The Bush administration, deeply concerned about recent assassination attempts against Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and a resurgence of Taliban forces in neighboring Afghanistan, is preparing a U.S. military offensive that would reach inside Pakistan with the goal of destroying Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network, military sources said.
U.S. Central Command is assembling a team of military intelligence officers that would be posted in Pakistan ahead of the operation, according to sources familiar with details of the plan and internal military communications. The sources spoke on the condition they not be identified.
As now envisioned, the offensive would involve Special Operations forces, Army Rangers and Army ground troops, sources said. A Navy aircraft carrier would be deployed in the Arabian Sea.
Referred to in internal Pentagon messages as the "spring offensive," the operation would be driven by certain undisclosed events in Pakistan and across the region, sources said. A source familiar with details of the plan said this is "not like a contingency plan for North Korea, something that sits on a shelf. This planning is like planning for Iraq. They want this plan to be executable, now."
The Defense Department declined to comment on the planned offensive or its details.
...A series of planning orders--referred to in military jargon as warning orders--for the offensive were issued in recent weeks. The deadline for key planning factors to be detailed by the U.S. military was Jan. 21.
Sources said the plan against Al Qaeda would be driven by events in the region rather than set deadlines and that delays could occur. But military sources said the push for this spring appeared to be triggered by the assassination attempts on Musharraf, both of which came in December, and, to some extent, the capture of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.
Hussein was captured after eight months of an intense military and intelligence effort on the ground in Iraq. Pentagon and administration officials, buoyed by that success, believe a similar determined effort could work in Pakistan and lead to the capture or killing of bin Laden, said sources familiar with the planning.
Thousands of U.S. forces would be involved, as well as Pakistani troops, planners said. Some of the 10,600 U.S. troops now in Afghanistan would be shifted to the border region as part of regular troop movements; some would be deployed within Pakistan.
The Tribune should have titled it - Hey Osama, Watch Out!
This makes my blood boil...You think that this is going to be a surprise attack? Not anymore thanks to the stellar reporting at the Tribune! And you all know someone who is heading over there and will certainly be part of any offensive in the area.
It was written by Christine Spolar - Tribune Foreign Coorespondent. This is Christine Spolar's email address. You also can contact the newspaper's public editor, Don Wycliff . If you decide to send her an email, please keep it professional. Here is my message to Spolar and Wycliff:
Dear Ms. Spolar-
I read your front page article today in the Chicago Tribune. I am very concerned that your article may jeopardize American lives, if and/or when the offensive is launched.
I have some very good friends there now, and some very good friends on the way to Afghanistan.
I would hope that, in your efforts to be a top journalist and get a front page article, you are considerate of the potential costs in lives that your writing may cause. That goes for your editor, too.
At best, you may have destroyed our chances for a surprise attack. At worst, you may have gotten some of our men and women killed.
Please let the Tribune know that this is unacceptable.
Update 11:30 AM CST: Just received a response from Christine Spolar. Here it is:
Thanks for your letter. Having covered conflicts for years, including the Bosnian war and now the effort in Iraq since April, I too am aware of your concerns. They are my concerns as well. I too have good friends in
uniform, in the Pentagon and on the ground.
I also believe that keeping abreast of what these plans is part of my job and the public, and that includes military personnel involved in such endeavors, has the right to know, to be educated and to judge for themselves these operations. Thanks again for your thoughts...C
It's a dodge and I am sure everyone expected the "right of free speech and the freedom of the press" argument...And BTW, I don't believe anyone has a right to know about planned operations (especially Special Operations like these) except for the military and their civilian oversight (DOD, Congress, Senate, President).
Update 6:30pm CST: Here's a few letters to the Tribune that I was copied on...
The outrage, anger and the hostility I feel at this moment are just words and can't begin to describe how I feel about your front page article in today's paper. If one US Service member is injured or killed because of your reckless and irresponsible reporting, I hope it stays on your conscience for the rest of your life. No matter how you found out about this plan, what you and the Tribune did is dead wrong.
I hope you have the courage to visit the family members of any one wounded, maimed or killed to explain to them your were complicit in causing their injury or death and the escape of Osama, if he is still alive.
Anything less makes you a moral midget and coward.
I suppose had you been a reporter in late May of 1944 your would have run a front page story about D-Day so Hitler and his Generals could have killed even more American, British and Canadian troops.
I don't want to sound like John Kerry but I am also a wounded Viet Nam Vet who was awarded a Bronze Medal. I know what it is to be shot at and hit. You don't!
I was appalled to read on your web site the details of future American military operations ("U.S. plans Al Qaeda offensive", Jan. 28).
You and your sources have significantly compromised this operation. Will you follow-up this article with equally large headlines taking credit for the American casualties you cause, or the Al Qaeda operatives you help to escape?
» This is unacceptable from The Bejus Pundit
Matty O'Blackfive has a piece up concerning the Chicago Tribune's trumpeting U.S. military ops planning. Matty's right. This sort of vanity reporting costs lives, and we shouldn't stand for it. Read Matty's post, and send an email to the Tribune.... [Read More]
Tracked on Jan 28, 2004 10:16:23 AM
» This isn't a "scoop", it's irresponsible journalism from The Unrepentant Curmudgeon
Matt at Blackfive is angry, and justifiably so. The Chicago Tribune has published a news report headlined U.S. plans Al Qaeda offensive with the subheading "Sources say military is mapping operation to strike inside Pakistan." From the article: U.S. Ce... [Read More]
Tracked on Jan 28, 2004 11:07:53 AM
» Spring Offensive in Pakistan? from Citizen Smash - The Indepundit
WHOEVER DISCLOSED this information to the media is engaged in either a disinformation campaign, or treason. The Bush administration, deeply... [Read More]
» If you try to assassinate someone... from The Argus
get it right on the first or second try. I've noticed that Musharraf is pissed after the assassination attempts. He seems to have done the mental calculus and determined that the fate of his ass depends on going after the [Read More]
Tracked on Jan 28, 2004 12:04:46 PM
» Do "Loose Lips" Build Consensus? from DarrenKaplan.net
Both my friend Blackfive and Citizen Smash are fuming at the Chicago Tribune for publishing the article on the planned U.S. offensive into Pakistan that I posted on at length below. Black and Smash are of the opinion that the... [Read More]
Tracked on Jan 28, 2004 12:10:51 PM
» Dramatic developments in Pakistan? from Daniel W. Drezner
The Chicago Tribune breaks a big story about U.S. plans for a military offensive inside Pakistan: The Bush administration, deeply concerned about recent assassination attempts against Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and a resurgence of Taliban forc... [Read More]
Tracked on Jan 28, 2004 1:25:52 PM
» Spolar the Spoiler? from Mudville Gazette
Blackfive alerts us to this Cicago Tribune story, which may have crossed a line. Most disturbing to me is the response he got from author Christine Spolar. Boiled down beyond the bragging (or veiled threat) of "friends at the Pentagon"... [Read More]
Tracked on Jan 28, 2004 1:39:29 PM
» MilBlogs: from Mudville Gazette
FREE SPEECH FROM THOSE WHO HELP MAKE IT POSSIBLE THE POST EXCHANGE: I've asked my fellow MilBloggers to submit "notable posts" they've written in the recent past for inclusion here, with a quick summary in their own words. I've taken... [Read More]
Tracked on Jan 28, 2004 1:42:37 PM
» Around The Blogosphere from Insults Unpunished
I hate Lou Dobbs. I'm stuck in a hotel that doesn't carry FNC and I'm enduring his "Exporting America" segment. What an idiot. Here's a look around the blogosphere:Spoons has a number of good posts such as why conservatives should... [Read More]
Tracked on Jan 28, 2004 6:10:31 PM
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