HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES CENTRAL COMMAND
7115 South Boundary Boulevard
MacDill AFB, Fla. 33621-5101
Phone: (813) 827-5894; FAX: (813) 827-2211; DSN 651-5894
April 11, 2003
Release Number: 03-04-102
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TRANSCRIPT OF 4/11 CENTCOM BRIEFING
UNITED STATES CENTRAL COMMAND DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
BRIEFER: BRIG. GEN. VINCE BROOKS, DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS
LOCATION: DOHA, QATAR
TIME: 7:04 A.M. EDT
DATE: FRIDAY, APRIL 11, 2003
GEN. BROOKS: (In progress) -- campaign is in its 22nd day since the entry of coalition forces into Iraq. Regime leadership and control structures have been broken through most of the country. Pockets of resistance remain, and there are increasing indications of regime-associated individuals attempting to escape the coalition by fleeing into other countries. Regime instruments are still available to the remaining elements, and the coalition is continuing its efforts to find these instruments, as well as the regime elements and destroy them.
In general terms, the coalition efforts focus on increasing the conditions of security and stability in liberated areas. We are conducting focused combat operations in areas not yet liberated.
There are several key events I would like to highlight, but before I do, I want to again, as always, acknowledge the sacrifices made by our men and women. We remember them. We honor them. And we remember their families.
Our coalition special operations forces had a very active day of operations yesterday. Unconventional warfare and direct action missions continued in all parts of the country. In Baghdad, special operations forces, supported by mechanized infantry, entered the Abu Gharib prison complex. This prison has the capacity to hold up to 15,000 prisoners, and we found it empty -- which certainly says that some of the prisoners may have been released out into the public. There were no coalition poisoners located at that site.
In the west, special operations forces took surrender of an Iraqi colonel who was responsible for the border control points at Highway 11, leading into Syria, and Highway 10. And he turned over the keys to the border control point at Highway 11. The coalition now controls that border crossing point.
Along Highway 1, this is the road that runs north of Tikrit, between Tikrit and (Bayji ?), which is a bit further to the north, coalition special operations forces had a small firefight, and after the firefight discovered an area that had five small airplanes covered with camouflage. We believe these airplanes might be something that could be potentially used by regime leaders to try to escape, or they certainly could potentially be used for the delivery of weapons of mass destruction. All five aircraft were destroyed to prevent their use by the regime remnants.
Coalition special operations forces, supported by Kurdish Peshmerga and elements of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, entered Kirkuk and ended any organized military resistance there. The 173 Airborne Brigade continued operations to secure key portions of the Kirkuk oil field and also Kirkuk military airport. At this point, four of the very important gas-oil separation plants and several wells have been secured, and none have been damaged at this point. And, of course, just as it was in the south, at this point we can begin doing assessments to find out exactly what there is to know about each one of the wells and each one of the key portions of that field. This oil field, like the oil fields in the south, is a key part of the Iraqi economy. It also has been preserved for the future of the Iraqi people.
Also in the north, a coalition special operations commander accepted a signed cease-fire agreement from the Iraqi 5th Corps commander, regular army, near Mosul. There had been discussions ongoing for some period of time, and we were able to bring them to a degree of closure yesterday. This follows a period of bombing and close air support missions, and also efforts to make contact. At this point, since the cease-fire has been signed by this commander, we anticipate that the 5th Corps forces will leave the battlefield -- some of them already have -- leaving their equipment, and either returning to their garrison or simply proceeding with life, as civilians out of uniform.
And we're seeing this in other places as well, particularly in the north. Many Iraqi forces have literally removed their uniforms and left the battlefield to walk home without their equipment. And this is just as the coalition requested.
Our coalition maneuver operations continued yesterday in Karbala and also in Baghdad as our focus areas. I do have some images of the effort in Karbala, which have come to closure at this point in time.
This shows a patrol from the 101st Airborne Division that moved into the area by helicopter assault and then proceeded to clear any remaining enemy resistance. One of the areas they entered -- let's back up, please -- one of the areas they entered was a university complex. This is them passing through the gateway of the university. As with so many other areas in the country, public education locations are also used as fighting positions and storage areas. The next image shows some ammunition that was found inside of the United States. There were also administrative records, military records that were found in the university as well, and all these documents, as with other places, will be now examined to determine more information.
In Baghdad, operations continue to clear any remaining elements. There still is resistance inside of Baghdad in local pockets, and our efforts really are intended to increase the conditions of stability and security in the areas we've moved through in the city.
There was a vehicle explosion that some of you are aware of near a checkpoint. That was in the northeast of Baghdad, right on the corner of the area that's normally referred to as Saddam City, in this area. That explosion and also the clearance of a minefield along Highway 8 -- and that's down in this area here -- that had over 350 mines harvested from the minefield. These serve as reminders to us that Baghdad is still a very dangerous place, and that the conditions are not set completely for life to continue.
As in preceding days, the map currently shows in these circles -- these are new areas where the coalition has conducted its operations, both the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force units, on the east side of the Tigris River, and Fifth Corps units on the west side.
We know that our operations can only be sustained with a focused logistics effort, and through a structure of supply points and transport systems, we accomplish that work and push the logistics forward to the fighting units. This photo shows a logistics support area southeast of Nasiriyah, and this is one of the places where supplies are transferred, and we also conduct maintenance operations there. And at this point, it's turned into a small base, but it's still mobile and it can be moved forward when and if required.
The materials that are needed to sustain the fighting forces are organized, put into delivery packages at these logistics bases, and then they're moved forward in convoys, like this one being organized, or also by air. Because we know Iraq is still a dangerous place and the units that transport the supplies have to be ready to protect themselves, they also must be able to protect the base. And what you see in this image are members of a truck company, a logistics unit, cleaning their weapons and eating before they go off in a mission.
In addition to that, because the supplies are vulnerable to attack while they're moving, combat systems like this Marine light armored vehicle provide additional security for movement. And you'll see this in a variety of cases out there as we move our supply trains forward.
We do continue our efforts to communicate with the Iraqi people in a number of methods. The coalition began broadcasting world news television broadcasts in Arabic today, and this is done using existing military broadcast platforms. And these are in addition to the radio broadcasts that continue 24-hours a day, and the leaflet drops and daily interfaces that we have.
I would add that information-wise, the coalition governments have identified a list of key regime leaders who must be pursued and brought to justice. The key list has 55 individuals who may be pursued, killed or captured, and the list does not exclude leaders who may have already been killed or captured. This list has been provided to coalition forces on the ground in several forms to ease identification when contact does occur. And this deck of cards is one example of what we provide to soldiers out -- soldiers and marines out in the field -- with the faces of the individuals and what their role is. In this case, there are 55 cards in the deck.
The list is also being distributed throughout the country in other forms, including posters and handbills, and those will become more and more visible over the coming days. And the intent here is to help the coalition gain information from the Iraqi people, so that they also know exactly who it is we seek.
Our efforts to attend to the medical needs of the Iraqi people that we encounter on the battlefield and in the liberated areas continue to be a priority for us. We do this by rendering assistance whenever we can as far forward as possible in the battle area, and when it's necessary and feasible, we also evacuate Iraqis who need medical assistance to field hospitals that we've established farther away from combat operations.
The next video is of a field medical hospital established southeast of an-Nasiriyah. This is a coalition field hospital run by the U.K. forces. There is surgical capability in most of these, as well as beds for recuperation.
We also receive water and food rations from coalition nations as well as nations that are not formally a part of the coalition. The coalition assists with the delivery or helps to provide security when contributions like the ones shown here from the Kuwaiti government in conjunction with the International Red Crescent come in. There are some other images of the Kuwaiti delivery. And this particular ones were delivered at An-Najaf on the 8th of April.
There's another example that's ongoing today. We have the first Gulf Cooperative Council vessel arriving in the port of Umm Qasr. It has 700 metric tons of food, water and medical kits aboard. And this particular shipment was coordinated between the United Arab Emirates government and the Red Crescent.
Thus far, deliveries have come by sea and by land, and we anticipate the movement of humanitarian supplies by air in the very near future.
I'd also like to show you a video of water and food rations being distributed near An-Nasiriyah, and this distribution occurred on the 7th of April. These are coalition-provided items, and you can see the boxes of humanitarian daily rations off on the side.
Scenes like the ones I just showed you are happening more and more throughout many areas of liberated Iraq, and the increasing volume of supplies being provided by a variety of nations throughout the world tells us that we're on the right track, but we still have work today.
With that, ladies and gentlemen, I'll take your questions. Yes, please.
Q Good afternoon, General. Rob Morrison from NBC. If we could get just some more information regarding the incidents you're just mentioned -- Saddam City, vehicle explosion, any casualties? And this minefield on Highway 8, is that now being cleared? Has it been isolated? Thank you.
GEN. BROOKS: The explosion occurred yesterday, and it was in the area referred to as Saddam City. A vehicle approached the checkpoint and detonated. We had some Marines who were injured by that -- four Marines and one medical corpsman as well. This just reminds us that there are still tactics that are occurring out there that are unconventional, that are terroristic in nature, and we haven't eliminated all the threats. It will take a lot of time to get that done. Part of it happens from the population no longer tolerating those types of behaviors, and identifying those who might be involved in such practices or might be preparing for such practices.
The second half of your question, related to the minefield, that minefield has been cleared. Part of the roads have been opened in there for two-way traffic, open in that capacity, but still a very dangerous area. This was not -- this was partially laid on the road, and also in the area, as I recall, to the north of the road, and it was cleared out by units operating in the vicinity of Baghdad International Airport. We don't believe this was a new minefield. This is one that had been there. It's not something that has been recently laid since our operations. It's part of continuing to move through areas that we have not been before, and expand more and more the conditions of security.
Let me go back here, please, sir.
Q General, Jeff Meade from Sky News. You've changed regime for anarchy, it seems, in many places. And some Iraqis seem to take the view that the coalition forces are too passive in this, in controlling what's going on, because they may be liberated but they don't feel particularly safe. I wonder if you're going to use any of these prisoners -- you talked about the Five Corps surrender, or maybe get the police back on the street, some of these people who are used to following orders may now follow your orders. Do you have any plans for that?
And if I can also ask a second question, your deck of 55 most wanted, does that include the former information minister -- because every pack needs a joker? (Laughter.)
GEN. BROOKS: Well said, Jeff. Well said. Well, there are jokers in this deck, there's no doubt about that. (Laughter.) And that is also there are cards that have "joker" marked on them.
Our plans for the liberated areas -- certainly there are examples where there's conditions of jubilation, behaviors that are akin to looting, actual looting ongoing. Some fights have occurred. Some of this we attribute to the fact that the regime has been pulled away and people are celebrating liberation.
In other cases they're taking advantage of a vacuum that does form when a regime that has had such a tight group on a population for so many decades is gone.
It's a tough issue to address. Simply putting police back on the street would not be an acceptable answer. In fact, when we entered the city, we found that there were police radios that we'd captured, and the police were calling for (and adjusting?) indirect fire in support of the regime. So putting the police back on is not an easy solution for us.
At the same time, we recognize that the Iraqi people have got to make some decisions for themselves as to what sorts of behavior will be acceptable. And we anticipate that that will happen. In many places we have new mayors that have been identified by populations, new city groups that have been formed, and there's organization that's taking root.
We will certainly take the assistance of the Iraqi population in any form that it comes, for those who are not involved in lawlessness, those who are not involved in anarchy, who want to contribute to (setting?) conditions of stability in the area.
That will come over time. We have to be patient about that. We're not exercising the same kind of grip on the population that the regime did. That's by design. We're doing this in conjunction with the population. And I think that our work will be deliberate as we get that done, and we'll also be very cooperative with the Iraqi population.
Q (Inaudible) -- Reuters. Just to follow up on that, would some sort of provisional government be set up in Baghdad to deal with the anarchy? And the second question: Which U.S. forces are going to be going up to Kirkuk and Mosul? And could we expect to see the 4th ID in Tikrit?
GEN. BROOKS: There are a number of options available for setting conditions for a long-term Iraqi government. That government has not been formed yet. There will be varying stages that we believe we'll pass through over time, with some things initially happening under military supervision and cooperation, just like you see the distribution points occurring right now with military supervision and cooperation.
And as time goes on and more organization occurs in and amongst the Iraqi populations, we anticipate there will be more and more things that are controlled by the Iraqi citizens. And that certainly is the objective. We'll only be here as long as it takes to get that done and no longer.
As to who will move north, we already have forces in the north. I mentioned the 173rd Airborne Brigade that's been committed now to the northwest of Kirkuk into the oil fields. And that will continue to expand as we gain greater and greater capability to secure the fullness of the oil fields over time.
As combat operations come to a close and there are fewer and fewer military forces to encounter, that may make available some additional forces. But that's in the future, so we're not going to speculate how we'll accomplish that or exactly what will be required to do that.
As with other places, we'll seek the cooperation of the Iraqi population. If the threats have gone away in certain areas, then there's less to be concerned about. But there's still work to be done.
For example, in the south, when we knew that we had secured the oil fields, there was still very deliberate work that had to be done to send in assessment teams and find out exactly what the conditions were of the oil fields.
Some of them we identified had been rigged for demolition, deliberately shut off, as General Renuart mentioned yesterday, so that they would not burst into flame or that the pipes would not break. But that assessment work has to happen in the north also.
What I think we'll find over time is when we have gotten to the point where combat operations have come to closure -- and that has not yet occurred -- we'll be able to commit additional forces, whether they're ones that are currently in contact or new ones that are being introduced into the battlefield, to accomplish additional work that is appropriate at that point in time.
Let me go -- please, Tom.
Q I'm Tom Mintier with CNN. I know there was concern about the north front. Having the 5th Corps lay down their arms and come off the battlefield, how much does that help you along the northern front? And second, the network ARD claims they've never had a question asked here, and I'd like to bequeath my second question to them. (Laughter.)
GEN. BROOKS: Okay. It's a very important outcome that has occurred with the cessation of most hostilities in the north. There are areas that we've not been in. And so, again, I emphasize that there may well be some regime loyalists that are still in pockets in the cities we've talked about in the north who individually may choose to continue to fight, or with whatever small apparatus is still in place may continue to fight.
And so while the conventional military force appears to be moving further and further away from battle and that risk to Iraqi forces and also to coalition forces is moving aside, we still recognize that there are other dangers that are on the battlefield and work must still be accomplished. And we'll get after that work.
It's ongoing right now, mostly with the Special Operations forces in the north. And we've been conducting special operations in that area for a considerable period of time, and we'll continue to do so, but we'll also have the help of the Iraqi population, who have been very welcoming at this point in time.
And the ARD -- where are you located? Yes, ma'am, please.
Q This is -- (inaudible) -- German TV. UNESCO, I think, had issued last week a report about their concern about the looting in archaeological areas in Iraq. Do you have any confirmation about this?
GEN. BROOKS: I don't have any reports of looting in archaeological areas. We certainly know that our approach to archaeological areas has been one of concern throughout the operations, particularly as the regime positioned military equipment deliberately beside those sites. And I've shown several examples, only a few of them, putting those very important historic sites at risk.
I don't have any reports about looting, but I would address that the same way we talk about looting throughout the country. Some of this is happening because people are taking advantage of a void. The Iraqi population itself will determine what's appropriate behavior over time. And the coalition will assist in trying to establish some conditions of security where looting is not an acceptable behavior.
Let me give you one example. In Basra, we know within the last two days there had been some looting reported. Some bank robbers entered into an area and they were halted by coalition forces. They continued moving and drew weapons and they were shot. Looting went down a lot in Basra.
Now, I'm not suggesting that's the only solution, but there are certain behaviors that we are not tolerating out there and that we believe the Iraqi population will also not tolerate over time. That's how I address that.
Yes, ma'am, please.
Q Thanks, General. Kelly O'Donnell from NBC. You've talked in your opening remarks about some indications that regime leaders or those associated with the regime are attempting to leave the country. Can you be more specific about how you've learned that? How many do you believe have been successful, if any? And of the 55 in the deck of cards, what is your best number on how many have been killed or captured?
GEN. BROOKS: We have a variety of forms that tell us that there may be attempts to leave, whether it's things we hear, things that we're told by population members or other sources that we have. And there's a wide array of sources that provide us information.
We've also seen some cases where fights have been severe in locations where vehicles have been moving. And when you join those types of things together, it may indicate that there are some regime leaders that are trying to flee the area.
And so we increase our efforts to try to prevent their departure, whether it's by air, by smuggling, by movement in vehicles, although it is very difficult to be able to cast the net over all of Iraq and prevent any movement at all. That simply is not feasible or it's not the condition that we encounter at this point.
So we try to look for places where there's likely movement. We take information from others as to where there might be movement, who might be moving, and we try to take appropriate action to prevent that from occurring.
The list of 55 -- we know that there are some that are alive and dead mixed inside of this pile. And without getting too specific, it really doesn't matter. We're looking for the population to tell us what the conditions are.
So there may be some things that we believe a member to be dead, a member of the regime to be dead. The population will probably confirm that to us if we make them aware that we're interested in knowing. "What is the status of this particular person?" And the whole array is like that.
So I won't be too precise about who is or who is not. Clearly there are some we're not sure, and we're looking for these cards and other things like this, the list, to provide us an additional source of information to confirm what condition we have the regime in right now.
Yes, sir, please.
Q (Inaudible.) Sir, the assassination yesterday in Najaf of Sheik Abdel Majid al-Khoei -- he came in with coalition forces. I think he played a large part in stabilizing the situation in Najaf. What are the details? What do you know about the details? We know that he was partly stabbed and shot, et cetera. But couldn't you have provided better security for him?
And do you think this is local or there are regional parties that are implicated in this as a means of destabilize the situation, especially in Najaf? And the man could have led Friday prayers today, and therefore the assassination prevented him from doing that. That's one.
Number two, I was wondering if we can get copies of these cards as part of the press pack that we never got at the media center here. Thank you.
GEN. BROOKS: Okay. Let me go to the last part first. We will provide you the list and make that available here within the next 24 hours. The card packs (are focused?) to go elsewhere, and we don't have enough to distribute here. But we can certainly make them available for you to look at if you'd like to do that.
The unfortunate loss of Mr. al-Khoei, we find this very disappointing. He was recognized as a leader. He was courageous in coming back to the country. And the circumstances surrounding his death we find to be very disappointing. We don't have the full story.
As with many other cases, we do not want to impose ourselves on behaviors that are occurring within the Iraqi population. We want to cooperate with the Iraqi population. And so the security that he had was his own in this case.
There are always options for us to impose a greater degree of control. But that, we believe, would not have been appropriate in this case. The location of his death we know to have been in An Najaf, and potentially even that the location of his death was near the Imam Ali Mosque.
We find these things to be very, very unfortunate that they would come together that way with a religious leader. Nevertheless, we remain committed to providing support wherever we can. We know that he had reportedly had the blessing of Grand Ayatollah Sistani to do whatever he could for the Iraqi people. And that now has been taken away from the Iraqi people.
As to who was involved in it, we don't know yet. And we certainly hope that the Iraqi population will help us discover and will help others discover what the full nature of this was, whether it was a local attack, whether this was a grudge that was being settled, or whether it was something larger at hand.
It could potentially have the impact of destabilizing. We would want it not to. Even though it's an unfortunate loss, he had already issued some very important messages that we think should continue to be made available to the Iraqi population. So we remain concerned about this. We'll continue to look into it, and we'll seek the assistance of the Iraqi population in sorting it out.
Down at the end, please, sir.
Q (Inaudible.) We're hearing from Kofi Annan and from the Red Cross some concern about the respect for the Geneva Conventions in Baghdad; just putting out some ideas on that. We're also hearing that people who are wounded in fighting probably won't get an ambulance because the ambulance drivers are too afraid to go out in the fighting. If they get to a hospital, it may be out of electricity or it may have been looted.
Are you getting any -- are you having any second thoughts about the plan? Do you feel that you were perhaps short-staffed or should have more men in the capital to deal with the situation there? Thank you.
GEN. BROOKS: We certainly are applying every part of the Geneva Convention as we understand it in all places that we move on the battlefield. And that's our responsibility to do that and be accountable for our actions. And we remain accountable for our actions.
There are others on the battlefield who have been less constrained by the requirements of the Geneva Convention and norms for acceptable and appropriate behavior. Some of them are still out there on the battlefield. Some of them are represented in this stack of cards. And we would expect that as hostilities come to a close in due time that these types of behaviors would end.
Certainly anywhere we encounter wounded or dead, we treat them appropriately. You've seen a number of images and will continue to see them in the coming days, that where we find people injured and wounded, we provide medical care, whether it's immediate medical care in close contact by corpsmen and combat medics or whether it's evacuation through military medical evacuation capabilities to field hospitals or even offshore to hospital ships that have been made available.
We know that there have been reports of looting of hospitals. And, of course, the great number of hospitals, over 100 inside of Baghdad alone, we think that this is a very, very small representation that's getting probably more attention than it deserves. Nevertheless, it is putting some hospitals at risk and creates a consequence and a hazard for members of the population who are injured.
So we would ask for assistance. We know that the International Committee of the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders and other medical organizations have been very active inside of Baghdad trying to do what they can, and we provide them assistance wherever we can to get the job done.
Our efforts are not against the Iraqi people. We want to sustain that and protect them as much as we can. But it's still a very dangerous area.
Let me go back to the third row. Yes, ma'am.
Q Referring to -- Kathy Shan (sp) with Phoenix Satellite TV from Hong Kong. Referring to the weapons of mass destruction question, I'm wondering, in order to find these weapons of mass destruction, you have to find the people who, you know, produced them or intended to use them. But without finding the people, can you still -- especially Saddam Hussein -- can you still find a weapon? Thank you.
GEN. BROOKS: We remain convinced that there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And we know that that's one of our objectives, to remove weapons of mass destruction from Iraq and disarm it so that it no longer poses a threat to its neighbors, to its own citizens or to our countries and other countries throughout the world. That effort continues. It is not our first priority. Our first priority is taking care of the regime and its very support structures.
Having said that, the closer we get to the regime elements, the more we are able to pull away the grip of the regime, the more we find pieces of information. This, again, is the mosaic that I've referred to a number of times; we've talked about the mosaic of planning.
This is also a mosaic as it relates to weapons of mass destruction, where one piece of information may be joined with another piece of information gained at a different time, different place or from a different person that guides us to something. There have been some places where we have done searches; some of them have not yielded the weapons, but have yielded more information. There are a number of those that are ongoing right now. And we have a very deliberate process that we've planned for and organized for that makes it possible to go to locations as there's more and more access, to seek information from members of the population -- not just those you mentioned; there are others that clearly have knowledge of what may have happened in the weapons of mass destruction program -- and that will lead us to more and more information. We believe we'll find what we're looking for; it's here, but it will take time and it will take a deliberate effort to locate it.
Yes, sir? Let me go right along the rope, please. Yes, sir?
Q (Name inaudible) -- from Kuwait TV. General, when could you use Baghdad Airport to transport supplies and civilian (mission ?)?
GEN. BROOKS: We believe that Baghdad International Airport can be made useful here soon. It's physically in use right now for air operations for both fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft. The conditions are not quite set, but they're very close to being set for being able to bring in commercial aircraft for humanitarian purposes supporting the operation. That will be very selective when it does occur, and it's going to be done at a degree of risk, and we'll do all we can to try to protect those aircraft when they come in, because they're so important. That may come very soon. As I mentioned in the opening remarks, I don't want to be too specific about it yet. I will certainly tell you when it has happened in a historical context, after the fact. Thereafter, it will be selectively done, and we think that will be very soon.
Let me go back here. Sir, with the brown shirt. And then I'll go behind you next.
Q (Name and affiliation inaudible.) General, Ahmad Chalabi reportedly said in Nasiriyah that the Iraqi people should not accept any administration imposed upon them or appointed by the United States of America -- this we heard this morning on TV. Now, this comes from someone who has been airlifted into Iraq by American C-17s and who heads a force of 600 men or 700 men, trained care of the U.S. Department of Defense. So, I wonder if you have any comment on this statement? Thank you.
GEN. BROOKS: Well certainly, we've cooperated with Mr. Chalabi on a number of occasions. And his presence inside of Iraq right now is also a cooperative approach. He's one of many leaders who are interested in the future of Iraq. I didn't hear him say that, so I don't know if I can attribute that directly to him. But we certainly know that there are leaders who have a variety of opinions as to what the future of Iraq should look like; that's a very good thing. We want to sustain that because the Iraqi people will be the ones who make the choice on what the future will ultimately be.
In the interim between now and the time that that future comes into fruition, there must be some degree of stability, there must be some degree of elimination of remaining pockets of the regime, and so there's still military work that must be done. That's where our focus will be, and we will try to create the type of environment where they types of discussions that you've alluded to can occur in a fruitful way and that the future of Iraq, under Iraqi leadership, can come sooner, not later.
Okay? Yes sir, please.
And then I'll come back to you, because I forgot you. So, we'll come next.
Q General, Paul Adams, BBC. The fighting at Qaim on the Syrian border has been very intense. Clearly, you believe that there's something there that they're hiding that causes them to resist so strongly. What do you believe is in that site that is causing them to resist so strongly?
And could I just ask you because I must, Saddam Hussein -- is he the queen of hearts, the ace of spades or one of the jokers you referred to?
GEN. BROOKS: Well, I haven't sorted all the way through the deck, and I would play cards with you, but I'd probably lose. So, I'm not going to do that. He's in there somewhere, though, I can assure you.
Al Qaim is an area that we know to be geographically located in such a way that it could potentially be used for the launching of surface-to-surface missiles that would range neighboring countries and threaten them. We know that it historically had been used for that purpose, and we also know that there is a capability to deliver weapons of mass destruction. We believe also that it may have been involved potentially in the weapons of mass destruction program. The degree of defense there and intensity causes it to be of interest to us, and it obviously is of interest to the regime. We still have work to do there. We have not gotten completely into the site, although we have been effective in reducing some of the defensive forces there.
It's also located on a very critical crossroad between Iraq and Syria. And given some of the reports of infiltration attempts or exfiltration attempts by regime leaders or by foreign fighters, that remains a concern to us also.
So, it's geographically significant and it's also operationally significant. And we'll continue our focus there.
Sorry. Back to you, please. Almost proceeded. I'm thinking about jokers in the deck. Please?
Q Thank you, General. I'm from China Radio International. Two questions. First, you've mentioned that coalition forces have begun to broadcast World News Television in Baghdad. While there is clearly power shortages or some areas have no power at all, how do you get message across, such as the televised speech by President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair?
And another question is you've shown us the videos that coalition forces have provided medical support to Iraqi civilians. Do you have a rough figure how many civilians -- of Iraqi civilians -- have received medical care and support by coalition forces?
GEN. BROOKS: The -- you bring up a great point about where power is and who has access to television, and we recognize that there are some areas that don't have television. Now, that's been the case for some period of time here, not just with the lack of power in and around the Baghdad area, but some other areas, also. We know that there are broadcasts that are being received in certain parts of the country, and frankly, Iraqi television channel number 3 has been run by the coalition now for well over a week, perhaps longer than that -- maybe even two weeks, and has not been run by Iraqi TV. Much of what you saw broadcast was satellite, and we know that there are some elites that had access to satellite television. There are also some population areas that have generators.
So having said that, while we recognize we're not reaching all of the population yet by television, we think it's important to begin broadcasting right now for those who can receive it. And that goes broader than the Baghdad area; it's -- it covers a good portion of the country. Our radio broadcasts, as I mentioned, cover all of the country and have for some time on five different frequencies, 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week.
You had a second part of the question I -- was there something else, sir? I don't recall.
Q Medical support.
GEN. BROOKS: Yes, thank you very much. I don't know the number of people who have received medical care. That number may be out there; we certainly count up patient care. What I would say to you is all that we encounter that need assistance, that's really the number. And that will remain also the approach that we take. All those who require assistance that we encounter, if it's within our power to provide it, we provide it. I doubt that we'll ever know the full number.
There are combat medics out on the battlefield that encountered wounded Iraqi soldiers, with whom they were fighting minutes before and who had been defeated, who are laying there wounded and they received medical care. Does that count? We think it counts in the right way; we don't know if it counts for the number. There are wounded civilians that were encountered. In some cases, they were pushed out in front of Iraqi forces and caught in a crossfire deliberately. Or maybe they were shot on a bridge and thrown over the side and rescued by coalition forces. Medical care occurred there. We're not counting, we're acting. That happens throughout the country. I don't know what the number is, but I can tell you our approach is fairly consistent and will continue to be the way it has been. We're concerned about providing assistance to the Iraqi population wherever we can, whenever we can. And we'll remain committed to that task.
Q It's Paul Hunter from Canadian Broadcasting. (Clears throat.) Sorry. I'm still not sure exactly where Saddam Hussein specifically fits on your to-do list. I mean, you've told us many times that it doesn't really matter whether or not he's captured or killed, but he's in the deck of cards. Every time you -- it seems that there's intelligence that he's in a building, the building is almost immediately vaporized. So, does the coalition want him dead or alive, or not?
GEN. BROOKS: Well, Paul, it's a fair question. Let me try to answer it like this. While we say that the individual is not the most important one, in other words, all of our efforts are not focused on pursuing any one individual, we have also been consistent in saying that we are after removing the regime, and that means taking away its capabilities, taking away its decision makers, and also interfering with the decisions that might be made. It also includes removing military forces that might support it, security forces that might support it, police forces that might support it or anything else that props the regime up.
And so, there clearly has to be some involvement on individuals to pull those pieces away. And there will also be attacks against individuals who are key decision makers to kill or capture them. That's simply the nature of military operations. We consider them all to be legitimate military targets, and we act appropriately when there's information that's actionable and we take some specific action to achieve that purpose. Some of them have occurred by way of strikes from the air. Others have occurred by way of ground actions. And there will be more in the coming days as to how we get access, and maybe even the population will walk them to us.
Q So, do you want Saddam Hussein dead or alive?
GEN. BROOKS: He's one of many that we seek to have removed from power and to be certain of it. And if he's removed from power, then we're satisfied. But he won't be the only one we're after, and that's the key point to make. So even if he is captured, we still haven't removed all the appendages and all the portions of the regime, and we still have work to do even at that point.
Let me come over to the right. Yes, please?
Q Craig Gordon from Newsday. Thanks. I'd like to take you back to the security situation in Baghdad. I think the U.S. is taking a certain amount of heat on this because the answers have been somewhat unsatisfactory and sort of (alluded ?) all over the map. You've talked about letting the looting burn out; you've just mentioned the Iraqi people perhaps taking a role in preventing that; you've talked about establishing stability. But can you clarify for us, do you envision at some point that U.S. forces now in Baghdad would switch from a combat role to essentially a policing role -- become the police force of Baghdad? If so, explain that. If not, then who does? Right now, you're the folks there with the guns.
GEN. BROOKS: Well, it's an important distinction. The reason it looks like it's all over the map and has various forms is because it takes various forms. There's no one of those solutions would work by itself. If the coalition simply imposed control on the population, that wouldn't achieve the desired effect. We wouldn't be everywhere and we might also alienate a population that doesn't need to have another regime with a grip around its neck. And so, we have no intention of approaching that way. At the same time, we have a presence. We seek to create conditions of stability, where people can walk the streets safely without looting, without violence, without exploding vehicles. That hasn't occurred yet. So, we'll play a role in that -- a military role inside of that to achieve that purpose. In some cases, it may require shooting machine guns in downtown. At no point do we see really becoming a police force. What we see is taking actions that are necessary to create conditions of stability.
So, who else would do it? Well, the population will do some of it by the decisions they make on their own behaviors, as well as what behaviors are acceptable in their communities. That's got to be part of it. We believe that there will be some replacement force for the police. It hasn't been designed yet; the Iraqi people are going to have a vote on that; that time is yet to come.
So in the meantime, what do we do? We rely on the population and we try to create conditions ourselves by moving in more and more areas to remove those who are behaving in a lawless way or those that might be stimulated by the regime to create conditions of instability, until we can have a more permanent condition. And that will change over time. But all of it will come together.
Yes, please, George?
Q George Curry, editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service. General, you always answer our questions about the war, but I want to ask you a different kind of question today. When you first saw footage of Saddam's statue falling in the heart of Baghdad, what thoughts ran through your mind?
GEN. BROOKS: Well, I think I and others around the world witnessed something that we thought was very important and historic. But perhaps unlike others around the world, being a military officer involved in a command that's conducting combat operations, cautious optimism came in; and that was while we have made considerable progress and the dynamics in the city itself were clearly changing for the regime, we knew we still had work to do, and we do still have work to do. And so, we remain focused on that. We are pleased that the population saw fit to physically remove the images of Saddam Hussein, and that's happening throughout the country. Now, we need to take the next steps to remove all of the things that would show any remembrance or any influence of the regime that once was.
Q I'm still asking about the personal level, though. What went through your mind? What were you thinking?
GEN. BROOKS: You know that generals don't have personal feelings. (Laughter.) I was personally excited about it, but I very quickly got over it and got back to my normal mode. (Laughter.)
So, I'll take one more question. Yes, please?
Q (Off mike) -- ABC News. Regarding the information you provided about Iraqi regime leaders fleeing to other countries, what information can you provide to us about regime leaders going to Iran? At first glance, given the enmity between the two countries, that would seem a little surprising. But what information can you provide regarding regime leaders possibly going into Iran? What are you doing to try to keep that from happening? Are you providing extra forces along the border or near the border to ensure that doesn't happen? Thank you, sir.
GEN. BROOKS: Well, first let me describe -- we can't be everywhere in the country, and there will be no shoulder-to-shoulder, arm-in-arm type of fence that goes around all of Iraq. One of the first things that happens is at the governmental level efforts are made between governments to either not accept or not stimulate movements that might provide any kind of sanctuary. And those types of things are ongoing and they are not appropriate for this command to comment on. At the operational level we look at places where there might be movement, potential for movement, and we either provide some mechanism for surveillance and overwatch, or in some cases we may go to physical presence.
We also try to make it undesirable to move in certain areas, either because there is a military force that's there, or because we're watching before they leave from a certain area where they may have been located. And so we always want to try to head these things off beforehand.
You asked a specific question about a specific border, with Iran. I don't have any specific information to provide you back on that. As people flee for their lives, they may any number of rational or irrational choices. We have seen behaviors throughout this campaign that show a high degree of irrationality. So I wouldn't rule anything out. And because of that we look in that border's direction, and we look in the direction of other borders as well.
Ladies and gentlemen, thanks very much.
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