DRIVE FOR THE JUGULAR; Troops Involved in an Invasion of Iraq Will Have a Number of Key Targets as Well as a Wide Variety of Hurdles to Overcome. Here We Highlight the Main Aspects of a New Gulf War and How the Conflict May Unfold
A WAVE of 700 cruise missiles will bombard Iraq within hours of the green light for war from the White House.
Before a single soldier sets foot in Iraq, air defence and command centres will be hit and B2 Stealth bombers from the Indian Ocean atoll of Diego Garcia will batter army barracks.
Bombers from airbases in Turkey and carriers in the Mediterranean and the Gulf will follow in a devastating 48 hours.
The next priority is to secure oil fields and set up Allied bases in the north, south and west of Iraq.
Under invasion plans drawn up months ago, soldiers from ships in the Med will be flown to the northern base near Mosul city.
Troops from Gulf ships will occupy the western base close to the Syrian and Jordanian border and allied forces in Kuwait will set up the southern base.
Once established, the land invasion proper will begin with troops in the northern base advancing south to the stronghold of Tikrit.
Allied soldiers in the south will use mobile bridges to cross the rivers Tigris and Euphrates in their northward advance to Baghdad.
Troops in the west will secure factories at Al Qa'im and Al Fallujah, where it is suspected weapons of mass destruction are made.
They will then push east towards Baghdad, protected by Saddam's personal army, the Republican Guard - which is expected to defend the city at all costs.
Urban fighting is expected to be particularly brutal.
If defeat seems inevitable, Saddam and his inner circle could unleash chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons as a final defiant gesture.
The death toll could reach four million if the conflict turns nuclear.
ALLIED troops face a ragtag collection of soldiers known as the Jerusalem Army, as well as regular troops and elite forces.
The Jerusalem Army were raised by Saddam two years ago as a sign of solidarity with the Palestinian intifada, but have now expanded into a civilian defence force.
Most fighters have had two months of basic military training.
Many in their ranks are outside the usual fighting age - men with balding heads toting vintage rifles, 12- year-old boys from the local military academy and schoolgirls in trainers.
But they also boast suicide bombers with dynamite and grenades strapped to their chests.
Mudhaffar al-Mullah, the commander of one contingent, said: "We will fight the Americans and the British door to door and gate to gate."
But not all Iraqi forces will be pushovers - the elite Republican Guard are expected to give fierce resistance. …