Palm Beach Post (Florida) March 19, 2003
Tracking U.S. Troops
How war would likely be fought
U.S. commanders' strategy would be a swift, simultaneous air and ground attack.
Attack from the air
U.S. and British warplanes will target:
* Iraq's anti-aircraft missiles
* Command and control centers
* Presidential targets
* Iraq's air bases
Airborne units would land in northern Iraq to secure oil fields.
Attack from the ground
Invasion could take place on three different fronts.
- Iraqi air bases
Before troops could launch a ground assault, forces would have to neutralize air bases to maintain control of the skies
- Marsh area
Troops moving through southern Iraq would have to maneuver through soft marshland
Iraq could breach dams in the country's southern canal system, flooding areas to slow troop movement
- Highway 8
Troops using the main route from Basra to Baghdad might have to use bridging equipment if Iraq destroyed bridges along the road
- Oil fields
Troops would have to secure northern oil fields to prevent Iraqi forces from setting them ablaze as they did in Kuwait in 1991
U.S. and British special forces are conducting, or are preparing to conduct, operations from Jordan.
Kuwait is the main staging area for American and British ground forces. About 130,000 allied troops are there now.
3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized)
More than 18,000
101st Airborne Division
More than 16,000
Marine Expeditionary Force
The United States has a major aerospace operations center at Prince Sultan Air Base. The base also is home to F-15 and F-16 squadrons.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
The United States uses bases here to support the southern no-fly zone in Iraq.
Bahrain is headquarters of the top Marine and Navy commanders in the area.
U.S. Central Command's Gen. Tommy Franks would direct any war from here. Al Udeid Air Base is the largest forward-positioning U.S. base outside the United States.
The United States patrols Iraq's northern no-fly zone from a base at Incirlik. The Turks have denied the U.S. permission to base 62,000 soldiers there, although Turkish officials said approval could come Thursday.
U.S. forces fly out of three air bases here.
The United States uses the British territory as a forward staging area for ships and planes.
- 3,700 ground troops in the region
- 64,000 troops on the ground
- An additional 72,000 soldiers have either been ordered to deploy or have been put on alert.
- 23,000 Air Force personnel
- 1,700 at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey
- 500 aircraft are in the area
- Five aircraft carrier battle groups (one more on the way)
- Two amphibious task forces
- Two amphibious groups
- 125,000 total naval personnel, including Marines
- 504 helicopters and aircraft
- 1,000 Tomahawk cruise missiles
- About 3,000 Marines
- 14,500 sailors and aviators
- 100 aircraft
- 28 naval vessels
- 41 sealift or cargo vessels
- 300 more cruise missiles on the way
Regionally based. Headquarters reported to be in Qatar.
Troops sent in by air would:
* Scour western desert for Scud missiles
* Secure airfields before advancing on Baghdad.
Likely to be largest force in attack, soldiers would enter Iraq from Kuwait and move through marshes to Baghdad.
Marine amphibious units will take Basra, secure oil fields.
Tanks would head north across desert to:
- Secure biological and chemical weapons sites
- Prevent launch of Iraqi drones.
- Prevent launch of Scud missiles.
If Turkey reconsiders, U.S. could deploy ground troops from Turkey.
If not, troops could be airlifted into northern Iraq, where they would advance toward Baghdad.
Sources: Cox News Service; GlobalSecurity.org; Federation of American Scientists; Geodesign; The Chicago Tribune; Knight Ridder News Service; The Associated Press
PalmBeachPost.com: Latest updates: Get headlines, photos and video of developments in the gulf.
NOTES: SPECIAL SECTION: DEADLINE IRAQRan all editions.
GRAPHIC: GRAPHIC (C); CHRISTOPHER SMITH/Staff Artist Map of IRAQ/War region, and troop locations.
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