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15 April 2003

Rumsfeld, Myers Pentagon Briefing Transcript

(Iraq/coalition forces/recovery of POWs, Tikrit, meeting free Iraqis
in Nasiriyah; Iraqi Interim Authority, Syria/oil pipeline, Northern
No-Fly Zone, Baghdad hospitals/help for coalition, Kuwait, UAE/use as
military facilities, meeting boycott/citizen participation/conditions
for participation/exclusion of Ba'ath Party, scud missiles, regional
military "footprint"/drawdown of forces, Kirkuk & Mosul/Turkish
liaison officers, flow of forces into Iraq/decision to interrupt flow,
Iraqi museum/looting, Gen. Franks' plan/speed saved lives, lessons
learned/joint operations worked, flight of Iraqi leaders) (6490)

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and General Richard Myers,
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, briefed the media April 15 at
the Pentagon.

Following is a transcript of the briefing:

(begin transcript)

United States Department of Defense News Transcript
Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
Tuesday, April 15, 2003
1:30 p.m. EDT

(Also participating Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman, Joint Chiefs of

SEC. RUMSFELD: Good afternoon.

We are very grateful that seven American prisoners of war in Iraq have
been recovered. But even as we celebrate, we note that there are still
four U.S. service members whose whereabouts are unknown; and a number
of coalition POWs that are still missing from 1991, a number of
Kuwaitis and one American. We'll continue to work to find them until
all have been accounted for.

Coalition forces now control Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, and
only a few Iraqi cities remain contested. Our forces are now going
back to the smaller cities and towns they initially bypassed, to deal
with any regime forces that may remain. We'll continue these efforts
until Saddam Hussein's regime has been removed from every corner of

Once conditions on the ground permit, the civil administration team
will deploy to Baghdad. Even before they do so, the coalition is
beginning to hold regional meetings with free Iraqis from all walks of
life to discuss the way ahead. The purpose is to begin a dialogue with
Iraqis on the future of their country, to build momentum for the
formation of an Iraqi interim authority, and to help pave the way for
a free Iraqi government that will eventually be chosen by the Iraqi
people. The first of these meetings was held today, in [An] Nasiriyah.
It is noteworthy that even before the coalition's civil administration
team has arrived in Baghdad, they are meeting with free Iraqis to
discuss handing over authority to the Iraqi people. It underscores our
intention to give responsibility for governance of that country to
Iraqis as quickly as is possible.

The makeup and responsibilities of an Iraqi interim authority will be
up to the Iraqi people, but we envision that it could take on at least
two main tasks. First, it could allow Iraqis to have an immediate role
in the administration of their country, including responsibility for
running a number of the ministries. Second, it could take
responsibility for laying the foundations of a new Iraqi government,
including formation of a draft constitution, the reform of the legal
system, economic reform, electoral planning and the outlines of a bill
of rights, to assure a just system that guarantees that all Iraqis --
diverse population -- has a voice in the governance of their country.

The specific institutions of a new Iraqi government will be decided by
Iraqis. A free society should really not be imposed from the outside.
We can help by bringing Iraqis together, and by helping to create
conditions of stability and security that are necessary for a free
society to take root. But building a free Iraq is the right -- and
indeed the responsibility -- of the Iraqi people.

Moreover, a free society is about more than just elections or specific
institutions of government. Free nations across the world have
different institutions that reflect their unique cultures and their
traditions. What they share in common are certain principles that
undergird those institutions: freedom of speech, freedom of religion,
individual rights, equal justice under law, checks and balances,
protecting minorities against the tyranny of the majority, and
ultimately a government that is chosen by and answers to the people.

The interim authority will be a stepping stone in that process. This
much is certain: It will be temporary. It will be large, involving
Iraqis from all walks of life. And it will be open to participation by
new leaders from across the country as they emerge from the shadow of
Saddam Hussein's repression. It will evolve, to use the American
phrase, from the "big tent" approach.

These meetings will help set in motion a process that will lead to an
Iraqi government that does not threaten its neighbors, or the world,
with weapons of mass destruction; that does not support terrorist
networks, that guarantees the rights of religious and ethnic groups;
that permits political freedom, individual liberty and rule of law to
prevail, so that no Iraqi is forced to live in terror or fear.

General Myers.

GEN. MYERS: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

Well, General Brooks gave a complete brief this morning, so I don't
have anything to add from an operational viewpoint.

On behalf of all of us in uniform, I would like to add our welcome
home to the seven former POWs. We are very proud of them and wish them
a joyful reunion with their families.

My congratulations go to the Marines who rescued them. Thank you for
bringing them home. And as the Secretary said, you can be sure that we
will continue to look and hunt for those that are still missing.

I'd also like to add my condolences to the families of those service
members killed in combat-related actions or accidents over the past
few days. I think it reminds us the battlefield is still a dangerous
place, and we need to maintain our focus on our day-to-day operations.

And with that, we'll take questions.


Q: Mr. Secretary, there's an oil pipeline that runs from Iraq to
Syria, through which traders say, despite denials from Damascus and
Baghdad, that up to 200,000 barrels a day has flowed for several
years, making millions of dollars for both countries in violation of
the oil-for-food program. There are reports that the U.S. military has
disabled or perhaps destroyed that pipeline. Can you clarify that or
give us any information on that?

SEC. RUMSFELD: I am sure that no coalition forces destroyed a
pipeline. We don't -- we have preserved infrastructure in that
country. I am hopeful that they have shut it off, and I have heard
that that has happened. But I cannot assure you that all illegal oil
flowing from Iraq into Syria is shut off; I just hope it is.

Q: General?

Q: Mr. Secretary, there have been  -- 

GEN. MYERS: I was going to say, just to back -- just to add a little
bit to what the Secretary said, they would not destroy the pipeline or
any of the other infrastructure, whether it's oil or other
infrastructure. They did it with the -- upon the technical advice of

Q: Well, so they -- you say they have not destroyed it, but have they
shut it off?

SEC. RUMSFELD: And I answered.

Q: You say there were reports of that.

SEC. RUMSFELD: I said we have been told that they have shut off a
pipeline. Whether it's the only one, and whether that has completely
stopped the flow of oil between Iraq and Syria, I cannot tell you. We
do not have perfect knowledge. We do know that they were instructed to
shut it down, and they have told us that they have.

Q: Mr. Secretary?

Q: Thank you.

Q: Mr. Secretary?

Q: Now that there's no longer a need for no-fly zones over the north
and the south of Iraq, what's the future of the U.S. military presence
in Turkey and in Saudi Arabia?

SEC. RUMSFELD: We have, with the Turkish government, discontinued the
Turkish no-fly zone.

Q: As of when?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Yesterday or the day before.

GEN. MYERS: You announced it, I think, up here.


GEN. MYERS: The end of Operation Northern Watch. And the assets there
that were supporting it have redeployed.

Q: Mr. Secretary, there has been  -- 

SEC. RUMSFELD: Let me finish. The southern no-fly zone we're still
flying out of, obviously, although it's not in a no-fly-zone mode.
We're doing what we do, our folks are. The subject of a footprint for
the United States post-Iraq is something that we're discussing and
considering, and we don't have any announcements to make on it. But
that will take some time to sort through.

Q: But the Incirlik operation has been not only closed down, but all
the aircraft have left, I understand --

SEC. RUMSFELD: No, all we said was that the Operation Northern Watch
has been shut down and the assets that were there for that sole
purpose have been redeployed.

Q: So there are still U.S. assets  -- 

SEC. RUMSFELD: I didn't say that. I've said  -- 

Q: (Off mike.)

SEC. RUMSFELD: I don't know why this is hard. We have shut down
Operation Northern Watch. The assets that were there for that purpose
have been redeployed. We have not made final decisions with respect to
the footprint of the United States in that part of the world, and
won't for some months.

Q: Mr. Secretary, there's been some tough talk by you and by Secretary
Powell and by the President about Syria, and --

Q: (Sneeze.)

Q: Bless you.

SEC. RUMSFELD: My goodness gracious. (Laughter.)

Q: -- saying, in effect, to Syria to cease and desist aiding and
abetting those of the Saddam regime and also in building or harboring
weapons of mass destruction.

The bottom-line question is, specifically -- underline the word
"specifically" -- how does the Bush administration intend to make that
happen? How can you prevent Syria from doing these things?

SEC. RUMSFELD: I don't have anything else to add on that. The
President's spoken on it. Secretary Powell has spoken on it. I'll
leave that to them.

Q: But you haven't said anything on  -- 

Q: You mentioned a missing American pilot from '91. I'm assuming
that's Captain Scott Speicher. Can you update us on the progress
that's being made, or lack of it, in trying to account for him?

SEC. RUMSFELD: If and when we have anything to announce, we will. We,
needless to say, have teams of people who have very much focused on
the question of prisoners of war. They've had some good success thus
far. We are working on the problems and hoping that we'll have
success. But we have nothing that we can report.

Q: Mr. Secretary?

Q: Mr. Secretary?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Yes? Yes, Andrea?

Q: Mr. Secretary, given there was a lot of talk about needing to have
a -- before the war, having a lighter, more mobile, faster-deploying
force, and given the rapid, record speed that the 3rd Infantry --

SEC. RUMSFELD: You think we ought to slow down? Is that  -- 

(Soft laughter.)

Q: That's not my question. That's not my question.

SEC. RUMSFELD: Just checking.

Q: Given the record speed that the 3rd Infantry, you know, got to
Baghdad from Kuwait, would you say, first of all, do you now
-- is that lighter, more mobile, faster force now a reality? And if it
is, is that because of something that you and your -- and this
administration has done, or was that started before this present
administration and -- or is it a combination of both?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, first, I would say that the 3rd Infantry Division
and the Marines and the other forces and units and elements that have
been doing such a wonderful job in Iraq have all performed exceedingly
well, including the Special Operations people and the Navy and the air

The phrase you used of swifter or more agile or faster are things that
militaries have been striving for, for decades. Hundreds of years
they've been trying to learn to do things better than they've done
them in the past. And my impression is that the armed forces of the
United States had been focused on improving themselves for some time,
are today and will be in the future. And I think that looking for the
kind of demarcation you've suggested really is kind of chasing the
wrong rabbit.

Yes, Pam?

Q: I understand that as troops are moving through, they're bringing
much-needed medical care and some surprise to folks that they're
coming across. However, in Baghdad there remain a great number of
people who are seriously hurt, some of them from the bombing, and
aren't getting proper medical care, according to reports that are
coming out there and pictures that we've seen. At the same time
there's a hospital ship that has 800 empty beds, and I'm wondering if
there's any consideration being given to moving some of the folks,
maybe the worst cases, in the Baghdad hospitals down there for more
appropriate care -- special burn care, amputations.

SEC. RUMSFELD: The hospital -- I don't know which ship you're talking
about, but I know one hospital ship has some, I believe, 307 Iraqi
people that they have taken aboard and are providing first class
medical treatment for. The medical situation as of the 13th -- today
is the 15th, two days ago -- in Baghdad, the hospitals do have a heavy
load. Jordan announced a plan to send a field hospital into the
Baghdad area this week. Medical supplies have been flown into Baghdad
last night -- on the night of the 12th for distribution by the ICRC.
And the -- there is a massive effort, bringing people in.

The UAE has also announced that it is receiving individuals who need
medical assistance, Iraqi citizens who need medical assistance. And
that process is taking place.

Q: (Off mike) -- no plans to fill up those empty beds on the hospital

SEC. RUMSFELD: I don't know what empty beds you're talking about. The

Q: It's a thousand -- it's a thousand-bed hospital ship, and the last
briefing we had, there were about 200 beds full.

SEC. RUMSFELD: Yeah. I just happen not to know  -- 

GEN. MYERS: I think as a general rule we're making medical care
available wherever we have it, and, you know, if it's appropriate. I
would say since the 13th -- a couple of additional items. They opened
two additional hospitals in north-central Baghdad that are under U.S.
control and security. And the ICRC opened up the big 1,200-bed
teaching hospital in Baghdad as well. The secretary said lots of
medical supplies coming in, lots of help from several countries to
help with the medical situation.

SEC. RUMSFELD: The medical situation -- you've got to remember two
things. One is that hospitals and schools and mosques were used as
headquarters for the Ba'ath Party and for the Iraqi military. And
there was a lot of damage done to hospitals and schools and mosques as
a result of that decision on their part -- their decision. Every day
that has gone by since the United States has been in that country, the
medical situation has gotten better than it was the day before.

Q: Mr. Secretary?

SEC. RUMSFELD: And that will continue on a -- at an increased rate in
the days and weeks ahead.


Q: Mr. Secretary, the meeting at Ur outside of [An] Nasiriyah was
boycotted by Shi'a groups, subjected to protest --

SEC. RUMSFELD: It was also attended by a very large number of people.

Q: Well, you described the tent approach that the U.S. would like to

SEC. RUMSFELD: (Inaudible.) (Soft laughter.)

Q: What is the answer to the boycott? How do you get the groups that
are boycotting inside the tent?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, you don't. We don't. What's going to happen is
it's going to get sorted out on the ground, and that's fine. People
demonstrate in the United States and boycott political rallies and
things; that's what free people do. And it ought not to come as a

Our attitude about it is is that the Iraqis are going to have to sort
this out. There ought to be a big tent; everyone who subscribes to the
principles that I indicated in my opening statement today ought to be
able to participate. What's going to happen is as that happens,
they'll have meetings. And if you do something, somebody's not going
to like it; that's certain in life. It's also true if you don't do
something, somebody's not going to like it. But the fact is, if you do
do something, somebody's not going to like it, and that's what's

So, someone will come up and say something and somebody else, as
happens in democracies, in free systems -- somebody's going to say, "I
don't agree with that." And they'll either say it from inside the tent
or outside the tent. And what's going to happen is that over each week
that goes by, people are going to see that this is going to be a
process that's going to go forward, it's going to include everyone in
that country that wants to participate, based on fundamental
principles that I've indicated, and they'll find that they've got a
much better chance of affecting it from inside than they do from

And therefore, you say, "What are you going to do about it?" What's
going to happen is the Iraqi people will do something about it. If
they don't want those people in and those people don't subscribe to
the principles that we've set forth, and indeed, that the Iraqis have
set forth -- I just read this e-mail on the statement they made, which
is very interesting and very positive, in my view
-- then they'll stay out, and that's life. Some people do that. Some
people don't vote in our country. On the other hand, if they decide
they want to have an influence and an effect on it, they'll decide to
become a part of that process. And it's an interim process, it's a
temporary process, and it's moving through phases towards a more
permanent government. And then they'll have a chance to do that, and
that's a good thing.

Q: Mr. Secretary, how confident are you that Iraq still has Scud
missiles? And during your evaluation of the battle damage assessments
of your bombing in the western part of Iraq, have you found any sort
of evidence there?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Not to my knowledge.

Q: None at all? Not even like shells or anything like that?

SEC. RUMSFELD: (Mocking) "Please? A little?" (Laughter.) A half of
one, is that what you want?

Q: (Off mike) -- transporter-erector-launchers or anything like that?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Look -- look, there are still people shooting and
getting killed in that country. The western area where the Scud
baskets were is enormous! It's enormous! And people are -- there's a
handful of people out there -- Americans. I mean, there are just not
large numbers of special operators out there. They went out there,
they went to the Scud baskets, they were successful in dealing with
the people that were out there doing things. And now we're in a stage
where, as the fighting starts to end and die down, there will be
opportunities for individuals to then look around and see what they

Q: Mr. Secretary, you had mentioned earlier that you're still looking
at a decision to be made on what size of footprint the U.S. would have
in the region. Would you just clarify to make certain that -- you've
always said that the U.S. will certainly leave Iraq. I would presume
by that you're not saying in Iraq but in the region?

SEC. RUMSFELD: I'm just stating a fact, that right now we have forces
in Iraq. Our first choice is to begin drawing them down, and we have
been doing that. A carrier battle group, it's already been announced,
is leaving. There will be other forces that will be drawn down over

We have forces in other parts of that region -- and I spoke of a
region, not a country -- and we will be looking at what that footprint
ought to be going forward, and it's not something that we've come to
closure on.


Q: Mr. Secretary, in your opening statement you talked about the
political future of Iraq and letting the Iraqis decide. Are there,
however, any specific conditions that we're attaching, such as bans on
a particular party or an individual, or a particular size of an army
or the type of weapons that they might have?

SEC. RUMSFELD: What we have said is fairly simple, and we've repeated
it and repeated it from the outset, that Iraq ought to be a single
country, and if people want to participate who think they ought to
divide up that country into pieces, then we don't care -- we'd prefer
they not participate. It ought to be a country that doesn't have
weapons of mass destruction and doesn't threaten its neighbors, and if
there are people who think it ought to, then our preference is that
they not participate. It ought to be a country that sets itself on a
path towards a government that is responsive to the people and
respectful of minorities and different -- the diversity in the
country, of religious diversity and ethnic diversity. And if people
want to have a different kind of government, then we'd prefer they not

Beyond that, we would -- we'd also prefer that people not participate
who basically don't represent Iraq, but who think they represent some
of the neighboring countries. And that would -- that's an unhelpful
thing, it seems to me.

So those are basically the standards. And they're not complicated, and
they're not restrictive. They allow for a great deal of variety and
diversity within those basics.

Q: Who, if I may follow, would do the vetting of those conditions?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, we just keep repeating the conditions, and the
people will do the vetting. People on the ground know these folks.
They know the bad ones. And yeah, the -- I mean, we'll -- you did ask
about parties. There's no question but that this country's got to go
through a de-Ba'athification process. The Ba'ath Party is not -- does
not fit the conditions that I've described. We know what they think.
And therefore we know that they ought not to be participants. And we
would be hopeful that that's the case.

Yes, sir.

Q: Mr. Secretary, who is going to control Kirkuk and Mosul, since
there is a lot of concern in Ankara, Turkey? In the meantime, any
communication with the Turkish government vis-a-vis to the Kurdish
people of northern Iraq? And above all, how do you comment on the
cooperation which has been announced among Turkey, Syria and Iran vis-
a-vis to the -- (inaudible)?

SEC. RUMSFELD: You want to respond on that?

GEN. MYERS: The situation that we have in northern Iraq with respect
to coordination and cooperation with the Turkish military is that as
soon as we had U.S. forces in Kirkuk and in Mosul, that we invited in
immediately Turkish military liaison officers so we could establish
together the ground truth in those areas. As you know, rumors start
fairly frequently, and somebody has to establish the ground truth. And
that's why we are in northern Iraq with U.S. forces and with Turkish
liaison forces. That seems to be working very well. I've talked to
General Jones, our EUCOM commander, today, who had been talking to
General Ozkok in Turkey, the chief of the Defense staff there, who is,
I think -- can be reported as pleased with this level of cooperation.
And we think that's gone a long way to sort of dispelling some of the
rumors that have come out of northern Iraq. The situation in Kirkuk is
calm. The peshmerga are out of there. The situation in Mosul is a
little less calm, but still very stable. And that continues.

Q: Mr. Secretary, on the issue of follow-on forces, you've said that
this plan has been flexible from the beginning and that there were
other forces in the pipeline, that you could turn off the spigot, if
you will. Have you decided to turn off the spigot?


Q: And how so, sir?

SEC. RUMSFELD: One of the elements that was in the queue has been
taken out of the queue, and we still have other forces that are
flowing in. In some cases they'll be additive; in some cases they'll
be replacing other forces over time. And in some cases, portions of
elements may not go. Portions would go.

We're also on a very active effort to attract and encourage other
countries to offer forces for the phase four stabilization process.
We've had good luck, good fortune. I was on the phone today with
ministers of defense of the U.K. and of Poland and talking to them
about the process. We all will be coordinating through the CENTCOM
liaison people and talking to other countries about forces that they
may want to offer up to provide for a stabilization period so that,
over a period of time, we'll be able to have the kind of security
environment that is safe and allows a country to fashion a new
government and a new approach to how they want to live their lives.

Q: If I could follow. General Myers, we've heard about the naval
assets and the Air Force assets pulling out. What about ground forces
pulling out?

GEN. MYERS: I think the Secretary covered that. Some of the reason
that the forces that continue to flow are flowing is with a look
towards in the future, to be determined by Central Command and by the
Secretary, on when you might replace some forces that have been there
for some time yet. So that's all part of the planning that Central
Command is doing right now.


Q: Mr. Secretary, as impressive as the U.S. military operation has
been, no military plan is perfect. Would you concede in retrospect
that perhaps the plan failed to adequately protect Iraq's antiquities,
particularly the looting, providing enough security for the museum in

SEC. RUMSFELD: Looting is an unfortunate thing. Human beings are not
perfect. We've seen looting in this country. We've seen riots at
soccer games in various countries around the world. We've seen
destruction after athletic events in our own country. No one likes it.
No one allows it. It happens, and it's unfortunate. And to the extent
it can be stopped, it should be stopped. To the extent it happens in a
war zone, it's difficult to stop.

The United States is concerned about the museum in Baghdad, and the
President and the Secretary of the State and I have all talked about
it, and we are in the process of offering rewards for people who will
bring things back or to assist us in finding where those things might
be. And I would suspect that over time, we'll find that a number of
things were in fact hidden prior to the conflict. That's what most
people in -- run -- who run museums do prior to a conflict, which was
obviously well telegraphed in advance.

But to try to lay off the fact of that unfortunate activity on a
defect in a war plan -- it strikes me as a stretch.

Q: But weren't you urged specifically by scholars and others about the
danger to that museum? And weren't you urged to provide a greater
level of protection and security in the initial phases of the

SEC. RUMSFELD: Not to my knowledge. It may very well have been, but
certainly the targeting people were well aware of where it was, and
they certainly avoided targeting it, and it was not hit by any U.S. --
this was -- whatever damage was done was done from the ground.

GEN. MYERS: And we did get advice on archaeological sites around
Baghdad and in fact I think it was the Archaeological -- American
Archaeological Association -- I believe that's the correct title --
wrote the Secretary of some concerns. Those were passed to Central
Command, and those sites around Baghdad were obviously -- we tried to
avoid hitting those. To my knowledge, we didn't hit any of them.

Can I say this -- can I say this -- a bit on the plan piece? You know,
some have suggested, "Well, gee, you should have delayed combat
operations to protect against looting, or you should have had more
forces, should have waited till more forces arrived." To that I would
say this: The best way to ensure fewer casualties on [the] coalition
side and fewer civilian casualties is to have combat operations
proceed as quickly as possible and not prolong them. And so it gets
back to the -- a matter of priorities. And we're dealing with some of
those issues that you just brought up, Jamie, but the first thing you
have to deal with is loss of life, and that's what we dealt with. And
if you remember, when some of that looting was going on, people were
being killed, people were being wounded, as I made reference to in my
opening remarks. So I think it's, as much as anything else, a matter
of priorities.


Q: Mr. Secretary, you said that you had taken one element, one unit
out of the queue to replace or reinforce the troops you now have. Can
you describe your evolving philosophy of the kind of forces you now
want in? It would seem that heavy armor is less and less necessary. So
why are -- what have you taken out of the queue, and sort of what is
your thinking at this moment as you begin to reassess what is in that
queue and what you may need in terms of the type of things?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, this is a process that involves the Central
Command, and they make an assessment of what they see on the ground
and what they think they need, and then they discuss it with General
Myers and with me. And over a period of days, we discuss the various
elements of it. One element is how many foreign forces do we think
we're going to be able to attract to come in and give us some
assistance, because that affects the number of U.S. forces that we
need. What's the mix of forces you need -- land, sea, air? What are
the kinds of capabilities? Do you need heavy tanks or do you need
people more engaged in peacekeeping-type activities?

And as the nature of the conflict winds down, which it most assuredly
is, the need for certain types of things declines and the need for
other types of things increases. And it is something that we talk
about each day. We've been doing it almost continuously for some
months now, first as to what ought to go in, and then what ought to
come out. And it's not easy. There is no formula for it, and it
depends on changing circumstances almost from day to day.

Q: What have you removed from the queue?

SEC. RUMSFELD: (Aside) Do we -- do we -- announced anything?

Q: First Cavalry?

GEN. MYERS: I don't know, have we announced  -- 

STAFF: First Cav acknowledged they had a deployment order, sir, from

SEC. RUMSFELD: They had an earlier deployment order and that they no
longer do.

STAFF: That hasn't been  -- 

SEC. RUMSFELD: That hasn't been announced? Then we'll not announce
that. (Laughter.)

Yes? (Laughs.)

Q: What's your latest thinking on whether the senior Iraqi leadership
had some kind of plan in place for a particular moment when U.S.
forces arrived in Baghdad, and that's the reason that they all
disappeared so suddenly and collectively, as if that plan was

SEC. RUMSFELD: I think we'll learn more about that as we go along. I
think that the -- this is speculation, but I would speculate that they
very likely expected Gulf War II, a long air war that would give them
time to do whatever they thought they wanted to do, leave or take
cover and what have you, followed at some distance by a ground war,
and probably a massive ground war, probably including the 4th Infantry
Division, which was still up in the Mediterranean. And it's entirely
possible when people are interviewed after this is all over that we'll
find that they did not expect a ground war to start before an air war
and they did not expect a ground war to start without the 4th Infantry
Division while it was still up in the Mediterranean. I also suspect
that they didn't expect the first air attack that took place the day
before the ground war began on the Dora Farms. But one can't know
these things; you can't climb into their minds and know what they were

But we do know that because of the way General Franks conducted the
conflict, a lot of bad things didn't happen. The oil wells were not
set afire like they were last time. We don't have massive internally
displaced people. We don't have a million refugees flooding into
neighboring countries. We didn't have high collateral damage because
we didn't have a long air war. We had precision weapons instead of
dumb bombs. The ground war went so much faster, that the opportunity
for people to reorganize and to reconstitute forces in areas where
they could provide a more aggressive defense didn't exist; they were
passed very rapidly. So there were a lot of things that -- there
wasn't time to use ballistic missiles in the western part of the
country to attack neighboring countries as happened last time. There's
just a whole list of things that didn't go wrong, that could have been
terrible and didn't happen, because of the way that General Franks and
his team conducted that. They did a superb job.

Q: And what would that tell you about their whereabouts right now?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Not much. They're either dead or alive.

Q: Mr. Secretary, what are the concerns, Mr. Secretary, that former
Iraqi regime leaders attempting to flee to Syria may not only be
seeking a safe haven in Syria but may be attempting to set up a base
of operations to plot and launch any kind of future terrorist attacks
against U.S. targets or Iraq?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, I think that there is no question there are going
to be some people who will escape out of that country. It's got porous
borders and they'll go in many different directions. We'll find some
of them. Some countries will cooperate in helping us to find them, and
they will be pleased they did; and others may not be helpful. But life
goes on.

Q: But given -- if I could follow up, but given Syria's support for
terrorism, is there a concern that Iraqis could in fact -- former
regime leaders could use Syria as a haven from which to plot and carry
out terrorist attacks?

SEC. RUMSFELD: The -- I don't have anything else to say about Syria.
The president's been discussing it. Secretary Powell's been discussing
it. I've discussed it. And I don't know what one can add. Obviously,
the people in Iraq who ran that government are on our list. And we'd
like to have them. And we'll get a lot of them. We may even get most
of them over time. And life will go on.


Q: Mr. Secretary, each of the armed services has a very formal lessons
learned process that within weeks or months they'll roll out. I'm
curious where you stand today, sir, what lessons you learned about how
the American military does its job that you think were good, things
that need to be improved. Have you personally learned anything from
this war that will influence how you conduct business in the months

And General Myers, if you could take a whack at that, I'd be grateful.

SEC. RUMSFELD: First of all -- I don't want to say that it would be a
mistake for the services to engage in service-centric lessons learned.
But to some extent, I will say it. This was not a war fought by the
Army or the Navy or the Air Force. It was
-- or the Marines. It was a war that's been fought by joint forces
under excellent leadership. And there isn't any one service that could
have done what was done. It was the force multiplier, the leverage
that was achieved by the combined -- joint and combined effort between
the United States and Great Britain and Poland and other countries.
Therefore the lessons learned will be looked at not by service alone,
but by the Joint Forces Command and others, who will do a very
thorough job.

It started almost when the war started, the lessons learned process.
When Dick and I meet every day with the people in the Central Command,
sitting off the side you can see people who are on the lessons learned
team. And they've been doing it in real time, at General Franks'
insistance and at Ed Giambastiani's insistance. And it will be a good
thing, and it will be valuable, and it will save lives and save money
and improve the capability of the armed forces of the United States

Have I learned things? You bet. But  -- 

Q: Such as?

SEC. RUMSFELD: -- I'll save those things for another time.

Q: (Laughs.)

SEC. RUMSFELD: General Myers?

GEN. MYERS: I'm going to save mine for another time as well.

But there are lots of them, and as the Secretary said, this process
was started even before conflict began. It had senior mentors
involved, as well as military people. And Admiral Giambastiani down in
Joint Forces Command is overall responsible to gather the lessons
learned that we'll see and the Secretary will see. And he's also going
to try to pull together the Service lessons learned into that so we
have, you know, a fairly good composite picture, and inform us how to
proceed in the future.

SEC. RUMSFELD: And they'll relate to both war-fighting as well as the
process of getting there, the flow of forces and how that works.
There's -- this department's got a lot of areas that we can improve,
and we're working like the dickens trying to improve it and trying to
make it more efficient, more effective, so that it best serves the
American people and our values and our principles.

Thank you very much.

Q: Mr. Secretary, has the war been won? Has the war been won, Mr.

SEC. RUMSFELD: I'll let you know, Bill. (Subdued laughter.)

(end transcript)

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