11 April 2003
U.S. Central Command Daily Briefing Transcript
(Military operations in Iraq) (8300)
Army Brigadier General Vincent Brooks, CENTCOM deputy director of
operations, briefed the media April 11 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: BRIG. GEN. VINCE BROOKS, DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS
LOCATION: DOHA, QATAR
TIME: 7:04 A.M. EDT
DATE: FRIDAY, APRIL 11, 2003
GEN. BROOKS: (In progress) -- campaign is in its 22nd day since the
entry of coalition forces into Iraq. Regime leadership and control
structures have been broken through most of the country. Pockets of
resistance remain, and there are increasing indications of
regime-associated individuals attempting to escape the coalition by
fleeing into other countries. Regime instruments are still available
to the remaining elements, and the coalition is continuing its efforts
to find these instruments, as well as the regime elements and destroy
In general terms, the coalition efforts focus on increasing the
conditions of security and stability in liberated areas. We are
conducting focused combat operations in areas not yet liberated.
There are several key events I would like to highlight, but before I
do, I want to again, as always, acknowledge the sacrifices made by our
men and women. We remember them. We honor them. And we remember their
Our coalition special operations forces had a very active day of
operations yesterday. Unconventional warfare and direct action
missions continued in all parts of the country. In Baghdad, special
operations forces, supported by mechanized infantry, entered the Abu
Gharib prison complex. This prison has the capacity to hold up to
15,000 prisoners, and we found it empty -- which certainly says that
some of the prisoners may have been released out into the public.
There were no coalition poisoners located at that site.
In the west, special operations forces took surrender of an Iraqi
colonel who was responsible for the border control points at Highway
11, leading into Syria, and Highway 10. And he turned over the keys to
the border control point at Highway 11. The coalition now controls
that border crossing point.
Along Highway 1, this is the road that runs north of Tikrit, between
Tikrit and (Bayji ?), which is a bit further to the north, coalition
special operations forces had a small firefight, and after the
firefight discovered an area that had five small airplanes covered
with camouflage. We believe these airplanes might be something that
could be potentially used by regime leaders to try to escape, or they
certainly could potentially be used for the delivery of weapons of
mass destruction. All five aircraft were destroyed to prevent their
use by the regime remnants.
Coalition special operations forces, supported by Kurdish Peshmerga
and elements of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, entered Kirkuk and ended
any organized military resistance there. The 173 Airborne Brigade
continued operations to secure key portions of the Kirkuk oil field
and also Kirkuk military airport. At this point, four of the very
important gas-oil separation plants and several wells have been
secured, and none have been damaged at this point. And, of course,
just as it was in the south, at this point we can begin doing
assessments to find out exactly what there is to know about each one
of the wells and each one of the key portions of that field. This oil
field, like the oil fields in the south, is a key part of the Iraqi
economy. It also has been preserved for the future of the Iraqi
Also in the north, a coalition special operations commander accepted a
signed cease-fire agreement from the Iraqi 5th Corps commander,
regular army, near Mosul. There had been discussions ongoing for some
period of time, and we were able to bring them to a degree of closure
yesterday. This follows a period of bombing and close air support
missions, and also efforts to make contact. At this point, since the
cease-fire has been signed by this commander, we anticipate that the
5th Corps forces will leave the battlefield -- some of them already
have -- leaving their equipment, and either returning to their
garrison or simply proceeding with life, as civilians out of uniform.
And we're seeing this in other places as well, particularly in the
north. Many Iraqi forces have literally removed their uniforms and
left the battlefield to walk home without their equipment. And this is
just as the coalition requested.
Our coalition maneuver operations continued yesterday in Karbala and
also in Baghdad as our focus areas. I do have some images of the
effort in Karbala, which have come to closure at this point in time.
This shows a patrol from the 101st Airborne Division that moved into
the area by helicopter assault and then proceeded to clear any
remaining enemy resistance. One of the areas they entered -- let's
back up, please -- one of the areas they entered was a university
complex. This is them passing through the gateway of the university.
As with so many other areas in the country, public education locations
are also used as fighting positions and storage areas. The next image
shows some ammunition that was found inside of the United States.
There were also administrative records, military records that were
found in the university as well, and all these documents, as with
other places, will be now examined to determine more information.
In Baghdad, operations continue to clear any remaining elements. There
still is resistance inside of Baghdad in local pockets, and our
efforts really are intended to increase the conditions of stability
and security in the areas we've moved through in the city.
There was a vehicle explosion that some of you are aware of near a
checkpoint. That was in the northeast of Baghdad, right on the corner
of the area that's normally referred to as Saddam City, in this area.
That explosion and also the clearance of a minefield along Highway 8
-- and that's down in this area here -- that had over 350 mines
harvested from the minefield. These serve as reminders to us that
Baghdad is still a very dangerous place, and that the conditions are
not set completely for life to continue.
As in preceding days, the map currently shows in these circles --
these are new areas where the coalition has conducted its operations,
both the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force units, on the east side of the
Tigris River, and Fifth Corps units on the west side.
We know that our operations can only be sustained with a focused
logistics effort, and through a structure of supply points and
transport systems, we accomplish that work and push the logistics
forward to the fighting units. This photo shows a logistics support
area southeast of Nasiriyah, and this is one of the places where
supplies are transferred, and we also conduct maintenance operations
there. And at this point, it's turned into a small base, but it's
still mobile and it can be moved forward when and if required.
The materials that are needed to sustain the fighting forces are
organized, put into delivery packages at these logistics bases, and
then they're moved forward in convoys, like this one being organized,
or also by air. Because we know Iraq is still a dangerous place and
the units that transport the supplies have to be ready to protect
themselves, they also must be able to protect the base. And what you
see in this image are members of a truck company, a logistics unit,
cleaning their weapons and eating before they go off in a mission.
In addition to that, because the supplies are vulnerable to attack
while they're moving, combat systems like this Marine light armored
vehicle provide additional security for movement. And you'll see this
in a variety of cases out there as we move our supply trains forward.
We do continue our efforts to communicate with the Iraqi people in a
number of methods. The coalition began broadcasting world news
television broadcasts in Arabic today, and this is done using existing
military broadcast platforms. And these are in addition to the radio
broadcasts that continue 24-hours a day, and the leaflet drops and
daily interfaces that we have.
I would add that information-wise, the coalition governments have
identified a list of key regime leaders who must be pursued and
brought to justice. The key list has 55 individuals who may be
pursued, killed or captured, and the list does not exclude leaders who
may have already been killed or captured. This list has been provided
to coalition forces on the ground in several forms to ease
identification when contact does occur. And this deck of cards is one
example of what we provide to soldiers out -- soldiers and marines out
in the field -- with the faces of the individuals and what their role
is. In this case, there are 55 cards in the deck.
The list is also being distributed throughout the country in other
forms, including posters and handbills, and those will become more and
more visible over the coming days. And the intent here is to help the
coalition gain information from the Iraqi people, so that they also
know exactly who it is we seek.
Our efforts to attend to the medical needs of the Iraqi people that we
encounter on the battlefield and in the liberated areas continue to be
a priority for us. We do this by rendering assistance whenever we can
as far forward as possible in the battle area, and when it's necessary
and feasible, we also evacuate Iraqis who need medical assistance to
field hospitals that we've established farther away from combat
The next video is of a field medical hospital established southeast of
an-Nasiriyah. This is a coalition field hospital run by the U.K.
forces. There is surgical capability in most of these, as well as beds
We also receive water and food rations from coalition nations as well
as nations that are not formally a part of the coalition. The
coalition assists with the delivery or helps to provide security when
contributions like the ones shown here from the Kuwaiti government in
conjunction with the International Red Crescent come in. There are
some other images of the Kuwaiti delivery. And this particular ones
were delivered at An-Najaf on the 8th of April.
There's another example that's ongoing today. We have the first Gulf
Cooperative Council vessel arriving in the port of Umm Qasr. It has
700 metric tons of food, water and medical kits aboard. And this
particular shipment was coordinated between the United Arab Emirates
government and the Red Crescent.
Thus far, deliveries have come by sea and by land, and we anticipate
the movement of humanitarian supplies by air in the very near future.
I'd also like to show you a video of water and food rations being
distributed near an-Nasiriyah, and this distribution occurred on the
7th of April. These are coalition-provided items, and you can see the
boxes of humanitarian daily rations off on the side.
Scenes like the ones I just showed you are happening more and more
throughout many areas of liberated Iraq, and the increasing volume of
supplies being provided by a variety of nations throughout the world
tells us that we're on the right track, but we still have work today.
With that, ladies and gentlemen, I'll take your questions. Yes,
QUESTION: Good afternoon, General. Rob Morrison from NBC. If we could
get just some more information regarding the incidents you're just
mentioned -- Saddam City, vehicle explosion, any casualties? And this
minefield on Highway 8, is that now being cleared? Has it been
isolated? Thank you.
GEN. BROOKS: The explosion occurred yesterday, and it was in the area
referred to as Saddam City. A vehicle approached the checkpoint and
detonated. We had some Marines who were injured by that -- four
Marines and one medical corpsman as well. This just reminds us that
there are still tactics that are occurring out there that are
unconventional, that are terroristic in nature, and we haven't
eliminated all the threats. It will take a lot of time to get that
done. Part of it happens from the population no longer tolerating
those types of behaviors, and identifying those who might be involved
in such practices or might be preparing for such practices.
The second half of your question, related to the minefield, that
minefield has been cleared. Part of the roads have been opened in
there for two-way traffic, open in that capacity, but still a very
dangerous area. This was not -- this was partially laid on the road,
and also in the area, as I recall, to the north of the road, and it
was cleared out by units operating in the vicinity of Baghdad
International Airport. We don't believe this was a new minefield. This
is one that had been there. It's not something that has been recently
laid since our operations. It's part of continuing to move through
areas that we have not been before, and expand more and more the
conditions of security.
Let me go back here, please, sir.
Q: General, Jeff Meade from Sky News. You've changed regime for
anarchy, it seems, in many places. And some Iraqis seem to take the
view that the coalition forces are too passive in this, in controlling
what's going on, because they may be liberated but they don't feel
particularly safe. I wonder if you're going to use any of these
prisoners -- you talked about the Five Corps surrender, or maybe get
the police back on the street, some of these people who are used to
following orders may now follow your orders. Do you have any plans for
And if I can also ask a second question, your deck of 55 most wanted,
does that include the former information minister -- because every
pack needs a joker? (Laughter.)
GEN. BROOKS: Well said, Jeff. Well said. Well, there are jokers in
this deck, there's no doubt about that. (Laughter.) And that is also
there are cards that have "joker" marked on them.
Our plans for the liberated areas -- certainly there are examples
where there's conditions of jubilation, behaviors that are akin to
looting, actual looting ongoing. Some fights have occurred. Some of
this we attribute to the fact that the regime has been pulled away and
people are celebrating liberation.
In other cases they're taking advantage of a vacuum that does form
when a regime that has had such a tight group on a population for so
many decades is gone.
It's a tough issue to address. Simply putting police back on the
street would not be an acceptable answer. In fact, when we entered the
city, we found that there were police radios that we'd captured, and
the police were calling for (and adjusting?) indirect fire in support
of the regime. So putting the police back on is not an easy solution
At the same time, we recognize that the Iraqi people have got to make
some decisions for themselves as to what sorts of behavior will be
acceptable. And we anticipate that that will happen. In many places we
have new mayors that have been identified by populations, new city
groups that have been formed, and there's organization that's taking
We will certainly take the assistance of the Iraqi population in any
form that it comes, for those who are not involved in lawlessness,
those who are not involved in anarchy, who want to contribute to
(setting?) conditions of stability in the area.
That will come over time. We have to be patient about that. We're not
exercising the same kind of grip on the population that the regime
did. That's by design. We're doing this in conjunction with the
population. And I think that our work will be deliberate as we get
that done, and we'll also be very cooperative with the Iraqi
Q: (Inaudible) -- Reuters. Just to follow up on that, would some sort
of provisional government be set up in Baghdad to deal with the
anarchy? And the second question: Which U.S. forces are going to be
going up to Kirkuk and Mosul? And could we expect to see the 4th ID in
GEN. BROOKS: There are a number of options available for setting
conditions for a long-term Iraqi government. That government has not
been formed yet. There will be varying stages that we believe we'll
pass through over time, with some things initially happening under
military supervision and cooperation, just like you see the
distribution points occurring right now with military supervision and
And as time goes on and more organization occurs in and amongst the
Iraqi populations, we anticipate there will be more and more things
that are controlled by the Iraqi citizens. And that certainly is the
objective. We'll only be here as long as it takes to get that done and
As to who will move north, we already have forces in the north. I
mentioned the 173rd Airborne Brigade that's been committed now to the
northwest of Kirkuk into the oil fields. And that will continue to
expand as we gain greater and greater capability to secure the
fullness of the oil fields over time.
As combat operations come to a close and there are fewer and fewer
military forces to encounter, that may make available some additional
forces. But that's in the future, so we're not going to speculate how
we'll accomplish that or exactly what will be required to do that.
As with other places, we'll seek the cooperation of the Iraqi
population. If the threats have gone away in certain areas, then
there's less to be concerned about. But there's still work to be done.
For example, in the south, when we knew that we had secured the oil
fields, there was still very deliberate work that had to be done to
send in assessment teams and find out exactly what the conditions were
of the oil fields.
Some of them we identified had been rigged for demolition,
deliberately shut off, as General Renuart mentioned yesterday, so that
they would not burst into flame or that the pipes would not break. But
that assessment work has to happen in the north also.
What I think we'll find over time is when we have gotten to the point
where combat operations have come to closure -- and that has not yet
occurred -- we'll be able to commit additional forces, whether they're
ones that are currently in contact or new ones that are being
introduced into the battlefield, to accomplish additional work that is
appropriate at that point in time.
Let me go -- please, Tom.
Q: I'm Tom Mintier with CNN. I know there was concern about the north
front. Having the 5th Corps lay down their arms and come off the
battlefield, how much does that help you along the northern front? And
second, the network ARD claims they've never had a question asked
here, and I'd like to bequeath my second question to them. (Laughter.)
GEN. BROOKS: Okay. It's a very important outcome that has occurred
with the cessation of most hostilities in the north. There are areas
that we've not been in. And so, again, I emphasize that there may well
be some regime loyalists that are still in pockets in the cities we've
talked about in the north who individually may choose to continue to
fight, or with whatever small apparatus is still in place may continue
And so while the conventional military force appears to be moving
further and further away from battle and that risk to Iraqi forces and
also to coalition forces is moving aside, we still recognize that
there are other dangers that are on the battlefield and work must
still be accomplished. And we'll get after that work.
It's ongoing right now, mostly with the Special Operations forces in
the north. And we've been conducting special operations in that area
for a considerable period of time, and we'll continue to do so, but
we'll also have the help of the Iraqi population, who have been very
welcoming at this point in time.
And the ARD -- where are you located? Yes, ma'am, please.
Q: This is -- (inaudible) -- German TV. UNESCO, I think, had issued
last week a report about their concern about the looting in
archaeological areas in Iraq. Do you have any confirmation about this?
GEN. BROOKS: I don't have any reports of looting in archaeological
areas. We certainly know that our approach to archaeological areas has
been one of concern throughout the operations, particularly as the
regime positioned military equipment deliberately beside those sites.
And I've shown several examples, only a few of them, putting those
very important historic sites at risk.
I don't have any reports about looting, but I would address that the
same way we talk about looting throughout the country. Some of this is
happening because people are taking advantage of a void. The Iraqi
population itself will determine what's appropriate behavior over
time. And the coalition will assist in trying to establish some
conditions of security where looting is not an acceptable behavior.
Let me give you one example. In Basra, we know within the last two
days there had been some looting reported. Some bank robbers entered
into an area and they were halted by coalition forces. They continued
moving and drew weapons and they were shot. Looting went down a lot in
Now, I'm not suggesting that's the only solution, but there are
certain behaviors that we are not tolerating out there and that we
believe the Iraqi population will also not tolerate over time. That's
how I address that.
Yes, ma'am, please.
Q: Thanks, General. Kelly O'Donnell from NBC. You've talked in your
opening remarks about some indications that regime leaders or those
associated with the regime are attempting to leave the country. Can
you be more specific about how you've learned that? How many do you
believe have been successful, if any? And of the 55 in the deck of
cards, what is your best number on how many have been killed or
GEN. BROOKS: We have a variety of forms that tell us that there may be
attempts to leave, whether it's things we hear, things that we're told
by population members or other sources that we have. And there's a
wide array of sources that provide us information.
We've also seen some cases where fights have been severe in locations
where vehicles have been moving. And when you join those types of
things together, it may indicate that there are some regime leaders
that are trying to flee the area.
And so we increase our efforts to try to prevent their departure,
whether it's by air, by smuggling, by movement in vehicles, although
it is very difficult to be able to cast the net over all of Iraq and
prevent any movement at all. That simply is not feasible or it's not
the condition that we encounter at this point.
So we try to look for places where there's likely movement. We take
information from others as to where there might be movement, who might
be moving, and we try to take appropriate action to prevent that from
The list of 55 -- we know that there are some that are alive and dead
mixed inside of this pile. And without getting too specific, it really
doesn't matter. We're looking for the population to tell us what the
So there may be some things that we believe a member to be dead, a
member of the regime to be dead. The population will probably confirm
that to us if we make them aware that we're interested in knowing.
"What is the status of this particular person?" And the whole array is
So I won't be too precise about who is or who is not. Clearly there
are some we're not sure, and we're looking for these cards and other
things like this, the list, to provide us an additional source of
information to confirm what condition we have the regime in right now.
Yes, sir, please.
Q: (Inaudible.) Sir, the assassination yesterday in Najaf of Sheik
Abdel Majid al-Khoei -- he came in with coalition forces. I think he
played a large part in stabilizing the situation in Najaf. What are
the details? What do you know about the details? We know that he was
partly stabbed and shot, et cetera. But couldn't you have provided
better security for him?
And do you think this is local or there are regional parties that are
implicated in this as a means of destabilize the situation, especially
in Najaf? And the man could have led Friday prayers today, and
therefore the assassination prevented him from doing that. That's one.
Number two, I was wondering if we can get copies of these cards as
part of the press pack that we never got at the media center here.
GEN. BROOKS: Okay. Let me go to the last part first. We will provide
you the list and make that available here within the next 24 hours.
The card packs (are focused?) to go elsewhere, and we don't have
enough to distribute here. But we can certainly make them available
for you to look at if you'd like to do that.
The unfortunate loss of Mr. al-Khoei, we find this very disappointing.
He was recognized as a leader. He was courageous in coming back to the
country. And the circumstances surrounding his death we find to be
very disappointing. We don't have the full story.
As with many other cases, we do not want to impose ourselves on
behaviors that are occurring within the Iraqi population. We want to
cooperate with the Iraqi population. And so the security that he had
was his own in this case.
There are always options for us to impose a greater degree of control.
But that, we believe, would not have been appropriate in this case.
The location of his death we know to have been in An Najaf, and
potentially even that the location of his death was near the Imam Ali
We find these things to be very, very unfortunate that they would come
together that way with a religious leader. Nevertheless, we remain
committed to providing support wherever we can. We know that he had
reportedly had the blessing of Grand Ayatollah Sistani to do whatever
he could for the Iraqi people. And that now has been taken away from
the Iraqi people.
As to who was involved in it, we don't know yet. And we certainly hope
that the Iraqi population will help us discover and will help others
discover what the full nature of this was, whether it was a local
attack, whether this was a grudge that was being settled, or whether
it was something larger at hand.
It could potentially have the impact of destabilizing. We would want
it not to. Even though it's an unfortunate loss, he had already issued
some very important messages that we think should continue to be made
available to the Iraqi population. So we remain concerned about this.
We'll continue to look into it, and we'll seek the assistance of the
Iraqi population in sorting it out.
Down at the end, please, sir.
Q: (Inaudible.) We're hearing from Kofi Annan and from the Red Cross
some concern about the respect for the Geneva Conventions in Baghdad;
just putting out some ideas on that. We're also hearing that people
who are wounded in fighting probably won't get an ambulance because
the ambulance drivers are too afraid to go out in the fighting. If
they get to a hospital, it may be out of electricity or it may have
Are you getting any -- are you having any second thoughts about the
plan? Do you feel that you were perhaps short-staffed or should have
more men in the capital to deal with the situation there? Thank you.
GEN. BROOKS: We certainly are applying every part of the Geneva
Convention as we understand it in all places that we move on the
battlefield. And that's our responsibility to do that and be
accountable for our actions. And we remain accountable for our
There are others on the battlefield who have been less constrained by
the requirements of the Geneva Convention and norms for acceptable and
appropriate behavior. Some of them are still out there on the
battlefield. Some of them are represented in this stack of cards. And
we would expect that as hostilities come to a close in due time that
these types of behaviors would end.
Certainly anywhere we encounter wounded or dead, we treat them
appropriately. You've seen a number of images and will continue to see
them in the coming days, that where we find people injured and
wounded, we provide medical care, whether it's immediate medical care
in close contact by corpsmen and combat medics or whether it's
evacuation through military medical evacuation capabilities to field
hospitals or even offshore to hospital ships that have been made
We know that there have been reports of looting of hospitals. And, of
course, the great number of hospitals, over 100 inside of Baghdad
alone, we think that this is a very, very small representation that's
getting probably more attention than it deserves. Nevertheless, it is
putting some hospitals at risk and creates a consequence and a hazard
for members of the population who are injured.
So we would ask for assistance. We know that the International
Committee of the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders and other medical
organizations have been very active inside of Baghdad trying to do
what they can, and we provide them assistance wherever we can to get
the job done.
Our efforts are not against the Iraqi people. We want to sustain that
and protect them as much as we can. But it's still a very dangerous
Let me go back to the third row. Yes, ma'am.
Q: Referring to -- Kathy Shan (sp) with Phoenix Satellite TV from Hong
Kong. Referring to the weapons of mass destruction question, I'm
wondering, in order to find these weapons of mass destruction, you
have to find the people who, you know, produced them or intended to
use them. But without finding the people, can you still -- especially
Saddam Hussein -- can you still find a weapon? Thank you.
GEN. BROOKS: We remain convinced that there are weapons of mass
destruction in Iraq. And we know that that's one of our objectives, to
remove weapons of mass destruction from Iraq and disarm it so that it
no longer poses a threat to its neighbors, to its own citizens or to
our countries and other countries throughout the world. That effort
continues. It is not our first priority. Our first priority is taking
care of the regime and its very support structures.
Having said that, the closer we get to the regime elements, the more
we are able to pull away the grip of the regime, the more we find
pieces of information. This, again, is the mosaic that I've referred
to a number of times; we've talked about the mosaic of planning.
This is also a mosaic as it relates to weapons of mass destruction,
where one piece of information may be joined with another piece of
information gained at a different time, different place or from a
different person that guides us to something. There have been some
places where we have done searches; some of them have not yielded the
weapons, but have yielded more information. There are a number of
those that are ongoing right now. And we have a very deliberate
process that we've planned for and organized for that makes it
possible to go to locations as there's more and more access, to seek
information from members of the population -- not just those you
mentioned; there are others that clearly have knowledge of what may
have happened in the weapons of mass destruction program -- and that
will lead us to more and more information. We believe we'll find what
we're looking for; it's here, but it will take time and it will take a
deliberate effort to locate it.
Yes, sir? Let me go right along the rope, please. Yes, sir?
Q: (Name inaudible) -- from Kuwait TV. General, when could you use
Baghdad Airport to transport supplies and civilian (mission ?)?
GEN. BROOKS: We believe that Baghdad International Airport can be made
useful here soon. It's physically in use right now for air operations
for both fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft. The conditions are not
quite set, but they're very close to being set for being able to bring
in commercial aircraft for humanitarian purposes supporting the
operation. That will be very selective when it does occur, and it's
going to be done at a degree of risk, and we'll do all we can to try
to protect those aircraft when they come in, because they're so
important. That may come very soon. As I mentioned in the opening
remarks, I don't want to be too specific about it yet. I will
certainly tell you when it has happened in a historical context, after
the fact. Thereafter, it will be selectively done, and we think that
will be very soon.
Let me go back here. Sir, with the brown shirt. And then I'll go
behind you next.
Q: (Name and affiliation inaudible.) General, Ahmad Chalabi reportedly
said in Nasiriyah that the Iraqi people should not accept any
administration imposed upon them or appointed by the United States of
America -- this we heard this morning on TV. Now, this comes from
someone who has been airlifted into Iraq by American C-17s and who
heads a force of 600 men or 700 men, trained care of the U.S.
Department of Defense. So, I wonder if you have any comment on this
statement? Thank you.
GEN. BROOKS: Well certainly, we've cooperated with Mr. Chalabi on a
number of occasions. And his presence inside of Iraq right now is also
a cooperative approach. He's one of many leaders who are interested in
the future of Iraq. I didn't hear him say that, so I don't know if I
can attribute that directly to him. But we certainly know that there
are leaders who have a variety of opinions as to what the future of
Iraq should look like; that's a very good thing. We want to sustain
that because the Iraqi people will be the ones who make the choice on
what the future will ultimately be.
In the interim between now and the time that that future comes into
fruition, there must be some degree of stability, there must be some
degree of elimination of remaining pockets of the regime, and so
there's still military work that must be done. That's where our focus
will be, and we will try to create the type of environment where they
types of discussions that you've alluded to can occur in a fruitful
way and that the future of Iraq, under Iraqi leadership, can come
sooner, not later.
Okay? Yes sir, please.
And then I'll come back to you, because I forgot you. So, we'll come
Q: General, Paul Adams, BBC. The fighting at Qaim on the Syrian border
has been very intense. Clearly, you believe that there's something
there that they're hiding that causes them to resist so strongly. What
do you believe is in that site that is causing them to resist so
And could I just ask you because I must, Saddam Hussein -- is he the
queen of hearts, the ace of spades or one of the jokers you referred
GEN. BROOKS: Well, I haven't sorted all the way through the deck, and
I would play cards with you, but I'd probably lose. So, I'm not going
to do that. He's in there somewhere, though, I can assure you.
Al Qaim is an area that we know to be geographically located in such a
way that it could potentially be used for the launching of
surface-to-surface missiles that would range neighboring countries and
threaten them. We know that it historically had been used for that
purpose, and we also know that there is a capability to deliver
weapons of mass destruction. We believe also that it may have been
involved potentially in the weapons of mass destruction program. The
degree of defense there and intensity causes it to be of interest to
us, and it obviously is of interest to the regime. We still have work
to do there. We have not gotten completely into the site, although we
have been effective in reducing some of the defensive forces there.
It's also located on a very critical crossroad between Iraq and Syria.
And given some of the reports of infiltration attempts or exfiltration
attempts by regime leaders or by foreign fighters, that remains a
concern to us also.
So, it's geographically significant and it's also operationally
significant. And we'll continue our focus there.
Sorry. Back to you, please. Almost proceeded. I'm thinking about
jokers in the deck. Please?
Q: Thank you, General. I'm from China Radio International. Two
questions. First, you've mentioned that coalition forces have begun to
broadcast World News Television in Baghdad. While there is clearly
power shortages or some areas have no power at all, how do you get
message across, such as the televised speech by President Bush and
Prime Minister Tony Blair?
And another question is you've shown us the videos that coalition
forces have provided medical support to Iraqi civilians. Do you have a
rough figure how many civilians -- of Iraqi civilians -- have received
medical care and support by coalition forces?
GEN. BROOKS: The -- you bring up a great point about where power is
and who has access to television, and we recognize that there are some
areas that don't have television. Now, that's been the case for some
period of time here, not just with the lack of power in and around the
Baghdad area, but some other areas, also. We know that there are
broadcasts that are being received in certain parts of the country,
and frankly, Iraqi television channel number 3 has been run by the
coalition now for well over a week, perhaps longer than that -- maybe
even two weeks, and has not been run by Iraqi TV. Much of what you saw
broadcast was satellite, and we know that there are some elites that
had access to satellite television. There are also some population
areas that have generators.
So having said that, while we recognize we're not reaching all of the
population yet by television, we think it's important to begin
broadcasting right now for those who can receive it. And that goes
broader than the Baghdad area; it's -- it covers a good portion of the
country. Our radio broadcasts, as I mentioned, cover all of the
country and have for some time on five different frequencies,
You had a second part of the question I -- was there something else,
sir? I don't recall.
Q: Medical support.
GEN. BROOKS: Yes, thank you very much. I don't know the number of
people who have received medical care. That number may be out there;
we certainly count up patient care. What I would say to you is all
that we encounter that need assistance, that's really the number. And
that will remain also the approach that we take. All those who require
assistance that we encounter, if it's within our power to provide it,
we provide it. I doubt that we'll ever know the full number.
There are combat medics out on the battlefield that encountered
wounded Iraqi soldiers, with whom they were fighting minutes before
and who had been defeated, who are laying there wounded and they
received medical care. Does that count? We think it counts in the
right way; we don't know if it counts for the number. There are
wounded civilians that were encountered. In some cases, they were
pushed out in front of Iraqi forces and caught in a crossfire
deliberately. Or maybe they were shot on a bridge and thrown over the
side and rescued by coalition forces. Medical care occurred there.
We're not counting, we're acting. That happens throughout the country.
I don't know what the number is, but I can tell you our approach is
fairly consistent and will continue to be the way it has been. We're
concerned about providing assistance to the Iraqi population wherever
we can, whenever we can. And we'll remain committed to that task.
Q: It's Paul Hunter from Canadian Broadcasting. (Clears throat.)
Sorry. I'm still not sure exactly where Saddam Hussein specifically
fits on your to-do list. I mean, you've told us many times that it
doesn't really matter whether or not he's captured or killed, but he's
in the deck of cards. Every time you -- it seems that there's
intelligence that he's in a building, the building is almost
immediately vaporized. So, does the coalition want him dead or alive,
GEN. BROOKS: Well, Paul, it's a fair question. Let me try to answer it
like this. While we say that the individual is not the most important
one, in other words, all of our efforts are not focused on pursuing
any one individual, we have also been consistent in saying that we are
after removing the regime, and that means taking away its
capabilities, taking away its decision makers, and also interfering
with the decisions that might be made. It also includes removing
military forces that might support it, security forces that might
support it, police forces that might support it or anything else that
props the regime up.
And so, there clearly has to be some involvement on individuals to
pull those pieces away. And there will also be attacks against
individuals who are key decision makers to kill or capture them.
That's simply the nature of military operations. We consider them all
to be legitimate military targets, and we act appropriately when
there's information that's actionable and we take some specific action
to achieve that purpose. Some of them have occurred by way of strikes
from the air. Others have occurred by way of ground actions. And there
will be more in the coming days as to how we get access, and maybe
even the population will walk them to us.
Q: So, do you want Saddam Hussein dead or alive?
GEN. BROOKS: He's one of many that we seek to have removed from power
and to be certain of it. And if he's removed from power, then we're
satisfied. But he won't be the only one we're after, and that's the
key point to make. So even if he is captured, we still haven't removed
all the appendages and all the portions of the regime, and we still
have work to do even at that point.
Let me come over to the right. Yes, please?
Q: Craig Gordon from Newsday. Thanks. I'd like to take you back to the
security situation in Baghdad. I think the U.S. is taking a certain
amount of heat on this because the answers have been somewhat
unsatisfactory and sort of (alluded ?) all over the map. You've talked
about letting the looting burn out; you've just mentioned the Iraqi
people perhaps taking a role in preventing that; you've talked about
establishing stability. But can you clarify for us, do you envision at
some point that U.S. forces now in Baghdad would switch from a combat
role to essentially a policing role -- become the police force of
Baghdad? If so, explain that. If not, then who does? Right now, you're
the folks there with the guns.
GEN. BROOKS: Well, it's an important distinction. The reason it looks
like it's all over the map and has various forms is because it takes
various forms. There's no one of those solutions would work by itself.
If the coalition simply imposed control on the population, that
wouldn't achieve the desired effect. We wouldn't be everywhere and we
might also alienate a population that doesn't need to have another
regime with a grip around its neck. And so, we have no intention of
approaching that way. At the same time, we have a presence. We seek to
create conditions of stability, where people can walk the streets
safely without looting, without violence, without exploding vehicles.
That hasn't occurred yet. So, we'll play a role in that -- a military
role inside of that to achieve that purpose. In some cases, it may
require shooting machine guns in downtown. At no point do we see
really becoming a police force. What we see is taking actions that are
necessary to create conditions of stability.
So, who else would do it? Well, the population will do some of it by
the decisions they make on their own behaviors, as well as what
behaviors are acceptable in their communities. That's got to be part
of it. We believe that there will be some replacement force for the
police. It hasn't been designed yet; the Iraqi people are going to
have a vote on that; that time is yet to come.
So in the meantime, what do we do? We rely on the population and we
try to create conditions ourselves by moving in more and more areas to
remove those who are behaving in a lawless way or those that might be
stimulated by the regime to create conditions of instability, until we
can have a more permanent condition. And that will change over time.
But all of it will come together.
Yes, please, George?
Q: George Curry, editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers
Association News Service. General, you always answer our questions
about the war, but I want to ask you a different kind of question
today. When you first saw footage of Saddam's statue falling in the
heart of Baghdad, what thoughts ran through your mind?
GEN. BROOKS: Well, I think I and others around the world witnessed
something that we thought was very important and historic. But perhaps
unlike others around the world, being a military officer involved in a
command that's conducting combat operations, cautious optimism came
in; and that was while we have made considerable progress and the
dynamics in the city itself were clearly changing for the regime, we
knew we still had work to do, and we do still have work to do. And so,
we remain focused on that. We are pleased that the population saw fit
to physically remove the images of Saddam Hussein, and that's
happening throughout the country. Now, we need to take the next steps
to remove all of the things that would show any remembrance or any
influence of the regime that once was.
Q: I'm still asking about the personal level, though. What went
through your mind? What were you thinking?
GEN. BROOKS: You know that generals don't have personal feelings.
(Laughter.) I was personally excited about it, but I very quickly got
over it and got back to my normal mode. (Laughter.)
So, I'll take one more question. Yes, please?
Q: (Off mike) -- ABC News. Regarding the information you provided
about Iraqi regime leaders fleeing to other countries, what
information can you provide to us about regime leaders going to Iran?
At first glance, given the enmity between the two countries, that
would seem a little surprising. But what information can you provide
regarding regime leaders possibly going into Iran? What are you doing
to try to keep that from happening? Are you providing extra forces
along the border or near the border to ensure that doesn't happen?
Thank you, sir.
GEN. BROOKS: Well, first let me describe -- we can't be everywhere in
the country, and there will be no shoulder-to-shoulder, arm-in-arm
type of fence that goes around all of Iraq. One of the first things
that happens is at the governmental level efforts are made between
governments to either not accept or not stimulate movements that might
provide any kind of sanctuary. And those types of things are ongoing
and they are not appropriate for this command to comment on. At the
operational level we look at places where there might be movement,
potential for movement, and we either provide some mechanism for
surveillance and overwatch, or in some cases we may go to physical
We also try to make it undesirable to move in certain areas, either
because there is a military force that's there, or because we're
watching before they leave from a certain area where they may have
been located. And so we always want to try to head these things off
You asked a specific question about a specific border, with Iran. I
don't have any specific information to provide you back on that. As
people flee for their lives, they may any number of rational or
irrational choices. We have seen behaviors throughout this campaign
that show a high degree of irrationality. So I wouldn't rule anything
out. And because of that we look in that border's direction, and we
look in the direction of other borders as well.
Ladies and gentlemen, thanks very much.
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)