CAMP AS SAYLIYAH, Qatar March 22 —
Gen. Tommy Franks, in his first briefing since the start if the
U.S.-led war against Iraq, promised Saturday the campaign would be
"unlike any other in history."
Franks spoke in Qatar, where he is running the war from a command
post in the Persian Gulf nation. He said the assault on Iraq would
be one of "shock, surprise, flexibility," using munitions on a
"scale never before seen."
The campaign, the general said, was taking the fight "across the
breadth and depth of Iraq" aiming to secure bridges, airports and
oil platforms. The allied war plan allows commanders to "attack the
enemy on our terms," Franks said.
He said the U.S. military had opened a dialogue with a number of
senior Iraqi military leaders both "in and out of uniform."
"We are on our timeline," he said. When asked to assess the
progress of the war, however, Franks said: "The time for us to
celebrate is when the mission is accomplished."
Franks said he "had no idea" where Saddam Hussein was or whether
he was alive, responding to unconfirmed reports that the Iraqi
leader was injured or killed on the opening night of the war.
"Actually, I don't know if he's alive or not," Franks said.
"But interestingly, the way we're undertaking this military
operation" would not change regardless of what happens to
The general confirmed U.S. missile attacks on a camp of the
al-Qaida-linked militant group Ansar al-Islam, in northern Iraq
Friday night. Kurdish officials in the region said at least 100
people died in the bombardment.
Franks said thousands of Iraqi troops had laid down their weapons
and gone home. He also said 700 Iraqis "lined up in the way they
were instructed" in propaganda leaflets dropped by coalition
Hundreds of international journalists attended the briefing, the
first use of the U.S. military's high-tech $1.5 million briefing
Ranking officers from Britain, Australia, Denmark and the
Netherlands stood behind Franks as he spoke, framed by a huge world
map. The briefing also included grainy black-and-white videos of
airstrikes on what were described as Iraqi positions, including a
desert outpost on the border with Kuwait.
Asked about Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, which was under
siege by U.S. and British forces Saturday, Franks said: "What we
have seen is that the Iraqis are welcoming" allied forces as they
move through the country. He said they expect the same reaction when
"This is about liberation not occupation," the U.S. general
Franks opened the briefing by expressing sympathy for the
families of allied soldiers killed during the campaign. Asked later
about casualties, he said: "These are wonderful young people ... my
personal thoughts and prayers go out to their families."
Speaking of civilian casualties, Franks acknowledged
noncombatants are injured and killed in any war and said the
coalition was going "to extraordinary lengths to be precise about
Asked his greatest surprise so far, Franks said it was personal:
His wife sent him an e-mail greeting Saturday marking their wedding
anniversary. The general admitted he had forgotten the special
|F-16CJ aircraft from the 20th
Fighter Wing, Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, deployed to
the 363rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron wait on a hot ramp
while maintenance crews pull pins on weapons attached to their
aircraft prior to a mission on March 21, 2003. Members of the
363rd EFS support Operation Iraqi Freedom at an undisclosed
forward deployed location. (AP Photo/Staff Sergeant Matthew
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