Thu. Mar 20, 2003
And So It Begins
And So It Begins – And as is fitting for a war that will be unlike any before, it has started in a somewhat unexpected manner. Early reports indicate the US has launched more than 40 cruise missiles as well as some 2,000 pound bunker buster bombs from Stealth fighters at two “targets of opportunity.” This was an attempt at decapitation, and the logical conclusion is that Saddam was the target.
It’s an interesting strategy, and my primary concern is the 12 hours or so of daylight it allows Saddam to make mischief (light off the oil wells, launch WMD, etc.). It has indeed left some pundits in “shock and awe,” but not in the expected manner. It appears they got some intelligence about where some important leadership figure(s) was staying the night, and there was enough confidence in the intel to take a precision snap shot. The President apparently approved the strike at 6:30 pm EST, and within three hours, munitions were on target.
If Saddam was the target, the payoff could be tremendous. Obviously, if it was successful, it could cause a relatively peaceful collapse of the current regime. I can’t imagine the odds of that are better than 50-50, but it was a shot they decided they had to take. It’s also worth noting that on Wednesday when rumors swirled about the status of Tariq Aziz, within hours he appeared live in Baghdad to squelch the talk of his defection. Will there be a credible Iraqi effort to show that Saddam is still in control today? An announcer on Baghdad radio has said that Saddam will speak soon. Who knows?
Assuming the most likely outcome, that Saddam either wasn’t there or survived, the payoff is still quite nice. Saddam would have to know that we’re on his tail in a hot way, and that perhaps he even has a leak in his inner circle. Those below him will know, damn, they knew where he was, and they took a surgical snap shot. Within a very few hours, they co-ordinated an attack of more than three dozen cruise missiles from two locations plus F-117 fighters, and made it all land on target simultaneously. And it is but a small taste of what will come later.
By early Thursday afternoon on the east coast of the US, the big switch will have been flipped. And things will happen incredibly fast.