U.S. Army units plan on holding Iraqi territory for up to three weeks as part of their plan to free Kuwait, "borrowing" necessary food or supplies from Iraqi civilians during the brief stay, officers said.
Lt. Col. Kenneth Biser, a civil affairs officer who has planned the administration of the occupied areas, said he hoped their time in Iraq wouldn't be too long."Let's say we're looking at two to three weeks," Biser said in media pool report cleared Monday by U.S. military censors.
During their stay as allied forces move into southern Iraq to cut supply lines from the north to Iraqi soldiers, U.S. Army troops will take whatever they feel necessary from Iraqi civilians, but will make clear it is a debt, he said.
"If we find a warehouse of food, we would requisition it from the owner," Biser said.
The requisition typically would be a description and photo of the property with a notice nailed to a door or left under a nearby rock, Biser said. "It's basically an IOU," he said.
There will be no haggling over a price, and the Army will not take "no" for an answer.
"We'll say, 'I'm sorry, you have no choice,"' Biser said.
He said many Bedouins and residents of the dusty towns in southern Iraq already have left the area, and he said the Army will encourage those remaining to leave or at least avoid troops.
"We will encourage civilians to stay in their homes, don't come out, and don't come near U.S. equipment," he said.
The first objective after allied combat troops sweep through enemy lines is the safeguarding of water supplies in the Iraqi part of the desert, he said.
Iraqis are expected to drift back into occupied areas after a week or more to check on their homes and property, and allied forces may at that point enlist their help in administering to the population and key facilities, he said.
The military has no provisions to pay the Iraqis other than food and cigarettes.
"If they're hungry enough, they'll work," Biser said. "There's the good old trick to feed them. That's one attention-getter.
"Or cigarettes," he said. "Buy a couple cartons of cigarettes and take them up there, and I'm sure for a couple packs a day you can get all sorts of stuff done."