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Shepperd: Expect 'overwhelming' air attack

Maj. Gen. Don Shepperd (Ret.)
CNN Military Analyst

Maj. Gen. Don Shepperd
Maj. Gen. Don Shepperd

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(CNN) -- U.S. military commanders say their forces are ready in the event of war with Iraq.

CNN military analyst Maj. Gen. Don Shepperd discussed possible U.S. strategy and described what the air war could look like in an interview with CNN anchor Bill Hemmer.

SHEPPERD: It will be different from the Gulf War in a number of ways. There's going to be a massive air campaign this time -- I mean really massive.

They're talking about 3,000 strikes in the first day to three days. That's almost 10 times the weight that fell during the initial stages of the first Gulf War.

Most of the strikes will involve precision weapons. The first time it was probably 5 percent to 10 percent precision weapons. This time probably it will be more like probably 70 percent to 90 percent. Afghanistan, for instance, was 60 percent. So it will be considerably different this time.

This will be an overwhelming type air attack designed -- using the words of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- for shock and awe. Not that everybody is going to give up. This is the opening shot designed to tell the Iraqis that a lot more is coming and it's hopeless, you better lay down your arms and give up.

It will be different from the Gulf War where you had 37- to 40-day air campaign followed by a three-or four-day ground war.

This will be simultaneous movement of ground forces. Basically, starting out of Kuwait, moving up toward Baghdad up the valley, looping left to isolate the western part of Iraq so that they don't have missile range against Israel.

At the same time, when the northern front is sorted out, we'll have movement of the troops from the north in the Turkey area, the northern border, down toward Baghdad.

The reason you're going to see ground activity simultaneous with air this time is because we can. In the Gulf War, you had [Iraqi] forces dug in right outside of Kuwait, and now they're concentrated around Baghdad. The ground forces should have easier, early movement than in the Gulf War, and go in simultaneous with the air attacks.

The Pentagon has released these details as part of its information warfare strategy. They're letting the enemy know what's going to come and making sure that Saddam's commanders know that when we cross that border, there is no way out. You're either going to surrender or you're going to go down in battle.

You want to convince these people not to fight. You don't want to fight them.

You're not telling them what time you're going to hit or where you're going to hit -- or anything that would be useful information, such as exactly what will be targeted.

You tell them they are going to be hit wherever they are, and that it is better to give up and switch sides and depose your leader than fight, because the end is certainly in sight as soon as we cross that border.

Retired Maj. Gen. Don Shepperd served in the U.S. Air Force for almost 40 years. Shepperd entered the Air Force at the age of 17 as a cadet at the U.S. Air Force Academy. After graduation, he became a fighter pilot, serving tours in Europe and the United States. He also flew 247 fighter combat missions in Vietnam. After departing the service, Shepperd remained active in the Air National Guard. He eventually returned to active duty, serving at the Pentagon as the head of the Air National Guard with responsibility for more than 110,000 personnel and 1,400 aircraft. During his tenure at the Pentagon, he was directly involved in planning for the use of Air National Guard forces during the Gulf War. Shepperd now runs his own defense consulting firm called The Shepperd Group.


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