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well. I think the agent would be released at the wrong altitude or burn up on reentry.
There is a very real chance that his conventional warheads are actually more destructive on those rockets than a chemical or biological agent would be. At least I hope so. I think there is reason to be hopeful. And within combat settings, of course, one of the reasons we would want to have this operation conducted in the winter or early spring at the latest is because we want to wear these very good chemical and biological protective suits that we have.
We all know, and you know at least as well as I on this committee, that people train in these regularly. It is still hard to operate in these suits. They are not perfect. It does slow us down. It is not the kind of thing that you want to do.
But, again, Saddam Hussein cannot stop us in this way. He may slow down our operations a bit, increase our casualties a bit, but I frankly do not think it would be the most central element of a conflict. I think that the basic nature of urban combat would be the dominant characteristic of this war, whether the chemical and biological agents were used or not. So, they will be a serious impediment to our operations, but not the fundamental determinant of what happens.
Dr. COHEN. This really is why I think it is very important for the President to have flexibility about when he launches a military operation, because what we don't want to have is a kind of an elaborate and foreseeable kind of minuet which leads to a military operation. That is why I think there is a little bit of difference between us on inspections eventually leading to something. It seems to me it is important that we be able to retain the initiative, in part to be able to neutralize these kinds of weapon.
Mrs. DAVIS OF VIRGINIA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The gentleman from Texas is recognized for five minutes. Mr. Ortiz.
Mr. ORTIZ. Thank you. I would like to welcome our witnesses this morning. We are happy to have you here with us.
I think one of you mentioned that it would require at least a minimum-or a maximum of about 200,000 troops to go into Iraq. Do you think that we have enough manpower? And the reason I am asking you is because we have reduced, at least in the past 10 years, 600,000 soldiers. We have at least 130,000 of them deployed throughout the world, and then to send an additional 200- or 300,000 soldiers—we have not had homeland security approved yet on the Senate side.
We had General Wesley Clark the other day testify that when we were in Bosnia, or still in Bosnia or Kuwait-I mean in Kosovo, we were looked upon as saviors, because we were there to save lives, to protect lives of many people who were being killed.
When we go to Iraq, we are the infidels, so it is not going to be easy for those troops who will stay behind for, like you mentioned or somebody mentioned, 10, 12, minus/plus years. Can you elaborate a little bit on that? Do we have enough end-strength to meet the requirements? Do we have the equipment to protect our soldiers from either chemical or biological weapons?
And those are the questions that people are concerned with. Maybe you can elaborate a little bit on that.
Dr. OHANLON. Thank you, Congressman.
First of all, I think a couple of hundred thousand forces is essentially the maximum for the entire international coalition. I am hopeful that an occupation might require closer to 100,000, but I think we have to believe that it is going to be in that general range.
Of that number, how many will be American? I don't know. I think we should be pretty ambitious about trying to recruit allies. I would like to see Japanese forces as part of a multilateral occupation force. I wouldn't mind seeing some South Koreans. I wouldn't mind seeing a lot of NATO forces, as well as some Arab help.
So, I think we need to try to mitigate the demand on our own forces, but let's not kid ourselves. The world is going to see this as our war. We are going to have to do more than provide 15 percent of the total forces, as we have been doing in the Balkans, where the Europeans really have shouldered the overwhelming share of the burden.
So, I think you are going to have to assume a quarter of this force is going to be American, roughly. That means anywhere from 25- to 50,000 American troops, at least in the first couple of years. I hope you could draw it down fairly quickly thereafter.
Do we have the end-strength for that? Clearly not if it has to be sustained very long. In the short-term, yes. In the medium-term, no. And if we are going to stay at that level even more than a couple of years, I think we have to consider some fairly creative new ways to get end-strength at least temporarily higher, not permanently I don't believe. But, I think the rest of the missions we are doing the force can handle roughly at its current size, although there is obviously need for further efficiencies and improvements in how we rotate the force, and you have presided over a lot of that work here in the committee in the last few years. But, I think if we are going to do the occupation, it is going to require 20-, 30-, 40-, 50,000 for half a decade, you may need to go up to a greater end-strength, at least temporarily. So that is the basic order of magnitude. You might be able
to pull a few marines off Okinawa, a few Army soldiers out of Bosnia, maybe you can find 10,000 forces in deployments that are not quite as critical today as part of the way you generate that force, but, over time, I think you would have a hard time sustaining it at the current 1.4 million.
Mr. ORTIZ. Dr. Cohen.
Dr. COHEN. I basically agree with what Michael said, particularly on the force structure, the long-term force structure issues. And one concern I have is that some of the folks in the Pentagon are so busy coping with operational issues that some of these larger problems—we haven't talked, for example, about reservists being retained in service beyond a year. It probably is not getting quite the attention that they really deserve, and that is, I think, a function that this committee can really serve quite usefully.
In terms of how our troops will be received, I think it is very hard to anticipate. My colleague, Professor Fouad Ajami, who is one of the country's top Middle East experts, said at a recent gath
ering that they will be received the way de Gaulle's soldiers were in Paris when it was liberated from the Germans. Now, I think he was saying that in part to annoy a French diplomat that was in the audience, but I think it is quite possible that the initial reception at least may in some respects be very positive. In others, it may not. Again, one of the areas of unpredictability.
One thing I would say is we have gotten better and better at this kind of thing. We sometimes—I mean, even people I think, like those in this room, who are quite close to the American military sometimes underestimate what a terrific learning machine it is, and we have learned a lot of lessons from the kinds of operations that we have conducted in places from Somalia, to Yugoslavia, to now Afghanistan.
There have been so many people who predicted, for example, that the Afghans would turn against us in very, very short order because we are foreigners.
Well, that has not really turned out to be the case, at least just yet. And, I think it is partly because our military is really quite good. So, I think there is a chance at least, that on the whole, we may-we may in fact be seen as liberators and not simply as infidels.
Mr. ORTIZ. As far as I know, the only countries that will support us—and you can correct me if I am wrong—are Turkey and the British. Do you have anybody else that I am missing who might go in there with us and support us?
Dr. COHEN. The Australians were before the British. It is a small military, although it is very, very good, particularly in their special forces. So, the Australians would be there, as well. If I had to guess, it would be at the end of the day you will see the Turks cooperating and some of the Gulf States cooperating. And there may even be some others.
I do tend to think that once it is clear that this is going to happen, other countries will sign up for a variety of reasons; some good, some not so good.
Mr. WELDON. I thank my friend and colleague.
The gentleman from Mississippi, Mr. Taylor, is recognized for five minutes.
Mr. TAYLOR. I want to thank both of you gentlemen for being here. Have you given much thought to the unspeakable; and that is, the number of American casualties? I haven't heard the President talk about it. I haven't heard the Secretary of Defense talk about it. I really haven't heard you gentlemen talk about it. I was just curious.
We were pleasantly surprised in the Gulf War. I heard briefings that we anticipated anywhere up to 30,000 American deaths. I would like to hear your thoughts on this since apparently no one else is willing to talk about it.
Dr. COHEN. I think those people who are willing to talk about it have kind of false confidence. I certainly do not feel that I have. I know those same projections very well that were done by serious people in the military. It wasn't just the United States. The British were expecting something on the order of 10,000 British casualties in their operations.
It is hard to say. There are a couple of pointers that I think we can look at. One is let's think about chemical and biological weapons. Historically, chemical weapons tend to wound rather than kisl. Even in the war with Iran as best as we can determine I think this is in the British dossier that was released recently—the Iranians were said to have suffered several thousand deaths from quite large-scale use of chemical weapons with very little protection. The Iranians did not have anything like our kind of gear, and couldn't operate against the forces that were using them. They caused all kinds of other problems, including long-term illness, and
do not mean to underestimate it, but in terms of being lethal, that tended not to be the case. And, in the kind of environment that we are talking about, I would tend to think that would be so.
Urban warfare is traditionally, of course, very, very costly. There too, you know, I try to follow fairly closely Israeli operations in the West Bank, which was urban warfare against kind of a sophisticated opponent who thought about how they would fight it. And, the Israelis took remarkably few military casualties, and, more remarkably, inflicted relatively few civilian casualties.
So, that makes me very cautiously optimistic in hoping that we are looking at something that is probably similar to the first Gulf War in terms of very rough orders of magnitude.
Mr. TAYLOR. If I may, one of my personal concerns is I have come to believe that with all the talk of the regime change in Iraq, that Saddam Hussein could well be of the mind that he has absolutely nothing to lose by releasing a weapon of mass destruction here in America.
Seeing the kind of grief that 3,000 casualties caused, what if he could cause 30,000 casualties or 300,000 casualties? I was just curious if either of you or your organizations have given much thought to the probability of that happening, because I have very grave concerns about that.
Dr. COHEN. If I could just respond, I would just say I share those concerns. My concerns are greater if we do not do this. And, I would go back to a point that Michael made, and I think very accurately. The intent to assassinate the first President Bush was completely irrational. It was purely a quest for revenge. It could do him no good. It could actually only do him harm. If it succeeded, I think there was a good chance that we then would have done what perhaps we are about to do. And, it seems to me that opened the window into who he is.
So, I very much share your feelings, particularly living in this city, I have to say. But in a way, I think if we do not do this we are actually increasing the likelihood that it will happen some day.
Dr. O'HANLON. A couple of points. On this last one I am a little more optimistic than Eliot, though not completely so; because one thing I would note, since 1993, Saddam as far as we can tell has not tried to assassinate anyone else in the American sort of Gulf War hero community. And, what that tells me is that now he realizes that we are pretty good at intelligence, he is not going to try it again because he wouldn't get away with it.
In 1993, he made the mistake of thinking he could get away with it using intelligence operatives to sneak into Kuwait.
What that tells me, you have to worry most about those things that he is not sure we will figure out that he was behind. So, if he gives a biological agent to al Qaeda, maybe he thinks that he could get away with it. And, that is the kind of thing that I worry more about a lot more, rather than a deliberate act of aggression where he is aware that we will overthrow him because we know who caused that aggression.
On the biological weapon issue, I believe in the end he has powerful reasons not to give the weapons to al Qaeda. For one thing, he knows that we have some ability to do DNA analysis of biological agents and figure out the general possible universe of places from which they may have come. We are not perfect at that, but we are fairly good at it.
We can also analyze the way the agent was prepared or milled and figure out—this is obviously what we were doing last fall as the country was trying to figure out where the anthrax came from. And, of course, we still do not know, so that tells Saddam something that may encourage him. But, we were able to rule out a lot of possibilities and narrow down the set of possible origin points of that agent.
So, what that tells me, I don't know how well deterrence is going to work against Saddam for that particular threat. There is a case to be made that he will be too nervous to try. And, there is also a case to be made that he will decide he can get away with it and he will take the same kind of chance he took in 1993 trying to kill former President Bush. It is a tough call. I think it is probably the single-most difficult thing, to make a prediction about knowing this man's past behavior.
On the issues that you raised, I have tried to do some work on casualty estimates. The problem is, as Eliot said, the models can be so far off. And I went back and I have got a 10,000-word paper I will be happy to burden you with if you like. But in the end, I ultimately conclude it is very hard to specify the range narrowly, and we could lose anywhere from 100 people if this war is basically over before it begins, to as many as 5,000 people if most of the Republican Guard fights hard and we have to essentially have a Panama- or Mogadishu-style infantry urban-combat engagement until much of the Republican Guard has been defeated.
I think the 5,000 Americans killed-in-action estimate is quite pessimistic. I would think that a more plausible pessimistic scenario—still pessimistic—is a couple-thousand killed Americans. But, if this becomes urban warfare even for a few weeks, it will become much more lethal for us than Operation Desert Storm, despite the deterioration of the Iraqi military. So, that is why so much of this hinges on convincing them not to fight.
I am sorry to go on at such length. One final point is that on the issue of homeland security and the possible attacks by chemical or biological agents here, I think you are right to raise the possibility of the 30,000/300,000, but I think that Iraq would have a hard time being that effective given what we know about its infiltration of special agents today. I think that, for example, if they tried to put anthrax into the Empire State Building or something like that, or even into three skyscrapers, first of all in wartime we are going to