BG MICHAEL I. NEIL EXPECTS 'LIGHTNING
|Retired USMCR Brigadier General Michael I. Neil
in his downtown San Diego office.
|SAN DIEGO, CA A San Diego attorney and former Marine Corps reservist who served as commanding general of Camp Pendleton during the Persian Gulf War said Monday that he expects the military action designed to oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to be "lightning quick." Retired U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Brigadier Gen. Michael I. Neil also said he believes the United Nations should lead the effort to rebuild Iraq and establish a new government after the war because the United States has too many other obligations around the world.
A Vietnam veteran and recipient of the Navy Cross, Neil, 62, of San Diego was called up to active duty in 1990 to serve as commanding general of Camp Pendleton while Gen. Walt Boomer was in the Persian Gulf leading all U.S. Marine Corps forces in the war. Neil held his post at the base north of Oceanside for nine months. Neil said he believes President Bush is "doing the right thing" and that the United States must "get rid of" Hussein because he continues to develop biological, chemical and nuclear weapons and poses a real threat. "If we were not to do what we're about to do, I believe the first nuclear attack in the United States would be a result of something the Iraqi regime did," including arming terrorists, Neil said. New military action against Iraq "will be somewhat of a mirror image of what we did before," Neil said.
A sustained air war coordinated with naval strength will be followed by an armored attack on land, Neil said. Neil said he thinks the air assault will destroy Iraqi communications and control of their forces, and "wholescale defections" of Iraqi troops will occur as they did in the Persian Gulf War.
The Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. special forces likely are working right now with Kurdish opposition to Hussein in northern Iraq and "other elements" within the country to gather intelligence and information to aid the United States, Neil said. "I think it will be a lightning-quick fast war," Neil said. "It'll be over in a matter of days." Although the war may move quickly, Neil said Hussein may hold up in Baghdad. U.S. soldiers are trained for so-called "urban warfare," but would be better off avoiding it if possible, Neil said. Neil said he does not believe the war will lead to urban combat. "I don't think any of the leaders that surround him (Hussein) will allow their country to be destroyed for one man and will take matters into their own hands," Neil said.
Although the United States will need to keep some forces in Iraq after the war, post-war rebuilding should be headed by the United Nations, Neil said. "These people (Iraqis) left on their own are going to do quite well," Neil said. "I think they'll turn out to be great capitalists. As long as they don't try to build weapons of mass destruction, harbor terrorist cells like al-Qaida and do these kinds of things, we really shouldn't get too involved in what kind of government they're going to have as long as they are not a threat to us." Neil said he does not understand the reasoning of anyone who believes the United States is acting as the aggressor against Iraq and not defending itself. "Certainly, if we'd known Japan was going to attack Pearl Harbor, we would have attacked them first," Neil said. "We have to do what we think is in the best interest of the security of our nation."
SPECIAL to WWW.HISTORICALMILITARIA.COM 14 October 2002