Tracking Number:  171965

Title:  "Iraq Still Capable of Launching Surprise Offensive." Speaking at a press briefing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Defense Secretary Cheney said that while allied attacks have done serious damage to Iraq's military, Iraq may still be capable of using its air force and navy. (910210)

Translated Title:  "L'Irak Peut Encore Lancer une Attaque-Surprise." (910210)
Date:  19910210


02/10/91 1Me Re IRAQ STILL CAPABLE OF LAUNCHING SURPRISE OFFENSIVE (Cheney says Iraq can't reverse war's course) (410) By Jim Fuller USIA Staff Writer

Washington -- Secretary of Defense Cheney says that while allied air attacks have done serious damage to Iraq's air force and navy, Iraq still may be capable of using the air force it has left to break through allied defenses and damage allied forces.

Speaking at a press briefing in Riyadh early February 10 following meetings with top allied commanders, Cheney said Iraq retains a significant part of what was the world's fourth largest army, and that the allies are not underestimating the capability of Iraqi forces to launch a surprise attack.

In response to a question as to whether Iraq could launch a successful attack similar to the "Tet Offensive" launched against U.S. forces in Vietnam, Cheney responded that "the possibility still exists that he (Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein) may find some way to try to surprise us."

Cheney said allied and coalition air strikes inside Iraq have left the Iraqi air force, air defenses and navy virtually ineffective or nonexistent. He said, however, that Iraq still has a number of airplanes left and that a significant part of the Iraqi army remains intact.

"They've had almost no success with respect to their air force against allied air forces," he said. "That does not mean that he might not, at some point, try to use what's left in an attack on allied forces, that he might not try to load up his aircraft for some kind of one-way mission to try to break through our defenses and do some damage to allied forces."

Cheney said Hussein could try to launch SCUD missiles carrying chemical weapons, and that "he could find some way to try to surge his air force against us, that we could see a more successful terrorism campaign that he's been able to mount to date, or that he might conceivably try to go on the offensive with his ground forces."

Cheney said, however, that he did not believe Iraqi forces were capable of reversing the fundamental course of the war, which he said was leading to Iraq's defeat and withdrawal from Kuwait. He added that allied forces have

GE 2 SFF703 "done serious damage" to Iraq's Republican Guard ground forces.

Cheney said he is scheduled to meet with President Bush in Washington on February 11 to report on his findings. NNNN

File Identification:  02/10/91, SF-703; 02/10/91, AF-701; 02/10/91, AS-701; 02/10/91, NA-702; 02/11/91, AS-113
Product Name:  Wireless File
Product Code:  WF
Languages:  French; Spanish; Arabic; Spanish
Thematic Codes:  1NE
Target Areas:  AF; AR; EA; EU; NE
PDQ Text Link:  171965; 171979; 171980; 172021