October, the New York Times reported that Secretary of Defense
Donald Rumsfeld ordered the military's regional commanders to rewrite
all of their war plans to capitalize on precision weapons, better
intelligence and speedier deployment in the event the United States
decided to invade Iraq. That war plan, which Rumsfeld helped shape,
has now failed and has led to deep divisions between military commanders
and the defense secretary, according to news reports.
Despite Rumsfeld's recent denials that he did not override requests
by military brass to deploy more ground troops in Iraq, he
told the Times last year that the cornerstone of the
war plan against Iraq was to use fewer ground troops, a move that
caused consternation among some in the military who said concern for
the troops requires overwhelming numerical superiority to assure victory,
the Times reported in its Oct. 13, 2002 edition.
These officers said they view Rumsfeld's approach as injecting too
much risk into war planning and have said it could result in U.S.
casualties that might be prevented by amassing larger forces.
refused to listen to his military commanders, Pentagon officials
told the Washington Post Saturday.
Rumsfeld said last year that his plan would allow "the military
to begin combat operations on less notice and with far fewer troops
than thought possible – or thought wise – before the Sept.
11, 2001, terrorist attacks," the Times reported.
"Looking at what was overwhelming force a decade or two decades
ago, today you can have overwhelming force, conceivably, with lesser
numbers because the lethality is equal to or greater than before"
Rumsfeld told the Times.
The speedier use of smaller and more agile forces also could provide
the president with time to order an offensive against Iraq that could
be carried out this winter, the optimal season for combat in the desert,
which is exactly what President Bush did.
The new approach for how the U.S. might go to war, Rumsfeld said last
year, reflects an assessment of the need after Sept. 11 to refresh
war plans continuously and to respond faster to threats from terrorists
and nations possessing biological, chemical or nuclear weapons, according
to the Times.
Rumsfeld first laid the groundwork for a U.S. led invasion of Iraq
shortly after the Sept. 11. Like his well-known, "Rumsfeld's
rules," a collection of wisdom he has compiled over three
decades on how to succeed in Washington, Rumsfeld's checklist used
the same methodical approach to determining when U.S. military force
should be used in the event of war against Iraq.
Rumsfeld kept the checklist tucked away in his desk drawer at the
Pentagon. Since last March, when it became clear that the Bush administration
was leaning toward using military force to overthrow Saddam Hussein's
regime, Rumsfeld added what he said were important elements to the
checklist to ensure the U.S. would be prepared for a full-scale war.
But Rumsfeld and the Bush Administration never lived up to the promises
laid out in the checklist when the U.S. military bombed Baghdad. For
Rumsfeld says the public "should not be allowed to believe
an engagement could be executed . . . with few casualties."
Yet the president and Rumsfeld didn't prepare Americans for major
casualties. Bush warned in an Oct. 7 speech in Cincinnati that "military
action could be difficult" and that there is no "easy
or risk-free course of action."
Risks. Rumsfeld warns that the risks of taking action "must
be carefully considered" along with the dangers of doing nothing.
The administration has repeatedly made the case against inaction
– the possibility that Saddam will acquire nuclear weapons
and strike the U.S. But it has not been equally candid about the
dangers of action.
Rumsfeld urges U.S. leadership to be "brutally honest with
itself, Congress, the public and coalition partners." Yet the
administration has not produced compelling evidence to support its
claims that Saddam is linked to al-Qaeda terrorists, is on the verge
of acquiring nuclear weapons or intends to strike the U.S. To the
contrary, the CIA has played down Iraq's ties to al-Qaeda and a
possible first strike.
said too many of the military plans on the shelves of the regional
war-fighting commanders were freighted with outdated assumptions and
military requirements, which have changed with the advent of new weapons
It has been a mistake, he said, to measure the quantity of forces
required for a mission and "fail to look at lethality, where
you end up with precision-guided munitions, which can give you 10
times the lethality that a dumb weapon might, as an example,"
according to the Times report.
Through a combination of pre-deployments, faster cargo ships and a
larger fleet of transport aircraft, the military would be able to
deliver "fewer troops but in a faster time that would allow you
to have concentrated power that would have the same effect as waiting
longer with what a bigger force might have," Rumsfeld said.
Critics in the military said last year there were several reasons
to deploy a force of overwhelming numbers before starting any offensive
with Iraq. Large numbers illustrate U.S. resolve and can intimidate
Iraqi forces into laying down their arms or even turning against Hussein's
Large numbers in the region also would be required should the initial
offensive go badly. Also, once victory is at hand, it might require
an even larger force to pacify Iraq and search for weapons of mass
destruction than it took to topple Hussein.
According to Defense Department sources, Rumsfeld at first insisted
that vast air superiority and a degraded Iraqi military would enable
75,000 U.S. troops to win the war. Gen. Tommy Franks, the theater
commander-in-chief, convinced Rumsfeld to send 250,000 (augmented
by 45,000 British). However, the Army would have preferred a much
deeper force, leading to anxiety inside the Pentagon in the first
week of war, conservative columnist Bob Novak reported last week.
While Army officers would have preferred a larger commitment, even
what was finally approved for Operation Iraqi Freedom was reduced
when the 4th Infantry Division was denied Turkey as a base
to invade northern Iraq. The Defense and State departments point fingers.
Secretary of State Colin Powell is criticized for not flying to Ankara
to convince the Turkish government. The Pentagon is criticized for
not immediately dispatching the division via the Red Sea, Novak reported.
To the critics who said last year that Rumsfeld is accepting too much
risk in U.S. war planning, Rumsfeld said he had ordered rigorous reviews
and was satisfied. "We are prepared for the worst case,"
he told the Times.