of State for the Armed Forces and CGS
of State for the Armed Forces, Adam Ingram:
afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. This is the first time
that I have spoken to you in a press conference since
military action against Iraq began last Wednesday. I would
like to begin by offering my condolences to those families
who have lost their loved ones in this campaign. These
men demonstrated all of the qualities which we admire
in our Armed Forces. They lost their lives doing their
jobs and doing it well, in the service of their country
and for the greater security of the world. They are a
credit to the nation, to their families and to their comrades
whom they leave behind in battle.
it doesn't do to dwell or fixate on the details that near
real-time media provides in these tragic circumstances.
Such matters need to be dealt with in a sensitive way.
There is a time for analysis and comment, but there must
also be a time to allow families to grieve in peace, and
I ask that they be now allowed to do so.
Servicemen and women of our Armed Forces have brought
great qualities and capabilities to the current conflict.
That is reflected in the coverage given by the media and
is a fitting tribute to our force's professionalism, flexibility
and their commitment. We are fortunate indeed to be able
to call on them at times of crisis.
us consider for a moment some of the activities that our
Servicemen and women have been undertaking over the past
week and a half. In a remarkably short time the coalition
and the UK presence within it have accomplished an extraordinary
amount. To borrow a phrase from one of our commanders
in the field, they have truly demonstrated both ferocity
in battle and magnanimity in victory. They are attributes
which UK forces have shown time after time in conflict
after conflict. Our troops are the finest in the world.
They have the best training and they are supported by
state of the art equipment. The Iraqis are simply no match
for them. This force at the disposal of our military commanders
is of course tempered by a precision that is unparalleled
in the history of warfare, and a knowledge at all times
of our obligations under international law. From Storm
Shadow and Tomahawk missiles, to the new SA80A2 rifle,
our Armed Forces have emphatically demonstrated a new
kind of targeted campaign.
have been civilian casualties and tragedies. That is inevitable.
But in general what has been significant about the conflict
so far is that it is the regime itself, and the brutal
security forces that support it, which have borne the
brunt of our attacks, and not the ordinary Iraqis whom
we seek to liberate. We are committed to Iraq for the
long term. The key to the future is the confidence its
people have in what we seek to do in their name.
flexibility of the force packages deployed by the UK has
been clear throughout. At sea, our amphibious task group
launched the initial assault on the al-Faw Peninsular,
preventing any defeat of the disastrous oil spills that
we saw in the gulf in 1991. Our mine counter-measures
vessels have now cleared the channel through to the port
of Umm Qasr, opening up a vital route for humanitarian
supplies to reach the Iraqi people who have for so many
years suffered deprivation. On land our mobile forces
have secured the Ramaila oilfields, guaranteeing an economic
future for the Iraqi people, where our heavy armour is
a powerful presence outside the key city of Basrah. In
the air, RAF planes have made an important contribution
to the coalition's disruption of the Iraqi command and
control system, flying over 500 missions; while the Joint
Helicopter Command has provided crucial combat support
throughout the operations.
the fighting arena, our forces have been deploying expertise,
derived from a range of operations in countries throughout
the world in a crucial battle to win over the confidence
of the Iraqi people. This is no easy task. The legacy
of Saddam is powerful. Most Iraqis have never experienced
freedom from his instruments of terror. We must convince
them of our good intentions. The momentum of our crucial
humanitarian operations is starting to increase, and I
can confirm that the RFA Sir Galahad has docked
at Umm Qasr, docked at the port within the last few hours,
with a cargo of food, water, medicine and blankets. Further
aid supplies from the US and Australia are en route to
Iraq and are expected to arrive soon. Additionally the
Royal Engineers are busy building a water pipeline across
the border from Kuwait and trucks are starting to arrive
from Kuwait, and this is only the beginning of our efforts.
you are aware, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced
yesterday a further £120 million for humanitarian
assistance in Iraq, in addition to the £120 million
previously announced. We have always said that we have
no quarrel with the Iraqi people. We have always recognised
that many of their Armed Forces are fighting under duress,
threatened by the paramilitary thugs of Saddam's regime.
Many of them have done the right thing and surrendered,
and that is our message to those conscript forces, we
look to them to work with us as partners in creating a
new Iraq, free from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein.
can be rightly proud of the British military and their
courage and conduct both on and off the battlefield. Those
qualities will prove to be of great benefit throughout
current operations and in the early reconstruction of
the new Iraq.
of the General Staff, General Sir Mike Jackson:
Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to start by echoing
the Minister's condolences to those soldiers, sailors
and airmen who have lost their lives in the campaign.
War fighting is a hard business and inevitably sometimes
that final sacrifice has to be made to pursue the ends.
whilst I have this audience here, again if I could echo
the Minister. Could I ask you all to consider very carefully
indeed the results, the effects, of what you write and
what you show on the television screen on the families
of those who have made that final sacrifice. This is not
about propaganda or spin, it is about human decency to
those who are in very difficult emotional circumstance
and who have the right to grieve in their own way. So
I would just ask you to put yourselves in the position
of the wife, a husband, a mother, brother or sister, whatever
it may, who is in this position and let us get on with
informing our families, we have to be very careful to
get it right, and I would ask you please, do not harass
them in their grief.
I now move on to giving you my view of where we are, and
I am not here to talk about the tactical details of the
campaign. There is plenty, some might argue more than
enough, input at that level. Command is quite rightly
delegated to commanders in theatre, and I certainly have
no wish to interfere with that. I know all our British
commanders in the Army very well, they have my complete
trust to do a very good job, their very best.
perhaps it is useful to do a little bit of scene setting
for you. There has been comment about a phrase used this
morning I noticed in somebody's report was bogged down.
Well I wouldn't actually describe it in that way. Let
us see where we are.
south east Iraq, 3 Commando Brigade remain in control
on the Al Faw peninsula, and as you heard from the Minister,
are dealing amongst other things with the arrival of humanitarian
aid. 7 Armoured Brigade continue to keep watch on Basrah,
to start to change the circumstances there, to exploit
wherever we can ways of unhinging the regime's control
from the populous. There have been a number of quite successful,
highly successful I would say, engagements around Basrah
well reported, and 16 Air Assault Brigade continue to
secure and control the Ramaila oil complex, denying it
to the enemy, and allowing work and production there to
recommence, and hopefully quite soon.
is worth remembering that just two months ago there were
only the lightest of skeleton forces, a few advance parties,
in the Gulf region. Two months later and nine days of
conflict, we now have over 40,000 of those 300,000 coalition
personnel there, engaged in operations, with their equipment,
with their logistic supplies, and it is a remarkable,
in my view, achievement. The oilfields have been secured,
the Al Faw peninsula as I have said. The Iraqi forces
in the south are fixed - by that we mean that they are
pinned down, their ability to manoeuvre is frankly very
have been strategically, very important, there have been
no attacks on Israel, because we all are well aware of
the complications which would ensue from that. We are
conducting shaping operations south of Baghdad. We have
paved the way for humanitarian aid to get into the country.
All of this has been well covered in the media. But I
would, if I may, pay tribute to very often those unsung
heroes, the logisticians, who have made all of this possible.
I find it is a staggering achievement, it is better even
than what was achieved in the first Gulf War, and they
have worked long and hard to get us to the position we
are now in.
perhaps my last point here as I reflect, at a strategic
level, who has the initiative? I doubt - I doubt - that
it is the regime in Baghdad.
I also touch on the question of time span. It is inevitable
that there is a demand for rapid results, but we must
be very careful that what is hoped, and we are all perfectly
entitled to hope things, does not come some sort of prediction.
Those two things are quite different, and I am certainly
not going to stand here and predict the duration of the
conflict. War is a dynamic business, it is not a fixed
plan. Plans vary, there is an opponent who is trying to
ruin your plans from the word go. It is a dynamic situation.
And there can of course be a third opponent, of which
we have seen quite a bit recently, and that is poor weather.
But I can just repeat here what both the President of
the United States and our own Prime Minister said yesterday,
that it will take as long as it takes to achieve the objectives.
I also just touch on the logistic aspect in this sense
as well, that Armies cannot move forever without stopping
from time to time to regroup, to ensure that their supplies
are up, and even, believe it or not, soldiers need a bit
of sleep from time to time. So this bogged down is a tendentious
phrase, it is a pause whilst people get themselves sorted
out for what comes next.
I also just say, spectacular, fascinating, riveting as
many of the images on the television are, they are no
more than snapshots at a particular time and a particular
place. There have been yet, dramatic they may be, but
frankly they tell you very little, if anything at all,
about the progress of the campaign at a strategic level.
And I would just ask that those two things are seen as
separate, because they most certainly are.
finally if I may, just a word or two about the obvious
conundrum which the civil population pose and which irregular
forces pose. We have not yet seen open displays, well
there have been a few but they are more in small groups
than en masse, of welcoming population in the streets
of wherever. I think it is important to understand that
this is hardly surprising. The Minister reflected on the
nature of the regime against which we are fighting. The
vast majority of the Iraqi people have experienced nothing
but fear for so long, and they are still afraid. It has
been interesting to look at some of the people coming
out of Basrah, amongst other places, who are quite clearly
terrified of what they have left. And inevitably they
are pretty wary of us I suspect as well. We are strange
creatures from another part. This will take time. This
is a very considerable hearts and minds challenge, but
it is part of the campaign, without a shadow of doubt.
We need to earn the trust of the Iraqi people. This has
got to be addressed at all levels by making clear that
we are not in the business of gratuitous violence for
its own sake, that we have their interests and their future
I would finish up by saying on this subject, but also
as a generalisation, is that I know of nobody better placed
to take on this challenge of hearts and minds than the
soldiers of the British Army. We are hugely experienced
in doing this. We have I think an innate understanding
that you have got to look at situations through other
people's eyes and through other cultures' eyes. We have
the experience from many a place across the world, as
you know only too well, and it has been applied to the
very best of our ability.
Can I assure you that no-one would dream of harassing
grieving families, but in those circumstances I must ask
you this question. Yesterday the Prime Minister described
the execution of two British Servicemen, today we are
told there is no conclusive evidence as to their fate,
indeed senior officers have told the family that they
died instantly in an ambush. In those circumstances do
you regret the hurt and distress caused to those families?
Well if hurt has been caused then clearly we have to regret
this. It is why I said in my opening statement about the
sensitive nature of all of these matters, whether it is
as a result of friendly fire incidents or whether it is
the result of loss through conflict, and General Jackson
said the very same thing from an even more immediate knowledge
and experience. So I think we have got to put in that
context, and what the Prime Minister also said yesterday
was placed in the context of what we know about the depravity
of Saddam Hussein's regime, the way in which he treats
his own people, his own soldiers, and we have witnessed
even that over the last few hours or so when they have
been shooting at people walking out of Basrah, assuming
those reports are accurate. Now in the scale of all of
that, and given the information available to us, it did
indicate that those two soldiers may have been executed.
So if they are hurt from the language used, then we regret
that clearly, that was never the intention, but it was
to point up, as I say, the ... of our knowledge about
the depravity and the brutality of that regime.
Mr Ingram, you said just now the Iraqis are no match for
British troops, and yet we are continuing to see dogged
resistance ruining your plan, as the General has just
called it. And politically we are today seeing more political
and diplomatic opposition at the United Nations from the
Russians to this war and they are threatening to block
further resolutions. Are there any circumstances in which
the British government, can I ask you as a politician,
the General as a military man, would accept a negotiated
There can be no circumstances in terms of what we are
seeking to achieve, and that is to totally disarm Saddam
Hussein of his weapons of mass destruction. We are wholly
convinced he has that capability. Given the fact he has
the capability, as we move further into the conflict the
intent is likely to be there, and we have seen some evidence
of possible intent. So I can't envisage any circumstances
when that particular conclusion would be reached. He has
to be removed, his regime has to be removed, that is a
commitment that we have given to the Iraqi people. Their
future lies without him, not with any shape or form approximating
But you are meeting this opposition, particularly from
the Russians, at the Security Council?
Of course there is an international debate still going
on out there and there are still those who do not think
that Resolution 1441 meant what it meant in the way in
which we are now delivering on it, and indeed perhaps
other resolutions as well. In terms of the current conversations
that are going on, and discussions and negotiations are
going on, seeking a new UN resolution for the movement
of humanitarian aid into the country and the administration
of all of that, well let that develop, that has not come
to the end of the road there. I don't know whether you
want General Jackson to mention anything about the first
half of the question.
No, it is not my place to do that. The Army is the servant
of the government and we will do what the government requires
us to do. Can I just pick up on something. I don't want
to be misunderstood. You said something about changing
You used the phrase ruining your plan.
Attempting to ruin your plan. You know, I know what you
are trying to get me to say, that the campaign plan has
changed. It hasn't, it absolutely has not, but the enemy
will try to interfere with that plan. And at the tactical
level, if you don't adjust your plans according to the
local situation you are not doing your job. I hope we
are clear about this. Anyway that statement is I hope
now very ....
He is not nodding, but I think everyone else is nodding.
... logistics, momentum and Basrah, you have talked about
the logistic chain and it does look rather elaborate,
and you say the heroic performance of 102 Brigade. What
do we have if this does go on? You haven't set a time
line on when the thing is finished, which is understandable,
but do we (a) have enough logistics in the future, and
do we have enough force protection for our logistical
chain, about which there has been a lot of comment in
the press. And the question of momentum in the campaign
at the moment, particularly with regard to Basra where
we do understand that it is a fairly open city and Saddam
has been reinforcing at will and people are coming and
going and it is not quite sure who they are.
First of all, logistic support. I think your question
was in a British context at that point Robert. There are
no difficulties that I am aware of here at all, and I
actually asked the question this morning and was given
a reply which left me encouraged. We are fortunate of
course of having short lines of communication in south
east Iraq. The logistic challenge which the American V
Corps is having to deal with is a big challenge and they
are making it work. Yes, they are having to deal with
irregular activity on some points on that line of communication,
but it works, as we are seeing. On your second point,
I think I have covered the force protection point. It
behoves any army to keep its rear areas secure. An enemy
will attempt to stop you doing that, and that is why you
are seeing fire fights, particularly on the American line
of communication, but it remains open.
The most senior American ground forces commander, Lt General
William Wallace, the Commander of V Corps, did say that
the enemy has not been behaving according to the war games
that we have been engaged in before the war started. Do
you agree with that? Does that imply that maybe there
have been some surprises which had not been predicted?
I can't speak for the V Corps Commander. What I can say
is that the resistance we are seeing by Iraqi, mainly
irregulars, the conventional fight if you like with the
Republican Guard is not too far away I suspect, but on
the irregulars, these are supporters of the regime who
have, it seems to me, nowhere else to go, their futures
are pretty limited. If they do not fight us the outcome
is going to be clear, because we shall prevail, and if
they do fight us it is a bit of a last gasp but the outcome
will remain the same. They have my sympathy, these people,
they have nowhere else to go, and I am afraid they are
dying in quite large numbers.
General, can I pick up on that. Military commanders in
the field I think have said that they have been surprised
by Iraqi resistance and tactics too. Would you say that
that is in any way a reflection of poor intelligence or
Well if they have said that, they have said that.
Would you put that down to faulty intelligence or misplaced
I am not sure I would put it down to either of those.
You are asking me to give you a reason for something on
which I can surmise with anybody else, and I am not going
to surmise, I don't know.
Could I just pick up on John's question at the beginning,
it is just that we are not trying to harass families who
are bereaved, but given that it appears the families were
upset by what the Prime Minister said, has any apology
been made to them and do you accept that mistakes have
been made? And General Jackson, you said you believe the
Iraqi troops are dying in large numbers, do you have any
estimates on figures on that?
I think in my earlier answer I gave, I don't think there
are any more words I can put to that. We will have to
deal with any pain that is around there, we will have
to deal with that through our welfare support, and let
us do it, don't let us do it through newspaper or television
headlines. Families are grieving, let them grieve and
let's handle it as best as we possibly can.
Can I just hear, hear, what the Minister has just said.
We do have evidence of bereaved families being doorstepped
in a pretty unpleasant way and it is ghoulish activity.
On your second point, I don't think anybody really knows,
but you have seen the reports and I would much rather
they turn their weapons in and surrender, but at the moment
they are not prepared to do that. But it is certainly
in the hundreds and it could be more.
What does large numbers mean - hundreds, thousands? Just
You are asking me something I don't know and I don't think
anybody does because very often a fire fight takes place,
people move on, and I don't suppose anybody is going around
counting bodies, but it is certainly in the hundreds,
Do you recognise reports that the American military are
asking us to bring 4,000 reinforcements to the Gulf area?
And do you also recognise a report from one military source
who told us in the Gulf that we couldn't do that if we
wanted to because of the fire strike?
This idea that there are sources out there, there are
enough embedded journalists talking to commanders in the
field, talking to serving soldiers, I don't know where
the sources are coming from. There is great transparency
in everything that has been said and been done. Give us
a source and let's see if it stacks up to the other people
who are given the best advice in the field through the
appropriate channels. Who is this source?
I can tell you it is a very good source, I know his name.
Of course you are going to say it is a very good source,
you are never going to say it is a source that you don't
I am not going to shop my source, but would you like to
answer the suggestion?
Geoff Hoon made it clear yesterday that we have no plans
to do so. At all times beneath the Ministerial level examination
will be taking place, they will have to look at all of
the factors that they are currently facing, is there a
need to do something more. If the answer to that is yes,
then they will advise Ministers and then decisions would
be taken on the back of all of that. It is certainly not
on my desk at this point in time.
We heard from Admiral Boyce before that the forces were
stretched because of the fire strike, does that remain
the case? Could you not actually send extra ones because
of the fire strike and the number of forces who are still
engaged with that?
We have made it clear that the level of commitments are
exceptionally high, there is no question at all about
that, and all ... taking place in terms of dealing with
the fire dispute is putting pressure on us. 19,000 personnel
tied up is a very sizeable proportion of our available
forces. So yes it is putting pressure on us, but we have
to deal with all of those pressures in terms of where
the immediacy and the immediate issues arise. So it would
depend upon the nature of the advice and the strength
of the advice if there is any change to what we are currently
I don't think there is much I can usefully add to what
the Minister said. It is no secret that the British Armed
Forces, and perhaps the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force
will forgive me if I say the Army in particular are working
very hard at the moment and we are on a surge basis, this
amount of commitment is not sustainable over a long period
of time. It is certainly sustainable until we get these
I wonder if you could comment on the reports coming from
senior commanders in the British Army in the field, that
the POWs from Iraq have suggested that there are some
al-Qu'eda operatives working with Saddam's troops?
We have seen nothing to confirm that and I think we just
have to wait and see how that stacks up. But if that is
the case, well we know the nature of al Qaida, we know
the way in which they will involve themselves in any type
of international arena to maximise damage to the US, the
UK and our allies, so we just have to wait and see if
there is more evidence to that.
General, there have been reports that cluster bombs have
been used, can you confirm if this is the case, if so
how many and against what sort of targets?
No I cannot.
Could I just follow up on the question about reinforcements
if they were to be necessary. With General Wallace saying
it is going to go on much longer than expected and troops
on the ground there working very hard obviously, is it
not the case that you are going to have to at some stage
rotate new troops through, relieve them in some way, and
do you not have these contingency plans already to rotate
these troops through and are these troops not known to
you, who you are going to use?
I was in Germany on Wednesday meeting families who have
got people serving in the Gulf, I met many of the families
asking me that very same question. I couldn't give them
a date on when their people will be coming back. But I
say this to them, that the way in which we look at these
issues, we are conscious of the need to replenish and
recycle people through, and again I am sure all of that
planning has been looked at. But in terms of playing the
detail of that out, that then can lead people to conclusions
about timescales, so why should there be visibility in
all of that. We are not giving timescales, but we have
to plan, as we did in advance of this conflict, in a prudent
way to make sure we had the resources in the area and
all that logistic supply chain beginning to bite in when
it was required. So I can give you assurances that there
is a lot of planning going on, and if those plans then
need to be activated then it will be done in a way which
I answered earlier, the best advice to Ministers making
Without a northern front on the scale that was planned,
and with the Iraqi irregulars and others resisting perhaps
more fiercely than predicted, do you think the Americans
have sufficient strength in Iraq?
The northern front now has of course, and you will have
seen it for yourselves, been opened in a modest way I
accept right now, but I would expect to see developments
there. The Americans have by our standards almost limitless
military capability and further of that is on the way.
I am not going to say yes or no to your question because
it can't be judged in that way. There may be extraordinary
events over the next few days, who knows. What I can say,
and it is out there, because it has been announced, that
particularly the United States are making sure that they
have the combat power to prosecute this war to its successful
You are confident that they may bring in more forces.
Well they have announced they are doing so.
But you are confident they will bring in sufficient forces,
and do you regret that they didn't do this sooner?
We are where we are. I am not going to express regret
or otherwise on the matter, we are where we are.
Questions first to Sir Mike. On Thursday 20 March The
Times printed extracts from a pre-conflict address by
one of your colonels, an address which in its courage
and humanity I thought worthy of Henry V before Agincourt.
Do you plan to make available more widely the full text
of this address?
Colonel Tim Collins' address has been printed verbatim
in several newspapers.
I only saw extracts, that is all. And second, two years
ago the Ministry of Defence mounted a photo exhibition
honouring the contribution made by ethnic minorities to
the Armed Forces over the past 200 years, not least from
what are now Pakistan and Bangladesh, while last December
the US appointed as a second Deputy Commander of Middle
East Forces Lt General John Abisaid, of Lebanese descent,
who is fluent in Arabic. What is the highest ranking officer
of Middle Eastern origin now serving with the British
I don't want to answer off the top of my head, but what
I can tell you is that we have a lot of energy going into
our recruiting within the ethnic communities of this country,
we set ourselves very tough standards, we don't meet those
targets, but I can tell you across the three Services
we are doing well, not as well as we would like, but we
are doing well and I think it is a question that is worth
examining and I am sorry I can't give you a specific answer
Minister, could you please confirm what percentage of
the trained strength of the Armed Forces is now currently
committed to whatever operation or another?
Overall in terms of the three Services, in terms of Op
Telic, in terms of what we are doing in the Gulf
it is about a quarter. Overall I couldn't give you a figure
again off the top of my head, but this is a detail we
can provide you with, because it is better to give you
a precise figure than to guess 59% and it could be 58
We are talking over 50%, yes?
In terms of the Army, yes.
Overall, yes. For the Army it is over 50%.
How many Iraqis have surrendered up till now and how does
that square with your hopes at this stage?
I think it is around 4,000, something of that order, to
United Kingdom forces, I don't have a figure in my head
for US forces, I think it is around 4,000 but I could
stand to be corrected on that, but it is of that order.
We are making arrangements for well over 10,000 to be
housed if need be.
We have seen the effect so far of sand storms, rain, that
aspect of the weather. How concerned are you at getting
into more continuing sand storms, and after that into
very hot weather?
I mentioned the weather when I was giving you some opening
remarks. In that part of the world the transition between
"winter" and "summer" is very fast,
but you do get these extraordinary conditions of very
high winds and therefore sand storms. I understand that
the last one was the worst storm for a generation, but
there we are. It goes on for a little longer and then
it settles down, and of course you are right, the heat
comes on. But the heat is not a denial to operations,
it makes it more difficult of course, for everybody.
General Jackson, you said that it is no secret that our
Army is working very hard and that it was not sustainable
for a long period. How long is that period? At which point
do you actually have to start thinking about rotating
troops round if this campaign goes on?
I am not prepared to go into detail there because I think
we are getting into operational areas. The point I am
making is that the Army is working very hard. The Minister
has already explained that we have contingency plans for
this, that and everything else, that is our job, and we
Given that there is this perception amongst some, however
tendentious, that the coalition campaign is getting bogged
down, I was wondering how much of that perception you
believe is down to modern media techniques of having 24
hour news proliferating everywhere and having these embedded
reporters and things like that?
I think I have touched on the tactical snapshot which
gets converted into a strategic deduction, and there is
a complete mis-match there. We live in a media world,
here you all are, your technology gets better and better
almost every month, it is something which is there. It
is not for me in any way to deny a democratic republic
- sorry, democratic public, or republic as the case may
be - what is going on with their own Armed Forces. I leave
it to you actually to deduce whether or not, in today's
instant media, you are looking for too much, too soon,
to fill the time - 24 hours - and you are making snap
deductions which don't actually bear up under more careful
consideration. But that is for you to decide, not me.
The technology may be getting better, but the questions
General, after the arrival of Sir Galahad and the aid
she is carrying, given the security situation in the south,
to what extent are you and your forces going to be able
to distribute it and how soon do you think it will be
safe to allow civilians and humanitarian organisations
to get involved?
I think again you are getting into the tactical detail.
You are far better off asking somebody who is there. These
are the decisions for local commanders, not for me.
But presumably the main priority for you in London is
to see that aid goes out as quickly as you can.
It is one of the things we are doing.
And the Sir Galahad is being unloaded as we speak,
and distribution plans will be put in place and all of
that will begin to role out, that is one of our commitments.
But if there are security risks, then we have to take
them into account. That was why Sir Galahad was
so late getting into port because of the demining activity
that had to go on to make sure that the ship and any subsequent
vessels that went through that channel were secure. So
the same applies on the land as well.
I just want to ask you about contingency plans again.
Do you have contingency plans for reinforcements.
You haven't, you have talked about contingency plans for
... I wish to cover it.
So can we assume from that that you do have them for reinforcements?
I gave the answer by saying that the system would not
be delivering well if it didn't look at every possible
eventuality, but it is usually much lower down, there
is nothing surfaced, so in that sense if you are trying
to say there are contingency plans that are now being
played out, that is not the case.
General Jackson, you say the snapshot we see on our TV
screens does not reflect the strategic campaign. Can you
say whether the strategic campaign is going better or
worse than what we see on the TV?
I think I made that very clear in my opening remarks that
what has been achieved in the time frame we have been
talking about is pretty impressive in my view.
General Jackson, I know you don't like snapshots ...
I didn't say I didn't like them, I said get it into perspective.
... 24 hour reporting is a series of snapshots.
No I didn't say that either. You are putting words in
I will ask the question more directly. Would you take
time now, from your perception, to tell us what you think
is happening in and around Basrah?
I can certainly do that, and I reflected a bit I think
on this when I was making my opening remarks. Here we
have the second city of Iraq, a million and a half people.
The evidence is that they are being kept under a very,
very tight rein by the organs of Saddam Hussein's regime,
and there are a number of various so-called organisations
who are responsible for this. The historical evidence
certainly is that they have no wish to remain under Saddam
Hussein's regime. The dilemma for the commanders there,
and it is writ large, it is not peculiar to Basrah but
Basrah is the particular and obvious current example,
is the degree to which you prosecute the war against your
enemies, which are not the Iraqi people, but the structure
of the regime, the extent to which you prosecute that
war, bearing in mind your wish not to harm Iraqi civilians
any more than is absolutely necessary in the prosecution
of any war. That is a dilemma, is it not, and it calls
for careful judgments, some clever tactics, and we will
see how Basrah proceeds. It won't remain as it is forever,
that is for sure. Does that help?
... What is your perception currently of the state of
manoeuvre and posture of the Republican Guard, and particularly
in the south where British troops are coming against Iraqi
You are getting me into operational areas, Robert, which
I think I had better be careful about.
Elements, small elements, I wouldn't go any further than
that. But I don't want to be drawn on where we think this
or that Iraqi formation is.
General, this might be operational too, I don't know.
But I was wondering whether you feel as good one week
into this war as you did one week into the war in Kosovo,
in which you were even more intimately involved on the
ground, and I wondered what the similarities were?
There are some, but I wouldn't want to push it too hard,
because the political circumstances are very different.
But on 21 June 1999, as I recall, I think that was the
day we took the undertaking to demilitarise from the KLA,
which was significant, but there were many parts of Kosovo
which were still pretty violent, indeed the Serb Army
had not completed its withdrawal on D plus 9, it was the
11th day. So we had a very volatile situation, one which
equally well snapshots might have brought you to an erroneous
strategic conclusion. I think that is as far as I would
want to push that parallel.
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