Analysts keep saying that if there is a war with Iraq it will be short. I have heard several explanations as to why, but what are your feelings about the length of a possible conflict? — Susan, Walnut Creek, California

Great question, Susan. I find myself contemplating this scenario every day. Once hostilities commence, the war could go in a number of different directions. The reason most people feel the war will be short is due to the outcome of Desert Storm '91. Desert Storm was a quick war because the Iraqi's had no intention of fighting, and that is the bottom line. Saddam ordered the Republican Guard Divisions back to Baghdad for a reason — to fight another day. The average Iraqi soldier's motivation to defend against the attacking coalition forces entering Kuwait and Iraq was nonexistent because they believed it was a mistake to invade Kuwait in the first place. That was in '91. I believe it is wrong to compare Desert Storm '91 with this new conflict because the circumstances have totally changed. Iraq has suffered at the hands of economic sanctions for a decade, children die by the thousands on a weekly basis, and America is blamed for all of this. If the pain and misery that the people of Iraq have endured for the past 10 years fuels their motivation to fight the invading American forces, the war will not be short. In order to negate this risk we must win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people before we invade their country, and you don't do that by dropping 2000 lb. bombs. Thanks for your question.

 

My question is on Capt. Scott Speicher. First I was wondering what you think about
what happened to him, how the government handled his case.  And second, when the war starts do you think that it is better to have the military or the CIA go in and
get him out of Iraq? —
April

Thanks for your question April.  I just can’t believe we left behind a fallen comrade.  The one thing that the U.S. military promises its fighting forces is that they will do everything within their power to repatriate them.  I think CPT Speicher could still be alive, but I have little information to base that on other than the “lack of evidence” that he is dead.  I believe our government truly mishandled this case.  We should have pressed Iraq to allow us to investigate the crash scene, interview possible witnesses and behind their backs conduct an extensive covert intelligence collection campaign.  Instead we simply pronounced him dead and walked away. If it were my father or brother that was missing I would have hired mercenaries to get him out! 

 

Is it possible for the US to send a covert commando team to kill Saddam?  Quick, silent and deadly!  — Marc

Only in the movies Marc, but I would pay big money to see it!  Operations like the one you describe require one thing that we are lacking – accurate intelligence.  Saddam may be a tyrant, but he is a cunning one.  It is widely rumored that Saddam has as many as six imposters that cover the countryside, making appearances and attending functions pretending to be Saddam.  In order to go in and kill him or snatch him we must first know who the real Saddam is.  Next and more importantly, we must know where he is located during a precise moment in time.  On the operational side of the house, conducting a raid like that means infiltrating Iraq with a small force that has the stealthy ability to evade surface-to-air missiles, ground fire, and yet possess enough firepower to destroy his security force – possibly a battalion of men.  Like I said, this would make a great movie script. 

 

Are you convinced our ground forces are adequately prepared to meet the challenges of chemical and bacteriological weapons? If not, is a "premature" invasion worth the risk? — Herdy, Longview, Texas

This subject is probably the most troubling of all. I am not satisfied that our forces are trained to the level they should be when dealing with a Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) threat. I also have questions dealing with the reliability of their NBC gear. The one main factor that leads me to this conclusion is the lack of realistic training for both personnel and equipment. Think of it: NBC gear is the only piece of equipment that a soldier is issued that they will never really use. Having faith in your equipment and in your ability to employ it is critical. In order to have faith in their equipment a soldier must conduct hours of intense, realistic training; this is where the problem resides. Due to safety restrictions and the high-risk nature of using live chemical agents, the vast majority of soldiers will never use their NBC equipment in a real contaminated environment — only "make believe." I had serious reservations during Desert Storm '91 with my NBC gear, and I know NBC training has not changed. I compare this to jumping out of a plane with a new type of parachute that no one has ever used. Not very comforting.

 

Do you believe that the administration has an alternate plan to go into Iraq in case we are forced to wait until summer months and hot weather? – Denise, Shoshone, Indiana 

Good question, Denise.  I don’t think the administration has an alternate plan if we are forced to wait, which is why we will not wait.  The worst scenario possible for the soldiers, airmen, sailors and marines that have deployed to the region is sitting around on their rucksacks waiting for several months.  The impact of the weather will pale in comparison to the effects of severe low moral due to what may be perceived as indecisiveness on the part of the administration.  Once our forces are in place, mid to late March, we will not be able to wait long before we attack and for the sake of the troops waiting. I hope we don’t.