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20 March 2003

U.S. Warships and Aircraft Strike Baghdad


(Central Command Report, March 20: Iraq Operational Update) (320)

Six U.S. warships and a number of U.S. strike-fighter aircraft
participated in cruise missile and bomb attacks targeted at Iraqi
leader Saddam Hussein and his inner circle March 20, in the opening
hours of military hostilities to disarm Iraq, according to a U.S.
Central Command statement.


Central Command (CENTCOM) issued a statement March 20 saying that six
of the U.S. Navy's most advanced warships participated in the early
morning attacks using Tomahawk missiles, which are the Navy's version
of the cruise missile. Cruise missiles, with advanced navigational
guidance systems, can be launched from Navy surface ships and
submarines, and from Navy and Air Force fighter and bomber aircraft.

In addition to the approximately 40 Tomahawk cruise missiles fired
from the Navy warships, radar-evading, Air Force F-117 Nighthawk
strike fighters dropped 2,000-pound bombs on a command bunker in
Baghdad where Saddam Hussein and his most trusted aides were believed
to be meeting, according to reports.


The following ships were involved in Tomahawk Land Attack Missile
(TLAM) strikes March 20 from the Red Sea and Persian Gulf, CENTCOM
said:


-- USS Milius and USS Donald Cook, both guided missile destroyers;

-- USS Bunker Hill and USS Cowpens, both Aegis-class guided missile
cruisers; and

-- USS Montpelier and USS Cheyenne, both fast attack, nuclear-powered
submarines that have been converted to fire Tomahawk cruise missiles.

"Coalition aircraft were also involved in the strike," CENTCOM said,
that included the F-117 "stealth" fighter/bomber.

President Bush, in brief televised remarks March 19, said these
attacks "are the opening stages of what will be a broad and concerted
campaign." He said the aerial attacks were intended to "undermine
Saddam Hussein's ability to wage war."

The attacks began at approximately 5:35 a.m. local time March 20 (0235
GMT) in Baghdad, according to published news reports.

(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)