RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA, FEB. 4 -- When Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf's day ends, his emotions don't.

"I get enough sleep, but I don't get enough rest because I wake up 15, 20, 25 times in the middle of the night and my brain is just in turmoil over some of these agonizingly difficult decisions that I have to make," said the four-star general who commands more than 550,000 allied troops involved in the war against Iraq.

"Every waking and sleeping moment, my nightmare is the fact that I will give an order that will cause countless numbers of human beings to lose their lives. I don't want my troops to die. I don't want my troops to be maimed.

"It's an intensely personal, emotional thing for me," added Schwarzkopf, 56, who showed few physical signs of the mental strain other than dark circles under his eyes. "Any decision you have to make that involves the loss of human life is nothing you do lightly. I agonize over it."

Schwarzkopf, in an interview here today, said the last 2 1/2 weeks of intensive aerial bombardment of targets in Iraq and occupied Kuwait represent only the beginning of a "very, very major campaign" and said no specific timetable has been established for moving into a ground war against Iraqi forces. Any recommendation to begin a land-based assault would be based on "a compendium of actual results, measurable results, estimated results, anecdotal reports and gut feel."

Already, the aerial pounding of Iraqi troops and targets is creating "considerable confusion" within the Iraqi military, leaving commanders struggling to reposition forces and readjust communications and supply lines, Schwarzkopf said.

Iraqi military officials have moved many of their command centers out of sophisticated, hardened bunkers and into schoolhouses in an effort to avoid bombing attacks, he asserted. Allied planes will not be ordered to target the schools, he said, noting that the relocations have disrupted Iraqi communications networks.

And while Schwarzkopf said he does not believe the Iraqi military "is holding up very well," he noted, "I would hate to define how big the cracks are."

In the wide-ranging interview with several journalists, Schwarzkopf described in passionate detail some of the deep emotions that he said are influencing his wartime decision-making.

"It's awful lonely at the top," he said. "Go back and look at the {Public Broadcasting System's} Civil War series. Abe Lincoln said he had nobody to turn to but God."

Those emotions, Schwarzkopf said, are among the forces that determine when and if the allies will launch a ground war.

"It's not purely a question of accomplishing the mission," said Schwarzkopf. "But it's a question of accomplishing the mission with a minimum loss of human life and within an effective time period."

Assessing what moves the Iraqis might make in the immediate future, Schwarzkopf said: "I think that they're at a loss as to how to pro-ceed, because things aren't going exactly the way they planned, and they recognize they are going to continue to take a terrible pounding. We're seeing considerable confusion in communication, in positioning . . . and they have had to completely readjust their manner of resupply."

With allied warplanes and artillery pelting every large supply convoy they spot, the Iraqi military has shifted to small, single-truck operations making trips to hundreds of distant desert locations rather than to central supply bases, the allied commander said.

Schwarzkopf said the allies have reports indicating that some Iraqi military leaders are saying the equivalent of "Holy smokes, we've bitten off a lot more than we can chew here." He added, "They've once again miscalculated.

"{Iraqi President} Saddam Hussein is not a military man. He thought of this war in tactical terms; he never thought of it in strategic terms. All of a sudden he's finding he's taking a terrible licking strategically, and he has no capability to react to that."

The U.S. military has received an array of unconfirmed reports concerning Saddam's personal reactions to the war, according to Schwarzkopf.

"At one time he was totally out of control. They had to call in doctors and give him tranquilizers," Schwarzkopf said one report alleged. "Other people have told us how serenely calm he is at the present time. Others have noted that he has taken to pulling out his pistol and shooting people."

Even if Saddam is showing the strain of war, Schwarzkopf said, "I don't think we're close to breaking Saddam's will. I don't think he's breakable."

That is not the case, however, with the Iraqi military, according to Schwarzkopf: "I certainly think we have the capability of breaking the will of his military, and I think we're making great progress in that direction." As an example, he cited last week's Iraqi incursion into the small, deserted Saudi town of Khafji, about six miles south of the Kuwaiti border.

"Consider the fact that 400 people came in had a few shots fired over their heads, then threw up their hands and surrendered," he said. "I hope it did demonstrate the fighting spirit of the Iraqis."

However, several Marines on reconnaissance teams who were trapped inside Khafji for much of the 36-hour episode offered a different account. Some said the battle was intense at times and that the Iraqis appeared well disciplined and well trained. Slightly more than 400 Iraqis were taken prisoner by Saudi troops after the shooting ended.

Still, Schwarzkopf said, the air war is far from over, and no decision has been made on whether to launch a ground assault. He said the initial recommendation on whether to launch such a campaign would be his, but that President Bush would make the final decision.

"What you're really looking for is a measure of the effectiveness of the military organization you're going to have to fight," said Schwarzkopf. "It's not a numbers game. There can be one division that absolutely has all the finest equipment in the world, then you determine they have absolutely terrible leaders, no morale, no will to fight."

He said "all the military analysts who were advocating rushing into a ground war have been sobered somewhat by the fact we have 11 dead Marines out there. When you start fighting on the ground, you're talking about killing people."

The initial ground encounters have been made even more costly by the mistakes of Schwarzkopf's own forces. Seven of those 11 Marines killed last Tuesday were killed when a U.S. pilot accidentally fired a Maverick missile into their light armored vehicle, according to military investigators. Another Marine was killed Saturday when allied pilots mistakenly dumped cluster bombs on a U.S. command site in the desert.

"We haven't fought this kind of war in a very, very long time," said Schwarzkopf. "We'll have more mistakes made in the very early stages. We have allowed the expectation that we're so precise in the way we do business that this sort of thing can never happen; that's just not true. This is not a surgical business."

The general had harsh words for civilian military analysts and retired colleagues critiquing the war in the news media: "The analysts write about war as if it's a ballet . . . like it's choreographed ahead of time, and when the orchestra strikes up and starts playing, everyone goes out there and plays a set piece.

"What I always say to those folks is, 'Yes, it's choreographed, and what happens is the orchestra starts playing and some son of a bitch climbs out of the orchestra pit with a bayonet and starts chasing you around the stage.' And the choreography goes right out the window."