CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Strike on Iraq: Analysis of War
Aired March 20, 2003 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: It's a little after 5:00 A.M. in Baghdad where day two of the war is dawning. We'll have the latest with reporters from Kuwait to Northern Iraq. We'll also hear from General Hugh Shelton, former chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff. Secretary of the Air Force Dr. James Roche. An Air Force Chief of Staff, General John Jumper. From the Kuwaiti Ambassador Salem Al-Sabah and more.
We begin with Christiane Amanpour in Kuwait. What are they saying there, Christiane about the lack of the major blitz that was supposed to occur?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Larry, everybody's been talking about that today, about how the battle plan has unfolds somewhat differently than what had been, if you like, telegraphed in the weeks ahead of this. You heard the explanations from our reporters, from officials. You've heard that they trying to assess what happened after their first cruise missile attacks into Baghdad about 24 hours ago and assess what has happened to the Iraqi leadership.
In the meantime, we're also hearing from many of the correspondents who we have and other organizations have so-called embedded, in other words, assigned to U.S. Army and other military units. And we know that they are moving forward in some cases, certainly many of those are moving into their positions slightly inside Iraq. And even Walter Rodgers who's with the 7th Cavalry Division has been reporting over the evening that they've been going now, perhaps now it's been three hours they've been rolling into Iraq. And he has reported that they've met no opposition except for a skirmish at the very beginning when they crossed the border from Kuwait into Iraq and that was quickly put down.
But this seems to be taking on a land movement at the moment that perhaps wanted expected to come a little bit later. But, nonetheless, we are here to see how it unfolds n. Terms of what's been going on in Kuwait, we have had in Kuwait City, many air rated warnings, sirens today and that has sent some civilians and those of us over here into the basement shelters. People have been donning their masks or at least watching to make sure they get the all clear that there hasn't been any nonconventional detonation.
From military spokespeople up near the Iraqi-Kuwait border, we know that at least, at least ten missiles were fired in one area, where U.S. and British troops are based. They did not hit any troop concentrations. They did not cause any damage or casualties and we understand there were some Scuds but we understand those missiles were conventional warheads and there was no chemical or biological damage.
KING: Thank you Christiane, let's go to Walter Rodgers who's embedded in the Army's 7th Cavalry which is moving.
What can you tell us -- Walter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We lost the line.
KING: OK, We have lost the line to Walter Rodgers.
General Shelton in the Washington bureau, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, what about this early stage has surprised you?
GEN. HUGH SHELTON, U.S. ARMY (RET.), 14TH JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: Obviously, up to this point, Larry, absolutely nothing has surprised me. I think it has gotten off to a great start. I think that what we're seeing unfold right now is the war plan that General Franks has devised, potentially using some branches or sequels in reaction to some changes it that came about. Maybe the early strike that we made caused him to want to go little bit differently, but that's what's great about today's force and our field commanders.
They do have a well-trained force. It's a joint force. So he has a lot of different options available to him and he can use those options as he sees fit and doesn't have to move forward with a set piece plan or have to react anything to the Iraqis have done. It seems to be unfolding very nicely for General Franks and our forces in the field.
KING: By the way, the general will be with us throughout this hour of LARRY KING LIVE. One more thing before we go to Ben Wedeman. Did you expect a kind, maybe we were expecting a kind of blitzkrieg?
SHELTON: Certainly, there's been a lot of talk in the press about a blitzkrieg, I think it was named "Shock and Awe" by someone in the press. I believe what we are seeing unfold right now is exactly what General Frank has probably planned all along. And I think that you'll see more of the types of actions that you've seen for the last couple of days perhaps increasing in intensity, but there may be also some good reasons why the intensity has not been as many suspected that it would be in the first few hours.
You just heard Secretary Rumsfeld say that there are still possibly some negotiations going on, trying to convince Iraqis to lay down their arms and this could be tied into it as well. But I feel confident that it's set. It's ready to go and whenever the field commander and the secretary decide that it's time for that to happen, it will.
KING: Ben Wedeman is with your old outfit, general. He's with the 101st Airborne in (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in Northern Iraq.
What can you tell us, Ben, is happening there at this hour?
Obviously, we're having trouble with Ben Wedeman. We'll stay with General Shelton. That's your old outfit, the 101st, and they appear to be on the move.
SHELTON: That's a great outfit and it's a very heavy division in terms of aircraft. They have about 350, 400 helicopters. They have some capability to make great bounds at one time. And I have no doubt that the 101st, the Screaming Eagles, out of Fort Campbell are fired up and ready to go, just starting to move in whatever direction General Franks has ordered them to.
KING: Christiane, are they getting edgy in Kuwait at all?
AMANPOUR: Well, people have been concerned over here because they felts that Kuwait would be one of the first targets for any kind of retaliation. And as I say we have seen air raid sirens and we have had a certain number of missiles incoming, but most of those in the area near Northern Kuwait, where those troop concentrations are. And again, to emphasize, there have been mow reports of any casualties or any damage.
One deputy leader, deputy director of an oil facility north -- rather south where I am now, Kuwait City said, an eyewitness, he said he saw a missile come and land in the sea off the coast several hundred yards. So they obviously have been worried, but so far those worries have not been borne out, fortunately. And people are taking the kind of precautions they can, as much as they can here.
KING: Let's see if we can make contact with Ryan Chilcote. He's with the 101st Airborne Division as well, embedded as well.
Ryan I hope we can clear the way to you.
What can you tell us?
RYAN CHILCOTE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sure, Larry, elements of the 101st Airborne moved out of a camp today in Kuwait and they are now in this assembly area, postured, if you will for word, should they get word to move into Iraq. A little bit of information about where we are. First of all, I should tell you it is -- well, 10 after 5:00 in the morning. So the soldiers are asleep. A lot of them sleeping on top of their vehicles, inside of their vehicles and on the ground. I think you can see some of them behind me there.
Secondly, I should mention it's cold. You know, we're always hearing about how it's supposed to be so hot in Iraq and Kuwait during the summer, well, I'm here to tell you that it's not hot yet. It's certainly not hot this evening. And so that's just one more not so pleasant condition that the soldiers have to deal with, particularly given the fact that they're looking at the prospect of fighting in Iraq.
Long road here, Larry. Basically, jump started, if you will, this afternoon with a series of three Scud alarms. I was standing next to a group of soldiers in a camp today when the Scud alarm went off. None of us had ever really heard a Scud alarm for real before. We've heard the dress rehearsal alarms, but one went off and we looked at one another, donned our masks and headed for a nearby shelter.
A few minutes later a soldier came up with a radio and said there had been a missile attack. That is indeed what took place. There was a surface to surface missile called the Ababil-100, at least that is way my was telling me. It was launched from the Iraqi side and intercepted by a patriot missile. We were told that we were all clear and we could take off our masks.
Larry, that happened three times, if you can believe it. By the time -- by the third time it was almost habit forming. The soldiers putting on their mask and taking off their masks as if -- and resuming the work they were doing before that as if nothing had happened.
On the road out to this assembly area I did hear some artillery. It's pretty far off in the distance, coming from the border. I couldn't see it myself, but I could hear it. It was like a thumping sound, it you will.
A soldier that had a better vantage point in the front of the convoy where there was less dust because the dust was getting kicked up by all of the vehicles in front, he said it looked like thunder and lightning coming from the direction of Basra. That was his way of describing the artillery he saw there going off on the border. No word whether that was Iraqi or U.S. artillery, but that's what I got so far for you -- Larry.
KING: Thank you, Ryan.
Now, Ben Wedeman, we understand is now available. He's in Kalak (ph), Northern, Iraq The 101st is expected to come through that post where you are, Ben. Are they waiting expectantly?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well at the moment there's no sign that anybody's coming. It was only yesterday afternoon that the Turkish parliament approved overflights by U.S. forces, to the best of our knowledge with the exception of a very small and very camera-shy group of U.S. Special Forces.
The 101st has not landed in Northern Iraq. But I can tell you that about 40 minutes ago on the -- right above where we are which is about 40 kilometers from the city of Mosul which is still under the control of Saddam Hussein's forces, we heard several aircraft fly overhead.
Shortly afterwards we saw anti-aircraft fire coming up from Mosul and then we saw some flashes on the horizon and heard some very deep thumps which would indicate that U.S. planes have, for the first time, it would appear, just a little while ago, bombed that city -- Larry.
KING: Thank you, Ben.
Christiane, are you surprised that General Shelton is not surprised? He said this is going as -- as he expected. Does that surprise you, Christiane?
AMANPOUR: No. No, I'm not surprised. All we can say is what we've been reading, what people have been saying in the lead-up. And of course, it's always a surprise for those of us who are not involved in the plan to know how exactly how it's going to go.
And we're watching it unfold and we're just going to wait and see just how it does and what happens. So far it seems that the U.S. forces are moving forward as planned, and, of course, the British forces, which are involved as well, are also moving forward.
A British spokesman told me earlier this evening that British forces have crossed over into Iraq in the southern part of Iraq and are launching an operation on the Faw peninsula in Southern Iraq. And we were being briefed quite heavily, certainly, over the last couple of days that what could have happened and what could turn out would be a best case scenario in which it sort of goes flip, flip, flip. That's how British spokesman described it to me.
Towns just simply fall and surrender as these troops and as this heavy infantry force mechanized keeps moving up. We don't quite know how it's going to go, but so far, certainly you've heard Walter Rodgers report that they've been moving a certain distance without any opposition and we've going to wait to see. The clearer it gets to Baghdad and the closer it gets to population centers, just exactly what kind of opposition, if any, they encounter and how this battle plan unfolds.
KING: Christiane, we'll take a rest for a while, as she seems to be beyond rest. Christiane Amanpour is -- literally her and Wolf and the likes are around the clock here.
Joining us in Washington along with General Shelton is Dr. James Roche, the 20th secretary of the Air Force. Prior to becoming secretary he was top executive at Northrop-Grumman.
And General John Jumper is chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force. Prior to that was commander of air combat command at Langley.
Dr. Roche, ask you what we asked General Shelton, is this going as expected?
DR. JAMES ROCHE, SECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE: The nice thing about this, Larry, is in modern warfare we are able to coordinate forces in such a way that we've never been able to do in the past. General Franks can in fact lead an orchestra and if it makes sense at one point to use air power, he will, ground power, he will.
It's not like the old days when everyone had written instructions and you had to do things by (UNINTELLIGIBLE). We are now able to coordinate in such ways that we can use whatever is appropriate for the moment and it gives a combatant commander tremendous flexibility.
KING: General Jumper, was it just a media thought that this would be a bing bang -- a big bang beginning?
GEN. JOHN JUMPER, CHIEF OF STAFF, AIR FORCE: Well, Larry, one of the great differences between what we see today and what we saw in Desert Storm is our ability to closely synchronize all elements of air, land and sea power. And it gives General Franks great flexibility to chose those elements that he wants to put together to deal with what's in front of his face.
We have an old axiom in warfare that the war plan never survives the first contact with the enemy. In today's modern warfare and able by the information technology it gives that commander a great flexibility to react however he thinks best.
KING: General Shelton, you were in the Gulf War, how different is this?
SHELTON: Larry, I think that what we're seeing in the Gulf War compared to this one is a little bit different in that first of all, there are some common threads here.
First and foremost, we found in the Gulf War we had a tremendous non-commissioned officer corps and officers that had been developed after the Vietnam era and that that paid real dividends. You're seeing the same caliber of leadership today, the same great force that we developed after Vietnam that is there to fight this war.
We're finding that we have improved significantly, I think in terms of technology. In the Kosovo operation we used 90 percent precision munitions as compared to 10 percent in Desert Storm. And I suspect during this one you'll see a high percentage of precision munitions as well.
Unmanned aerial vehicles that give us a great ability to collect intelligence to surveil and conduct reconnaissance operations. Again, a great plus for us. And the list goes on and on.
We are a lot better today than we were when we did Desert Shield, desert Storm. And that was a tremendous force that carried out that operation.
And of course, we're fighting a weakened Saddam Hussein. He's been under sanctions since that for the last 12 years. His equipment has become more antiquated. We have, thanks to great work by the Air Force and the Navy, we've pounded away at him as he violated the no- fly zone rules, the U.N. resolutions.
An so we kept him in a rather weakened condition. His equipment has degraded over that period of time, and so we have an advantage from that -- in that respect, as well.
KING: Dr. Roche, Secretary Rumsfeld said today that the full scope and scale of a coming military action will be beyond anything ever seen before. Can you elaborate?
ROCHE: Well I am not sure what the secretary had in mind, but certain he could have pointed to the fact that the degree of precision that we have is quite remarkable.
And also the degree of orchestration so that we can have, for instance, Air Force aircraft, Naval aircraft, Marine aircraft going at the same time and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Army is moving. We can do it simultaneously where before we had to do things sequentially. And I think that'll strike people, especially those in Iraq as overwhelming.
KING: We want our audience and all of you to watch the following. This was a report Walter Rodgers was delivering. And watch what happens and as soon as that ends we'll talk to him live. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTER RODGERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A U.S. Army source has told CNN that the U.S. Army's 7th Cavalry has had its first hostile contact with the Iraqi forces on the other side of the border. They are describing it as relatively low key according to reports which we're receiving now and these reports are somewhat conflicting. A number of Iraqi vehicles were taken out, including perhaps a number of tanks.
That has slowed the U.S. Army's 7th Cavalry's progress across the border into Iraq -- we just heard an -- what the hell! I don't know what it is. I can't -- I can't -- can you hear me? Atlanta, we just heard something shooting!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Walter Rodgers now joins us and I'll quote you quoting yourself, what the hell was that?
RODGERS: We think it was an incoming shell, Larry. It was off in the distance, not that close to us, but it was a bit of a surprise because with all those tanks around us, we did not expect incoming.
I've been listening to your programming. Larry, this is a classic textbook cavalry operation and it is going flawlessly by the book, except for that brief hostile encounter when the 7th U.S. Cavalry reached the border between Kuwait and Iraq. It has been a classic textbook operation.
We are sitting now stationary on the Southern Iraqi desert. All around us fanned out, we can see dozens of Bradley Fighting Vehicles and platoons and platoons of the Apache Troops M1A1 Abrams Tanks.
If you would look right now, what we hope to be training the camera on is an armored vehicle which we believe is 120-millimeter mortar that is in there. They have not had to fire anything because the opposition has been negligible and nonexistent since we punched into Southern Iraq.
It is going to be dawn here within the next 20 or 30 minutes. We should be bringing you better pictures as it is. Right now, however, the U.S. 7th Cavalry which is the scouting unit out in front of the big heavy and mighty 3rd Infantry Division.
The scouting unit, the 7th Cavalry is moving through the desert, away from populated centers. We are seeing no civilians, no Iraqi soldiers, no one, but veterans would live out here and there's no one here at this time of the night. Again, we are waiting to move forward with the 7th Cavalry. The mission of the 7th Cavalry is to be eyes and ears of the big division that is following on behind us. We just heard some shooting off in the distance. Can't tell what it is. Probably a kilometer and a half, two kilometers out. We assume it was incoming and the reason we assume that is because we can see most of our guns. We do see an M1A1 maneuvering out there. It's becoming light enough so I can see some puffs of smoke and, of course, the thing that everyone's concerned about, when artillery goes off or when there's fire around here is, is it a chemical weapon?
We do not know that at this point. It sounded like a high explosive and it appears that in the direction I saw those puffs of smoke a few seconds ago, within the past 30 seconds, I could see an -- M1A1 Abrahams. I'm sure that wasn't that tank firing. I would have seen that. The M1A1 Abrahams is going out to investigate what is in the horizon, what would be to the east of us at this point.
Now we can see another Bradley fighting vehicle -- if I can ask Charlie Miller, my cameraman to swing left, Charlie, do you have that Bradley? He, too is following the M1A1, Abrahams out. This is the purpose of the cavalry unit. When they encounter hostile forces, what they do is dash forward, try to engage those forces and probe their strength. The cavalry is essentially on a reconnaissance mission. Again, paving the way for the 3rd Mechanized Infantry Division -- 3rd Division which is far beyond us at this point, but it will be the one- two punch when it comes to taking on Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard divisions like the Medina Division and the Hammurabi Division closer to Baghdad -- Larry.
KING: Thank you, Walter.
General Jumper, is it wise militarily to expect a lot of opposition?
JUMPER: Well, you always have to expect the worst, Larry. You can never count on an easy way through enemy territory. And what we're seeing here today is, of course, superbly-trained soldiers, just like the sailors, airmen or Marines are trained and doing exactly what they were trained to do, well equipped and we're seeing professionals at work here -- Larry.
KING: General Shelton, does the military on the other side, on the Iraqi side, have time now, if they wish, to give it up? Can they prevent vent a kind of a Holocaust?
SHELTON: Think that Secretary Rumsfeld said earlier today every attempt has been made, communications channels have been kept open so that they can in fact at any point they wanted to, let the U.S. military, the United States know that they did if give it up. That they were going to turn on Saddam if Saddam is still there. And basically, preclude this from becoming a massacre, if you will, as they encounter our first line troops and as we start to release the air power on top of them. So I have no doubt that the procedures are there. All it will take for them to do is follow the rules that have been laid out for them if they want to try to prevent this from becoming an all-out war.
KING: Dr. Roche, what's the role of the secretary of the Air Force in these proceedings.
Where are you all day and who are you in communication with?
ROCHE: In my job, Larry, the real job has been done already. It's the organized training equip. To make sure the right kind of forces were available. That the training was done right. That we have them in place. In many respects the buildup to this was the job I have. At this stage I'm joining up with others wishing Godspeed for all of our troops who are performing as well as they're performing.
KING: General Jumper, your role all day.
JUMPER: We keep up with the day to day, minute-to-minute flow of supplies and sustainment that are going over toward Tommy Frank, making sure we've put together the best set of capabilities that we can. And that we have our airmen out there that are both in the air and some of our airmen, as you know, Larry are also on the ground with the Army forces, making sure that they're trained as best they can be and have the latest technology at their disposal.
We've Seen the results of some of that in Afghanistan with the use of our airmen on the ground, with ground forces and close air support in the hooking up of our guys on the ground with big airplanes bike B-52s to deal with enemy positions. Those kind of capabilities are what we put together and make happen and I think it's come together very well.
KING: General Shelton, you're retired now.
You miss all this?
SHELTON: Larry, I certainly miss the camaraderie from sharing the dangers and from sharing the experience was great guys like General John Jumper and others. But it's also very interesting to watch the new team in there working and I think doing a superb job.
KING: Do you -- Can you forecast, Dr. Roche, the length of this war?
ROCHE: I think that's something that Secretary Rumsfeld has made very clear, and I absolutely agree, we don't know. You can't take as example from the first hours and talk about the rest of the conflict. That's what's nice about being to orchestrate forces. You remember, the secretary, the president need clear this is not a conflict against the Iraqi people, it's against the regime. So, the goal of this is to remove the regime and I think Don Rumsfeld said it so well today, when he said they're just not going to be here in the short order. So we will proceed on that basis. It will be as long as it needs to be, Larry.
KING: How do you pinpoint, General Jumper, a regime without pinpointing the people?
JUMPER: Well, you have a variety of sources as we've heard from many people. A variety of sources that help you do the target selection. That's Tommy Franks' job. And he has a wonderful team that puts all these sources together, and a careful process of target selection with great regard for collateral damage and human suffering. This is a very sophisticated and complex process and I think that the American people would feel very good about the length and extent to which the leadership from Tommy Franks and his staff go to make sure that we do have the right targets and we do take all of the care to hit those target.
KING: And is the ball in his court, General Jumper, it's in Franks' court?
JUMPER: Tommy Franks has got the best team we can give him, both air, land and sea. He is in the process of executing the plan with all of the flexibility he needs and we wish him Godspeed.
KING: And we wish you the same. Thank you. Dr. James Roche, the 20th secretary of the air force, and General John Jumper, Chief of Staff for the United States Air Force.
General, Hugh Shelton will remain with us. United States Army retired. He's one of the great officers to serve in this military and he was assistant division commander for operations of the 101st Airborne participating in the liberation of Kuwait during Operation Desert Shield and Storm.
Speaking of that the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States will be with us in a couple of moments. Those moments will be shared with Connie Chung. Headlines with Connie Chung at this hour. We'll be right back.
KING: General Shelton will remain with us. He'll be with us throughout the entire hour.
We are now joined by Ambassador Solem -- or Salem Al-Sabah. He is Kuwaiti's ambassador to the United States. We thank him so much. As dawn in Baghdad, it looks like a beautiful morning in a tormented city.
What can you tell us, Mr. ambassador, about todays Iraq missile attacks in Kuwait?
SALEM AL-SABAH, KUWAITI AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: Well, Larry, we were attacked four times today by four separate missiles. We were lucky enough to intercept two of them. One of them had a trajectory toward Kuwait City, but luckily enough it was one of those missiles downed and the other two fell and hit unpopulated areas. So luckily enough, again, no one was hurt. And also all four missiles had no chemical or biological warheads.
KING: How are the people reacting?
AL-SABAH: Well, I spent the best part of the last 24 hours on the phone to Kuwait. And my impression is - from a lot of conversations I had back home is that life is going on as normal. People are a bit scared, naturally. There's a bit of anxiety, but life has gone on as normal. The streets are a bit empty, but we have to remember it's also the weekend. People are a bit anticipating, waiting to see what's going to happen. But in general, I would say that morale was high and people are just waiting to see what happens.
KING: Are they - is there concern that they'll be the number one concern of retaliation?
AL-SABAH: Well, we've always had that worry that Iraq would retaliate against us. And it's not a recent worry. We're been worried about that for the past 12 years. And if it weren't for the American presence in Kuwait, I think we would have been a target of an Iraqi attack a long time ago. But we are confident in the measures my government has taken and hopefully we'll be safe.
KING: General Shelton, you participated in the liberation of Kuwait. What can you tell us about the Kuwaitis.
SHELTON: Well, that Kuwait is a wonderful country from my standpoint. And certainly the Kuwaiti people suffered a lot at the hands of Saddam Hussein during his invasion in 1990-91 timeframe. But since that time the Kuwaitis have been very, very supportive of the United States' efforts to stay trained ready in the region. They have provided firing ranges for our troops there that were there to help ensure the safety of the region. And you just couldn't ask for better counterparts and better allies and partners in maintaining peace and stability in that region.
KING: Does your country, Mr. Ambassador, totally support this operation?
AL-SABAH: Of course, we do. I mean, we've cordoned off 60 percent of our territory. We are accommodating up to 200,000 troops in Kuwait. Of course, we do. But our support to that - I mean, there are a lot of misconceptions out there. Some people think that we support this effort because we feel we have to pay back the United States something. Other people feel we support this effort because we feel that we want to retaliate against Iraq. But they're both wrong. We support this effort because we strongly believe in the need for Iraq to disarm. We have no illusions about his possession of weapons of mass destruction. We have no illusions about his willingness to use these weapons. So from day one, we've said, Iraq has to disarm. We would have hoped he would have disarmed peacefully, but unfortunately, he did not.
KING: We'll return with the ambassador. You hold right there. We'll return with a few more questions for you. And the general, of course, remains with us. Right now let's return to Walter Rodgers embedded with the Army's 7th Cavalry for an update. That was a stirring report earlier.
What now, Walter?
RODGERS: Hello, Larry. What you're looking at at this point is at least two Bradley armored fighting vehicles and perhaps a main battle tank out on the horizon. You can see the dawn just coming up now. Where those armored vehicles are on the horizon a few minutes ago we took some sort of incoming fire. We're not sure where it came from. We assume it was a hostile Iraqi unit.
But about where you see those vehicles, I saw explosions of an incoming shell. And what happened then was that the vehicles you see, the tank, which I believe is the extreme right and the two Bradley armored fighting vehicles went dashing out there very quickly to engage anything which might be trying to outflank the 7th Cavalry at this point.
There's been no further fire from the Iraqis out there. And again, as I say, the two Bradleys and the M1A1 Abrams went out, dashed out there to engage anything except whatever was there must have fired and gone away.
If my cameraman, Charles Miller (ph), can now pan and be patient just a second to the front, you'll see the 7th U.S. Army's Cavalry fanned out across the horizon pointing northward toward Iraq. Those are M1A1 Abrams tanks. Nearest us and ahead of them you can see fanned out on the horizon, the Bradley fighting vehicles. They are out there. They have paused momentarily, but this is the push of the cavalry northward toward Baghdad.
Again, this is the second time we've encountered hostile activity. So the column has actually stopped. We are no longer a column. The 7th Cavalry has fanned out all about us on the horizon. Earlier when we crossed the border from Kuwait to Baghdad - from Kuwait to Iraq, we came through in a column. And the reason for that, of course, was they had to punch a hole in the border, in the big sand (UNINTELLIGIBLE) along the border. And they had to travel in columns because...
KING: Walter, hold on. I'm going to cut you off a second, Walter. We'll come back to you. Walter, thank you so much. We'll come back to you. I understand we're supposed to go right now to Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon.
Jamie, what's up?
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Larry, it appears that we've had the first casualties of the war. A U.S. Marine helicopter, a CH-46, has crashed in Kuwait. According to initial reports, there were 16 people on board including some British troops. It is believed that there are some fatalities. There may be in fact 16 fatalities, but we're still waiting for the word to come out on exactly what happened.
There's no indication of hostile fire. It appears that this helicopter went down because of some other problem, perhaps a mechanical malfunction. But again, it was a U.S. Marine CH-46 with 16 people on board, including British troops crashing in Kuwait. And there are some fatalities, in fact. there may be no survivors. We are waiting for the final word on that. But again, this would amount to really the first casualties of this Operation Iraqi Freedom - Larry.
KING: Thank you, Jamie. Any comment, General Shelton?
SHELTON: I think first of all, Larry, our thoughts and prayers go out for those that are in the accident as well as the family members of those. Our armed forces are in a very dangerous business. And it's whether you're training to stay ready to go into combat right here in the United States or whether you're in a very hostile environment in terms of weather, sand, wind, as these Marines and all of our service members are right now. It's dangerous business. And this is just another indication that this is a high-risk operation. Even if things go extraordinarily well, we should anticipate that there will be potentially fratricide (ph) and potentially more problems involving accidents of this nature because it is so difficult an area to operate in.
KING: As soon as we have more details on that, of course, Jamie will pass them along. And we'll pass them right along to you.
Mr. Ambassador, are you concerned about the oil wells and possible burning of them?
AL-SABAH: Of course, we are very concerned about the burning of the oil wells. And we are particularly concerned about the burning of the oil wells that are close to populated areas. And I don't know, we've heard a lot of reports about Iraq mining its own oilfields, but we truly hope he doesn't get a chance to blow them up because these are the future fortunes of the Iraqi people. And the Iraqi people are going to need that oil to rebuild their lives and put their country back on track.
KING: Thank you very much, Mr. Ambassador. We'll be seeing you Sunday night. Reminding the audience LARRY KING LIVE will be on every night including the weekends through all of this. And we're going to do an ambassadors roundtable on Sunday night. We appreciate you being with us. General Shelton will remain. Let's go back to Ryan Chilcote. He's embedded with the 101st Airborne, the 3rd Brigade.
What's the update from there, Ryan?
CHILCOTE: Well, it's now quarter to 6:00 in the morning here, Larry. So a little bit lighter. Maybe you can see now the soldiers are still sleeping. We had a very long day, as I was saying earlier. A lot of long days ahead. I think very interesting what you heard both from Jamie McIntyre and Walt Rodgers earlier. It's really testimony to how we're going to be able to cover this war for people. Very different things happening in different places. Right now the 101st is resting and there's a lot of action up there where Walt is. But that, obviously could change. So that's really how these things happen, I think. You can look for events to be very localized. Right now the 101st resting up in an assembly area, ready to go should they get the word, ready to go in a posture to move into Iraq - Larry.
KING: General Shelton, do you like the idea, it didn't happen before, of the military having the reporters accompanying them?
SHELTON: Larry, that's a tough one. As I watched the planning for this I think sharing with the American people, the - how complex an operation it is to pull off something like this halfway around the globe, is very healthy and very good. It shows the necessity to maintain a trained and ready force. It also shows the great quality of the force that America has in its armed forces.
On the other hand, as you move into the execution of this operation, I think there is a level of operational and tactical security that you need to maintain that doesn't really help a lot if - because Saddam watches shows like this. He has agents that are all over the world that are reporting in to his forces. And they gain from that some level of knowledge about what may be coming next. And that might not be helpful for our troops. I think it's a mixed bag in terms of how good it is for the American people to be able to see what it takes. On the other hand, if we lose operational security or tactical surprise, we might have saved lives, that certainly is not good.
KING: The general is joined in Washington now by two distinguished members of the United States Senate. Republican Jon Kyl of Arizona and Senator Jay Rockefeller, Democrat of West Virginia.
And we'll start with Jon Kyl.
What's your assessment, Senator Kyl, of developments to this minute.
SEN. JON KYL. (R-AZ), CHMN. TERRORISM & TECH. SUBCMTE.: Well, Larry, things seem to be going very well from our prospective. And I hope the American people realize that there's a lot happening that they're not seeing on their television screens. We have some forces in different parts of the country. We've been engaged in a lot of different kinds of operations there. The "Shock and Awe" campaign has not begun yet and part of the idea, I suspect is let's see if other things can work first. Let's see if we can secure area and prepare for that. But I would hope people could their powder dry and not try to analyze this thing just based on what they've seen, because they're clearly not getting the whole picture just from the media coverage.
KING: How frequently, Senator Rockefeller, are you briefed?
SEN. JOHN ROCKEFELLER IV (D-WV), VICE CHMN., SELECT INTELL. CMTE.: Quite frequently and actually whatever we want to be. But I agree with what Jon Kyl says. From my point of view I was a little bit surprised actually the way it all began, but looking back on it now I'm not, because it was a target of opportunity. The incredible way that information, technology and intelligence, the enormous role that intelligence now has in working with and even leading, in many cases, the war fighting effort has changed the nature of warfare.
So, we had last night a target of opportunity. We took it, perhaps we'd not intended to start quite as quickly as we did. Tomorrow is a day of prayer all day. And therefore, tomorrow night in Baghdad time we may, you know, either start to roll or we may be looking for that opportunity to see if we can end this without strong bomb Baghdad and without having to send in as many troops. Because I think Saddam did get quite a wake-up call.
KING: General Shelton is it -- is it OK to respect the day of prayer? SHELTON: I think that's one of the things we need to take into consideration. Again, that call would be made by General Franks. His recommendation back to Secretary Rumsfeld and President Bush. I might also add, Larry, that this great force we have out here is a result of the great support we've gotten from the Congress over the last several years in order to make sure we had the technology needed as well as the great trained and ready force and the incentives to keep good people in the armed forces. It all starts right there.
KING: Jon Kyl, I know you were involved a lot because of the committees you serve on with the planning of all this. Is that scoping out, the special ops and the rest?
KYL: Larry, let me distinguish two things, first of all, fortunately, neither Jay Rockefeller nor I, knew anything about the operational plans here. That's a purely military matter. It's kept very close. In fact, we still don't know exactly what they plan on doing. We're getting briefings after the fact, not before the fact. But the second point is, is one that General Shelton just eluded to, too, that is members of the Intelligence Committee both Jay Rockefeller and I over the last several years have had an opportunity to help support the operations that we are now engaged in by providing the resources for the technology, by supporting the intelligence community, and what they're doing.
And frankly by sometimes getting on their back and telling them they need to move a little bit more this way or that. But the combination of our civilian, intelligence operation, our military people and the United States Congress and our commander in chief and his people working together have I think produced the best equipped, best trained and most intelligence-led military in the history of the world. And the effect of that should be apparent in the success of this campaign.
ROCKEFELLER: Larry, if I can add something.
ROCKEFELLER: I think it's very important for the American people to understand after the words of what Jon Kyl has said, that the United States Congress, which is not unknown to picker from time to time and be partisan has really come together. We are as one in support of our troops and in prayers for their families and in support of our -- you know, our entire war effort.
And, remember, this is not just about a war. This is a war that can be won potentially very quickly if the right things happen and potentially not so quickly if the right things don't happen. And then we'll have a whole other matter to worry on and do something about and that is what I call not so much bringing Democrat see to Iraq, but the stabilization of Iraq, so that the people can have some kind of hope for better futures
And the European community today said and that includes France and Germany and others that have been trouble in the Security Council that they're going to be there to help with humanitarian assistance and we're going to need them.
KING: And the Senate resolutely supported the activities of the military today with a 99 to nothing vote. And senator Zell Miller of Georgia couldn't be there because of an illness in the family so it was certainly unanimous. Let's get an update as we go back to Ben Wedeman, our CNN correspondent at Kalak, Northern Iraq with the 101st Airborne.
It's day light, what can you tell us now? Ben, nice seeing your face in the clear light of day, by the way.
WEDEMAN: Yes, I wish Larry I wish it would get warm. It's quite frigid out here. The latest is just about five minutes ago we saw more anti-aircraft fire going up over the city of Mosul (ph). This really was, it appears, the first time this morning that the city was bombed. This may indicate that the focus is going to be moving away from Baghdad or possibly spreading from Baghdad up to the north. This is a very strategic town. The city of Mosul which is about 40 kilometers right behind me up this road. There are many oil wells in that area and of course there's lots of worry that the Iraqi forces might sabotage those oil wells, further complicating an already- complicated situation on the ground -- Larry.
KING: What do you do, Ben, after the 101st comes through?
Do you go somewhere?
WEDEMAN: We'll well, we're not attached or embedded with everybody. Our plan really is to move south as the action permits. Obviously, if we were to walk across this bridge behind me right up to one of those Iraqi positions we'd probably end up in an Iraqi jail, because most of us have entered the country without Visas. So we'll just be following the action. My personal goal is to get to Baghdad because for many years I covered the situation in Iraq from Baghdad and it's very different for me to be covering it from the other side. So I would like to get to Baghdad eventually and meet with some of my old friends and talk to them in a somewhat different environment -- Larry.
KING: Ben Wedeman.
General Shelton, what do the special ops do?
SHELTON: Larry, they can do a variety of things. And as you well know, they are a very small, but a very highly-trained force that has some tremendous capabilities ranging from language capabilities that allow them to work with indigenous troops and speak their language. And allow them to liaison and to solicit their support all of the way up to direct action missions that go after specific targets. In some cases even go after specific individuals if that's what their mission is. And they cover a wide range. They are probably the best combat multiplier that we have in our armed forces. And they support the commander in chief, General Franks to carry out any of these missions which he feels will best suit his overall plan.
KING: Senator Kyl, is the Senate doing anything with this going on. Anything else other than this? Talking about anything else other than this?
KYL: Yes, indeed, Larry, we did as you noted today all speak to this issue and support a resolution unanimously in support of the commander in chief and our troops. And by the way, recognizing our allies in this effort, and in particular Great Britain. But, just as we've give know a our troops a job to do, we have a job back here, including doing the things that can support them, like developing a budget for the United States Congress.
Which would include, of course, a way of paying for them. And so this week, we've been focus on getting our budget passed, and we'll leave town tomorrow night having passed a budget having passed a budget for the next fiscal year. Next week we're going to be focused on a series of legislation that all of which have something to do with our service people, helping themselves our war fighting effort. Various pieces of legislation we need in the war on terror or in support of our troops.
KING: And you concur with that, Senator Rockefeller?
Do you expect to get a fixed budget as to what this is going to cost?
ROCKEFELLER: I think we will. I was with -- at a meeting with the president just before he gave his speech on Monday night. And Senator Stephens, head of the Appropriations Committee was there. And senator Stephens asked when are we going to get our -- as they say the supplemental, in other words, the amount of money you will need for the war. The White House indicated they were going to sent it up and as soon as they send it up, we will pass it. And if they need more, we will provide more. We are there to support our troops.
Larry, you know what I was thinking? I was thinking here, sitting with the honor of sitting with General Shelton, how much has changed and what the difference now in war fighting is with the degree of intelligence, with realtime digital decision making. I was several weeks ago in Qatar the same place where General Franks is making his decisions about the war in a war room based upon computers and real time communications, all over the world. And it's extraordinary.
And I'm also thinking how warfare has change because of weapons of mass destruction and that how one has to be very sensitive to the fact that weapons of mass destruction come from anywhere. You cannot predict them. It's not like watching Panzer units crossing some bridge on the Rhine. They can surprise you. And so you have to be so much more alert in so many different ways.
So intelligence and weapons of mass destruction, I think have -- not just biochemical, but proliferation and biological and all the rest of it have really changed the way wars have to be fought and the way we have to think about warfare.
KING: By the way, the coalition according to Secretary Powell is growing now numbers more than 40. Is that pleasing to you, Senator Kyl? Do why you expect to see more jump one board? KYL: Yes, it is. In fact that was part of our briefing that a number of countries, in fact one country called and said wait a minute, we saw that there was a list here. You know we've been with you. Why aren't we on the list?
I think we'll find more and more countries that want to be counted with this winning coalition. And even though all of them aren't contributing a great deal to the military, actually, several of them are doing quite a bit.
I wish I could tell you tonight about some of the units from other countries other than Great Britain that have already helped in securing part of our victory here. That'll all come out later. But I think we'll be very pleased, perhaps somewhat surprised at the number of countries that helped here and certainly the number of countries that supported our effort.
And a final point to what Senator Rockefeller said earlier. I think there's room for every country in the world to join with us when this is over with to help rebuild Iraq and to reconstitute their society. Countries that haven't been all that helpful, like Germany and France and Russia, for example, all have great contacts in Iraq.
Maybe that's part of the reason they're not that crazy about this military activity. But they can help us in the reconstitution of that country and I think we should invite everyone in to help us under our supervision, but to help us get that job done.
KING: And to Senator Rockefeller, in the area of homeland security, we know the FBI issued an alert for a 27-year-old Saudi (UNINTELLIGIBLE), Adnan El Shukrijumah, in connection with possible threats again the United States. You worried about domestic tranquility?
ROCKEFELLER: Oh, yes. We; first of all, I'm worried about him. He's known as the Pilot and has the potential to be another Mohammed Atta. We don't know at this point, but you have to take everything seriously in this new world that we live in.
And as for homeland security, no, we have a lot more to do in this country really. I meet with my first responders at home all of the time in West Virginia as I'm sure that Senator Kyl does in Arizona. And they haven't seen as they say, a dime. And they don't have inter-operability on their radios, of our state police, which is a superb group in West Virginia. There's 63 detachments, only seven of them have Internet access.
Well, I'm sorry. You can't have homeland security or at least security in the state of West Virginia unless you have the communications plus the protection of the chemical plants and the power grids and all of the rest of it. So we have a tremendous amount of work to do at the administration level and in the Congress on that subject.
KING: General Shelton, we have just about four and a half minutes left. You were quite ill. Can you keep us up to date as to how you're doing?
SHELTON: I think, Larry, I'm doing quite well considering that about this time last year after I had a fall I was told I'd never walk again and not be able to use my hands. And fortunately they evacuated me to the great Walter Reed Army Medical Center here in Washington, D.C. And 84 days later and I walked out of the hospital and I continue to go to therapy there, but things have been going very well. I'm back to a full work schedule now. So I'm very appreciative for the great work that Walter Reed did.
And also I learned the most important things in life are faith, family and friends. And all of those really saw me through that rather trying period.
And I might add that a lot of the friends that I referred to were some of the counter parts from around world, in fact quite a few of them. Even a couple that came to visit me while I was in the hospital with cards and letters from almost every one of them that we've tried to cultivate relationships, military to military with, during my tenure as chairman.
KING: By the way, do the current Joint Chiefs of Staff ever call upon the former Joint Chiefs of Staff?
SHELTON: Well it's ironic that you'd mention that. We just had a meeting about a week in the Pentagon with General Myers and it was a very informative meeting. A great meeting and that takes place normally once or twice a year. We always are there to -- we always are there to support the chairman. We don't call him, but if he calls us we're there for him.
KING: Isn't that good to hear, Senator Kyl?
KYL: It absolutely is. We've got just a terrific officer core. We always focus on our enlisted folks, the young kids that are out there fighting. And I'm always amazed at how young they are and how good they are at what they do. But we've got a superb officer core.
And to a point that General Shelton made when we were in Pakistan just before September 11, one of the things that the Pakistani leader, General Musharraf, was telling us is that you need to reconstitute military to military contacts. Hew said, I was trained in Great Britain and the United States. I have a great affinity and affection for my American counterparts, speaking of people like General Shelton. And I worked with them, but he said some of our younger officers don't have that because you disbanned this military to military contact.
Well, since then we've reinstituted that and I think we need to have that with as many militaries around the countries as possible. Not to try to influence them, unduly. But to show them what kind of people we are and what kind of good training we give our military so hopefully they'll do the same for theirs.
KING: In that regard, Secretary Rumsfeld sent a message to his troops today. Watch a little of this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We are at the point at which the risk of not acting is too great to wait longer. The answers are clear. It is essential to world peace and our security that we act against the regime of Saddam Hussein.
As you prepare, know that this war is necessary. It is just, and that you have the resources and commitment you need to achieve victory. You have the strong support of your commander in chief, of the Congress and of the American people. I thank you all for what you do for our country.
May God bless you and keep you and guide you in the days ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: General Shelton, we have just about a minute. Do you have any hopes they might capitulate?
SHELTON: Well, as they say, Larry, hope springs eternal. And I think what we're going forward with is a plan that is designed to carry out the orders given to us by the commander in chief and that is to basically ensure that there is a regime change.
I think if the Iraqis are smart they will see that the hand writing is on the wall, that we have yet to unleash the -- the power that the United States has. It started in that direction. Now their time is running short and so we can hope that they'll see the hand writing on the wall.
But in the meanwhile, General Franks has them geared up, trained and ready to go. And they'll win and win, I think, fairly handedly regardless of whether they capitulate or not. But we all would hope they would and avoid the needless killing that will ensue if they fail to do so.
KING: Thank you, General. Thanks for sharing the hour with us and thanks to the Senators Kyl and Rockefeller for joining us.
And earlier to Ben Wedeman and all the reporters that checked in with us and Christiane Amanpour and to Secretary Roche and John Jumper, the chief of staff and Ambassador Sabah.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com