Sunday Mail August 4, 2002
US PLANS WINTER INVASION ON IRAQ TO OUST SADDAM
By Steve Mckenzie
AMERICA is planning to invade Iraq this winter unless Saddam Hussein stands down as leader, it has been revealed.
The US has picked a "window for war" in the cool months between December and February, so troops can wear full- body chemical protection suits.
Military experts say a "cold war" is the only feasible way a US-led strike can take place before searing summer temperatures hamper any invasion.
And yesterday, the US leadership gave its clearest signal yet it will attack Iraq. US minister John Bolton said "time is not on our side" regarding America's plans to topple the Iraqi dictator.
He said that this week's offer by Saddam to allow UN weapons inspectors back into Iraq would not be enough to avert a conflict.
In a blunt BBC radio interview, Bolton, US under-secretary for arms control, said: "Let there be no mistake. While we also insist on the reintroduction of the weapons inspectors, our policy at the same time insists on regime change in Baghdad.
"That policy will not be altered whether the inspectors go in or not.
He added: "The threat Saddam represents to our interests, and the interests of our friends and neighbours in the region and to peace and security at large, is what motivates us to think that regime change is the only way to eliminate that threat. And, as President Bush has warned repeatedly, time is not on our side."
US Secretary of State Colin Powell also dismissed Iraq's offer to hold talks with the United Nations about weapons inspections.
Iraq has in the past refused UN officials entry into the country to check it is not making weapons of mass destruction.
Powell said: "The goal is not inspections for inspections' sake. The goal has to be disarmament and removal of all capacity for weapons of mass destruction.
"They understand what is required of them and there is no need for further clarification."
British and US forces used winter for attacks against Iraq during the Gulf War in 1991. From December to February the temperature is 11C (50F). In summer, it can soar to 58C (145F). John Pike, of US military affairs analysts Globalsecurity, said: "Troops will have to be dressed in chemical protection gear the whole time. The gear is unbearably hot outside November to March.
"They have got a window of opportunity from December to February. If an attack is not launched in that time frame, the Bush Administration would have to put it off for a year.
Leaks from the Pentagon and White House have outlined options for an attack.
They include a coup by forces opposed to Saddam backed by air strikes, or a mass invasion by tens of thousands of soldiers.
Another option is an amphibious commando assault from the Gulf using ships, such as the Royal Navy's HMS Ocean.
Mr Pike said: "All the plans are bad. All carry risks. I think the least risky is one in which about 50,000 ground troops rapidly march from Kuwait to Baghdad seeking to provoke a collapse of the Saddam regime."
Another US analyst, Anthony Cordesman, said Iraq had played into Bush's hands with the offer of talks with the UN.
He warned if Iraq did not open up the country, then that offer of negotiations may be seen as a stalling tactic and "rather than delaying the attack, they may become the catalyst".
And a Royal Marines commander told the Sunday Mail his Scots-based commandos want to be part of a mission against Saddam.
Lt Col Tim Chicken, Commanding Officer of Arbroath-based 45 Commando, who led the unit to Afghanistan this year, said: "I would like to think they would be involved."
Marines from 45 Commando also saw action in the Gulf in the 1990s.
(c) Copyright 2002 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday Mail Ltd.