Ready or Not

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After President Bush's deadline speech, the pullout began. Weapons inspectors and other UN workers continued to leave the country; foreign journalists caught whatever flights out they could. In northern Iraq Kurds began dispersing into the countryside, leaving towns where they could be easy target for Saddam's forces.

War on Iraq's ongoing coverage of the U.S.-Iraq conflict

 After Saddam
Who will step in to fill the void?

 Tools of the Hunt
 On Assignment: The War

 Perry: Street Fighting in Karbala
 Robinson: Chaos at a Bridge
 Ware: Last Stand for Saddam

 When the Cheering Stops
Jubilation and chaos greet the fall of Saddam's regime, leaving Iraqis and Americans puzzling over how to rebuild the nation
 The Search for the Smoking Gun
 Counting the Casualties War in Iraq
In Baghdad, the mood was tense, but resigned. Although Iraq's state-run media did not mention Bush's deadline, the people of Baghdad, with years of practice getting around government censorship, knew what was going on. Not that it mattered: Those who could flee have already. The rest wait. "Why should we listen to the news?" said Mohammad, a Baghdad taxi driver. "What change can we make to this equation?" Currency traders continued to handicap the war; the dollar shot up in the exchange market from 260 Iraqi dinars to 285 in the hours after Bush's ultimatum.

Across the border in Kuwait, U.S. troops made their final preparations. Soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division began lining the bottoms of their vehicles with sandbags — a proven method of surviving a landmine. Inspections of aircraft and ground vehicles intensified; it's 400 miles to Baghdad from their camp in the Kuwaiti desert, and nobody wants to be left behind.

Most of the soldiers at Camp Pennsylvania, the 101st's base in Kuwait, chose to sleep through the President's address, which was televised at 4 A.M. local time. By noon Tuesday, all that most of the soldiers here knew about the speech was that the President had given Saddam 48 hours to go into exile. "All I know is that the President gave him 48 hours and eight of them are gone," said Major Brian Winski, the Executive Officer of the 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry.

Camp Fever is setting in and the soldiers are getting restless. Captain Patrick Bass, a 35 year old Signal Officer says, "We need to get up there and occupy some Republican Guard barracks. My tent is getting awfully dusty." Time to go.