U.S. ignored early warnings of lanning for Iraqi invasion


DHAHRAN, Saudi Arabia -- The invasion of Kuwait was part of a war plan drafted as many as five years ago by President Saddam Hussein that had as its goal the seizure of eastern Saudi Arabian oil fields, according to U.S. officials.

Newly gathered intelligence indicates that the Iraqi plan envisioned no more than a strategic pause in Kuwait before Iraqi forces continued southward into Saudi Arabia.

Administration officials have said the intelligence community provided adequate warning that Iraq was capable of attack.

The sources said that the years of preparation also appear to have helped an advance party of Iraqi commandos make their way into Kuwait immediately before the invasion by posing as a sports delegation on a long-arranged visit. Instead, the "athletes" guided Iraqi helicopters to their targets on Aug. 2.

By contrast, the United States was so ill-prepared that U.S. warships dispatched hastily to the region after the attack had to wait four days before maps of Kuwait and Iraq could be prepared and loaded into computers used for guiding weapons, the officials said.

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