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26 March 2003

Central Command Briefing Transcript

(Military update on Iraq operations) (7330)

Army Brigadier General Vincent Brooks, deputy operations director of
U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), briefed the media March 26 at
CENTCOM's forward headquarters at Camp As Sayliyah near Doha, Qatar.

Following is the transcript of the briefing:

(begin transcript)

CENTCOM Operation Iraqi Freedom Briefing
TIME: 8:05 A.M. (EST)

GEN. BROOKS: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I'm going to give
you today's update, and afterwards we'll pause for questions.

Let me begin by saying the coalition continues Operation Iraqi Freedom
on our sixth day since the coalition ground forces began their attack
into Iraq. We remain on plan, and we're confident that we will
accomplish our objectives.

The regime has shown its true colors in the recent days of fighting.
The demonstrated brutality, the disregard for the laws of armed
conflict, and most importantly, the repressive measures taken against
the Iraqi population, are all quite clear.

Our men and women are demonstrating courage and resolve in removing
this regime from power, and we are mindful of our own fallen comrades
and their families.

The coalition is growing in strength and also in support, with now
over 47 countries contributing to the operation. We're unified in
purpose and in our commitment to achieving our aims.

As I've done before, I'd like to give you an update on our operations
and then afterwards, as I mentioned, we'll proceed to questions.

Our attacks against the regime remain direct and we believe they are
effective. And I've got five weapon-system video clips to show you
today, and these were all taken within the last two days.

Let's bring up the first one, please.

(Video clip is shown.) This is a bridge out in western Iraq, and
there's a military vehicle that's positioned up underneath of it.
You'll see it attacked. The weapon comes in from the far right,
underneath the bridge, and the bridge remains intact afterwards.

(Video clip is shown.) A multiple rocket launcher in the vicinity of
An Najaf in central Iraq.

(Video clip is shown.) A hardened air shelter near Karbala in central

(Video clip is shown.) The next one is a tank, also in Karbala, in a
revetted position.

(Video clip is shown.) And finally, a military headquarters building
near Karbala.

Our direct attacks against regime command-control, communications and
integrated air defense continue and included attacks against several
targets of opportunity yesterday.

I've got two sets of images to show you today, and again I'll show you
before-and-after images just to make it clear how we attack, where we
attack, and to emphasize one more time how precise and deliberate we
intend to be.

The first one that we'll bring up is an Iraqi Intelligence Service
headquarters in Baghdad. On the image, you'll see the split in the
road and the headquarters facilities really go on both sides of the
road, but the right side of the split is really where the targets were
located. (Image is shown.)

I would say also it's within one block of a mosque, a school and a
prison, in multiple directions on all sides.

The next image, please.

(Image is shown.) The post-strike image shows an effective attack
against the targeted facilities. And this is the split view that shows
them both.

The next image is a brigade headquarters in the south of Baghdad.
(Image is shown.) This is a brigade camp that's about 20 miles outside
of Baghdad, to the south. And the targeted facilities within it are
the command buildings and one communications building. They are the
intended targets, and they're highlighted by the blue arrows.

Post-strike, please.

(Image is shown.)  And the split.

Our coalition Special Operations forces continue to set conditions for
our conventional forces by calling in close air support on military
targets, including last night the destruction of the Baath Party
headquarters in As Samawa.

Our land component remains on track and had action at several places,
and I'll highlight some of those to you this afternoon. Let's bring up
this map, please. (Map is shown.) These are really the areas where
much of the contact occurred in the last 24 hours. First, southeast of
An Najaf, there were a series of engagements that occurred over the
period of about three to four hours.

Coalition forces of U.S. Fifth Corps sustained a few damaged vehicles,
and in turn inflicted significant damage on the Iraqi force.

Near An Nasiriyah, the First Marine Expeditionary Force gained control
of a hospital that was in use as a paramilitary headquarters, staging
area and storage area. Notably within the hospital, there were 200
weapons, Iraqi military uniforms, one tank, 3000 chemical protective
suits, and nerve agent antidote injectors.

Our UK forces conducted aggressive patrols in the Al Faw area and in
Umm Qasr to increase the security in those areas, and also conducted a
raid that destroyed a Baath Party headquarters in Basrah. They
continue to have success against the regulars in the area.

And our maritime component cleared the Khor Abdullah all the way up to
the Port of Umm Qasr. That waterway is now open, and we intend to
start moving vessels in as soon as possible to bring humanitarian
supplies. And I'll talk about that in a moment.

We continue to talk about the importance of information and our
efforts to communicate with the Iraqi people, and also with the Iraqi
military. I have two leaflets to show you today that express what
we've been communicating. (Image of leaflets is shown.)

These are important leaflets, again, to inform the Iraqi people what
must be done to protect them and how to stay away from coalition
operations, since combat operations are inherently dangerous. It
informs them to also go to the radio. And this is consistent with the
radio broadcasts that we've had; a second one also, same sort of
theme, and talks about Special Operations forces -- keep distance to
remain safe.

We remain committed to preserving the rich culture and heritage and
the resources of the Iraqi people. The regime continues to put them at
risk. I've showed you before images of MiGs in cemeteries. Today I
want to show you an image of military equipment positioned close to a
very historic site.

Let's bring up the image.

(Image is shown.) This is a part of the ruins of the place called
Tesefon (ph). It's about 20 miles southeast of Baghdad on the banks of
the Tigris River, and it is a site that has over 2,000 years of
history, and it's significant to a number of nations.

What you see with the yellow lines is military equipment,
communications equipment, positioned right beside that. On top of the
building, as the sign shows, this is marked with an international
symbol of being an historic place.

Nevertheless, progress is being made daily by the coalition in our
effort to preserve the resources vital to Iraq's future. Humanitarian
supplies have been loaded and are moving on their way to Umm Qasr as
we speak. The port is being prepared for reopening, and port workers
have been invited to come back and begin work.

And I would also say that there are now -- in the Rumaila oil fields,
there are now six wells that are on fire. Yesterday, one was put out
with the aid of the Kuwaiti Oil Company.

And so I'll wrap this up at this point by re-emphasizing that we're
committed, we're on track, and we remain sure of the final outcome.

With that, I'll take your questions.  Kelly?

QUESTION: One of our embedded reporters has described to us this
morning that U.S. troops have encountered an Iraqi who was in a U.S.
military uniform and strapped with explosives. That Iraqi was found
already dead. Can you give us any information about other incidences
like this? And how are U.S. and coalition troops prepared to deal with

GEN. BROOKS: Well, let me first say I had not heard that report,
though I must say I'm not surprised by it. CENTCOM has already been on
the record to say that we had information that this regime would seek
to gain U.S. and UK uniforms in order to commit atrocities. And so if
that's the report -- if that's true, I'm not at all surprised by that.

What I would say to you also, though, is it tells us about the tactics
of this regime. We've begun to see that more and more over the last
several days. The practices that have been conducted by these
paramilitaries and by these others who are out there, sometimes in
uniform, sometimes not in uniform, are more akin to the behaviors of
global terrorists than they are to a nation. And that certainly is in
our mind at this time.

Q: General Brooks, Tom Mintier, CNN. There is information out there
that the bridges leading into Baghdad may have been set with
explosives. What can you tell us about intelligence that you're
getting about the approaches to Baghdad being like that?

GEN. BROOKS: We've heard the same kind of reports. And when I join
that type of report with what I showed you yesterday, the oil trenches
that were deliberately built inside of Baghdad and set aflame already,
I'm not -- again, I'm not at all surprised that that would be the

We have heard reports about bridges being mined -- correction; bridges
being rigged with demolitions is the more appropriate way to describe
that -- in several parts of town. And it just reminds us that this
regime will go to extraordinary lengths to protect itself. The first
set, by the way, separated Saddam City from where the majority of the
regime's work is.

Q: Iraq is reporting today of a missile attack on a residential
section of Baghdad that killed 14 civilians. Can you confirm that and
tell us what went wrong? And secondly, on Sunday the coalition forces
attacked a bridge in western Iraq that killed five civilians. And I'm
wondering why the bridge was attacked when I thought the goal was not
to destroy Iraq's infrastructure.

GEN. BROOKS: Well, first, I'm not aware -- I had heard this report
that you're saying; it's in the media right now. We don't have a
report that corroborates that, and so I can't confirm it.

What I can tell you is, as I've shown you on a regular basis, we have
a very, very deliberate process for targeting. It's unlike any other
targeting process in the world. It takes into account all science. It
takes into account all capability. And we do everything physically and
scientifically possible to be precise in our targeting and also to
minimize secondary effects, whether it's on people or on structures.

As to the bridge in the west, we know that that's an area where the
regime has in the past positioned weapons that can reach neighboring
countries. And, as I showed in the earlier video clip, will hide
military vehicles underneath of those bridges. Our efforts, in that
case, were related to destroying what was beneath the bridge.

Please, over here.

Q: (Off mike) -- from AFP -- (inaudible) -- Qatar. Well, now it's
almost one week since the war started, and many hundred of civil
Iraqians have been killed by coalition bombs. Well, do you think that
it will help Iraqi people to believe you and to trust you, to believe
that you are coming to emancipate them?

GEN. BROOKS: Thanks for the question. First, I don't accept the
premise of the question, which says that the civilians have been
killed by coalition bombs. I just don't accept that. What we have seen
over the last several days is Iraqi citizens being marched out in
front of irregular formations while they are firing. Iraqi civilians
are being killed on the battlefield by Iraqis. I can't make that point
more strongly than I've just done it.


Q: Sir, a few days ago General Franks stood here and said this was a
platform for truth, not propaganda. To that end, when will you show us
pictures of what happens when precision bombs don't go where they are
supposed to, when they fail to hit their designated targets, or if
they fail to go off at all? And will you also provide us with a
running audit of the effectiveness of these weapons? That is, the
number that succeed, the numbers that miss, and the ones that don't go
off. And, if you don't doesn't that expose you to the charge that this
is more propaganda than truth?

GEN. BROOKS: Well, I can certainly assure you, having been up here
each one of the days and each one of the briefings that this is a
platform for truth. I cannot say that about everything that you are
seeing from platforms in other countries or in other areas. We
certainly have seen different approaches to informing the media. We've
got a wide open discussion with you on a daily basis. We have embedded
media so that the truth does come out. And we believe we are being
very consistent with that.

Q:  (Off mike)?

Q: Tom Feneman (ph), CBS News. If I may follow up on that, we've been
getting terrific snapshots from our embedded correspondents, but we
were told we would then get the big picture here from this podium. And
instead we have been getting snapshot videos, vague generalities,
broader timeline -- that doesn't surprise me. Can you give us a little
more of the big picture without telling us more than the Iraqis
already know? For example, how many thrusts are there towards Baghdad?
Are there two? Are there multiple?

GEN. BROOKS: Well, it's a fair question. And I will tell you this:
First we have to preserve the security of the operation. That's our
first priority, and we are going to do that. Operations are ongoing.
We have forces that are arrayed throughout all of Iraq at this point.
And, so, if you are someone in the regime wondering where it's going
to come from, the answer is it is going to come from everywhere. I'm
not going to put very specific terms on exactly what thrust, exactly
what unit. It's just not prudent for us to do that.


Q:  Kevin Donnough (ph) of ITV News.

Q:  (Inaudible.)


Q: Kevin Donnough (ph) of ITV News. General, the pictures from this
morning's bombing in Baghdad have already gone around the world.
You've already seen them yourself. You must be able to give us some
reaction to them and some knowledge, at least preliminary, of what
happened, which bombs were dropped, and why it went wrong.

GEN. BROOKS: Well, I honestly cannot. We don't know that those were
ours. We can't say that we had anything to do with that at this point.
Once we have more information, we will be on the record about anything
that happens in that way.


Q: General, Jeff Meade (sp) of Sky News. Can I ask you to talk about
Basra a little bit? There was a lot of excitement, particularly among
the British military, last night, at this apparent uprising. Now, has
that happened? Was it wishful thinking? And do you understand that the
people of Basra may be reluctant after what happened last time to
rebels until they see coalition troops in their city supporting them?
And isn't this a reluctance to commit forces, putting allies of your
own troops before the civilians in Basra?

GEN. BROOKS: What we saw in Basra last night is a very confusing
situation to say the least. We saw first fighting happening with the
city between Iraqis -- some of them in uniform, some not in uniform.
We also saw a significant degree of violent activity done by
paramilitaries shooting into the town of Basra, with mortars primarily
-- again a disregard for the people living there.

The U.K. forces in that area were already conducting operations to try
to block off the town and prevent any reinforcements from moving in
and out of the town. And we have seen some movement of paramilitaries
on the road from the north. They were effective in that, and also
ended up providing some counterfire support against those mortars that
were being fired into the town.

So we would hope that, first, it's clear to us that the people of
Basra have had about enough of what the regime is doing to them. And
that's what we think we saw last night. And, secondly, we remain
committed to their liberation, not to their destruction.


Q: General, Mohammad el-Misal (ph), (Gulf News?). Do I understand that
the bad weather may lead to some of your bombs going wrong and hitting
residential areas?

Second part of question: Does the bad weather today affect your
overall operations? Thanks.

GEN. BROOKS: Well, let me start by saying that as a matter of practice
in military operations, we always consider the effects of weather, and
that happens from the lowest level to the highest level. Daily, we
analyze what the weather is going to be and what the impacts would be.
And, in some cases it's as technical as deciding down at the lower end
exactly how many charges you put on an artillery round before you fire
it, because of the barometric effects and the temperature effects, all
the way up to, should we fly? If so, with what aircraft? Should we use
a certain weapon system versus another? I can tell you that our
operations that continued over the last several days took weather into
account and continued in spite of it. Were we concerned with a loss of
precision, we would not have conducted operations.

So I am satisfied that we have done all that we can do, again, to
remain precise, remain on the plan, and attack those targets that were
necessary for us.

Let me come back over to the left, please.

Q: David Lee Miller (sp), Fox News. General, during the past few days
we have seen Patriot batteries strike a number of missiles, incoming
missiles. Can you tell us what type of missiles the Iraqis are using
and whether or not these were the weapons prohibited by the United
Nations and the weapons they claimed they didn't have?

GEN. BROOKS: Yes. What we are seeing is a variance of the Ababil-100
and the Al Samoud missiles. That's generally what they are. In some
cases we can't necessarily specify which it is, but we have had about
10 missiles fired at this point in time, all of which oriented towards
Kuwait, a neighboring country. Those that have been threatening have
all been shot down by Patriot missile systems.

What is interesting is that out of those missiles several of them have
been well beyond 150 kilometers. One missile flew extremely long and
went into the north Arabian Gulf, and went in the water at about 190


Q: General, Danelle Balfour for CTV (ph) News, Canada. If it wasn't a
coalition strike on the market, then what was it in Baghdad?

GEN. BROOKS: I just -- I can't say. I don't know. And when we find out
we will try to determine it. What I can tell you about our process
though is if we have any concern that we may have had an error -- and
it's a fair question about what happens when we have a mistake, and
mistakes can occur -- when we have something like that, we will go
back and examine flight paths, weapons release, what the circumstances
were, and try to determine whether or not we had an impact on
something like that. Right now we just simply don't know.

Please, over here.

Q: William Heightsen (ph), Swiss Television. When is -- (inaudible) --
the first visit of the Red Cross -- (off mike)?

GEN. BROOKS: We have made coordination with the Red Cross. I don't
know the specific date. I think it will be at their earliest
convenience at this point now that we have made the initial contacts
for them to come and be able to visit any prisoners we have. We are
very open about the treatment of our prisoners. I don't know the date

Q:  How many prisoners -- (inaudible)?

GEN. BROOKS: Without getting too precise, I would say we are over
4,000 at the current time.

Please, up on the right.  Second row.

Q: (Off mike) -- News Agency of China. U.S. troops and coalition
forces have advanced well, as you said, and the troops are close to
Baghdad. And reports said it's impossible for Iraq to have -- to
possess mass weapons of destruction -- mass destruction of weapons or
to use the weapons in or around the Baghdad area, because it's also
dangerous for the Iraqi troops. What's your idea of it?

GEN. BROOKS: We remain convinced this regime has not only the means
but also the will to use weapons of mass destruction. What we found
last night inside of that hospital reinforces our concern in that
regard. The danger does increase, we believe, as we approach Baghdad.
But we are well prepared to deal with the potential use of chemical
weapons. We vaccinated and inoculated soldiers and sailors and Marines
to the potential use. We have detection equipment. We have protective
equipment. So all that we can do we have done to this point to ensure
that we can continue our operations. Our objective is beyond that. The
regime must go, and Iraq must be disarmed, and that's our ultimate

Please, second row.

Q: Frederic Pastel (ph), BBC French Service. Because of these
protective chemical weapons uniforms you found, are you enhancing the
campaign of leaflets and radio. And are you reaching the Baghdad area
with this campaign?

GEN. BROOKS: We do communicate throughout all of Iraq at this point. I
mentioned yesterday that we have been on five different radio
frequencies, operating 24 hours a day since the 17th of February. Our
coverage goes over all of Iraq, and we try to communicate with as much
of the population as we can to tell them about things. We have not
announced any weapons of mass destruction use or any of that sort of
thing at this point in time.

Please, in the front row.

Q: Sir, Neal Karlinsky (ph) with ABC News. We've heard very little
coming out of western Iraq. I believe one Scud launcher has been
found. What can you tell us about the ongoing Scud hunt, and to what
degree at this point you control the west?

GEN. BROOKS: We are having very good success, we believe, in the west
to limit the options of the regime on threatening its neighbors. We
know historically that is an area that such activities have occurred.
We know that there are potential places to hide them out in that area.
So we have been very aggressive with primarily coalition special
operations forces throughout the west to prevent the use of those
long-range weapons threatening neighboring countries.

Up on the left, please.

Q: Ignacio Jarillo (ph) from -- (inaudible) -- Radio Network, Spanish
Network. Why did you think the Iraqi TV is a military target, because
there are a lot of civilians working inside I guess? Thank you.

GEN. BROOKS: We only target things that have military significance. As
we examine the different parts of the regime and how it communicates,
how it issues orders, how it controls, all these things go into our
calculus of what we'll strike and when we'll strike. That's the

So this is something that is used by the regime to do the things that
are necessary to issue instructions to regime forces.


Q: Nicole Westfield (ph) from Associated Press. There are some
intelligence reports, I think, that there are several thousand
Republican Guards coming south from Baghdad, coming around to
Nasiriyah. I'm wondering if, at this point, can you acknowledge that
you're not only dealing now with sporadic pockets of resistance or
sporadic firing, but serious walls of resistance coming down from

And also an update, please, on the situation in Nasiriyah. What do you
control? What have you secured? Have you got some bridges? Which side
of the river are you on? And we were waiting for a casualty toll, I
think, yesterday from the previous night's firefight. Do you have

GEN. BROOKS: Let me first talk about the situation south of Baghdad
and headed down in the Karbala and Najaf areas. We certainly know
about the attack that occurred on the flank of a unit south of An
Najaf. I mentioned that in the opening remarks. And that attack was
seriously repulsed with significant damages to the attacking Iraqi

We've not seen any significant movements of the types of forces you
described from in and around Baghdad. There have been some local
positionings. There have been some survival positions, but not serious
attacks. And we certainly remain, we believe, well in control of the
situation at hand.

You had a last part to that question.

Q: Around Nasiriyah, there were some casualties two nights ago, I
believe. And we hadn't gotten an update on the number. The Iraqis were
saying eight.

GEN. BROOKS: As a matter of practice, we just aren't going to announce
numbers of casualties. I can tell you, any losses we've had have been
very, very small.

Last night, for example, we ended up -- in the exchange in Nasiriyah,
where we went into the hospital and took it away from a headquarters,
over 107 EPWs, enemy prisoners of war, were taken at that point in
time. The exchange is very much in our favor in each one of these


Q: Omar Adisari (ph), Al Jazeera Satellite Channel. First of all, sir,
I'd like to talk about some of the images and videos that you show --
brigade headquarters, intelligence headquarters. And you also spoke
about Baath Party headquarters. Why do you have reason to believe that
these places haven't been already evacuated? And how worried are you
about the prospect of a protracted siege of Baghdad? Thank you.

GEN. BROOKS: The timing of our attacks is associated when we believe
the necessary effect is to be achieved. And these headquarters are all
parts of the regime and its military forces and those forces that
support it.

I can say that we're very comfortable in the timing. We're very
comfortable in some cases the time of day that we do our work to
ensure that we have the desired effect.

As to our concerns about a siege, right now our operations are not
designed to be a siege. And we're comfortable that we remain on the
plan that lets us do what we need to do and accomplish the objective
in a way that needs to be accomplished.

Is there a follow-up on that?

Q: I mean, the Iraqi leadership is dug in in Baghdad. How do you
intend to get them out of there?

GEN. BROOKS: Well, you've seen some of our attacks against the regime
command-and-control facilities. So they're not dug in in those places;
I can tell you that.

Please, in the back.

Q: (Inaudible.) The U.N. and aid organizations have stated that an
almost non-significant number of refugees have attempted to cross the
borders. That's probably strange, since there is a humanitarian
crisis. So I'd like your take on that, and also if you could tell us
how much your appeal for people to stay off the roads is weighing in
this situation.

GEN. BROOKS: We think we're having some effect at causing people to
stay off the roads, and we believe that that keeps them protected.
There's a lot of military activity ongoing out there, as you're well
aware. And we think that they're best protected when they stay where
they are.

The liberation is coming. And the good news is that there have not
been large humanitarian flows or refugee flows that create
humanitarian crises. We have concerns about places like Basra, though,
where water has been turned off and only recently turned back on, and
the impact of what the regime has done to some of its own towns.

In the center, please.

Q: (Inaudible) -- ABC News. Sir, you just said that coalition forces
have now secured more than 4,000 Iraqi EPWs. But is there an instance
or will there be an instance where these Iraqis will ever be denied
POW status and instead be designated as battlefield detainees, as
occurred in Afghanistan?

And my second question is, Iraqi civilians will probably die. We don't
know how many or if any have died thus far in the war. If they do die
and if it is determined that they died because of a coalition force
bomb or a horrendous accident by coalition forces, will the coalition
forces provide financial compensation for their families?

GEN. BROOKS: Well, first, let me talk about enemy prisoners of war and
our approach to them. As I mentioned, the numbers are up over 4,000.
We continue to take care of those enemy prisoners of war, in some
cases providing lots of medical support if they require that. You saw
some images on television today of an evacuation off the battlefield,
with coalition forces carrying off wounded Iraqis, regardless of their
status. And that's the way we approach our operations. It's just the
way we are.

As to characterizations of them at some point in time, it's really
difficult for me to say that at this point. We have made no policy
decision that would change the way we're handling those that we take
into our custody as a result of military operations on the

And as to the second part, that's certainly not something for this
command to make a determination for compensations.

In the center back, please.

Q: I'm interested in the visual record, the extent of the visual
record that you've been showing for the last number of days on a
selective basis. How much is there? Is every attack, every bombing
attack, filmed? Where does this record reside? How much are you
willing to release, and on what basis and on what time schedule?

GEN. BROOKS: Not all of our weapons have the ability to do what you've
seen here in terms of recording the image. Some of them come
afterwards, when we try to make a determination of how effective we

Q: Give me a range, though. Is it 50 percent, 90 percent, 20 percent?

GEN. BROOKS: It really varies, depending on where we are in the
operation. For example, some of our initial operations in Baghdad
weren't done by things that have cameras on them. And so I don't have
a good number for you. There's not a central repository of this. And
many of these images are declassified for public release. And that's
how we end up going through the process.

Please, in the third row in the back.

Q: Bob Roberts (ph) from the Daily Mirror. There are reports this
morning that you've ordered a change of tactic to get your troops to
concentrate on paramilitaries rather than regular forces. Are those
true? And, if so, do they not show that we're in for the long haul
rather than the short war?

GEN. BROOKS: Well, I will reiterate that we are on plan. We know what
we're doing at this point in time. We're comfortable with how the
battle is progressing. We're on our time line.

We do have some pockets of resistance that require attention, and
we're dealing with those. And that will continue. But it does not
hinder our ultimate aim. It doesn't change our time line and it
doesn't change the ultimate outcome.

Let me go straight in the back here, please.

Q: General, how much of your weaponry -- Michael Kearns (sp), Canadian
Broadcasting Corporation. How much of your weaponry uses depleted
uranium? And what are your concerns about the effects of that on Iraqi

GEN. BROOKS: There's a very small portion of our munitions that use
depleted uranium. And there have been lots of studies on what the
actual hazards are from depleted uranium. When depleted uranium hits
something, it's the residue from that that has any possible hazard at
all, and that requires close personal ingestion in order to have an

We believe that the way we do our operations is as safe as can be done
for combat action and does not create the kind of hazard that may have
been thought about in the past.

Please, over in the third row here.

Q: Hi. (Inaudible) -- Phoenix Satellite TV in Hong Kong. This war
(talks about?) humanity a lot. And according to a Russian radio
station, the U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter Elizabeth is
on her way to Baghdad to join an anti-war group who use themselves as
human shields to defend further aggression from coalition. What do you
have to say to the innocent civilian people who are willing to risk
their own lives in hopes to stop this war? Thank you.

GEN. BROOKS: First, we'd say that our efforts are, in fact, to
liberate the Iraqi people and free them from the types of brutality
that we've seen exhibited over the last several days.

People have a number of things that they believe in and they make
their own choices. It's a very dangerous place, and it is ill-advised
to go to the kind of area that Baghdad is right now with the regime
and its activities, things like the fires, things like the bridges
being rigged for demolition. It's not well-advised. But people have
their choices to make, and that's the way it goes from there.

Our approach to it will be, regardless of who the civilians are, we'll
take every effort to try to minimize the potential effects on them.
That's the best we can do. Unfortunately, there may be civilian
casualties in the prosecution of war.

Please, third row.

Q: (Inaudible) -- Abu Dhabi Television. Regarding the weather, do you
think you made the wrong decision by fighting in these circumstances
and it would have been better to wage the war pretty much earlier? And
secondly, how close you are from Baghdad?

GEN. BROOKS: We, as I mentioned before, have the ability to operate
through a variety of weather circumstances, and we take weather into
account for all of our operations. At this point in time the timing of
the operation is not driven by weather.

The start of the operation, as you've heard said on the record in a
number of places, was not driven by weather. We can operate day and
night in good weather and in bad weather. Some of our capabilities are
impacted, but our entire operation is not. And I'm simply not going to
tell you how close we are to Baghdad.

Last in the back -- in the blue shirt, please.

Q: Hi. Tom Perry (sp) with CBC Radio. Can you tell me how many of the
bombs that you're dropping on Iraq are not hitting their targets?

GEN. BROOKS: I don't know that we've done a measurement of that. What
I can tell you is, after every attack, when we go back to examine
whether we achieved the desired effect, if something is missed, it's
always within an error rate that we calculate inside of the initial
plan for the attack.

Some of them we attack again if we don't hit. If we didn't achieve the
desired effect, we'll go back. And that does happen on some occasions.
But I don't know what the number is, and perhaps we can get that
information to you and feed it back.

In the second row, please.

Q: Yeah, -- (inaudible) -- Marshall (ph), Los Angeles Times. You say
the Umm Qasr waterway is clear. Your British colleagues indicate that
they've still got another couple of days worth of mine clearance to
do. Can you clarify that seeming contradiction?

And you say that you don't know whether the bomb that struck the
Baghdad market is one of yours. What other options are there?

GEN. BROOKS: Well, first, let me say the Umm Qasr port mine clearing
operations have been ongoing for several days and our report today is
that we have succeeded in clearing from the southern part of the Khor
Abdullah all the way up to Umm Qasr, and also in the port itself. And
so that's the latest information we have as we know it.

As to what happened inside of Baghdad, again, we've seen people
wearing U.S. uniforms, as you've reported, strapped with explosives.
We've seen irregulars marching people in the street, in front of them,
as they fire on coalition forces. We've seen buses following tank
columns that empty out and have people with weapons engaging in
combat. We've seen a number of things that tell us that what meets the
eye always is not necessarily what is true.

In the back, please.

I'm sorry, in the purple shirt -- you were up first.

Q:  Okay.

GEN. BROOKS:  All right.

Q: Luc Carmen (sp), -- (inaudible) -- Television, Paris. How come you
are still using depleted-uranium rounds, since we know that they are
causing health problems, including cancers, to the civilian
populations and to the military operation?

GEN. BROOKS: I think that's probably overstated, and we've done lots
of analysis and scientific work, and we believe that we're still safe
with what we use. That's simply the way it is. All right?

In the back, with the green shirt, please.

Q: Arthur Rimes (sp), Houston Chronicle. Your lines of supply are
getting increasingly longer as you get closer to Baghdad. Are you
having to pull units away to protect those lines of supply from
guerrillas, and are you going to need the arrival of some of these
forces that are in transit to protect those lines of supply before you
can make an assault on Baghdad?

GEN. BROOKS: The security throughout operations is something that
every commander has to consider whenever operations are ongoing. And
we have certainly penetrated a great depth inside of Iraq at this
point. We maintain security throughout and, as commanders see a need
to adjust their security on their lines of communication or around
their positions, they do so. We're comfortable that our commanders
know exactly what they're doing and will accomplish whatever they need
to and make whatever adjustments are necessary to keep security as it
should be and keep the lines open.

Frankly, one of the great stories of our operations so far is the
logistics and how well those have flowed and how well we've been able
to protect it and keep things going.

Let me go for the first row, please.

Q: Nicholas Witchell, BBC. Can I bring you back to the situation in
Basra? Last night your colleague the British chief of staff, General
Peter Wall, said that you want to give, quote, "every encouragement"
to the people of Basra to rise up. What undertaking specifically can
you give to the people of Basra that if they do rise up, you will give
them full military support, including the use of ground troops,

GEN. BROOKS: I think, as to how we will assist those who are trying to
remove the regime themselves, which we certainly believe is their
future, it's too early for me to say exactly what methods would be
used to do that.

We do know, just like last night, that mortar fire was used from U.K.
forces to counter mortar fires being used by Iraqi forces into the
Iraqi population. That's just one example. And it certainly shows that
there's a commitment ensuring that there is in fact liberation at
(sic) the result of this operation.

Go with this side, please. How about the second row? In the black

Q: Do you have any update on whether the International Red Cross has
actually been able to reach American POWs?

GEN. BROOKS: I don't have any information on that at this point in

And (the fourth row ?).

Q: Ahmed Al-Makia-Al-Hayet (sp), LBC. General, do you think entering
and controlling Baghdad by U.S. forces is an easy matter? If yes, why
and how?

GEN. BROOKS: We've never said that this would be an easy operation. We
have always said that we're certain in the outcome, and that remains
the case. Our forces are very well trained. They're very capable. It's
a robust force that can operate in all dimensions -- air, land, sea.
We have special operations capability that enhances that and makes it
possible for us to be successful. We will ultimately achieve our aims,
and there's no question about that, and there's no doubt.

Red shirt, please.

Q: Can you tell us what -- (off mike)? And can you confirm that it's
not been used yet, but is it possible that it's going to be used --

GEN. BROOKS: I don't know what it is, and so I just can't address it.
I've heard talks about it, but I don't know anything about that. So --

In the back, with the blue shirt, please, in the glasses.

Q: (Name off mike) -- from French Television. Can you tell us about
what's happened in the north on the Kurdish border? We heard that
there is a bombardment. One, are you going to open a new front? And
what happened there?

GEN. BROOKS: The primary effort that we have in the north right now is
to ensure that, first, we have a degree of stability that's ongoing.
We have coalition special operations forces that are doing a lot of
good work up in the north. The Iraqi regime forces have in some cases
tried to attack, with fires, primarily, into the Kurdish autonomous
area, and we have responded with close air support and a number of
other attacks as well, and they've been very effective, just as they
have been throughout the country.

I think we have time for one more.

Let's see, right here in the center.

Q: It's Paul Hunter with Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Just back
to this -- the questions about the video that you've been showing. To
be clear, so are you saying that you don't have a single example on
the video of a bomb hitting a wrong target or missing its target? And
if you do have any, when will they be shown?

GEN. BROOKS: Well, again, what I'm showing you is our approach to
precision and the effects that we're achieving. Our effects do not
achieve to the level of perfection. That's never happened in the
history of warfare, and I'm certainly not going to try to tell you
that that's happened now. And so, as I mentioned, we do re-attacks
when we see something that we want to achieve a desired effect and
haven't, which tells you that there's always a degree of effectiveness
that you have to measure.

And what I've shown you here thus far is successful attacks. I don't
have images of unsuccessful attacks, and at some point in time perhaps
we'll show those in the future. But we'll see in the coming days on


Q: Well couldn't someone make a special request for those? (Laughter.)

GEN. BROOKS: It's an interesting question, but I don't think we're
going to do that at this point. But we'll certainly remain truthful,
and that's how we've been thus far, and we'll continue to do so.

Okay, thanks very much, ladies and gentlemen.  Good afternoon.

(end transcript)

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Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)