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McIntyre Interview - 2003-03-18


The possible war with Iraq still dominates the front pages of newspapers. The U.S. government wants to remove President Saddam Hussein from power, but does not seem to have the backing of many countries for a military solution.

To assess the situation, Melinda Smith of VOA-TV’s “NewsLine” program spoke with David McIntyre, Deputy Director of the ANSER Institute for Homeland Security. He spoke about military readiness in Iraq.

MS. SMITH:
Now joining us is Dr. David McIntyre, the Deputy Director of the ANSER Institute for Homeland Security here in Washington. We were talking earlier, and I made the analogy of we're almost like an orchestra, that everyone is poised, ready for the orchestra conductor to strike. Is that similar? Is that a good analogy?

DR. MCINTYRE:
That's a very good metaphor for the way that the military works. Just as no instrument can play by itself and really bring about a composition and sound like an orchestra, no single branch of the service, no single soldier or group of airplanes, can wage this war by themselves. It's all brought together in a very methodically, carefully designed package. Some things have to be done very early. Some things are then done as sort of the crescendo swells. And then there has to be the background of the logistics, the theme that runs all the way through all of it, very carefully coordinated in order to have a maximum effect on the enemy, but in order to do this in a way that, at the end of the day, you have an enemy that cooperates in the end of the war.

We are not looking to make a bunch of lifelong enemies here. We want to get this over with quickly, with a minimum number of casualties on both sides.

MS. SMITH:
Let's talk about the first days of what's about to happen. The diplomatic doors are shut. The weapons inspectors have left, or are on their way to leaving. The embassies have shut their doors. So now we're poised. What do you anticipate is going to happen first that sends the signal across the bow?

DR. MCINTYRE: The first thing that people may see is aircraft, that the enemy may see, that the Iraqis may see, would be to see aircraft striking. But there will be a number of other things before that. And the first of those would be intelligence efforts, some of those from overhead, some of them working within the country. We will have connections within the country, people listening, to some extent, gathering information from on the ground. All of that will be ongoing and collected. And then you will see the aircraft strike. And I expect that will you see the air defense taken out. And the ways that they could strike back would be at our first targets. And then gradually, once this is prepared, then you will see the ground forces move forward.

What I don't think you will see is any heavy strikes against civilian areas or civilian population. The era of the past, when you tried to destroy an enemy's factories and so forth, his livelihood, that's well behind us. Precision war lets us strike against the targets that would threaten our forces, but without having to strike the civilian population.

MS. SMITH:
So, the troops begin to move in and what are they likely to do? Are they going into Baghdad first?

DR. MCINTYRE:
Well, the good news is that we don't know. And I say that's good news, because that means Saddam doesn't know either. They have a number of options available to them. They could make a lightning strike, straight, deep, for Baghdad. They could make a lightning strike that is straight, deep, for the oilfields. They could be more methodical in their movement forward, so that they move forward, gaining territory and controlling a little at a time. And they could have an option that runs somewhere in between the two. Some have called it a lily pad strategy, sort of like building islands, secure islands, along the way. So, you move 100 miles, then you set up a secure island for logistics, and then you move another 100 miles.

I don't think you're going to see just a straight-out run for Baghdad, straight down the road. Look, there are a lot of enemy forces in this area. There are a lot of Iraqi forces. Some of them are very dangerous, with dangerous weapons. This is not to be done irrationally. This is to be done carefully. So, I think you'll see the cavalry in the front and then the movement of the armed, mechanized tank forces, once the air forces have prepared the battlefield.

MS. SMITH:
What realistically do you think that the viewers -- we've gotten so spoiled now, we're watching war happen -- what do you think we will be seeing on camera?

DR. MCINTYRE:
That's a very interesting question. What the Department of Defense has suggested is that some of the correspondents will be allowed to come right down the front lines with the troops, with cameras and, in some cases, real-time feeds, so that you see war from a perspective you've never seen before. So, I think, depending on who the correspondents are -- remember, they have been U.S. and foreign journalists as well, non-U.S. journalists, Chinese journalists, for example -- have been scattered throughout the front. Some of them are print. Some of them are radio. Some of them are television. So, depending on where they are, you may see some of the actual combat.

The important thing to remember, though, is that the results of a particular fight, a squad battle, a tank battle, don't determine the outcome of the war. We are going to have to be careful or we'll be sucked in by the humanity of conflict and lose sight of the larger objectives of this war.

MS. SMITH:
So, if and when the coalition forces have the country under control, what happens then?

DR. MCINTYRE:
Yes, that's another really great question. And to some extent, it's shaped, I think, by the way in which the war is waged. And that's why I said I can't think of another nation in history that has made war in a way that, from the beginning, from the very first shot, one of the goals is to have the minimum damage to the other side, so that the people will cooperate at the end.

I think what you will see is U.S. and coalition forces trying to win this war in a way that the Iraqi people will see that the intent is not to attack them and tries to bring them into their side so that we rapidly have Iraqi control of Iraq. The only problem with that is there is a danger, when you inflict minimum damage on the enemy, you are putting your own troops at some risk. And so there is some danger, over the next few days, that we might not strike strongly enough.

MS. SMITH:
Well, I guess we are going to have to check back with you again, Dr. David McIntyre, and get another analysis of what that stage is going to be --

DR. MCINTYRE:
It's going to be an interesting and dramatic several weeks.

MS. SMITH:
I'm sure it will. Thank you, and I appreciate your coming over.

DR. MCINTYRE:
Glad to be with you.

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