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Clark: What U.S. war planners are preparing for next

Retired U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark
Retired U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark

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(CNN) -- Retired U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark, a CNN military analyst, discussed possible U.S. military strategy in the wake of the U.S. missile strike early Thursday in and near Baghdad:

U.S. war planners now may be trying to continue to adjust their time table for battle. In addition to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, the generals may be after other so-called targets of opportunity, as the Pentagon described its first strikes in this fight.

The war planners may have decided that since they have "sprung it" -- or made their first attack of the conflict -- they've got to have extra patrols airborne to take advantage of what may happen next.

Or the generals may have simply told their people to move their war plan forward and begin the next step.

They're also going to be concerned about how to synchronize the U.S.-led air forces and their forces on the ground. To aide in that effort, it's possible U.S. ground forces would remain in place for a while -- pause to synchronize -- when normally they would assume an attack position.

However, if forces are going to pause, they would like to pause for as little time as possible. So there are probably phone calls going back and forth between commanders and war planners trying to measure the amount of tactical surprise that is left now that Iraq already knows the U.S.-led forces are coming. Other topics of U.S. tactical discussion might include: "How do we play one side off the other?" or "What does this unit do and that unit do now? And if not now, then when?"

So, I think there are many high-level conversations going on right now among U.S. war planners and I think that troops in the field are cleaning their weapons and looking at their maps again and making routine pre-battle checks.

Surely the U.S. is doing everything it can to prevent Saddam Hussein's ability to execute an attack in response to the U.S. attack.

Gen. Wesley Clark was NATO supreme allied commander from 1997 to May 2000. He was also the commander in chief of the U.S. European Command. In 1999, he commanded Operation Allied Force, NATO's military action in the Kosovo crisis. Clark later wrote about his experiences in "Waging Modern War." He is one of CNN's military analysts, along with retired Brig. Gen. David Grange and retired Maj. Gen. Don Shepperd. Their briefings will appear daily on CNN.com.

EDITOR'S NOTE: CNN's policy is to not report information that puts operational security at risk.


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