There are risks.
One is that Iraqi troops, especially Saddam's Republican Guard, would not give up, instead bogging American soldiers down in difficult urban warfare within Baghdad.
Using fewer American troops also increases the risk that Iraq might disintegrate into ethnic conflicts if Saddam falls, said Anthony Cordesman, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
The biggest risk is that Saddam would retaliate with biological or chemical weapons. That might happen even if America does a slow military buildup, said Baker, who along with others considers this the critical danger.
In any surprise attack, the keys would be:
_ Air power:
The United States could launch strikes off aircraft carriers in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf, and from land bases in Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Diego Garcia and possibly Turkey. The military also might try, early on, to seize airfields in western Iraq itself and also use Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq.
Help from neighboring Saudi Arabia or Jordan isn't strictly needed, Cordesman said, but it would give the United States more military flexibility to have Saudi staging areas.
Jordan reiterated on Wednesday that it would not allow foreign troops to use its territory for any attack against Iraq, a position the Saudis also have publicly taken.
_ Moving troops and equipment:
Transport ships carrying heavy equipment, weapons and tanks from Guam, Diego Garcia and elsewhere could be sent to the Persian Gulf region without attracting much initial notice.
The public would learn that a large convoy was moving toward Iraq only when the ships passed through the Strait of Hormuz into the Persian Gulf, a day or so from docking in Kuwait. Other heavy equipment is stored in nearby Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
Once in Kuwait, the ships could provide tanks to waiting U.S. soldiers.
Some 10,000-15,000 troops already could be in Kuwait through normal rotations. An additional 35,000-40,000 could be flown in quickly from surrounding bases or ships.
The U.S. military also might try to employ Iraqi opposition forces like the Kurds in the north, or dissident generals, but there are strong risks to that.
_ Stopping missiles:
The United States would try to use reconnaissance aircraft like the unmanned Predator to find and prevent Saddam from launching short-range ballistic missiles armed with chemical or biological weapons.
Najib al Salhi, a former Iraqi general opposed to Saddam, contended in a recent Washington speech that the United States could prevent such launches. But most U.S. experts call that wishful thinking.
Many Iraqi missile launchers are hidden either in hardened bunkers, or beneath sites like hospitals or garages. It's considered likely that Saddam would manage to launch at least some toward either U.S. troops or toward civilians in Israel.
Originally Posted By EricTheHun
I think maybe you oughtta get yourself an M-16 ~ Col Hal Moore
Time comes I need one Sir, there'll be plenty of 'em lying on the ground ~ Sgt Maj Plumley