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BEFORE THE 1TH CONGRESS
S COMMITTEE I welcome the opportunity to share with you the nature of the threat that the Iraqi regime presents to the United States, our forces and our allies. I also welcome this chance to share with you what you the improved capabilities our Armed Forces possess today.
As it has for the past decade, the Iraqi regime remains a significant threat to our interests and those of our allies. Despite the presence of UN sanctions, Iraq has repaired and sustained key elements of its offensive, conventional forces. Iraqi armed forces maintain over 2,000 main battle tanks, more than 3,500 armored personnel carriers and more than 2,000 pieces of artillery. Today, Iraqi ground forces have 23 divisions, to include 6 Republican Guard divisions. Its Air Force operates over 50 key air defense radars and has about 300 jet aircraft, to include a limited number of Mirage F-1s and MiG-29 Fulcrum aircraft.
Since 2000, Iraq's air defense forces have engaged coalition forces enforcing the UN mandated No-Fly Zones over Northern and Southern Iraq more than 2,300 times. Since August of 2001, Iraqi hostile actions have downed 3 Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. In the last 2 weeks, over 25 coalition aircraft enforcing the No-Fly Zones have been engaged by Iraqi anti-aircraft and surface-to-air missiles.
Despite these hostile actions, in the aggregate, the regime's military forces are down by roughly 50 to 60 percent, compared to 1990. Poor morale is reportedly widespread in many units and the quality of training is low. Iraqi forces employ aging weapon systems. Nonetheless, Iraq continues to invest heavily in rebuilding its military, including air defense systems and command and control networks. The Iraqi army also has preserved some limited countrywide mobility for its armored forces. The nature and type of these military forces are similar to the offensive capability Iraq used to invade Iran, to invade Kuwait, to attack the Kurds, and to crush popular uprisings against Saddam's regime.
At the same time, Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) program represents a greater threat to American lives, our interests and those of our allies and friends. When UN inspection teams were forced to leave Iraq in 1998, they documented that Iraq had failed to fulfill UN disarmament mandates and to accurately account for its most dangerous weapons. In response to ejecting those inspectors, the US and our coalition partners conducted Operation DESERT FOX in December 1998. In 70 hours, the coalition dealt a limited blow to Iraq's WMD and missile programs. At the time, we estimated that we set back its programs by six months to a year. In the four years since, Iraq has continued to develop chemical weapons, primarily mustard agent, the nerve agent Sarin, and VX - an extremely potent nerve
agent. Prior to 1991, Iraq produced at least 28,000 filled chemical munitions and almost certainly many more.
Iraq has also invested heavily into developing biological agents. After years of denying it had any offensive biological weapons, in 1995, the Iraqi regime admitted to the UN that it had produced more than 30,000 liters of concentrated biological warfare agents. To put in comparison, a year ago, trace amounts of anthrax infected 22 persons in the US and killed 5 Americans. UNSCOM estimated that Iraqi officials were misleading and that Baghdad could have produced 2-4 times more agents. Moreover, the UN was unable to account for nearly 200 biological bombs and missile warheads Iraq claims it destroyed in 1991.
Iraq retains the ability to deliver these chemical and biological weapons with aircraft, artillery shells or missiles. Two years ago, it displayed an array of new missiles and has begun fielding them with its military forces this year. These weapons, known as the Al Samoud and Ababil-100 missiles, violate UN resolutions because they are capable of reaching beyond the 150-kilometer range limit imposed on Iraqi missiles and rockets.
With regards to nuclear weapons, Iraq continues to vigorously pursue this capability. In 2000, the International Atomic Energy Agency estimated that Iraq could have a nuclear weapon within two years. We do not know definitively how long it will be until it creates an operational nuclear capability. With foreign assistance, Iraq could have such a weapon in a few years or much sooner if it is able to obtain sufficient fissile materials from a foreign source.
But, we know, without any doubt, that Iraq values these clandestine programs. Iraq has developed elaborate deception and dispersal efforts aimed at preventing us and the rest of the world from learning about its WMD capabilities. As a result, we do not know the exact location of many of Iraq's WMD resources.
We also know that Iraq has demonstrated a willingness to use such indiscriminate weapons. The regime has used WMD against the citizens of Iraq and Iran. It has used SCUD missiles against cities in Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and tried to hit Bahrain. In fact, Iraq has used weapons of mass destruction more against civilians than against military forces.
The Iraqi regime has also allowed its country to be a haven for terrorists. Since the 1970s, organizations such as the Abu Nidal Organization, Palestinian Liberation Front and Mujahadeen-e-Khalq have found sanctuary within Iraq's borders. Over the past few months, with the demise of their safe haven in Afghanistan, some al Qaida operatives have relocated to Iraq. Baghdad's support for international terrorist organizations ranges from explicit and overt support to implicit and passive acquiescence.
Iraq is governed by a terrorist regime. From a military perspective, Iraq's conventional forces and WMD programs represent a threat to the region, our allies and US interests.
US Military Capabilities Today
Our Nation's military forces enjoy the respect of the vast majority of countries and their armed forces. This respect stems from our forces' professional skills, superior intelligence assets, agile power projection capability, unique C2 networks and the lethal combat power that our Joint Team brings to the fight. As we have done in DESERT STORM, in Bosnia, in Kosovo and most recently in Afghanistan, our armed forces are always ready to integrate the military capabilities of our allies and partners into a decidedly superior, coalition force.
In a contest between Iraq's military forces and our Nation's armed forces, the outcome is clear. Our joint warfighting team, in concert with our partners, can and will decisively defeat Iraqi military forces.
Many will remember the results of the last encounter between our coalition forces and Iraq eleven years ago. Since then, US combat power has improved. Today, our nation's joint warfighting team enjoys improved intelligence, command and control, is more deployable and possesses greater combat power. Let me briefly address each of these areas. In terms of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capability, our operations over Afghanistan demonstrated our improved ability to observe the enemy. Our network of sensors, combined with the improved flow of tactical information to commanders and warfighters at all levels, have allowed us to react faster to a fluid battlefield environment. In DESERT STORM, our only unmanned aerial vehicle, the Pioneer, was limited to a 5-hour sortie and restricted to line-of-sight from its command center. Today, Predator and Global Hawk provide our forces day and night surveillance capability for extended periods of time far over the horizon.
In a similar manner, our warfighters have more updated intelligence for their mission. In DESERT STORM, pilots used target photos that were often 2-3 days old. Determining accurate coordinates often required 24 hours and was done exclusively in the rear echelon in the United States. This process was good, but not as responsive as it needed to bc. Today, our aircrews have photos that are often only hours old and can determine coordinates for precision engagement in just 20 minutes.
A critical component of the information needed by our warfighting commanders is to monitor and detect the presence of chemical and biological agents in the tactical environment. Today, our forces have an improved ability to detect suspected Iraqi chemical and biological agents.
Our command and control systems have also improved. Today, US Army ground commanders have vastly improved capabilities for tracking the realtime locations of their tactical units. Our air operations have undergone an improved ability to track key enemy forces, friendly units and to obtain faster assessment of the effects of our attacks. The Joint Force Air Component Commander in Operation ENDURING FREEDOM repeatedly demonstrated the ability to re-task all aircraft while airborne and strike emerging targets quickly, in some cases in as little as two hours. Also, our Maritime Component Commanders can now plan a Tomahawk Land Attack Missile mission in a matter of a few hours, when a decade ago it required at least two days.
The Nation's ability to get to a crisis, with the right forces, to execute operations on our timeline, has improved over the past decade. With the strong support of the Congress, we invested in our deployment infrastructure and equipment to allow operational units to deploy faster and arrive better configured to fight. Since 1991, Congressional support of strategic power projection capabilities such as the C-17 aircraft, Large-Medium Speed Roll-On | Roll-Off (LMSR) ship program and both afloat and ground based, prepositioned combat unit sets, contribute significantly to our combat capability.
Additionally, we continue to work with the Nation's medical experts at the Health and Human Services Department to ensure every member of our armed forces will be fully prepared medically with immunizations against potential biological threats. This September, we resumed immunizations against anthrax for military personnel in select units.
These improvements allow our Nation's military to gather intelligence, plan operations, deploy, and execute combat missions much faster than 11 years ago. These improvements ensure that we have a faster decision cycle than ou opponent. These enhancements equate to flexibility and agility in combat, which directly translates into a superior force.
Equally dramatic has been our improvement in the combat power of our forces. In DESERT STORM, only 18 percent of our force had the ability to employ laser guided bombs (LGBs). Of the more than 200,000 bombs employed, only 4 percent were LGBs. Today, all of our fixed-wing combat aircraft have a range of precision attack capability. In addition, all of our bombers and 5 of our 7 primary air-to-ground fighter weapon systems have all-weather precision attack capability with the Joint Direct Attack Munition.
The results of these enhancements are measured in numerous ways. For example, on the first night of our combat operations in Afghanistan, we employed 38 fighter and bomber aircraft to attack 159 separate targets. All aircraft employed precision weapons. Had we relied on a DESERT STORM equipped force, we would have needed roughly 450 aircraft to gain the same level of destruction. In DESERT STORM, we could not have afforded this size