Skip to comments.The Commander: How Tommy Franks won the Iraq war
Posted on 05/23/2003 9:17:27 PM PDT by Pokey78
PRESIDENT BUSH had a slightly anxious question for General Tommy Franks, the commander of American and allied forces in Iraq. It was a week or so before the fighting began, and Bush was looking at a war plan with a dizzying array of separate but simultaneous actions, plus options and alternatives. It looked risky. "Is it normal for a war plan to have this many variables this late in the day?" the president asked.
It was anything but normal. But Franks, a self-confident artilleryman who had spent a year fashioning the plan in hands-on collaboration with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, reassured the president he'd made the right call in adopting it. Franks believes warfare requires risk--"prudent risk" or "moderate risk" is how he puts it--but never a gamble. He mentioned to Bush the plan involved political circumstances in Iraq's neighborhood which themselves had many variables.
The principal reason for the variables was the war plan itself. It represented a radically new kind of warfare that was bound to accelerate the transformation of the American military and redefine the concept of "overwhelming force." In Iraq, the plan meant that three different ground wars would be fought at the same time: a secret commando war in western Iraq, a war relying on Kurdish troops in the north, and an invasion by three divisions of American and British soldiers from the south. And in Franks's view there were two other fronts--the air and information (or mind-game) wars.
A myth surrounds the war plan. It is that Rumsfeld forced a new paradigm of warfare on an unimaginative and deeply conventional Franks. This isn't true. Rumsfeld was particularly insistent about deploying special operations forces--the Delta Force, Navy Seals, Army Rangers. And he has campaigned noisily for the transformation of the military into a smaller, more mobile, and less risk-averse force.
But the plan belonged to Franks, who began thinking about Iraq while the war in Afghanistan was still being fought. When he joined the president at his Crawford, Texas, ranch in December 2001, he promised "a small option [for Iraq] that's extremely fast and very risky" if war with Iraq became necessary--a plan quite different from that of the Gulf War a dozen years earlier.
With the Franks plan, American forces repeatedly achieved tactical surprise in the war, notably when American, British, and Australian special forces from Jordan captured Iraq's Scud missile sites in western Iraq two days before the larger war began. Iraqi defenders there "didn't have a lot of time to be caught by surprise because we killed them," Franks said in an interview last week at Central Command headquarters in Tampa. "I have to believe the regime was surprised."
There's a debate over whether operational (or strategic) surprise was attained--that is, something approaching total surprise of the Pearl Harbor variety. Franks thinks it was. Even though Saddam Hussein was aware of the gradual military buildup just outside Iraq, he was led to believe an attack was weeks away at the earliest and might still be averted altogether. The strongest evidence of operational surprise is that the Iraqi army neither went on the attack nor mounted a serious defense of any region, installation, or city, Baghdad included.
In any case, the swift victory in Iraq following the defeat of the Taliban in Afghanistan has stamped Franks, 57, as the greatest American military leader since Douglas MacArthur a half century ago. He has few competitors. General Creighton Abrams changed the course of the Vietnam war, but it was lost anyway. General Norman Schwarzkopf waged a two-dimensional war in 1991 that saw Iraqis decimated by B-52s and driven out of Kuwait. But Schwarzkopf erred gravely by letting Iraq keep the helicopters it subsequently used to kill thousands of Shias. General Wesley Clark's victory over Serbia involved only bombers flying at 35,000 feet, nothing more.
At the White House, Bush and Vice President Cheney are admirers. They believe Franks is the only general who could have scripted a revolutionary war plan for Iraq, dealt effectively with an overbearing defense secretary, suppressed longstanding rivalries among the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force, and directed allied forces to victory in less than three weeks.
Yet Franks, who will retire in July, remains a little-known figure and not quite an identifiable national celebrity. He has gone out of his way to differentiate himself from Schwarzkopf, the high profile Gulf War commander who delivered energetic press briefings almost daily. The press clamored for Franks to brief, but he did so only three times during his weeks in the war zone. When he returned to Tampa last month, there was no victory ceremony or parade. Franks and his top aides were met by their families at the MacDill Air Force Base terminal in Tampa and gathered privately afterwards. There was no TV coverage.
During the war, Franks ordered his subordinates, particularly his civilian public affairs aide, Jim Wilkinson, to talk to reporters and relieve him of that chore. He told aides his constituents were the mothers, fathers, and spouses of the troops in the field. And they wanted him to concentrate on winning the war, not waste time with television interviews. "We got hammered--I mean really hammered--by the press because Franks was invisible," an aide said. "He just didn't care."
After Private Jessica Lynch was snatched from an Iraqi hospital, Franks was wary of publicizing the rescue excessively. He reminded aides of the warning by Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry against spiking the football in the end zone after a touchdown. You don't want to look surprised at having scored. The actual rescue was watched live by Franks's aides on a monitor as it was transmitted by a Predator drone hovering above the hospital. Franks didn't stay up to watch. He went to bed.
RUMSFELD, like Schwarzkopf, is a strong presence. Partly for that reason, the media have given him the bulk of the credit for transforming the American military from a grinding, troop-heavy force into the modern, high-tech powerhouse that sprinted to victory in Iraq. Rumsfeld deserves enormous credit. But Franks was the indispensable man.
Rumsfeld and Franks are opposites. Both have impressive leadership skills, but the defense secretary is outspoken and passionate, Franks terse and unflappable. They did not always get along swimmingly. During the Afghan war, Centcom lawyers dithered over whether a caravan carrying Mullah Omar, the Taliban chieftan, was a legitimate target. By the time they decided it was, it was too late. Mullah Omar got away. Rumsfeld threw a fit, and Franks felt the brunt of it.
A Bush administration official said Franks is "easy to underestimate," and Rumsfeld initially seemed to do just that. He treated Franks like the rest of the military brass. He was brusque and demanding. With Franks, it didn't work. Soon, however, Rumsfeld and his aides concluded Franks was a valuable ally, a bit thin-skinned maybe, but smart and shrewd and able to provide quick answers to virtually any question the defense secretary might have.
On September 12, 2001, the day after the assault on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, Rumsfeld asked Franks for a plan to attack al Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan. A week later Franks presented one. "We showed him a concept with special operations forces working with locals, tied into CIA operations and supported by airpower," Franks said. Rumsfeld's reaction: "That looks pretty good." A few weeks into the war, there was pressure on Franks to jettison the plan and deploy more ground troops. He rejected the idea. It turned out to be the right decision. The troops weren't needed.
Afghanistan was a laboratory for military transformation. Lessons from Afghanistan were applied on a broader scale in Iraq. "We learned precision [bombing] is good and it makes the difference," Franks said. "We learned small units on the ground leveraging airpower are powerful. We learned the linkage of [CIA] operations with military operations is very powerful for both intelligence and operational purposes."
When Franks sat down with Bush in Crawford, the ostensible purpose of the meeting was to update the president on the Afghan war. But the discussion shifted quickly to Iraq. Franks showed Bush the Pentagon's off-the-shelf plan for conquering Iraq and deposing Saddam. It was Desert Storm Plus: 500,000 or more troops and weeks of airstrikes preceding ground operations. "This is not what we are going to do," Franks told the president. Rather, he'd come back with a pared-down, swifter, riskier war plan.
The two plans--the standby plan and the smaller option--were the "bookends" for a year-long struggle at Centcom headquarters and the Pentagon over a new strategy for Iraq, a struggle that occasionally pitted Franks against Rumsfeld, and branches of the armed forces against each other. The new plan, finalized last February, combined five elements of 21st-century warfare that reflect a remade military.
Speed. Franks is fond of saying, "Speed kills." His orders to commanders of American forces invading Iraq from the south were to race to Baghdad. "Be audacious and do not get bogged down with any major Iraqi force," Franks told them. "Bypass that force and move as quickly as possible to Baghdad." Critics of this strategy, Franks said, "didn't have the situational awareness I had."
Franks knew Iraqi divisions on the right flank couldn't get near the speeding Americans. Special ops forces had blown up bridges the Iraqis would have needed to cross to get at the Americans. So the Iraqi divisions sat in place "until they were decimated" by American airpower. "I never saw this operation as anything approaching a gamble," Franks said.
Speed raises "the possibility of catastrophic success," said Marine General Peter Pace, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which is roughly what Franks achieved. A small force moving rapidly can have the same impact--the same firepower--as a large force advancing slowly. And the smaller force has a striking advantage. It can gain a quicker victory with fewer troops and fewer casualties by surprising and discombobulating the enemy. Or, to use another of Franks's favorite phrases, by "getting into the threat's decision cycle."
According to Pace, "you still have overwhelming force, but your overwhelming force is a combination of agility and size as opposed to simply mass humanity." This amounts to a new definition of overwhelming force, a concept touted by Colin Powell when he was Joint Chiefs chairman during the Gulf War. Then, it meant outnumbering the enemy or at least coming close to matching the enemy's troop strength. In the new warfare, it means applying the same or more firepower with fewer troops, equipped with cutting edge technology and augmented by airpower.
Precision. This is the ability to destroy what you want and nothing else. Precision, Pace said, allows "you to destroy military targets and not destroy civilian targets." In Baghdad, only military facilities were targeted. One result: Most civilians didn't flee the city. "The whole refugee problem was averted, in large measure because we were very precise in the way we did our business," Pace said.
Improved technology has made weapons far more precise than they were in the Gulf War. "At least two-thirds of the bombs used by coalition forces in Iraq were precision-guided by lasers of global-positioning satellites, compared with just 13 percent of the bombs we used in the 1991 Gulf War," President Bush has noted proudly. Not the least of the accomplishments of precision weapons was the shredding of Republican Guard divisions outside Baghdad. They were "depleted" before confronting allied divisions. When American troops advanced, they found "hundreds of destroyed vehicles" and minimal resistance, said Air Force Major Gen. Victor Renuart, the Centcom operations chief.
Precision also magnifies the value of airpower. Targets that once took many sorties to destroy can now be wiped out by a single precision-guided bomb. The change in ratios is amazing. In World War II, it took 3,000 sorties to guarantee the destruction of a target. By the Gulf War, that was reduced to 10. Now one plane can take out 10 targets.
Vision. The military calls it situational or battlefield awareness. With new technology, commanders can see, in real time, where the enemy is and where their own forces are as well. Drones, radar planes, and the like spied constantly from the air on Iraqi forces. Transponders with each American unit beeped their location. With this technology, "I am watching the transformation of warfare," said Franks.
At the Centcom command post in Doha, Qatar, none of the technology was older than six months. A flat blue panel showed exactly where each allied unit was. At one point, Franks picked out a unit on the panel and simultaneously watched a second panel with a live report from a journalist embedded in that unit. "It occurred to me I was watching transformation in more than one way," Franks said.
Here's how Pace describes the American advantage in situational awareness: "The combination of overhead cover and unmanned aerial vehicles and manned aircraft and special operations and the true integration of CIA assets with special operations folks really gave a clearer picture of the battlefield itself."
Jointness. This is an awkward word for the integration in battle of the four branches of the armed services. A goal for decades, it was achieved for the first time in Afghanistan and Iraq. In the Gulf War, the forces of each branch were "de-conflicted"--in other words, they operated on separate tracks. "This time," Franks said, "we had reliant operations, where one service is reliant on the performance of another service. I believe that is transformational." Jointness is designed to produce synergy. "By taking the strengths of each of the services and integrating these capabilities," said Renuart, you can produce an even greater effect "at a center point on the battlefield."
Troops dashing to Baghdad relied on airpower for protection. And by drawing Republican Guard divisions into the open, they created a target-rich environment for American warplanes. Army, special ops, and CIA agents worked together in northern Iraq to push the Kurds out front as a fighting force, just as they had done in Afghanistan with the Northern Alliance.
In the past, each branch sought to expand its own role, the Army arguing for more of its troops on the ground, and so on. Franks, an Army man, opposed that traditional practice as he wrote the war plan. "He was obsessed with not letting the Army be elevated," an aide said. It wasn't, causing heartburn among Army generals, but creating a more coherent force in Iraq.
Special operations. This is a Rumsfeld obsession, and rightly so. For decades, special operations forces were the neglected stepchild of the military. In the Gulf War, Schwarzkopf denigrated special forces as "snake eaters." And in that war, Iraq fired dozens of missiles on Israel from its "Scud zone" in western Iraq. Last March, the special ops forces that slipped into the west at night took out all the Scud sites before a single missile was fired.
In Afghanistan, it took only a few hundred special ops personnel and CIA agents on the ground to rout the Taliban. They leveraged their presence to locate targets for destruction by precision munitions fired by warplanes. In Iraq, an estimated 10,000 special ops troops spread across the country, seizing hundreds of oil wells and the bridges that allied ground troops would cross on the road to Baghdad.
THE NEW WARFARE wasn't the sole source of the success in Iraq, nor is it the only aspect of transformation. Old concepts carried out more efficiently played a part. One was deception. The Turkish gambit was Franks's boldest effort to deceive Saddam. There's no proof, but the best guess is it affected Saddam's expectations of when an invasion might occur.
Weeks before the war, American military officers learned from their Turkish counterparts that Turkey was unlikely to allow the U.S. 4th Infantry Division to invade Iraq from Turkey in the north. Such an attack was a critical part of the Franks plan. But absent a northern front, Franks wanted Saddam to think an invasion from Turkish soil was still likely and that the war couldn't begin until weeks after the Turkish issue was resolved. So Franks insisted ships with the 4th Infantry's tanks and equipment remain off the shore of Turkey for weeks, as if awaiting the Turkish okay to unload. In fact, disinformation that the Turks would ultimately permit American troops to operate from their soil was slipped to Saddam's inner circle.
If that didn't persuade Saddam that he had, in Franks's words, "more rope," the American commander had another trick. Instead of sending ground troops into Iraq after weeks of bombing, Franks sent the 3rd Infantry Division, the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, and a British Division across the southern border the day before bombing began. Then, despite talk of a pause before moving on Baghdad, Franks agreed with ground commanders to send tanks and troops into the city immediately on a "thunder run."
Had allied forces encountered serious resistance, Franks had alternatives. Pace refers to them as "pre-planned audibles," like the calls a quarterback might make at the line of scrimmage. Had special ops failed in the west, Franks had Plan B, sending a large contingent of forces from Kuwait to attack the Scud sites. Because the Turkish option didn't materialize, Franks turned to a backup plan to combine a small American force with Kurdish fighters. It worked.
A final improvement was in logistics. In the Gulf War, equipment, fuel, and food poured slowly into Kuwait. It took 25 to 30 days for an item, once ordered, to arrive. Now it takes little more than a week. When soldiers in Afghanistan said they needed saddles, they were delivered in four days.
In Iraq, each shipped item had a radio transmitter tag rather than a bar code. It could instantly be determined exactly where the item was and how soon it would arrive. Major General Dennis Jackson, Centcom's logistics boss, is a fan of Jeff Bezos, the Amazon CEO who established a state-of-the-art distribution system. Jackson may have gone Bezos one step better. During the war, he told Franks the military now has the capability to feed its troops in the field forever. Franks, by the way, is a consumer of MREs, the meals ready to eat for troops in the field. Franks eats them on plane trips.
FOR HIS WAR PLAN to succeed, Franks had to win the confidence of the commander in chief, Bush. Without the president's faith in the plan, it might be jettisoned at the first sign of trouble. Bush had inherited Franks as Centcom commander from the Clinton administration. Though Franks had grown up in Midland, Texas, and had graduated from Midland Lee High School a year ahead of Laura Bush, he didn't meet the president until the spring of 2001. The occasion was a White House gathering of Bush with top military commanders and their wives.
At the time, Bush mentioned he knew of Franks's Midland connection, but he left it at that. Over the next two years, Franks returned to the White House to brief the president on war plans at least a dozen times. The most dramatic meeting was by teleconference several days before the invasion of Iraq.
Bush and Rumsfeld were at the White House, Franks in Saudi Arabia, and his sub-commanders spread from Qatar to Bahrain to Kuwait. Bush addressed the commanders one by one, asking how each felt about the strategy put together by Franks. Each one endorsed it, as Bush already had. And soon enough the war was on.
He certainly did. One of the things General Franks said prior to the war was, "Our goal, in this campaign is neither retaliation nor retribution, but victory."
If I don't get to say thanks again this weekend, Have a great Memorial weekend
This is the mark of a "CLASS ACT" and those who were under his command will go to their graves respecting him for not taking the credit for their victory. The fact is Tommy Franks is a class act.
If I ever get the chance to go to Midland Texas, I'm going to force my 2 Grandsons to drink lots of their water, as the Mazda commercial says "Sumtins Up" in Midland Texas :-)
Where the air smells like...."money."
A commendatory word must be said about this article. It's journalism at its finest. When I scrolled back up to see who wrote it, I wasn't surprised to see it was our friend, Fred Barnes. I knew it couldn't be a liberal scribe.
Fred's a fine writer. It also looks like he's getting the benefit of some real inside stuff from the administration.
I'm wondering if anyone here has a transcipt or knows where I can find one, of Gen. Franks' first breifing from Qatar. I remember that he started it off with an enumeration of the mission goals, then defined some accronyms, like SAR and/or GAD or others.
I was away from home that morning (6AM PST) so I couldn't tape the breifing - I think it would have been on March 21st.
Sparta, would you please add me to your Military History ping list? Thanks in advance.
Gen. Franks was on 3/22/03
Here it is should anyone care to read it. Seems like a natural companion for Fred's article.
Briefing on Military Operations in Iraq
Presenter: General Tommy R. Franks, March 22, 2003
GEN. FRANKS: Well, good afternoon. Let me begin by saying that my heart and the prayers of this coalition go out to the families of those who have already made the ultimate sacrifice. Because of the courage and the dedication of these heroes, the mission of Operation Iraqi Freedom will be achieved.
As President Bush said, as a last resort, we must be willing to use military force. We are willing, and we're using military force.
I'm pleased to be joined today by Air Marshall Bryan Burridge, Great Britain; Brigadier Maurie McNarn of Australia; Rear Admiral Per Tidemand from Denmark; Lieutenant Colonel Jan Blom from the Netherlands -- four coalition partners represented here with us. And as many of you would know, we have at our home in Tampa, Florida, the home of Central Command, 52 nations represented. What many of you may not know is that many of these nations are also represented in the command posts of our component commands, located in a number of countries in the region.
You know, Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld, my boss, yesterday outlined the military objectives of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Let me review them with you.
First, end the regime of Saddam Hussein.
Second, to identify, isolate and eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
Third, to search for, to capture and to drive out terrorists from that country.
Fourth, to collect such intelligence as we can related to terrorist networks.
Fifth, to collect such intelligence as we can related to the global network of illicit weapons of mass destruction.
Sixth, to end sanctions and to immediately deliver humanitarian support to the displaced and to many needy Iraqi citizens.
Seventh, to secure Iraq's oil fields and resources, which belong to the Iraqi people.
And last, to help the Iraqi people create conditions for a transition to a representative self-government.
Today, I thought I would describe the campaign you're seeing and provide you an operational update.
Let me begin by saying this will be a campaign unlike any other in history, a campaign characterized by shock, by surprise, by flexibility, by the employment of precise munitions on a scale never before seen, and by the application of overwhelming force.
Let me talk for a minute about our capabilities. The coalition now engaged in and supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom includes Army and Marine forces from the land component; air forces from several nations; naval forces, to include the Coast Guard, and Special Operations forces.
Our plan introduces these forces across the breadth and depth of Iraq, in some cases simultaneously and in some cases sequentially. In some cases, our Special Operations forces support conventional ground forces. Examples of this include operations behind enemy lines to attack enemy positions and formations or perhaps to secure bridges and crossing sites over rivers or perhaps to secure key installations, like the gas-oil platforms, and, of course, in some cases, to adjust air power, as we saw in Afghanistan.
Now, in some cases, our air forces support ground elements or support special operations forces by providing (inaudable) and intelligence information, perhaps offensive electronic warfare capabilities. At other times, coalition airmen deliver decisive precision shock, such as you witnessed beginning last night.
At certain points, special operations forces and ground units support air forces by pushing enemy formations into positions to be destroyed by air power. And in yet other cases, our naval elements support air, support ground operations or support Special Operations forces by providing aircraft, cruise missiles or by conducting maritime operations or mine-clearing operations.
And so the plan we see uses combinations of these capabilities that I've just described. It uses them at times and in places of our choosing in order to accomplish the objectives I mentioned just a moment ago.
That plan gives commanders at all levels and it gives me latitude to build the mosaic I just described in a way that provides flexibility so that we can attack the enemy on our terms, and we are doing so.
And now a bit on what you have seen over the last, now less than 72 hours. The initiation of combat operations -- we refer to that as D-day. The introduction of special operation forces -- we refer to that as S-Day. The introduction of ground forces, G-Day. And the introduction of shock air forces, A-Day.
Additionally, a number of emerging targets have been struck along the way and will continue to be struck as they emerge. So the sequence you have seen up to this point has been S-G-A. That sequence was based on our intelligence reads, how we see the enemy, and on our sense of the capabilities of our own forces.
In a few minutes, Brigadier General Vince Brooks, one of our operations officers, will provide a number of visuals which reflect operations up to this point. In the days ahead, you will see evidence of the truth of Secretary Rumsfeld's statement yesterday when he said Saddam Hussein was given a choice by the international community to give up his weapons of mass destruction or lose power. He chose unwisely and now he will lose both.
Let me introduce General Vince Brooks to give you a little bit of an idea of what operations over the last three days have looked like. Vince?
GEN. BROOKS: Thank you, sir, very much. And, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. I want to take a few minutes to brief you now on some of the operations that have occurred by the coalition over the last several of days. The operation of course began on the 19th of March, and since that time, coalition forces have already achieved a number of several key mission objectives.
Our first effort is aggressive and direct attacks to disrupt the regime's key command, control, communications, integrated air defense and ballistic missiles using various targeting and methods that will achieve the desired effects. This video shows an attack against an Ababil-100 in southern Iraq, and resulted in its destruction.
Our second focus is on special operations. Coalition special operations forces entered Iraq at night, after destroying Iraqi military outposts, as this short video shows. You will see two clips. The first is an outpost along the border, and the second is a building that supported observers on the border.
The special operation forces then began looking for Saddam Hussein's and the regime's weapons of mass destruction and their ballistic missiles that threaten their neighbors. Additionally, coalition special operations forces saved three key oil terminals that are used for export through the Gulf, and these terminals are key to the future of Iraq. By preventing certain destruction, the coalition has preserved the future of Iraq. This is the area where the three terminals were in southern Iraq, and in the Arabian Gulf. On these platforms we found a variety of things. We found weapons, ammunition, and explosives. These explosives are not meant for defenders.
Our coalition maritime forces have destroyed Iraqi naval forces, as the following video shows. This is a patrol boat being attacked from the air, and in a moment you'll see the secondary explosion completing its destruction.
They are also very active in ensuring that the waterways remain open and unmined so that Iraq is not cut off from the aid that is prepared to flow in.
What you see in the next image is a tugboat that appears to be carrying oil drums. In fact, it is a mining vessel that transport mines. Interdictions like this one done by our coalition maritime forces and others over the last few days prevented, for sure, the release of 139 floating mines into the Khor Abdullah, which is an inlet that joins the Iraqi inland waterways with the Arabian Gulf.
Ground maneuver forces attacked to seize the key Rumaila oil fields, simultaneously began an unprecedented combined arms penetration deep into Iraq. The attack continues as we speak, and has already moved the distance of the longest maneuver in the 1991 Gulf War in one quarter of the time. The oil fields were spared destruction that was intended by the regime because of the effectiveness of these attacks.
In the next image you will see wells that were set afire on the 19th in the afternoon, before the coalition attack began. By the next day, the land component had already entered Iraq and had prevented any further destruction. And this is video from the entering forces. And the good news is only nine of the roughly 500 oil wells that are in the Rumalah oil fields -- only nine were sabotaged by the regime. The flame on the bottom shows where that location is. All the rest of them are okay.
I should add that the power of information has been key throughout this operation, and it is truly having the effect of saving lives -- of the Iraqi people and military units who are choosing not to fight and die for a doomed regime. The leaders from several regular army divisions surrendered to coalition forces, and their units abandoned their equipment and returned to their homes, just as the coalition had instructed.
We know that there are other forces on the battlefield that we haven't even arrived at yet, and as this next image shows, there are Iraqi units that are preparing to surrender even now as we speak. These are lines of roughly 700 Iraqi soldiers that we imaged in the desert away from their equipment, awaiting our arrival.
The coalition is committed to disarming Iraq. But the coalition is equally committed to bringing humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people. Our humanitarian work in Iraq is only beginning. The U.S. military, coalition partners and other civilian organizations from around the world have positioned millions of meals, medicines and other supplies for the Iraqi people. This image shows some of the stocks of humanitarian daily rations that we are already preparing to push forward as they are required.
Our coalition forces will continue to coordinate closely with a broad array of organizations, and ensure that as much aid as possible can be provided to the Iraqi people when it is required and where it is required.
GEN. FRANKS: Thanks, Vince. So, as we speak, our forces are operating inside Iraq. We have operations ongoing in the north, in the west, in the south, and in and around Baghdad. Our troops are performing as we would expect -- magnificently. And, indeed, the outcome is not in doubt. There may well be tough days ahead. But the forces on the field will achieve the objectives that have been set out by the governments of this coalition. And with that we would be pleased to take your questions. Please.
Q Sir, George Stephanopoulos, ABC News. I wonder if you could comment on the status of the surrender negotiations with the senior Iraqi military or civilian leadership. Are they continuing? Are you personally involved? And is the U.S. willing to accept a coalition of Iraqi commanders to assume control as part of the deal?
GEN. FRANKS: George, I wouldn't comment on what the U.S. government is prepared to accept. I'd leave that for my boss to talk about.
I will say that we have ongoing dialogues -- as I think was mentioned in the Pentagon press brief yesterday -- with a number of senior Iraqi officials. And so those discussions, both with people in uniform and not in uniform, will continue in the hours and the days ahead.
Q Are you involved?
GEN. FRANKS: Please?
Q General, Tom Fenton (ph), CBS News. The campaign so far has gone with breath-taking speed. Has it surprised you, or is it going more or less as you expected?
GEN. FRANKS: I think any time forces are joined in a war it's a blessing when very few people lose their lives; it's a blessing when it's possible for us to move in the direction of our objectives. I believe that the time for us to celebrate will be when the mission is accomplished. We believe that we are on our timeline, as we say. And I am satisfied with what I see up to this point, sir. Please?
Q General Franks, Tom Mintier with CNN. We have seen bombing both during the day and the night. This afternoon it appeared that there wasn't much resistance from aircraft positions in Baghdad in and around the city. Could you describe to us what kind of opposition you are facing on the ground as the bombing campaign goes on?
GEN. FRANKS: In two parts, in the air and on the ground. Our forces on the ground, to include our special operations forces, have encountered enemy formations on a number of occasions in a number of places, and the fight has been joined in several places inside Iraq.
With respect to the air defenses in and around Baghdad, we -- I think it was pretty evident last night that there was a lot of air defense going up in the air. We are pleased at this point that we have not had any of our coalition aircraft damaged by any of that air defense. It is obvious that the regime continues to move air defense assets around as best it can for the purpose of survivability. We will continue to do our work with these magnificent airmen, and over time we will take down all the air defense capability that exists today. Sir?
Q General, Jeff Meade (ph), Sky News. Can I ask you to talk to the blitz on Baghdad. How does it help you to be regarded as liberators by the Iraqi people when they are being terrified by that display of ordnance? And also bearing in mind that some of the targets may have suspect military value, because if they are obvious regime buildings they would have long ago been evacuated.
GEN. FRANKS: I think there are those who would say many of the buildings could be evacuated. I think there are many others who would say many of the buildings would not be evacuated. I don't use exactly the terminology that you used. I think rather what we are about is approaching the problem of this regime from a number of directions simultaneously. That's as I described the business of special operations forces, ground forces and air power.
The times and the locations where we put each of these ingredients will vary actually by day. That is the nature of this plan. It is built on flexibility beyond any that I have seen in the course of my service. And so it's very difficult to comment about the specific achievement of any one of those arms. We thought that the work that was done at the beginning of A-Day, last evening, was exceptionally well done. The targeting was precise. The munitions used in fact were all precision munitions. And there were no targets selected that were not precisely appropriate to what the plan calls for.
Q Having done -- ITB (ph) News of London. General Franks, what can you tell us about the success in attacking so-called regime targets? What can you tell us what you know of the status, whereabouts or health of Saddam Hussein? And what do you say to those people who say that the people who are most likely to be shocked and awestruck by the shock are the Iraqi civilians you claim to be liberating?
GEN. FRANKS: I think on the third point I wouldn't offer anything beyond what I said a minute ago.
With respect to what is going on with the regime right now, I think that there is a certain confusion that is going on within the regime. I believe command and control is not exactly as advertised on Baghdad television. I believe that we should all be very confident that the effort was designed to be so precise that it avoids in every way possible exposure of non-combatants to that.
And with respect to the first part of your question, I think -- actually, I don't talk about strategic targets and so forth. What I talk about is emerging targets. Emerging targets can be leadership targets. They can be military formations. They can be some communications, mobile communications capability that the regime has. And on several occasions up to this point in fact we have attacked the emerging targets -- several within the last 24 hours.
And so in order for me to pick one and isolate it, it just actually doesn't serve our purpose or our plan. And so it is part of that mosaic that I described. We see it every day, and we'll continue to see it as these targets emerge.
Let me come over here, please. Sir?
Q General, David Lee Miller (sp) with Fox News. Have you been able to locate any weapons of mass destruction? Or are you hearing anything about weapons of mass destruction from some of the people you are now taking into custody, POWs and detainees?
GEN. FRANKS: Weapons of mass destruction represent one of the key objectives that we have here -- to locate them, to control them. We receive information every day from a number of sources with respect to weapons of mass destruction. Some of it may turn out to be good information; some of it is a bit speculative. One would expect that weapons of mass destruction would perhaps be found in certain parts of the country, and that is work that lies in front of us rather than work we have already accomplished -- is probably the best way I can answer your question. Please?
Q Good day, general, Kelly O'Donnell from NBC. Can you update us on the status of Basra? And to what extent are Turkish forces in the north complicating your plan? GEN. FRANKS: Basra is the second largest population center in Iraq. And although we have seen the regime position weapons in and around (various ?) facilities, civilian facilities inside Basra, we have not seen large numbers of formations. So our intent is not to move through and create military confrontations in that city. Rather we expect that we will work with Basra and the citizens in Basra, the same way I believe has been widely reported in Umm Qasr. What we have seen up to this point is that the Iraqis are welcoming the forces when they come in. And, so, once again this is about liberation and not about occupation, and so our desire will be to work with the civilian populations in Basra. And, I'm sorry, what was your other question?
Q Turkish forces -- Turkish forces that are reported to be encroaching into Iraq. What is the degree of complication?
GEN. FRANKS: I've seen much about that. And actually I believe that the Turkish formations that we see in northern Iraq are very light formations. We see them move in and out of Turkey. There is continuing discussion I know at the political level to decide exactly how much of that is acceptable and so forth. And I guess I would say that that's sort of above my pay grade. Obviously, we have consultations. We have contact. I have one of my general officers in Turkey working with the Turks and have had him there for some time. So we are able to maintain coordination, and I believe the necessary cooperation with the Turkish government up to this point.
Q General, Paul Adams (ph) from the BBC. Your targeting of regime targets in Baghdad seems to be that you are targeting some parts of the regime, some parts most closely identified with Saddam Hussein himself, some ministries, and leaving other untouched. Is this part of sowing confusion in the regime, perhaps setting one part of it against another?
GEN. FRANKS: It actually is simply a part of the mosaic that I talked about a minute ago. It is an issue of taking what we know and what we form into target sets, specific locations, and using appropriate weapon systems against those targets at points and at times of our choosing. And it is a complex process. It is very, very carefully done. It is very carefully planned, and at least up to this point I believe has been magnificently executed. Please?
Q (Off mike) -- with Newsweek magazine. You talked a little bit about the agility of the modern military. Could you possibly walk us back to Wednesday when you got the information about the target of opportunity and explain in some detail if you would, sir, how did you react? What did you have to do to scramble to get that to happen, and how did it affect the actual start of the war?
GEN. FRANKS: Why would you ask if we had to scramble? (Laughter.) Actually, as I said, a plan that's agile, a plan that is flexible, provides what we call branches to be able to undertake a number of actions at the same time. I talked a little bit about S-Day and G-Day and A-Day, and I also said that throughout the course of this planning and this operation there will always be a need to engage emerging targets. Now, sometimes emerging targets will be engaged by ground forces and sometimes engaging targets will be engaged by air forces, and so forth.
Now actually what I will say about that emerging target, which is much reported on and much talked about, is from my view that was about as close a coordination as I have ever seen work a time-sensitive or an emerging target, and as you know I've worked a great many of them in Afghanistan. That target was worked on an amazing time line, and in fact did not cause the adjustment of a single aspect of what we have been about since this thing started. Please?
Q General Franks -- (inaudible) -- Marcus from BBC World Service. One of the most striking things in your --
GEN. FRANKS: I see a lot of you BBC guys.
Q We're like you -- we've got lots of different arms, lots of different services.
One of the most striking things in your briefing was your comment several regular Iraqi army divisions have surrendered or their leaders have surrendered --
GEN. FRANKS: Right.
Q -- the troops have abandoned their weapons, the soldiers have gone home. You showed us a picture of troops in the desert -- it wasn't a great picture as far as I was concerned -- I couldn't see much about it. This is a very important propaganda issue -- if Iraqi forces hear through a whole variety of means that the units are just simply melting away.
GEN. FRANKS: Right.
Q That would be information that would be very useful for you to have imparted by the world's media. What further information, what further evidence can you give us that leads us to accept that probably tens of thousands or many thousand Iraqi troops are simply melting away or going home?
GEN. FRANKS: Whoa, whoa. (Laughter.) I don't recall having said thousands or tens of thousands. I think -- I think when I walked out to come over here we had seen enemy prisoners of war in the range of a thousand to two thousand, which we actually have in custody right now. We have with certain knowledge the fact that thousands more have laid down their weapons and have gone home.
And we have with certain knowledge that that little picture that Vince Brooks showed up here a minute ago is in fact about 700 Iraqis lined up in a way that they were instructed by way of leaflets and radio broadcasts to line up if they chose not to be engaged.
Q First of all, thank you for being with us finally. Do you have any personal message for the families of the casualties? And for the second question, do you think Iraqi President Saddam Hussein would become a black shadow like Osama bin Laden is right now?
GEN. FRANKS: I think that the president of the United States was very clear when he talked about regime change and when he talked about this regime's weapons of mass destruction. I've said on a number of occasions that when our nations -- when the international community commits as we have to go to war to unseat this regime, that this is not about a single personality. This is about the control over a country for decades in a way that has been threatening to peace-loving peoples of the world. And so that's probably the best I can give you on the second -- on your second question. And I'm sorry, I didn't understand the first one.
Q First is about a personal statement for the families of the casualties.
GEN. FRANKS: Oh, for the families of the casualties? Absolutely. As I said in my -- in my opening remarks, my heart goes out to the loved ones and to the families of those who have fallen. I think all of us who have served in prior wars at different times in different places have a certain feeling about the loss of a comrade. These are wonderful -- these are wonderful young people. And my personal thoughts and prayers and the thoughts and prayers of a great many nations go out to their families.
Q Yes -- (inaudible) -- Hong Kong. There's been so many rumors about Saddam Hussein's whereabouts. Do you have any idea where Saddam is at right now? And how confident are you in capturing him? Thank you.
GEN. FRANKS: Actually, I have no idea where he is right now. I suppose -- I suppose we'll know more in the days ahead, and that's the best answer I can give you.
Q Paul Hunter with Canadian Broadcasting. Given all the talk leading up to this of chemical weapons, how surprised are you that no chemical weapons have been fired at your troops? And what does that tell you about whether or not they exist? And how concerned are you that they still might be coming?
GEN. FRANKS: I think it's -- well, of course we're concerned. And we'll remain concerned. I think that there are two ways to look at an enemy, and one way is to try to anticipate what he might think or what he might do. That's not the way that I think we choose to do it. What we try to do is determine his military capacity and then prepare our forces and and prepare ourselves to meet the weapon of mass destruction use if he should choose to do so.
You know, I think the President said the other day that there will be people, and there have been -- there have been people, who have believed that through the use of terrorism, potentially through the use of weapons of mass destruction, that we can -- that we, this coalition, can be driven away from our goals. Simply not gonna happen. Someone asked me not too long ago, "What happens if this regime uses weapons of mass destruction?" And my response was, we win. And that's because we have -- we have a commitment to this operation, and our people have a commitment. And so, I would give you the same answer.
We would be hopeful that those with their triggers on these weapons understand what Secretary Don Rumsfeld said in his comments yesterday -- don't use it. Don't use it, sir.
Q This is Li Jingxian (ph) from Shanghai TV, China. General Franks, it was reported that more than 200 Iraqi civilians have been killed or injured ever since the war began. Do you have any comment on that? And what kind of measurements has the coalition taken or is going to take in order to minimize the civilian casualties during the military action? Thank you very much.
GEN. FRANKS: All right. With respect to a question of, you know, how do you feel about that, I think that the nature of war -- which is why my own president said it's a last resort, it's final option -- is that noncombatants are injured and killed in a war. That's why the members of this coalition go literally to extraordinary lengths in order to be able to be precise in our targeting. We've done that and will continue to do that, because there is no assurance that this operation, Operation Iraqi Freedom, ends in a matter of hours, or that it ends in a matter of days. I think what we do is we remain guided by principles. And the principles involve the accomplishment of our mission on the shortest timeline possible, protecting innocent lives, both our own and the lives of innocent civilians. Sir, that's the best I can give you. Sir.
Q (Off mike.) There's an impression here in the region that you're having more trouble than you're willing to admit, that you're meeting stiffer resistance than you're willing to admit. One case being brought to mind is Umm Qasr. If you can talk about that.
And yesterday, following the air strikes, the Iraqi information minister said that your forces are going to be decapitated and routed. If you can comment on that. Thank you.
GEN. FRANKS: Sure. I think there might be an expected response to that question, which actually you won't get from me. I don't think it's appropriate for senior military people to wave their arms in response to the sort of hype that was described, and so I won't do that.
I'll simply say that we have been and will remain deadly serious about our business, and all in this room should remain convinced that what we say from this podium -- myself or my staff -- or what we say from the various press centers associated with this coalition, will be absolute truth as we know it. Please, sir.
Q (Off mike) -- ABC News. Sir, does the Iraqi military still have the ability to strike Israel with ballistic missiles?
GEN. FRANKS: One doesn't know whether the regime has the ability to strike any neighboring country with missiles. We do know that more than two dozen Scud launchers remain unaccounted for since the days of the Gulf War. (Brief audio break) -- provide the best defensive capability that we can. And we know that we want to posture our force dispositions in a way that makes attacks on neighboring countries just as hard as we can make it.
Now, as you know, there have been, at least to my knowledge, six surface-to-surface missile attacks into Kuwait over the last couple of days. And if my memory serves, four of those were destroyed by Patriot units -- in fact, one was destroyed by a Kuwaiti Patriot unit; one was permitted to fly harmlessly into the northern Arabian Gulf, and another into an unpopulated desert area.
And so, is that -- does that provide fact-certain that we can provide the 100th percentile of defense? Absolutely not. There is no certainty. I will say, sir, that I like our posture the way we see it right now. Ma'am.
Q (Off mike) -- from the Associated Press. You mentioned at the start of the briefing the efforts to route the terrorist networks from Iraq. Can you give us some details of what you're doing specifically in that regard? Ansar al-Islam up in the Kurdish areas, can you give us some details on that effort?
GEN. FRANKS: I can't really provide you a lot of detail. I can tell you that from time to time, in Iraq, we will come across what we believe to be terrorist-associated activity or people, and when we do so, we will strike them, and then we will exploit the site subsequent to the strike. I can tell you that in fact we did strike last evening a terrorist complex, the one that you just made reference to. And I won't describe exactly what action we'll be taking in the next few days with regard to that particular site. Okay?
Sir, please, back here.
Q (Off mike.) We are getting close from the fourth day of war, and until now, we can't see any sign of weapons of mass destruction, we can't see anyone using of weapons of mass destruction by Iraq. Was it a big lie or just a cover to justify your invasion of Iraq and to remove its regime, which still cannot use any kind of these weapons to defend itself against your attacks? Thank you.
GEN. FRANKS: A bit less than 72 hours of this operation so far, and as I said earlier, potential for days and for weeks ahead. There is no doubt that the regime of Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction. And at -- and as this operation continues, those weapons will be identified, found, along with the people who have produced them and who guard them. And of course there is no doubt about that. It will come in the future. Sir, please.
Q (Off mike) A point of clarification: Do you know the locations of weapons of mass destruction or is this effectively an an army of inspectors?
GEN. FRANKS: I'm sorry, I didn't -- I didn't hear you.
Q Do you know the locations of the WMD you're talking about, have you some indications, or is this effectively an army of inspectors?
GEN. FRANKS: Well, no, I think what this is is a coalition force that is designed to take down this regime and to control the weapons of mass destruction, which for certain, sure exist within Iraq. And the approaches and the amount of time that it will take to identify those weapons and control them remains to be seen, very candidly. Please.
Q General Franks, Jeff Shaeffer, Associated Press Television. I understand you can comment specifically on that whereabouts of Saddam Hussein, you might not know that, but do you believe that he's still alive? Do you believe he was wounded in the strike the other day? And do you believe, if he is alive, is he still running the country?
GEN. FRANKS: Actually, I don't know. I don't know if he's alive or not. But interestingly, the way we're undertaking this military operation, it would not be changed, irrespective of location or the life of this one man. And that's why we talk about the regime. It would not surprise any of us that, whether Saddam Hussein is alive or dead, that our forces have engaged, as I mentioned earlier, in combat operations against the forces of this regime, both in and around Baghdad, which we all saw on television last night and in a number of other cases in this country.
And so it is not about that one personality. In fact, it is about this regime. And so that's what we're going to focus on.
Q (Off mike) -- from the Daily Telegraph in London. Do you think it was an error that the Stars and Stripes were raised in Iraqi territory yesterday? And what kind of military government beckons for post-war Iraq?
GEN. FRANKS: Actually -- actually, I don't -- I don't know. I think that is -- that depends on the eye of the beholder. I think that in zeal, people will want to represent that they have -- that they have achieved a certain milestone. And if you're from our country, then one of the first things that can pop into the young man's mind is to raise his national colors.
I suppose I found it to be much more instructive that immediately following that, and recognizing that his job had to do with liberation and not occupation, that he quickly brought down his colors.
Q This is News Channel from Shanghai TV, China. Mr. Franks. Could you please tell me why this news conference was delayed --
GEN. FRANKS: Sure.
Q -- because, you know, this is quite unusual. Everybody expect that there's going to be a news conference at the first night of the air strike, so lots of rumors were confirmed by not Central Command but the Pentagon.
GEN. FRANKS: A very good question, and having to do with why the timing of this press conference and why not yesterday or the day before or whatever. Actually, the -- many of the media embedded with coalition forces would tell you that we're a bit sensitive about the possibility of leaking information that risks the lives of our people who are engaged in this work. I could give you an example.
Were we to have a press conference here, or in fact a press conference in Washington, that described what might happen on S Day or answered questions, the nature of which you've asked me here today, all very good questions, then the risk of providing just that one piece of information that winds up risking the mission or winds up risking the lives of the people who have been -- who have been put to this task, it seems to me, just isn't worth it. And so the decision has been that we would move through the first few days of this before our command here made any comment. We'll try our best to provide fact-based information on a daily basis to the press center here. I feel very good about that. But I will also tell you that I feel very good about the work that's been done up to this point.
Last question, please. Sir.
Q General, Chas Henry from WTOP Radio. Operationally, what's the greatest surprise you've encountered to this date, a circumstance with the outcome that you least expected?
GEN. FRANKS: Actually -- actually, my greatest surprise was when I -- when I got up this morning and I looked at my computer and I realized that my wife had sent me a "happy anniversary" note this morning that I had -- and I had forgotten to send her one.
Actually, there have been no surprises in the way that you -- in the way that you asked the question. One is surprised, I think, when one has not had a year to think through the possibilities. Much has been said and written about this business of one plan good enough and another not, and so forth. And the fact of the matter is that for a period of about a year, a great deal of intense planning and a great deal of what-iffing by all of us has gone into this so that we prepare ourselves and prepare our subordinates in a way that we minimize the number of surprises. There will be surprises, but we have not yet -- we have not yet seen them.
Thanks a lot. Best to you.
That is not the case with Islam. Islam is an intolerant religion; and although Muslims living in America enjoy every kind of indulgence for their own beliefs and customs, there is no doubt that given any kind of power they would impose their own beliefs and eliminate all difference. Only a weak-minded political correctness prevents Islam from being recognized as religious fascism.
We've been watching a whole lot of history being made folks.
That's a position I don't understand. It reminds me of the treatment that snipers got from the Civil War through Vietnam. Both Special Forces and snipers train harder than practically all the rest of the military, and are assigned the most dangerous missions and important tasks. These are people that should be held in the highest regard as some of the greatest, if not THE greatest, of American heroes. Besides, each one of them knows how to kill you with their fingernail clippings, so you'd BETTER treat them right.
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