refused to stop, and some crewmembers donned life jackets.
Mauz had the authority to disable uncooperative ships, but he again
phoned Schwarzkopf to ask whether higher authority really wanted the
Navy to shoot at a civilian ship. He worried about the efforts to build a
coalition.
Mauz and Schwarzkopf each had phones in both ears; Mauz was talking
to the on-scene commander, Schwarzkopf was talking with Powell.
Powell spoke to Richard Haass, the principle National Security Council
staffer dealing with Iraq. According to Pokrant's account, Haass
"believed that if the United States disabled a vessel or two without much
loss of life, it would not be a grave matter." The White House had
previously been told that disabling one or two ships might be necessary.
Schwarzkopf had already called Lt. Gen. Chuck Horner, the air war
commander and the senior officer in Saudi Arabia. "Put naval and air
forces on high alert, ready to launch retaliatory strikes," he ordered. The
Khaniqin master had notified Baghdad that it had been attacked, and
perhaps coincidentally, U.S. intelligence did not know the answer. Iraqi
electronic jamming also was reported for the first time during the
incident.
"There is absolutely nothing between you and 4,000 tanks on the Kuwait
border and they may be coming south tonight or in the morning," Horner
told the A-10 commander at about eight p.m., according to the book
Warthog: Flying the A-10 in the Gulf War. "If they do, you're going to
have to attack them with what you've got and try to delay them. I can't
tell you where to go or how to get away after that," he said.
"Yep, go ahead and do it," Schwarzkopf finally told Mauz. The destroyer
Goldsborough, which had taken over from the Reid, was directed to get
into position to fire into the stern if Iraq ignored a final warning. But he
still did not feel right about firing, and as darkness was approaching,
Mauz told Schwarzkopf that they would wait until morning rather than
risk a nighttime engagement.

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Who Didn't Shoot John?


In Kennebunkport, Maine, Bush and his advisers huddled. On the one
hand they ran the risk of looking like "wimps"; on the other, they risked
looking bad in the eyes of the world. Secretary of State Baker argued via
phone from a fishing trip out west that he thought he could get a U.N.
resolution authorizing force. Bush agreed, and decided to let the ship go.
Schwarzkopf received a "frantic call" from the joint staff rescinding the
earlier order. All night, Mauz's staff was on the phone with
Schwarzkopf's staff in Florida, who wanted to know this and that, driving
the Navy officers nuts. In one instance, Tampa was told that the Navy
would reestablish contact with the Iraqi ship at dawn. Early in the
morning, a CENTCOM officer called, asking about the status of the
helicopter that would contact the Iraqi ship. The Navy officer told him it
was not dawn yet, and the Florida-based officer began to argue with him!
By his calculations, he said, it was definitely past dawn in the Gulf. Well,
the Navy officer responded, looking outside, it wasn't light yet. The
CENTCOM officer adamantly insisted that his calculations showed that
it was light.
On Aug. 19, interception operations were suspended and a flurry of
diplomatic activity followed until a new U.N. resolution 665 was
obtained on Aug. 25 calling on members to enforce sanctions by using
"...such measures commensurate to the specific circumstances as may be
necessary under the authority of the Security Council to halt all inward
and outward maritime shipping...."
In his autobiography, Schwarzkopf would claim that his was the cooler
head. And according to Bob Woodward's The Commanders, "Cheney
was concerned that some Navy officer way down the line was going to
start a war." But as Pokrant writes, "Several times on 18 August Mauz
had permission to disable Khaniqin but chose not to do so precipitously."

Week Four: Instant Thunder


On Aug. 20, 1990, at five minutes to 2 p.m., Air Force Col. John A.
Warden III stood before Lt. General Charles ("Chuck") Horner at Royal
Saudi Air Force headquarters in Riyadh, and committed professional
suicide.
Warden was a mid-level deputy director for warfighting concepts in the
office of the deputy chief of staff for operations and plans for the Air
Force Chief of Staff, a special cell called "Checkmate." He had been on a
roller-coaster ride since Aug. 6, four days after the Iraqi invasion of
Kuwait. On that day, Warden had gathered his staff to begin planning
what would become known as "Operation Instant Thunder," a strategic
air campaign to "incapacitate, discredit and isolate [the] Hussein regime,
eliminate Iraqi offensive/defensive capability ... [and] create conditions

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leading to Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait" through long-range, pinpoint


bombing.
In 14 days, the sketchy initial Instant Thunder brief had been given to
Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Gen. Colin Powell, and others in the air
force and military hierarchy. The plan had grown into two four-inch thick
binders laying out targets, attack routes, and choreography for a weeklong effort that its drafters said would defeat Saddam Hussein through
airpower alone.
Bent out of Shape
Horner by nature is irascible, imperious, and opinionated, an old salt of
an impatient fighter pilot. Schwarzkopf had told him on Aug. 6 that he
was requesting Air Force staff help to develop "punishment" attacks
inside Iraq while Horner's forward headquarters in Riyadh focused on
halting an Iraqi invasion of Saudi Arabia. Worried about Washington
"picking targets" a la Vietnam, where he had flown scores of combat
missions from Thailand, Horner was also hearing a groundswell of
irritation with Warden from his own subordinates.
Col. Warden could be his own worst enemy. When Lt. Gen. Jimmie
Adams, the Air Force operations chief, told Warden during a briefing to
drop the prediction of success against Iraq in 6-9 days and focus more on
destroying the Iraqi army, Warden dismissed his boss, telling him "sorry,
that's not what the Chairman wants."
Tactical Air Command (TAC), Horner's peacetime higher headquarter in
Virginia, was particularly bent out of shape by the Warden effort. TAC
officials agreed with Adams that Instant Thunder lacked "tactical
perspective" and didn't support ground operations - particularly defense
against Iraq's heavy divisions that then threatened Saudi Arabia.
It was an "academic bunch of crap," the TAC operations chief said. "I
like everything after the last slide," he told Warden's immediate boss.
TAC faxed a purloined copy of the 30-page Instant Thunder briefing to
Horner, along with its critique. "How can a person in an ivory tower far
from the front" know what needs to be done, Horner wrote in the
margins.
But it was not just the place of origin that displeased Horner; it was the
Warden plan itself.
"It developed the idea that air power was going to smash Iraq, and they
were all going to give up and go home," Horner said. "Well, that is pure
bull."
The Confrontation
From the very beginning of his briefing, Horner unnerved Warden. "Go,
go!" he said at first, waving impatiently at the slides, "I know all that."
Stonefaced, Horner listened to the Instant Thunder briefing, waiting until
the end. And then came the questions. How well do we understand Iraqi
command and control and leadership to sever the head from the body?
Why spend so much time trying to destroy rather than neutralize air

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defenses? Why hit railroads or ports? "Is this a mulligan stew?" Horner
asked.
At each question, Horner interrupted Warden as he started to answer,
turning to one of his staffers and directing him to look into the matter. At
one point Warden pried his way into Horner's monologue, offering
assistance. "Not your job," Horner cut him off. "We'll make sure. You
made an academic study. I've got to make it reality."
Horner directed his staff to eliminate the timelines from Instant Thunder:
"They serve no purpose other than to advertise a totally unrealistic
completion date."
Warden again pushed the idea of the isolation of Saddam Hussein. "It's
not imperative to get him," he said. "We need only to isolated him for a
while."
And that was it.
"Our goal," Horner responded, almost shouting now, "is to build an A-TO." The air tasking order, the immediate defensive battle plan, was his
immediate concern, and unlike Warden, he didn't believe for a moment
that this was a mistake.
"You're being overly pessimistic about those tanks," Warden said at one
point in reference to Iraqi armor. "Ground forces aren't important" to
Instant Thunder. "I don't believe they can move under our air
superiority."
A hush fell over the room. Warden quickly took it back.
"I'm being very, very patient, aren't I?" Horner said to no one in
particular.
"Yes, sir!" came a chorus of voices.
"I'm really being nice not to make the kind of response that you-all
would expect me to make, aren't I?"
"Oh, yes, sir!"
"If your army is getting overrun," Horner scowled, "who gives a shit
what you take out deep?" And with that, to Chuck Horner, John Warden
ceased to exist.
Fading Memories
Warden was dispatched by Horner back to Washington. But he hardly
disappeared or became irrelevant: Checkmate quietly assisted Horner's
planners, who took the handoff on Aug. 20 and began to build the
ultimate air campaign.
Was it just a clash of personalities, and was Instant Thunder the actual air
war, even if it was under new guise and with a new master?
One possible answer exists in the target list. Instant Thunder had
identified 84 targets in Iraq. By Jan. 15, 1991, that number had grown to
487. At the end of the war, more than 1,200 had been hit.
In an interview from Montgomery, Ala., where Warden is now retired, I
asked him to reflect. We "knew at an acceptable level" Iraqi centers of
gravity in August, Warden says. I'm convinced that destroying those 84
targets would create "sufficient paralysis to take advantage of the
unraveling of the system," he says. Warden likens the impact of Instant
Thunder bombing to cutting off the top of an anthill; once you peel off
84 targets, then finding the next 100 is easier.

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As Warden sees it, had Instant Thunder been implemented the first week
of September, the Iraqis would have had no preparation time. As a result,
he says, it could have had a more of a cataclysmic impact than in January
1991. "As we moved forward in time, the chances of successfully
executing the plan decreased," Warden asserts.
This seems to be just another airman who laments that he didn't get to
fight the perfect war. Yet many of Warden's confederates are not nearly
as convinced that the effects of airpower are understood well enough to
posit success in September. Says one senior officer from Checkmate, it
took ten times more than Warden predicted it would take to achieve
Central Command's goals. "We really overestimated our ability," he says.
"What we achieved was orders of magnitude faster than World War II or
Korea." But it was General Horner who was more realistic about what
should be expected from airpower.
The Enemy Decides
Warden's was a brilliant conception and a bold start. Had he not taken the
reigns of leadership and designed his war in August 1990, many Air
Force veterans of Checkmate and Horner's staff believe today that it is
possible that "air-land battle" or some other 1980's design for the use of
airpower would have prevailed.
As Instant Thunder gained momentum, though, additional missions,
targets, objectives, and constraints were added. Somewhere in there were
the initial 84 targets and the original design. But the accumulation diluted
and masked Warden's shot at surgical paralysis. By the time
Schwarzkopf launched "Operation Desert Storm" so many more bombing
targets had been added that became impossible to ascribe effects only to
attacks in Baghdad or against specific targets.
Horner's own recollections of August 1990 are both charitable towards
Warden, and rigid on the enduring debate over strategic bombing.
Though he says now he could not fault Warden for the "glittering list of
targets he laid out," he says Warden's problem is that he saw war "in
terms of the SIOP," the Single Integrated Operational Plan model of
nuclear targets in the Soviet Union. "Execute this plan and the enemy is
defeated," Horner scoffs. "Well, good. But what if he decides not to be
defeated? What do we do then?"
What would Saddam do then? By January 1991, Horner would have so
many combat aircraft at his disposal that he could simultaneously fight
on the battlefield and oversee an essentially autonomous strategic air
campaign in collaboration with Warden's Checkmate.
But it is wrong for anyone to think that the plan that was executed in
early1991 was the plan that Warden had proposed in the searing days of
August 1990.

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Week Five: The Bear


"I have always regretted the fact that I have a temper," General
Schwarzkopf told the
"http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/gulf/oral/schwarzkopf/7.html"
after the Gulf War, "but I also have, you know, great love and respect for
all of the people that have worked for me. I think like everything else,
this is one of those things that has been blown out of proportion."
Well, not so far out of proportion.
"Stormin' Norman" Schwarzkopf, commander in chief (CINC) of Central
Command, was described in the fall of 1990 as a "tough, gruff combat
leader," a soldier's soldier. Nicknamed "the bear" because of his size, the
56-year-old was mostly known by his staff as the grizzly variety.
Virtually every officer contacted today speaks of spending considerable
energy during the war trying to keep the bear at bay.
But Schwarzkopf also could be a teddy bear, emotional and charming,
exuding a dual personality that would come in handy when dealing with
a delicate political coalition, inter-service rivalries and broken
organizations. Various post-war accounts are split about the impact of
Schwarzkopf's despotic side. But while two charismatic generals-Schwarzkopf and Colin Powell--were inspiring American culture for the
first time since the Korean War, God forbid anyone should tell it like it
was: Norman Schwarzkopf was a tyrant.
Stunned Mullets
CENTCOM was a relatively new and sleepy command prior to Desert
Shield, hardly elite in the U.S. military hierarchy, with a staff that many
would say were not up to the task of preparing for war. When
Schwarzkopf moved headquarters from Florida to Saudi Arabia on Aug.
26, his subordinates were naturally fatigued. But they were also
demoralized by months of pre-war tension and terror. "The Lucky
War" (an Army history of the Gulf War) summed up Schwarzkopf this
way: "He was.... a boss who 'shot messengers,' a big man whose
leadership style was that of a classic bully, a commander who employed
his size as a weapon of intimidation and tolerated neither fools nor
honest disagreement gladly."
The treatment was hardly reserved for lower ranks. Schwarzkopf was
particularly well known for bullying his intelligence chief, Brig. Gen.
Henry F. Drewfs, Jr., during morning staff meetings--so much so that the
Army general would be home by noon many days nursing a massive
migraine.
In August, Drewfs was replaced by Brig. Gen. John ("Jack") A. Leide.
"Schwarzkopf would cloud up and rain all over... Leide," Lt. Gen. Chuck
Horner would later say. Leide proved a tougher assailant. "With General
Schwarzkopf's temper if you knew what you were talking about and you
stood in his face and told him, you survived--if you didn't know what you
were talking about or you took him on when you were wrong, it was not
very pretty," said Horner.

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Horner points out, as does Schwarzkopf in his own defense, that people
like Leide would go on to be promoted. Many participants involved in
making decisions during the Gulf War agree that although Schwarzkopf
was quick to express his displeasure, he also would tend to move on to
the next subject. He would not dwell on whatever prompted his
displeasure.
But there could also be major league grudges. After Schwarzkopf and Lt.
Gen. Harry E. Soyster, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, went
toe to toe on the nature of the Iraq threat to Saudi Arabia prior to the
invasion (DIA rejected CENTCOM's planning assumptions as too
pessimistic), sources say Schwarzkopf never spoke to his old friend
again.
In November, an old friend and subordinate, Lt. Gen. Calvin A.H.
Waller, was specially imported from Ft. Lewis, Washington as Deputy
Commander in Chief, CENTCOM to act as a buffer.
"To be perfectly candid and fair the atmosphere was a little tense,"
Waller would later say, "many people said to me when I arrived there
that many of the staff walked around with a stunned mullet look, sort of a
closed caption on their face, staring off into the wild blue yonder... not
quite knowing what to expect or what was going to happen."
Though he denied that this was the reason for his assignment to Saudi
Arabia, he said he uniquely knew "what was required in working with
Norman Schwarzkopf" after four assignments together. "The blood
would start around the shirt collar and then it would work its way up to
the jawline and then to the ears and by the time it got to the ears you
ought to watch out because there was going to be a minor eruption and if
it got to the top of the ears, watch out, because usually there was going to
be an eruption..." Waller said.
The bear wasn't the only one who needed to be caged. As Waller said,
the staff "needed a little tender loving care and a few pats on the back
and someone to let them know that they wouldn't suffer a severe sucking
chest wound if they made a minor mistake." (Calvin A. H. Waller, who
retired from the Army as a three-star Army General, died on May 9, 1996
of a heart attack in Washington, D.C. He was 58)
The Brass
All of the senior officers would find their own ways to deal with the bear.
Most would make a cardinal rule of disagreeing with him only in private
and would use their subordinates to float trial balloons. "Reconnaissance
by fire," they called it, to feel out the CINC's views.
In some ways, senior officers point out, Schwarzkopf really had three
personalities: his public persona, his staff behavior in front of
subordinates and his "private" character. "Commanders in public are far
different than in private if for no other reason than they are often ham
actors," says one senior general officer. Schwarzkopf, he says, "acted like
a different person in public than he did in private. He was driven to be
remembered in a certain way and always was on stage when in public."
In private, this general says of his experiences dealing with Schwarzkopf

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one on one, "he was intelligent, reasoned and quite open to ideas and
arguments."
In contrast to many Army, Navy and Marine Corps commanders, who
would all develop tense relationships with the CINC, Horner and his
strategic air campaign chief, Brig. Gen. Buster C. Glosson, had cordial
relations with Schwarzkopf, and unique personal access. The two briefed
the bear privately every evening, and they became deft at catering to his
mercurial demands (Glosson was particularly adept at passing late
breaking gossip from Washington).
Horner recounts one of his tactics: "One night early in January, we had
reports of helicopters coming across the border... [and] Schwarzkopf was
very confused, the more confused he got the madder he got, because he
wanted a straight story, and his staff kept calling me up" reporting back a
childhood telephone game of confused information. "Well, I was busy
trying to find out what was going on, so at 8 o'clock the hot line rang and
they'd all warned me, so I picked up the phone and I said, what in the hell
do you want? And he said, now Chuck, calm down!"
A Marine Corps post-war study on command and control quotes Brig.
Gen. Richard Neal, Schwarzkopf's operations chief, describing the
requirement for the top commanders themselves to have actual "face"
time with the CINC and not leave matter to subordinate staffers or liaison
officers. "Brigadier generals are link colonels, the CINC listens politely
to major generals, but you have to be a lieutenant general to be believed,"
Neal said.
Reagan-like in his simplicity, on some matters, the bear made decisions
based upon intuition--big picture decisions that would later distress his
own component commands. He seemed to fully appreciate the
psychological and unquantifiable impact of bombing, even if he didn't
understand airpower. And when the ground war would begin, he "read"
the Iraqi defeat, pushing to accelerate the army's advance. Okay, he didn't
see how weak the Iraqi's were before the ground war, nor could he ever
conceive that airpower had largely finished off Saddam's legions. He was
army and armor down to his skivvies: The Schwarzkopf history book
would have to be about ground war, which to the bear, was the only war
there was.

Week Six: General Order 1


"Second item," the Marine Corps chaplain said at his Sept. 8 briefing, "is
Jewish holidays. We intend right now no advertisements on it, verbal
only."
It was like a scene from "Guys and Dolls" where Nathan Detroit was
seeking the venue for an illegal dice game. With the Jewish new year
Rosh Hashanah approaching on Sept. 18, an abandoned warehouse in
Jubayl port had been chosen for secret services. The chaplain was urging

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commanders to get the word out to American troops and civilians who
wanted to worship.
"We will need to have the help of everybody to pull this off," the
chaplain said.
In deployment to the "sandbox," as troops affectionately called Saudi
Arabia, soldiers coped not only with the stress and boredom of
impending warfare; they additionally suffered culture shock in defending
the Saudi kingdom. No doubt the Saudi decision to allow infidel forces
on their soil was a difficult one, and American commanders and
politicians bent over backward to assuage Saudi "sensitivities." But in
doing so, geopolitical interests outweighed American values. It is a
scandalous compromise that continues to this day.
No Fun, No God
On Aug. 30, Gen. Schwarzkopf issued General Order 1. "Operation
Desert Shield places U.S. Armed Forces into USCENTCOM AOR
countries where Islamic Law and Arabic customs prohibit or restrict
certain activities that are generally permissible in Western societies," the
order began. There would be no alcohol, no gambling, no pornography-in fact, no "body building magazines, swim-suit editions of periodicals,
lingerie or underwear advertisement, and catalogues ... [that displayed]
portions of the human torso (i.e., the area below the neck, above the
knees and inside the shoulder)." As soldiers say, in other words, no fun.
Although the order forbade entrance into mosques by non-Moslems, no
other matters of religion were officially covered. Still, chaplains were
told that while they would be allowed to deploy with their units, they
would be referred to as "morale support officers."
They were further instructed to remove all of their branch insignia (cross
or tablets) in the presence of Saudi personnel, and conduct worship
services only behind closed doors or in private settings. Soldiers were
told not to wear crucifixes or other religious articles. Photos, audiotapes
or any publicity of American religious activities, Jewish or not, were
prohibited.
As time went by, restrictions on certain religious activities, such as the
overt presence of chaplains, were eased. In October, however, the news
media reported on a Saudi orientation booklet for soldiers that advised
troops not to talk about Israel or "the Jewish lobby." The pamphlet drew
protests from Jewish organizations, which called the advice an affront to
their beliefs and to the American way. It was a distasteful indignity with
emotional and historical overtones.
Non-Combatants, Non-Persons
The presence of Jewish soldiers would continue to be kept quiet from the
Saudis. But you couldn't hide the women.
"As the center of the Muslim world, we could not afford to be as flexible
as some other countries in matters of public behavior," wrote Gen.
Khalid bin Sultan in his autobiography, "Desert

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Warrior," (HarperCollins, 1995). Khalid, as joint force commander with


Schwarzkopf, says he had to balance Saudi responsibilities with military
needs in dealing with the American presence. He was willing, for
instance, to accept American women truck drivers in combat uniform on
military missions, but "I drew the line at their driving in civilian clothes
for civilian purposes, such as shopping."
Particularly in urban areas, where most of the women tended to be based,
self-appointed Saudi religious police would occasionally take it upon
themselves to harass American women in enforcing Saudi Arabia's
Islamic law. If female soldiers ventured off-base, they were required to
have male escorts, wear Abayas, or thin black robes, and refrain from
any physical contact with men.
When the treatment of women was reported in the news media,
Democratic Rep. Patricia Schroeder of Colorado expressed the outrage of
many "Can you imagine if we sent black soldiers to South Africa and
asked them to go along with apartheid rules?"
No Thanks
Women soldiers, in fact, endured the oppressive conditions well. But
Schwarzkopf and Khalid continued to spend way too much of their time
working out additional rules to General Order 1 regarding the status of
U.S. forces.
At one point early on, according to Rick Francona, an Arab linguist and
intelligence officer on Schwarzkopf's staff, Saudi officials advised U.S.
forces that all sewage generated by American camps would have to be
removed so as not to contaminate sacred Saudi soil. Muslim and
Christian blood would also have to be segregated in military hospitals.
The demands, Francona wrote in his book, "Ally to Adversary" (Naval
Institute Press, 1999), were taken all the way to King Fahd himself,
where "saner heads" prevailed.
That matter dealt with, the king nevertheless would not relent on the ban
against singing or dancing as part of entertainment of the troops. When
Steve Martin visited Saudi Arabia early in Desert Shield, he wasn't even
allowed to do a stand-up show.
Saudi sensitivities extended not just to women's dress, but also to men.
At one point, Khalid says, a T-shirt was being sold with an American
flag in the middle of a map of Saudi Arabia. "The implication was that
the U.S. was an occupying power," he wrote. "I was mad about that, as
was Prince Sultan, who had insisted that I raise the matter." The T-shirt
was officially banned.
When word came back to Washington that the American flag was not
being prominently flown, the Pentagon received a number of
congressional inquiries asking whether there were any legal requirements
for U.S. forces to use the Stars and Stripes in foreign countries. Army
lawyers concluded that, with certain limitations, the practice of not flying
the flag was appropriate under international law.
Thanks for Nothing

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The Department of the Army's after-action report for Desert Storm


condemned the religious restrictions in Saudi Arabia "In future worldwide deployments, current nomenclature, i.e., "chaplains" and "worship
services," must not be modified or deleted in order to address different
cultural/national sensitivities."
But a new, even more restrictive, version of General Order 1 is still in
effect for U.S. forces who are still quietly stationed in Saudi Arabia; and
the current Army orientation booklet for Saudi Arabia forbids any
political discussions, instructing soldiers not to display a crucifix or Star
of David in public, "even as jewelry." Female soldiers are still required to
wear an Abaya while traveling off-post, and expected to sit in the back of
the bus and submit to being second-class citizens, regardless of their
equality in the ranks.
In the end, Khalid boasted, without alcohol, "Saudi Arabia was the
biggest health farm in the world ... we should charge ... troops for the
privilege of being there!"
Now ain't that nice. The Saudi prince conveniently ignored the fact that
alcohol is widely consumed by Saudi men in the privacy of their own
homes, and during Operation Desert Shield, alcohol also was openly
consumed by Saudi military officers, while their U.S. counterparts
refused to partake.
What Khalid also ignored is that tobacco use also increased enormously
during the Gulf War among U.S. forces, according to the Army. And
then there's the so-called Gulf War syndrome, coupled with whatever
other "foreign" sicknesses American soldiers have picked up in their 10
years of continued deployments in the hallowed kingdom.
And sober or not, Americans died and were wounded in far larger
numbers than Saudi troops during Operation Desert Storm, all to protect
the Saudi way of life.

Week Seven: HUMINT


One day early on in Desert Shield, an officer of the Central Intelligence
Agency walked into the "Checkmate" offices in the Pentagon,
introducing himself as "Mr. Smith." Col. John Warden, the Checkmate
head, had briefed agency officers on the Instant Thunder plan and Smith
was there to help.
A former station chief in Baghdad, Smith had knowledge about a number
of government buildings there. "I had lunch with the director of the Iraqi
Mukhabarat in his office," he told Warden's targeters, pointing out, on a
satellite photograph of the huge Iraqi Intelligence Service office
complex, a specific window in a top-floor office overlooking Zawra park.
"The guy's office became the aimpoint," Warden says. "The most
important files and key communications were likely to be real close."

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No Ace in the Hole


"Leadership" was the center of Checkmate's strategic attack design, and
Warden recognized no hierarchy or organizational diagram in the mad
scramble to find targets. Former diplomats, defense attaches, Iraqi
defectors and migrs-many already on the U.S. payroll-were enlisted to
help. The intelligence agencies got blueprints and plans on how the air
defense, telephone, electrical and petroleum systems worked from
French, Swedish and Japanese contractors. Bunkers and command and
control centers inside Saddam's palaces were identified.
It is an article of faith that human rather than technical intelligence
provides the best insight in the case of personality-based regimes. And
all seem to agree that Desert Shield and Desert Storm were not human
intelligence's (HUMINT's) shining moment. Gen. Schwarzkopf, in his
autobiography "It Doesn't Take a Hero" (Bantam, 1992), says that "our
human intelligence sources were poor" inside Baghdad for getting
information about American hostages. Brig. Gen. John Stewart, the
Army component G-2 in Saudi Arabia, says the U.S. was "critically short
on clandestine HUMINT ... there was next to none that contributed to the
military operation."
The partially declassified Army Intelligence and Security Command
After Action Report for Desert Storm states that "Iraq was a tightly
controlled police state able to impose maximum barriers against the
collection of current intelligence through HUMINT."
Nonetheless, the HUMINT effort was extensive, and like Checkmate's
seat-of-the-pants collection, there were some successes.
The Grateful Undead
The day after Iraq invaded Kuwait, the U.S. Army Operational Group at
Fort Meade, Md., received authorization to begin HUMINT collection
operations in support of CENTCOM. The Operational Group worked
primarily with the CIA's Domestic Contacts Division in keeping track of,
and "debriefing," migrs and foreigners who might possess information
of value.
Meanwhile, the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) tapped
clandestine sources with more current information: returning hostages;
Kuwaiti military officers and refugees; foreign governments; U.S. and
foreign businessmen who had operated in the country; and third parties in
contact with Iraq, especially Arab contacts.
With the Army's new intelligence tasking on Aug. 3, case officers started
the laborious process of going back through their reports and records, as
well as files of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, looking for
Iraqi sources living in the United States or elsewhere to "debrief."
Sources then were interviewed about their military service, any barracks
or airfields they were familiar with and Iraqi army organization and
personalities.
The Iraqis were used to identifying mosques and hospitals, particularly in
smaller towns, for "no-hit" target lists. Altogether, Army intelligence

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would contact or re-contact more than 400 sources through this effort.
"Former Iraqi military ... provided significant insights into the Iraqi
military operations and capabilities," says the partially declassified After
Action Report.
Military intelligence and the CIA interrogated two high-level sources
repeatedly. The first was WES 2901, the code name for a retired Iraqi
major general who had been debriefed by the CIA at its "Westport"
facility in Germany (hence the WES designation) and recontacted after
the invasion. Warden even sent one of his colonels to speak with WES
2901 "to get a feel for the Iraqi mindset," the colonel says.
WES 2901 was later flown to Washington for exhaustive debriefings by
the Operational Group. Set up in an office and given information on the
invasion and Iraqi deployments, he provided his own assessments and
analyses of the situation based on his experience. Throughout Desert
Shield and into the war, intelligence maintained contact with WES 2901,
and he provided analyses in response to intelligence requests.
While WES 2901 might not have possessed much "current" intelligence,
the second U.S. source, IZAR -0002-91, did. IZAR-0002-91 was an Iraqi
military officer who defected to Saudi Arabia after the invasion and
underwent extensive debriefing by the CIA, DIA and the Operational
Support Detachment of the Army's 513th Military Intelligence Brigade.
More than 100 intelligence reports were produced on the basis of IZAR0002-91's information. The officer identified dozens of leadership and
command-and-control targets, all of which were subsequently attacked,
sometimes within hours of their identification.
Cut In, Cut Out
As the standoff continued, Iraqi deserters, and later prisoners of war,
would prove an abundant source of data, particularly tactical information.
But in the early days, agents reporting to foreign governments were one
of the most lucrative sources of information.
"Mountain Hall," reporting from Israel, was particularly voluminous: The
CIA and DIA had established exchange programs with Israel to share
intelligence, and Mountain Hall-compartmented material from Israeli
analysts was particularly useful in providing insight regarding Iraqi
ballistic missiles and nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) weapons.
Though publicly discredited because of exaggerated reporting-like the
infamous but later discredited "incubator" tales of Iraqi soldiers
removing babies from respirators at Kuwait City hospitals to die-Kuwaiti
resistance actually proved to be an excellent source of intelligence,
according to two officers involved in the program.
With access to fax machines and satellite telephones, the resistance
provided a running commentary on Iraqi actions in and around Kuwait
City. Within days of the invasion, an informal resistance already was
taking down street signs and removing house numbers to confuse Iraqi
special units that were canvassing neighborhoods for westerners, highranking Kuwaiti officials and military officers. In September, Kuwaiti
resistance accurately reported that Iraqi engineers were placing 40-pound

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explosive packs on hundreds of Kuwaiti oil well heads.


"I never thought the Kuwaitis had it in them," says one CENTCOM
intelligence officer.
Perhaps the most surprising HUMINT source, and one of the most secret,
proved was a high-level Saudi officer who quietly agreed to provide
intelligence from a source in Baghdad. Information derived from this
source included Scud missile sites, ammunition storage sites, the identity
of some foreign countries and personalities involved in the Iraqi research
and production efforts and insight into Iraqi NBC weapons. Once the war
started, the Baghdad source provided some bomb damage assessment
(BDA) data.
Meanwhile, the CIA and DIA were running extensive HUMINT
operations in the area, particularly in Jordan, among Iraqi refugees and
defectors. When Schwarzkopf heard of one DIA operation being run out
of Jordan without his knowledge, he banned further DIA HUMINT
personnel from the theater.
Since Schwarzkopf had a habit of checking the list of "visitors" to the
theater, his intelligence staffers used their own human intelligence and
quietly decided not to list DIA people.

Week Eight: Don't Know Much About Biology


When the name "Salman Pak" was mentioned as Iraq's biological
weapons facility in The New York Times on Sept. 5, 1990, there was an
air of specificity that presented the implication that Saddam Hussein's
arsenal was known, and vulnerable to the United States and its allies. The
facility had actually first been publicly fingered by ABC-TV more than a
year and a half earlier. And in Apr. 1990, NBC-TV had reported that the
Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta had exported cultures of West
Nile Fever virus to the laboratory.
Yet even though Salman Pak would soon show up on virtually every
news media and expert map of prospective Iraqi targets, when the Air
Force's Checkmate target planners finalized their first "Operation Insant
Thunder" target list, Salman Pak was inexplicably absent. This would be
the beginning of a tense internal effort to find, and destroy, Iraq's
biological weapons (BW). Air war planners soon corrected their error,
and it didn't take long before Washington made it clear that this was a
national priority. But the intelligence establishment never could produce
the goods, even as enormous energy went into meticulously planning
attacks on "suspected" facilities.
Bugs and Things
With CIA Director William Webster's public acknowledgment that Iraq
had a "sizable stockpile" of biological weapons (BW) in September

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1990, America was largely introduced to a new Iraqi threat. House


Armed Services Committee chairman Rep. Les Aspin, D-Wisc., told
reporters that BW constituted "a new dimension to the problem ... more
important and more serious ... than the chemical threat." Two germ
weapons - botulinum toxin and anthrax - were "confirmed" to be under
development, and Iraq's program was labeled the most aggressive and
extensive in the Third World.
While the press filled with apocalyptic scenarios of Iraqi germ warfare,
enormous internal U.S. government energy went into examining
potential Iraqi civilian casualties that might stem from the destruction of
biological agents in their bunkers. This was particularly the case after a
Defense Intelligence Agency assessment concluded that "an attack on the
Iraqi biological agent storages [sic] could result in the release of virulent
microorganisms and/or toxins that could result in exceedingly high
casualties/fatalities."
The worst-case official scenario was truly apocalyptic.
An Iraq Interagency Biological Warfare Working Group was established
in response to Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney's urging, and its BW
Technical Assessment estimated that if 1,000 kilograms of dried anthrax
spores were stored in a bunker in bulk containers, and 99.99 percent were
killed or somehow contained in the bunker during an attack, the resultant
release of just .01 percent would mean about 100,000 billion spores in
the air.
"This translates into 5-10 billion human lethal doses," the report stated.
Intelligence agencies had no hard evidence of BW production or
munitions. Before the invasion, there were intelligence reports that Iraq
had acquired 40 custom-built Mistral-2 aerosol generators able to spray
micron size BW particles. A subsequent classified DIA assessment
concluded ominously that "In light of the unscrupulous use of chemical
agents in the Iran-Iraq war and the record of human rights in Iraq, we
postulate that given a threatening or no-win circumstance, Iraq will
launch a BW attack." By October, the intelligence agencies were
speculating in Top Secret reports that Iraq probably also possessed
clostridium perfingens, vibrio cholerae, plague, tularemia, brucellosis,
and staphylococcal enterotoxin B.
In October, the Armed Force Medical Intelligence Center circulated their
classified assessment:
We believe that ... agents have been weaponized and that biological and
toxin munitions already exist. We further believe that deployment of BW
munitions in significant numbers will take place by the end of this year,
if not already implemented.
The Plan
Air war planners in Checkmate and the CENTCOM Black Hole in
Riyadh were hardly equally seized with the problem. The disconnect was
that destruction of Iraq's nuclear, biological, and chemical capability did
not fit Col. John Warden's conception of Iraq's "centers of gravity." He
believed, and Brig. General Buster Glosson, the newly appointed chief of

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the Black Hole, seemed to agree, that the Iraqi leadership was indeed the
first targeting priority, followed by infrastructure such as
communications, electricity and oil facilities.
Yet it was abundantly clear that Washington was obsessed with nuclear,
biological, and chemical (NBC) weapons. When Glosson went to
Washington in early October to brief President Bush on the outlines of
the plan to bomb Iraq, Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf's staff suggested
that the name for the target "priority-two" target category labeled
"infrastructure" be re-designated "Nuclear-Chemical-Biological
Capability" to reflect the national emphasis.
That didn't mean that the Black Hole had any new targets. Other than the
nondescript Salman Pak center on a finger-like peninsula of the Tigris
River 25 kilometers south of Baghdad, there was nothing else to bomb.
By November, intelligence would identify three additional facilities near
Baghdad that it labeled "suspect" BW -related. Two were in Abu Ghraib,
a western suburb (one being the infamous "baby milk" factory, which
will be addressed later in this series). The third was a suspect production
site at Taji, north of the city.
Based on the design of the storage bunkers at Salman Pak, imagery
analysts also identified 35 12-frame bunkers located at dispersed eight
ammunition depots from Basra to northern Iraq as potential vaults for
special weapons. Seventeen of the 35 had "probable" refrigeration
equipment and duct work near or on their entrances, Top Secret reports
stated. Air conditioning "might" be related to biological weapons, CIA
and DIA analysts concluded.
In the Dark
A month before the Iraqi invasion, the CIA issued two Top Secret reports
- "Iraq's Growing Arsenal: Programs and Facilities" and "Beating
Plowshare into Swords" - on Saddam's extensive industrial infrastructure.
Though the reports described in detail the functions of industrial
facilities, they were also decidedly limited in terms of what the agency
knew. The problem, "Iraq's Growing Arsenal" reported, was that "...
many entities are false end users, passing the materials acquired from
foreign suppliers directly to enterprises involved in military projects,
including chemical and biological warfare." In other words, the BW
program was being hidden behind vaccines, veterinary medicine and
food research.
Intelligence analysts did not know if there were produced agents, nor
where they were, but still the planners had to consider the possibility of
infecting the Iraqi population, coalition soldiers, and adjoining nations. A
fierce internal battle raged from October to well into December over
whether even to attack BW bunkers. Many in Washington argued that it
was too risky altogether to bomb BW facilities.
Generals Schwarzkopf and Horner argued that the risks could be
minimized with the proper targeting technique. Attacks would take place
at dawn, when there were low winds. Exposure to the sun's ultraviolet

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rays would then accelerate the breakdown of concentrated agents. The


surest way of degrading BW toxins, scientists speculated, was to create
very high temperatures. Weapons specialists suggested penetrating the
refrigerated bunkers with 2000-lb. laser-guided bombs and then
immediately dropping incendiary-filled cluster bombs to burn off any
escaping spores. Using this technique, biological weapons would become
first night targets for F-117 stealth fighters.
Meanwhile, a new "Fusion Committee" of the Interagency Working
Group reevaluated the earlier report, concluding a mere six days before
the Jan. 15 United Nations deadline for Iraq to withsraw from Kuwait
that "the original estimates of potential Iraqi casualties resulting from
U.S. and coalition air strikes on BW related facilities was far too high."
They said that there was little likelihood that strikes would be a threat to
coalition forces, and that Iraqi dangers, they believed, were minimal.
Little did the targeters or the decision-makers know that they had the
potential of bombing just about any facility and unleashing biological
agents, given the lack of accurate information. It would be five years
before the United States would finally learn the true nature of Saddam's
germ warfare arsenal.

Week Nine: SPECAT Nike Air


On Sept. 16, 1990, the Illinois-based Transportation Command
(TRANSCOM) sent a priority message to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and
U.S. Central Command in Saudi Arabia asking for clarification. In its
stack of movement requests for troops, equipment and munitions,
TRANSCOM came across a message that, in the words of a planner on
the Pentagon's Joint Staff crisis action team, "smelled fishy."
A CENTCOM message of Sept. 9, referring to a Top Secret Appendix 2
to Annex C of the Operation Desert Shield plan, called for the
deployment of toxic chemical weapons (CW) in support of U.S. ground
forces.
Was CENTCOM indeed saying it wanted poison gas to be deployed to
Saudi Arabia, TRANSCOM asked? And if so, "what is desired mode of
shipment, air or surface?"
Needless to say, the inquiry sent staff officers scurrying to decipher the
genesis of CENTCOM's request, and to determine U.S. policy on the
deployment and use of its own chemical arms. Officially, they found,
there was no ambiguity: The United States reserved the right to retaliate
in kind against hostile use. Yet strangely, no civilian authority had
ordered that the controversial munitions be deployed to Saudi Arabia.
Quite to the contrary, the crisis action team found that the prospective
deployment was an "autopilot" decision, precipitated by the mad rush to
deploy forces.
Four days later, Washington directed Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf's

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headquarters to put a "hold" on any preparations to deploy chemical


weapons. "It is important to keep a low profile on CW deliberations," the
message said. "Approval is required before any further CW planning is
undertaken."
Part of the reason that many felt it was necessary to respond so forcefully
to Iraq was its repeated use of chemical weapons in the Iran-Iraq war, a
key part of its pattern of law-breaking. But the discussion of U.S. options
wasn't permanently put to rest: Instead, the Joint Staff told CENTCOM
that any further deliberations were to take place only in a special
compartmented category (SPECAT) of information with the codename
"Nike Air" to keep it in a tight circle.
Definitely Not the Kitchen Sink
A week before CENTCOM issued its "requirement" for chemical
weapons, Joint Staff officers caught another gaffe, this time a nuclear
one. Officers slogging through the Army deployment list for Saudi
Arabia flagged the 1st Battalion, 12th Field Artillery Regiment, a shortrange Lance missile unit from Ft. Sill, Okla., as preparing to deploy. The
unit's equipment was literally on railcars and ready to move to ports in
Texas before the missilemen were ordered to stand down.
Though a "standard" part of corps-level artillery, no one wanted the
political fallout or the image of deploying a unit with nuclear-weapons
capability.
But again, this was the war plan running on autopilot. Outside observers
might imagine that the Pentagon has "contingency" plans for every
possibility, but in the case of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, CENTCOM was
caught unprepared.
Staffers had cribbed from Operations Plan 1021-88, the Cold War
contingency plan to defend against a Soviet invasion of Iran, to piece
together an American response. In the language of the military, the plan's
time-phased force and deployment data (TPFDD or "tip-fiddle")
provided a database of apportioned forces and personnel with their
accompanying supplies.
What no one initially noticed was that OPLAN 1021-88 had an "Annex
C," that is, a nuclear weapons annex, which foresaw not only deployment
of chemical arms but nuclear forces as well. Nuclear options were
discussed at a September meeting in the "tank," the highly secure
chamber of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, where the chiefs decided not to
move nuclear warheads to the Persian Gulf. But still, units at bases
across the United States received no clear direction from on high.
The Nuclear Umbrella
The chiefs may have decided to rule out the movement of weapons, but a
variety of military organizations quietly began to examine nuclear
options. Led by the "special weapons branch" in the Operations
Directorate and the office of the Scientific Advisor at Schwarzkopf's
headquarters, the Army staff, Defense Nuclear Agency (DNA), Strategic

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Air Command (SAC) and the Department of Energy's national


laboratories all contributed ideas and proposals.
What precipitated the planning, CENTCOM officers say, was an off-thecuff remark by Schwarzkopf two days after the invasion when he agreed
that his science adviser could look into the feasibility of a high-altitude
nuclear burst to create an electromagnetic pulse that might disable
communications and missile-launch systems. Early in Operation Desert
Shield, according to Rick Atkinson's Crusade: The Untold Story of the
Persian Gulf War (Houghton Mifflin, 1994), Schwarzkopf also suggested
the United States dispatch a formal "demarche" to Baghdad: "If you use
chemical weapons, we're going to use nuclear weapons on you."
None of the potential nuclear options required Lance missiles or other
Army short-range systems.
Besides, by mid-September, while the Army was still scrambling to
deploy troops, particularly heavy forces with their massive logistics
"tail," a variety of dual-capable air and missile forces was already on the
ground. Navy aircraft flying from aircraft carriers had a nuclear
capability, Tomahawk cruise missiles in-theater could be fitted with a
nuclear warhead, and nuclear bombs already were stored at Incirlik
airbase in southern Turkey, deliverable by F-16 and F-111F aircraft.
On Sept. 12, with the arrival of the last special operations AC-130
gunship at King Fahd airport in Saudi Arabia, 962 fixed-wing aircraft
and approximately 1,100 helicopters were deployed. Lt. Gen. Chuck
Horner, the joint forces air component commander, reported to
Schwarzkopf that the last Phase I combat aircraft was in-theater.
Well, maybe not the last aircraft: There was another nuclear problem,
this time involving the B-52 bomber.
A Nuclear Headache
On Aug. 11, less than nine days after the Iraqi invasion, the first seven B52G bombers from Loring Air Force Base, Maine, arrived at Diego
Garcia airbase in the Indian Ocean with full conventional weapons loads.
SAC was only too happy to supply its aging Cold War bombers to the
Mideast crisis. Since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the command's
focus had increasingly shifted to the bomber's conventional orientation
and away from the nuclear mission.
By Aug. 16, SAC had dispatched 20 B-52Gs to Diego Garcia.
Schwarzkopf was surprised and delighted by the speed of SAC's
response. The "Bear" wanted the bombers available to pulverize the
Republican Guard divisions, and before long, he wanted even more of
the eight-engined aircraft.
That's when the State Department ran into considerable political
opposition.
Though the British government accommodated the B-52 deployment to
its colonial territory in the Indian Ocean, other governments wanted
nothing to do with symbols of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. The Pentagon
undertook an exhaustive search for potential B-52 bases, surveying every

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possible site within a 4,000-mile radius of Baghdad.


Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney personally asked Egyptian President
Hosni Mubarak for permission to base B-52s at the Cairo West Airbase
adjacent to the Pyramids, and Mubarak refused. Saudi Arabia also said
no to bringing the bombers into the kingdom. Spain dithered. Basing
negotiations proved such a diplomatic hassle that Cheney abandoned the
effort on Oct. 2.
Eventually, the Saudis agreed to allow B-52s at Jeddah, but the proviso
was that the deployment be kept strictly secret and that the aircraft stay
away until the shooting started. A dozen bombers would be prepared for
first-night deployments, and six more readied for movement to Moron
Airbase, Spain.
From the beginning, B-52 crewmen prepared for low-altitude bombing
missions. Low-level had been adopted in the late 1950s to counter the
threat posed by Soviet high-altitude surface-to-air missiles, a tactic
seemingly confirmed in the Vietnam War, where most B-52 losses
occurred from hits at high altitude.
But low-level also meant finer accuracy. What the crew found once the
shooting started, however, was that Gens. Schwarzkopf and Horner didn't
care about B-52 accuracy; crew survival was their top priority.
Besides, Schwarzkopf's goal in employing the massive bombers was to
terrorize Iraqi soldiers, a goal that was as much psychological as
physical. For the same reason that foreign governments were antsy about
the B-52's link with nuclear weapons and their role in Vietnam,
Schwarzkopf loved them.
Washington's solution to the political sensitivity of the nuclear machines
was boilerplate Cold War non-responsiveness as well: No press visits
would be allowed to B-52 units, no pictures would be released, carpet bombing missions would be denied and the existence of the bombers in
Saudi Arabia would stay an official "secret" even after the war.
But by late September, more was happening than mere efforts to employ
nuclear-capable forces armed only with conventional weapons in the
looming confrontation with Iraq. Under the highest security, another
"specat" had been formed--this one so secret that its existence has not
been revealed until now.
At the White House and in Cheney's office at the Pentagon, senior
political and military officials were seriously studying what many would
deem an unthinkable option: the consideration of threatening to use
nuclear weapons against Saddam Hussein.

Week Ten: Cruise Control


In the pre-dawn darkness on Jan. 16, 1991, seven B-52 bombers quietly
took off from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., on a 35-hour, 14,000-mile
mission, the longest in Air Force history. Flying a great circle route, the

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bombers funneled through the Strait of Gibraltar between Spain and


Morocco on the way to Iraq.
For veteran pilots, "shooting the straits" had become common practice
after the United States lost the right to overfly Spain in the 1970's. As the
bombers headed into the Mediterranean, the State Department was still
awaiting word from Ankara whether they would be permitted to fly
through Turkish airspace. In the topsy-turvy "new world order,"
overflight permission had been granted by former Warsaw Pact
adversaries -- Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Romania -- while
traditional Western European partners kept their airspace off-limits.
The Louisiana B-52s were armed with 39 conventional air-launched
cruise missiles (CALCMs, pronounced "cal-cums"), a detail the Turks
would not be told. The mere existence of the missiles was so closely held
that when Air Force planners in the Pentagon "Checkmate" targeting cell
compiled their first Top Secret "Instant Thunder" air war briefing in
August 1990, they could only refer to the weapon as a "long-range
bomb."
By the end of September, as the outlines of the planned air war solidified,
the Navy's Tomahawk land-attack cruise missile and the F-117
Nighthawk stealth fighter joined CALCM as central actors in the
strategic air campaign. Not one of these had never figured in Middle East
contingency plans prior to the Iraqi invasion. At least when it came to the
cruise missiles, there was enormous skepticism about whether they could
be relied upon to do the job.
One of the long-hidden facets of Operation Desert Shield and Desert
Storm was this top secret rivalry and maneuvering over advanced
weapons systems that would receive their baptism of fire in Iraq.
Going Downtown
Checkmate's original attack plan called for sending Air Force F-111F
"Aardvarks" and Navy A-6E Intruders into the heart of Baghdad, but
computer simulations and calculations of aircraft attrition predicted that
attacks would be too costly for the Vietnam-era planes, and planners
eventually shifted responsibility to the F-117s.
Though the Tomahawk cruise missile was in the initial Instant Thunder
plan, many in Washington - and many even in the Navy -- distrusted the
never-before-used weapon. The press was filled with stories questioning
the "high-tech toy."
Internally, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Colin Powell was the main
skeptic. When the chairman was briefed by Brig. Gen. Buster Glosson on
Sept. 13, Marvin Pokrant reports in Desert Shield at Sea (Greenwood,
1999) that Powell reportedly pulled out a study he had been given before
leaving Washington showing the Tomahawk was not reliable. Powell
allegedly told Glosson that he wanted the missile pulled out of the strike
plan.
Initially, the Navy intended using the Tomahawks to suppress air
defenses. The unmanned cruise missiles would attack key surface-to-air
missile sites and command nodes, paving the way for aircraft to follow,

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or so the theory went. But with stealth fighters, air planners didn't
necessarily need a missile to poke holes in the Baghdad shield. A
technical issue led targeting planners in the Central Command "Black
Hole" to mistrust the Tomahawk even more: Its "time on target" could
not be accurately predicted, complicating the split-second choreography
of massive air strikes. Moreover, the cruise missile's 1,000 lb. warhead
was a lightweight pretender to its nuclear-armed cousins originally
designed for Cold War missions.
Up to mid-September, all Tomahawk targets selected by the Black Hole
were independent of manned aircraft strikes. But starting in October,
after a series of Top Secret exercises code-named "Nemean Lion," some
cruise missiles were incorporated into the choreography of the strategic
attack plan. Air defenses were downgraded as a Tomahawk target and
electrical power facilities in and around central Iraq were earmarked for
the cruise missiles.
Skepticism about Tomahawk was not helped by the fact that preparing
the missile targeting plan would take the entire five-month duration of
Operation Desert Shield. The targeting process seemed plagued with
problems and the workload to prepare the missiles even under the best of
circumstances was enormous. One mission required several weeks to plot
out, and only the command centers at the U.S. Atlantic and Pacific Fleets
were capable of generating the complex and lengthy computer
commands needed.
Tomahawk navigates by the "terrain contour matching guidance system,"
or TERCOM. A radar altimeter periodically scans below the missile and
a computer measures a profile of the terrain features, comparing the
"fingerprint" with an on-board digital map to adjust the flight route.
Since the missile would drift as much as 2,200 feet during an hour of
flight with inertial guidance, the TERCOM "scenes" had to be
sufficiently large -- more one mile square -- so that the missile could find
a landmark to correct its path.
For terminal accuracy, Tomahawk uses a supplement to TERCOM for its
final leg. An optical sensor compares digitized data collected by the
missile near the targets with stored black and white photographs, and the
missile maneuvers based upon its location within the scene. The Defense
Mapping Agency, working with the Navy, scrambled to produce the
most basic digital scenes for Iraq. As targets were chosen, and as Iraqi air
defenses were mapped, routes were selected to avoid having the missiles
shot down or hitting tall objects, and terminal scenes near intended
targets were produced. On numerous occasions in the fall of 1990,
targeters found errors in scene preparation or procedures that sent them
back to the drawing boards. In one instance, they found that many scenes
were incompatible with the time of night Tomahawks were scheduled to
fly, so thousands of additional hours were required to ready the missiles.
A Battle of the Missiles
Of course, F-117 stealth fighters also required enormous investments in
time and unprecedented levels of detail in order for pilots to have the

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target folders required to hit their aimpoints. But it was the Tomahawk
that developed a reputation as an unreliable drain on resources. If all
systems operated as planned, the missile could strike within 100 feet of
its aimpoint, or roughly double that of the Air Force's CALCM. With its
early generation, single-channel Global Positioning Satellite (GPS)
receiver, CALCM seemed to have greater flexibility to the Air Forcedominated Black Hole. But, of course, air planners never had to defend it
in an open debate, given that the missile remained a closely guarded
secret.
Tomahawk also had its own super-secret component, the ability to attack
electrical power transformer yards with a cluster bomb-like warhead that
disperses hundreds of spools of tiny conductive filaments to cause
distribution lines and transformers to short circuit. The weapon -- code
named Kit 2 -- had been developed under yet another Top Secret
program, conceived by war planners fascinated with the potential for
"non-lethal warfare." The special warheads would disable electrical
distribution without destroying generating capacity. Saddam's highly
advanced national electric grid, one of the finest in the Third World,
would prove an optimum bullseye to test the new capability.
Thus, Tomahawk and the Kit 2 became central to the air war's systemic
attack on Iraq, while CALCM ended up being a marginal weapon. In the
original Instant Thunder plan -- 84 targets and a few hundred aircraft -CALCMs were dominent. However, over the five months of Desert
Shield, the allied air armada grew to almost 2,000 fighters and bombers,
and the target list grew to some 5,000 aimpoints.
What is more, though Air Force boosters would later contend that
CALCM's were the only systems that could reach northern Iraqi targets
in the opening salvos of Desert Storm, only one out of the eight targets
eventually assigned to the Barksdale bombers would be located in the
north.
The Tomahawk, as we will examine later, would have its own share of
problems. But CALCM had a most inauspicious debut. Classified Air
Force records, an examination of the targets on the ground, and
interviews with eyewitnesses to the strikes show that four of the 39
missiles failed to launch, and of the remaining 35, no more than 28 hit
their aimpoints. Of the eight targets, two were missed completely, and
civilian "collateral damage" occurred at three others.
Across the street from the Basra main post office, at least one missile hit
a five-story apartment building, destroying the structure. The Amarah
telephone exchange located in the Yarmouk neighborhood was
destroyed, but four nearby homes and a Ba'ath party social club were
damaged by an errant CALCM. The worst damage occurred in the
southern Iraqi town of Diwaniyah. Eleven civilians were killed and 49
were wounded when CALCMs struck apartment buildings and homes
adjacent to the downtown telephone exchange and telecommunications
tower. The Diwaniyah strike would be the worst case of collateral
damage on the first night of Desert Storm, but since the Air Force never
revealed CALCM targets, the results would never appear to blemish its
record.

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For a full year after Desert Storm, CALCM would remain secret. Then,
on the first anniversary of Operation Desert Storm, the Air Force
revealed the existence of the missile. As the industry newsletter Navy
News dryly reported, the revelation came only after Time magazine
crowned the Navy's Tomahawk as "missile of the year."
Some wars never end.

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