10 April 2003
U.S. Central Command Daily Briefing Transcript
(Military operations in Iraq) (8900)
Air Force Major General Victor Renuart, CENTCOM director of
operations, and Army Brigadier General Vincent Brooks, deputy director
of operations, briefed the media April 10 at CENTCOM's headquarters at
Camp As Sayliyah near Doha, Qatar.
Following is the transcript of the briefing:
UNITED STATES CENTRAL COMMAND DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
BRIEFERS: MAJOR GENERAL VICTOR RENUART, DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS;
BRIGADIER GENERAL VINCE BROOKS, DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS
LOCATION: DOHA, QATAR
TIME: 7:03 A.M. EDT
DATE: THURSDAY, APRIL 10, 2003
GEN. RENUART: Good afternoon, everybody. I'm General Gene Renuart,
director of operations for United States Central Command. I want to
spend a little bit of time with you today summarizing some of the
activities that we've seen over the last day or two. General Brooks
will follow with some specifics on some of the key aspects of the
campaign that we feel are important to make you aware of.
Our message has been consistent. Some of you say, "You stand up here
and tell us every day you're on plan." I think that's a good thing,
and we are on plan. We continue to conduct our operations throughout
the country. We continue to reduce pockets of resistance, especially
in the southern areas, where we see a growing air of security among
the cities from Basra continuing up until -- up to Baghdad. We've seen
a lot of activity in Baghdad over the past 48 hours. Those operations
continue, and I'll talk a little bit about those a little later in the
But it's important to note that despite what you see in terms of
localized euphoria in places in the -- in some of the cities, that
this -- this operation is a long way from complete. We have localized
pockets throughout the area of the greater Baghdad area that we have
to deal with, and we have a number of areas throughout the country
that are not yet stabilized, that are not yet engaged in terms of
reducing or eliminating the Iraqi military, the paramilitary forces,
the Ba'ath Party, and some of the leadership.
So, there's a long way to go still. We'll continue on our path,
continue on our track, and we will in the end reach all of our
And as we've said over time, each -- really each time we've been up
here, none of that comes for free. The men and women of our coalition
are bearing a heavy cost, and we always take a moment to remember
those military personnel, their families, and also the members of the
civilian population, and sort of what I'll say third parties --
members of the media, members of the IOs and NGOs that have been
caught in some of the firing around the country. The war comes --
brings with it a cost that affects us all.
Just to give you a summary of operations that have been ongoing, the
outer cordon in the vicinity of Baghdad really is complete. Elements
of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force and 3rd U.S. Division have
completed the cordon around, and we believe we've cut the major routes
in and out of the city, eliminating the opportunity for large forces
to move in and reinforce, and certainly complicating the problem of
anyone trying to leave the city.
In the south, the first U.K. Armored Division is conducting a number
of operations in the Basra area, and continuing to move to the north
to link up with elements of the 1st Marine Division in the vicinity of
Al-Amara. We have now secured all of the southern oil fields. We're in
the process of moving through those oil fields to ensure they are
secure, and I'm pleased to say that about 800 of the thousand
wellheads have physically been inspected, and the repair requirements
have been determined for many of those. That work continues, and we
think we'll have those inspections completed over the next few days.
In each area where we go, the population seems supportive and
continues to welcome our coalition forces.
An interesting side line in Basra, I've mentioned the U.K. has been
actively engaged there, is doing a superb job -- they report that some
of the senior clerics are now coming out into the city asking for two
things: one, for our help to pronounce looting to be illegal, and ask
us to help with reinforcing their curfew in the city so that we don't
have large groups of folks roaming around at hours that could get them
into trouble. They've also -- the clerics have also asked for their
local citizenry to turn in weapons. So, those are very positive
things, and those are, while they are things we enjoy success with and
we are pleased with, the best story is it's coming from the leadership
of the company -- or the communities themselves.
In the center part of the country, the 101st Airborne Division
conducted operations near the town of al-Hilla. They returned
stability to that area. Found four warehouses of food that were held
by the regime. We are now turning that around and distributing it to
the local population.
Throughout the southern region of the country, the 1st Marine
Expeditionary Force has been actively engaged providing humanitarian
assistance and civil military support. General Brooks will talk to
that here in just a minute, with a number of anecdotal pieces that
will demonstrate a real success story and something we're really
In Baghdad, I mentioned operations are ongoing. They are active in
terms of combat operations. We've had a number of localized pockets of
resistance, and some combat operations that are more substantial
through the city, as we engage targets of regime leadership and
paramilitary forces. At the same time -- and we've talked before about
those two pillars at this campaign -- at the same time we're
conducting assessments of the utility systems in the city, the
sanitation capability, the hospitals to see if we can very rapidly
infuse water, electricity, sanitation into those areas and to those
facilities so that we can return quality care to the people of
One note out in the west, another good news story in the town of
ar-Rutpah (sp), our special forces had a meeting with the leaders in
the community. That town has in fact declared itself open to coalition
forces. We've met with the new mayor and his town council. They've
asked for our help in returning power to the community and working the
flow of water. We've assisted them by providing power generation
equipment to get the wells running, and then we have a repair team
going in to help with some of the power generation capability for the
city. So, a lot of real success stories there.
There's been some questions about media access for the people of Iraq.
And we have been working very hard over the last week to get a media
broadcast capability to bring into Baghdad. We hope we'll have that in
very soon, and we're working very aggressively to find the contacts
within the city and in the country who would like to begin an Iraqi
broadcast network, if you will, and over the coming days and weeks we
hope to allow the free Iraqis to begin their own TV, radio throughout
In the meantime, our information operations continue with themes like
tune into our information radio and TV to ensure that they understand
that Baghdad is still not a safe city, and that they should try to
remain in their homes, not be out in the streets, and certainly not be
anywhere where former regime officials might be.
I think the final point I'll make before I turn it over to General
Brooks is that as we have been aggressively planning military
operations for a military victory, we've also been equally involved
planning for the peace that follows. We're not sure when a military
victory will be complete. As I said, there's still work to do. But we
want to ensure that in parallel we are planning for the follow-on
operations to ensure stability, to bring the infrastructure of the
country back up to pace, so we're reviewing railroads, road
infrastructure, bridge work, power, lights, water -- all of those
things in the major metropolitan areas around the country so that we
can begin to infuse elements to repair and restore each of those
capabilities just as rapidly as we can.
With that, I'll turn it over to General Brooks and let him walk you
through a couple of the key activities over the last few days.
GEN. BROOKS: Thanks, General. Ladies and gentlemen, as General Renuart
said, our operations do continue, and so do our efforts to transition
the liberated areas into the future of Iraq.
Our coalition special operations forces will be where I begin today.
We have succeeded in maintaining a lethal pressure against Iraqi
forces in northern Iraq, and consolidated some gains in the area of
Mosul. I talked about that yesterday, up in this area, where Iraqi
forces have been pushed back from what was the green line, and under
coalition special operations force lead, supported by some Peshmerga,
they've moved into that area and begun to consolidate around the area.
It's not yet secure; there's still work to be done.
In the west, special operations continued against regime forces in the
town of Al-Qa'im. And this is an area that is strategically located on
the route that joins Syria and Iraq, and it also is an area that is
potentially for use by the launch -- for the launching of ballistic
General Renuart talked about what happened in ar-Rutpah (sp). That is
a very good news story indeed. That was a scene of fighting early in
the war, and at this point now, special operations forces having
joined with the citizens of ar-Rutpah (sp), and being welcomed in a
friendly way, are able to get on with the work that's necessary to
carry on to the future together.
Finally, our special operations forces in this case also conducted
operations near Hadithah Dam. This is an area we've spoken about
before. Hadithah, located here, to the west, northwest of Baghdad, has
a very important dam that we have been able to secure for a period of
time, and it also serves as an important crossing point over top of
the Euphrates River. Two days ago, our special operations forces there
were reinforced by coalition armor and infantry, after a movement by
air into an airfield that is controlled by special operations forces,
and then that was followed by a link-up.
I've got a short video that shows you a part of that operation. These
are tanks arriving by C-17 aircraft. The Hadithah Dam area. And tanks
rolling across the dam. This is really a very good example of the
flexibility of the forces that are involved in this operation, and it
shows that an even greater set of options now exist to defeat the
remnants of the regime.
Our special operations forces now control five different airfields,
and those are shown by the airplane symbols on this map.
Coalition maneuver operations focus in the areas of Karbala -- let's
go to the next map, please -- Karbala, al-Hilla, and also Baghdad. And
I'll talk about some of the work in each one of those areas.
First, as General Renuart mentioned, in Karbala, we continue our
efforts to increase the security in the area, eliminating any
remaining pockets of regime forces, clearing out buildings that had
been used by them for other purposes, and just increasing the security
in that very important city.
In al-Hilla, coalition forces of 5th Corps attacked during the night
to eliminate remaining pockets of regime forces. There were some still
present. Our coalition forces encountered some rocket-propelled
grenade ambushes on the approach into town, and also found artillery
and air defense systems. But they were successful in causing the
resistance to collapse. After consolidating, the force found
significant amounts of weapons and equipment, and also liberated that
warehouse. We believed the warehouse contained foodstuff and fuel that
was associated with the Oil-for-Food Program. It was a very large
distribution center, it appeared to be, and of course these will be
distributed to the population.
Can we go to the Baghdad map, please? I just want to highlight a few
more things about work in and around Baghdad. The 1st Marine
Expeditionary Force increased its presence. They entered from the
southeast and also proceeded to the northeast yesterday. There have
been pockets of intense resistance in the center of the city, and also
near the Imam al-Adham (sp) mosque, which is located in this area, and
that's where the fighting occurred this morning. At this point, the
fighting has ended. We know that the mosque was used, and the area
around it, for fighting positions for that intense fight that occurred
this morning, and the assessments of the fight are ongoing.
Fifth Corps forces also increased their presence in several areas west
of the Tigris River to further eliminate any pockets of resistance.
There was one example of a fight that occurred last night where some
regime forces attempted to cross the Tigris River in boats and they
were driven back.
Our coalition forces continue to interact with the population, and
that helps us to gain additional information. You have seen some of
the scenes of interaction on the streets. The white circles, just like
yesterday, show generalized areas where we've been conducting
operations over the last 24 hours. Of course, still near Baghdad
International Airport and Rasheed Airport, but it's a much large area
now of where we've conducted operations west of the river. We've
tightened into this area, and also from the northeast toward the
center of town in this area. Operations continue.
Of course, there have been reports of ambushes in a number of
locations, reinforced in many cases with surface laid mines that have
been hastily placed by regime forces that are still out there, and
this importantly demonstrates the continuing hazard to not only
coalition forces but an even greater hazard to non-combatants that are
moving through the area in vehicles.
We do continue our efforts in communicating with the Iraqi population,
as well as military forces, delivering leaflets by hand and by air,
and our broadcasts over the airways. At this point, we've distributed
more than a million leaflets yesterday alone, and have reached more
than 43 million leaflets overall. And our broadcast messages are
adjusting to account for the changes in circumstances as we find them.
The good news is we are quickly moving beyond the one- way
communications of broadcasts and interacting directly with the
population every day.
Finally, in the area of humanitarian assistance and efforts, something
that becomes increasingly important with each day that passes, are we
find that the initial needs that our forces encounter are in the areas
of food, water and medical. And while there has not been a crisis in
food availability, our coalition forces are able to provide some
supplements to the existing food stocks.
What I have here is an image of daily rations. (Image is shown.) These
were distributed by hand, and we've shown images like that before.
What I want to highlight here is two different types of humanitarian
daily rations. We've had questions about that before. (Image is
shown.) You see the yellow ones that have been seen in other
operations. And again, we are distributing these by hand, not
But the new type is a different color, to make it very clear that it's
not anything close to any munitions that might be hazardous. (Image is
shown.) They're salmon-colored. And there's an additional shot here in
this case. (Image is shown.) These were distributed by the 82nd
Airborne Division near Asamallah (ph) on the 5th of April.
We're also expanding our ability to provide medical care on a variety
of levels. The arrival of the Spanish ship Galicia yesterday in Umm
Qasr brought humanitarian supplies and also a medical bay with over 50
beds and an off-ship field hospital that can be pushed out in the area
What we have is a video that was taken during the offloading of the
ship. (Video is shown.) This is a very important coalition
contribution to the medical condition, and the effort will be provided
for the Iraqi population. That's not military medical support that
this effort will provide.
But that's not the only medical effort. There's also immediate medical
attention that occurs in communities every day. (Image is shown.) This
image shows a Navy corpsman near Numaniyah assessing immediate medical
needs in the community. And a similar image. (Image is shown.)
Whenever possible, we can provide treatment for the immediate needs of
Clean drinking water continues to be a daily challenge for communities
without electrical power. But the coalition is taking several steps to
try to meet the immediate needs for water. First, water is trucked
into communities and then transferred into distribution bags, like the
ones shown in this image. (Image is shown.)
In some cases, the coalition dedicates its own water-purification
equipment to meet community needs. What you see in this image are
three water bags near As Samawa that were filled with water, taken
from the Euphrates River, and purified through military
water-purification equipment. And those can generate up to 2,000
liters of water an hour.
Eventually we believe that our efforts will make the existing
water-purification resources, the ones that are part of the Iraqi
infrastructure, functional and operational again, like this in
Rumaythah (ph) just north of As Samawa, where we're testing the water
conditions to ensure that they, in fact, are safe for use again.
Throughout the liberated areas of Iraq, there are efforts like these
to quickly transition into the future of Iraq.
GEN. RENUART: Thanks, Vince. Let me -- two points before I open up to
questions, one on -- we mentioned the 40-some-odd million leaflets.
And people have said, "Well, so what do they really do for you?" Well,
let me give you an example. As we were going back into the oil fields
with the UK engineers, U.S. engineers, Kuwaiti engineers, and
returning the Iraqi oil workers back to the sites, we were
interviewing the staff of the Iraqi oil industry.
We noticed that many of these wells had, in fact, been wired to be
destroyed. And we also noticed that many of them, even though there
were explosives set in place, had the valves turned off, so that, even
if you had an explosion, it wouldn't necessarily damage the oil well.
And we said, "You all were here. You watched this happen. How did they
And they said, "We read your leaflets. We heard your broadcasts. We
understand that keeping the oil infrastructure was important for our
future. And so while we complied for our own protection with the
regime, we ensured that true damage to the oil fields would not
So there's a case where a message passed by a number of means --
leaflets, radio broadcasts, and even some television broadcasts -- was
getting to the people that could protect the future of the country. So
there's a real powerful message there.
And I'm pretty old; I forgot what the second point is. I'll get to it
Now, I'm going to start -- I always go to the front row, but I'm going
to go to the back first. So let me go back here to the gentleman in
the gray shirt, and then I'll come up to the front row in a minute.
Q: (Inaudible) -- La Repubblica Newspaper of Italy. Could you tell us
something more about civil administration? I understand that this
pillar of your operation is getting more and more important by the
day. So could you tell us about your endeavor to set up a civil
We understand that this has been postponed somehow -- maybe you are
encountering difficulties; I don't know -- and also about this meeting
of all Iraqi political (section?) in Nasiriyah, which had been
announced by Vice President Cheney yesterday. And then, I don't know,
maybe it has been canceled (or something?). Thank you.
GEN. RENUART: Well, let me first say that you're absolutely right,
that the pillar of humanitarian assistance, civil affairs, civil
military operations is becoming more and more important. But I want to
make sure that no one believes that the military operation has even
yet slowed down.
But let me go back to the issue of civil governance. As we have seen
in many of these cities, there is a governance that has been based on
tradition for many, many years in many of these cities. It's based on
the clerics in the community and the tribal leaders in the community.
As we have taken away the regime dominance, if you will, we have seen
that re-emerge. That gives us a natural avenue to restore order and to
begin to put some structure back into the communities.
Clearly the Iraqi people will choose how each of these towns will be
governed. Clearly the Iraqi people will choose what their country's
government will look like. So we attempt to work with the known and
respected leaders in each of the communities to maintain security
while the country begins to move forward towards whatever will be the
Now, with respect to the meeting that you mentioned, I didn't hear
Vice President Cheney's words, so I wouldn't want to quote what he
said. But we do intend to have a meeting of many of the interested
parties from all over Iraq, both inside and outside the country, to
discuss just this point.
I can't tell you what will be the outcome, because this truly is the
first in a series of discussions to allow the Iraqi people to begin to
voice their preference for the future. I don't know of any indication
that that has been canceled. In fact, I believe it's still on track.
And so the reports that it had been canceled, I can't give you
Yes, sir. Right here.
Q: Jonathan Marcus, BBC. Two questions about two areas; one, Kirkuk.
Could you confirm whether or not Kurdish fighters, backed up by
Special Forces, have actually entered the city there? Could you
perhaps clarify whether this is a planned operation sponsored by the
Americans or a unilateral operation that the Kurdish fighters
themselves have embarked upon?
The fighting in the second area, over to the Syrian frontier, in al
Qaim, or however you pronounce it, we've heard a lot from Donald
Rumsfeld about Iraqi leaders moving to Syria, possibly weapons of mass
destruction moving to Syria. That is obviously the main shortest land
route from the Iraqi capital. Could you kind of settle that in some
sort of wider context?
GEN. RENUART: Let me go to your second question first. You're right;
the route from Baghdad through Ar Ramadi out to al Qaim is the
shortest route to the west out of the country. Our Special Forces, as
we've talked over a number of days, are in a position to carefully
monitor and control the flow of traffic, both westbound and eastbound,
on that road. And we are doing so.
With respect to al Qaim, it is, as you know, the border town right
along the Syrian border. It has had a substantial presence of Iraqi
Special Republican Guard paramilitary force and some regular army
units in that area.
And we have continued to conduct unconventional warfare direct-action
missions and air strikes against those forces. We believe that those
forces have been significantly reduced over the last week or two, and
we believe we're in a position where we can begin to control that area
I can't put a time on that to you. We'll continue to work that. We
continue to have some discussions with leaders in that area, and we
believe we're making good progress.
With respect to Kirkuk, the first point I would make is that, as you
know, we've had Special Forces in the northern region for quite some
time. They have established a relationship with fighters in that area,
Kurdish fighters in that area, and, in close coordination with the
leadership of the Kurdish region, have established that the coalition
forces would be the command element, if you will, for operations in
the north. So operations that may occur will be done in close
coordination with and under the control of our U.S. forces.
With respect to this specific story, I don't have information that
says are any fighters in the city. I know that there have been a
number of movements along what we call the green line over the last
week or so. In many cases the Iraqi regular army forces have been
falling back away from that. And in many of those cases, our U.S.
forces are pushing forward. We'll continue to monitor those
operations. And it would be premature to say anything specifically has
happened or will happen in the city itself of Kirkuk.
Let me come over here. Yes, sir.
Q: (Inaudible.) Two questions. One, can you tell us a little bit more
about the fighting that's taking place in Baghdad today? We understand
there's been some very fierce fighting around an area where it's
believed senior Ba'athist Party members were meeting.
And also, could you give us a little more perhaps about what's
happening in al Qaim? What is so interesting there for the coalition
forces? Is it simply the presence of Special Republican Guards, or is
this a missile launch site or weapons of mass destruction? What is it
that's specifically interesting to you there?
GEN. RENUART: Let me -- since we were talking about al Qaim, I'll go
to that question first. If you look back during the Gulf War, the al
Qaim area, greater al Qaim -- that happens to be just a city that's
sort of in that region -- but that area was the site of the largest
number of surface-to-surface missile launches that occurred from the
western portion of Iraq.
We clearly are interested in protecting the neighbors in that region,
and so it's in our strategic interest to ensure that we preclude any
capability of surface-to-surface missiles, especially those that are
long-range, to be launched from that area. That allows us to preserve
the security of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other countries on the
So it's preventive medicine, I think, is probably the best way to
describe it. By our presence, by our activity, by our air power, we
hope to reduce the possibility that if there is that capability there
-- and we truly don't know for sure -- but if there is that
capability, that we would prevent it from being a serious factor,
especially at this point in the campaign.
Now, let me go back to your question on the fight within Baghdad. An
interesting dynamic has begun to occur as you see areas of the city
sort of shed the bonds of the Iraqi regime. That has brought to light
a number of leads -- "They're over here, they're over there" --
wherever they are.
I think it's an understandable situation in the city because these
people have been held, you know, in terror for quite some time. But
not all of those leads are either current or even accurate, but we
have to try to run each of them to ground.
In this case we had information that a meeting may be occurring of
some senior leadership in this particular area of the city. It
happened that this area was also an area that was planned for military
operations for today. And so the confluence of both of those came
together this morning in the vicinity of the mosque that General
Our troops were fired on, took heavy fire from the vicinity of this
mosque and another location, and were engaged in a fairly heavy
firefight for a number of hours. We've resolved that now. We've killed
or captured the enemy force that was taking us under fire. And we
continue operations through there.
We will have a number of these reports, people who believe that they
have some information. And we're going to have to take each of those
in, evaluate them against what we know to be the case, and then take
action either on the ground or through the use of Special Forces, as
Yes, sir. I didn't call on Al Jazeera my last time here, so please let
me do that.
Q: (Inaudible) -- Al Jazeera. Can you please update us on the
situation in and around Tikrit, what sort of a fight is going on there
or what sort of fight you expect?
And also the situation in Baghdad and Basra, especially the looting. A
couple of months ago the Iraqi government let out a lot of criminals,
thousands of criminals out of prisons. And it seems that they're also
taking advantage of the power vacuum. What are you going to do about
that? Because citizens who are sitting at home are also getting
attacked. It's not only government property.
GEN. RENUART: That's a very good point and I think it's one that we
need to spend a moment on.
Two aspects. First, for a city, in some cases cities, maybe even a
country that has been held prisoner, there is a great deal of bad
feelings towards the regime. So it's not necessarily surprising that
many of these people would choose to go to these symbols of regime
leadership and take things or express their anger.
On the other hand, that's not the way we would like to have cities
conduct themselves each day. In the case of Basra, for example, I
mentioned some of the senior clerics have asked the UK military to
help to provide presence in neighborhoods so that the emotions will
have a chance to calm. And that's occurring. And, in fact, today we've
seen many fewer reports of that kind of behavior in Basra.
Some of the reports that we saw yesterday were from the eastern
portion of Baghdad, and those were areas where we had not yet actually
put military forces into, but rather the reaction of many of the
people in those neighborhoods to small pockets of regime leaders or
regime figures in that area.
Today we have begun to move some U.S. military, coalition military
into some of these areas, and again, it starts to settle. Our intent
would be to work with the leaders in each of these areas because I
think all of us understand that it's better to have a safe quiet life
in our neighborhoods than not. And we will continue, through our
civil-military operations, our civil affairs teams and our special
forces to work with these neighborhood leaders initially to begin to
help to calm their own neighborhoods, and that usually is the best way
to succeed. And then over time, the Iraqi officials in cities will
begin to build a police force to do the normal security things that we
would expect in any city.
Q: Will you declare a curfew?
GEN. RENUART: We really haven't addressed that issue. In some areas --
for example, in Basra we were asked if we would consider a curfew. The
local commander there is discussing that with the leaders to decide.
He was asked by the local community leaders. And they'll make a
decision based on what they believe to be appropriate. It may not be
for the city. Might be for just an area of a neighborhood. It will
Our intent is not to be heavy-handed, but it is to ensure that
stability is brought back into the areas. And I think some of the
natural emotion will begin to settle and has already.
Q: The Tikrit --
GEN. RENUART: Oh, I'm sorry. Yes, Tikrit. I can't give you a lot on
Tikrit because we do not have any substantial U.S. forces in that
area. It certainly is an area that we're focused on as we continue our
military operations towards the north. As I mentioned, we still have a
long ways to go. We've really only covered about half or 60 percent of
the country as we move to the north. So we have operations that will
continue, that will address those areas that so far we have not been
able to get our forces into.
Q: Yes, sir. Tom Itu (ph) with CNN. Your Secretary of State
demonstrated the ability of the U.S. military to not only monitor but
intercept communications from the regime before this conflict even
started. I'm curious to know what kind of communications, if any, you
are still able to monitor; and are there any communications from the
GEN. RENUART: Boy, you're going to get me in trouble. I'm not sure I
can tell you what the Secretary of State said, and I wouldn't try to
evaluate his comments.
Q: He had what appeared to be cell-phone recordings before the U.N.
GEN. RENUART: Ah. I got it. I got it. I would say that this coalition
-- and it's not just the United States, it's certainly all the
coalition members -- have a sophisticated capability to monitor
signals in a number of ways. We continue to do that. As to what we've
actually received from that, I'm really not willing to go down that
road, so I'll just leave it alone and say that we'll continue to
evaluate all types of intelligence to try to help us find those last
pockets of the regime.
Let me come back over to this side. Hold on. I'll come back over here.
Q: Tim Wrigley (sp) from Jane's Defence Weekly magazine. Could you
give us some rundown on the quantity and the types of equipment that
you've captured, and what's actually going to happen to the equipment
of the Iraqi armed forces?
GEN. RENUART: Well, quantities of equipment would be a challenge for
me to be specific because any number I give you right now would be a
lie. It changes from hour to hour as we uncover a number of sites
throughout the country. But I will say that each day we have uncovered
either numbers of destroyed pieces of equipment, which will go to the
nearest scrap metal yards and be turned over to people that can do
something with it in recycling, or those pieces of equipment that are
still functional, we will maintain control of. In some point in the
future -- just as we did in Afghanistan, we are rebuilding the Afghan
national army -- there will be some form of military security force
built back for Iraq, and it would be a shame to not use some of that
equipment that is still functional in order to keep the cost of
returning that force -- a force in the future.
Q: Thanks, General. Kelly O'Donnell from NBC. Could you give us a
snapshot right now of the area of Baghdad that you feel comfortably
under coalition control, an assessment of what you think the
capability is still of Iraqi forces? And has there been any directive
given to U.S. troops not to display a U.S. flag in Iraq again?
GEN. RENUART: I don't think there's been direction for U.S. forces not
to display a U.S. flag. I think you've seen in a couple cases
instances where, in sort of enthusiasm and jubilation, we've seen some
of our forces bring out the American flag and then think better of it.
And truly, there is -- the guidance from headquarters is you have to
understand that this is the country of Iraq. We will have our flag
over our forces where we find our forces. And where the Iraqi people
begin to reclaim their country, then the Iraqi flag will be flown. And
I think, for example, yesterday you saw both coming from the same
young man. So I think we'll continue to be enthusiastic where we've
succeeded and understanding of the importance of establishing Iraq for
free Iraqis for the future.
Q: The assessment of the area of Baghdad?
GEN. RENUART: Baghdad's still an ugly place.
(To next questioner.) Don't go away; I'm going to come over there.
(Returning.) Baghdad's still an ugly place. There are many parts of
the city that are either not secured by U.S. forces or are sort of
unsecured at all, and there are other places in the city where we
believe there are still pockets of remaining small elements of
Republican Guard, Special Republican Guard and paramilitary forces.
And that's really the objective of our operations in Baghdad now, is
to go to those locations and return some stability. In terms of how
big a percentage or what have you, it would be, again, unfair because,
just as I mentioned with counting tanks, we are succeeding each day to
secure more and more of the city, and I think we're making good
progress with it.
Q: (Name inaudible), Irish Times. I had two questions. Number one,
where are Saddam, Uday, Qusay, Tariq Aziz, all those other folks?
GEN. RENUART: Do y'all, like, draw straws to see where that question's
going to go in the room each day? (Laughter.)
Q: Secondly -- you're not going to answer this one either --
(laughter, some applause) -- the MOAB. I saw a report on TV this
morning that it had been brought in for possible use. Are you going to
use it? Is it really necessary at this stage? Thanks.
GEN. RENUART: Well, I'll go to the second question first. The
so-called MOAB, or the BLU-82, which is a 15,000-pound weapon, are
surely weapons that are available to us to use really anywhere it's
appropriate. We wouldn't want to take away from any commander the
opportunity to use appropriate weapons for their part of the
battlefield. As to an intention to use it, a target to use it for, I
think it would be very unfair of me to presuppose any of those
possibilities, and we leave that to the commanders out in the
battlefield to make a recommendation on both targets and applicable
With respect to Saddam and Uday and Qusay and Mr. Aziz, don't know
where they are. But we'll continue our pursuit of any intelligence
that might indicate where they are. I don't know that they're alive
and I don't know that they're dead. But that's, again, not really
important to us. We will continue to pursue the security and the
successful accomplishment of the operation. And as that occurs, those
other pieces will fall into place, I'm confident.
Q: Patrick Moser (ph) from Agence France-Presse. You were talking
about the mosque, and you said several people, enemy forces were
captured or killed. Can you give us more details as to who they were,
whether they were Ba'ath leadership? And also how about casualties on
GEN. RENUART: We did suffer some wounded. The specific numbers of
those casualties, we really don't have a good number, so I'd prefer
not to describe that. In terms of the enemy forces, the only report I
have that I think is fairly valid is that a number of the killed and
captured were dressed in the similar black kinds of garb that we have
seen at least other of these paramilitary forces dressed in. Now,
whether that means they were Special Republican Guard or Republican
Guard who have changed uniforms or some of these other organizations,
I'm really not able to give you more specifics on that.
Q: Hi. Nicole Winfield (sp), Associated Press. At the top of the
briefing you spoke a bit about Mosul and said that, I think, special
forces had moved into the area. Does that mean you're actually in
Mosul itself? And what kind of resistance are you meeting there? Are
you with any Kurdish fighters as well? And secondly, yesterday we saw
some reports of foreign fighters inside Baghdad itself; if you could
give an assessment of how big of a role are they playing now in the
current resistance in Baghdad, elsewhere? Are you seeing more coming
in even from Syria, from that side, currently?
GEN. RENUART: Oh, you mean bad-guy foreign fighters.
Q: Bad guy, yeah.
GEN. RENUART: Okay. That's good, because I didn't know we had some
Q: Are they still coming into the country as they were a week ago?
GEN. RENUART: Let me first talk to Mosul. We have had and continue to
have military forces, U.S. forces, in the vicinity of Mosul. They are
supported by -- as you know, we have the 173rd Brigade on the ground.
We have additional military force that is continuing to flow into that
region. Certainly we have support from the Kurdish fighters in that
The operations will continue there, and as the U.S. forces see the
opportunity and can seize the opportunity to further expand, to push
the Iraqi forces out of Mosul or Kirkuk or other places, they'll
certainly try to take advantage of that. As we flow forces from the
south to the north, we will continue to squeeze those forces. So in
terms of do we have U.S. forces in Mosul, I'm not aware that we do.
But we certainly have U.S. forces that are close by, observing,
calling fires and taking advantage of opportunities that might arise.
Q: And foreign?
GEN. RENUART: Foreign fighters. You know, we've had some reports. We
had a number of reports about a week ago. We've since seen fewer
reports, but we have had a number on the battlefield killed or
captured. We've not seen additional influxes that I can tell. And as I
said, I think our forces in the west are doing a pretty credible job
of keeping elements from coming into the country that aren't desired.
Now let me go back here. Yes, sir?
Q: I'm George Kerr (ph), editor-in-chief of National Newspaper
Publishers Association News Service, the black press of the United
States. I want to go back to a point that General Brooks made
yesterday. He conformed that uniforms of U.S personnel have been found
in Rasheed, near the airport, at the old prison. Without going into
the names, unless you want to volunteer that --
GEN. RENUART: (Laughs.) It's a good try.
Q: -- (laughs) -- thank you -- could you tell us whether those names
match the names of those who are prisoners of war or missing in
action? And also, do you have any information on their conditions?
GEN. RENUART: No, I can't confirm that, and won't confirm that,
whether they match names, don't match names. I think what General
Brooks said is we had evidence of U.S. that may have been held there
because we saw some U.S. uniforms. I think it would be unfair to
speculate anything more than that. And so I'll leave it at that.
Q: Adi Raval, ABC News. As law and order becomes more of a concern in
Baghdad, how are coalition forces changing their military orientation
from one of combat to one of stability? That's the word you mentioned
at least five times now in the last half hour or so. How are you
changing your military operations, your orientation, so that soldiers
might have to become more of a military policeman in the streets of
GEN. RENUART: Well, that's a good question. Our forces have been
trained for a broad variety of circumstances on the battlefield, and
some of those circumstances are civil military operations. I hesitate
to say military police, because that's really not their task. But, for
example, in the Marine side of the city, part of the training of our
Marines is to deal in both urban environments and to deal in a
relationship of civil military kinds of operations. And I think the
answer to the question is it will be a natural transition from combat
to providing presence and stability -- that's six times in a half an
hour -- into these neighborhoods. And there's probably a very good
reason why I say that. It is important for us to create the
environment that is secure. And with a secure environment come the
more routine functions of day-to-day life -- schools reopening,
markets reopening. Those things add to and create stability in each of
those neighborhoods. That doesn't mean you have to be the enforcer of
the law on the street. I think you can do that with presence and
compassionate relationships with the members of the community. I think
that's the direction we'll go forward.
Q: Greg Gordon (sp) from Newsday. Let's go back north again. Two
questions. Tikrit: You said something that surprised me a little bit,
that we don't have significant forces around Tikrit right now, I think
since some of us hear that was potentially the last stand, the last
battlefield. Can you paint us a picture of what the United States has
in Tikrit and perhaps what Iraq has there?
Kirkuk: You are describing a situation that what a lot of people were
referring to before the war as the Afghan model, where Special Forces
would team up with local fighters, but the local fighters, in this
case the Kurds, would sort of do the fighting on the United States'
behalf. Is that a sense, the sense of what's happening around Kirkuk
GEN. RENUART: No, I think -- I think the way we used our Special
Forces in Afghanistan was appropriate to that situation. I think the
way we are using our Special Forces in the Kurdish territory and in
northern Iraq, while it has many of the attributes, is unique to that
environment. So I'll say, no, it's not the way -- I wouldn't say it is
the Afghan model.
And that will beg the question, So, what are you doing? Well, I think
the answer to the question is allow time to show, and you will see the
With respect to Tikrit, certainly Tikrit is one of the key
strongholds, potential strongholds of the Ba'ath Party and the Tikriti
clan, and that is an area that is important to us. I don't want to
misrepresent the fact that we have put a great deal of emphasis on
Tikrit. Some of it has been conventional, some of it has been
unconventional. In many of those cases it doesn't take many people to
create a desired effect. So we'll continue to increase our emphasis on
Tikrit and other of the remaining strongholds of the Ba'ath Party, and
continue to operate along the plan, the timeline that we have laid
Let me come over to this side first. Yes, sir?
Q: (Off mike) -- China Radio International. General, can you tell us
how many hospitals in Baghdad have been under control of the coalition
forces? And the Red Cross says many of the hospitals are overwhelmed
by patients. Can you describe the situation there?
GEN. RENUART: Well, we -- as far as we know, there are about 125 or so
hospitals within the greater Baghdad area. We have been trying to do
surveys of those. There are certainly some who have a large number of
patients, and that have been hit by a lack of electricity and lack of
As to how many of that 125, I can't really say. We are continuing to
expand those assessments. One thing is clear: that we are attempting
to identify those areas where we can restore power and water very
rapidly. We are trying to move some additional supplies into some of
the most hard-hit of the hospitals, and we will continue to do that
over time. And that operation will expand just as our military
operations within the city have expanded.
Q: (Off mike) -- from Reuters. Going back to Kirkuk, how are you going
to reconcile the different -- the different desires of the Kurds and
Turkey? And if the Kurds seem to have gone into Kirkuk, which is very
much what Turkey was worried about, are you in contact with Turkey to
reassure them? Are you trying to persuade the Kurds not to take up
certain positions? How will you reconcile that?
GEN. RENUART: Well, first, I'd say that the coalition forces are in
direct contact with all of the parties in the region -- the Turks, the
Kurds, both sides, the PUK and the KDP. It is clear to all of those
what our position is, what our guidance is to the forces on the
ground, and I think we will be able to maintain a very consistent
approach to that problem over time. So I am not worried that one side
may miscalculate the other. We continue to work very aggressively with
both sides to ensure that our intentions are very clear: is to return
stability to the country as quickly as we can.
Q: Sir, Martha Brant with Newsweek magazine. Is there any more detail
you can give us by MEF rolling into Baghdad yesterday? Did it happen
more quickly than you expected? Were they responding to some opening
GEN. RENUART: No. Actually the construct of that operation was
designed initially to provide an encirclement, if you will, and then
to move through the main sectors, the area between the canal and the
river, and then the area to the east of the canal. It was designed to
be a coordinated effort, and it worked pretty much right on the plan.
Q: (Off mike) -- the Moscow Channel. Two questions, general, if you
please. First, there was information in some media that Saddam -- two
nights ago Saddam left in the direction to Iran. That's why Fedayeens
left the city and it was not a big battle. Please, do you think the
operation will be complete if you will not find Saddam, like it was in
Afghanistan with Osama bin Laden?
And the second question. Before the war, Iraq had something about
3,500 tanks. And according to the information from Internet, from
Russian satellites, the coalition has not destroyed half of these
tanks. Where are these tanks now? Just what part of it you have and
what part of it is now with the Iraqis? Are they just in Tikrit? Thank
GEN. RENUART: Okay, two good questions. First, I guess I would not
argue with what Russian satellites are able to see. I'd just say that
our estimates may differ a little bit, and we feel that we have either
taken control of -- which means we may not have destroyed, we may own
them now -- or destroyed a substantial portion of the armor that is --
that was -- that made up the Iraqi military.
With respect to Saddam, it would be surprising to me that Saddam would
go to Iran. I wouldn't think he would have a hearty welcome there. And
with respect to completing the operation, you'll recall that, as we
said a number of times, the operation is designed to end the regime,
to take away any capability to use weapons of mass destruction, and to
eliminate the possibility that either support of terrorism could occur
here or that proliferation of those weapons would continue.
I have time for one more.
Q: Hi, it's Paul Hunter (sp) from Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Notwithstanding there are still pockets of fighting going on in
Baghdad, can you explain how winning Baghdad alters or assists you in
the search for weapons of mass destruction? Does this mean you can --
there are resources freed up or that there are documents that you now
have access to? And what are you doing to exploit that?
GEN. RENUART: That's a good question. We've said a couple of times
that we believe that many of the sources of information would be in
and around the Baghdad area. And so as we move into that area and
establish more and more control, we hope to gain access to more and
more of the facilities that may yield some of that information.
I think, also, it's important to say that many of the places where WMD
might be hidden are not going to be obvious to the eye, and we are
going to have to use some detailed intelligence study, and then some
very detailed detective work to identify some of these locations and
then exploit them. Certainly as you stabilize Baghdad, the force
requirements to be in the city will adjust slightly, and I would hope
that that would give us some additional capability to get out to some
of the other outlying areas that may not yet have been visited. I
appreciate everybody's time. Thank you very much.
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)