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NC Military Experts Say Desert Storm Taught Safety Lessons

Posted February 19, 1998

— If United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan can't reach a diplomatic solution with Saddam Hussein, US soldiers are standing by ready to strike. Without the support of other Arab countries, experts say a US military strike could be more dangerous, because the armed forces cant rely on just smart weapons.

On the other hand, with the improvement of weapons since Operation Desert Storm, they say there should be fewer soldier casualties.

Retired Lieutenant General Robert Springer says without the complete support of adjacent countries in the Persian Gulf, a military air strike would depend more on navy aviation than that of the air force. One of the major problems is we cant use all the weapons system and all the men and women we have there.

Springer says the navy has fewer smart weapons than the air force, but that would not be a problem unless the strike lasted a long time. While there are potential casualty risks on both sides, Springer believes there will be fewer military deaths because there are no indications of a ground war.

Also, he says, Saddam Husseins air defense capabilities have already been degraded while US capabilities have improved. We have increased that capacity and ability to hit well by at least 50 percent over the past seven years, just weapon modernization.

Should an attack be carried out without the support of Iraq's neighbors, there is a higher risk of civilian casualties. Soldiers have mixed opinions.

First Lt. Brent Orr of Fort Bragg says the more support, the better.

Pfc Joseph Nitschke says it's been done before, and can be done again.

While there is not support for an air strike from all of countries neighboring Iraq, there is more international support being built.

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