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War in Iraq: Iraqi Missile Hits Shopping Mall in Kuwait City

Aired March 29, 2003 - 00:30   ET


AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Daryn, thank you very much. Any newspapers out yet?

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: I do have both newspapers for you whenever you're ready.

BROWN: I'll take them right now.



KAGAN: Just, very quickly, to answer your question, no news of the missile attack that hit here in Kuwait City, making this. It's bombs, bombs, and more bombs from the "Kuwait Times" ...

BROWN: It was about ...

KAGAN: The picture is very much ..

BROWN: I'm sorry, it was about two in the morning ...

KAGAN: I'm sorry ...

BROWN: It was about two in the morning when the missile hit Kuwaiti ...

KAGAN: 1:30 a.m.


KAGAN: About 1:30 a.m., so it's probably is past this deadline. So, it's not surprising that it did not make the headlines. And here's the "Arab Times." "On track to another Beirut." I think the theme of both papers, is interesting. It's showing civilians and war coinciding, and how it's affecting, the battles are affecting Iraqi civilians.

BROWN: So ...

KAGAN: So, there you have your morning papers, here in Kuwait City.

BROWN: The "Arab Times" played the market bombing where 50 some people died in Baghdad, as their lead story. KAGAN: Actually, that's the "Kuwait Times." Here's the "Arab Times."

BROWN: Right.

KAGAN: Yes. Neither one of these-I'm sorry, did you say from Baghdad? I couldn't, I didn't hear you. You were breaking up, there.

BROWN: I'm sorry, I think I do that ...

KAGAN: But, both are from, both pictures, both pictures are in or around Basra, Aaron.

BROWN: Got it. Ok. Thank you.


BROWN: Yes. Absolutely. Daryn Kagan is in Kuwait. Jane Arraf is in the-oh, before I go to Jane, one quick question, General, because this came up in one of the, in talking with the "Boston Globe," being that you had, his Marine unit was down to one meal a day, one MRE a day. Is that unusual?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It's unusual for mounted warfare, like this. You wouldn't expect to have that happen. On the other hand, you know, for a day or two, you can get by. That's the way we do it in Ranger School. We live for a week or two on one meal a day. You can do that.

BROWN: Ok. So, it's not-because I think I reacted to it. I suspect many viewers did. These guys are out there getting shot at. It's a lot of trouble, and they don't, and they're hungry, too.

CLARK: Well, they're probably eating every piece of the MRE, rather than just the pieces they like the best.

BROWN: Got it. Jane Arraf is in the northern part of Iraq, where the paratroopers have come in to set their northern front, to begin that process. That's advanced quite a lot in the last couple of days. Jane, good morning to you.

JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Aaron. We're here at the edge of the airfield. It's called the Harir Airfield, and it is what is expected to be, perhaps, a forward-operating base. Now, you can see it behind me, slowly taking shape. Essentially, what's happened has been pretty dramatic, a very dramatic airdrop two days ago, with 1,000 troops from the Army 173rd Airborne Division parachuting out of the sky. They essentially landed in the mud. And, they have been sleeping in the mud. There was frost on the ground this morning. But, over the past couple of nights, transport planes have been coming in under the cover of darkness and bringing in things like food, water, tents. You can see some of the tents off in the distance, beneath the hills. They've set up a logistics tent. They've got other tents up there. They're bringing in armored vehicles. There's a helicopter there that has carried in troops and is big enough to carry in their armored vehicles, as well. And, they are continuing to build up what they say will be a robust force. Now, it's unclear, yet, essentially what they will do with this force. It seems to be undetermined according to officials. But, they could do a few things. They could move out of here to secure the northern oil fields of Kirkuk, and the major city of Mosul. Or, they could, as British defense officials are starting to suggest, just beef up the Kurdish forces. They are working in conjunction with Kurdish militia here who have been waiting a long, long time for this to happen, this taking shape behind us - Aaron.

BROWN: Is there a constant activity there, Jane, planes coming in constantly, or is it just sporadic at this point?

ARRAF: Well, they come in at night. They still consider this hostile territory, even though they are working in Kurdish-controlled territory, which couldn't be more welcoming. In fact, some of the soldiers we talked to yesterday said children here were actually giving them flowers. But, in terms of the operations, they are keeping, obviously, they are keeping very alert. They've secured the perimeter with troops and they're bringing in the supply for transport planes under the cover of darkness. They fly in with very little lights; they unload in the darkness; the people are probably wearing night-scope goggles to be able to see. But, they're trying to keep as low a profile as possible. In the daytime, you can see, just right now, vehicles going down. American armored vehicles. Sorry, personnel carriers, as well as these jeeps and other vehicles, as well as a lot of Kurdish vehicles going in and out, an indication that they are working very closely with the Kurdish forces. And again, one of the main aims, here, is to make sure that the Kurds don't do anything on their own, that they do act in conjunction with the U.S. - Aaron.

BROWN: Jane, thank you. Jane Arraf who's in northern Iraq tonight. General, a quick sentence. Standard operating procedure to do this business tonight?

CLARK: Come in at night? It depends, really, on what your size of your marshland area is on the airfield, as to how many aircraft you can get on the ground. But, that's the key variable. We don't know that, right there. It sounds like they're bringing in, you know, maybe one in an hour, or so. So, it's going to be a robust force. It's not being built up as fast as if we were taking greater risks with it, but that's the commander's call.

BROWN: The commander of the region, or is that, when you say the commander's ...

CLARK: Probably decided by the Air Component Commander for CENTCOM., who's looking at the overall risks in evaluating whether he wants to take a chance on the aircraft. And, the answer, usually, is no. So, ...

BROWN: So, don't take the risk.

CLARK: Very cautious. Exactly. Because there's no hurry.

BROWN: In their view, there's no hurry. Aside from defeating this regime of Saddam Hussein, one of the key missions, obviously, spelled out by the United States and its allies, is to get humanitarian aid in. This has become especially crucial in the southern part of the country. ITN, British network's correspondent, Romilly Weeks, was in the town of Az Zubayr for the last several days as food was handed out, and it was quite a scene.


ROMILLY WEEKS, ITN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Az Zubayr, now, there's a feeling that the tanks are bringing more than just destruction. Over 1,000 turned up as the Army brought in relief supplies into what's still a fragile situation.

COL. MIKE RIDOLEWORTH (ph), BLACKWATCH REGIMENT: When we first got here, we faced a serious problem of fighting against the militia. And, clearly, the source of food and water that the regime had been providing of the sort, was then cut off. So, the aim, now, is to get the town back on its feet as quickly as possible.

WEEKS: Under the shadow of the tanks gun turrets, the soldiers try to create orderly queues on previous occasions, it had been something of a free-for-all.

The distribution system is running quite smoothly today. Everybody is getting bottles of water, a box of rations, and baby food. It's difficult to ensure that those who need it most are getting the aid, but it is a start.

Today, there were people in desperate need. This six-month-old baby was burned in a domestic fire two days ago. All that time, the parents have looked for a doctor. Now, they've found one.

CAPT. SUE EVERINGTON, 4C'S MEDICAL REGIMENT: Obviously, very upsetting for all involved . And, the parents, well, and to have that baby like that for two days. It's very upsetting.

WEEKS: This humanitarian operation is intended to be a stopgap until the aid agencies can return. In the long-term, the people here need more than the Army can give. But, today, they got something.

Romilly Weeks, ITN News in Southern Iraq.


BROWN: And, our coverage continues after a short break.


BROWN: Saturday morning in Baghdad, after a difficult night for the residents of that city. How much damage and, specifically, what was damaged will await the Cent. Com. briefing as they, the satellites pass overhead, see through the smoke. They figure out, the coalition figures out what it hit, what was, what the condition of what it is. But, we can tell you, the explosion, whatever it was, was enormous at around three in the morning, Baghdad time, Saturday morning in the Iraqi capital. We're joined now, from Washington, by Mark Kagan. Mr. Kagan is an analyst of international strategy, specializes in defense in the Mideast. He's currently with the D.C.-based International Strategic Studies Association. Nice to see you. Welcome to the program. We appreciate it.


BROWN: Do you think that it has been, Mark, a lot of hand wringing, it seems to me, over the last couple of days about how this thing has gone. Do you think it's all overblown?

MARK KAGAN: To a certain extent. I mean, when you have to compare, when you compare how many casualties there have been, and how much progress the British and American forces have made, yes, it has been overblown. And, I think, part of that is simply because the coverage of this conflict has been absolutely unprecedented. And the image of a field correspondent in the field dialing home for a wounded soldier, right there in the field, so he can talk with his mother, is just absolutely amazing. And, everything else is amplified and magnified in that sense.

BROWN: Yes. It's actually an interesting problem. I mean, this is sort of off the point of this discussion, but General Clark and I were talking a while ago about, you try and set the context for things, you try and keep things in perspective, but the power of any individual picture, any individual moment, just blows the context off the screen.

MARK KAGAN: I absolutely agree. For me, watching this, it's just absolutely amazing to see all this going on, and at the same time, as you say, I think the worded context is very important, because people who are viewing this are seeing very powerful images. And, it's out of context. You see soldiers, you see battles, you hear the battles, you hear the people in the streets, and you don't necessarily know what's going on outside of that camera. And, at the same time, this is combat in a way that covering the Vietnam War never was.

BROWN: Let's try and put some context back in and then it will probably get blown off the screen by a picture, shortly, but we can at least make the college try. The Iraqi army that's out there is, we all were led to believe, less strong; in many ways, less well- equipped, than the one that the coalition faced in '91. What's your take?

MARK KAGAN: Well, it depends on what you mean by "we" were all led along, in that sense. In fact, the Iraqi army was much, much weaker and smaller than the one in 1991, but, you also have to remember that the Iraqi army in 1991 was subjected to six weeks of unprecedented-well, I wouldn't necessarily say unprecedented, but a tremendous hammering from bombing and missiles. That was not the case, here. Second of all, that was ignoring what actually happened with the Republican Guard in the Gulf War, who fought well, they didn't have the skills and the equipment to fight, or overcome the allied forces, but they fought well when you compare them to what the rest of the Iraqi army did. And, they were just overwhelmed by an overpowering force at that time. They're not just going to crumple and flee the field, and I don't think that's going to happen in the upcoming battle with Baghdad.

BROWN: And, in this case, there is not the same overwhelming force in the field on the coalition side.

MARK KAGAN: No. I believe that the coalition forces are about half of what they were in 1991. And, they're just, with that, there's all the equipment. Part of the reason for this, of course, is the coalition that existed in 1991 doesn't exist today. Part of that has to do with the doctrine that the Pentagon is following at this time, where Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld wants to have a leaner, meaner, more mobile force, and believes that it can do more with less. In a sense, this is putting theory into practice.

BROWN: And, is this then, this is the test of that, of that theory? I mean, this, the secretary of defense had this theory that this is sort of remaking the Army or the armed services for the 21st Century. We're pretty early in the century, but is this the test of that?

MARK KAGAN: To a certain extent. But, you also have to realize that the Iraqis may not, necessarily, want to make the same test, or go through the same test that the U.S. wants them to go through.


MARK KAGAN: In particular ...

BROWN: That seems pretty clear at this point, doesn't it? I mean, they seem to be fighting a fight that the Americans fought in 1968, or in Somalia.

MARK KAGAN: In Somalia, definitely. In 1968, maybe less so, but there is one very strong parallel between now and 1968, where the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong were fighting a war for world opinion. And, that's definitely what Saddam Hussein is fighting. He's fighting for the Arab World, for the Muslim world, for the Third World, and he's also fighting to show the Iraqi people that he's still there. And, as long as he's still there, people are going to be very, very, very careful about showing support for anything that the Americans and the British do, even if we put aside the fact that there is a natural patriotism among the Iraqis that's been aroused. That happened in the Soviet Union when the Germans invaded in 1941, even though the Russians hated Stalin, who is almost a father figure to Saddam.


MARK KAGAN: And, there's also the fact that the Iraqis just don't like foreigners.

BROWN: It's a complicated field of play. Mark, it's nice to talk to you. MARK KAGAN: Thank you.

BROWN: We appreciate your waiting around for us tonight in Washington. Thank you, very much. Mark Kagan. We'll take a break, and our coverage will continue in just a moment.


BROWN: This is odd, I think, that somehow the two main storylines of the day involve, one involve what might have been an American bomb or missile that went astray and ended up in a civilian part of Baghdad, killing more than 50 people, and that was pretty much the beginning of the day; and then towards the end of the day, around dinner time, here in the East Coast, the story shifted to Kuwait, where, not at all by accident, an Iraqi missile hit in a shopping mall there. It's Saturday morning in both places, now, and in both places, they are assessing, they are assessing the situation, assessing the damage, picking up the pieces, and moving on. We asked Miles O'Brien to look at what the missile might have been, and he has more on that, now.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: With a little bit of technological sleuthing and some knowledge, we can get a pretty good idea of what the likely type of missile that was used in the attack on Kuwait City. To help me do that, we are joined by an expert, Major General Don Shepperd, Retired U.S. Air Force. And, before we get into some of the possible missiles in the Iraqi arsenal that might have been used, let's get the lay of the land, here. Talk about Kuwait City and its proximity to Iraq. Kuwait, of course, very small country. There's Kuwait City, right down there on the coast. There's Baghdad, just to give you a sense of that. That's almost 350 miles, there. But, Scuds, of course, come up all the time in these situations. The Scud range is about what?

MAJ. GEN. DON SHEPPERD, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: About 185 miles, the Scud that we saw during the Gulf War.

O'BRIEN: All right. That puts it right in, probably, right in about that arc, there. But, that, as we look at some of the specifications of the Scud, not so likely.

SHEPPERD: I don't think it was it. Reason, that it is, is that the air defense network is set up to look with its Radars for the Scud. The Scud is a high launch. It goes way up in the atmosphere, and comes down. I believe the Patriot Radars would have seen that, and you would have heard air defense sirens. I don't think this is it, Miles.

O'BRIEN: All right. Let's take a little closer look at the area around here, as we zoom in on Kuwait City, and give you a sense of some other possibilities. Shorter-range missiles, but it doesn't take a lot, when you are talking about Kuwait City, and its proximity. Once again, in the foreground, that's in the location of that mall, that we already saw the problem. And, over here, that is Basra. The distance between those two points is just about 80 miles. And, 80 miles, all of a sudden, opens up a lot of other possibilities, doesn't it? Let's take a look at one of the possible suspects, here, as we look at one of the, the items in the Iraqi arsenal, as we know it. This is the ...

SHEPPERD: Ababil. Yes. The Ababil, and Al Fatah missile. They have ranges of 60 to 80 miles, around in there. They're an adaptation of the Soviet Free Rocket Over Ground, or FROG missile. Again, I don't think this was it, because I looked at the fins that we saw in the mall there, and it appears to me that they're much bigger than is on this missile. So, I don't think this is it, either, Miles.

O'BRIEN: All right. So, finally in this same range, a more likely suspect, according to you, would be which one.

SHEPPERD: The Chinese-made Silkworm missile. It's an anti- shipping missile designed to be made and shot from the shore to ships out in the water. On the other hand, it can be pointed over land. And, it appears to me from the wreckage that I saw, or the remains that I saw in the shopping center area there, that it would very likely be this. I look at the wings, that looks to me like what it is.

O'BRIEN: All right. Let's take a quick look at the wreckage and compare it to some pictures that we found at a place called the Federation of American Scientists Web site. That is imagery from the pictures shot at the mall. Kind of a close-up of that fin. If you match it up against the picture of the Chinese-made, Silkworm missile that we found, you are able to kind of put those two together pretty well.

SHEPPERD: Indeed. Yes. This missile is about, at least 20 feet long. It has a warhead that is almost like a 1,000-pound bomb that we've seen going off, some of that in downtown Baghdad. So, that would account for the huge blast. Also, this missile did not hit the shopping center. I can look and tell you that. There's no shrapnel throughout the shopping center. There's no burn marks on the shopping center. Reportedly, it hit in a canal next to the shopping center, and the blast was tempered by the berm. All of the damage I saw in the shopping center appeared to be blast damage, or concussion damage, Miles.

O'BRIEN: All right. Not a long distance between Kuwait City and Basra, well within the range. That certainly puts it in the realm of possibility. And, of course, our reporters on the scene tell us, first of all, it came from the northeast; secondly, Chinese markings on it.

SHEPPERD: And, the bad guys still own downtown Basra, so it could have come from there, very likely possibility.

O'BRIEN: Don Shepperd.

SHEPPERD: Thanks, very much.

O'BRIEN: We thank you.

BROWN: Ok, now shortly after the missile hit, Sanjay Gupta, who's over there and was reporting on it, found some debris from the missile, and it offers a clue as to its origin. One of those missiles, you heard General Shepperd say, was Chinese made, and you can see, if you look carefully, or closely, Chinese characters on that piece of debris that Dr. Gupta found. I don't know that that's enough for the jury to convict in that regard, and say it is definitively that one missile, but for the rest of us, it's pretty convincing. We'll take a short break. Our coverage continues in a moment.


BROWN: There aren't in the scheme of things, many people in the world who can say firsthand what it is like to kill someone in combat. We know some young people will come back from Iraq with that terrible knowledge, and we'd like to think that over time, that memory will fade and become easier to deal with. But, we have the young people from wars gone by to tell us otherwise. Here's CNN's Candy Crowley.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They are, we are told, well trained.

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R-NE), VIETNAM VETERAN: This is a messy business. There is nothing very pretty about the training that you take to prepare you for combat because it is to kill people.

CROWLEY: In the spring of 1970, a squad of U.S. soldiers spotted a small unit of Viet Cong it had been circling for days. Staff Sergeant Tom Ridge opened fire. A Viet Cong soldier dropped dead.

(on camera): Did you, at the time, or have you since looked back and pondered on killing someone?


CROWLEY: And, what's that like?

RIDGE: That's one of those introspective times, where it's just- it's just an introspective time, not a public time.

CROWLEY (voice-over): Duke Cunningham was a Vietnam fighter ace, shooting down five enemy planes. After his first, he returned to his ship deck, full of sailors and crew, cheering, shaking his hand, pushing to slap his back.

REP. "DUKE" CUNNINGHAM (R-CA), VIETNAM VETERAN: And, one of the guys looked at me and says, "Duke, what's it like to kill somebody." And, all of a sudden, bang, it just hit me, that you don't think about those things. And, it's removed. It's far off. It's not in close, and I went to the priest because it bothered me. And, I knew I could do it again. But, I didn't know it was going to bother me this much, as it did, and, and it still does.

CROWLEY: Of all the wounds time does not heal, the ones that fester deep in the soul are the wounds you inflict. RIDGE: It's not something civilized people do. You don't - it's just - it's just not a matter of being tormented, but troubled in the sense that that's not what we do, unless we're called upon to do it under the most extreme set of circumstances.

CROWLEY: War may sometimes be a necessary thing, but it can never be a natural thing. Training bridges that gap. Sergeant Chuck Hagel was seriously wounded twice in Vietnam.

HAGEL: You were trying to kill people because the alternative is, if you are in combat, you will be killed. So, your choices are not varied. It's very simple. And, so you do what you're trained to do. You do what you're there to do. In Vietnam, it was body counting.

CROWLEY: Training is what keeps you running toward the front, while trucks, loaded with dead bodies, pass you going the other way.

REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D-NY), KOREAN WAR VETERAN: It's hard to explain what training can do. Training sets your mind to respond, not to common sense and judgment, but to training. You really don't have time to think, "I'm going the wrong way. I should be going the other way."

CROWLEY: Later, when he was wounded and trapped behind enemy lines in Korea, Staff Sergeant Charlie Rangel led 40 men, fighting their way to safety. He won a Bronze Star.

RANGEL: If you're killing people, it's out of fear, not really, in my opinion, out of bravery. Nobody's looking for medals. Everyone wants to live another day.

CROWLEY: Do not misunderstand, Rangel, Cunningham, Ridge, and Hagel, are all proud, decorated combat veterans. It's just that decades later, killing still troubles the soul. Maybe that's a good thing.

(on camera): Did you do it again?

CUNNINGHAM: I did. I shot down four more MiGS, and I often told myself, I said that, "If I ever get used to this, I just shouldn't be here."

CROWLEY: Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.





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