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Country Star Shows Support for US War Effort - 2003-04-16

U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq continue to secure major population centers while working with local leaders to restore public works and rebuild the Iraqi infrastructure. While that work goes on, Pentagon employees took a little time Wednesday for some entertainment in support of the war effort.

It wasn't a victory ceremony. But there was an atmosphere of celebration in the Pentagon's inner courtyard as thousands of defense workers turned out Wednesday, for a concert in support of U.S. troops. The special guest performer was country and western music star Darryl Worley.

He has performed for American soldiers in Afghanistan. Now he says he has a new goal - playing in Iraq.

"Honestly I hope I'll be fortunate enough, blessed enough to go back maybe to do a little concert in main street Baghdad before this is all said and done...because the streets are clear, you know what I mean," he said.

It took just under four weeks for U.S.-led coalition forces to defeat the regime of Saddam Hussein, putting a halt to all organized resistance by Iraq's armed forces.

The victory was perhaps quicker than many expected and the template for battle was quite different from the one followed during the Gulf War in 1991.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says he believes the differences may have caught Iraq's leaders by surprise.

"This is speculation, but I would speculate that they very likely expected Gulf War II, a long air war that would give them time to do whatever they thought they wanted to do, leave or take cover and what have you, followed at some distance by a ground war, and probably a massive ground war, probably including the 4th Infantry Division, which was still up in the Mediterranean," Secretary Rumsfeld said.

U.S. war planners had hoped to introduce the 4th Infantry Division as a ground force into northern Iraq via Turkey. But Turkey's government balked at granting permission for the move.

Mr. Rumsfeld says that may have led Saddam Hussein and his military commanders to think they would have more time.

"And it's entirely possible when people are interviewed after this is all over that we'll find that they did not expect a ground war to start before an air war and they did not expect a ground war to start without the 4th Infantry Division," he said.

In any event, Mr. Rumsfeld says the resulting surprise may be responsible for the fact that many bad things did not happen.

"The oil wells were not set afire like they were last time. We don't have massive internally displaced people," Mr. Rumsfeld said. "We don't have a million refugees flooding into neighboring countries. We didn't have high collateral damage because we didn't have a long air war. We had precision weapons instead of dumb bombs."

In the meantime, Mr. Rumsfeld and other top Pentagon officials indicate changes are coming in the pattern of U.S. military deployments in the Gulf because of the swift end to the Iraq war.

The so-called no-fly zones that U.S. and British aircraft once patrolled in northern and southern Iraq are no longer needed. The northern watch operation has in fact been shut down and the planes that were involved and once based in Turkey have been sent home.

Mr. Rumsfeld says the future of bases in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Gulf area used for the southern watch is now under re-evaluation.