The Iraqi Sunni Arab minority that runs Iraq has always been one of the better educated populations in the Arab world. During the centuries of Turkish occupation, many Sunni Arabs from modern day Iraq served as military officers and government officials and were noted for their imagination, energy and corruption. These people are not stupid and they have taken many effective measures to protect themselves against another American attack. Troops, equipment and headquarters are often placed in residential neighborhoods. Bomb them and you will quickly see TV images of dead civilians. But hiding behind civilians wont win a war. And most Iraqis are not willing to die for Saddam or his supporters. If there's a war, it will be an unusual one in that there will be a lot more talking than fighting. Saddam's reorganization of his security forces and army in the last decade shows that he doesn't trust his own people and a future war will consist largely of convincing armed Iraqis that it's safe to switch sides. This will require American ground troops as well as bombers above. The talking will probably be done by hundreds of Special Forces troops, backed by very visible American tanks and warplanes. The debate in the Pentagon and White House comes down to how many tanks and aircraft are needed to get this business over with as quickly as possible with the fewest American casualties. Some Iraqis will fight, but if the American armed forces come on strong enough, not many Iraqis will resist, and those that do won't last long. Current war plans call for troop levels of 50,000 to 250,000. Anything over 50,000 will require moving a lot more heavy equipment to the Persian Gulf and this will give the Iraqis weeks or months of warning. This is a contentious issue because Iraqi may still have some operational Scud missiles, and they definitely have some chemical and biological weapons to use in Scud warheads. Hit Iraq quickly and unexpectedly and they have less time to assemble their Scuds and haul out the chemical and biological warheads. Then again, the word has been put out to Iraqis that anyone following their orders and using chemical or biological weapons will be hunted down and punished. The recent movement of U.S. commandos to the Persian Gulf also indicates that going after Iraqi chemical and biological weapons units will happen sooner rather than later.
US warplanes hit military targets at the airport outside the southern city of Basra.