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27 March 2003

Rumsfeld Says U.S. Forces Flowing Into Iraq Daily

(Outlines coalition efforts to ensure continued supply of aid) (1340)
By Jacquelyn S. Porth


Washington File Security Affairs Writer


Washington -- Testifying on the seventh day of coalition military
operations in Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said U.S. forces
"are still flowing into the region," with more arriving daily.

Rumsfeld, who testified March 27 before both the Senate Appropriations
Committee and the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, indicated
during his day of testimony that some 52,000 non-U.S. personnel from
coalition countries are participating in the Iraq campaign. On March
26, the U.S. announced the activation of another 4,100 National Guard
and Reserve personnel. The secretary indicated that military
commanders have everything they need right now to prosecute a
successful campaign in Iraq.

According to Rumsfeld, coalition forces "have overwhelming air
superiority" over Iraq. He said U.S. forces have made "an impressive
rate of advance" and are now poised within 50 kilometers of the Iraqi
capital of Baghdad. As forces close in on Baghdad, he warned, the
campaign could become increasingly dangerous, but the outcome of
removing the ruling regime "is assured."

Rumsfeld said the answers to many questions remain unknown and
unknowable in this campaign, such as how long it will last, the extent
of damage that may occur, and the volume of international assistance
that will be forthcoming over time. Right now "a lot of nations are
helping," he said, adding that coalition members had grown to around
65 nations.

Rumsfeld also said there is no credible intelligence to support
allegations that Iraq is currently experiencing a humanitarian crisis.

Coalition fighting forces brought food, water and medicine into Iraq
"from day one," the secretary said. While acknowledging that there are
places in Iraq where water is not flowing properly, Rumsfeld said
there is no intelligence coming in to suggest there is a humanitarian
crisis at hand or that shortages have reached critical proportions.
British forces are bringing in water through the port of Umm Qasr, he
said, and trucks are bringing in supplies overland from Kuwait. He
pointed out that the numbers of Iraqi refugees have been "very small"
so far and there is no evidence to support reports of a humanitarian
crisis in Iraq.

Asked about possible proposals that may be floated calling for a
cease-fire, Rumsfeld said there would be no "premature cease-fire," in
another words, none would be implemented until coalition objectives in
Iraq -- including the elimination of the ruling regime -- are met. "I
have no idea what some country might propose," he said, "but there
isn't going to be a cease-fire," he emphasized.

At a future point, as yet unknown, the military operation will end,
Rumsfeld said, "and it will end at the point where that regime does
not exist (anymore)." Then, he said, "there will be something of a
cease-fire." The secretary said it "remains unclear" how long it will
take to reach the end of hostilities.

Rumsfeld was testifying on the Bush administration's $74,700 million
Fiscal Year 2003 supplemental budget request to pay for military
operations in Iraq and the ongoing global war against terrorism.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Myers, who
testified with the secretary, said there is no doubt that the
coalition will succeed in its efforts to disarm what he calls the
"repressive regime" in Iraq. Right now forces remain engaged in Phase
Three of the Iraqi operations, which he described as combat
operations. Harassment of coalition supply lines is not hampering the
execution of the existing military plan, the general added.

Myers criticized the tactics of what he described as Iraqi "death
squads" that he said are forcing Iraqi civilians to continue to fight
against their will by putting guns to their heads. These death squads
are forcing Iraqis to fight, he said, "when they would much rather
give up."

Speaking at a press stakeout on the way into the Senate hearing Myers
said "there is still time for the members of the Republican Guard,
their leadership, to do the right thing and ... honorable thing ...
lay down their arms and be on the right side of this inevitable
victory by the coalition and try to provide a better life for their
own families and their children."

Later, in the hearing room, Myers said Phase Four of the campaign will
begin when conflict ceases. Cessation of conflict will enable
reconstruction to begin, a process which he said will have many
different parts, including:

-- ensuring the country's territorial integrity;
-- preventing various factions from fighting among themselves;
-- locating, securing and destroying weapons of mass destruction
(WMD); and
-- cultivating an Iraqi Interim Authority capable of running the
country.

On the subject of rebuilding Iraq in a post-conflict phase, Rumsfeld
said revenues from Iraq's natural resources will be used as well as
assets offered by the international community. He made clear that the
United States intends to participate in the rebuilding effort and
pointed to the defense supplemental request, which includes $12,000
million to cover a transitional period in Iraq. It will be spent on
humanitarian assistance, stability operations, and efforts to find and
destroying Iraqi WMD, the secretary said.

Rumsfeld also said negotiations are under way to free up some $10,000
million to $12,000 million in the United Nations Oil for Food program,
as well as to seek assistance from the World Food Organization and
from neighboring countries. He also indicated the likelihood that an
international donors conference would be convened to solicit
additional aid.

Testifying at the same hearings was Defense Department Comptroller Dov
Zakheim, who is working to solicit what are being called "in-kind
contributions," which can cover a wide range of activities from fuel
costs to food donations, to engineering support, to extinguishing oil
well fires.

Zakheim, who is working closely with Under Secretary of State for
Economic, Business and Agricultural Affairs Alan Larson on securing
assistance, said outreach efforts are under way to individual nations,
international financial institutions, and, in fact, "anyone willing to
help." Rumsfeld said there is a long and growing list of those wishing
to lend assistance.

During the question-and-answer session with members of Congress,
Rumsfeld was asked about the issue of Red Cross access to both U.S.
and Iraqi prisoners of war (POWs). He said U.S. officials had
contacted the Red Cross about arranging visits to the more than 4,500
Iraqi POWs that are now being held in camps inside Iraq. He said he
did not know the status of potential Red Cross visits to American
POWs.

A number of members were interested in Turkey's role in the current
operation and the status of aid to that country. Deputy Defense
Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who also testified, said the overflight
rights that Turkey has granted unconditionally to coalition forces are
"enormously important." He pointed out that Turkey is a front-line
state and it is important that it survive this period without
suffering economically. Once a new, peaceful Iraq is established,
Turkey will benefit from the ensuing trade benefits, he added.

The administration is pushing for rapid action on its supplemental
request, and Congress is moving quickly on it.. Members plan to
circulate versions of the bill beginning March 28 and to mark up the
supplemental by April 1. Myers said it was "very good news" to hear
that it would arrive on the president's desk "very shortly," certainly
before the spring recess on April 11.

Tom Ridge, Secretary of Homeland Security, also testified at the March
27 House hearing. "As we execute Operation Iraqi Freedom overseas and
continue prosecuting the war on terrorism," he said, "the Department
of Homeland Security requires an increase of $3,500 million to manage
requirements, to support the overall war effort, and to enhance our
homeland defense."

The supplemental request is designed to carry the respective agencies
through until September 30 when the new fiscal year begins.

(The Washington File is a product of the Office of International
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:
http://usinfo.state.gov)