"He has nothing else he can do," Kelly said. "There's a chance he will get lucky and protect something ... and it's something for his people to do other than sit and wait."
Kelly described a furious spree of protective movements by Iraqi troops, clearly aware they were outnumbered.
"In some areas, it's desperation," he said.
In Washington, cots, bottled water and military rations were delivered to the White House Communications Agency, responsible for every aspect of Bush's ability to communicate with the world, including secure telephones.
Security perimeters were expanded around the White House.
Other key agencies went on war footing. Round-the-clock staffing went into effect at the Pentagon, the State Department and for analysts and counter-terrorism specialists at the CIA.
At the busy Pentagon Metro station, subway riders were greeted by the sight of machine-gun-toting guards.
At the Capitol, leaders of both parties tried to present a united front in support of U.S. troops. But some Democrats criticized Bush's decision to abandon diplomacy and go to war.
"Today I weep for my country," Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W. Va.) said on the Senate floor. "No more is the image of America one of strong yet benevolent peacekeeper. The image of America has changed. ... Our friends mistrust us, our word is disputed, our intentions questioned.''
Byrd's speech was greeted with applause from the Senate gallery, a breach of etiquette that was gaveled down by the presiding officer.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a strong supporter of Bush's move to war, rose immediately to challenge Byrd with deep and anguished emotion.
"To allege that somehow the United States of America has demeaned itself or tarnished its reputation by being involved in the liberation of Iraq is neither factual nor fair," McCain said.
Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), attacked by Republicans earlier this week for remarks faulting Bush for failing "so miserably at diplomacy," focused his words entirely on U.S. military personnel.
"We are awed by their sacrifice and their bravery, and we want them and their families to know that they have the profound respect and gratitude of every American," Daschle said. "We will make sure that they have every necessary resource so that nothing stands between our troops and victory."
Halfway around the world in Iraq, Abid Ahmad Mohammed, who has lived in Baghdad for 12 years, volunteered to help defend Hussein's government as if it were his own.
He and several other volunteers stood behind sandbags on the roof of a downtown building.
Groups of young men with Kalashnikov rifles walked around the city screaming: "Saddam, we will sacrifice our blood and souls for you."
Daniszewski reported from Baghdad and Chen from Washington. Contributing to this report were Times staff writers Geoffrey Mohan with the 3rd Infantry Division; Carol J. Williams aboard the Abraham Lincoln; Sam Howe Verhovek in Kuwait City; Maura Reynolds, Janet Hook, John Hendren, Esther Schrader, Nick Anderson, Vicki Kemper, Greg Miller, Johanna Neuman, Esther Schrader, Robin Wright and Ricardo Alonzo-Saldiver in Washington; Tracy Wilkinson in Doha, Qatar and Henry Chu in Berlin.