As New York braces for the arrival of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the U.S. military may be ramping up plans to prepare for any potential attack on the rogue state seeking nuclear power.

The Sunday Times reports that the Air Force has set up a highly confidential strategic planning group tasked with “fighting the next war” as tensions rise with Iran.

Click here to read Sunday Times report on Project Checkmate.

Project Checkmate, a successor to the group that planned the 1991 Gulf War’s air campaign, was quietly reestablished at the Pentagon in June, according to the report.

It reports directly to Air Force General Michael Moseley and consists of 20-30 top air force officers and defense and cyberspace experts with ready access to the White House, the CIA and other intelligence agencies.

Detailed contingency planning for a possible attack on Iran has been carried out for more than two years by Centcom (U.S. central command), according to defense sources.

Checkmate’s job is to add a dash of brilliance to Air Force thinking by countering the military’s tendency to “fight the last war” and by providing innovative strategies for warfighting and assessing future needs for air, space and cyberwarfare.

It is led by Brigadier-General Lawrence “Stutz” Stutzriem, who is considered one of the brightest Air Force generals. He is assisted by Dr Lani Kass, a former Israeli military officer and expert on cyberwarfare.

Ahmadinejad will arrive in New York Sunday to address the U.N. General Assembly and participate in a controversial forum at Columbia University. Many city leaders and political leaders, including several presidential candidates, have condemned the appearance.

The Iranian leader has previously expressed his desire to wipe Israel off the map and hosted a conference of experts questioning the Jewish Holocaust.