The history professor said he thinks a conventional war with Iraq is likely.
By HAROLD GWIN
VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU
GROVE CITY, Pa. -- Dr. Earl Tilford worked on war scenarios while at the Army War College dealing with terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, but none envisioned an airplane attack.
Tilford, now a professor at Grove City College teaching history, national security, military history and Russian history, spent eight years as director of research at the Strategic Studies Institute of the Army War College before joining Grove City.
He previously served 21 years in the Air Force, having retired as an intelligence officer with the rank of colonel.
One of the tasks assigned to the Strategic Studies Institute was to take attack scenarios and devise plans on how to react to them.
Some of those scenarios started with a terrorist attack on the towers of the World Trade Center but none involved an attack involving aircraft, Tilford said.
They probably should have, he said, noting similar attacks were already happening in the movies and aircraft had been used in real-life attacks elsewhere in the world.
"We never thought of that," he said, adding that the military wasn't set up to deal with that type of scenario. The institutional focus was responding to invasions at the start of wars, he said.
Included in scenarios
In his terrorist scenarios, a small nuclear device was exploded in the basement parking garage of the towers, causing much more destruction and loss of life than occurred in the real terrorist attacks one year ago today.
Tilford said President George Bush isn't following any of the scenarios developed by his group but he believes Bush is moving in the right direction, both in his broad approach to the war on terrorism and in dealing with Iraq.
The United States is headed into a conventional war with Iraq, if that country has weapons of mass destruction and refuses to destroy them, Tilford said.
Bush is taking the right steps in trying to align allies, but Tilford said the United States shouldn't hesitate to support its national interest on its own, if necessary.
"We've done it before," he said, citing the invasions of North Korea and the island nation of Grenada as examples.
Like Bush, Tilford believes the war on terrorism will be "a long, drawn-out war." This is a dirty war, and Bush is leading correctly, he said.
More than just killing
What many people may not realize is that the terrorist attacks of one year ago weren't attacks just to kill people, Tilford said. They were attempts to attack our economy and to destabilize the government and military.
The attacks failed at the latter but they did have a strong negative effect on the economy, Tilford said, citing the financial devastation faced by the airline industry immediately after the attacks as an example.
The attacks might have had an even more disastrous effect had they hit the IRS or the House and Senate office buildings in Washington, D.C., he said.