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Rumsfeld Lists Operation Iraqi Freedom Aims, Objectives

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service


WASHINGTON, March 21, 2003 -- Defense of the American people is primary among the goals and objectives of U.S. actions in Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said during a Pentagon press conference today.

Further goals are to eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and to liberate the Iraqi people.

To achieve these aims, the military coalition is focused of specific goals.

Rumsfeld said the first is to end the regime of Saddam Hussein "by striking with force on a scope and scale that makes clear to Iraqis that he and his regime are finished."

The coalition will identify, isolate and eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. It will also eliminate Iraq's missiles and other delivery systems, the production capabilities and distribution networks, he said.

Coalition military forces will search for, capture or drive out terrorists who have found refuge in Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

The coalition will also collect intelligence related to terrorist networks in Iraq and beyond and will collect intelligence on the global network of illicit weapons of mass destruction activity. It will end sanctions and immediately deliver humanitarian relief to the displaced and the many needy Iraqi citizens.

The coalition will secure oil fields and resources, "which belong to the Iraqi people and which they will need to develop their country after decades of neglect," Rumsfeld said.

Finally, the coalition will create the conditions for Iraq's rapid transition to a representative government "that is not a threat to its neighbors." The coalition is committed to ensuring the territorial integrity of Iraq.

Rumsfeld also expressed his sympathy for the families of 13 coalition service members who have died. Four U.S. and eight British Marines died in a helicopter crash in northern Kuwait. Another U.S. Marine was killed as his unit entered Iraq.

"We are grateful for their lives, their courage and sacrifice, and our hearts go out to their families," he said. "The world will be a safer place because of their dedicated service."