Iraq's Chemical Warfare Capability: Lack of Use During the War
Subject: Iraq's Chemical Warfare Capability: Lack of Use During
The major factors that precluded Iraqi chemical warfare use
were fear of Coalition retaliation and fundamental miscalculations
the Iraqi leadership made regarding how the Coalition would
prosecute the war and how effectively Iraqi forces could respond.
DIA has no evidence that chemical weapons were deployed to
the Kuwaiti Theater of Operations (KTO). Iraq probably feared
Coalition retaliation and most likely believed that both Israel
and the Coalition would use chemical or nuclear weapons if
provoked by Iraqi chemical attacks. Baghdad probably concluded
that, since these weapons could be delivered anywhere in Iraq, the
consequences of any chemical attack would be too severe to justify
CW use; this may have led to an early decision not to use
Equally likely, the Iraqis probably believed they would have
days or even weeks to move chemical weapons into the KTO once the
war begins. Thus, the Iraqis miscalculated the Coalition speed of
advance; the degree to which their Air Force, artillery assets,
surface-to-surface missile systems would be attrited; and the
degree to which their resupply capability would be degraded. The
Coalition air campaign eliminated Iraq's preferred means of
chemical delivery (its Air Force) and made timely ammunition
supply impossible. The air campaign also destroyed all known and
suspected CW storage in Iraq.
In addition, Coalition bombing heavily damaged Iraq's
command, control, communications, and intelligence (C3I) system.
Iraqi commanders could not control their forces, in part because
of an intelligence system failure to evaluate the developing
situation. Allied air superiority established at the start of the
air campaign denied Iraq information on Coalition force
dispositions, making fire planning practically impossible. The
limited information available may have resulted in a decision not
to disperse chemicals within the theater until the ground battle
began and Coalition force dispositions became better defined.
Destruction of Iraqi chemical weapon production facilities
quite likely swayed the decision not to use chemicals. Chemical
agents Iraq had produced earlier might have deteriorated in
storage, or Iraq might have miscalculated that its defenses would
allow it time to produce and deploy chemicals later in the
conflict. Loss of its production facilities would have prevented
Iraq from making agents as needed, which was the practice during
the Iran - Iraq war.
Also likely, Saddam Husayn probably retained personal control
of CW during DESERT STORM to allow more complete military
evaluations. In such a case, the speed of the Coalition ground
offensive together with C3I problems would have complicated and
slowed chemical release further.
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