Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Troops Await Single Order for Invasion

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Troops Await Single Order for Invasion

Article excerpt

Byline: KEITH DOVKANTS

AMERICAN marines poured into the Kuwaiti border zone early today signalling that the advance on Iraq has begun. They were the first of thousands of Allied soldiers who began moving to "jump-off " points where they will wait for final the order to invade.

Commanders have now been told the code word which will signal the start of war on Saddam Hussein, and have given battle orders listing objectives and targets to their staff.

Tens of thousands of British and American soldiers are now wearing chemical protection suits in case of a pre-emptive strike by the Iraqi dictator.

And Britain's soldiers in Kuwait are being given their last jabs to protect them against biological weapons including anthrax in a final signal that war is about to begin.

Almost 300,000 American, British and Australian soldiers, air crew, sailors and marines are awaiting a single order from supreme commander General Tommy Franks to begin a lightning attack on Iraq.

And General Franks and his British counterpart, Air Marshal Brian Burridge, are each waiting the order from the White House and Downing Street telling them to begin hostilities. A spokesman for the British military in the

Gulf said: "We are poised." The only changes to their battle plans are being made in the light of detailed intelligence reports that Saddam has ordered his elite Republican Guards to defend only Baghdad, leaving the rest of the country in the hands of demoralised conscripts.

The order to begin the war will come in a secure electronic message from General Franks and Air Marshal Burridge to activate the plans already distributed to the forces on the ground, at sea and at air bases.

The two will hold a final "huddle" at their command post in Qatar to finally decide on the details of the invasion and send the coded order to their units.

Within minutes a devastating air attack will begin on Baghdad, Tikrit, Basra, and hundreds of targets across Iraq in an operation designed to produce "shock and awe" and convince the Iraqi military not to fight. …

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