U.S. Central Command Daily Briefing, April 4
|Friday April 4, 2003
(Military update on Iraq operations) (9280) Army Brigadier General Vincent Brooks, CENTCOM deputy director of operations, briefed the media April 4 at CENTCOM's headquarters at Camp As Sayliyah near Doha, Qatar. Following is the transcript of the briefing: (begin transcript) UNITED STATES CENTRAL COMMAND DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BRIEFER: GEN. VINCE BROOKS, DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS LOCATION: DOHA, QATAR TIME: 7:05 A.M. EST DATE: FRIDAY, APRIL 4, 2003 BRIG. GEN. VINCENT BROOKS: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Fifteen days since the coalition's entry into Iraq, our coalition forces have preserved key resources for the future of Iraq, have provided water, food and medical support to liberated areas of Iraq, and have removed the influence of the regime throughout most of Iraq. We remain on our plan and we recognize that the achievements to date have come with a cost in lives. We continue to remember those who have sacrificed all in doing their duty, and we remember their families. The coalition operations over the last 24 hours remain focused and effective. The coalition attacked regime command and control targets, surface-to-surface missiles, air defenses, and any identified military aircraft. I have two products to show you from a recent precision attack against regime targets. This image is a regime command and control facility in the vicinity of Tikrit. The target was struck on the 2nd of April. And I'll show you on the -- this image here, you can see there's only a minor amount of damage that's apparent. The part of the structure that was being attacked is actually under the ground. So, let's go back to the split now. Again, it's this one. And post-strike, here. Some of our weaponeering decisions will let us penetrate through concrete and cause a detonation beneath them. There are many of these facilities that are actually underground. The second image is a command and control facility in Baghdad. And this target was struck on the 1st of April. The post-strike, please. And the split. Our coalition special operations forces in northern Iraq continued concentrated air attacks against regime military forces in northern Iraq. They're maintaining effective control of roads leading into or out of Iraq, and roads between Baghdad and Tikrit. Special operations forces in key locations throughout the country are positioned to locate regime facilities or strategic systems, and to direct precision fires to destroy them. This next video shows a special operations air asset engaging regime command and control facilities in western Iraq. This is a military complex for command and control. A series of buildings were engaged in this case from an aerial platform. The integration of operational fires by air assets, sea-based precision guided munitions, and land-based long range fires, in conjunction with a forceful land attack is proving to be devastating to Iraqi military forces. That integration is a key component of General Franks' plan. It's working, and we remain on plan to accomplish our objectives. The land component attacked further into the defenses of Baghdad, seizing key objectives in the process. Concurrently, operations continued to eliminate paramilitaries and regime elements remaining in urban areas within the zone of attack. In the South, U.K. forces continued to expand the area influenced by the coalition. Their efforts to rid Basra of regime death squads are effective and they're ongoing. Aggressive patrols beyond Basra resulted in the seizure of a cache of 56 surface-to-surface short-range ballistic missiles, and four missile launchers. And this was in the vicinity of al-Zubair, just north of -- north and west of Basra. While there may be more yet undiscovered, this particular seizure was a significant removal of a threat to our forces in the southern region. Operations were conducted to ensure reply lines remain open, especially in as-Samawa and an-Najaf. As coalition forces clear these areas of regime presence, caches of weapons and ammunition are often found in residential areas, as this next image shows. These weapons and ammunition were found inside of an agricultural building in a neighborhood of an-Najaf. The 1st Marine Expeditionary Force continued its attack towards Baghdad, destroying remnants of the Baghdad Republican Guard division near al-Kut, and elements of the Al Nida Republican Guard division between al-Kut and Baghdad. The attack continues. Fifth Corps attacked Iraqi forces on the approach to Baghdad, and seized several key intersections on the south side of the city. The attack continued through the night, and by dawn this morning the coalition had seized the international airport west of Baghdad, formerly known as Saddam International Airport. The airport now has a new name, Baghdad International Airport, and it is the gateway to the future of Iraq. We anticipate that in the coming days we will continue to see on the ground the types of tactics that we've seen before, including the hiding of combat equipment close to homes, the use of schools, hospitals and mosques as military facilities, and even the use of civilian assets or even civilians to hide their actions. This short video shows an example of what I just described. In it you'll see an ambulance near the town of al-Kut, after a firefight that occurred. You can see personnel right here in this area being extracted after a coalition attack. Let's go ahead and roll the tape. And you can see the back of the ambulance is open. These are paramilitaries. The destroyed vehicle there was a military truck that had an anti-aircraft artillery system on its back, and you can see the barrels of the anti-aircraft system right here. That had already been destroyed by coalition forces, and the element you saw was trying to extricate itself from the area. Yesterday I told you that our maritime component discovered a small boat beached along the Khor Abdullah. We've got an image of where that is located it. It was on the north bank, and their work continues to make sure the area is cleared. This find was done by our deployed members of the U.S. Coast Guard that are part of the maritime force. We have some images of what was recovered from that particular search. Rocket propelled grenades in this particular image. Anti-tank guided missiles systems. And the third image is the rubber assault boat itself. As I mentioned, there were tunnels that were associated with this set of seen caches that were found there, and these types of things were found within the cache. Our leaflet operations have now reached over 37 million leaflets dropped, as we communicate our efforts to communicate directly with the Iraqi population and with Iraqi military units. Even as the coalition works to preserve Iraq's resources on behalf of the Iraqi people, we continue to find evidence of the regime placing these resources in danger. The next image shows parts of an ancient citadel of Arapa (sp) in modern day Kirkuk within northern Iraq. This site is an archaeological remnant of the Assyrian Empire, and it is very important to the Assyrian people of northern Iraq since the ancient city of Arapa (sp) existed thousands of years ago. The regime has chosen in this case to use the ancient wall of the city to protect military equipment, and that's what you see where the arrows are located. This is the actual remnant of the wall itself. There is an ancient tomb inside of it and some more modern buildings that have been built on top. Day by day, the coalition is facilitating the distribution of humanitarian assistance and providing quality of life improvements for the Iraqis. We've learned that the most important need in areas liberated is water. I'd like to show you a video of some of the recent efforts in water distribution. In forward areas, water is provided by military water trailers, as you see here, providing immediate needs of water to the population. Bulk water, larger amounts of water move by water trucks from the southern region. These trucks are filled at one of the 11 water points at the end of the Kuwaiti water pipeline near Umm Qasr. And with that, ladies and gentlemen, I'll take your questions. Yes. QUESTION: Thanks. Neal Karlinsky with ABC. We've heard a late report coming in here about another checkpoint suicide attack near the Hadithah Dam, a pregnant, possibly three coalition troops being killed in that. Can you tell us about that? And also a late report before coming in here of a suspicious site of thousands of boxes of white powder, chemical warfare documents, and nerve agent antidotes found south of Baghdad. And if you will, in answering that, an update perhaps on yesterday's remark about suspicious -- or bottles with suspicious markings being found? Thank you. BRIG. GEN. BROOKS: Okay, Neal. The first part, we do have a report of a car bomb explosion at a military checkpoint southeast of the Hadithah Dam area. And we talked about the Hadithah Dam and its importance yesterday. It's still early in the process for us to have a very full story of exactly what happened at the site. Initial reports do indicate that a vehicle approached the checkpoint. A woman who appeared clearly to be pregnant exited the vehicle, screaming for assistance, in some degree of distress. As coalition forces began to approach, she and the vehicle were detonated. So, she was killed by the explosion from the vehicle. We do have some combat losses as a result of this, and we'll provide more information as time goes on. The report of the powder and boxes we've just recently heard about, and we just don't have any details that are factually based to provide to you at this point in time. Certainly it's an item of interest, and we'll get more information and report that as it goes. What we discovered in the west near Mudaysis, where a special operations raid was ongoing, was a building that we think now was probably an NBC training school. These bottles were samples -- I think we have an image of that. Can we bring up the bottles? These were there -- this what we saw. One of the had been marked "Tabin" (sp), a chemical agent that was developed back in the '40s. Some of these were taken away and testing is ongoing. But we think that there may have been an explanation for this as an NBC training school, not an operational facility. These sorts of things happen, we get information, we proceed -- proceed to find more detailed information about what it is that is in a particular location, and we make conclusions beyond that. And that's how we see it at this point. We don't have any further investigation we're going to do on that site. Please, Tom. Q: Tom Mintier with CNN. There are reports out near the airport, farther away from the city, that 2,500 members of the Republican Guard laid their weapons down and surrendered. What can you tell us of the status of the Republican Guard in and around Baghdad, and do you expect more resistance in the city? BRIG. GEN. BROOKS: We have been in contact with a number of Republican Guard forces over the last several days, as you're all aware. Most of the array was outside of Baghdad, and defenses that really prevented access, easy access to Baghdad. We've attacked a number of those divisions, particularly the Baghdad Division on the east near al-Kut, the Medina Division near Karbala. We think there are mixtures, some portions of the Nebuchadnezzar Division that had reinforced the Medina Division, and today we believe we had contact with the Al Nida Division between those two locations. There may be other elements of Republican Guard forces command that have moved to reinforce or that have become intermingled. At this point, it's very difficult to separate one from another. We have had a tremendous effect on those organizations that we have encountered in the process. We still anticipate that special Republican Guard forces are operating from within Baghdad or on the outskirts of Baghdad. Some of those we may have encountered near the airport today with some very uncoordinated small-unit attacks. I won't even call them counter-attacks. They certainly came after we had possession of terrain, and they were soundly defeated in each case. Not well integrated, not coordinated, but nevertheless there is a presence of force that's out there still. So, in answer to the question, will there be more fighting? Yes, there will be more fighting. The fighting is not complete by any stretch of the imagination. We remain cautiously optimistic. We have in fact seized a very important piece of terrain that has importance not only now but into the future of Iraq. But we don't have any doubts that there will be more fighting ahead. The nature of that fighting, we'll have to see how it unfolds. We're prepared to deal with a number of contingencies, but we're not finished with this operation at this point. Q: The surrenders? BRIG. GEN. BROOKS: The surrender number, I don't know. I've heard that report, and we have not gotten any confirmation of 2,500 or any other number like that surrendering. We have encountered forces that have surrendered along the way. They're usually parts of units, not whole units at this point. But we believe that as the situation continues to unfold, that may change. There may be larger sizes of units that we encounter, particularly in other parts of the country where there hasn't been as much combat, but we've had some attacks against those forces. And that will remain to be seen. And if we have more confirmation, we'll provide it to you. Please. Q: Jeff Reed (sp) from Sky News. One would expect a capital city's airport, because of its psychological value, to be more fiercely defended than apparently was the case. I wonder if you have any view on that. Can you also tell us what options now it gives you, possession of that airport, how you may exploit it? And thirdly, what are the next installations that you have listed to rename? GEN. BROOKS: We might rename this facility. We'll name it (right after you?). Q: (Inaudible.) GEN. BROOKS: The nature of what we're seeing in and around Baghdad Airport is, first, there were some defensive forces there. We had seen, over the last weeks, some reinforcement around it, positions ringing it. And we've also seen air defenses located there. We made efforts more than a week ago to ensure that that could not be used for the takeoff of any regime leaders that might want to escape the country, so we rendered the runway unusable for air operations. You saw some images a few days ago against regime command-and-control facilities that were associated with the area near the Baghdad airport to the south. Those have been attacked and we believe effectively impacted. And so the amount of force that we encountered there was not intense in terms of the nature of the fighting. The actions of the force that took that objective area were very effective on any forces that were present. We think perhaps we may have gotten inside of the enemy's decision-making cycle and arrived with a tempo that put us in place before they could respond to the impending threat that now is a matter of history, that now it's in our possession. As to other facilities, I'm certainly not going to characterize what comes next in this operation or where we would go next to direct our energy. There are other facilities out there that are important. And as it becomes appropriate for us to attack those, we will. Please. Q: (Off mike.) GEN. BROOKS: Let me go ahead and finish that. The airport gives us a number of things. First, it prevents the departure of regime leaders with it being in our possession. It is an airport. And so, in due time, it would be something that could be used for air operations when we decide to put it back into operation. And certainly that is important, either for current military operations or for future operations after conflict is complete. Most importantly, we preserved it for the future of Iraq. And that's the most significant aspect of what we'll get out of having that terrain in our possession. Please. Q: Jonathan Marcus, BBC. One of the most interesting developments over the past 24 hours has perhaps been a non-military one, your interaction with this prominent Shiite cleric in Najaf. Is there anything more you can tell us about your contacts with him and his people? And how significant do you think his role might be in spreading some sort of message to the Shiite population throughout Iraq? GEN. BROOKS: Well, Jonathan, I really don't have anything to add to what we said yesterday. We certainly think that any religious leaders that are coming out and making statements, or that would consider doing so, do it with great courage. And they would have to speak for themselves beyond here. It's certainly advantageous when we have leaders that are interacting with the coalition. A very good example occurred just yesterday in the UK sector, where a religious leader is being provided loudspeakers to do the call for prayer for the first time in 15 years in his area. And so there are encounters that happen all over this area, particularly in areas that have been liberated at this point. We provide assistance. There's certainly a clear tolerance and no issues in that regard. It's going very, very well. Let me go on the left side. Sir. Q: (Inaudible) -- Irish Times. Just two points, General. At these briefings you've gone to great lengths to outline the policy of precision bombing and the lengths to which you go to avoid civilian casualties. How does this tie in with the use of cluster munitions by yourselves and, I believe, the British, which appear to be a rather haphazard form of attack? We've heard of the color of these bomblets, as they're called, being the same as the color of food packages. And secondly, has the MOAB been used yet, the mother of all bombs? I saw a report that it was, but can you comment on that? Thank you. GEN. BROOKS: Well, I've emphasized repeatedly our approach to targeting, particularly targeting against regime systems, targeting in built-up areas, as a very precise, deliberate and unparalleled process. We stand by that. We remain convinced that that's the right way to do business, especially in this operation. And that continues. There are a wide variety of munitions available to the coalition. We use those based on tactical circumstances and also on the intended effect at a given time. Cluster munitions are used to create situational obstacles, as we describe them, and that is to create an obstacle related to a tactical purpose. If we wanted to prevent the movement of a Republican Guard force, for example, we might use that munition or a munition like it to prevent their movement and to keep them in place for further destruction. The humanitarian daily rations have changed color. We learned some lessons from Afghanistan, and the color of the package is different now. Previously they were bright yellow. There still are some that are out there in the possession of units that are trying to provide humanitarian assistance as they make contact. But the great majority of them in stockages that are being pushed forward in bulk are a different color to account for that. So we're sensitive to the concern about it, and we believe we're taking the right approach to that potential issue and problem. Third row, please. Q: (Off mike.) GEN. BROOKS: I won't characterize all weapons that have been used at this point in time in the coalition. Q: (Inaudible) -- BBC. General, could I ask you, have you been impressed with the way the British have handled the situation in Basra? And can you envisage that when you get to the gates of Baghdad that your forces will employ a similar tactic? GEN. BROOKS: We remain very proud of the coalition that we have here. There are still 49 countries, some of whom are providing military capability, like the UK forces clearly are. They've been highly effective in their operations. We remain very proud to be partners in this coalition with UK forces. There's expertise in every organization that comes into the coalition, and all of that gets blended in such a way that we can learn from one another on a continuous basis, not just from this operation but from our experiences leading into this operation. We've certainly seen great effectiveness from the approach that's been taken in and around Basra, and those approaches are being similarly applied in other areas, like As Samawa, An Najaf, Nasiriyah, in the present time. So I think we're doing the right thing in that regard, and I think we are learning from ourselves within the coalition, all of our coalition partners. And frankly, our units are learning organizations. Just as you see tactics change on the battlefield by the enemy, we learn from those tactics and we make adjustments to the way we engage in our own tactics, decisions we make on the ground, what assets we use, other things like that. So I think, yes, we are learning already from our British counterparts. We continue to learn from them. They learn from us. And it just improves the strength and quality of the coalition on a daily basis. Q: (Off mike.) GEN. BROOKS: Baghdad will be approached like many of our other objective areas. We'll be deliberate in our approach. We'll be thoughtful in how we address our operations inside of that area, both with regard to the protection of the force and the accomplishment of the mission. Yes, sir. Please. Q: (Inaudible.) British press quoted sources here -- (inaudible) -- that the power station in Baghdad was hit deliberately to pave the way for deployment of Special Forces into the city. What's your comment? GEN. BROOKS: We saw that the power went off in Baghdad last night. We didn't do it. It's as simple as that. Next question? Yes, ma'am. Q: (Inaudible) -- Associated Press. You mentioned that special Republican Guards may have been engaged at the airport. I think you also said that there were some engagements with -- you were eliminating paramilitaries in the zone of attack. Does that mean that you have gotten to the point of the inner ring of Saddam's forces closest to Baghdad, the most loyal of his forces? And, if so, the fact that you were able to get that far and didn't meet serious resistance, what does that tell you about what he has closest to him? And do you need to control the capital itself, secure it, control it, in order to bring down the regime, the stated goal of this campaign? GEN. BROOKS: First, we are clear that we have penetrated the defensive ring that was set by the Republican Guard forces. That came by way of the destruction of divisions of Republican Guard forces along that line. We think we may have encountered some special Republican Guard. We can't be certain about that at this point. And it did come with a fight. Let me be very clear about that. The actions that I described, the integrated actions, from air attacks, precision-guided munitions, surface-to-surface missile attacks, land combat action, integrated together, destroyed a number of units of the Republican Guard. That was the fight. It should occur in that way. We don't ever seek a fight on fair terms where it's an even exchange. We always seek to fight with an advantage. Now, as it relates to the future of what will happen in Baghdad and our work there, it's too early to speculate on exactly how that will unfold, what we'll do, or how we'll approach our work inside of Baghdad. We certainly anticipate that there are forces that are inside of Baghdad that will seek to fight us at the time we choose to enter Baghdad. We'll develop intelligence. We'll develop our target set. And we'll be very, very deliberate about the work that we do. There will be absolutely no randomness associated with the way we make our approach -- deliberate work and carefully done. Q: (Off mike.) GEN. BROOKS: It's hard to say what will cause the regime to completely be gone. And so we'll do our work throughout the entire country of Iraq, bringing pressure to bear against any regime remnants that are in outside areas, like regime death squads, Ba'ath Party headquarters that are out there, and against targets that we identify inside of Baghdad in the capital. How we get that done will be seen as time unfolds in the future for us. Yes, sir. Let me go to the end. Q: (Inaudible) -- Georgian Broadcasting Company -- (inaudible). How far have the coalition forces -- (inaudible) -- control of Baghdad? And do you think that you will find WMD in the capital? Thank you. GEN. BROOKS: We still have work to do with regard to Baghdad. It's a large city. It's well-developed. We know that there are forces that are inside that have intent to fight within the city. So, again, we'll be very deliberate about how we do our work regarding Baghdad. It will take time to gain a degree of control and security over top of all of Baghdad. We know that. We can see that from some of the towns we're already dealing with. And so I would not want to put any kind of time limit at all on when that will occur, when it begins, and certainly not when it would be complete. Weapons of mass destruction -- we believe that this regime does possess weapons of mass destruction. We remain convinced of that. We know that some of those may have been pulled into the Baghdad area, either delivery systems or potentially storage systems. But let's remember that this regime has been involved in a campaign of denial and deception for decades and has been very effective at it. And so we don't expect that we're just going to walk up on any WMD. We'll have to do things that give us control of areas that let us then do deliberate work. Our first efforts are to destroy the regime and cause its removal. Secondary efforts will be related to WMD. Front row, please. Q: (Inaudible) -- Al Jazeera. General Myers has said that Syria is still providing assistance to Iraq despite the U.S. warning. Do you have any proof of that, such accusation, General? GEN. BROOKS: Hassan, we do have reports that there is certainly an interest in people from Syria contributing in a way that is not in the interest of the coalition inside of Iraq. That's probably as far as we need to take it from this command. There are some concerns that have been expressed by our capitals, and I would leave any further comment for our capitals to address from Washington. Second row, please. Q: (Inaudible.) I'd like to take you back to the N-B-C training facility, I think you described it as. Could you just elaborate a little bit on that? You seem to draw a distinction between the possibility that it was merely for training versus operational. And can you elaborate at all on the notion that you found a bottle that appeared to be labeled "Tabin" (ph)? Was it the only bottle you found marked with something as a known nerve agent, or were there any other indicators there that told you there could be other chemical weapons or biological weapons there? GEN. BROOKS: At that particular site, we believe that that was the only sample. And it, in fact, was a sample. That's why we believe it was a training site. We know that the Iraqis have conducted chemical training. We've seen it in a number of places we've gone throughout the country. You go in and you see charts on walls on how to take care of yourself under chemical conditions, how to wear your mask, a number of other things that indicate training. We do have indications that they had a chemical training program in place for the Iraqi forces throughout the country. And so our conclusion at this point is that was not a WMD site per se. In this case, it proves to be something far less than that. It doesn't mean they're not out there. As we gain additional pieces of information from captured leaders, from sites that we gain control over, from searches that are done that lead to other things, we'll continue to pursue it. But as I mentioned earlier, that's really a secondary effort that will come after we have further control and the regime is out of the way. And, frankly, as the regime is gone, just as we've seen with humanitarian things, there's greater cooperation by the population. And we suspect that the population may have some information. So as time goes on, we'll find more information that will lead us, we believe, to where the weapons of mass destruction are located. In the second row, please. Q: (Inaudible.) General, can you tell us, do you plan to use Umm Qasr for military logistics? And second question about the cautious optimism in the takeover of the airport. How do you translate these things in the mood of the -- (inaudible) -- and the people you work with on-site, on the military base? GEN. BROOKS: Well, Umm Qasr is a very important port, we know. That's why we tried to gain control of it and secure it as quickly as we could and why we've committed so much effort to transitioning it to the humanitarian role that is already beginning to play in a very important and significant way for Iraq. That's really what the focus will be. Now, military logistics can be brought in -- in a number of ways, and we would look everywhere we need to, to try to get that in. We haven't had a need, thus far, to use Umm Qasr for military logistics, and unless circumstances change, that will probably continue to be the case. Having said that, military logistics to sustain the operation must remain a priority for us while we're conducting combat operations, and we'll make whatever adjustments we need to make that happen. It's important, however, that we not put that port at risk. We believe we have a good condition of stability that's already occurring in and around Umm Qasr and the southern region. And that's important to us. And so we would seek other alternatives before putting Umm Qasr at any kind of military risk, as it goes right now. Your second question, the mood in the JOC? Bunch of pros inside of there. And my interactions with the professionals inside of the JOC -- some of you have met some of them before -- they're always focused on the mission. They're always upbeat. They're positive about things. And they also have a cautious optimism. Things are going well. We're on-plan. We're accomplishing what we set out to do. There are many achievements, and we're only two weeks into this operation. So that's the source of our cautious optimism. But all military professionals always keep that cautious piece in there as well, recognizing that there's still work to be done. We never underestimate our enemy, especially when there's capability that still exists. And that's what the situation is there. Let me go back here, sir. Q: (Inaudible.) What we have seen in Iraq is exactly what's going on in Palestine by Israeli occupation. Are you considering the fact that many Iraqis are now united against you to (dividing ?) their country, and they see you as occupiers? Thank you, sir. GEN. BROOKS: What you're seeing in this situation is only applicable to this situation. What you're seeing is a coalition that has come together to rid a nation of a regime that has oppressed it for decades. What you're seeing is humanitarian assistance being delivered from the first inception of combat operations as quickly as we could possibly do that, because we recognize that the Iraqi people need assistance, and they weren't getting it from their own leaders. What you're seeing here is a coalition that's dedicated to, after removing the regime, proceeding without any change to the territorial integrity of Iraq, to set a condition that will make it possible for a future Iraq that belongs to all the Iraqi people. That's what you see in this case. It can't be compared to anything else. And really, that's all there is to it at this point. Yes, sir, in back. In the back, next row. Q: Thank you, General. GEN. BROOKS: And I'll come back to you -- your colleague next. Q: Dave Ross (ph) from KIRO (ph) in Seattle. May I ask you to address a fundamental question? This is day 15. Can you say that Americans at home are safer today than they were 15 days ago? GEN. BROOKS: I think we can clearly say that we have uncovered the realities of this regime -- that there are very close links with terrorist organizations, and there are much closer links with terrorist behaviors. It's been very clear to us for some time, since before the start of combat operations that the worst thing that could happen would be for this regime, in its approach to its own people and its inimical interest to the United States, to join that with weapons of mass destruction, to pass those to terrorists that might be used against our nation or others. We clearly have had an impact on their ability to do that. So yes, as this contributes to a global war on terrorism, absolutely, we believe that we are safer as a result of this action. It still doesn't make us completely safe. There are still all kinds of threats out there globally. Our efforts are focused on taking care of the ones at hand in Iraq, and we're going to continue that effort until we complete it. Yes, ma'am. Q: (Off mike.) Can I go back to the attack at the checkpoint. There are various things I was hoping you'd clear up. First of all, you've talked about special forces doing interdiction on the roads. Was this one of those sort of checkpoints? Were these special forces? If so, can you tell us what nationality they were? Second of all, is there any indication -- I mean, can we be sure that this is a suicide attack, that, say, the woman wasn't coerced into doing this? Have you had any evidence, say, from witnesses accounts elsewhere of people being coerced into any kind of attacks? GEN. BROOKS: They were coalition special operations forces -- and I won't be more precise -- that are operating in that area. And it was part of an interdiction effort, which continues. We have seen a number of examples that provide us clear evidence that this regime will take civilians, will take women, will take children and use them to lead an attack. Whether this one was coerced or not, it's now impossible to say. She clearly exited the vehicle in distress, and she clearly showed signs of being pregnant. The circumstances surrounding that, we have yet to completely discover, and some parts of it obviously never will be discovered. What we do know is, we're not surprised that the regime would do this. Whether it was voluntary or not, these kind of behaviors have been exhibited all over the battlefield. They're terroristic. That's the only way to characterize them. These are not military actions. These are terrorist actions. Let me go to the second row, please. Q: (Inaudible) -- from the Daily Telegraph in London. Again, being a bit cheeky and doing a two-parter. One is, do you think that Tikrit is being prepared as some kind of final rid-out for members of the regime? The other one is, we've heard very little about the future military administration of post-war Iraq. Who's going to be running this country, say, month one, month two, after the fall of the regime? GEN. BROOKS: Tikrit is an area that's very important to the regime and to certain regime leaders. We know that. We have interests regarding the regime in Tikrit. That's why you saw some targets that have addressed regime facilities in Tikrit. We certainly know that there is a link between Baghdad and Tikrit. And we have taken actions to influence that link in a variety of ways. And so I'll leave our interest in Tikrit at about that point. As to the future, and the administration aspects of this, that really is a matter that ought to be better discussed in the Pentagon and also in Washington to determine who's going to do what. We still have combat action that we're involved in. That remains the focus of our operations. And as we get closer to the conditions that you're describing, we'll have more to say about it. Up on the left, please. Q: Hi, General. Jeff Schaeffer (sp), Associated Press Television News. I'd like to know if you have any details today of the investigation into what brought down the Hornet and the Blackhawk? Hostile fire or mechanical error or what could it be? GEN. BROOKS: On the FA-18 Hornet, both of them, of course, are still under investigation, but the FA-18 Hornet we're continuing to dig deeper and find out what the causes were. We don't have any final answers at this point. Would be premature to talk about that. Similarly with the UH-60. Let me first say that we are comfortable in that case that it was not hostile fire. We think there was a mechanical problem. We haven't determined what the mechanical problem was yet. There's still more work that needs to be done on both of those cases. And as we have more to say, we'll pass that to you. I missed someone over inside of here. Yes, sir. Q: (Inaudible) -- Broadcasting Company. As far as the roads from Baghdad to the west and to the north are concerned, have you been able to cut the road to Tikrit? GEN. BROOKS: Without being too precise about our actions along the road to Tikrit, we have the ability to influence movement on the road to Tikrit. And I'd just like to leave it at that at this point since we have current operations ongoing. And let me go right here please. Q: Paul Hunter from Canadian Broadcasting. How much of each day for troops closest to Baghdad is spent inside a chemical suit? And as the days go on and temperatures get hotter, how much of a disadvantage is that for coalition troops in that if Iraqi troops wouldn't have to be in -- if they were to use chemical weapons, wouldn't have to theoretically put their suits on until they were about to use them? GEN. BROOKS: I can't characterize exactly how much of the day it is. That varies unit by unit and commander by commander the chemical suit is used as part of a protective posture. And commanders make a determination on what kind of risk they're under. They can regulate what's worn underneath of the chemical suit, whether it's overtop of the desert camouflage uniforms or battle dress uniforms. Commanders are the ones who regulate the condition of their unit at any given time. If it's time to reduce the amount of activity, for example, at certain times of the day when it's extremely hot, then they'll make that adjustment. Then again, we're able to attack and conduct operations throughout the day. So if they're involved in contact, they'll continue. This is something that's down at the tactical level, not at the CENTCOM level, and so I don't really have much information about that. The one thing I would tell you is, we train that way. And so there are certain advantages that come to an organization that fights the way it trains. That's how we do all of our work. Throughout the coalition you see that. And so we don't have any concerns about our ability to fight, even under a chemical environment after chemical weapons are used. We can do that. We train to do that. The key part is how commanders take care of their organizations. We're satisfied. We've got great commanders out there that are doing the right thing. They've shown their capability throughout the 15 days of combat operations. They're pretty savvy young folks that make things happen the right way, and we're very proud of them. Let me go over in this area please. Q: (Inaudible) -- La Republicca newspaper, Italy. Two questions, General, please. First of all, on the Hadithah dam. Could you tell us where the forces who are securing the dam come from? They seem to be far apart from other ground forces there. So are they a part of the 5th Corps or whatever? Second question, concerning they incidents of the past few days involving civilians, we heard from this commander a clear answer only on the first one in Baghdad in one Baghdad market. Then the second incident in Baghdad. Then Hillah a few days ago. And the last one, we hear from the regime in Baghdad that there have been dozens of civilian victims around the airport. Do we have any information on this? Thank you. GEN. BROOKS: I mentioned yesterday, the -- actually the last two day, the Hadithah dam has been seized by coalition special operations forces. And so I'll leave it at that, and our special operations forces are able to conduct operations throughout all of Iraq. Civilian casualties are being reported on the battlefield through a number of sources, and we know that in warfare, throughout history, civilians do get injured, civilians are killed as a result of combat action. The numbers that are out there and certainly the reports from the regime we would put into great doubt. You've seen evidence of the regime killing their own civilians. So there is certainty on the regime's part that there are civilian deaths and what the cause would be. Our approach has been very deliberate about minimizing the potential effect on civilians and other structures that we don't intend to cause any effect on. We've seen this demonstrated in a number of places. We can take an example, the mosque in Najaf, how we approach our work, on the ground or from the air. We take these things into consideration. I can't stand here and tell you that there have not been any civilian casualties caused by coalition action. I suspect that there are. But I can tell you with absolute certainty that we've done everything we possibly could to prevent that and to drive it down to an absolute minimum. And I'll stand on that. Yes, ma'am, with the red shirt, please. Q: (Inaudible) -- from Independent Television in Finland. General, you said you want to prevent the members of the regime to escape. Does it mean your previous offer for President Saddam Hussein to go in exile is not valid anymore? GEN. BROOKS: Well, this command never made such an offer. We were committed to action by our national leaders. We've got objectives that are clearly laid out for us. The offers that you described are matters for capitals to deal with, not for this command. We remain focused on our objectives, and that includes removing this regime. We cannot allow an escape to occur at this point. If we're ordered otherwise, then we'll do things otherwise. But at the current time, we want to prevent departure from Iraq until we have completed our operations. And there will be a time of accounting. We've said that before. And it's important that we complete our work before we make any more pronouncements in that regard. Yes, sir, in the back. Q: I wonder if you could talk a little bit about, short of a surrender, what kind of things are you looking for when you will know you have control over the country militarily at least? GEN. BROOKS: I think some of the things we're already seeing throughout much of the country tell us that we have established an environment of security where life can begin to proceed into the future. Control is probably not a very good word, and so that's not something that I would use to characterize it. Rather, it's a matter of establishing conditions that life can go on. Militarily, when we have removed military threats, that's the first and most important thing. Some of those things, some of those efforts to remove military threats will take time. For example, we know that in some of the towns through which we've passed or towns that now fall into the area where we believe we have general security and have removed most of the regime's influence, there is still presence. It's not so much an effect anymore, but there is presence. And so as conditions continue to go favorably in the coalition's direction, as we have more and more impact on the regime's ability to issue instructions or to take actions in a coordinated way, then we'll find that we can do that. So that's what we see in terms of military conditions related to when we think that we've got the right security environment. Q: If I could just follow up, in terms of regime change, how will you know when the regime is no longer -- no longer has any ability to control the levers of power? How -- GEN. BROOKS: I think we'll have a -- Q: -- what are you looking for to establish that? GEN. BROOKS: We'll a combination of things. And I don't want to give you the laundry list of what the indicators will be. Certainly throughout all of our processes that integrate intelligence that comes in, the conditions we're finding out on the ground, how much fighting are we experiencing, what is the population telling us, all these things get brought together in a way that tells us whether or not we still have work to do. Right now, we know we have work to do. And so we're continuing with that work, and we'll be very deliberate about it as we get it done. Yes, please. Q: Adi Rival (ph), ABC News. Over a week ago now, we had the incident involving the two M1 Abrams tanks. These were destroyed, the first time ever in combat that these tanks had been destroyed. There were indications -- reports I should say that possibly Coronets (ph) were involved. Over a week -- over a week later now, can you tell us what the status of your investigation is regarding what destroyed these two tanks? Was it the Coronet (ph) or was it another kind of device that destroyed these two tanks? And also, sir, U.N. violations. As you are going through and finding these weapons caches, the 56 surface-to-surface missiles, as you reported moments ago, how many of these missiles and other sorts of weapons violate the U.N. sanctions? Thank you, sir. GEN. BROOKS: Let me recharacterize what you said first about the M1 tanks. We have not had any M1 tanks destroyed by hostile fire. We've had a number hit by hostile fire, and we've had some that have been damaged by hostile fire. None have been destroyed at this point. As to U.N. violations, we've seen a number of things that indicate clear evidence that what was described as a campaign of denial and deception has true foundation. We've seen missiles that have gone beyond 150 kilometers. I mentioned one earlier that landed in the North Arabian gulf, and it splashed at about 190 kilometers. We've seen atropine injectors that we believe were purchased under the oil for food program, requiring adjustments by the United Nations on the good-review list. We've seen heavy equipment transporters that are moving tanks. In some cases, they move explosives near mosques. There are all kinds of things that have shown up through our operations that indicate that the campaign of denial and deception was true. There was in fact a campaign ongoing to prevent global knowledge of what was really happening here. I think we're going to find even more of it as time goes on. We won't be surprised with what we find. Yes, sir, please. Q: We understand that General Franks was conducting battle damage assessments today. Is there anything, any light you can shed on the effectiveness of what's been going on, this joint air, ground, sea-based attacks and on the effectiveness of the Republican Guards? GEN. BROOKS: Let me first describe how we approach battle damage assessments. This is something that's an ongoing process after every action at every level. A rifle squad may be involved in an action, as many of your embedded media have seen. They make an assessment of what the damage is at that point in time. Have they eliminated the threat? Did it move? Should they pursue it? What's the condition? The same thing happens at every level up and down the line. After each one of these precision attacks, battle damage assessment is done. The images that I am showing you are part of what is considered by our analysts. They take a close look. Did we achieve the desired effect? Did all of our weapons hit? Have we accounted for everything? Did we minimize the effect on civilians or other structures in the way we intended it? All of that is rolled in continuously, and General Franks and all other commanders inside the coalition receive information, assessments of what damage has been done, and they make their own conclusions as well. We certainly have concluded over the last several days that several parts of the Republican Guard forces command have been destroyed. That destruction has come by way of focused coalition action, some decisions by Republican Guard forces members to leave the battlefield, surrenders that have occurred, or just plain destruction that has occurred also. This is an ongoing process, and we continue to update it. It's not precise. It's done by analysis first, and then intuition and instinct finally. That's how we see things at this point. Let me go in the back, please. Q: General, Paul Adams (sp), BBC. Can you confirm reports from Western intelligence agencies that suggest that the Pentagon's forensic examination of the bomb attack at the checkpoint in Najaf concluded that that bomb was remotely detonated, and that the driver of the car may not have known anything about it? GEN. BROOKS: The tactics that you describe is one we've certainly used by terrorists in other parts of the world. I don't have anything to report or confirm at this point. The situation remains under investigation. All of these things take a lot of time to put literally the conditions back into place that may have contributed to the initial bombing. It would not be surprising if we found that out, because of the nature of the behaviors of this regime thus far, but we don't have anything to report on that currently. Yes, ma'am? Q: Thank you, general. Anne Barnard from the Boston Globe. I just wanted to clarify a couple of things about the airport. Are you saying that the runways are not operable, and therefore the coalition forces can't use the airport, at least right now? And do you control the entire airport? Just a few hours ago we were hearing that there were still some people in the north end of the airport holding out. Do you control the entire territory? Thank you. GEN. BROOKS: We rendered the airport unusable for normal air operations. We had some capabilities that the regime does not have. Hence, I would not say whether it limits our ability to conduct operations. The amount of control that is exercised there -- this is an ongoing process. We found that there are underground facilities at this airport, for example. Those require clearance. It's an ongoing process. We don't know what we'll find there. There may in fact be someone to fight in those underground facilities. The work is ongoing. Until we are completely satisfied that there are no threats to the airport, or at the airport, we will continue our efforts to ensure that security has been provided for. In the meantime, the force that's present there remains alert to a variety of things that still remain possibilities for the regime, whether it's the use of weapons of mass destruction or attacking forces to try to retake it. And we have seen some of those this morning, and it destroyed nearly all of them. Let me go to the second row, please. Q: General, the failure of the power grid in Baghdad last night seemed fortuitously timed for the ground action that the coalition was taking. The coalition says that they didn't target the power grid. Could the lights have been turned off by fifth column working, whose goals were in alliance with the coalition, or do you believe the regime turned off the lights? GEN. BROOKS: I wouldn't want to speculate on who actually turned them off. We know we didn't direct it. And we certainly have had some concerns about the power in Baghdad. We tried to do a number of things to protect the people of Baghdad. Electrical power in Baghdad also relates to water in Baghdad. Electrical power in Baghdad also relates to power in hospitals in Baghdad. That's not part of the coalition design at this point, so I wouldn't characterize it the way you did as fortuitous. It's a matter of concern at this point in time for the population that's inside of Baghdad. I think we have time for one more. In the row behind -- yes, sir, with your hand up? Q: Scot -- (inaudible) -- VOA. Regarding the weapons of mass destruction you believe to be in Baghdad, is there not a risk, given the number of airstrikes that you are engaged in of accidentally setting off some of this? Or what are you doing to perhaps minimize that? GEN. BROOKS: There are places we think weapons may have been stored, and that goes into our process for targeting. So if we think they may be stored there, then we make decisions about how we should approach it. We don't want to create a weapons of mass destruction hazard, and so we will not create one by any of our designs. Having said that, the regime, that we believe possesses weapons of mass destruction, having been engaged in a campaign of denial and deception, has hidden weapons of mass destruction. Only the regime knows where they are for sure. And so it's possible that we could be hitting something out there, and we have concerns about that as well. So the decisions we make try to take that into account as much as we possibly can. We think we have been very careful thus far to avoid such conditions, and our efforts will continue that way. Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.
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