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Gold Coast Bulletin (Australia) March 21, 2003

Hammer and nut tactics on way

Two of the phrases that will be tossed around in the coming days of Operation Iraqi Freedom are 'rapid domination' and 'shock and awe'.

In non-military circles it could be likened to the proverbial sledgehammer and walnut.

The Pentagon has taken up the doctrine contained in a book by two ageing military stategists to fuel the campaign against Saddam Hussein.

Neither Harlan K. Ullman, 61, nor and James P. Wade, over 70, are well known outside defence-policy circles, but 'their names are going to be stuck in association with this war, for better or worse, for some time to come', says John Pike, a leading independent analyst of military affairs in Washington.

Ullman and Wade were early advocates of rapid domination, embraced by US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, that with the US having a vast technological edge over any potential foe, it no longer needed to field the kind of massive forces it employed in the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

The rapid-dominance doctrine, developed in the pair's 1996 book Shock & Awe, says that a regime such as Saddam Hussein's can be so overwhelmed at the outset of war - so blinded by the loss of computers and radar, so deafened by the loss of all communications, so worn down by relentless, escalating bomb and missile strikes - that it loses even the ability to think clearly and submits to the inevitability of defeat.

Even though the US military did not open the war with the kind of 'shock and awe' display that had been widely predicted, such a massive use of firepower would be the next step if the surprise attempt to decapitate the regime failed.

Ullman, 61, a Vietnam veteran and former US Navy destroyer commander who now writes full time, said he came to realise US military leaders had adopted the theory when he heard the top brass using their book's title to describe what awaits Iraq.

Ullman has compared the affect of rapid-dominance theory to what befell Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the atomic bomb attacks that ended World War II.

The Japanese people, he said, were prepared to fight a suicidal battle to ward off invasion of their home islands. "Then we drop two bombs," he said, "and they quit."

One of the most formidable weapons used in the initial 'softening up' process has been the Tomahawk cruise missile, about 40 of which were launched in the seemingly failed decapitation bid.

The attacks on Baghdad also involved bombs dropped from a handful of F-117A Nighthawk stealth jets.

Three of the Tomahawks were launched from the USS Donald Cook, a destroyer in the Red Sea. The US Navy released pictures of the missiles being launched hours after the attack.

Introduced during the war with Iraq a dozen years ago, the Tomahawk is still a technological wonder, able to fly at just under the speed of sound, hugging the ground to deliver a 450kg warhead onto a designated target.

The navy probably has about 1000 Tomahawks, which at $US600,000 a pop are expensive.

Radar detection of the missile is extremely difficult because of the small radar cross-section and low-altitude flight profile.

A next-generation Tomahawk adds the capability to reprogram the missile while in-flight to strike any of 15 alternative targets.

The F-117A Nighthawk, the distinctive fighter-bomber that looks like a bat, is the world's first operational aircraft designed to exploit stealth technology that makes it difficult to detect with radar.

But the worst, by far, is yet to come unless Saddam surrenders.

"I don't think the potential adversary has any idea what's coming," said Colonel Gary Crowder, the chief of strategy at Air Combat Command.

He said 300 to 400 precision-guided weapons were dropped on the first day of the 1991 war and suggested at least 3000 would be used on the first day this time.


Copyright 2003, Nationwide News Pty Limited