Military Operations in the 2000s

Operation Iraqi Freedom

February-March 2003

Materials arranged chronologically.

Waller, Douglas. "The CIA's Secret Army." Time, 3 Feb. 2003, 22.

The war on terrorism has put the CIA back into the business of paramilitary operations. Among other activities, members of the CIA's Special Operations Group (SOG) "have been secretly prowling the Kurdish-controlled enclave in northern Iraq, trying to organize a guerrilla force that could guide American soldiers invading from the north, hunting for targets that U.S. warplanes might bomb, setting up networks to hide U.S. pilots who might be shot down and mapping out escape routes to get them out. And they are doing the same in southern Iraq with dissident Shi'ites."

Priest, Dana. "Telling Secrets: Not Just What, but How; Speech Is Revealing on Gathering Intelligence." Washington Post, 6 Feb. 2003, A23. []

"Never had the U.S. government disclosed as much sensitive, recent intelligence as Secretary of State Colin L. Powell did [on 5 February 2003] when he released surreptitiously intercepted calls between Iraqi officials and information supplied by Iraqi informants apparently close to Saddam Hussein. Beyond the extraordinary array of U.S. intelligence capabilities put on display for the U.N. Security Council -- signals intercepts, satellite imagery, reports from captives and in-country agents -- 10 foreign intelligence services, both European and Middle Eastern, agreed to allow the United States to disclose classified information they had collected on Iraq." See also, Karen DeYoung and Walter Pincus, "Satellite Images, Communications Intercepts and Defectors' Briefings," Washington Post, 6 Feb. 2003, A1.

Shanker, Thom, and Eric Schmitt. "Firing Leaflets and Electrons, U.S. Wages Information War."  New York Times, 24 Feb. 2003. []

"[T]he military is starting an ambitious assault [on Iraq] using a growing arsenal of electronic and psychological weapons on the information battlefield. American cyber-warfare experts recently waged an e-mail assault, directed at Iraq's political, military and economic leadership, urging them to break with Saddam Hussein's government. A wave of calls has gone to the private cellphone numbers of specially selected officials inside Iraq, according to leaders at the Pentagon and in the regional Central Command.

"As of last week, more than eight million leaflets had been dropped over Iraq ... warning Iraqi antiaircraft missile operators that their bunkers will be destroyed if they track or fire at allied warplanes. In the same way, a blunt offer has gone to Iraqi ground troops: surrender and live.... Radio transmitters hauled aloft by Air Force Special Operations EC-130E planes are broadcasting directly to the Iraqi public in Arabic with programs that mimic the program styles of local radio stations and are more sophisticated than the clumsy preachings of previous wartime propaganda efforts."

Gellman, Barton, and Dana Priest. "CIA Had Fix on Hussein: Intelligence Revealed 'Target of Opportunity.'" Washington Post, 20 Mar. 2003, A1. []

Around 4 p.m. on 19 March 2003, DCI George J. Tenet told President Bush that the CIA believed it knew where Saddam Hussein was and that he was likely to remain there for some hours. Bush and his senior national security advisers, then, "tore up the carefully orchestrated schedule of violence that the U.S. Central Command had honed for months.... Bush signed the launch order at 6:30 p.m." Two F-117A fighters, each armed with a pair of 2,000-pound bombs, and around 40 cruise missiles were used in the strike on an "isolated private residence in southern Baghdad.... [O]fficials cautioned that it would be some time before intelligence could assess with certainty what the U.S. strike had hit, and who had been there. But it was already clear ...that the man in the White House intended to find the Iraqi president and kill him."

Woodward, Bob. "Attack Was 48 Hours Old When It 'Began.'" Washington Post, 23 Mar. 2003, A1. []

At 1 p.m., Washington time, on 19 March 2003, "31 Special Operations teams [including contingents of British and Australian special forces] -- about 300 men -- began pouring under cover of darkness into western and southern Iraq. Joining smaller contingents of U.S. Special Forces and CIA paramilitaries already in Iraq, the special operators fanned out to sever communications, take down observation posts and position themselves to prevent what the Bush administration most feared -- moves by the Iraqi high command to use chemical or biological weapons, attack Israel with Scud missiles or destroy the country's oil fields....

"The first CIA paramilitary team secretly began operating in Iraq in June 2002 to gather intelligence and meet with and support opposition groups. Eventually the CIA deployed additional paramilitary teams and established links with Iraqis throughout the country, including Baghdad. On a parallel track to this covert operation, [Defense Secretary Donald H.] Rumsfeld, [U.S. Central Command chief Gen. Tommy R.] Franks and other civilian and uniformed Pentagon officials began work on the administration's top-secret war plan."

Bowers, Faye. "Secret Weapon in US War against Iraq: The CIA." Christian Science Monitor, 25 Mar. 2003. []

Less than a week into the war in Iraq, it is "clear that the campaign involves an unprecedented level of involvement by the CIA." Since DCI George J. Tenet "was the first to come up with a concrete plan for routing the Taliban and Al Qaeda from Afghanistan, he and his CIA operatives have been playing a much larger role in both shaping American war plans and working together with military Special Operations Forces to implement them than ever before.... Small numbers of CIA paramilitary teams have reportedly been inside Iraq since June 2002. They are said to have broken into the highly secretive phone lines leading into Hussein's headquarters. Moreover, they've collected the e-mail addresses and personal phone numbers for Iraq's top military generals."

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