Coalition Not in Guerrilla War, Rumsfeld Says
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jun. 27, 2003 Former regime sympathizers and criminals are behind the attacks on coalition forces in Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said on Capitol Hill today. The secretary also said he does not believe the activity in Iraq rises to the level of a guerrilla war.
Rumsfeld and Marine Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke to reporters following a closed-door meeting with Senate members.
The senators are concerned about the coalition casualties in Iraq. Two Americans were killed and 13 wounded in separate incidents in Iraq June 26, for example.
Rumsfeld said the Fedayeen Saddam and Baath party loyalists are working to subvert and sabotage the coalition. "They are out doing things that are unhelpful to the coalition, and that the coalition is taking every step possible to root them out," he said.
Coalition personnel are now on point against these people. As the number of retrained members of the Iraqi police force increases, they will handle many of these cases, Rumsfeld said. The coalition effort to recruit a "de- Baathicized" Iraqi army will also pay off in the long run, he said.
Rumsfeld was specifically asked if he believed the coalition was engaged in a guerrilla war. "I don't know that I would use the word," he said. In many cases, the attackers are common criminals. Saddam Hussein released about 100,000 common criminals from the Iraqi prison system. "Those people are out there; they're doing things that are unhelpful to the Iraqi people," he said.
Pace addressed the case of the two missing American soldiers north of Baghdad. "All we know right now is we do have two soldiers who are missing from their appointed place of duty," he said. "We do not know the specifics of what happened or why. The units on the ground are working very hard to determine, through local contacts, what happened, and they're out searching for the soldiers. But we do not know the specifics."