Pentagon moves to second-stage planning for Iran strike


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

Senior intel official: Pentagon moves to second-stage planning for Iran strike 

09/21/2006 @ 10:55 am
Filed by Larisa Alexandrovna

The Pentagon's top brass has moved into second-stage contingency planning for a 
potential military strike on Iran, one senior intelligence official familiar 
with the plans tells RAW STORY.


The official, who is close to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest ranking 
officials of each branch of the US military, says the Chiefs have started what 
is called "branches and sequels" contingency planning.

"The JCS has accepted the inevitable," the intelligence official said, "and is 
engaged in serious contingency planning to deal with the worst case scenarios 
that the intelligence community has been painting."

A second military official, although unfamiliar with these latest scenarios, 
said there is a difference between contingency planning -- which he described as
"what if, then what" planning -- and "branches and sequels," which takes place 
after an initial plan has been decided upon.

Adding to the concern of both military and intelligence officials alike is the 
nuclear option, the possibility of pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons targeting 
alleged WMD facilities in Iran.

An April New Yorker report by Sy Hersh alleged that the nuclear option was on 
the table, and that some officers of the Joint Chiefs had threatened 

"The attention given to the nuclear option has created serious misgivings inside
the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he added, and some officers have 
talked about resigning," Hersh wrote. "Late this winter, the Joint Chiefs of 
Staff sought to remove the nuclear option from the evolving war plans for 
Iran‹‹‹without success, the former intelligence official said."

The senior intelligence official who spoke to RAW STORY, along with several 
military intelligence sources, confirmed that the nuclear option remains on the 
table. In addition, the senior official added that the Joint Chiefs have "come 
around on to the administration's thinking."

"The Joint Chiefs have no longer imposed roadblocks on a possible bombing 
campaign against Iran's nuclear production facilities," the intelligence 
official said. "In the past, only the Air Force had endorsed the contingency, 
saying that it could carry out the mission of destroying, or at least 
significantly delaying, Iran's ability to develop a nuclear weapon."

Preparation for such a strike would require contingency plans for securing oil 
transport lines and dealing with possible riots, as well as assessment of issues
that arose during the Iran-Iraq war.

"Bahrain will be a battleground as it is majority Shi'a and has had Shi'a riots 
stimulated by Iran in the past," the official said. "The US Fifth Fleet is also 
based there. A system for [protection of] oil transport in the Gulf will have to
be devised by the US Navy to protect against attacks."

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to repeated emails requesting comment.

Deployment orders

With allegations of a plan in place and contingency scenarios in play, several 
military and intelligence experts see this as proof of a secret White House 
order to proceed with military action.

Last week, a military intelligence official described to this reporter the 
movement of Naval submarines and a deployment order sent out to Naval assets of 
strategic import, such as minesweepers, that could indicate contingency planning
is already under way to secure oil transport routes and supplies.

On Sunday, Time Magazine confirmed much of what the military intelligence source
had described.

"The first message was routine enough: a 'Prepare to Deploy Order' sent through 
Naval communications channels to a submarine, an Aegis-class cruiser, two 
minesweepers and two mine hunters," Time's Michael Duffy wrote. "The orders 
didn't actually command the ships out of port; they just said be ready to move 
by October 1. A deployment of minesweepers to the east coast of Iran would seem 
to suggest that a much discussed, but until now largely theoretical, prospect 
has become real."

Retired Air Force Col. Sam Gardiner also expressed concern about the deployment 
orders, but cautioned that these particular ships are slow-moving and would take
"a month or so" to arrive in position.

"Minecountermeasures, the four ships mentioned, are generally not 
self-deploying," Gardiner said Wednesday. "When previously sent to the Gulf, 
they were transported on the decks of heavy lift ships. The earliest they would 
arrive would be around the first of November."

Although some claim the Defense Department has denied the deployment order, no 
official denial has been made. The Pentagon does not comment on operational 
plans, not even to issue a denial.

Lawmakers in the dark?

Attempts to contact members of the Senate Armed Services Committee provided 
little help in confirming allegations of the deployment order made to this 
reporter and Time. Senate offices that were available for comment would not do 
so on the record.

From all appearances, however, it would seem that at least some members of the 
Senate Armed Services Committee have not been briefed on deployment orders or on
any strike plans, even contingency plans. The Senate Intelligence Committee is 
attempting to get a grasp on what is and has been going on.

A source close to the Committee, who asked to remain anonymous due to the 
sensitivity of the information, explained that a series of briefings will be 
going on this week and into next.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has "embarked on a much more aggressive review
of what the intelligence community knows and is doing regarding Iran," the 
source said.

"In fact [the Committee has] a number of Iran related briefings this week and 
next before the senators leave town," the source added. They "will cover the 
full spectrum including various aspects of their nuclear program and all U.S. 
collection efforts."

Related Raw Story articles:

US military, intelligence officials raise concern about possible preparations 
for Iran strike

Intelligence officials doubt Iran uranium claims, say Cheney receiving suspect 

Spurious attempt to tie Iran, Iraq to nuclear arms plot bypassed U.S. 
intelligence channels

Cheney has tapped Iranian expatriate, arms dealer to surveil discussions with 
Iran, officials say

Larisa Alexandrovna is managing investigative news editor for Raw Story and 
regularly reports on intelligence and national security matters.

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