Franks says There are Enough Coalition Forces in Iraq
By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 7, 2003 Army Gen. Tommy Franks, who steps down as commander of U.S. Central Command today, said coalition forces will continue to move forward with establishing security in Iraq, by "working with Iraqis" despite an increasing number of U.S. casualties.
Franks' comments, on ABC's "Good Morning America," came after reports of three more U.S. soldiers killed in Baghdad.
Despite the violence, he said that based on conversations he's had with Army Lt. Gen. Rick Sanchez, commanding the Combined Joint Task Force 7 in Iraq, the United States has the right number of forces in the region. "The sense that I have right now is that it's not the time to send in additional troops," he said. "What we want to do is we want to continue to move forward with establishing security by working with the Iraqis inside Iraq."
When asked if U.S. forces in Iraq have enough protection or if there was a need for more force protection, Franks told Diane Sawyer that U.S. soldiers have that protection. "Every time we see peace-making and peacekeeping operations, every time we see stability operations, we see the exposure of coalition people, coalition forces to violence," he explained. "And I believe that this is fully within the expectation that we have."
Franks reiterated that he has said the road in Iraq was not going to be easy. In March, the coalition faced a large Iraqi military, elite units and death squads. The coalition mission was to remove the regime.
"In fact, the regime is gone, and now we feel that it is time to work with the Iraqis in the midst of these stability and security problems in order to permit the people to put an Iraqi face on their own government and to move forward," he added.
Franks said U.S. and coalition forces will continue to search for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, and that he believes WMD, or evidence that they existed will be found.
Franks said that as coalition forces moved into Iraq, he would shudder at the number of occasions where these weapons might be used. "So firmly did we believe that these weapons existed that it made us aware every minute of the day. And so will we find evidence of that, sure we will," he said.
Franks also said he agrees with President Bush's "Bring 'em on" comment made last week during a speech at the White House. Some critics say the president's comment could spark more violence against U.S. troops. However, Franks reiterated the president remarks, saying, "Absolutely. Bring 'em on."
Franks noted that several hundred Americans and coalition people have lost their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past 22 months and that terrorists killed three thousand Americans on September 11, 2001.
"The fact is, wherever we find criminals, death squads and so forth who are anxious to do damage to this country and to peace-loving countries around the world, I absolutely agree with the president of the United States bring 'em on."
He also said that coalition forces are not just "sitting back and waiting for something to happen."
"That simply isn't the case," he said. "This is all about offensive operations in Iraq, and that's what our troops are doing."
Franks retires today from the Army after 38 years of service.