Archive for Monday, March 31, 2003

Chain of command was divided

March 31, 2003


— Saddam Hussein set up a system giving his most trusted lieutenants and local tribal leaders the power to mount a guerrilla campaign or other military measures without waiting for his orders.

Saddam reorganized his chain of command before the war so that he need not give every order and thus make himself vulnerable to U.S. electronic detection. U.S. officials, however, see the absence of Saddam's strong hand on the battlefield as a sign that he may be dead or wounded.

"I don't know whether the leader of this regime is dead or alive," Gen. Tommy Franks, the U.S. war commander, said in Doha, Qatar. "I have not seen credible evidence over the last period of days that this regime is being controlled from the top."

Five days before the war began, the Iraqi government announced Saddam had divided the country into four military regions under the command of his son Qusai, head of the elite Republican Guards, and three of his most trusted lieutenants.

Each of them was given sweeping powers to use all the resources of the Iraqi military and state for the defense of his region. That meant commanders in Najaf, Basra, Mosul and other areas did not have to wait for instructions from Saddam before taking action.

Saddam could remain hidden from U.S. electronic surveillance while being assured that his strategy for defending Iraq would be implemented by his son and aides -- even if coalition forces destroy his communications.

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