GEN. BROOKS: Right. I understand that report that Iraqi TV
domestically did not come on. We certainly have been doing things that
would affect the possibility of Iraq TV to be coming on. We'll continue
to do that. We think that the domestic population is not seeing very
much of the Iraqi regime at this point in time, and we'll continue our
efforts to make sure that's the case.
Please, third row.
Q (Inaudible) -- from Hong Kong. We all know that once urban
fighting starts in Baghdad, the number of casualties, military and
civilians, is most likely to increase. So my question is, is urban
warfare inevitable? And is coalition troops prepared for the
possibility to engage urban fights?
GEN. BROOKS: We will conduct military operations in a way that we
believe is necessary to conduct them, all the while remaining focused
on our objectives and also carrying with us the effort and the
responsibility of trying to maintain a balance in how we respond inside
of any military circumstance, particularly with regard to the potential
for damaging civilians or other structures around them.
You've already seen some examples of how we do some of our work in
urban areas. We're very selective about where we go. And frankly, the
Iraqi people are telling us exactly where to go.
When we go in to do something against a Barth headquarters, for
example, it's based on intelligence or other information that's been
provided that can be turned into action. And the action is related to
that purpose. And in some cases we leave. In other cases we may go in
So I wouldn't want to predetermine exactly what the circumstances
would be in Baghdad. There certainly is potential for very intense
fighting. We should all anticipate that and be prepared for it. But
our tactics will let us do this in a way that we think can save lives
as much as possible.
Q (Inaudible.) We've been hearing accounts today from the crew of a
British Scorpion light tank that was attacked, although it was clearly
marked, by an American A-10 aircraft. How much of a concern is that for
U.S. Central Command? And also, what does the situation in Basra tell
you about what may lie ahead on the streets of Baghdad?
GEN. BROOKS: When we have reports of potential fratricides, we
always examine it deeply. And certainly whenever there is a coalition
involvement there where two nations are involved, we try to respect the
sensitivities of the countries involved as much as possible.
We have a number of things that we're examining right now to make
sure that we have not had or that we have had a case of fratricide or
blue-on-blue type of actions. When those things are complete and their
investigations are complete, we will then provide additional
information. We'll be forthcoming about it. But it's important that we
are thorough in examining all the circumstances that surround any
incidents like that.
I would just say that we know that there's a lot of fog and
friction on the battlefield, and accidents do happen. There are still
humans in the loop and mistakes can occur. We haven't gotten to the
point where warfare can be waged in perfection at this time.
The situation in Basra and what it tells us first is that the Iraqi
people are still in some cases under the boot of the regime. And where
that boot is applied, there's a great want, a great desire, to have the
We are receiving assistance and information from people in Basra,
and it localizes our attacks very effectively. And the UK forces have
been outstanding in that regard of conducting operations where needed
at a time and place of our choosing.
It also says, though, that there's still work to be done. We
wouldn't say that Basra is completely under coalition control, but we
continue to increase the degree of control over top of that. As we do
our work, we'll remain in close contact with as many Iraqi leaders,
resistance leaders and others out there that can give us additional
information and assistance. And they ultimately will be the inheritors
of Basra, we believe.
On the left.
Q Jeff Schaeffer (sp), Associated Press Television News. General,
what's your current assessment of the Iraqi air force? And why do you
suppose that they've pretty much been keeping their planes grounded
since the war's begun?
GEN. BROOKS: Jeff, it's as simple as if they fly, they die. It's as
simple as that. If they come up, we'll destroy them. And, as you see,
if we find them, we'll destroy them. We've destroyed aircraft in
cemeteries or near cemeteries. We've destroyed aircraft outside of
protected areas. We've destroyed aircraft on the ground at H-2.
We think that they know not to come up and fly against us. And
certainly we're prepared to respond to that if we choose to.
Q (Inaudible.) General Tommy Franks has told us last week, early
last week, that there have been contacts between the U.S. military and
what he described as commanders of some of Iraqi units. In the last 10
days we haven't heard about this. Have they failed, the contacts? Or
where do they stand now? Can you tell us, please?
GEN. BROOKS: Contacts continue on a variety of levels. I won't be
too specific about where they're occurring or who we have contact with.
I would tell you that we have contacts with civilian leaders. We have
contacts with military leaders.
We have a number of military leaders that have been taken under our
control as a result of combat actions or by raids. They're providing
useful information in a number of cases that we are then taking and
taking action on. So if we find that it is something that can be acted
upon, we'll go in and deal with that and try to take advantage of it.
As General Franks mentioned, we do our work in a way that in some
cases is sequential. In some cases it's simultaneous. And what we're
seeking is a broad effect on this regime. But we can operate in a
variety of areas, with a variety of (effects?), the time and place of
our choosing. And that's working very well.
Q (Inaudible) -- BBC. Two questions. One of the great benefits of
briefings like this should be able to give us a little bit of the
overview and perhaps share with us some of the intelligence picture. In
that regard, could you tell us something about the level of
(attrition?), level of damage that you think you're doing to the
Republican Guards in several days now of air strikes?
Could you also give the points you raised about the decontamination
vehicle and more chemical suits being found? Could you say a little bit
about what all this evidence about the preparedness for chemical
weapons or chemical weapons environment tells you about likely Iraqi
GEN. BROOKS: The Republican Guard forces command is one of our key
targets. We know that they're part of the solid defensive structure of
the regime. That's what the regime relies on heavily for traditional
And so we're targeting them. And we're destroying a number of
them. We're taking away their capability to fight. But I'm not going
to tell you what the number is at this point in time. It just wouldn't
be appropriate to make that assessment, first because it's not a
In much of that, we use as much intelligence as we can to make a
determination of where they stand, what their strength level would be,
whether we've created vulnerabilities, whether we have advantages. And
that's (art?) at that point, once you get beyond there.
And so while I would not be specific about where we see the
Republican Guard forces command, I can say that there are a number of
organizations within the Republican Guard forces command that are in
serious difficulty at this point in time, and we continue our efforts
to put them in greater difficulty and danger.
Go back to the second half of your question; I'll pick that up.
Q You say you found a chemical decontamination vehicle, more suits.
What does this tell you about the likelihood of the Iraqis having
GEN. BROOKS: It's one more tile in the mosaic. We still cannot
determine what the regime will do. We've seen a number of things that
tell us there are desperate men that will go to any extreme to protect
themselves. We've seen that exhibited before this war started, and it's
been reaffirmed since this war started.
We know that there has been equipment positioned in places to
provide protection to the Iraqi forces. Protection from what? I don't
know; we don't use the chemical weapons. We see this in a variety of
different locations. Whether it means there's going to be an intention
to use or not, that's for the Iraqi regime to determine.
Our efforts will be to prevent that from happening if we can, by
identifying the leaders that would make such decisions; by warning
military organizations that might pull the trigger what the cost would
be and reminding again that no one benefits from the use of weapons of
mass destruction; by attacking the systems that would deliver it when
we find them, and the places where they might be stored, and at the
same time, seeking addition information of where might they be; who
knows, and what can we do about it.
So those actions are ongoing. We have to wait and see what's going
to happen, but we won't be benign as it goes along.
Q Paul Hunter from Canadian Broadcast. Back to the suicide, the
effect of the suicide attacks and the threat of another 4,000. Were
coalition soldiers told ahead of time to prepare for that type of
fighting? And what had been the effect of it becoming a reality on the
morale of soldiers? And secondarily, how many times would you say Iraqi
civilians have been killed after being targeted by coalition soldiers
because there was the threat they might be suicide attackers or they
were driving where they should be and didn't stop?
GEN. BROOKS: I think first the degree of sensitivities out there is
a heightened awareness. We always new that there were threats of
suicide bombers. We'd seen things that have been reported, just like
these reports of thousand coming in that want to be suicide bombers. So
we certainly know that in a regime that is linked to terrorism that
terroristic practices might be exhibited.
Whether we look for that in every case, different story. And that's
something that's determined on the ground. But I can certainly say that
there's a heightened awareness to it.
I would not want to characterize what the morale is. I think the
morale inside of a military organization comes from a whole lot of
things. First is the ability to bond with on another and know that you
have a common goal and that you're taking care of each other as well as
you can. They had losses that occurred because of that attack in that
specific outfit, but that unit would not want to stop because of that
attack. I know this to be true.
I think as we see additional threats on the battlefield, as it
relates to civilians, we will still encounter then in the right way
that we want to, that is in a way that does not brutalize, that tries
to protect as much as possible. I don't have any numbers that I can
give you in terms of cases where coalition forces have attacked
civilians. I'm not aware of any where we've deliberately -- I'm certain
that we have not deliberately attacked civilians under any
Whether we've had true civilians, noncombatants, innocents caught
up inside of a firefight where someone is pushed out in front of an
irregular force, that I cannot say. I know the regime would like to
have that number escalate beyond count. We see that even today, actions
that are ongoing as we speak. Along a bridge in the north between
Karbala and Al-Hila (ph). Irregular forces trying to get across a
bridge that's rigged for demolition. They know it's rigged for
demolition; the did it. And pushing women and children in front of
them. One woman tried to break contact and escape, and as she ran, she
was shot in the back and thrown into the river.
So the encounters with civilians out there are certain. We know
they're going on. We're not targeting them. No one's killing more
Iraqis right now then the regime.
Please, you had a question.
Q There were elements of the Nebukadnezar Division of the
Republican Guard reportedly discovered in some of the town in the
fighting out there. Could you explain the significance of that and
explain the significance of why we are seeing so much fighting in these
little towns to what appear to be the northernmost reaches of where the
coalition fighting forces is located?
GEN. BROOKS: Okay. First, the initial report is that some of the
people we've taken into our custody as a result of recent operations
say they're from the Nebukadnezar Division. So we're not certain indeed
that they are. It's possible. If it is true, then it's -- it may
reinforce some of the movements that were in and around some of the
defensive positions that we've seen. It may be reinforcements. It may
be replacing losses as a result of the actions that we have inflicted
upon the Republican Guard forces.
As to why they're where they are, I think it's really military
terrain. When you can anchor onto something that might provide you an
advantage terrain-wise, you may choose to defend there. We have
awareness of where they are. It doesn't protect them. And I think that
they may seek to draw us into places where we would be perceived as not
ready to fight. We're able to fight anywhere on this battlefield.
That's already been shown, and it will continue to be shown.
Second row, please.
Q (Off mike.) It's often said about the U.S. military that they own
the night. Have you seen any evidence that the Iraqis obtained their
own night-vision goggles and are fighting back?
GEN. BROOKS: We have reports that there have been some night-vision
devices provided to different parts of the regime. I have not gotten
any reports that any of them have been found at this point. So it's all
speculative at this point. Even if that's the case, we would still own
Q Nick Spicer (ph), National Public Radio. I was wondering, sir, if
you could tell us if landmines are being used by American forces along
the road leading to Baghdad? And if that answer is yes, what does that
say, in military terms, about -- about strategy? Is it hunkering down
of any kind?
GEN. BROOKS: What we're seeing, actually, is landmines that have
been left by the regime forces. We found those in a few areas. We have
had some wounded as a result of landmines. Any landmines that we would
use are retrievable. They're under our control at any given time.
They're used for temporary protective purposes, and then they're
recovered, and they go with us.
That is not the case of what we're seeing on the behalf of the
regime. They're left out there. Anyone can run into them, military
forces, the civilians who are trying to escape their brutality inside
of towns. That's what we're seeing on the battlefield at this point.
Q (Off mike.)
GEN. BROOKS: I don't know specifically what's happening down inside
of tactical units. We do have some landmines that are available to us,
like the Claymore antipersonnel mine, that's a put-in-place-and-remove
type of mine. We take it with us, and we use it for protection.
So, yes, we do have them. But in terms of the specific tactical
actions, I don't know where they're being used and where they're not.
Q General, Cammie McCormick (ph), CBS News. Could you tell us
what's happening just south of Baghdad in (Hindia ?)? Are Republican
Guard units being engaged? Is there street fighting going on there?
GEN. BROOKS: I don't have any reports of any street fighting going
on involving coalition forces. I don't know whether the Iraqis are
fighting in the streets at this point.
We are in contact with forces just south of Baghdad, and we know
where they are. They're in contact. I don't want to characterize too
much, because it's an ongoing action, and some of your embeds are doing
a great job of reporting what's going on right now from the
We're going to continue to work against the Republican Guard forces
that are defending Baghdad. Our efforts are going to go to the regime.
We've made that clear. Where the regime is, we're coming. Where the
regime is, we're coming.
Please, in the third row.
Q Hi, General. Anne Bernard (ph) from the Boston Globe. I know the
action is still ongoing, but is this the first clash between Republican
Guards and U.S. forces on the ground that's going on right now?
And my second question is about the Fedayeen. At the beginning of
the war, the estimates of their numbers ranged from 10,000 to 100,000.
What's the latest intelligence that you have about how many there are?
And since they've been characterized as dead-enders and sort of
informed that their only future is as prisoners of war -- or, I'm
sorry, as possible defendants in war crimes trials, what is their
incentive to surrender? And why wouldn't we end up in a situation where
each one of those individuals would fight for his life until the last
GEN. BROOKS: Well, certainly the Republican Guard has met coalition
forces before. We've been attacking them in a variety of ways for a
number of days. So this is not the first contact that they have
experienced from us, nor will it be the last.
As to the desperation of regime members who know that they have no
future, first, they can be certain of it. We'd be happy to guarantee
that they have no future. We've made that statement clearly a number of
times, and we'll continue to say that. There is not future for the
regime or anyone that supports it.
Will they fight to the death? Probably. We're seeing that in a
number of places. Those who have everything to lose will lose it.
Q And how many of there are there?
GEN. BROOKS: I don't know what the number is at this point. It's a
difficult number to count when someone wears civilian clothes and comes
out of a bus with a weapon. You can't count that.
Actually, let's go in the second row over here, please.
Q If thousands of suicide bombers do show up on the battlefield,
what's the military significance of that? Are they a serious threat?
GEN. BROOKS: Well, certainly if they're able to detonate an
explosive, it's like any other weapon that encounters a force. And it's
very difficult to achieve any kind of degree of mass with that. That's
a tactic of terror. When losses occur inside of military formations,
the military formations consolidate, reorganize, reestablish any
capability, and they continue to fight. It's not a very effective
military tactic at all. It's a terror tactic, and it won't be
effective. We're continuing operations right now. We had a car bomb
explosion within days, and our operations are still continuing beyond
where that car bomb explosion occurred. It will not stop us. It will
not stop us. So --
Please, fourth row.
Q (Inaudible) -- Russian state television. General, could you talk
a little more about your humanitarian operations, and specifically how
the distribution is conducted, because on TV, we have seen pictures of
the crowds surrounding military trucks, which doesn't look like very
effective. Do you receive any help from local communities in the
distribution process? Thank you.
GEN. BROOKS: Okay, thank you for the question. There are a number
of organization that are involved in providing humanitarian aid. As
each day goes by and more terrain is secured, even more organizations
come in. Some of them are international organizations, some of them are
governmental organizations, and others are military organizations. We
did see some early images when some of the first convoys went into the
southern area of what appeared to be more chaotic than we believe it
should be. A lot of lessons have been learned. The actual organizations
involved -- we don't need to characterize who they were or what their
roles were in that, but we certainly know how to distribute supplies in
an organized way.
We've seen some recent images of very controlled distribution
points that have lines, that have a means of causing people to move
down into a single row to receive what stocks they need, and to proceed
on. It's very orderly, and it's going very well right now. I think what
we saw coming off the Sir Gallahad was a very orderly distribution. The
water distribution -- there will be 12 points that will be built up. It
will be controlled distributions. So we don't want to create chaos in
what we are doing, and we won't. We'll do the best we can to prevent
that and maintain control, and also do it in a way that people realize
life is going on, things are going to be okay.
In the back please.
Q Kevin Donough (ph) of ITV News. General, going back to the
friendly fire incident in which a British soldier was killed, his
colleagues have said they've found it inconceivable that the pilot of
the A-10 was unable to identify the British armor, and he has said to
make not just one, but two passes over the column. In fact, they've
described his actions as being that of a cowboy. What do you say to the
family of the dead soldier, and what action will be taken against this
GEN. BROOKS: I should first address the family of this dead
soldier, and any others who have lost their lives. And we regret their
loss at any time under any circumstance.
In this particular case, because there may a blue-on-blue incident
involved, we have to investigate it and let it go its full course. So I
can't say anything else about the circumstances surrounding it at this
Off on the far side, please.
Q Could I ask you -- there was a statement -- from the Irish Times
-- a statement issued the other night from CENTCOM about an Iraqi stock
of missiles and launchers in Baghdad, 300 feet from people's homes,
which was attacked by your people. Is this going to be a continuing
problem that you are going to have Iraqi missiles located in civilian
areas? And is this going to affect your strategy, given that you have
declared your desire to avoid civilian casualties as much as possible?
GEN. BROOKS: It's a continuing and in fact a growing problem. The
regime continues to position things that would bring threats into
populated areas. We have seen heavy equipment transporters with tanks
on their back moving into housing areas. It just doesn't make any
tactical sense. We are seeing more and more of that. We've seen oil
fires. Many of you have seen the skies of Baghdad beginning to turn
black. Those are oil fires that were deliberately constructed, and the
oil trenches have been set on fire. All these things are threatening
the Iraqi population. They have no tactical significance whatsoever.
Will it change our approach? I think it causes us to always redouble
our efforts, as we already have, of looking at targets very
selectively, finding the best way to attack those targets to eliminate
them as a threat, and at the same time doing all we can to prevent, or
to at least minimize the potential effect on civilians, noncombatants
and other structures we don't want to hit. We'll continue our efforts
in that regard.
Second row, please.
Q General, Pete Smallwood (ph) from Knight Ridder. Can you comment
on where you think the Iraqis are getting their night goggles from? And
also, with some of the chemical suits that have been found, and the gas
masks, is there anything like an expiration date that would prove how
long they've had it and not -- and eliminate the possibility that
perhaps they've had it since the Iran-Iraq war or even since the first
GEN. BROOKS: Well, again, I don't think we have any report having
actually found any night vision equipment. We have reports that there
may be some that have been pushed in, and there may be some in their
possession, but I am not aware of any reports that some have been
said. So I couldn't say where they're coming in or who is providing
them, what country.
The chemical suits are items that are under what we call
exploitation at this point. We try to gather up any materials,
documents, suits -- anything else we happen to take in our possession,
and find out everything we can about them. At this point I don't have
any additional information on that, because the exploitation is
ongoing, and perhaps we'll have some information to share when we have
more to say.
Let me go all the way in the back.
Q (Off mike) -- Australia. Sir, over the past few days you and all
the other briefers have said you are on plan and that you expected this
level of resistance. Do you concede that expectation wasn't conveyed to
or absorbed by the commanders in the field, political leaders and
members of the public? Because they certainly seem to be surprised.
GEN. BROOKS: Well, I don't concede that at all. I would say that we
had a broad understanding of the types of threats that might exist in
this conflict. All of those are considered. As to when they arrive on
the battlefield, when they become exhibited, that's always unknown.
That's the variable. Can tactical surprise occur at a given point in
time where suddenly a capability that we knew existed suddenly show up
and we didn't expect it at that time and that place? Sure. That's the
nature of the dynamics of battle out there. But that doesn't mean we
didn't know there was the potential for it, or that we hadn't given
some consideration on how we would deal with that. So I think that
that's really the dynamic of what you're seeing. There will be tactical
surprises that happen on the battlefield. We are going to deliver a
whole lot of them. And there may be some that come our way as well. But
the key to a force that can adapt itself to the realities of the
battlefield is knowing what could be happen and be able t o deal with
it when it does happen, and ideally to cause the circumstances to be
advantageous to us before they happen. That's the way we do our work,
and we'll continue to do it that way.
Let me go in the fourth row -- one, two, three, four, five rows.
Q Kevin Diaz (ph) from the Minneapolis Star Tribune. What's the
latest on the missiles in the civilian areas in Baghdad? And have you
heard these reports -- I think they are coming out of the United
Kingdom -- that there were shards or pieces of metal with
identification numbers on them -- have you heard those reports? Is
there any validity to those reports at all?
GEN. BROOKS: That is an ongoing investigation still. I think we are
starting to come to a high degree of closure on it. We are still
accounting for every weapon system that we released into the Baghdad
area. And once we've gotten to closure on that, I think we will be able
to say one way or another what role we may have played, or not, inside
As to shards of equipment, given the amount of munitions we have
delivered precisely inside of Baghdad, it would not be difficult to go
to one of those locations and pick up debris. So I would not want to
speculate what that might mean. We do indeed account for our weapon
systems. We have a number of methods to do that. We are deliberate and
precise in our targeting process from the start, and we follow through
after the attack to make certain we hit what we wanted to hit, and that
we know as well as we can if there was any other additional influence.
Let me go on the side here.
Q General, Chas Henry (ph), WTOP Radio. When you are determining
what supplies flow up into Iraq, is there ever a competition between
humanitarian supplies and, say, tactical supplies for troops,
ammunition or food? -- Asking this in the context of having heard
reports in recent days about troops only having one meal ration. How do
you prioritize what goes where?
GEN. BROOKS: There are priorities that are established by
commanders at every level, what it is they want, what they need,
depending on what their mission is at a given time. Where there are
competitors for resources, the commander that owns both resources or
those resources will make a decision as to what the priority is. Our
first priority is sustaining the force and being able to continue the
fight. So I would not way -- we have not had any problems at this point
where we have committed assets away from our primary purposes in a way
that created a problem for us. That's a commander's decision done at
each level, and all commanders establish their priorities and make them
known to their commanders and their commanders' commanders, so we have
visibility across the board.
And I think we have time for one more question. You had your hand
Q General, Jim Wolf (ph) of Reuters.
GEN. BROOKS: Two questions, but you can have only one.
Q Okay, thanks. You just said that you couldn't confirm that the
Iraqis had obtained night vision goggles and other equipment. But isn't
it in fact precisely such shipments that prompted the warning from
Secretary Rumsfeld to Syria to stay out of the war? How do you -- or,
if not, what was it, as far as you understand, that prompted Secretary
Rumsfeld to issue his warning to Syria?
GEN. BROOKS: Well, I wouldn't want to speak for the secretary of
Defense, and he certainly will, if he wants to comment on that, will.
But what I know is that we have not, to my knowledge, seen any at this
point in people we've encountered on the battlefield. I am just not
aware of any that have been encountered.
I think the governments that are involved in this coalition have
been clear about preventing interference from external countries now
that the battle has been joined, and that that should be the case
throughout the operation. Anything beyond that really is a matter for
capitals, not for this command.
I'll take one last question. Please?
Q I'm Nicole Enfield (ph) from Associated Press. Going back to the
issues of POWs, by calling the paramilitaries "terrorist death squads"
-- that's a very loaded word. It in the case of Afghanistan can carry
some legal implications about people in Guantanamo who are considered
terrorists, enemy combatants, not POWs. Is there any concern that by
kind of demonizing the Iraqis in this way that the American POWs
currently in custody on the Iraqi side might also be treated
differently than you would like to see under Geneva Conventions?
A second question, a follow up to the issue of the Iraqi aircraft.
You said there was no indication, I think, that the Iraqis were
flying. There was a report a few days ago in the Army Times that at
least two ultralights were seen flying over some units. These would be
the kind of planes that could spread chemical or biological weapons. So
can you confirm that these aircraft were sighted; yet, they weren't
shot down by American forces on the ground?
GEN. BROOKS: Let me go to the second half, and then we'll come back
to the first part of your question.
I've heard reports also by ultralights. I have not seen anything to
confirm it, and I don't know what decisions were made on the ground, so
I really can't go much beyond that. Any threat that is perceived by a
unit commander is dealt with as that commander sees fit. Whether
they've been flying ultralights or not I honestly don't know. I've
heard the report.
Let's go back to the first part of your question one more time, if
you'd repeat that -- at least just the topic area, and you'll prompt me
Q Using the term "terrorist death squads" --
GEN. BROOKS: Okay, I've got you.
Q -- very loaded, possible legal implications, American POWs.
GEN. BROOKS: Right, okay. (Laughter.) That's good. That brings me
right back. We characterize them with terms that describe their
behavior. It doesn't necessarily put them into any particular legal
category from the perspective of this command.
I think our government has been clear that there will be
accountability for the violations of the Geneva Convention. There will
be accountability for failing to live up to the obligations one has
when prisoners of war are taken in. We can't account for what this
regime will do with our prisoners of war. We hold them responsible for
what they do with our prisoners of war. We have seen that they are very
unreliable in terms of protecting lives of people, even their own. And
so what will happen next, we just don't know. I think that any
characterization we make will not influence the Iraqi regime at all.
Their behaviors are a function of their choices, not a function of our
actions. But there will be accountability when it's all said and done.
Okay, ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much.