CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Rumsfeld Takes Questions on the Streets of D.C.
Aired March 30, 2003 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN CO-ANCHOR: Hello yet again, I'm Bill Hemmer here in Kuwait City.
General Tommy Franks a few moments ago wrapping up his briefing today in Qatar saying that Saddam Hussein's regime is under intense pressure and an emerging pattern of civilian attacks against U.S. forces can be characterized, he says as desperate measures.
Today the tactic apparently coming to Kuwait, just about an hour ago we have learned now that a man drove a pickup truck into a group of U.S. soldiers lined up at a military store known as a PX at Camp of Udairi, northwest of Kuwait City. Fifteen soldiers apparently hurt in that, no one killed as a result. Camp Udairi is filled with soldiers mostly from the Army's 5 Corps. There are no reports of fatalities yet again, as I mentioned and we do not know the nationality of the driver. More on that when we get it; it's early right now in the developing stages of that story.
Four soldiers killed yesterday by a suicide bomber in central Iraq; U.S. troops reportedly on edge in that part of country. General Franks says U.S. troops inside of Iraq will have to take a commonsense approach to dealing with ordinary Iraqis. That means exercising more caution in when vehicles are approached, inspecting the contents from a greater distance.
All this comes as an Iraqi military spokesman says four thousand Arabs have come to Iraq to, quote, "martyr themselves" in more suicide attacks. General Franks says these attacks look like terrorism to him, but he says that assessment would be quote, "in the eye of the beholder," end quote.
I want to bring you to Heidi COLLINS who is with me today at the CNN Center. Paula is off today on this Sunday.
Heidi, hello again.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN CO-ANCHOR: Hello Bill. Time now to go ahead and check some of latest war developments.
The Chairman of U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers says U.S. forces will be able to adjust tactics to deal with suicide bombings like the one that killed four U.S. soldiers near Najaf yesterday.
U.S. Marines appear to have secured the southern bank of the Euphrates River near Nasiriyah, but CNN's Art Harris with the Third Battalion of the Second Marines says there is still hostile fire coming from the north side of the river.
A British general involved in bringing aid to Iraq says despite the continuing fighting in Basra, aids stationed have been set up on the outskirts of city, he says. A pipeline is being built from Kuwait to southern Iraq to bring in thousands of gallons of water. I am sure that is much-needed water indeed.
Bill, back to you.
HEMMER: All right Heidi, back in touch with you in a moment. In the meantime, to our viewers, we are going to be hearing yet again today from many of our reporters embedded inside of Iraq. Martin Savidge is with the Marines. We will check in with Marty today, Walt Rodgers with the 3-7 Calvary somewhere again between Najaf and Baghdad, and Christiana Amanpour Manor is along the Kuwaiti border in southeastern Iraq.
Meanwhile coalition forces still poised in the central part of the country are ready to move at some point on Iraq's capital, when that happens, though, is anybody's guess. Let's check in now by way of videophone and Walt Rodgers there with the 7 Calv.
Walter, good afternoon.
WALTER RODGERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Bill. The U.S. Army's 3 Squadron 7 Calvary has been rolling forward all morning and by our calculations, the 7 Calv. is now within 50 miles of the southern suburbs of Baghdad, 50 miles is the crow fly.
Now, there remains substantial Iraqi military units between the 7 Calvary and the southern suburbs of Baghdad. We know the Medina Division is there. The Hamarabi Division is up there somewhere in back of me. Having said that, it appears that the 7 Calvary's tactic is as it was about a week ago, to punch forward, try to lure the Iraqi detachment, the Iraqi units out of their entrenchments around Baghdad.
So far, however, the Iraqi regiment, the Iraqi divisions are not taking the bait. Having said that however, this tactic worked very well about five or six days ago when the 7 Calvary rolled forward northeast of Najaf. At that point, the elements of the Medina Division came rolling out of Baghdad. And they came to intercept the 7 Calvary. Before they ever got there however, what we saw was a huge elements of U.S. Air Force bombing the heck out of them.
And we understand that in recent days as a result of Air Force bombing, the Medina Division has been degraded or attrited as the Army says. The attrition is now down 45 percent, perhaps even 65 percent. So again, the 7 Calvary probing north, ever probing cautiously towards Baghdad; the aim being to draw the Iraqis out into the open. This time however, they are not taking the bait -- Bill.
HEMMER: Walter, quickly, and we talked about this two days ago, the reports of about some sort of operational pause in the military strategy and movement on the ground. From your perspective, even though you are say you are inching forward north more and more every day, have you noted much of a pause there? RODGERS: That's negative. We have not. As I say, 7 Calvary moved from where it was south of Najaf; again, northward today to within 50 miles of the southern suburbs. I could tell you more, but I guess I can't tell you more that we know. And there is not what you would call a pause. What you're seeing is movements all across the board, the various arrows all-pointing towards the bull's eye, which is Baghdad.
It's not a headlong mad rush; it can't be for a number of reasons. Some of the other units, the Marines and the British are not crunching forward as fast as the Army seems to be doing. Having said that, everything we have seen here is consistent with what General Tommy Franks just said. And again, when you have the 7 Calvary 50 miles south of the suburbs of southern Baghdad, there is no pause -- Bill.
HEMMER: Walter, thanks. Embedded with the 7 Calvary. We will be back in touch again throughout the day today.
The weather is quite nice throughout the region and we know it from a few days ago, once the sandstorm moved out of here, the military operations did ake up quite a bit in the skies and on the ground in Iraq.
The Medina Division by the way described to us as two -- one of the best of six Republican Guard divisions. If it is true of what Pentagon has said now for two days, if 35 percent degraded right now, that would be good news from the coalition. But again, that word coming from Central Command.
Walt, thanks again.
Here is Heidi again at the CNN Center -- Heidi.
COLLINS: Thanks, Bill.
British Royal Marines in the southern town of Basra have captured an Iraqi general. Our Christiane Amanpour was outside of Basra earlier today, she now joins us by videophone from Umm Qasr -- Christian.
CHRISTIAN AMANPOUR, CNN REPORTER: Heidi, indeed, I am actually on the road to Basra, and we can confirm yes that the British of 42 Commando Raid from the British Royal Marine did take on both Iraqi Infantry and tanks. It is an on going operation and we actually saw many of them take off in their helicopters to go over there and get into that battle. They did capture, we are told, five senior Iraqi officers including a general. And we are told they killed one Iraqi colonel from the Republican Guard.
Now, at same time of course, humanitarian aid is a big issue here and trying to get just water piped to the people is a major priority. We were in Umm Qasr earlier this morning, and we did see the first water gushing from that pipeline, which is being extended from Kuwait now into southern Iraq. We saw the water go into tankers and start to be taking around town. But is getting off to a slow start because there's confusion amongst the people about whether they are meant to pay for it or not. The tanker drivers say they want money. The people don't want to pay. The U.S. says they are not meant to pay, the British say they are meant to pay. So it is a bit of confusion at the moment and probably highlights the difficulty for military personnel could take on humanitarian work. This is generally the work of NGO's and the U.N. and the like, but of course they are not here during this war.
Now, in other warfare, the psychological warfare continues; the British trying to use all means at their disposal to break the influences of Saddam Hussein on the people. So what they've done is, they have gone in on several occasions they tell and we have some pictures from one of these occasions. They have gone in to smash, they tell us, statues of Saddam and also to smash murals. They are trying to deface any kind of image and influence of Saddam Hussein. It is not at all sure whether this tactic will work in terms of breaking the political influence and control. And certainly we haven't seen any reaction that would suggest that it's giving the people space to rise up.
Of course the British also tell us that they took out a TV tower in Basra that's trying to prevent the Baghdad regime from talking to the people of Basra.
A little bit more on the humanitarian situation. They have tried to get, and they are getting humanitarian aid into one of the city's towns, really just north of here, and they are hoping that that will be a preview to what they are trying to do also to get aid into Basra but they not yet have started to do that -- Heidi.
COLLINS: Christiane, one quick question for you on the humanitarian side of things. I am curious to know, as I am sure a lot of people are, how you see it as far as the Iraqi people and how they are doing, their condition with this much-needed water that they are waiting for on the pipeline?
AMANPOUR: Well, the water is definitely an issue. Basically the situation is the following. Generally, they have not had running, drinking water to their houses in this part of the world. And so water throughout the last several years has been brought in by tankers from a big city of Basra.
Now that has stopped since the war. So in order to try to connect it, they have opened up this pipeline. And up until this pipeline was opened it was the military, the U.S. and U.K. military who were using their vehicles to bring water up from Kuwait and try to distribute it. But that is only a limited capacity and they need their own resources for the military as well.
So, basically the military was trying to fill the gap. Basically, the people need the water. But in terms of food, there is no humanitarian crisis in terms of food right now. Obviously, people have always relied on the U.N. for their food needs. But we understand that they have stockpiled quite a lot and eventually these stocks will dwindle. So there will be a need to bring in the food. But the food that they are trying to bring in is as much a psychological weapon and a confidence-building weapon as anything else. And as one U.S. major told me today, we're trying to get the people of Iraq to like us; this is one way to do it.
COLLINS: All right, thank you. CNN's Christiane Amanpoura on her way to Umm Qasr.
We are going to send it back over to Bill Hemmer now in Kuwait -- Bill.
HEMMER: Heidi, thank you, much. Camp Udairi is a facility in the Kuwait Desert northwest of Kuwait City. About an hour and a half ago, the news did break that some sort of pickup truck was driven into a group of U.S. soldiers. Word now, 15 are injured, no fatalities though. We continue to collect more information on this side of the world and so to does Patty Davis live at the Pentagon.
Patty, what are they saying there?
PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, a confirmation here that that it did indeed did take place as you heard in that briefing with the head of U.S. Central Command, Tommy Franks. He said, though, as they say here, they are waiting more details. Now Franks said though, that this is nothing like the suicide bombing that took place yesterday. Four U.S. soldiers killed when an Iraqi drove up and detonated a suicide bomb just as they approached his vehicle.
How to avoid those suicide bombings in the future? Franks says there will be a change in tactics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. TOMMY FRANKS, CMDR. U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: We see a suicide bomber attack yesterday, a pure means of terrorism, and then we see the regime claiming credit for that. Remarkable.
So in the days ahead before -- before one may be inclined to ask the question, what does that mean? Well, what it means is that all of our troops will exercise caution, will increase the standoff to civilian vehicles, and the things I think would be common sense to anyone in order to better protect against this particular kind of threat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DAVIS: Now General Franks says that this war with Iraq is on plan. That coalition forces are making gains; that there has been no pause in the military command -- in military campaign. Now, some U.S. forces now within 60 miles of Baghdad.
Now, Franks was asked if Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld insisted on fewer troops being sent into Iraq, and whether he overruled Franks in a number of ways. That in a published report. But Franks denies that saying quote, "the plan you see is the plan that we have been on" -- Bill. HEMMER: Patty, thanks. Patty Davis live at the Pentagon. And throughout the day here, we will continue to gauge public reactions to the ongoing war day 11.
How do Americans feel? Leon Harris has been checking into some poll numbers. A new survey is out.
Leon -- good morning to you.
LEON HARRIS, CNN CORRESPONENT: Good morning Bill and good morning, folks. Yes Bill, we have a snapshot of the American attitudes on the war right now. And the results really should be quite heartening to those folks there at the Pentagon as well as at the White House.
Now these are the results that we have from the latest CNN-"Time" Magazine Poll. We have found that more than half of those surveyed believe in Washington was a bit too optimistic about the war before it started. Now, having said that, the next result we have is this one. Only 23 percent think that more troops should have been in place before the war began. And when it comes to the outcome of the war, 56 percent believed it will be better for the U.S. if Saddam Hussein were killed. Thirty-seven percent think the best result would be Saddam's capture.
So there you have it. There's the snapshot.
Heidi, over to you now.
COLLINS: Thanks, Leon. In just a few minutes, we are going to speak with General Major Don Shepherd who we have been speaking with for several days. In fact, 11 days into Operation Iraqi Freedom. We are going to talk about the progress of U.S. troops right after this.
HEMMER: The job of the U.S. Marines in and around Iraq, the southern part of the country continues to be very pesky and difficult job. Marty Savidge still embedded with the U.S. Marines southcentral part of the country, I believe.
Marty, good afternoon to you. What do you have?
MARTY SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Bill. Well the Marines are now taking a much more pro-active response when it comes to trying to track down these paramilitary units who are FedayeenS as they have been known. These are the same groups that have been harassing the supply lines for U.S. military forces and also those striking at military units.
So, what the Marines have done is enough of just patrolling up and down the highways, they want to go out and fight and find and take these people on. And here is how they did it. We went along with one patrol today. It was leading out on the base camp here, riding in APC's. It was really before the sun came up and that was exactly the plan, to try to maybe even catch those that are involved in these actions against the U.S. sleeping.
One group of Marines and APC's sweep into one side of town, other Marines dug in on foot, standing by on the opposite end of town just in case somebody came running out the back door. And in went the Marines. But it wasn't storm in and kick down the doors. They went with interpreters. They have Arab speakers amongst their own Marines and the first thing they sought out was the headman or at least the village elder to sit down and talk with him to get the lay of the land.
This was not the idea of just go in there and tear things apart. Once they had a long conversation with him the man said, well yes, there were some of those paramilitary men around here, but they've gone. They left a number of days ago.
So that was the end of the search and the destroy part of the mission. And then a humanitarian mission sort of came out as a result; because you see the people of this village have almost nothing. They don't have electricity and lately they don't have any water that is because the Iraqi soldiers about five days ago according to them shut the water service down to their particular village.
Now, their children are sick because they are drinking water anymore they can find it, in the backwaters and in the culverts. So the Marines have said that they will pledge to try to get the town's water turned back on again.
So, it's interesting. It started off very tense, very nervous; perhaps there would be some gun battle. Instead, it ends up with the village getting its water supply back. And of course, that's very important to the Marines because if you can win over the population, the Iraqi people, then that's less of a group you have to fight as you push on with your original mission to head north to Baghdad -- Bill.
HEMMER: Yes. Sounds like a good Sunday or a better one than we thought anyway. Marty -- thanks. Martin Savidge embedded with U.S. Marines.
Heidi again now at the CNN Center.
COLLINS: Thanks, Bill. Different path but the same military division, the Marines. CNN's Art Harris is outside Nasiriyah. He joins us now on the phone with an update on the Second Marine Division.
Hi, Art -- what can tell us where you are?
ART HARRIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Heidi, intense fighting along the banks of the Euphrates where I have been for a day with the Marines. Hell Fire missiles been shot by Cobra helicopters all day long, just a few minutes ago as well against Iraqi positions. Rocket-propelled grenades have been shot at the Marines. Mortars have been shot at the Marines but they missed and landed in the middle of the river earlier today. And the Marines have been firing back all day long.
Very, very heavy air support by the Cobras. I have been watching the (AUDIO GAP) hit apartment buildings across the river. And I asked them did they -- did they hit their targets? And they said, well, we saw men with AK-47s go in the building; we didn't see anyone come out -- Heidi.
COLLINS: Art, I also want to ask you a little more about news from Nasiriyah about the Marines and finding what they found inside the hospital there: chemical gear, bloody uniforms from the U.S. troops. What has been the reaction to all of that as far as moral from the Marines that you're with?
HARRIS: The Marines are finding (AUDIO GAP) an Iraqi paramilitary force that is hiding in hospitals, putting machine gun nests in mosques. They had a firefight with one yesterday. And actually, now that they are understanding the enemy better, they now know what they were fighting. Before they didn't know what to expect. So morale is good, is up. They are adapting they say. And actually (AUDIO GAP)...
COLLINS: All right. Unfortunately technical difficulties there sometimes leave us patchy on the phone. We will get back to CNN's Art Harris as soon as possible to find out more about what is happening there.
Speaking of understanding the enemy we are going to learn a little bit more about what U.S. troops are going through and the very latest developments on the war.
Joining us now from CNN's Center, our military analyst Major General Don Shepperd along with Renay San Miguel.
RENAY SAN MIGUEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Heidi, thank you very much. Well, as General Franks put it, where we stand today, where the coalition stands today not only acceptable in my view it is truly remarkable. Let's show our viewers exactly what has been accomplished in 11 days of this campaign.
General, you go ahead and point and I will tell tele-straight, and we will everybody what --
MAJ. GEN. DON SHEPPERD (RET), U.S. AIR FORCE: I will start at bottom down here.
General Franks made it very clear that he kicked off the campaign with the flexibility because he had the flexibility with ground forces to secure the southern oil fields as opposed to the original air campaign that everyone had talked about. He talked about securing all these supply lines up the Euphrates River. The Marines are well past Nasiriyah but there is still fighting going on in Nasiriyah. They are finding it slow moving in some of the area, rapid movement in the others.
The 3 to 7 Calvary is not making a pause up here in the Karbala area, but is rather moving back and forth. Their reconnaissance and screening force, they're seeking out the bottom or the lower elements of the Medina Division here. Lots of bombing going on in the Republican Guards. Bombing going on in the Baghdad area, continual bombing all of the time.
And then up here in the northern part Special Operation forces and Kurdish forces attacking the Ansar al Islam as well as bombing of the Ansar al Islam camp up here. Now exploitation of that area going on.
So action going on all over Iraq and General Franks made the point at times and places of his choosing because he has the capability and flexibility to do it with the forces available right now.
SAN MIGUEL: And also the Special Ops in the north also keeping things quiet between the Kurds and the Turbs.
SHEPPERD: Very important, very important indeed.
SAN MIGUEL: All right. Thank you very much for the update.
Bill, back to you.
HEMMER: All right Renay. Thank you much. Talk to you again a bit later this morning.
In the meantime, though, a hidden enemy on the battlefield, in a moment. Is lack of sleep helping to make U.S. troops tired and does it impact them on the battlefield. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here. So too is a guest stateside. We will get to all that we come back here on a Sunday edition of CNN.
HEMMER: Back here live in Kuwait City. We want to talk about sleep deprivation, an ever-present problem on the front lines. How can war planners make sure that troops are rested and ready for battle, especially when they are going sometimes what appears to be 24 hours a day?
Dr. John Kala works with a war fighter fatigue program; it's a countermeasure program at Brooks City Air Force Base. He is going to join us in a moment live in San Antonio, Texas. But before we get there to Dr. Caldwell, Dr. Sanjay Gupta checks in with his own expertise on this.
Good afternoon to you. I know you have been looking at this. What are you coming up with?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I will tell you it is a war of exhaustion, no question about it. And we certainly hear about the coalition forces but the Iraqi force as well, civilians as well everyone, awake during the day. Lots of fighting going on at night. There is no question about it.
So, what exactly does sleep -- or lack of sleep do to you? Well it causes something called Battle Fatigue. And there are all sorts of symptoms that are associated with this: decreased concentration, decreased memory, difficulty coordinating movements especially in a timely fashion, and finally decreased judgment. You can get a sense of what they might do, all of those things on the battlefield.
There are some strategies that people talk about as well to try and combat this battle fatigue. Some of them more successful than others. Automated system. Automated systems within -- so far as airplanes go, as far as tanks go, trying to decrease the amount of movements that a particular soldier may have to do. Power naps, go pills, caffeine, we hear a lot about those, increasing carbohydrates as well.
There's a lot of questions about this, no question about it. In order to help us sort through that Bill, you mentioned Dr. John Caldwell. He has got an international reputation for combating military fatigue, we are going to go to him and ask him a few questions.
HEMMER: Hey John, Dr. Caldwell, when you were here with us listening to Sanjay, I am curious to know just from your perspective, do military commanders, are they trained in any way to look out for sleep deprivation and how they would counter it?
DR. JOHN CALDWELL, SLEEP DEPRIVATION EXPERT: Yes, quite -- we do quite a bit of training of our military leaders and our flight surgeon community. I think probably it's been received much more attention in the aviation community than perhaps with some of the ground troop. So we've certainly got a ways to go, but we're making headway with explaining what the problem of fatigue is and what the reasonable countermeasures that can be used out in the battlefield environment.
GUPTA: Well, you know that is a very interesting point. There are a lot of questions about this. People talk about how much sleep do you really need? And I think that's an important question. How much sleep do you really need, and does that change under battle situations?
CALDWELL: Well, no. The amount of sleep needs don't change under battlefield situations. We know that human beginnings need an average of eight hours of sleep every day. And certainly if you started getting into the realm of only four or five hours a day, then you are going to get almost immediate decrements in the ability to process cognitive information. And in fact, research has shown us that if you go into a situation of total sleep deprivation that people lose about 25 percent of their mental -- higher mental capabilities for every 24 hours that they go without sleep.
HEMMER: And it is something that has already gotten a lot of attention early on this conflict.
Dr. John Caldwell of San Antonio, Texas, thanks you for your time.
Quickly, Sanjay to you. You were out there with the U.S. Marines. You were seeing people get literally two hours of sleep per night.
GUPTA: Right and what they told me was that get as much sleep as you can, even if it's 45-minute power nap, that is better than nothing. Stay away from the caffeine is what I heard as well. It is kind of like taking money out of the bank; at some point you're going to have to redeposit that. Caffeine is tough to come by -- that you know, as you know from these MRE's high in carbohydrates that gives you extra energy. So they put bars -- almost a candy bar type thing that's loaded with caffeine as well. Those are some strategies that are being employed.
But again taking that money out of the bank, they are going to need to catch up on that sleep at some point.
HEMMER: And you call that a crash. Exactly right.
HEMMER: Thank you Sanjay. Thank you Dr. Caldwell as well.
Back in a moment here more live in Kuwait City and more live at the CNN Center. Back after this.
HARRIS: Good morning from the CNN newsroom. Here is what is happening this hour.
At least 15 soldiers were injured this morning when a civilian drove a pickup truck into a military store at a camp in Kuwait. Shots were reportedly fired a military source tells CNN. U.S. Central Command is now looking into the incident. We will have details coming up on that in just a moment.
Two Marines have been killed in separate incidents. U.S. Central Command says that one was hit by a HUMVEE during a firefight and the other one drowned when his HUMVEE roll into a canal. Both with the Marine First Expedition Expeditionary Force fighting in southcentral Iraq, both incidents happened on Friday.
Here is a look at some of the damage from the latest air strikes on Baghdad. Two Surface-to-Air missile sites and an intelligence command center were among the targets. At least four large explosions rocked the residential area where CNN has learned some Iraqi government officials lived.
Iraq's vice president is threatening more suicide attacks against Americans after the deaths of four U.S. soldiers in Najaf. A U.S. military spokesman says the troops were manning a checkpoint yesterday when a man driving a taxi motioned to the soldiers for help. When they came over, blew himself up with the vehicles killing himself and the soldiers.
A massive anti-war protest in Jakarta, Indonesia; about 100,000 demonstrators marched on the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta shouting anti- American slogans. It's being called the biggest war protest there. Indonesia, by the way, is the most populous Muslim nation.
Coming up here on the network, more on the coalition air strikes. We will find out about the strategic significance of the latest target.
And U.S. Marines uncover weapons and find what they believed be the bloddy fatigues of the American soldiers.
Plus, the Pentagon is denying Iraq's claim that a U.S. helicopter has been shot down; all that and much more ahead as the coverage of the war in Iraq continues right now.
HEMMER: All right. Hello again, I'm Bill Hemmer live in Kuwait City. It's Sunday, day 11 right now on the war in Iraq.
Still awaiting more information today out of Camp Udairi in northwestern Kuwait. A pickup truck earlier today drove into a group of U.S. soldiers and again, we understand right now, 15 are injured, none killed. Camp Udairi filled with soldiers mostly from the Army's 5 Corps; it's also where you find a number of attack helicopters, the Apaches and the Black Hawks as well.
In the meantime though, back in Washington, Don Rumsfeld is now taking questions on the streets of D.C. We will listen to the secretary of defense.
QUESTION: You rejected the advice of Pentagon standards to send more troops into Iraq and also that you ignored General Franks' advice to delay the invasion. Is there any truth to this or can you comment on this report?
DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Not at all. There's no -- first of all, I haven't seen the article, so I don't want to comment on it. In terms of the two questions you've posed, each are false.
The number of forces is a judgment that was made as a result of General Franks developing his plan, working it with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, presenting it to me and the National Security Council and the president. It has been approved by everyone who's had a look at it. It's been described as an excellent plan. I'd be delighted to take credit for it, but it wouldn't be fair because it's a product that is essentially General Franks' but certainly is the result of the -- a lot of thought from a very lot fine military planners.
The number of troops -- it's interesting; we've been at this for about nine days. We have some 300,000-coalition forces there. They're going up every day by about 2,000, 3,000 people, between 1 and a half and 3,000 people. We have in nine days, secured the southern oil fields, secured the port, moved within 49 miles of Baghdad, forces are moving towards Tikrit and Baghdad from the north, from the west, from the south.
There has not been an humanitarian crisis. There has not been massive refugees. There has been practically, just limited collateral damage. Why has that been that way? Well, it's because General Franks' plan is an excellent one. It was different, and I think a lot of people all of the second-guessers seem to me to be people who haven't seen the plan for the most part and who were expecting the normal approach. The normal approach was a long air war. If you think, go back to the Gulf War, 38 days or Kosovo 78 days of an air war. General Franks made a decision that we had lost strategic surprise because of the long U.N. process and because of President Bush's desire, and our desire, to give Saddam Hussein one last chance to leave the country and avoid a war. So there was the 48-hour ultimatum.
Now, once you've done that, when the 48-hour ultimatum ends, it's very clear that something's going to happen. And now, he -- so he had lost strategic surprise; he did end up with tactical surprise. And he did it before starting the ground war before the air war and by doing that he was able to avoid having Scuds fired into neighboring countries, as happened during the Gulf Wa, during that long air war.
Scud missiles were fired into Israel and Jordan and Saudi Arabia. That didn't happen this time. There were massive refugees, that didn't happen this time. There was the humanitarian crisis after 38 days of an air war. That didn't happen this time.
So he's had a lot of success. He's moved more than 200 miles, probably as much as any modern Army as fast as any modern Army, and he's doing really a truly outstanding job. And the men and women in uniform and General Franks and his team I think just deserve a great deal of credit.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, also, do you expect because of the resistance that you have encountered that there simply aren't enough troops now on the ground now to do the job?
RUMSFELD: The resistance that's been encountered has -- has been in pockets quite stiff. It's going to get more difficult as we move closer to Baghdad, there is no question, but that you are going to begin confronting the Republican Guard. And I would suspect that the most dangerous and difficult days are still ahead of us.
You say, wouldn't you like more troops on the ground? There are more troops on the ground and they are coming in every day. This has been planned, that's what was his plan was. I haven't sign a new deployment order in days.
These are deployments that people were alerted months ago. They were brought on active duty, they were trained, they have been loading their ships, they have been sending the ships over there. They've been loading themselves into the airplanes and flying over there. And it's a steady stream of people. And there will be as many people brought into that country as is necessary.
But the one thing you that can be certain of, it's going to end and end with the Iraqi people liberated. And we will have done it, we hope and pray in a way that we're proud of; with a minimal loss of human life our side, the coalition side; as well as on the part of the innocent Iraqi people, who in many respects are hostages to that vicious regime.
Thank you very much.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary...
RUMSFELD: I have to go.
HEMMER: That was Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense headed in or out of the interview out of the studios in Washington, D.C. Yet again, countering the reports that are out there. The reports out there about...
RUMSFELD: The coalition forces are doing a superb job. There is just no question of it. Basra, at the present time is still not completely subdued. But the British forces are in there, they're getting increase intelligence from the local people in that city, telling them where the death squads are, where they can find these people that are shooting people. I shouldn't predict a time, but I can just tell you the -- no, I'm not going to mention how long it'll take, but they're doing a great job, believe me
QUESTION: Any guesstimates how long?
RUMSFELD: I have my own guesses but I don't do timetables.
HEMMER: All right, a second double dose there of Donald Rumsfeld before that interview is conducted on NBC.
He said a number of things including once again, vehemently denying these reports, much like Tommy Franks did an hour ago about questions about whether or not there is enough troops strengthand whether or not the U.S. started this war with enough troop strength in the region.
For the record, 125,000 between the British and U.S. military operating in Iraq. We anticipate that number, we hear from Central Command anyway, by the end of the month of April; about four to five weeks from now, those numbers are going to swell to about 200,000. But again, strong denials from Tommy Franks earlier, Donald Rumsfeld now.
And we will talk to Ken Pollack in a moment. He has opinions on this; in fact, he wrote about it in his book. Ken Pollack comes up next when we come back here on CNN. Back in a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HEMMER: And again, you heard the secretary of defense say a short time ago, the plan is excellent, and the plan is in place. He said once the 48-hour ultimatum came to an end, something was going to happen.
Let's talk to Ken Pollack now, the author of "The Threatening Storm," and former CIA analyst. His job was to do research essentially and study the Iraqi military.
Ken, good to have you back here.
KEN POLLACK, AUTHOR & FMR. CIA ANALYST: Nice to be here.
HEMMER: You believe in your book that the troop strength at the time when this war began was enough. Tell us at this point why? POLLACK: Well, honestly Bill, my feeling was always that we had to have a huge massive invasion. My feeling was that my reading of military history is that when you try to start off an invasion, start off a military operation with only a small force and build up to a much larger force, that has typically been a recipe for disaster.
My book called for four to six American divisions, plus one to two amored calvary regiments, plus the British and I wanted at least three of those divisions to be big army heavy divisions. We went into this thing with three American divisions, no armored calvary regiments and a small British force. And only one of the divisions was the big army heavy division. I recognize at the time that this is a force that might be able to execute the mission because it is a very powerful and competent force.
But even before the war began, I was warning that the two risks that we ran were, one, we'd have long supply lines that we probably couldn't defend as effectively as we'd want to. And second, that if we ran into real resistance in Iraq's cities, we might not have the forces available to mask those cities, deal with the resistance there and keep the drive going. Unfortunately, that is what's happened.
But I think it is also important to always point out that U.S. forces and British forces are extremely capable and you're already seeing them adapt to the circumstances; adapt to the fact they didn't call Iraq's resistance properly and I think that that they are already starting to compensate. I think that you will see this drive resume fairly quickly.
HEMMER: Listen Ken, we are also hearing from Donald Rumsfeld trumpeting the successes so far. Tommy Franks ticked off eight or nine items today in his briefing. You also believe that the coalition forces are turning a corner. What corner are they turning and how do you see that shaping?
POLLACK: Well, I think the military went in with some false assumptions. I think that there was an expectation that the Iraqi people were going to rise up; that they weren't going it face a whole lot of resistance. Again, my expectation was that we would face quite a bit of resistance, that's why I wanted that bigger force. But nevertheless, they are reacting to it. The coalition forces, the U.S. and British forces recognized that they had some false assumption. And what they are doing is very quickly re-jiggering both operations and moving to alternative plans.
And Secretary Rumsfeld is absolutely right, Tommy Franks' plan had all kinds of branches in it so that if things didn't go exactly the way they wanted or the way they'd hoped, there were fall fallback options. And they're moving very quickly to adopt those fallback options and seeing the additional forces come in. Seeing the 82 Airborne going into Nasiriyah, seeing them start starting moving the Marines regiments out along the supply lines, bringing elements of 101 in to guard Nasiriyah to take over some of the responsibilities from the 3Infantry Division.
This is all happening very quickly by military standards. And if you go back into military history, it's rare that in military can compensate, adapt as quickly as the U.S. and British forces are. And I think that that suggests given all of the reinforcement flowing into the country that the U.S. and British forces will be able to resume the offensive pretty soon.
HEMMER: Do you believe in this pause right now? It appears on the surface anyway, that it might be happening as this re-jiggering takes place as you point out?
POLLACK: Yes, honestly Bill, I have no problem with this pause. I have no problem with the military calling it a pause. I think if U.S. and British said yes, we're pausing that would be perfectly acceptable.
The 3 Infantry Division made an incredible dash, and inevitably they were going to have to stop to allow for the logistics to catch up. In addition, it's clear that the U.S. and British forces are going to have to deal with the unexpected level of resistance that they faced in Iraq's cities. There is where it makes perfect sense to take this time, stop, move the forces around as you need them. Get control over the rear areas and set the British and the American forces up for a further advance.
HEMMER: Ken, quickly here; don't have much time left here. But you talk about the flexibility on behalf of the coalition force. Does it not appear also the Iraqis are being quite flexible as well? There's not a single major city outside of Umm Qasr that is in control of the coalition. I know it is early, I know it's day 11. But knowing that, don't you see the Iraqis adapting too and a level of flexibility on their part?
POLLACK: I wouldn't quite put it that way, Bill. I think that what the Iraqis are doing is first of all, they came up with some very clever counters to U.S. forces. And I think that they are implementing that. And then in addition to that I think what they are doing is being incredibly tenacious. And that's how I describe it, extremely tenacious.
So far, I've not seen adaptations to the new American and British adaptations. And typically, in Iraqi history that's been the hardest thing for them to do. This is a top-down military. Changed from the bottom is hard for them. We will be watching the days ahead to see whether they come up with new counters to the solutions that the British and American forces are adopting.
HEMMER: Ken, thanks again. Ken Pollack the author of "Threatening Storm," again with us in D.C.
Donald Rumsfeld a short time ago said the only thing we know for certain is how it is going to end. It's going to end with the liberation of the Iraqi people. As Don Rumsfeld makes the rounds today in these interview programs throughout Washington, D.C., expect to hear that theme throughout the day on Sunday.
More from here in a moment; back to Heidi again at the CNN Center. COLLINS: All right, thanks, Bill.
Coming up, restarting the war. What does it mean? And do U.S. Army officials inside Iraq want to wait before pushing to Baghdad? We'll talk more about the pause that they may be taking. We'll talk to Major General Don Shepperd. Stay with us for that.
HARRIS: Now, with questions being aired about a delay in the advance to Baghdad, a U.S. colonel who is now inside Iraq, spoke to our Aaron Brown last night about the coalition's progress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COL. DAN BALL, U.S. ARMY: What can you expect? These people, it's their home -- pardon me. It's their homeland and they're protecting their capital. So, yes, they're going to fight. They are fighting. But we're fighting back. And we're winning all the time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: Well, the U.S. military remains optimistic. There are reports, though, this morning that top U.S. Army officers inside Iraq, now say they believe the war needs to be restarted; allowing time for supplies and reinforcements to be brought in. According to "The Washington Post," this would push the war into the summer.
For more on this we're joined now by our military analyst, Major Don Shepperd and Renay San Miguel at the CNN Center with more on this.
SAN MIGUEL: Hello there Leon. Yes, General Tommy Franks this morning at the Central Command briefing only too eager to shoot down criticism of the war effort. But you mentioned "The Washington Post" story, saying that some top Army officials in the country say we need to restart the war.
Joining us now is General Shepperd to talk about this. One of the reasons given by some of these soldiers was to shore up the re- supply lines that were being attacked by paramilitary. General Franks said this morning the coalition has enough supplies to conduct the operations.
SHEPPERD: Yes, Renay, we may be in a war of semantics here, depending on where you are in the battlefield and what level.
Basically, what we saw was a bold and audacious rush by the 3 to the 7 Calv up toward Baghdad. It makes sense that they that they would stop short of the Medina Division. You're not going to attack a division with an element of the 3 to 7 calv and then replenish, refix; rearm what have you, while the Marines are moving up on the right, the 101 on the left.
General Franks made it very clear this is not a pause, that we will conduct operations from a coalition's standpoint at times and places of our choosing while bombing those on the Republican Guard forces to weaken them all over the country. So he almost bristled at the concept of a pause. He says that is simply not the case, Renay.
SAN MIGUEL: He also bristled when talked about troops' strength; he said he did not request additional troops before beginning, as to what the reporters refer to as a ground war.
If you were going to restart a war to bring in more troops, how long would that take?
SHEPPERD: Well, the 4 Infantry Division is closing, reportedly some of them coming in to today. They'd probably combat capable in the next week to two and crossing into Iraq, at least the lead elements of that.
But General Franks made clear that the deployment of forces is according to his original plan, no new deployment forces -- orders have been signed. We take him on his word.
SAN MIGUEL: And all of this brings up the timing of the war; when the war was started that that was according to plan. What did the general say about that?
SHEPPERD: He basically said that he took advantage of an opportunity and the flexibility of his plan. Everybody had been talking about an air campaign. A la the Gulf War, and then General Franks said he saw the opportunity to seize and protect the southern oil fields and did it!
SAN MIGUEL: Okay, we will be talking about this I am sure. But he did say that the southern oil fields presented an opportunity for his forces.
General Shepperd, thank you so much for your time.
Bill, back to you.
HEMMER: Renay, I can tell you throughout the region here, the one story that continues to reverberate from yesterday is the bombing that killed the four soldiers in Najaf yesterday. Tommy Franks addressed it in terms of how the U.S. military now approach civilians, especially when they're in their cars; indicating that the U.S. military might force them to get out of their car at a much greater distance to make sure that things stay safe. That was yesterday; oday, though, another suicide bombing; this time in Israel.
Kelley Wallace has that story when we come back in a moment after this.
COLLINS: In Israel this morning, 41 people were injured in a suicide bombing. Islamic Jihad claims responsibility for the attack at a cafe in a seaside resort of Netanya. Kelly Wallace is there now.
And Kelly it's been something like three weeks since the last bombing there?
KELLY WALLACE CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exactly three weeks and 17 people killed in Haifa.
Heidi, there had been a real sense of quiet inside Israel since the start of the U.S.-led attack against Iraq. Many Israelis feared that quiet would come to an end, and it did today, according to Israeli police. A bit noisy here. You can see the cleanup operations under way.
Israeli police say a suicide bomber blew himself up outside this cafe called the London Cafe. Right now, according to police just the suicide bomb is dead, 49 people wounded, five in serious condition. Witnesses say one of the seriously wounded is an Israeli soldier.
It was a beautiful day today. Many people sitting outside and enjoying the sunshine. Witnesses say there were a group of soldiers here at this cafe as well. There are unconfirmed reports that a soldier or the security guard at the restaurant prevented the suicide bomber from getting inside that restaurant, but Israeli police say they cannot confirm that.
Now, Netanya has seen its share of terrorist attacks; it is also the site of the deadliest suicide bombing ever in Israel. Almost a year ago, March 27 of last year, 29 people killed. Although, a man here telling me that death toll went up to 30. So there's lots of concern here on the part of Israelis.
Could they see more terrorist attacks? As you said, Islamic Jihad is claiming responsibility. That group as well as other radical Palestinian militant groups, such as Hamas, have been demonstrating in the Gaza Strip over the past several week, calling for more attacks against Israelis and calling for Iraqis to carry out suicide attacks against U.S. and British forces -- Heidi.
COLLINS: Kelly, we know that Israel has been on a heightened state of alert ever since the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, obviously in its 11 day now today. What's you're take on that and what they are doing on this heightened state of alert?
WALLACE: Well, Israeli sources say that heightened state of alert continues. Mainly the big concern here, could there possibly be an Iraqi Scud attack against the Israel with the start of this U.S. military-led campaign in Iraq? The probability according to Israeli officials is very, very low, but they are not ruling it out. So they are keeping the alert at a high level. They are always concerned they say about the possibility of other suicide attacks.
There is a great deal of concern Heidi, after what was seen yesterday with a suicide bombing against U.S. forces in Iraq. So a great deal of concern. The word is alert will continue to be at a high level and many Israelis we've been talking to here are concerned they might see more of what they saw here today -- Heidi.
COLLINS: All right, Kelly Wallace live in Netanya, Israel. Thank you. And for now we will send it back to Bill in Kuwait.
HEMMER: Heidi, the president said it on Friday, Tommy Franks and Donald Rumsfeld already reiterating again today, U.S. troops within 50 miles of Baghdad.
Guess who else is 50 miles to Baghdad? Walt Rodgers. We'll check in live again with Walt when we continue after the top of the hour. Back in a moment after this short break.
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