on Military Operations in Iraq
General Tommy R. Franks
Well, good afternoon. Let me begin by saying that my heart and
the prayers of this coalition go out to the families of those
who have already made the ultimate sacrifice. Because of the courage
and the dedication of these heroes, the mission of Operation Iraqi
Freedom will be achieved.
As President Bush said, as a last resort, we must be willing to
use military force. We are willing, and we're using military force.
I'm pleased to be joined today by Air Marshall Bryan Burridge,
Great Britain; Brigadier Maurie McNarn of Australia; Rear Admiral
Per Tidemand from Denmark; Lieutenant Colonel Jan Blom from the
Netherlands -- four coalition partners represented here with us.
And as many of you would know, we have at our home in Tampa, Florida,
the home of Central Command, 52 nations represented. What many
of you may not know is that many of these nations are also represented
in the command posts of our component commands, located in a number
of countries in the region.
You know, Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld, my boss, yesterday
outlined the military objectives of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Let
me review them with you.
First, end the regime of Saddam Hussein.
Second, to identify, isolate and eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass
Third, to search for, to capture and to drive out terrorists from
Fourth, to collect such intelligence as we can related to terrorist
Fifth, to collect such intelligence as we can related to the global
network of illicit weapons of mass destruction
Sixth, to end sanctions and to immediately deliver humanitarian
support to the displaced and to many needy Iraqi citizens.
Seventh, to secure Iraq's oil fields and resources, which belong
to the Iraqi people.
And last, to help the Iraqi people create conditions for a transition
to a representative self-government.
Today, I thought I would describe the campaign you're seeing and
provide you an operational update.
Let me begin by saying this will be a campaign unlike any other
in history, a campaign characterized by shock, by surprise, by
flexibility, by the employment of precise munitions on a scale
never before seen, and by the application of overwhelming force.
Let me talk for a minute about our capabilities. The coalition
now engaged in and supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom includes
Army and Marine forces from the land component; air forces from
several nations; naval forces, to include the Coast Guard, and
Special Operations forces.
Our plan introduces these forces across the breadth and depth
of Iraq, in some cases simultaneously and in some cases sequentially.
In some cases, our Special Operations forces support conventional
ground forces. Examples of this include operations behind enemy
lines to attack enemy positions and formations or perhaps to secure
bridges and crossing sites over rivers or perhaps to secure key
installations, like the gas-oil platforms, and, of course, in
some cases, to adjust air power, as we saw in Afghanistan.
Now, in some cases, our air forces support ground elements or
support special operations forces by providing (inaudable) and
intelligence information, perhaps offensive electronic warfare
capabilities. At other times, coalition airmen deliver decisive
precision shock, such as you witnessed beginning last night.
At certain points, special operations forces and ground units
support air forces by pushing enemy formations into positions
to be destroyed by air power. And in yet other cases, our naval
elements support air, support ground operations or support Special
Operations forces by providing aircraft, cruise missiles or by
conducting maritime operations or mine-clearing operations.
And so the plan we see uses combinations of these capabilities
that I've just described. It uses them at times and in places
of our choosing in order to accomplish the objectives I mentioned
just a moment ago.
That plan gives commanders at all levels and it gives me latitude
to build the mosaic I just described in a way that provides flexibility
so that we can attack the enemy on our terms, and we are doing
And now a bit on what you have seen over the last, now less than
72 hours. The initiation of combat operations -- we refer to that
as D-day. The introduction of special operation forces -- we refer
to that as S-Day. The introduction of ground forces, G-Day. And
the introduction of shock air forces, A-Day.
Additionally, a number of emerging targets have been struck along
the way and will continue to be struck as they emerge. So the
sequence you have seen up to this point has been S-G-A. That sequence
was based on our intelligence reads, how we see the enemy, and
on our sense of the capabilities of our own forces.
In a few minutes, Brigadier General Vince Brooks, one of our operations
officers, will provide a number of visuals which reflect operations
up to this point. In the days ahead, you will see evidence of
the truth of Secretary Rumsfeld's statement yesterday when he
said Saddam Hussein was given a choice by the international community
to give up his weapons of mass destruction or lose power. He chose
unwisely and now he will lose both.
Let me introduce General Vince Brooks to give you a little bit
of an idea of what operations over the last three days have looked
Thank you, sir, very much. And, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon.
I want to take a few minutes to brief you now on some of the operations
that have occurred by the coalition over the last several of days.
The operation of course began on the 19th of March, and since
that time, coalition forces have already achieved a number of
several key mission objectives.
Our first effort is aggressive and direct attacks to disrupt the
regime's key command, control, communications, integrated air
defense and ballistic missiles using various targeting and methods
that will achieve the desired effects. This video shows an attack
against an Ababil-100 in southern Iraq, and resulted in its destruction.
Our second focus is on special operations. Coalition special operations
forces entered Iraq at night, after destroying Iraqi military
outposts, as this short video shows. You will see two clips. The
first is an outpost along the border, and the second is a building
that supported observers on the border.
The special operation forces then began looking for Saddam Hussein's
and the regime's weapons of mass destruction and their ballistic
missiles that threaten their neighbors. Additionally, coalition
special operations forces saved three key oil terminals that are
used for export through the Gulf, and these terminals are key
to the future of Iraq. By preventing certain destruction, the
coalition has preserved the future of Iraq. This is the area where
the three terminals were in southern Iraq, and in the Arabian
Gulf. On these platforms we found a variety of things. We found
weapons, ammunition, and explosives. These explosives are not
meant for defenders.
Our coalition maritime forces have destroyed Iraqi naval forces,
as the following video shows. This is a patrol boat being attacked
from the air, and in a moment you'll see the secondary explosion
completing its destruction.
They are also very active in ensuring that the waterways remain
open and unmined so that Iraq is not cut off from the aid that
is prepared to flow in.
What you see in the next image is a tugboat that appears to be
carrying oil drums. In fact, it is a mining vessel that transport
mines. Interdictions like this one done by our coalition maritime
forces and others over the last few days prevented, for sure,
the release of 139 floating mines into the Khor Abdullah, which
is an inlet that joins the Iraqi inland waterways with the Arabian
Ground maneuver forces attacked to seize the key Rumaila oil fields,
simultaneously began an unprecedented combined arms penetration
deep into Iraq. The attack continues as we speak, and has already
moved the distance of the longest maneuver in the 1991 Gulf War
in one quarter of the time. The oil fields were spared destruction
that was intended by the regime because of the effectiveness of
In the next image you will see wells that were set afire on the
19th in the afternoon, before the coalition attack began. By the
next day, the land component had already entered Iraq and had
prevented any further destruction. And this is video from the
entering forces. And the good news is only nine of the roughly
500 oil wells that are in the Rumalah oil fields -- only nine
were sabotaged by the regime. The flame on the bottom shows where
that location is. All the rest of them are okay.
I should add that the power of information has been key throughout
this operation, and it is truly having the effect of saving lives
-- of the Iraqi people and military units who are choosing not
to fight and die for a doomed regime. The leaders from several
regular army divisions surrendered to coalition forces, and their
units abandoned their equipment and returned to their homes, just
as the coalition had instructed.
We know that there are other forces on the battlefield that we
haven't even arrived at yet, and as this next image shows, there
are Iraqi units that are preparing to surrender even now as we
speak. These are lines of roughly 700 Iraqi soldiers that we imaged
in the desert away from their equipment, awaiting our arrival.
The coalition is committed to disarming Iraq. But the coalition
is equally committed to bringing humanitarian assistance to the
Iraqi people. Our humanitarian work in Iraq is only beginning.
The U.S. military, coalition partners and other civilian organizations
from around the world have positioned millions of meals, medicines
and other supplies for the Iraqi people. This image shows some
of the stocks of humanitarian daily rations that we are already
preparing to push forward as they are required.
Our coalition forces will continue to coordinate closely with
a broad array of organizations, and ensure that as much aid as
possible can be provided to the Iraqi people when it is required
and where it is required.
Thanks, Vince. So, as we speak, our forces are operating inside
Iraq. We have operations ongoing in the north, in the west, in
the south, and in and around Baghdad. Our troops are performing
as we would expect -- magnificently. And, indeed, the outcome
is not in doubt. There may well be tough days ahead. But the forces
on the field will achieve the objectives that have been set out
by the governments of this coalition. And with that we would be
pleased to take your questions. Please.
Q Sir, George
Stephanopoulos, ABC News. I wonder if you could comment on the
status of the surrender negotiations with the senior Iraqi military
or civilian leadership. Are they continuing? Are you personally
involved? And is the U.S. willing to accept a coalition of Iraqi
commanders to assume control as part of the deal?
George, I wouldn't comment on what the U.S. government is prepared
to accept. I'd leave that for my boss to talk about.
I will say that we have ongoing dialogues -- as I think was mentioned
in the Pentagon press brief yesterday -- with a number of senior
Iraqi officials. And so those discussions, both with people in
uniform and not in uniform, will continue in the hours and the
Q Are you
Tom Fenton (ph), CBS News. The campaign so far has gone with breath-taking
speed. Has it surprised you, or is it going more or less as you
I think any time forces are joined in a war it's a blessing when
very few people lose their lives; it's a blessing when it's possible
for us to move in the direction of our objectives. I believe that
the time for us to celebrate will be when the mission is accomplished.
We believe that we are on our timeline, as we say. And I am satisfied
with what I see up to this point, sir. Please?
Franks, Tom Mintier with CNN. We have seen bombing both during
the day and the night. This afternoon it appeared that there wasn't
much resistance from aircraft positions in Baghdad in and around
the city. Could you describe to us what kind of opposition you
are facing on the ground as the bombing campaign goes on?
In two parts, in the air and on the ground. Our forces on the
ground, to include our special operations forces, have encountered
enemy formations on a number of occasions in a number of places,
and the fight has been joined in several places inside Iraq.
With respect to the air defenses in and around Baghdad, we --
I think it was pretty evident last night that there was a lot
of air defense going up in the air. We are pleased at this point
that we have not had any of our coalition aircraft damaged by
any of that air defense. It is obvious that the regime continues
to move air defense assets around as best it can for the purpose
of survivability. We will continue to do our work with these magnificent
airmen, and over time we will take down all the air defense capability
that exists today. Sir?
Jeff Meade (ph), Sky News. Can I ask you to talk to the blitz
on Baghdad. How does it help you to be regarded as liberators
by the Iraqi people when they are being terrified by that display
of ordnance? And also bearing in mind that some of the targets
may have suspect military value, because if they are obvious regime
buildings they would have long ago been evacuated.
I think there are those who would say many of the buildings could
be evacuated. I think there are many others who would say many
of the buildings would not be evacuated. I don't use exactly the
terminology that you used. I think rather what we are about is
approaching the problem of this regime from a number of directions
simultaneously. That's as I described the business of special
operations forces, ground forces and air power.
The times and the locations where we put each of these ingredients
will vary actually by day. That is the nature of this plan. It
is built on flexibility beyond any that I have seen in the course
of my service. And so it's very difficult to comment about the
specific achievement of any one of those arms. We thought that
the work that was done at the beginning of A-Day, last evening,
was exceptionally well done. The targeting was precise. The munitions
used in fact were all precision munitions. And there were no targets
selected that were not precisely appropriate to what the plan
done -- ITB (ph) News of London. General Franks, what can you
tell us about the success in attacking so-called regime targets?
What can you tell us what you know of the status, whereabouts
or health of Saddam Hussein? And what do you say to those people
who say that the people who are most likely to be shocked and
awestruck by the shock are the Iraqi civilians you claim to be
I think on the third point I wouldn't offer anything beyond what
I said a minute ago.
With respect to what is going on with the regime right now, I
think that there is a certain confusion that is going on within
the regime. I believe command and control is not exactly as advertised
on Baghdad television. I believe that we should all be very confident
that the effort was designed to be so precise that it avoids in
every way possible exposure of non-combatants to that.
And with respect to the first part of your question, I think --
actually, I don't talk about strategic targets and so forth. What
I talk about is emerging targets. Emerging targets can be leadership
targets. They can be military formations. They can be some communications,
mobile communications capability that the regime has. And on several
occasions up to this point in fact we have attacked the emerging
targets -- several within the last 24 hours.
And so in order for me to pick one and isolate it, it just actually
doesn't serve our purpose or our plan. And so it is part of that
mosaic that I described. We see it every day, and we'll continue
to see it as these targets emerge.
Let me come over here, please. Sir?
David Lee Miller (sp) with Fox News. Have you been able to locate
any weapons of mass destruction? Or are you hearing anything about
weapons of mass destruction from some of the people you are now
taking into custody, POWs and detainees?
Weapons of mass destruction represent one of the key objectives
that we have here -- to locate them, to control them. We receive
information every day from a number of sources with respect to
weapons of mass destruction. Some of it may turn out to be good
information; some of it is a bit speculative. One would expect
that weapons of mass destruction would perhaps be found in certain
parts of the country, and that is work that lies in front of us
rather than work we have already accomplished -- is probably the
best way I can answer your question. Please?
Q Good day,
general, Kelly O'Donnell from NBC. Can you update us on the status
of Basra? And to what extent are Turkish forces in the north complicating
your plan? GEN. FRANKS: Basra is the second largest population
center in Iraq. And although we have seen the regime position
weapons in and around (various ?) facilities, civilian facilities
inside Basra, we have not seen large numbers of formations. So
our intent is not to move through and create military confrontations
in that city. Rather we expect that we will work with Basra and
the citizens in Basra, the same way I believe has been widely
reported in Umm Qasr. What we have seen up to this point is that
the Iraqis are welcoming the forces when they come in. And, so,
once again this is about liberation and not about occupation,
and so our desire will be to work with the civilian populations
in Basra. And, I'm sorry, what was your other question?
forces -- Turkish forces that are reported to be encroaching into
Iraq. What is the degree of complication?
I've seen much about that. And actually I believe that the Turkish
formations that we see in northern Iraq are very light formations.
We see them move in and out of Turkey. There is continuing discussion
I know at the political level to decide exactly how much of that
is acceptable and so forth. And I guess I would say that that's
sort of above my pay grade. Obviously, we have consultations.
We have contact. I have one of my general officers in Turkey working
with the Turks and have had him there for some time. So we are
able to maintain coordination, and I believe the necessary cooperation
with the Turkish government up to this point.
Paul Adams (ph) from the BBC. Your targeting of regime targets
in Baghdad seems to be that you are targeting some parts of the
regime, some parts most closely identified with Saddam Hussein
himself, some ministries, and leaving other untouched. Is this
part of sowing confusion in the regime, perhaps setting one part
of it against another?
It actually is simply a part of the mosaic that I talked about
a minute ago. It is an issue of taking what we know and what we
form into target sets, specific locations, and using appropriate
weapon systems against those targets at points and at times of
our choosing. And it is a complex process. It is very, very carefully
done. It is very carefully planned, and at least up to this point
I believe has been magnificently executed. Please?
Q (Off mike)
-- with Newsweek magazine. You talked a little bit about the agility
of the modern military. Could you possibly walk us back to Wednesday
when you got the information about the target of opportunity and
explain in some detail if you would, sir, how did you react? What
did you have to do to scramble to get that to happen, and how
did it affect the actual start of the war?
Why would you ask if we had to scramble? (Laughter.) Actually,
as I said, a plan that's agile, a plan that is flexible, provides
what we call branches to be able to undertake a number of actions
at the same time. I talked a little bit about S-Day and G-Day
and A-Day, and I also said that throughout the course of this
planning and this operation there will always be a need to engage
emerging targets. Now, sometimes emerging targets will be engaged
by ground forces and sometimes engaging targets will be engaged
by air forces, and so forth.
Now actually what I will say about that emerging target, which
is much reported on and much talked about, is from my view that
was about as close a coordination as I have ever seen work a time-sensitive
or an emerging target, and as you know I've worked a great many
of them in Afghanistan. That target was worked on an amazing time
line, and in fact did not cause the adjustment of a single aspect
of what we have been about since this thing started. Please?
Franks -- (inaudible) -- Marcus from BBC World Service. One of
the most striking things in your --
I see a lot of you BBC guys.
Q We're like
you -- we've got lots of different arms, lots of different services.
One of the most striking things in your briefing was your comment
several regular Iraqi army divisions have surrendered or their
leaders have surrendered --
Q -- the
troops have abandoned their weapons, the soldiers have gone home.
You showed us a picture of troops in the desert -- it wasn't a
great picture as far as I was concerned -- I couldn't see much
about it. This is a very important propaganda issue -- if Iraqi
forces hear through a whole variety of means that the units are
just simply melting away.
Q That would
be information that would be very useful for you to have imparted
by the world's media. What further information, what further evidence
can you give us that leads us to accept that probably tens of
thousands or many thousand Iraqi troops are simply melting away
or going home?
Whoa, whoa. (Laughter.) I don't recall having said thousands or
tens of thousands. I think -- I think when I walked out to come
over here we had seen enemy prisoners of war in the range of a
thousand to two thousand, which we actually have in custody right
now. We have with certain knowledge the fact that thousands more
have laid down their weapons and have gone home.
And we have with certain knowledge that that little picture that
Vince Brooks showed up here a minute ago is in fact about 700
Iraqis lined up in a way that they were instructed by way of leaflets
and radio broadcasts to line up if they chose not to be engaged.
Q First of
all, thank you for being with us finally. Do you have any personal
message for the families of the casualties? And for the second
question, do you think Iraqi President Saddam Hussein would become
a black shadow like Osama bin Laden is right now?
I think that the president of the United States was very clear
when he talked about regime change and when he talked about this
regime's weapons of mass destruction. I've said on a number of
occasions that when our nations -- when the international community
commits as we have to go to war to unseat this regime, that this
is not about a single personality. This is about the control over
a country for decades in a way that has been threatening to peace-loving
peoples of the world. And so that's probably the best I can give
you on the second -- on your second question. And I'm sorry, I
didn't understand the first one.
Q First is
about a personal statement for the families of the casualties.
Oh, for the families of the casualties? Absolutely. As I said
in my -- in my opening remarks, my heart goes out to the loved
ones and to the families of those who have fallen. I think all
of us who have served in prior wars at different times in different
places have a certain feeling about the loss of a comrade. These
are wonderful -- these are wonderful young people. And my personal
thoughts and prayers and the thoughts and prayers of a great many
nations go out to their families.
Q Yes --
(inaudible) -- Hong Kong. There's been so many rumors about Saddam
Hussein's whereabouts. Do you have any idea where Saddam is at
right now? And how confident are you in capturing him? Thank you.
Actually, I have no idea where he is right now. I suppose -- I
suppose we'll know more in the days ahead, and that's the best
answer I can give you.
Q Paul Hunter
with Canadian Broadcasting. Given all the talk leading up to this
of chemical weapons, how surprised are you that no chemical weapons
have been fired at your troops? And what does that tell you about
whether or not they exist? And how concerned are you that they
still might be coming?
I think it's -- well, of course we're concerned. And we'll remain
concerned. I think that there are two ways to look at an enemy,
and one way is to try to anticipate what he might think or what
he might do. That's not the way that I think we choose to do it.
What we try to do is determine his military capacity and then
prepare our forces and and prepare ourselves to meet the weapon
of mass destruction use if he should choose to do so.
You know, I think the President said the other day that there
will be people, and there have been -- there have been people,
who have believed that through the use of terrorism, potentially
through the use of weapons of mass destruction, that we can --
that we, this coalition, can be driven away from our goals. Simply
not gonna happen. Someone asked me not too long ago, "What happens
if this regime uses weapons of mass destruction?" And my response
was, we win. And that's because we have -- we have a commitment
to this operation, and our people have a commitment. And so, I
would give you the same answer.
We would be hopeful that those with their triggers on these weapons
understand what Secretary Don Rumsfeld said in his comments yesterday
-- don't use it. Don't use it, sir.
Q This is
Li Jingxian (ph) from Shanghai TV, China. General Franks, it was
reported that more than 200 Iraqi civilians have been killed or
injured ever since the war began. Do you have any comment on that?
And what kind of measurements has the coalition taken or is going
to take in order to minimize the civilian casualties during the
military action? Thank you very much.
All right. With respect to a question of, you know, how do you
feel about that, I think that the nature of war -- which is why
my own president said it's a last resort, it's final option --
is that noncombatants are injured and killed in a war. That's
why the members of this coalition go literally to extraordinary
lengths in order to be able to be precise in our targeting. We've
done that and will continue to do that, because there is no assurance
that this operation, Operation Iraqi Freedom, ends in a matter
of hours, or that it ends in a matter of days. I think what we
do is we remain guided by principles. And the principles involve
the accomplishment of our mission on the shortest timeline possible,
protecting innocent lives, both our own and the lives of innocent
civilians. Sir, that's the best I can give you. Sir.
Q (Off mike.)
There's an impression here in the region that you're having more
trouble than you're willing to admit, that you're meeting stiffer
resistance than you're willing to admit. One case being brought
to mind is Umm Qasr. If you can talk about that.
And yesterday, following the air strikes, the Iraqi information
minister said that your forces are going to be decapitated and
routed. If you can comment on that. Thank you.
Sure. I think there might be an expected response to that question,
which actually you won't get from me. I don't think it's appropriate
for senior military people to wave their arms in response to the
sort of hype that was described, and so I won't do that.
I'll simply say that we have been and will remain deadly serious
about our business, and all in this room should remain convinced
that what we say from this podium -- myself or my staff -- or
what we say from the various press centers associated with this
coalition, will be absolute truth as we know it. Please, sir.
Q (Off mike)
-- ABC News. Sir, does the Iraqi military still have the ability
to strike Israel with ballistic missiles?
One doesn't know whether the regime has the ability to strike
any neighboring country with missiles. We do know that more than
two dozen Scud launchers remain unaccounted for since the days
of the Gulf War. (Brief audio break) -- provide the best defensive
capability that we can. And we know that we want to posture our
force dispositions in a way that makes attacks on neighboring
countries just as hard as we can make it.
Now, as you know, there have been, at least to my knowledge, six
surface-to-surface missile attacks into Kuwait over the last couple
of days. And if my memory serves, four of those were destroyed
by Patriot units -- in fact, one was destroyed by a Kuwaiti Patriot
unit; one was permitted to fly harmlessly into the northern Arabian
Gulf, and another into an unpopulated desert area.
And so, is that -- does that provide fact-certain that we can
provide the 100th percentile of defense? Absolutely not. There
is no certainty. I will say, sir, that I like our posture the
way we see it right now. Ma'am.
Q (Off mike)
-- from the Associated Press. You mentioned at the start of the
briefing the efforts to route the terrorist networks from Iraq.
Can you give us some details of what you're doing specifically
in that regard? Ansar al-Islam up in the Kurdish areas, can you
give us some details on that effort?
I can't really provide you a lot of detail. I can tell you that
from time to time, in Iraq, we will come across what we believe
to be terrorist-associated activity or people, and when we do
so, we will strike them, and then we will exploit the site subsequent
to the strike. I can tell you that in fact we did strike last
evening a terrorist complex, the one that you just made reference
to. And I won't describe exactly what action we'll be taking in
the next few days with regard to that particular site. Okay?
Sir, please, back here.
Q (Off mike.)
We are getting close from the fourth day of war, and until now,
we can't see any sign of weapons of mass destruction, we can't
see anyone using of weapons of mass destruction by Iraq. Was it
a big lie or just a cover to justify your invasion of Iraq and
to remove its regime, which still cannot use any kind of these
weapons to defend itself against your attacks? Thank you.
A bit less than 72 hours of this operation so far, and as I said
earlier, potential for days and for weeks ahead. There is no doubt
that the regime of Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction.
And at -- and as this operation continues, those weapons will
be identified, found, along with the people who have produced
them and who guard them. And of course there is no doubt about
that. It will come in the future. Sir, please.
Q (Off mike)
A point of clarification: Do you know the locations of weapons
of mass destruction or is this effectively an an army of inspectors?
I'm sorry, I didn't -- I didn't hear you.
Q Do you
know the locations of the WMD you're talking about, have you some
indications, or is this effectively an army of inspectors?
Well, no, I think what this is is a coalition force that is designed
to take down this regime and to control the weapons of mass destruction,
which for certain, sure exist within Iraq. And the approaches
and the amount of time that it will take to identify those weapons
and control them remains to be seen, very candidly. Please.
Franks, Jeff Shaeffer, Associated Press Television. I understand
you can comment specifically on that whereabouts of Saddam Hussein,
you might not know that, but do you believe that he's still alive?
Do you believe he was wounded in the strike the other day? And
do you believe, if he is alive, is he still running the country?
Actually, I don't know. I don't know if he's alive or not. But
interestingly, the way we're undertaking this military operation,
it would not be changed, irrespective of location or the life
of this one man. And that's why we talk about the regime. It would
not surprise any of us that, whether Saddam Hussein is alive or
dead, that our forces have engaged, as I mentioned earlier, in
combat operations against the forces of this regime, both in and
around Baghdad, which we all saw on television last night and
in a number of other cases in this country.
And so it is not about that one personality. In fact, it is about
this regime. And so that's what we're going to focus on.
Q (Off mike)
-- from the Daily Telegraph in London. Do you think it was an
error that the Stars and Stripes were raised in Iraqi territory
yesterday? And what kind of military government beckons for post-war
Actually -- actually, I don't -- I don't know. I think that is
-- that depends on the eye of the beholder. I think that in zeal,
people will want to represent that they have -- that they have
achieved a certain milestone. And if you're from our country,
then one of the first things that can pop into the young man's
mind is to raise his national colors.
I suppose I found it to be much more instructive that immediately
following that, and recognizing that his job had to do with liberation
and not occupation, that he quickly brought down his colors.
Q This is
News Channel from Shanghai TV, China. Mr. Franks. Could you please
tell me why this news conference was delayed --
Q -- because,
you know, this is quite unusual. Everybody expect that there's
going to be a news conference at the first night of the air strike,
so lots of rumors were confirmed by not Central Command but the
A very good question, and having to do with why the timing of
this press conference and why not yesterday or the day before
or whatever. Actually, the -- many of the media embedded with
coalition forces would tell you that we're a bit sensitive about
the possibility of leaking information that risks the lives of
our people who are engaged in this work. I could give you an example.
Were we to have a press conference here, or in fact a press conference
in Washington, that described what might happen on S Day or answered
questions, the nature of which you've asked me here today, all
very good questions, then the risk of providing just that one
piece of information that winds up risking the mission or winds
up risking the lives of the people who have been -- who have been
put to this task, it seems to me, just isn't worth it. And so
the decision has been that we would move through the first few
days of this before our command here made any comment. We'll try
our best to provide fact-based information on a daily basis to
the press center here. I feel very good about that. But I will
also tell you that I feel very good about the work that's been
done up to this point.
Last question, please. Sir.
Chas Henry from WTOP Radio. Operationally, what's the greatest
surprise you've encountered to this date, a circumstance with
the outcome that you least expected?
Actually -- actually, my greatest surprise was when I -- when
I got up this morning and I looked at my computer and I realized
that my wife had sent me a "happy anniversary" note this morning
that I had -- and I had forgotten to send her one.
Actually, there have been no surprises in the way that you --
in the way that you asked the question. One is surprised, I think,
when one has not had a year to think through the possibilities.
Much has been said and written about this business of one plan
good enough and another not, and so forth. And the fact of the
matter is that for a period of about a year, a great deal of intense
planning and a great deal of what-iffing by all of us has gone
into this so that we prepare ourselves and prepare our subordinates
in a way that we minimize the number of surprises. There will
be surprises, but we have not yet -- we have not yet seen them.
Thanks a lot. Best to you.