Franks: Relationships with Gulf States 'Strong and Good'
By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 11, 2002 America's relationships with countries in the Persian Gulf region are solid in spite of escalating violence between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Gen. Tommy Franks said today.
As chief of U.S. Central Command, Franks is the top U.S. general in the region, which also includes Afghanistan. He spoke to representatives of foreign media outlets April 11 at the Foreign Press Center here.
He said 31 nations have sent representatives to Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Fla., and a number of those representatives are from Gulf nations.
"We find the security relationships to be robust and capable, and the number of representatives that I see at my headquarters at Coalition Village has continued to grow since 9-11," Franks said. "We have not seen the departure of a single one of those countries."
The U.S. government is expending "an awful lot of energy" on the situation in the Middle East," he said. "But in my own relationships with countries in the Gulf ... our relationships remain strong and good."
Terrorism is a global problem, and the United States couldn't fight it alone, Franks said. "Every legitimate government and every civilized nation is affected by terror and affected by terrorists," he said. "It's something that all nations share, even nations that have differing political systems, differing economic systems, different cultural or ethnic backgrounds."
He noted that more than 100 nations are taking part in the global effort to wipe out terrorism, with more than 6,600 troops actually serving in Afghanistan. He also noted 47 ships from 10 countries are in the region for Operation Enduring Freedom.
Prompted by a question from a Turkish reporter, Franks rebutted an April 8 Washington Times article that asserted the Turkish armed forces weren't capable of assuming command of the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul.
"My association with the Turkish armed forces over the years indicates to me that in fact they are a well-trained and capable force," Franks said.
He also responded to an April 10 NBC news report that said CENTCOM headquarters would move to the Persian Gulf if the United States were ready to engage Iraq.
"I have not been asked to move my headquarters anywhere from Tampa, Fla.," Franks said. "I really can't say that the story was accurate if in fact the story suggested that we intend an imminent attack in some other country."
The general would not assign a number to civilian casualties of U.S. actions in Afghanistan. He called any loss of civilian life regrettable, but noted such losses have been a historical fact of war.
Franks called the punches thrown in the Afghan fighting the most accurate he's ever seen. "The use of precision weapons has been truly remarkable," he said. "This is the most accurate military campaign I believe that we have ever conducted."
He also noted that U.S. humanitarian assistance probably has saved "a great many Afghan citizens" who otherwise would not be alive today.
Related Site of Interest:
- Washington Foreign Press Center Briefing: Gen. Tommy Franks, U.S. Central Command, Operation Enduring Freedom, April 11, 2002 (this link is no longer available)