U.S., Britain planning to defeat, not destroy, the Iraqi military

March 11, 2003|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

CAMP DOHA, Kuwait - U.S. and British commanders say they are devising a strategy intended to defeat the Iraqi military without destroying it and to limit damage to Iraq's infrastructure.

Lt. Gen. David McKiernan, commander of allied land forces if the United States leads an invasion of Iraq, said he and other commanders are devising procedures for Iraqi units to signal their intention to stay out of the war.

"If they show the right signals and do not want to be part of a defense of Saddam's regime and weapons of mass destruction, we will do everything in our power to not target either with air or ground those formations," McKiernan said in an interview.

The strategy is intended, commanders said, to speed the allied advance toward Baghdad by enabling U.S. and British forces to bypass Iraqi units that have opted out of the war.

The plan also reflects the calculation that U.S. and British forces are more likely to be welcomed by Iraqis if they triumph with as little death and destruction as possible. Allied commanders would welcome that public support as they administered and rebuilt Iraq once President Saddam Hussein was deposed.

They are also considering using some of the Iraqi forces to remake the military if Hussein is deposed.

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