Monday, November 14, 2005

We've Moved

If you've been following the work done by The IraqFact Working Group or you've found this site through a search engine, we're please to announce that we've consolidated our writings onto two new sites.

IraqFact (the Blog)
and (the complete website)

Our blog site continues the tradition of investigative journalism, analysis and commentary that The IraqFact Working Group has been doing since its inception.

Our web site is a new venture where we are compiling a complete and comprehensive overview of the key event's that led up to the war in Iraq. With a concentration on education and analysis, the web site is intended to take the work done by The IraqFact Working Group to new level. The site encompasses not only our investigative work , but also in depth analysis and breaking stories.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Prepping the Battlefield:The military started to prepare for Iraq War only months after 9/11

In the weeks and months immediately following Sept 11, the attention of the nation and the world turned to Afghanistan and its Islamic Fundamentalist leadership. Osama bin Laden and his followers, pariahs in the civilized world, overnight became the topic of conversation from the corridors of power in Washington to dinner tables in small-town America. On an almost daily basis the nation’s top military and political leaders updated an anxious nation on the progress being made in the hunt for bin Laden and his followers. But deep in the bowels of the Pentagon, in situation rooms far from the glare of the media, another war was being planned. Deployments were being analyzed, scenarios discussed, and equipment moved, not for any action in the mountains of Tora Bora , but rather for an assault on an old nemesis in Baghdad.

According to senior administration officials six days after the attacks on the World Trade Center, President Bush signed a ½-page document marked "TOP SECRET" that outlined the plan for going to war in Afghanistan as part of a global campaign against terrorism. Almost as a footnote to the document was a directive to the Pentagon to begin planning military options for an invasion of Iraq. With that directive, the journey on the path to war with Iraq officially began.

In the ensuing months as top military leaders went about the daily business of directing the war in Afghanistan, they spent unseen hours going over maps, studying troop deployments, and moving pre-positioned stocks of military equipment into the theater of operation. The amount of men and equipment needed for an offensive against Baghdad was great, and the logistics of getting everything in place would be a daunting task for the military planners. Although much of the preliminary logistical work could be done under the cover of fighting the Taliban, until the Administration could convince the world that regime change was the next logical step in fighting global terror, moving the full might of the US military into position was a task that needed to be done gingerly.

In late November, 2001 the pressure on the pentagon to come up with war plans for Iraq was mounting. According to Bob Woodward, “… there's this low boil on Iraq until the day before Thanksgiving, Nov. 21, 2001. This is 72 days after 9/11. This is part of this secret history. President Bush, after a National Security Council meeting, takes Don Rumsfeld aside, collars him physically, and takes him into a little cubbyhole room and closes the door and says, ‘What have you got in terms of plans for Iraq? What is the status of the war plan? I want you to get on it. I want you to keep it secret.’" Six days after the president's request on the Iraq war plan, Rumsfeld flew to see General Franks at CENTCOM headquarters in Tampa.

"Pull the Iraq planning out and let's see where we are," Rumsfeld told Franks when they were alone….

"Let's put together a group that can just think outside the box completely," Rumsfeld ordered. "Certainly we have traditional military planning, but let's take away the constraints a little bit and think about what might be a way to solve this problem." (Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack, p.36-37)

After the meeting, Rumsfeld and Franks appeared before the news media to brief on the ongoing Afghanistan war.

The next week Franks was ready to present the first draft of the Iraq war plan to Rumsfeld. The Defense Secretary was not altogether pleased with what he saw. "Well, General, you have a lot of work ahead of you," he said, stacking the pages. "Today is Tuesday. Let's get together again next Wednesday, December 12. I want to hear more details at that time."(Tommy Franks, American Soldier, p. 335)

Around this time, the initial movement of men and supplies into the region began. On Dec. 11, it was reported that the Pentagon had moved the headquarters of its 3rd Army from Fort MacPherson, Georgia to Kuwait, apparently in preparation for expanding the war on terrorism. About the move, Colonel Dan Smith, of the Center for Defense Information, a Washington think-tank, said: "This is very significant, particularly in respect to the enlargement of the war against terrorism. It is a clear sign that the [Bush] administration is thinking ahead to what it will do when it has finished in Afgahanistan.

According to Franks, he and Rumsfeld met again as scheduled on the 12th:

"General Franks," Rumsfeld asked when I'd completed the briefing, "what's next?"

Aware that we might move from the conceptual to the practical at any time, I chose my words carefully. "Mr. Secretary," I said, "we want to begin now to improve our force posture in the region."

"How visible will these activities be?" Rumsfeld asked.

"Mr. Secretary, the troop increases in Kuwait will be seen as training excercises, and we can time the carrier cruises to draw minimum attention. I don't envision any CNN moments, but there is no guarantee."

Intel had reported that Saddam and his military advisers accepted what they saw on CNN as holy writ, assuming that the cable channel would report all critical developments. To the Iraqis, the open Western media may have been less politically useful than the Arab press and the al-Jazeera network - but it was more reliable.

"I'm thinking in terms of spikes, Mr. Secretary - spurts of activity followed by periods of inactivity. We want the Iraqis to become accustomed to military expansion, and then apparent contraction." (Tommy Franks, American Soldier, p. 341,342)

That same day Kuwait’s defense minister, Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al Sabah reassured the Kuwaiti people that the U.S. decision to transfer the headquarters of its armed forces' central command to Kuwait was temporary, and was not linked to Iraq. It was only intended to allow the Americans to command and control their forces in Afghanistan. "This command is here only for follow-up and control and no additional U.S. forces have been sent to Kuwait," he told the Saudi-owned Arab language daily Al Hayat. "It is in line with the defense accord signed between Kuwait and the U.S. in you know, the U.S. operations in Afghanistan are conducted mostly from air."

On December 28, 2001 Tommy Franks was summoned to fly down to the Presidents Crawford ranch to give him his first briefing on the newest plans for the Iraq war. After their meeting, reporters were once again told that the two had met to discuss Afghanistan.

In the months that followed, the movement of men and machines into the region increased. In February, the New York Times reported that the “top Marine general for Central Asia and the Persian Gulf (was) moving his headquarters to Bahrain from Hawaii, joining Army, Navy and Air Force counterparts who (had) already uprooted from peacetime postings in the United States to set up battle stations in the region…”

By march military planners were already working on a new phase of the operation when they moved the Fifth Special Forces Group out of Afghanistan, where they were searching for bin Laden, into Iraq in order to direct Kurdish Rebels in northern part of the country. This move was significant as the “Fifth Group Special Forces were a rare breed in the US military: they spoke Arabic, Pastun and Dari. They had been in Afghanistan for half a year, had developed a network of local sources and alliances, and believed that they were closing in on bin bin Laden. Along with the redeployment of human assets came a reallocation of sophisticated hardware. The US air force redeployed the only two specially equipped RC135 U spy planes in the region. The planes had been used to successfully vectored in on al-Qaida leadership radio transmissions and cellphone calls, but they would no longer circle over the mountains of the Pakistan/Afghanistan border. They were moved to fly missions over Iraq. By the end of the month upwards of 1800 US troops were reported to operating the borders of Iraq, most of them Special Forces.

At a March 29, 2002 press briefing at the pentagon General Franks was asked about the obvious increase of forces in the region:

Q: Are you now pre-positioning men or weapons or material in anticipation of a possible military action against Iraq?

Franks: No.

Q: You're not?

Franks: We have not -- we have not positioned assets in my region in anticipation of an action any place, with the exception of what we have talked about in Yemen, in terms of providing support to President Ali Abdullah Saleh in his efforts to reduce terrorism inside Yemen.

As the months went on, more and more men and equipment poured into the region. At the same time Administration spokesmen reassured an apprehensive world that they were exploring all the diplomatic channels available to avoid the conflict and that no military action was yet planned. As late as Sept 2002, there was still no firm decision on Iraq according to the Secretary of Defense. "What the president wants to do, and will do in his own time, is to provide information he feels is important with respect to any judgment he decides to make," Rumsfeld said, “As yet, President Bush has not made a final judgment on how to deal with Iraq”

His statement came as the level of troops deployed by CENTCOM in the region reached 48,000 excluding those assigned to Operation Enduring Freedom, doubling the size of the entire force that was in the region a year prior. Tommy Franks was now well on the way to achieving the more than 200,00 man force he had asked for in April, all the while telling the American people that no plan had yet been approved or implemented.

Monday, August 01, 2005

US led forces entered Iraq two months prior JHS Res.114

In August of 2002, two months before the Congressional resolution was passed that would allow the use of force in Iraq, a joint US, British and Turkish strike force of commandos and Special Forces troops crossed the border from Turkey into Iraq and engaged a unit of enemy armor in what would become the opening salvo of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Preceded by two days of aerial bombardment to destroy the Iraqis ability to detect and defend against the incursion, on Aug. 8 at 5 PM an armada of helicopters swept over the Turkish border towards the strategic Bamarni military airbase laying 50 miles north of the oil-rich city of Mosel. After a brief skirmish with the ill-equipped Iraqi defenders, the base fell into Allied hands.

Coming six months prior to the official start of hostilities, the attack not only heralded events to come in Iraq, it represented the culmination of planning and preparation that began in the weeks and months that immediately followed 9/11.

Events leading up to the attack

Immediately following the attacks of September 11th the White House began to question just how far the powers of the executive branch could extend to engage in military activities in the new “war on terror”. The justice department was asked to review the constraints put upon them by both the War Powers Act and the legislative branch as a whole. On September 25, 2002 the Attorney Generals Office came back with an answer. In “The President’s Constitutional Authority to Conduct Military Operations Against Terrorists and Nations Supporting Them”, Deputy Assistant Attorney General John C.Yoo advised the President that:

“the President's broad constitutional power to use military force to defend the Nation… would allow the President to take whatever actions he deems appropriate to pre-empt or respond to terrorist threats from new quarters” and that “Military actions need not be limited to those individuals, groups, or states that participated in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon: the Constitution vests the President with the power to strike terrorist groups or organizations that cannot be demonstrably linked to the September 11 incidents, but that, nonetheless, pose a similar threat to the security of the United States and the lives of its people, whether at home or overseas"
Having received the constitutional authority to engage in pre-emptive activity, the administration’s war planning for Iraq was in full swing by the winter of 2002. During the first few weeks of December, General Tommy Franks and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld met numerous times to hone the plans which were finally presented to the Presidentat his Crawford ranch on December 28th. Although the plans for regime change in Iraq would evolve over the coming months, two key elements remained in all the early war scenarios: The use of Iraqi opposition groups as key allies in the overthrow of Saddam, and the need to “prepare the battlefield” by degrading the air defenses and command and control systems of the Iraqi military prior to any invasion.

In the first week of February the initial phases of the plan went into effect when the President signed an Executive Finding that gave the go ahead for the CIA and military Special Operations Forces to operate inside Iraq. Within weeks of that finding, the 5th Group Special Forces were pulled from Afghanistan where they had been hunting for Bin Laden and sent to work in Iraq to begin the preliminary work on the next phase of the war on terror. By mid- March, there were reports of upwards of 1800 US unconventional forces operating in Iraq, most in the northern Kurdish Region where they had been sent to set up local militias and train them for battle.

According to Israeli intelligence sources, in April large numbers of Turkish ground forces also began entering the Turkman regions around the big oil towns of Mosul and Kirkuk.

By June, American and Turkish construction engineers had started working in the mountains of the Kurdish Region, building and expanding airfields and air strips to make them fit for military use. That same month CIA director George Tenet was reported to have taken a side trip from Israel and Palestine to meet with Kurdish opposition leaders and US operatives in Kurdistan to discuss possible scenarios for the overthrow of Saddam.

Against this backdrop, the USAF began to step up its effort to destroy Iraq’s Air defenses and communications capabilities when Operation Southern Focus began in May. All this increased activity created a need to secure more substantial landing strips within Iraq where equipment and materials could be brought in for both the increasing US forces and the fledgling militias they were trying to organize. They were also needed to be used as staging bases for further air attacks.

The attack begins

The campaign to take Bamarni Air Field began on August 6, at 8AM Middle East time when US and British bombers went into action to destroy the Iraqi air command and control center at al-Nukhaib in the desert near the Saudi Arabian border, just under 300 miles southwest of Baghdad. The center had recently installed a new advanced fiber optic network. It was later confirmed that the Allies had deployed an "enhanced" version of the Paveway Weapon system for the first time during the raid to knock out the mobile Chinese manufactured fiber-optic air defense system. The upgraded weapons system was installed only four months before the raid, and its refined laser guided system enabled it to strike a target with an accuracy of plus or minus six feet.

Less than twenty- four hours later two squadrons of US warplanes flew from Prince Sultan airbase in Saudi Arabia and from American aircraft carriers in the Gulf to test the effectiveness of the previous raid. Flying over the Iraqi capital there was no anti-aircraft activity, telling them that the early warning radar system protecting Baghdad and its environs from intrusion by enemy aircraft and missiles was now inactive.

On August 8, the first major military assault inside Iraq began. That night a fleet of Turkish troop-carrying helicopters with Turkish Commandos backed by American Special Forces left air bases in Turkey for northern Iraq. Eye-witnesses on the ground claimed air support and/or protection for the mission was provided by Turkish, American and British aircraft. The Allies seized the critical Bamerni airport in northern Iraq after a brief skirmish with an ill-equipped force from an armored section of the Iraqi army. The airport, just outside the Kurdish region, lies 50 miles north of the big Iraqi oil cities of the north, Kirkuk and Mosul. After the base fell several C130 transport planes were guided on to the airstrips from bases in Turkey to deliver engineering units, heavy machinery and electronic support equipment, which were put to work at once on enlarging the field and widening its landing strips.

As Turkish troops reinforced security around the airport, the American unit, reinforced, went on to capture two other strategic military points on either side of the airbase in the Dahuk province of Iraq. The two bases which consisted of very basic army barracks on two hills, one 565 ft above sea level and the other 2160 ft provided the US and Turkish forces with strategic look out posts over the immediate area, and air superiority over the entire region that includes the cities of Mosal and Kirkuk. Also falling under Allied control was the strategic railroad linking Syria and Iraq and the major oil production facilities of northern Iraq.

Seven hours after the attack which resulted in the first face-to face engagement between US led forces and Iraqi troops, Saddam Hussein was delivering a national televised speech celebrating the 14th anniversary of the eight year Iran-Iraq War. Saddam, with his usual bravado, threatened American troops going to war against Iraq that they would return home in coffins.

The coverage in the press

Although this story was covered extensively in the world press, it received little attention from the US media. Clearly the evidence is incontrovertible that although it would be more than two months before Congress authorized the use of force in Iraq, the military had already gone forward with the Administration's plans for war.

."..on Wednesday night, August 8, Turkey executed its first major military assault inside Iraq. (Israeli) military sources learn from Turkish and Kurdish informants that helicopters under US, British and Turkish warplane escort flew Turkish commandos to an operation for seizing the critical Bamerni airport in northern Iraq. This airport, just outside the Kurdish region, lies 50 miles north of the big Iraqi oil cities of the north, Kirkuk and Mosul. With the Turkish commandos was a group of US Special Forces officers and men. Bamerni airport was captured after a brief battle in which a unit of Iraqi armored defenders was destroyed, opening the airport for giant American and Turkish transports to deliver engineering units, heavy machinery and electronic support equipment, which were put to work at once on enlarging the field and widening its landing strips.
The American unit, reinforced, went on to capture two small Iraqi military airfields nearby.
...military experts explain that with Bamerni airport and the two additional airfields the Americans have acquired full control of the skies over the two oil cities of Mosul and Kirkuk, as well as over the Syrian-Iraqi railroad, which they can now cut off by aerial bombardment."

From Debka Net Weekly 8/10/02 (Israel)

"08 August 2002: According to the Turkish daily Hurriyet, Turkish troops have taken control of the strategically important Bamerni Airport in south Kurdistan, as a preparation for a future attack on Iraq and to prevent the creation of a Kurdish State. Apparently, Turkey took control of the airport as a preparation in case of a chaos during attacks against Iraq and the possiblity of a Kurdish State. The Bamerni Airport is from the Saddam era. Hurriyet reported that Turkey has also sent civil and military personnel to the airport for maintenance and technical support. Several logistics-electronic machinery has also been sent to further improve the condition of the airport."


"On August 9, the Turkish daily Hurriyet reported that 5,000 Turkish troops had entered northern Iraq and taken over the Bamerni air base north of Mosul.
But in part the actions go well beyond that. In Kurdish Iraq - according to Israeli sources - US army engineers are working around the clock to build a series of six to eight airstrips to serve fighter planes and helicopters that will provide air cover for invading ground forces. The airfields are strung along a western axis from the city of Zako southwest to the city of Sinjar; a central axis from Zako south to Arbil; and an eastern axis from Arbil to Sulimaniyeh."

From Asian Times 8/17/2002

"Two interesting stories recently appeared in the Turkish press about northern Iraq:
First, according to the dailies, Bamerni Airport near Dhohuk, across the border from Sirnak, is now completely under the control of Turkish troops. This development has been evaluated as a sign of imminent US intervention against Saddam Hussein since Turkey has brought the flurry of activity in the region under stricter control. However, as yet we don't have enough information about the actual story. Soon after Ankara's official denial that Turkey had deployed troops at the airport, we received information about struggles in the region."

From Milliyet (Turkey) via Turkish Press Review

On August 9,2002 future Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, then head of the Patriot Union of Kurdistan (PUK), spoke with CNN-TURK. He confirmed that the airport was in fact under Turkish control, but with an odd twist.

"A prominent Iraqi Kurdish leader said in a broadcast Friday that the Turkish army had controlled an airport in the Kurdish-held north of neighbouring Iraq for several years, but the general staff in Ankara promptly denied the claim.
"But it has been under the control of Turkish forces for a long time, since 1995 or 1996," said Talabani, who left Turkey on Thursday for a meeting of the Iraqi opposition in Washington.
The Turkish army however denied it had control over the airport, a claim widely reported in the Turkish press for the past few days. "These reports are incorrect and do not reflect the truth," said an army statement, adding that the airport had been extensively damaged during the Gulf War and rendered inoperational."

From Kurdish Observer 8-9-02

By August 18, 2002 the news finally made it into the British press. The Sunday Express reported:

"...around 5pm on Wednesday, August 8 the Iraqi early warning systems were tested yet again as a fleet of troop-carrying helicopters from the Turkish Army swept over the Turkish border and into the strategic Bamarni military airbase which lies 50 miles north of the oil-rich Al Mawsil city.

The military invasion involved 5,000 Turkish Commandos backed by American Special Forces. Eye-witnesses on the ground claimed air support and/or protection in the northern no-fly zone was provided by Turkish, American and British aircraft. Claims of a British air involvement in this particular action drew a strong denial by the MoD.

After a brief skirmish with ill-equipped Iraqi troops from an armoured section of Saddam's war machine, Bamarni airbase fell into the control of Allied troops and several C130 transporter planes were guided on to the airstrips from bases in Turkey.

Heavy earth-moving machinery and electronic support equipment were unloaded over several days and as rumours of an invasion began to circulate, Turkish television issued strong denials and broadcast old pictures of the air base showing it abandoned and derelict. As Turkish troops reinforced security around the airport which lies just outside of the Kurdish district, American Special Forces and a crack unit of Turkish commandos seized two other strategic military points on either side of the airbase in the Dahuk province of Iraq."

From The Sunday Express 8/18/2002 via Global

Summary at The Edge.Org

When the Downing St Memo was first published in beginning of May, one of the oft quoted lines was John Reid's report that: "The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime". Two weeks after Tony Blair and his cabinet met at #10 Downing to discuss how they would balance the increasing pressure from Washington to go to war with the actual political realities of doing so, the realities of Rumsfeld's "spikes of activity" became evident in the mountians of Northern Iraq.

Monday, July 18, 2005

"Secret" Air Base for Iraq War started prior 9-11

With a small ceremony on April 26, 2003, control of Prince Sultan Air Base was handed back to the government of Saudi Arabia. Since the mid-nineties it had been the premier US air base in the region and the nerve center for all air force operations in the Gulf. As the home of the Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC), the base was the primary command and control facility responsible for orchestrating the air campaigns for both Operation Southern Watch in Iraq and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
The timing of the closing of PSAB seemed odd, coming just weeks after the official start of military actions in Iraq. It should have, at the very least, caused unwanted logistical problems for the Pentagon and regional commanders, but it didn't. A contingency plan had long been in the works, not only for Prince Sultan Air Base, but also for the entire map of the Middle East, including Iraq.

Long before the US pullout, a new home for the operations had secretly been built in the deserts of Qatar. What had been in October 2001 "nothing more than a runway and a field of sand covered by two-dozen tents and a few warehouses", the Al Udeid Air Base was transformed in a few short months into one of the largest air bases in the world.

Published reports and official DOD statements claimed that the amazing transformation was the result of the heroic response of US servicemen to the tragedy of 9-11. A determined military had beaten indeterminate odds to transform a barren wasteland into a state of the art military base in order to "take the war to the terrorists".

The true story of the building of Al-Udeid is actually quite different. The planning for the mammoth base had in fact taken place long before Sept. 11, and actual work on the base began as early as the spring of 2001. The building of Al Udeid turns out not to be a "miracle in the desert" in response to a heinous attack, as touted by the military, but rather a required step on the path to regime change in Iraq.

It has long been accepted knowledge that the Bush Administration was working feverishly towards regime change in Iraq during the 18-month period between 9-11 and the official start of the war in March of 2003. The Downing St Minutes confirmed that the Administration was set on a path to war at least as early as mid-summer of 2002. The accounts of Paul O'Neil and Richard Clarke verified that Iraq was a front burner issue for the Administration from the very first day, and only intensified after the attacks. Yet finding hard evidence to prove that planning for the war in Iraq was taking place prior to 9-11 has been hard to find. A look at the building of Al Udied can provide that evidence.

According to published reports, the groundwork for what would become Al-Udeid Air Base was first laid at a cost of over one billion dollars in 1996 in an attempt by the Qatari government to lure the American military to set up shop in the small Gulf nation. At the time it was built, Qatar had not yet acquired as much as a single airplane to call the base home. Although they would later purchase an air force comprised of 12 French Mirage fighter jets, they would never actually station them at Al-Udeid. They were simply playing a waiting game, hoping that eventually the volatile nature of the region would bring the Americans knocking at their door. The Qatari's gamble paid off with the events of Sept. 11. In response to the attacks, the US presence in the region needed to increase exponentially. By Sept. 29, 2001, according to the official records, the first military teams arrived to begin looking the base over in preparation for Operation Enduring Freedom.

On October 2, 2001 a rapid-response team of civil engineers, the 823rd RED HORSE Squadron whose specialty is to repair and build structures such as runways and roads in remote areas, arrived. According to the accounts of the 823rd, the Qatar base "was nothing more than a runway and a field of sand covered by two-dozen tents and a few warehouses". Since there was no room in the warehouses for the RED HORSE airmen to sleep, they moved into an expandable shelter on the flightline and lived and worked out of there
They had come to begin the largest construction project ever undertaken by a RED HORSE team; a $9.1 million military construction project that consisted of building a 1,240- foot by 630-foot concrete ramp with taxiways, shoulders and lighting. While waiting for funding and approval for the ramp project, the RED HORSE troops spent two months doing other base projects, like building the operations center and helping set up the tent city.
Finally in January 2002 ramp construction began. The completed ramp, as big as 8 football fields, was finished in late March.

As March 2002 began, the airfield was still classified as "Secret".
Only a handwritten "Army Camp" sign marked its entrance. By the middle of the month, several thousand new American troops were now stationed at the base. Many of these troops were supporting the large complement of US aircraft, which included F-16 fighters, JSTARS reconnaissance aircraft, and KC-10, KC-130 and KC-135 aerial tankers. The rapid growth of the base made Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani decide he had to let his people know about extent of the American presence in their country. It was agreed that the best way to announce the presence of the base was to have Vice President Cheney visit on March 17, 2002.

Within ten days of Cheney's visit, reports were coming out of Saudi Arabia that the US was moving communications and computer equipment from Prince Sultan Air Base to Al-Udeid in anticipation of a base closing. US military trucks had been seen leaving the base 50 miles south of Riyadh, and arriving at the border with Qatar in the second week of March. It was speculated that a move was being made in response to the Saudi government's refusal to allow air raids on Afghanistan to be launched from its soil. Additionally, in the event of a Saudi refusal to collaborate in a second phase of the US "war on terror" against Iraq, the move would be needed to allow the US to effectively conduct an air campaign.

At the time US central command spokesman, Major Ralph Mills confirmed the equipment movements but insisted they represented business as usual. Mills told reporters, "This is not uncommon. This is status quo. We are moving stuff from point A to point B, this is an ongoing process." Dick Cheney also denied there were any plans to close Prince Sultan AB, claiming no decision had made to change military positions with respect to Saudi Arabia.

By June of 2002 the work on the first phase Al Udeid was nearing completion.
The US military had quietly moved munitions, equipment and communications gear to the base from Saudi Arabia. The base was now home to 3,000 troops. A huge tent city had been erected with warehouses and miles of security barriers. Miles of freshly paved runways and acres of new aircraft parking ramps showed up on satellite imagery from the period. Newly built hangers, munitions supply areas and control facilities had been hardened with concrete to withstand aerial attack, and the base now boasted the longest runway in the region at over 15,000 feet. It had become as one military analyst said; "The most capable base in the Gulf region."

On August 7, 2002
the Saudis announced that the US would no longer be allowed to fly combat missions in Iraq out of Prince Sultan Air Base in support of Operation Southern Watch. The Saudi decision had no effect on US war plans by that time, as Al Udeid was more than prepared to pick up where the Saudis had left off. A year later, Prince Sultan was closed after all Command and Control was moved to Al Udeid.

As the Bush Administration came to power in January 2001, the sound of war drums began beating along the Potomac. Numerous accounts from the period tell of an increased emphasis on the need for regime change in Iraq. As the political wing of the administration worked on setting the stage for policy change, the military began to deal with the practicalities of waging war. With the deteriorating situation in Saudi Arabia in general, and the possible need replace Prince Sultan AB in particular; the DOD began to make moves to find a replacement.
Since the first Gulf War, the US had had limited military agreements with Qatar. In 1992, a Defense Cooperation Agreement was signed that permitted "access and prepositioning" of US assets in the country. In November, 1995 another agreement to host "several Air Expeditionary Force deployments" was reached. Yet as of 2000, Al Udeid had been mostly ignored, but that was about to change.

In 2000 the US planned to to use Al-Udeid as a munitions storage facility
according to The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) 2000 report released in the fall of that year.
ICBL Report 2000: Qatar
Additionally, based on U.S. Air Force plans for its war reserve ammunition stockpiles in the Persian Gulf region, U.S. Gator antipersonnel mines, as well as Claymore mines, may be introduced and stockpiled at the Al Udeid area in Qatar in the near future. U.S. Air Force documents indicate that the Al Udeid storage\facility will eventually contain 142 CBU-89 Gator mine systems, each with twenty-two antipersonnel mines, and 141 M18/M18A1 Claymore mines

The ICBL 2001 report, which was
completed just prior to 9-11 confirmed that the munitions storage plan had in
fact gone into effect. Located in the remote desert region of Qatar, Al-Udeid
was a perfect candidate for this kind of usage. But munitions storage facility
would not last long. As the Bush administration came to power they had new plans
for the air base, plans that would clear the path to war with Iraq.

By March 2001 the Air Force began investigating moving operations to the Al-Udeid.
According to a Congressional report given by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the airfield was now being looked at as potential US base. In his annual Allied Contributions to the Common Defense Report , Rumsfeld stated:

"Since November 1995, Bahrain and Qatar have both hosted several Air Expeditionary Force deployments in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH, and the United States Air Force recently established a limited prepositioning facility at Qatar's Al-Udeid Airbase and is investigating moving to the airfield. Qatar also hosts prepositioned U.S. Army assets at As-Saliyah."

This was the first time the use of Al-Udied as a potential base for US air operations was officially acknowledged. Back in April 2000, then Defense Secretary William Cohen had been asked about the use of Al-Udeid at a press conference in Kuwait. He acknowledge that he had "discussed ways in which Al-Udeid may be used in the future, in a crisis situation" with the Qataris, but no agreement could be reached. Obviously the new administration had more luck with the Qatari negotiations then its predecessors.

In June 2001 communications capabilities were completed at Al Udeid
According to his online biography archived at a website for those who had served at Prum Air Station in Germany, Bill Goodman (USAF Ret) states that communications work began at Al Udeid sometime before June 2001. Towards the end of his long and distinguished military career, Goodman says that while working for Air Force Central Command, he oversaw the installation of "communications capability" at Al Udeid in the spring.
"In June of 1996 ...I accepted a position on the United States Central Command Air Forces Staff. I was a Project Manager and Communications Systems Manager for Southwest Asia. I got to spend much time traveling throughout the Middle East. Most significant, and my last official duty in the Air Force was that I was project manager for an initial communications capability at Al Udeid Air Base in QATAR. I completed everything in June of 2001 and am pretty proud of what I helped accomplish there and feel like I made a difference."

Around the same period, Alaswar Technology Group Co (aka.Al-Aswar Electronic) of Hawally Kuwait supplied and installed two "60 foot guy masts, microwave dishes and allied works" in Qatar; one at the Saliyah Army Base, the other at Al-Udeid. Whether these communication dishes were part of the work Bill Goodman was doing cannot be known. What is known is that the US military had personnel working at Al-Udied long before the Sept 29, 2001 date always claimed to be the first time US servicemen set foot at the base.

In the Summer of 2001 construction contracts for the airbase began to go out for bids.
By the summer of 2001 plans to expand Al Udeid into a large-scale installation were well under way. The bidding process for contracts to do the work had all ready begun.

On August 9, 2001 bids went out for a "contractor owned-contractor operated" fueling station for both fighter and cargo planes as well as a diesel and automotive gasoline facility for ground vehicles. Also in the bid was a fueling station for mobile aircraft refueling vehicles and a commercial tank truck receiving facility.
Notice Date August 9, 2001
Contracting Office Defense Logistics Agency,Logistics Operations, Defense Energy Support Center, 8725 John J. Kingman Road, Fort Belvoir, VA, 22060-6222
Solicitation Number SP0600-01-R-0117
Response Due October 5, 2001
Description COCO Site at AL Udeid, Qatar 1. An aircraft hydrant fuel system capable of servicing both fighter and cargo aircrafts. 2. Approximately 72,000 barrels of JP8 storage capacity. 3. A ground products dispensing facility for Diesel Fuel and Automotive Gasoline. 4. A truck fill stand capable for mobile aircraft refueling vehicles. 5. A commercial tank truck receiving facility (i.e. tank truck off loading heads).
Record Loren Data Corp. 20010813/XSOL001.HTM (D-221 SN50U5O6)
(Contact info edited)

On Sept 7, 2001, according to company news releases, a contract was awarded GSCSGulf to build "administration facilities, a worker break room, ablution facilities, an outside storage area, a loading dock, FMSE facility, and a generator run up." Later in the month GSCSGulf was awarded two contracts farmed out from DynCorp. One was for a Fuel Receiving Point, the other for a Bulk Fuel Storage facility. "The projects (were) to be built under expedited construction schedules in order to ensure fuel systems (were) in-place for incoming USAF tanker squadrons deployed as part of Operation Enduring Freedom."Although the press release from the 30th of September mentions "Operation Enduring Freedom", bidding on the contract had to have been completed long before that date. As the release states GSCSGulf had won the contracts from DynCorp, one must assume they competed for them.
GSCS Chosen to Build WRM Support Facilities
(7 September 2001) GSCS has won a contract to simultaneously construct 10 minor construction projects in support of the US Air Force War Reserve Material (WRM) program at Al-Udeid Air Base, Qatar. Individual projects include: administration facilities, worker break room, ablution facilities, outside storage area, loading dock, FMSE facility, generator run up
DynCorp Selects GSCS to Construct USAF Fuel Systems
(30 September 2001) GSCS has won two contracts with DynCorp International for the construction of a Fuel Receiving Point and a Bulk Fuel Storage Point, both at Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar. The projects are to be built under expedited construction schedules in order to ensure fuel systems are in-place for incoming USAF tanker squadrons deployed as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

GSCSGulf was awarded two more contracts during this period. Both had been won competitively, hence bids had been taken. Although it is impossible to know how the events of 9-11 affected the bid review and acceptance process, even under expedited conditions it seems highly unlikely that any but the last contract would have been initiated after 9-11 given the DOD's usual 60 to 120 day turn around time.
GSCS Wins Tent-City Site Preparation Contract
(3 October 2001)GSCS has been competitively awarded a contract for the emergency preparation of 61 acres of outside open area in support of a US Air Force tent city to be erected at Al-Udeid Air Base, Qatar. Work includes: excavation, backfilling, soil compaction, trenching for electrical cables, application of rock aggregate, construction of drainage ditches, access roads with culverts, parking areas, interior access corridors and perimeter earth berms.
GSCS Wins RMS Contract for USAF Aircraft Parking Apron Materials
(28 December 2001) Readiness Management Support L.C. has competitively awarded GSCS a contract for the rapid supply of base course aggregate (42,184 metric tons) and sub-base aggregate (73,482 metric tons) in support of construction of a new US Air Force concrete aircraft-parking apron at Al-Udeid Air Base, Qatar

October 2001 satellite images showed extensive work had already been completed at Al-Udeid The Oct 2001 images of runways, structures and roads show an air base far more advanced than the official story would have us believe, revealing that the base was certainly more than one month old. If this construction was part of the original Qatari project, or new US additions cannot be known. What is known is that the base was not "a simple runway and a field of sand covered by two-dozen tents and a few warehouses". Satellite images from Jan 2002, and the following June, show the rapidity with which base was completed. The clock on war with Iraq was running, and the military was in a race to beat that clock.

As any chess player can attest, the game is most often won or lost in the first few moves. The Bush Administrations plan for regime change in Iraq was much like a chess game, each piece needed to be in place before the gambit. Although the grand schemes were hatched in the plush offices of right wing think tanks and corporate boardrooms, the heavy lifting was done by simple pawns in the hot deserts of the Southwest Asia, long before the first rumbles of shock and awe were ever heard.

Able to use the smoldering embers of the World Trade Center as a canard to sell a "global" war on terror to not only the American people, but to those who would fight it, the Administration was able to cover their tracks with a web of misinformation. Al-Udeid was never intended as a frontline in a war against the terrorists of 9-11. It was planned as the frontline for something far different; the "War on Terror", which was nothing more then a clever repackaging of the plans for Iraqi regime change that began with the first Gulf War.
The level of misinformation can be illustrated with a simple story coming from the building of Al Udeid:

According to the official DOD history of Al Udeid, the first fatality of Operation Enduring Freedom was a civil engineer, Master Sgt. Evander Earl Andy"Andrews who died on Oct. 10, 2001 in a construction accident. To honor Andrews,the sprawling tent city at Al-Udeid was christened "Camp Andy". The story of "Camp Andy" is oft told in press accounts about the base and is a cornerstone in the façade of the official account.
Left out of the official story is the fact that since the existence of the base was classified at the time, the military initially announced only that the fatality occurred somewherein "Southwest Asia",and his parents waited months to find out what had really happened to their son

Just as Master Sgt. Andrews parents were not told the truth about their sons' death in Qatar, the American people were never told about the planning and execution of the war in Iraq. The history of the building of AL Udeid demonstrates that the Military planners were on a path to war long before the events of that fateful September morning "changed everything".