Retired Gen. Discourages War in Gulf

From Associated Press

The United States should continue “our present defensive position” in Saudi Arabia rather than wage war with Iraq, a former top-ranking intelligence official told Congress today.

Retired Lt. Gen. William E. Odom, who headed the National Security Agency during the Reagan Administration, said he had “no doubt that we could win” an offensive action against Saddam Hussein’s forces.

But Odom said attacking Iraqi forces in Kuwait--or Iraq itself--could mean an even longer U.S. military presence in the region than envisioned with the defensive posture now established.

Odom’s testimony came at the end of a week in which members of the Senate Armed Services Committee heard an array of witnesses, including two former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, urge caution on the Bush Administration as it seeks to end Iraqi occupation of Kuwait.


“Every single witness we’ve had here with differing views on other things, all of them have felt we’ve over-deployed,” committee Chairman Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) said at the conclusion of today’s testimony.

Odom stressed in his testimony that he supports the Administration’s buildup in the Persian Gulf but is bewildered by its apparent impatience with the results to date.

“I am puzzled by the Administration’s failure to take the credit for its success on this slow route to its objectives,” said Odom, joining others in urging more time for economic sanctions to work.