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Secretary Rumsfeld Remarks at Stakeout Following Fox News Sunday

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
March 30, 2003

Secretary Rumsfeld: Good morning.

Question: Secretary Rumsfeld, there's been a report this morning in the New Yorker Magazine that states two points, that you rejected the advice of some Pentagon planners to send more troops into Iraq and also that you ignored General Franks' advice to delay the invasion.

Is there any truth to this?

Secretary Rumsfeld: Not at all. First of all, I haven't seen the article so I don't want to comment on it. In terms of the two questions you posed, each are false.

The number of forces is a judgment that was made as a result of General Franks developing his plan, working it with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, presenting it to me and the National Security Council, the President. It has been approved by everyone who's had a look at it. It's been described as an excellent plan. I'd be delighted to take credit for it but it wouldn't be fair because it's a product that is essentially General Franks', but it certainly is the result of a lot of thought from a lot of very fine military planners.

The number of troops -- It's interesting. We've been at this about nine days. We have some 300,000 coalition forces there. They're going up every day by about 2,000-3,000 people, between 1,500 and 3,000 people. We have in nine days secured the southern oilfields, secured the port, moved within 49 miles of Baghdad. Forces are moving towards Tikrit and Baghdad from the north, from the west, from the south. There has not been a humanitarian crisis. There have not been massive refugees. There has been practically just limited collateral damage.

Why has that been that way? Well, it's because General Franks' plan is an excellent one. It was different, and I think a lot of people, all of the second-guessers seem to me to be people who haven't seem the plan for the most part and who were expecting the normal approach. The normal approach was a long air war. If they can go back to the Gulf War, 38 days; or Kosovo, 78 days of an air war. General Franks made a decision that we had lost strategic surprise because of the long UN process and because of President Bush's desire and our desire to give Saddam Hussein one last chance to leave the country and avoid a war, so there was the 48 hour ultimatum.

Once you've done that, when the 48-hour ultimatum ends, it's very clear that something's going to happen, so he lost strategic surprise.

He did end up with tactical surprise and he did it by starting the ground war before the air war. By doing that, he was able to avoid having SCUDS fired into neighboring countries as happened during the Gulf War. During that long air war SCUD missiles were fired into Israel and Jordan and Saudi Arabia. That didn't happen this time. There were massive refugees. That didn't happen this time. There was a humanitarian crisis after 38 days of an air war. That didn't happen this time. So he's had a lot of success. He's moved more than 200 miles, probably as much as any modern army, as fast as any modern army, and he's doing a really truly outstanding job.

The men and women in uniform and General Franks and his team I think deserve a great deal of credit.

Question: Secretary Rumsfeld, do you expect because of the resistance that you've encountered that there simply aren't enough troops on the ground to do the job?

Secretary Rumsfeld: The resistance that's been encountered has been in pockets quite stiff. It's going to get more difficult. As we move closer to Baghdad there's no question but that you're going to begin confronting the Republican Guard. And I would suspect that the most dangerous and difficult days are still ahead of us.

You say wouldn't you like more troops on the ground? There are more troops on the ground and they're coming in every day. This has been planned. That's what his plan was. I haven't signed a new deployment order in days. These are deployments that, people were alerted months ago, they were brought on active duty, they were trained, they have been loading their ships, they've been sending the ships over there, they've been loading themselves into airplanes and flying over there, and it's a steady stream of people. And there will be as many people brought into that country as is necessary. But the one thing you can be certain of, it's going to end, and it's going to end with the Iraqi people liberated, and we will have done it, we hope and pray in a way that we're proud of, with a minimum loss of human life on our side, the coalition side, as well as on the part of the innocent Iraqi people who in many respects are hostages to that vicious regime.

Thank you very much.

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