Alexander's Column

National Security Primer 2: OEF and OIF

Mark Alexander · Jan. 9, 2006

Responding to the WMD threat – Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom

“The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We’ve removed an ally of al-Qa'ida and cut off a source of terrorist funding, and this much is certain: No terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from the Iraqi regime, because the regime is no more. … Our war against terror is proceeding according to principles that I have made clear to all: Any person involved in committing or planning terrorist attacks against the American people becomes an enemy of this country and a target of American justice. Any person, organization, or government that supports, protects, or harbors terrorists is complicit in the murder of the innocent and equally guilty of terrorist crimes. Any outlaw regime that has ties to terrorist groups and seeks or possesses weapons of mass destruction is a grave danger to the civilized world – and will be confronted.” –George W. Bush, 1 May 2003

In 2001, President George Bush launched Operation Enduring Freedom against al-Qa'ida’s state sponsors in Afghanistan – the Taliban regime. U.S. Special Forces faced brutal opposition but defeated Taliban forces, which allowed for the rise of a democratic government in Kabul.

In early 2002, President Bush set his sites on Iraq’s tyrant leader, Saddam Hussein. He estimated, correctly, that Iraq had, and was prepared to provide, Weapons of Mass Destruction to Jihadi terrorists like al-Qa'ida. As The Patriot reported in October 2002, our well-placed sources in the Southwest Asia theater, and intelligence sources within the NSA and NRO, estimated that the UN Security Council’s foot-dragging (with substantial help from the French and Russians) provided an ample window for Saddam to export some or all of his WMD to Syria and Iran prior to the launch of OIF.

At that time, we reported that Allied Forces would be unlikely to discover any WMD stores, noting, “Our sources estimate that Iraq has shipped its nuclear WMD components – including two ‘crude nuclear devices’ designed to utilize EU235 cores – through Syria to southern Lebanon’s heavily fortified Bekaa Valley.” We also estimate that the U.S. used the UN’s delay to watch for WMD movements in Iraq – Saddam knowing that a U.S. invasion was coming soon.

In December 2002 our senior-level intelligence sources re-confirmed estimates that some of Iraq’s biological and nuclear WMD material and components had, in fact, been moved into Syria and possibly Iran. That movement continued until President Bush finally pulled the plug on the UN’s ruse.

Our sources indicate that Saddam’s nuclear components in Syria and Lebanon have been removed or destroyed by Special Forces teams trained for this mission. Little has been said about this operation in order to protect sources and methods.

On 19 March 2003, the U.S. launched Operation Iraqi Freedom. Saddam was quickly deposed, and Iraq has since become the frontline in the war against Jihadistan – and has attracted Islamic insurgents from around the world in an effort to prevent the seeding of democracy in Iraq.

As estimated, there were no large stockpiles of WMD remaining but, contrary to the Democrats’ doubletalk, WMD were found, including 50 deployed Al Samoud 2 missiles, various equipment, including vehicles, engines and warheads, related to the AS2 missiles, 2 large propellant casting chambers, 1,700 gallons of chemical-weapon agents, chemical warheads containing the nerve agent cyclosarin, artillery projectiles loaded with binary chemical agents, and 224.6 kg of expired growth media. Discovered remnants of Saddam’s nuclear WMD program included 1.95 tons of low-enriched uranium, 1.77 metric tons of enriched uranium, radioactive materials in powdered form designed for dispersal over population centers, and 1000 radioactive components and elements – all of which was ferried from Iraq to the United States.

It is not known to what extent Saddam, assuming he would return to power after OIF, hid WMD in the desert sands south and west of Baghdad.

Clearly, the concern about Iraq supplying WMD to a surrogate like al-Qa'ida was reason enough to invade – protecting our vital national interests at home and in the Middle East. Additionally, Iraq had refused to respond to 17 UN resolutions to disarm and Saddam was in violation of the 1991 terms of surrender – the violation of which was, in effect, grounds to resume the military campaign. Of course, Iraq never stopped military action against U.S. and Allied aircraft enforcing UN-sanctioned no-fly zones.

Bush administration determined, correctly, that Iraq would be a suitable, logical and defensible front line with Jihadistan.

Of course, a battle plan rarely stands after the first shot is fired. The DoD and CIA estimated our active combat role in Iraq to be 90 days. But the insurgency has made Iraq a frontline in our continued war with Jihadi terrorists. As The Patriot has frequently noted, the net effect has been to keep the battle on their turf and not our own.

We are still engaged in spot combat operations in Iraq, and will likely maintain a substantial military presence there for many years to come. Here we would note that at the end of WWII, the U.S. expected to have a military presence in Japan and Germany for perhaps five years – yet we are still in both countries today.

Let’s be clear: American forces are NOT, first and foremost, “fighting for Iraq’s freedom.” They are fighting for U.S. national-security interests and those of the free world. Ultimately, these two objectives are inextricably bound. Our ultimate objective in Iraq is to establish a forward deployed presence in the Middle East – military personnel, yes, but primarily equipment – now that the Saudis have pulled our lease. Our analysts estimate that once the new Iraqi government is seated, the U.S. will be invited to establish permanent military installations in southern Iraq. This presence is critical, given that it would place us in the heart of Jihadistan, with the ability to protect our national interests in the region quickly without having to respond via sea and airlift. Our sources indicate that this new forward presence will comprise part of our Cold War tactical and strategic assets currently in Germany.

In 2005, the White House issued a moratorium on any official comments about Saddam’s nuclear WMD, in order to prevent undue public concern, but new information about Iraq’s WMD is emerging every week.

In January 2006, Saddam’s former military advisor and top general, Georges Sada, now a national-security advisor for Iraq’s new government, confirmed that in June 2002, Saddam transported WMD and related technology to Syria aboard retrofitted commercial jets under the pretense of conducting a humanitarian mission on behalf of flood victims. It now appears that they may have done so with the help of Russian special forces.

The Patriot has corroborated evidence that there were such flights during that timeframe, though our sources would not confirm the manifest – other than to suggest that the flights did not contain humanitarian relief.

More recently, among the 35,000 pieces of intelligence evidence that were not destroyed prior to OIF but which have yet to be analyzed due to the sheer volume of material recovered, was 12 hours of audio recordings. Translation revealed Saddam and his most trusted advisors discussing strategies to conceal his WMD assets from investigators. The tapes are estimated to have been recorded in 1997 or 1998 and were authenticated by the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which has reopened its investigation into the possible location of Iraqi WMD – particularly nuclear components.

Currently, there is mounting evidence that Saddam’s government did provide significant intelligence and operational support for al-Qa'ida prior to 9/11.

The White House has been silent about Iraq’s WMD of late, but those opportunistic politicos who have been insisting that Iraq had no WMD are changing their tune – those with presidential ambitions are much more cautious in their assessment. Sen. Hillary Clinton insisted recently, “[T]here were no weapons,” but cautiously conceded, “or if there were … they were in some way disposed of or taken out of the country.” These politicos know that should Saddam’s nuclear WMD end up in the hands of an al-Qa'ida terrorist cell in the U.S. (if it has not already) – and be detonated in a major urban center – the careers of those who used the WMD issue as political fodder would also go up in smoke.

Success in Iraq is the most critical strategic objective we must achieve to defeat Jihadistan. Once again, as noted by the current NSS, “The advance of freedom and human dignity through democracy is the long-term solution to the transnational terrorism of today.”

Despite all the Leftist rhetoric to the contrary, OIF has scored many successes. Of course the faces of liberated Iraqis tell the real story.

Indeed, the democratization of Iraq is essential in order to protect our vital national interests – both the security of our homeland and the stability of our energy providers in the Middle East. As The Patriot noted prior to the invasion of Iraq, we clearly have long-term objectives to establish one or more bases in southern Iraq as forward deployment strongholds in the region. Currently, DoD has identifies four Iraqi military installations as “enduring bases.”

Iraq won’t be lost on the ground. Of its 26 million citizens, 80 percent are pro-democracy Shi'a Muslims or Kurds – and only a small fraction of the remaining 20 percent (Sunnis) are providing quarter for insurgents. The President’s supplemental National Strategy For Victory In Iraq articulates a winning strategy there.

Still, Iraq can be lost in the hearts and minds of Americans – both through a depleted national will and in the court of public opinion, where Democrats and their Leftmedia outlets wield a great deal of influence. As such, they are among Jihadistan’s most effective public relations advocates.

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