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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

U.S. CENTCOM Briefing

Aired March 24, 2003 - 09:05   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Now to General Tommy Franks and the briefing.
GEN. TOMMY FRANKS, CENTCOM COMMANDER: Let me begin by offering my condolences to the families, loved ones, friends of those lost and wounded thus far in "Operation Iraqi Freedom". You know, we are in their service by our resolve, our commitment, our dedication, to accomplish the objectives that the secretary talked about a couple of days ago, as did I.

Well, we're in our fifth day of combat operations of Iraqi Freedom. Our forces are operating throughout Iraq on the ground and in the air. United Kingdom and American Marine forces are in the southern oil fields, as we speak, protecting Iraqis' future.

Our Air Force continues to strike regime command and control and military formations virtually all over the country with precision munitions and precision application of those munitions. Our Special Operations Forces from the United Kingdom, the U.S., Australia, are conducting direct action and strategy reconnaissance operations across the country.

And major land combat formations continue to move, as you have seen them move, over the last three or four days.

Progress toward our objectives has been rapid and, in some cases, dramatic. Demining operations have cleared about half of the channel, up to Umm Qasr. A number of humanitarian assistant ships are loaded and will begin to deliver needed humanitarian assistance, food, water, medicine, to Iraqis within the next few days.

Our forces have met sporadic resistance in a number of places on the battlefield. But as our troops fight, even in isolated areas, there will be casualties. There have been casualties, because from the perspective of the fighting men on the ground, even an isolated set of combat situations represents violence which he must see face- to-face.

FRANKS: As you know, our forces have been moving rapidly. We've intentionally bypassed enemy formations to include paramilitary and Fedayeen. And so you can expect that our clean-up operations are going to be ongoing for -- across the days in the future. We know that the Fedayeen has in fact put himself in a position to mill about, to create difficulties in rural areas, I can assure you that contact with those forces is not unexpected.

I've asked Brigadier General Vince Brooks to join me again this evening and to provide some visuals for you.

Vince?

BRIG. GEN. VINCE BROOKS: Thank you, sir, and good afternoon again, ladies and gentlemen.

I'm going to begin by giving you an update on activities over the last several days and show you images of some of the initial strikes we've had against forces throughout central and eastern Iraq primarily, and the effect that we're having on those combat systems.

I'll talk several times to the graphics today, and if you'll bear with me while I point at things, you should be able to see pretty clearly. Let's bring up the first set of weapon system videos, please.

What we're going to show you is a series of attacks. All of these are done from the air. They are all precision engagements with precision guided munitions against armored formations, against command post bunkers and against other things which you'll see like aircraft that have been moved into various places.

This first one is a MiG, a fighter jet towed away from the Al Asad Airfield and was hidden in a revetted area. So you'll see that being struck on the ground. Go ahead and roll the tape, please.

We found a number of these aircraft in a variety of places, including, in some places, near cemeteries.

The second image is an airfield command bunker complex in eastern Iraq.

Roll the tape.

As I mentioned, we're also attacking combat systems that are in offensive or revetted positions. The next one is an armored personnel carrier we'll bring up and show in a moment. This armored personnel carrier is in a defensive position in central Iraq.

Next there is an image of a tank in a similar position in central Iraq.

Finally, one last combat vehicle a tank, in this case, again, in central Iraq.

General Franks spoke to you a few days ago about the effort we go through to do precision engagement in all we do.

First, to be very precise about what it is we're targeting, how we choose to target it, and also to minimize the effects on things we don't intend to attack.

BROOKS: I'm going to show you a series of before and after images from different regime targets that have been attacked over the last several days, just to demonstrate the nature of that effectiveness and let you see it for yourself. Let's bring up the first image, please. This is a complex with a special security organization, well-known as the enforcement arm of the regime. You can see the compound is outlined on the screen and the portion to be attacked is on the lower left side. We will show that before and after, and then a split view, so you can get oriented to it.

I will tell you the next image, the post strike, has been rotated. Let's go ahead and show the next please, post strike. It's rotated about 90 degrees, but you can see where the attacks occurred, with effectiveness, at each of the blue arrows. Only those buildings have been affected. Everything on the outside of the camp is unaffected, even the walls of the compound -- excuse me the compound are not affected.

And the split, please. Before, pre-strike, and after. Let me give you another example. Iraqi Intelligence Service, the arm that ties to terrorism throughout the world and conducts intelligence operations abroad, this complex is in the center of the screen. And you'll see a post strike image here in a moment.

Let's bring it up. Again, the surrounding area is in tact and only those buildings targeted have been destroyed. Another example. The palace guard, part of the regime's protective structure, this is a barracks and office complex. It was attacked by precision guided munitions. Let's show the post strike, please.

Each one of those blue arrows represents a different weapon delivered against the target set, and different from the old days, we don't bring multiple aircraft in. We may send a specific missile or specific guided weapon system against each one of those points to achieve the desired effect.

BROOKS: And the split.

Our attacks, particularly in the Baghdad area and other built up areas against regime targets continue to be very effective. And we remain committed to minimizing the potential effects on the people of Iraq, and also the infrastructure.

Let me now give you an update on some additional actions. General Franks mentioned that coalition Special Operations forces continue to conduct numerous missions throughout Iraq. They're actively hunting for weapons of mass destruction, and also looking for ballistic missile systems. They're on track and they're doing exactly what they need to be doing, at this point.

On the next image, we'll show a map. Just to give you a highlight of where some of our recent operational activity has been, each one of these pointers shows where the key highlights are.

First, the land component did continue to expand its territory throughout Iraq, and that included a continued advance beyond An Nasiriyah, and also an aviation attack against Republican Guard forces near Baghdad. And during that attack, there was an attack helicopter downed. All the other helicopters involved in the mission did accomplish the mission and return safely to base. Land component also secured Basra Airport, all of the Ramallah (ph) oil field and an ammunition storage area near An Najaf. The pointers show where those key activities are.

OK. Change to the next image, please.

This is a video that was filmed as we were doing mine/countermine operations in the Korabdullah (ph) to try to open the way to Umm Qasr to make it possible for humanitarian supplies and other needed things to go in. This is a helicopter towing a mine sled. We do anticipate that there may have been mines laid. No confirmation of that as we continue to go. It's a very deliberate process. And the map shows where we've achieved at this point in time.

Go ahead and bring the map up, please.

The area that should be involved is down to the south of Basra, at the mouth of the Korabdullah (ph). We've got the wrong image up here.

All right, bring up the next image, please. One of the things we've done throughout -- I mentioned a few days ago, an important line for us is using information, and as much as possible, communicating with the Iraqi people and Iraqi military forces, and informing them with information that indeed will save their lives, and has already on a number of occasions.

I want to show you a few of the leaflets that we've used, and tell you that at this point in time, we've already released over 28 million leaflets, and that accounts for roughly 5 million more than all of which were dropped in Desert Storm. Each one of them has a different theme. It's targeted to specific areas, whether it is to a unit or to the population. In this particular case, it's a warning to units that they shoul abandon their equipment, or the equipment would be destroyed. And we certainly saw that in the first few days.

Next, please.

We also emphasize to them that their future is tied to their economy adn that they should not do things like dump oil. With the anticipation that some of the oil fields and also the oil terminals might have been damaged. This we communicated to the Iraqi people. They should not squander their future by way of dumping oil in the waterways.

The next one, please.

Capitulation instructions and how to signal to us that they're ready for us not to attack, and, as we arrive, to either surrender or capitulate. This is a graphic image. It joined with radio broadcast that gave very specific information on how to do that so we did not have a problem. And that has not been a problem at this point.

Bring up the next image, please.

As you know, we conducted initial operations to secure the Ramallah (ph) oil fields and the terminals that are inside of the North Arabian Gulf, as well as the al-Fal (ph) terminal. Those operations were successful, but indeed there were some examples of the regime having set demolitions on well heads and blowing them.

Yesterday, the assessment team that needs to go in and determine what work needs to be done was able to enter Iraq, do an assessment of the oil field, and has already shut down a gas-oil separation plant, and that turned one of the fires off by itself. So we're down at this point to only seven fires out of an oil field that has 500 well heads. Again, a very important story for the future of Iraq.

BROOKS: That's all we have to brief this evening and I'll turn it back over to General Franks.

Sir?

FRANKS: Be pleased to take your questions.

Please?

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) 28 million leaflets you dropped, and this was an unprecedented and psychological operation. Given all that, why do you think there hasn't been more mass surrender? Can you update us on the status of any negotiations? And do you think now that some Iraqi commanders, who may have led you to believe they would surrender, were engaged in psychological operations of their own?

FRANKS: I wouldn't speculate on the latter.

I would say that, if you think about the content of that message, it talks about how to surrender. And we've been delivering these leaflets over a prolonged period of time. And as I think we've said, perhaps from this podium before, a great many people simply laid down their weapons and walked away from their positions.

And John Abasaid (ph) mentioned last night, that rather than a confined area, like we saw inside Kuwait, we have the broad stretch of Iraq before us, and so units which chose to abandon their equipment and so forth and walk away simply have done so. A great many, because of confusion or being undecided have not done that. I think our enemy prisoner-of-war count today is in the vicinity of 3,000. And so, we'll continue to find and take prisoners as we move through this.

I'm sorry. Your second question was?

QUESTION: Just on the commanders themselves, why do you think -- if you're not going to their motivation, but have you seen any...

(CROSSTALK)

FRANKS: Oh, of course.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) commanders...

FRANKS: Of course. As a matter of fact, we are in contact with a number of Iraqi unit leaders, as we speak. Please?

QUESTION: I'm sure you have seen the pictures of the attack helicopter down, south of Baghdad, on Iraqi television. What can you tell us about the fate of the crew? Were they picked up by another helicopter? Are they missing? What happened in that incident?

FRANKS: The fate of the crew is uncertain right now. We characterize that crew of two men as missing in action. We're not sure. We know that this particular helicopter was one of between 30 and 40 attack helicopters that we moved in to this particular target set. We know that they were very effective in their mission and we know that as, I think, one of the networks has been showing, that the attack helicopter didn't get back, and so we have a two man crew missing right now.

QUESTION: General, two nights ago you talked about fighting this war on your own terms. Well, isn't the Iraqi opposition stubbornness and persistence of it forcing you, in places, to fight on their terms where you have far less technological advantage? And might this make you have to pay less regard to the risk of civilian casualties?

FRANKS: I think we're precisely where we were two nights ago when I spoke with you. We'll fight this on our terms. What I mean by that is, in a great many places in Iraq, one will find these isolated units in enclaves that I described. It isn't that we don't know where they are. And so, we'll undertake the sequencing and simultaneity (ph) of our operations on a time line that makes sense to us.

FRANKS: I will tell you, in response to the other part of your question, that any time you find -- well, I guess I'll say, perhaps criminal behavior of intentionally placing noncombatants in close proximity to military equipment and to military formations and so forth then you certainly -- you certainly are abusing your people, and this regime has done that. And I think, it's been, as a matter of fact, reported by embedded reporters, and so in my view, this platform is not a platform for propaganda. This is a platform for truth. And so what I'll do is I'll try to provide you the best balance I can. And that's what I've asked that our people here do.

But to create problems, of course, because we're going to do the best job we can to protect noncombatants in this. It doesn't mean that we're going to be wholly and 100 percent successful. You know we're not, and I know we're not but we're going to do our best.

Sir?

QUESTION: General, what has been done to soften up the republican guard units that we believe are around Baghdad? How hard have they been hit and what effect is this having?

FRANKS: They have been hit. They will continue to be hit, sort of to go to the previous question, at points and places and times that make sense us to, based on which of those units we intend to take under fire at a particular point in time. The effect has been very positive for us, sir. Yes, sir?

QUESTION: I know we're in the very early stage of this, but I guess the question is beginning to be asked, if the commanders have somewhat underestimated the tenacity of some of these irregular units of the Fedayeen and Special Republican Guard, and how much we're seeing with some of these rear guard actions is essentially a preview of what the road to Baghdad is going to look like?

FRANKS: I can't predict what the preview will look like but I guess I would say that I actually have seen no surprise here. And I think that our people on the ground have not seen a surprise.

There are people in the Iraqi army, whether Special Republican Guard or Fedayeen who have a lot of allegiance to this -- to this regime. And so one can expect, I'll use the term that my boss, Don Rumsfeld used a while back when he said, "You know, you're going to come across dead-enders." And we have come across dead-enders, and we've had some terrific fire fights with some of these. Not unsuspected. And I think our people are prepared to fight this war, and as you correctly said, we are five days into this.

Ma'am, please.

QUESTION: Is there any information you can give us about the POWs from the maintenance division?

FRANKS: There actually isn't. I think what we know, I'm sure that -- I'm sure that the Red Cross will be in there with them and reporting very soon. I know were these prisoners of war we held, then the Red Cross would certainly be in there in order to provide fact and provide accountability, and to ensure that they're well cared for.

But actually, I can't provide an update. We have seen on television what you have seen, and that is the reporting we have.

FRANKS: Sir, please.

QUESTION: From the reports of CNN, BBC, people know the Iraqi people are more united than before. For example, the farmers shut down two helicopters -- shot down two helicopters. Meanwhile Iraqi forces are more strong than expected because the number of casualties of British and American troops is on rise. Do you think the days ahead would be more tough or more mean -- mean more casualties for America and Britain?

FRANKS: Okay. Thank you. I think that any one in my profession involved in a war fight will expect that we will see casualties in a war, and so, yes, I expect we will see casualties in the days ahead.

I actually won't confirm the first part of your statement before you asked the question. I know, with some precision, how many helicopters have been shot down, and I can assure you they weren't by -- that those events did not occur as a result of farmers, as you described. So we have every expectation to continue to place the most sophisticated troops and equipment in the world in the face of this dying regime, and we'll undergo some casualties while we do it.

QUESTION: In the beginning of the war, so-called coalition forces claimed taking full control of Umm Qasr, then Nasiriyah and yesterday, Basra and apparently it seems now, it's not correct. Are you practicing a strategy of lies and deception, or are you just have been trapped by Iraqi army? Where is the truth about the situation in southern Iraq? Please give us some information about your location, areas under your control.

FRANKS: Actually, there are a great many areas under coalition control. I mentioned in my beginning comments that we have every expectation that some of the paramilitary and Fedayeen will fight. I said it just a minute ago. I think what you'll find is that the people of Basra, will in the days ahead be able to have more access to food and more access to water than they have had in decades.

I believe, within a few days, I believe within a very few days, you will see that occur in Umm Qasr. I believe that you'll continue to see large numbers of coalition forces move in and around these villages and towns that you mentioned.

And so that's the very best I can give you. I think there's nothing at all unexpected about what we've seen up to this point.

Sir, please? QUESTION: You spoke the other day about a mosaic. We're looking at a very small part of it, essentially focus on southern Iraq. Could you please tell us a little bit more about coalition operations in the west and north of the country?

FRANKS: Sure. Without talking about whether these operations, sir, are in the west or are in the north, I will tell you that, in fact, United Kingdom and Australian and American special operations forces are about their business, from left to right and top to bottom in the west and also in the north. They have accomplished some wonderful things out there. They're operating in small teams. They're very, very mobile. And they're doing for us just exactly what we want to have them do.

Ma'am?

QUESTION: On the subject of weapons of mass destruction; from this podium we've been told there has been information from detained Iraqis over the last several days. Now that time has passed, can you give us any indication of the quality of that information? And secondly, there are reports the chemical plants contained no chemicals at Al Najaf (ph). Can you update us?

FRANKS: Right. I'll do my best. I think that we probably have received, oh, several handfuls of bits of information over the last three or four days about potential WMD locations. Some of those locations are in areas where we have control, some we have not yet gone into.

I think Secretary Rumsfeld gave the right appreciation yesterday when he said, you know, we were then four days, we're now five days into this, and we're concerned about taking down this regime and about getting our hands on all these weapons of mass destruction and these technologies. And it's a bit early for us to have an expectation of having found them. And so this is work we call SSE, sensitive site exploitation. And we will do some sensitive site exploitation as we go along and we'll do other sensitive site exploitation a bit later in the campaign.

QUESTION: May I follow-up just (ph) on the chemical plant, sir? Can you confirm there were no chemicals found?

FRANKS: Actually, I can't confirm. I will say that it would not surprise me if there were chemicals in the plant and it would not surprise me if there weren't. And the reason I say that is because I have access to something that, of course, none of you do, and that is all of these bits of information that come in. And more times than not, they'll be based on speculation, rather than based on first hand knowledge. Someone mentioned in the past two or three days, when you get very close to WMD is when you're able to discuss with the people who have actually been involved in the WMD program. And so, we'll just wait for the days ahead.

Sir, please.

QUESTION: Have we come away from the aviation operation this morning with the impression that the regime command and control network is more resilient and more robust than we believed when we went in?

FRANKS: Regime command and control network, actually, I wouldn't put a percentage on it. I will say that command and control, within the country, is much less robust than it was five days ago. That does not mean that we don't have an expectation that for the foreseeable future that we will find means to communicate; sometimes by radio, sometimes by wire, sometimes by courier.

And so, no, there actually isn't anything unexpected about it. But that's where we are right now. They still do have a means, a somewhat limited means of communication.

Sir, please.

QUESTION: Sir, there haven't been that many popular uprisings against Saddam Hussein's regime with respect to the Iraqi people. Why do you think that is? Does that show the power and effectiveness of Saddam Hussein, in terms of interspersing his more elite troops amongst the civilian populations to keep them at bay?

FRANKS: Sure it does. Fear. It's fear, the practice of this regime over a long period of time. It has to do with fear. I mentioned paramilitaries and the Saddam Fedayeen in some of these towns.

FRANKS: So I answered a question a minute ago, "So how can it be that things are not all calm in Basra and (inaudible) Nassiryah and so forth?" It has to do with the fact that fear tactics are still being applied in many of these locations. And that will change over time.

Back here, please?

QUESTION: What is your reaction to Saddam Hussein's TV public address? Do you think that it will arouse any resistance from the Iraqi people?

FRANKS: I don't know. I actually didn't see it. Several people talked to me about it. And it was -- it was very interesting. No, I won't given an analogy. I started to give a joke analogy, and I don't think I will. Let me say it this way: There are a lot of opinions about that.

And so what will be the reaction to that? I think people people will believe what they want to believe, and I believe some people within the country of Iraq and some outside the country will believe that the tape was real. And I believe those -- there'll be others who will want to believe that the tape was not real.

So I think that in terms of our ongoing military operations, it doesn't make any difference. You remember the point we've made several times: This is not about one man; this is about an oppressive regime. So that's my view.

Sir, please?

QUESTION: Can you talk a little bit about the prisoners of war, the American troops, perhaps some of the training they've received to deal with these type of situations, what they can say and how they're trained to deal with this mentally?

FRANKS: Right. I think none of us in this room could conceivably put ourselves in a circumstance where we're under the stress and strain that one sees when a prisoner of war. The expectation is that our -- that our military members will comport themselves in accordance with their beliefs, as people of our country, and I guess I would just say that I have every -- I have every confidence they will do that. Our people are well trained, but they're also highly motivated, and I think that's really important, the highly motivated part.

What I am interested in seeing from time-to-time or in having some of my staff or subordinate commanders talk to me about, is the embedded reporters, and what they're, what they're seeing and experiencing, as they -- as they're with our young people on this battlefield. And I think all of us in this room would have to -- would have to agree that the levels of motivation, training, capability, proficiency, as demonstrated by those just like you, seem to be very, very high.

So that's -- that's kind of my take on it. Motivation, training. Stamina. Tough kids.

Sir?

QUESTION: Speaking of the embedded reporters, what do you think has been accomplished, message wise, from the embedded program? FRANKS: Well, I think that's a great question. I really don't know what's been accomplished. I think that the decision to permit the embedding and, in fact, facilitate the embedding of reporters, of a great many nations, by the way -- western press, Asian press, press from Arab press, from right here -- I think what it permits is, it permits the viewership and the listenership and the readership of the various countries on this planet to be able to get a sense, to be able to get a take of what's going on this battlefield.

I am a fan of it. I think it was a very good thing to do. And we'll see how it plays out.

Sir, please?

QUESTION: Can you tell us anything about the British soldiers which missing today? Are they now prisoners? And if not, what are you doing to try to help find them?

FRANKS: Actually, I won't talk about Brit potential missing troops any more than I will talk about the specifics of our helicopter pilots or of the youngsters in this maintenance company.

I will say, and I've seen speculation in a number of places, that a coalition like this would take action where action is appropriate to secure the release of people who are taken prisoners. I think you can go back a long, long time in the history of warfare and you'll find that to be the case. And so, we'll just have to wait and see what the days ahead look like.

Sir, please?

QUESTION: The sirens have been going off in Kuwait all day. So after the pounding the Iraqi army (OFF-MIKE) getting the guys you've been talking about, the (OFF-MIKE) do we understand that the Iraqi army has the ability to launch counter attacks, missile counter attacks, on its neighbors?

FRANKS: I mentioned the other night, from this podium, that we have assessed, for a while, the possibility that this regime has ground-to-ground, surface-to-surface missiles. They certainly have not all been destroyed yet.

But I can tell you this. The ones that have been shot into neighboring countries, to include two more within the last 24 hours, have been destroyed by Patriot. And so, we like the technology, we like the configuration. And we're going to continue the destruction of these systems as we're able to find them.

Sir, please?

QUESTION: There are several friendly fires, friendly fire occurred recently. Do you have any idea (OFF-MIKE) cases?

And there are several journalism reports of dying in the battlefield. Do you have any advice for the people still working there? Thank you. FRANKS: Right. Thank you.

Friendly fire incidents, I'm aware of several. And I guess, I would have to tell you, once again, that is not beyond my expectation. That doesn't mean that in command of an organization like this, we like it. What it means is that, we understand, in the nature of war, that we're going to find ourselves in circumstances, where because of a tactic or technique or perhaps a weapons system, maybe because someone's tired, not sure, but we will have these blue-on-blue or friendly fire incidents. We've seen them. And our subordinate commanders work very hard to avoid that, but I suspect in the days head that we'll probably see more.

And I'm sorry, the second part of your second was?

QUESTION: A lot of journalists have reported dying...

FRANKS: Oh, yes, the journalists. Right. I'm not -- and I may be in error -- but I'm not aware of a single embedded journalist who has been harmed on this battlefield. I'm not aware of one.

Well, were it possible to keep journalists absolutely safe, I think all of us, you and I, would do that. But the fact is that, there are people who will go in harm's way to report the news, and I think unfortunately when that happens in some occasions, they will find themselves either in a crossfire, they will find themselves in a position, where they're attacked by the enemy, as I believe was the case with the suicide bomber up in northern Iraq here a day or two ago, and so it's not a good thing. But, once again, it does not surprise me.

QUESTION: General Franks, the Red Cross in Geneva says it still hasn't received a response from either the coalition or Iraq to its request to interview prisoners of war and get information on them.

QUESTION: Are you preparing such a response?

FRANKS: To tell you the truth, I did not know the response had not been given -- didn't know where we were in the administrative chain on that.

But I do feel very strongly, very firmly that, in accordance with the Geneva Hague and that, that we need to move forward as quickly as we can in order to get the Red Cross involved in these situations.

I'll assure you this: We'll do our part, and we'll take care of the prisoners we held.

Let me go back over here.

Sir, please?

QUESTION: Could you tell us what's going on in Nasiriyah tonight?

FRANKS: Sure. Nasiriyah is in fact a crossroads community, and if you look at a map of Iraq, you'll understand what I mean by that.

In fact, we have been conducting operations in and around Nasiriyah for, gosh, a couple of days now. Our forces are in there now, and they're going to remain in there. That's the best I can tell you about Nasiriyah.

Last question, please.

Let's go back here, sir. You in the blue shirt. Thank you.

QUESTION: What have you deduced from the fact that Saddam has still not used chemical weapons against coalition troops? And do you think the greatest risk would be when they converge closer to Baghdad?

FRANKS: I think -- I actually think we don't know. There is a school of thought that says as the compression comes tighter and tighter and tighter, the pressure will be greater and greater to use these weapons. So we don't know. We don't whether the regime will use these weapons. My encouragement is not to the regime's highest leadership. Rather, my encouragement is to the people who will have their fingers on the trigger to use such weapons.

We have very carefully said, "Don't do it." And that's the best I can tell you. We don't know if he will. We don't know when he will. We fully understand that he has the ability to instruct, to demand of his subordinates the use of these weapons.

But it would not surprise you that, at this point, even five days into this operation, many orders which have been given by this regime have not been obeyed by a great many of the subordinates in his armed forces.

Let me just sum up by saying, well, our forces are continuing to move. They're moving in ways and to places that we believe are just exactly right, in accordance with a plan that is flexible, designed to be flexible. We know for a fact that the forces on this battlefield are the most capable -- certainly the most capable I've ever seen, whether it's by way of technology or training or motivation.

Our resolve is great. The morale is good. And as I think we always say, there is no doubt about the outcome.

Thank you very much.

ZAHN: You just heard General Tommy Franks wrapping up his almost 50-minute long briefing. Among some of the things that he had to share with us this morning. He said that the progress is rapid in some cases, dramatic in others. In the advance on Baghdad, he said there are forces in Iraq on the ground, in the air and at oil fields. He went on to say that the tenacity of some Iraqi units is all but expected, not a surprise. He said -- quote -- we know the Fahadeen (ph) has put itself in a position to mill about, to create difficulties in rear areas, and I can assure you the contact with those forces is not unsuspected.

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