06 April 2003
Central Command Briefing Transcript
(Military update on Iraq operations) (8610)
Army Brigadier General Vincent Brooks, CENTCOM deputy director of
operations, briefed the media April 6 at CENTCOM's headquarters at
Camp As Sayliyah near Doha, Qatar.
Following is the transcript of the briefing:
UNITED STATES CENTRAL COMMAND DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
BRIEFER: GEN. VINCE BROOKS, DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS
LOCATION: DOHA, QATAR
TIME: 7:02 A.M. EDT
DATE: SUNDAY, APRIL 6, 2003
BRIG. GEN. VINCENT BROOKS: I trust that everyone adjusted their clocks
properly, here and in other places where the time zones have changed.
Good afternoon. Ladies and gentlemen, since the coalition's entry to
Iraq, coalition forces have been focused on the objectives of the
campaign. We're in the 17th day, and the outcome remains beyond doubt.
With each day that passes, the coalition force grows stronger and more
damages are inflicted upon the regime and its supporting agents, and
with each day that passes, more Iraqis are celebrating freedom.
Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the family members of
those of our fallen comrades who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
The coalition attacked regime leadership targets, military forces,
command centers, communications nodes, and all located aircraft to
break the military capacity of the regime. At this point, the
coalition can operate throughout all of the airspace of Iraq.
I have two weapons systems videos to show you today of recent attacks
that we conducted to eliminate the military capability defending this
regime. The attacks were focused on eliminating threats to coalition
aircraft and preventing the regime from using aircraft for any
The first video shows an anti-aircraft artillery system that is firing
at a coalition aircraft. You'll actually see that in this film. And
this target was west of Kirkuk in northern Iraq on the 2nd of April.
Now, what you just saw was two sets of black smoke. That was the
firing of the anti-aircraft system at this aircraft that's conducting
the attack. So, I would just remind that these are not benign actions
that occur, these are combat actions, and our pilots have done very,
very well and have been very effective. Let's continue with the tape,
please. He won the duel.
The second video shows a regime anti -- a regime aircraft located near
the al-Takatam (sp) airfield, and this was struck on April the 4th.
And as I mentioned, we're attacking all identified aircraft, first to
prevent them from flying for combat purposes but also to prevent the
potential delivery of weapons of mass destruction, chemicals
particularly, from aircraft.
We will continue to attack the regime and its military capacity
whenever and wherever we find it.
I also have two products to show you from recent precision attacks
against assets of the regime. The first one is a regime command and
control facility in Baghdad struck on April the 3rd. What I'd
highlight on this one is that there are 21 different weapons that were
used, each one of them represented by a blue arrow. One of the reasons
why I don't discuss sorties very much is because we have the
capability of doing some of these attacks without involving an
aircraft at all, or we may have certain aircraft that drop
precision-guided munitions that can find their own way to the target.
So, it might be one or two aircraft to do these 21 weapons into an
attack. There's a difference in our technology and our capability now
than what we've spoken of in the past.
This is a pre-strike; and the post strike, please. Varying degrees of
destruction because the weapons systems chosen have varying degrees of
explosive capability, and that's by deliberate design. So you'll see
on the far left side, for example, these don't appear to be as
destroyed as others, but they're effective hits. In some cases, we
went just outside of the building to penetrate. In other cases, the
buildings themselves were destroyed. You can see some that are
shredded in this case. This was considered an effective attack. If we
don't see something effective, then we'll come back and attack it at a
The second image is -- well, first let's show the split here -- okay
-- the second image I want to show you is a command and control
facility near Samanpak (sp) to the south of Baghdad. This was struck
on the 3rd of April. Two weapons in this case. Post-strike. And the
As we are now able to operate around or within Baghdad, we see
indications that the regime continues to put civilian and civilian
areas at increasing risk. The following photo will show you Iraqi
military equipment that the regime has intentionally placed next to
the buildings of a residential area. Although it's a little bit
difficult to see, each blue arrow points to a piece of military
equipment that's pushed right up against the side of the building. In
some cases there are multiple pieces of equipment. This is in a
residential area. We don't know that these are houses, per se, but it
clearly is a residential area. This kind of risk is another example of
how the regime is more than willing to put its population into harm's
way to protect itself, and its weapons, and its capabilities of
continuing to inflict oppression on the population.
We, however, will continue to discriminate in our targeting. We will
continue to be selective and seek precision in all we do. But it is
clear at this point that the risk is increasing to the civilian
population because of decisions made by regime leaders.
Our coalition special operations forces in northern Iraq directed
focused air support against regime forces in the north near Kirkuk.
Some of these forces, some of these Iraqi forces from the first corps
relocated approximately 10 kilometers further to the south, away from
what has been described as the "green line." The special operations
teams with these Kurdish security -- with Kurdish security elements,
maintain contact with the first corps elements and have moved forward
in a portion of that 10-kilometer zone to keep their eyes on the
relocating Iraqi forces.
Our special operations forces are positioned along several key roads,
and this is to prevent movement of ballistic missiles -- we've talked
about area denial out in the west -- and also to deny free movement by
regime forces or leaders.
Our special operations forces represent a very broad capability and
can be introduced into any area by a variety of means. You've seen
some of those over the last several days of this campaign. The video
I'm about to show you shows special operations forces conducting
another parachute assault within the last two days to secure an
airfield for future use.
Equally important are the efforts of our special operations forces
conducting unconventional warfare and doing more and more work with
Iraqis who do not support the regime, and this is an ongoing and
The land component continues to achieve success. Our efforts to remove
remnants of the regime from the areas of Basra, Samawa, Najaf, and
Karbala are ongoing. There have been some encounters with regime
forces in these areas, but the number of encounters have gone down
appreciably while the support from the population is increasing. Some
deliberate work by U.K. forces in the vicinity of Basra have clearly
weakened the grip of the regime.
Yesterday, a patrol of U.K. forces near As-Zubair, just outside of
Basra, came upon two warehouses containing human remains in bags and
boxes. While an accurate count is not yet known, estimates would
indicate that the remains are of more than 100 persons. Some have
tatters of uniforms in and amongst the human remains, and in one of
the warehouses there were pictures of executed soldiers. These remains
are not from this conflict. They are from some other conflict at some
other time. Needless to say, the site will be thoroughly examined, and
we're looking for evidence of war crimes.
There is still a regime presence in some of the towns, and the tactics
we see used remain the tactics of terrorists. An example of this is a
recent action at an area secured by the 82nd Airborne Division near
As-Samawa. And you can see Samawa here, just along the river line,
south of Najaf. In this case, a company of airborne troopers were
securing an area that had been established. They built a small unit
checkpoint to control movements near the area. And this was near a
And, as we've seen in other cases, a sport utility vehicle approached
the checkpoint at a high rate of speed. After several unsuccessful
non-lethal attempts to cause the vehicle to halt, it continued
approaching the checkpoint, and this, again, as I mentioned, was near
a populated area. There was a young sergeant in charge at that
particular checkpoint, and he saw some objects in the back of this
vehicle, ordered one of his gunners to open fire on the threatening
This is an image of the vehicle from the rear after the attack. You
can see that it's in an urban area with a kid standing on the side of
the road. The weapon impacting the vehicle caused the vehicle to have
a significant secondary explosion and a fireball. Let's go to the next
image. The vehicle had been loaded with gas cylinders to be detonated
in close proximity to the checkpoint. And finally, from the side.
Our soldiers and Marines out there, and especially our junior leaders,
are having to make very, very difficult but instantaneous life and
death decisions, and they're the only one who can make those
decisions. They're doing it very well, and they're also doing the best
they can to protect the force as well as the Iraqi population.
The two-core attack by 5th Corps and 1st MEF continues to isolate
Baghdad, denying any reinforcements or any escape by regime military
forces. Fifth Corps controls the corridor from Karbala to Baghdad in
the east. The 1st Marine Expeditionary Force controls the corridor
from Samanpak (sp) to Baghdad. And I mentioned east first -- excuse me
-- 5th Corps is in the west, 1st MEF is in the east. And we continue
operations in and around that area, and beyond.
There was a raid last night by the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.
What they raided was a training camp near Samanpak (sp). And you can
see the explosion along on the map near Samanpak (sp). This raid
occurred in response to information that had been gained by coalition
forces from some foreign fighters we encountered from other countries,
not Iraq. And we believe that this camp had been used to train these
foreign fighters in terror tactics. It is now destroyed.
We continue broadcasting non-stop radio over all of Iraq. We do know
that radio is the most common and popular medium that is used by the
Iraqi population and is consumed by them. A much smaller portion of
the population has TV, and an even smaller portion, mostly elites,
have access to cable and satellite television. Some of the examples of
things we are saying on our broadcasts now to the Iraqi people,
especially in the radio broadcasts -- first, we're telling the Iraqi
people for their own safety to stay away from Baghdad International
Airport. And this is certainly in direct contrast of what the regime
is telling its citizens.
We're also explaining the importance of carefully following checkpoint
instructions as they approach them. There are checkpoints that they
may encounter. If they follow the instructions of the people at the
checkpoint, there are not problems.
We explain to the Iraqis the types of atrocities and criminal acts
that the regime is responsible for. And we're also telling the Iraqi
forces that remain, specifically the Special Republican Guard and
special security forces, that they should surrender, flee, or fight
and face certain destruction.
The good news is life is proceeding into a new state of normal in
other places, in places where the coalition has driven away the
regime. Actions that we easily take for granted, things that have been
stopped by the regime and the hazards of combat are now resuming. So,
as we stop our combat actions, as we move the regime away, life can
This is an example. A school in An-Najaf -- we've talked about that
location over the last several days -- children are now safely
returning to school, and they've begun school for the first time since
before hostilities began. And the image is in stark contrast with the
one I showed you a few days ago where, with the help of the local
population, we were removing ammunition from the same school that had
been used by regime death squads as a place to fight.
Our civil affairs units that are traveling behind our combat
formations are skilled, they are professional, and they're making
daily assessments of the needs of the population they encounter, and
then they get to work trying to fulfill those needs, with the
assistance of the population. That's part of the plan. It always has
been part of the plan. And their efforts are making a major difference
in the lives of newly liberated Iraqis.
In some locations, our soldiers are facilitating the delivery of
supplies, and that includes things that are already on hand in storage
warehouses but weren't delivered by the regime, as this particular
image shows. These are school supplies that were in an area near
Basra. Our special operations forces moving through the area found
this warehouse, discovered what it was, and began pushing them back
out to the population. They had already been on hand, and for whatever
reason the regime did not see fit to distribute them to the population
Assisting with much of our humanitarian and civic work are free Iraqi
forces team members. They continue to help us communicate and earn a
high degree of trust. The teams also coordinate delivery of
humanitarian assistance rations and the massive volumes of wheat and
grain that are starting to flow in from all over the world, and we
have much more of that coming here over the next several weeks, with
many different countries making contributions. And those will come in
by way of the ports that have been secured by our operations, and over
land through areas that have been secured.
And with that, ladies and gentlemen, I'll take your questions. Please,
QUESTION: Will Adams, ABC. Two questions, General. First of all, you
showed us the photograph of the vehicle with the cylinders in it.
Anyone who has lived in this part of the world for any length of time
knows that those are the kind of cylinders that everyone uses for
domestic purposes, and often are transported in vehicles precisely
like that. Was there anything that you saw in that vehicle that proved
that these were intended to be detonated?
And secondly, you mentioned the training camp near Samanpac (sp) and
you said information from foreign fighters had helped you to identify
that. Are you saying that there are foreign terrorist training camps
GEN. BROOKS: Well, first, with regard to the vehicle and what's inside
of it, we know that those types of canisters can also be used as
explosive devices, particularly when numbers of them are joined
together. What we believe is the necessary decision-making down at the
lower level is what is -- what is it that you see approaching? What
behaviors are being exhibited? And how does that then match into
things that have happened as patterns over time? Then a life and death
decision is made.
When there is a need to do further investigation, we will, if we think
something has been done incorrectly by rules of engagement that are
out there, but in many cases we think that this is what's going to
happen. And so while it's certainly possible that those things are
commercial use activities, or commercial use items -- just like the
vehicle is a civilian vehicle, and the people inside of it were in
civilian clothes -- that still the modus that is used by regime death
squads to perpetrate these types of terror attacks.
Now, with regard to Samanpak (sp), that's just one of a number of
examples we've found where there is training activity happening inside
of Iraq. It reinforces the likelihood of links between his regime and
external terrorist organizations, clear links with common interests.
Some of these fighters came from Sudan, some from Egypt, and some from
other places, and we've killed a number of them and we've captured a
number of them, and that's where some of this information came from.
We continue to be on the look out for those types of fighters. It
certainly won't stop us operationally. We'll encounter them when we
encounter them. But it does say an awful lot about the regime is
taking to what's going on on the battlefield right now.
Q: Thank you, General. Kelly O'Donnell from NBC. Can you confirm the
attack on the man known as "Chemical Ali"? Is he the highest ranking
regime leader who has been hit? And what do you think his death would
mean for the potential of chemical weapons use?
GEN. BROOKS: Well, Kelly, first, we've made it clear that we're going
to do a number of things to affect the decision making of this regime
-- whether that is attacking decision-makers, like Chemical Ali is,
and there are a number of others, obviously, in this regime as well,
or if it's attacking the means by which they issue their instructions
to do things that we think would be not in their interest to do, or
whether it is attacking the means of delivery, like launchers for
surface-to-surface missiles that might be able to carry chemical
weapons or aircraft that might deliver those. All of that comes
together to minimize the influence of this regime, minimize the
ability of the regime to control itself. And we continue to remain
satisfied that we are having a significant impact on this regime, that
it no longer is in control.
As to whether or not he's the highest -- we've attacked higher than
him, and we will continue to attack others in the regime. We've said
that it's not about individuals, it's about the regime. And any piece
of the regime that's out there, or any piece of this force that
supports the regime, will be attacked, it will be destroyed, or it
will be otherwise removed by their voluntary action.
Q: Do you believe he is the highest ranking that has been killed?
GEN. BROOKS: I'm not going to characterize what the status is at this
point. I don't think we know for sure. I know that we certainly knew
that he was our target, and we know that we feel comfortable that his
bodyguard is now dead. As to Chemical Ali himself, I think time will
Q: David Lee Miller, Fox News. There's a report of a friendly fire
incident in the north. If you know anything about that and can
elaborate, I would appreciate it. And secondly, have any weapons of
mass destruction been found? And is there anything to suggest now that
maybe this regime tried to move some of those weapons into Syria or
other locations which we have heard for the past few weeks?
GEN. BROOKS: We do have some initial reports of an engagement that
occurred in the north that involved some coalition forces and some
Peshmerga with whom we have been conducting operations in the north.
We don't know the specifics of the circumstance at this point. As with
every other report like this, we'll dig into it, find out what the
contributing circumstances are, and try to come to some degree of
closure on, not only what happened, but also if there are some things
we need to learn from it, how it happened and what we can do to
prevent it from happening again, if indeed we have some involvement in
that. So, that's something that's still underway. It's ongoing, and
it's a very fresh report as well, so it's going to take a little while
before we get to the bottom of it.
Weapons of mass destruction are something that are -- that remain a
focus of this operation. It is not the primary focus. We are still
conducting combat operations focused on the regime. That's the first
order of business. However, there are some places that we have now
access to areas that we do searches for weapons of mass destruction,
either based on our anticipated or our knowledge beforehand that there
may have been weapons of mass destruction stored there, developed
there, over time.
So, in some cases, it may be years ago that we had that information.
As we get access to the locations, we'll search, often with the
assistance of people who were working there. And as we get closer to
Baghdad, we have more places that are like that.
I think we can certainly be sure that this regime has been skillful at
hiding the things they have. There are a number of items we've already
encountered on the battlefield that they said they didn't have, and
yet we found them -- whether it's mines that float up, or missiles
that go beyond 150 kilometers. Any number of other things are out
And, so, while we can't say where they may have been moved to, we
certainly anticipate that there have been deliberate efforts to bury,
hide, move, disperse -- all these efforts that were part of the denial
and deception campaign. And, as time goes on, and we get more access
to the people who know what really was happening inside the regime,
that aren't supportive of the regime, after the regime is gone, we
believe that we'll be able to do the deliberate work necessary to find
-- to find more of it.
Q: Tom Mintier with CNN. There is a report being carried by ITAR-TASS
that some vehicles carrying Russian diplomats out of Baghdad were
struck by coalition aircraft. Number one, did it happen? Number two,
were you notified in advance of the departure of this delegation of
Russians from Baghdad?
GEN. BROOKS: We have some initial reports from our embassy in Russia
that there may have been some sort of action that occurred with
respect to that set of vehicles leaving Iraq. We were aware of them
leaving Iraq. We certainly had information about that, and had an
anticipation of how they might move. And with that we wanted to ensure
we were providing as much protection as we could.
We don't know the circumstances surrounding this, or even the factual
basis of it yet. We understand that they are still moving at this
point in time. And as we get more information, we certainly will --
absolutely want to get to the bottom of that particular --
Q: (Off mike)?
GEN. BROOKS: I don't know whether it has or not. There are reports
that it has been, but we don't have any specifics that confirm that in
any way at this point in time.
Q: You just said it was still moving.
GEN. BROOKS: We understand that this group of vehicles is still
moving, yes. And what we don't know is any coalition involvement,
whether in fact someone was hit, what the circumstances were around a
reported hit. And we'll see what we can find out about the rest of the
story -- very, very fresh report just minutes before we came in here.
Yes, please, sir?
Q: General, Jeff Meade (ph) from Sky News. Yesterday's was Baghdad's
-- (inaudible) -- Basra. I wonder if you could talk a little bit about
the British action into the second city this morning, how you
characterized it, what it's achieving and what it's possible outcome
Can I also put you also -- small issue -- you talked about deception
there. At your last appearance you showed us a building, a command and
control center in Tikrit that you said had been bombed on the 2nd of
April. I wonder how you can explain that the same building was damaged
-- it's quite a distinctive building -- was shown on Iraqi TV nine
days before. Is this really a podium of truth, or are both sides
GEN. BROOKS: Well, first, let me talk about the U.K. forces. As I
mentioned yesterday, we are very, very proud of them, and we are proud
to be partners with them in this coalition. They are doing exceptional
work down in the south. We've already advanced very rapidly in the
bringing on of the humanitarian aspects of this operation as quickly
as it could be possibly done. And, at the same time, we find the U.K.
forces are doing tremendous and deliberate work in Basra and areas
beyond it, and they've had an exceptional effect on the regime forces
that are in there. Their work is not complete, and I would certainly
leave full characterization of exactly what unit is doing what to the
U.K. forces to lay out for themselves. But they are doing very, very
well, and we remain proud partners with them in this coalition.
The strikes that I showed you are derived from intelligence products.
They're real photographs, and the information we pass you is that
which we can pass you from our knowledge of exactly what has happened.
So I know that what I am delivering you is what I know as fact from
those operations, and that's probably as far as I can take it.
Yes, sir, in the back, please?
Q: Jonathan Marks (ph), BBC. Prior to your move on Baghdad you were
able to characterize for us which particular Iraqi divisions of the
Republican Guard were broadly speaking in that area. Could you try to
set out for us now what organized formations the Iraqis still have in
the area of the capital? Could you also give us some sense of the
state of command and control? And you continually show us these
buildings being struck, which are command and control centers. I find
it extraordinary to imagine that any Iraqis turn up for work in these
buildings each and every day. If I worked in one of these buildings,
I'd be a very, very long way away from it. So, I mean, are you hitting
empty buildings? What actually is the state of command and control?
GEN. BROOKS: Okay. The forces that were in and around Baghdad were
mostly Republican Guard forces command -- but not exclusively. We saw
some mixtures, or some indications that there may have been some
regular army forces that may have gotten in and amongst them to either
reinforce them or that were held from escaping themselves. We saw some
paramilitaries. We have seen some technical vehicles, as we refer to
them, civilian vehicles that have been outfitted with weapons. And so
there's a mixture that's up inside of there. That makes it a little
bit difficult to characterize exactly what we face.
What we do know is for the forces we encountered and focused our
efforts against, we have inflicted a considerable degree of
destruction, and many of those units cease to exist as effective
combat formations. In some cases we found abandoned equipment in the
tins and tins of abandoned tanks and personnel carriers. In some cases
we found equipment we had effectively destroyed by some of our air
power being directed against the Iraqi formations that were out there
-- as we were arriving and before we arrived. In other cases we saw
some of the devastating effects of direct-fire systems and
indirect-fire systems supporting ground maneuvers -- attack
helicopters we use in support of ground maneuver. So the path that was
cut was cut through units in most cases.
Having said that, we know that there are still some formations that
are out there. There are still parts of the Republican Guard command,
the Al Nida Division in particular, part of the Hammurabi Division,
the Adnan (ph) Division still in the north. We'll still fight them,
unless they choose to surrender. Some of them may have moved toward
Baghdad, but we have not seen any big movements into Baghdad --
certainly not since the call for everyone to come rushing to Baghdad,
or the call for everyone to rush from Baghdad out to Baghdad Airport.
We have not seen any examples of organized combat action. There are
small packets that usually conduct counter attacks. They are generally
company sized -- somewhere between 20 and 40 vehicles with associated
paramilitaries, sometimes some technical, sometimes some infantry in
or not in uniform. And those are dealt with when they arrive. We
believe that there are still some low levels of command and control in
some of the military formations. But as we find capability that
exhibits that we attack it. So, for example, we attacked two division
command posts while we were attacking their formations. We were able
to identify them, locate them, and we struck them -- and the strikes
were effective. That takes away a level of command and control.
You asked about the buildings inside of Baghdad that we showed. Most
of those regime-related buildings are places that house command and
control structures, that house the junction between a fiber optic
network and some other things -- different means of communication. So
we'll strike that to break the links for communication in most of
In some cases they may be empty. In fact, we do try to attack at
certain times when people aren't at work. We're trying to destroy the
capability, not the population. All that goes into the mixture of how
we conduct our operations. There's probably a lot more information
than you can take in, but since you ask that long question -- whoever
is going to go to work though, when they start going back to work,
very much as they are in the south, it will be with our help.
Next question, please. Yes, ma'am.
Q: Hi, Nicole Enfield (ph), Associated Press. This morning we heard
that the toll from the Baghdad raid yesterday, somewhere in the area
of 2,000 to 3,000 Iraqi fighters killed. I'm just wondering how you
came up with that number. It's a lot of people, and early Saturday
morning in Baghdad. We haven't heard much of enemy tolls to date. So
I'm just wondering why we're hearing that number now, and where it
And, second, on the Republican Guard -- you've been saying that it's
melting away, a lot of people just deciding not to fight. Is there not
a concern on the part of the coalition that even after you establish
some kind of a presence that they might come back as a guerrilla force
-- that they might just be melting away now only to return if not
tomorrow, some other time in the future?
GEN. BROOKS: Well, first, you haven't seen me use numbers very much,
because they're very difficult to lay out and then stand on, first
because reports change over time as you get more information; and also
because, in many cases, they have to be based upon estimates. We're
talking about the results of combat action in this case that in many
cases results in the physical destruction of human beings. You can't
always make an accurate count. We certainly aren't stopping to count.
And so the practice of laying out numbers is something I personally
try to stay away from for that reason.
In this case there are estimates out there based on the amount of
force that was encountered, the types of systems that were involved in
the action, things that where we know that we were involved in direct
fire fights that many of you were able to witness with the embedded
media that went along with part of that attack, and the number of
systems that we had involved and the type of engagements that
occurred. So that's an estimation. It could be on the order of 2,000.
It could be more than 2,000. It could be somewhat less than 2,000. We
know that it was a considerable amount of destruction on all of the
force that was encountered. And, so I've tried to characterize it in
those types of terms, a considerable amount of destruction in
virtually every engagement that we have. It's very one-sided. In some
cases we take a few wounded. In some cases we have one or two killed.
But in all cases we inflict a considerable amount of destruction on
whatever force that comes into contact with us. It just is not worth
trying to characterize by numbers. And, frankly, if we are going to be
honorable about our warfare, we are not out there trying to count up
bodies. This is not the appropriate way for us to go.
Q: (Off mike)?
GEN. BROOKS: Your second question -- I don't recall what that was.
Prompt me again, please.
Q: The Republican Guard that's melting away now --
GEN. BROOKS: Yes, okay, are they going to come back as guerrillas?
They would do so at their peril. We believe when the regime is gone
there will still be some who are true believers. There may be still
evidence of terroristic behavior. We don't think all that's going to
just disappear. But we also know that many of them have chosen not to
fight and to seek a future Iraq, and we think that the actions we'll
take will reinforce that decision for those who have made that choice.
There's no way to account for how many made the decision to just walk
off the battlefield and never fight again. There's no way to account
for how many are hiding from the regime so as to not be killed by them
for having made that choice. We can't make that kind of accounting.
What we can do is recognize, as we have throughout this operation,
that there are certain capabilities that will always exist out there
that can threaten the force and also threaten the peace, and we'll
deal with those in a logical and appropriate way.
Let me come back to the right. Yes, ma'am?
Q: I'm Louise Skillane (ph), CBS News. We're told that one U.S.
soldier was killed yesterday, and the Iraqis are reporting 50 soldiers
killed, two Apache helicopters shot down. Can you specify U.S. losses
yesterday in Baghdad?
GEN. BROOKS: Well, just as I will not characterize in numbers the
losses that we inflict, I am not going to characterize in numbers the
losses we sustained. There's a mechanism by which that's reported
through official channels after we have notified family members who
are involved and other things. I will say that we did in fact have a
report of a killed in action yesterday. That is true. Numbers are not
appropriate. I'll tell you the numbers were very, very small. But any
one number, any loss of any one of our service members out there is
something that gives us pain and concern, but it doesn't stop this
operation, and they would not want us to stop the operation. So that's
really where we stand on that.
Yes, sir, please?
Q: John Chalmers (ph) with Reuters. Can you confirm reports Special
Forces severed the oil pipeline between Syria, and indeed the rail
link between Syria and Iraq? And, secondly, could you run us through
some of the problems you are likely to face as the temperatures rise
and how you surmount them on the battlefield?
GEN. BROOKS: I don't want to characterize specifically what work is
being done. We know that we want to preserve the oil infrastructure of
Iraq, and we have been focused on doing that throughout the conduct of
our operations, and we are not going to do things within our power to
put that future, that resource, at risk. I should just leave it at
The heat conditions that are out there -- the heat is certainly
rising, but there are forces that are out there on the battlefield,
coalition forces that have trained in the heat. They trained in a
variety of environments. They trained with their systems. They trained
with their chemical protective overgarments on, and they are
accustomed to dealing with this degree of hardship.
Now, having said that, it's hot. And when it's hot, decisions get made
by all commanders, probably even Iraqi commanders in this case. The
weather effects on the battlefield affect everyone on the battlefield.
The advantage goes to the force that is trained to deal with those
weather conditions when they occur -- whether it's daytime, nighttime,
rainstorm -- whatever it happens to be -- or even heat. And so we feel
confident that our forces are well prepared, they are well trained,
they get better with every day's action that goes by, and the regime
gets in greater and greater danger with every moment they have chosen
to remain in place.
Q: (Off mike) -- ABC News. In the investigations that you are
conducting regarding the several checkpoint attacks conducted by and
carried out by Iraqis against coalition forces. Have you -- can you
confirm that any remote-controlled devices, explosive devices, were
used in these attacks against coalition forces?
And a second question is we haven't heard too much about the two sons,
about Saddam Hussein, Qusay and Uday. Do you have any indications that
they are dead or alive? Thank you, sir.
GEN. BROOKS: I don't have any information on whether or not we found
any remote-control devices. We've heard some anecdotal reports, but
not anything official that I have seen at this point in time. We
certainly know that that is a tactic that's used in a variety of
places in the world where someone might be pressed into labor as a
human bomb of some sort, whether they're driving it or walking it, and
they don't have control of the detonation. So that certainly is a
tactic that we would not be surprised at, but I don't have any
specific reports related to it.
As to the sons, they are members of the regime. If we have indications
that they are alive and moving, we attack them. If we don't see them
on the battlefield, we don't pursue them. It's not about individuals;
it's about the regime and any capability we see out there we will go
after. So I don't want to get specific about what their conditions
are. I think that they have probably not been seen on Iraqi TV lately
-- certainly not in any live broadcasts. And, if they were, we might
be visiting them during that time. So I'll just leave that alone.
Q: (Off mike) -- with USA Today. Have you -- can you describe any
forays that U.S. forces have made into Baghdad today, this morning?
And can you tell me what the strategic idea is behind those kind of
parades through town?
GEN. BROOKS: Well, given the degree of destruction that occurred
yesterday and the significant loss of life on the part of the Iraqi
forces that challenges that operation, I certainly wouldn't
characterize it the way you have. It was a combat action. It certainly
demonstrated our ability to operate within Baghdad at a time and place
of our choosing, and to inflict severe damage on anyone that opposes
the force that comes into Baghdad.
It should also make a very clear statement about how much control the
regime does or does not have. Even while the attack was ongoing there
were reports that we hadn't even reached the airport. And so there's a
degree of reality in there that I think is settling into a number of
people inside of Baghdad, and soon we believe it will settle in also
on members of the regime. The nature of our approach to Baghdad, I
should emphasize, will be like our approach to other places. We will
do our operations on our plan, conducting attacks at a time and a
place of our choosing, when the battle conditions are set by us in a
way that's favorable for the outcomes we seek. And so that will be
deliberate work. Sometimes it will be just like that (snaps fingers)
-- and we're into Baghdad. Sometimes we'll stay, sometimes we won't.
Sometimes it will be like what you see in Basra or Najaf or Nasiriyah
where we want to attack a specific regime location where a meeting is
ongoing and kill everyone that's in the meeting. We might do that in
some cases. That could happen in Baghdad.
What I would emphasize is our approach still remains focused. It also
remains oriented on protecting the population as much as possible, and
keeping them away from the combat, if we can. You've seen the things
-- the decisions being taken by the regime that put the population at
risk, and so again there's caution that I would emphasize that the
population does get put at risk when we work in an urban area. We will
be as careful as we can in the operations, but we'll also be very
effective against the regime.
Yes, sir, please?
Q: It's Paul Hunter from Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Do you
accept yet as a possibility that you might not find chemical weapons
because they've gone to Syria or they've been destroyed by your own
aerial bombardment? And if that's the case, would it matter if you
have regime change -- would it matter if you didn't also have the
chemical weapons smoking gun?
GEN. BROOKS: We know that we want Iraq to be free of weapons of mass
destruction when this operation is complete. At whatever point we say
the operation is over, that is one of the stated objectives. We will
search for it. We will assist in searching for it, and we will expect
assistance in searching for it. While we haven't found anything yet,
we think that the places where it's most likely to be found, we
haven't even gotten to most of them yet, and there's a considerable
number out there where there could be weapons of mass destruction or
evidence of weapons of mass destruction programs. And so we are not
ruling anything out at this point, whether they will be there or not,
whether they have been moved or not. What we are focused on right now
is the removal of the regime. That comes first. Searching for weapons
of mass destruction in a concentrated way comes after that. And we
believe that we will -- we still believe that the regime has them; and
we also believe they have the will to use them. We take away more and
more mechanisms by which they can use them at this point, but we are
not finished yet.
Yes, sir, please?
Q: Good afternoon, general. Neil Tweedie from the Daily Telegraph in
London. Just on that point, were you not surprised when you overran
Republican Guard positions that there were no chemical shells in those
GEN. BROOKS: "Surprise" is not really the right term to use. I think
the better way to describe it is that we had new information, that we
did not find chemical weapon shells in the positions that we passed
through at this point. Does that mean they are not with the other
divisions on the north side of Baghdad? It doesn't mean that yet. Does
it mean that they are not potentially going to be used by something
that's been repositioned elsewhere, different delivery systems? It
doesn't mean that yet. Does it mean that they are not potentially
available for aircraft to deliver and not to be used by artillery?
That can't be ruled out yet. So while we've passed through and taken
away the potential for use by those units, there's still potential for
use by other units and other mechanisms, and we remain as seriously
focused on it as we were from the start.
I would say that the closer we get, even across what we characterized
as the red line before, there are fewer and fewer options on what can
be used to deliver weapons of mass destruction. Certainly early in the
war we had Ababill 100s that could have delivered into Kuwait. That
area is no longer safe for them to do any launches, and we haven't had
any launches in that area. It's been taken away. As we continue to
advance, more areas are taken away. At the same time, we don't take
for granted the fact that there could be something that was hidden
that's now uncovered somewhere behind us. And so while we do our
security work, that includes looking for things that are threats,
whether it's technical vehicles with machine guns on them, or car
bombs, or regime members that are holed up in a certain place in a
town, or things that could deliver weapons of mass destruction. That's
where we will remain focused, taking nothing for granted; pleased that
it wasn't used to date, but not satisfied that the hazard is gone.
Yes, sir, please?
Q: George Kurad (ph), chief of the National Newspapers Publishers
Association News Service, the Black Press of the United States. As you
move closer to Baghdad, have you gotten any more information on
coalition soldiers who have been captured? And is there any
reassurance that you can give those families waiting for news?
GEN. BROOKS: George, I wish I did have some good news to tell on that,
but the reality is we have not heard anything by way of the ICRC. I
don't believe the ICRC has been given access, the International
Committee of the Red Cross has been given access to our prisoners yet.
We still hold the regime accountable, completely responsible for
anything that is done to prisoners of war that have been taken of the
battlefield. We expect them to be treated the same way we treat theirs
-- and we now have over 6,000 -- that number continues to grow -- and
we take care of them as well as we can. In some cases we provided
surgery. We also provide food, water and shelter. We have bene
inspected by the ICRC and remain open to that. That expectation
applies also to what we have for the regime, but we don't have any
news at this point. And we remain hopeful that they are being cared
for properly. At the same time, we remain active in trying to seek
their release or their rescue.
Yes, sir, please -- then I'll come to the front row.
Q: (Off mike) --- Australia. Can you just give us some more
information about this attack in Salman Pak? You mentioned there were
several other foreign fighters. Can you give us some more details
about those nationalities, and what was in the camp to characterize it
as a terrorist training facility?
GEN. BROOKS: The -- there are a number of nations that were involved.
I don't know all of them. I know that we had some from Egypt, some
from Sudan, in people that we captured. And that was before the raid
-- that gave us information about the raid. The nature of the work
being done by some of those people that we captured, their inferences
to the type of training they received -- all these things give us the
impression that there is terrorist training that was conducted at
Salman Pak. We also found some other things there. We found some tanks
-- and destroyed them. We found some armored personnel carriers, and
destroyed them in small numbers. We destroyed some buildings that were
used for command and control, and some other buildings that were used
for morale and welfare. We destroyed the complex. All of that, when
you roll it together, their reports where they're from, why they might
be here, tell us that there is still a linkage clearly between this
regime and terrorism, and it's something we want to make sure we
Q: (Off mike)?
GEN. BROOKS: There's no indications of specific organizations that I
am aware of inside of that. We may still find it. As with all
operations we conduct into a place, we look for more information after
the operation is complete. We'll pull documents out of it, and see
what those documents say, if there's any links or indications. We'll
look and see if there are any persons that are recovered that may not
be Iraqi. All that is detailed and deliberate work that happens after
Let me come to the front row, please.
Q: (Off mike) -- from al Jazeera. Reports coming from Washington said
that Apache helicopters face a lot of problems, meaning technical
problems, on the ground, and that CENTCOM will minimize the use of
Apaches. What's your comment, please?
GEN. BROOKS: Well, the Apache helicopter is a great combat system. It
is crash worthy, when it does go down. We had some hard landings, and
crews walked away. It is battle worthy -- we have had some Apaches
take fire, and they've flown back to base--in some cases with holes in
the side. It's functioning exactly as it was designed. It's having an
effect, a significant effect on the enemy, and we are increasing the
number of Apaches. I would just highlight that with the units that we
have already on the battlefield, inside units like the 3rd Infantry
Division, there are attack helicopters, Apaches. In units that are
arriving, there are attack helicopters, Apaches. In the 101st, which
we currently have in use, there are attack helicopters, Apaches. In
Fifth Corps there's an attack helicopter regiment. The number is
increasing. Their involvement on the battlefield is increasing, and
the destruction that comes as a result will also increase.
I think we have time for one more question. Yes, sir, on the left
Q: General Brooks, could you just clarify the situation -- sorry --
(inaudible) -- from the Independent in London. Could you just clarify
the situation at the airport? As you know, the Iraqis claiming that
the situation is more fluid than we understand it is. Is it 100
percent secure, 90 percent secure? How would you characterize it?
GEN. BROOKS: Well, being a conservative military guy, I would never
say 100 percent secure on anything. But I will tell you that the
airport is clearly under coalition control. We have increased the
amount of presence in that location. We continue to expand the area
beyond the airport to eliminate the influence of coalition -- I'm
sorry, of regime forces. There are still battles that happen -- to the
northwest, for example, there have been some pretty good fights that
occurred. We are still moving beyond it, and we are able to operate
the way we intend to operate inside of the airfield. There's still
work to be done in there. There are a lot of building complexes. It's
an international airport. And it also doubled as a regime command and
control facility. So until everything is cleared, until every
potential booby trap is gone, until every obstruction is off of
runways, we don't say it's completely secured. But that work is
ongoing, even while we conduct combat operations to destroy any
additional regime forces we encounter.
Thanks very much, ladies and gentlemen. Have a good day.
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