Rumsfeld Says Anti-Coalition Attacks not Widespread
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jul. 9, 2003 Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee today, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld worked to dispel the impression that Saddam Hussein loyalists are operating freely throughout Iraq.
"That's clearly not the case. Large portions of Iraq are stable," the secretary said, showing the senators a map plotting the incidents of violence against coalition forces.
"Most of the recent attacks have been concentrated in Baghdad and in the three corridors that reach to the west, to the north and to the east out of the Iraqi capital," he said. "At this moment, coalition forces are engaged in operations to deal with the threats in these areas."
Some of the casualties have been as a result of these offensive operations, he said. "These are cases where the coalition forces have been seeking out and engaging pockets of enemy fighters," he said. "The problem is real, but it's being dealt with in an orderly and forceful fashion by coalition forces."
Part of the problem comes from the speed of the coalition drive on Baghdad, the secretary said. The coalition drove Saddam Hussein and his ilk from power, but there was no formal surrender, the secretary said.
Ba'ath party loyalists, Fedayeen Saddam death squads and special Republican Guard forces did not surrender. "Some were killed and captured but many others - especially in Baghdad and to the north - faded into the population and are now forming pockets of resistance against coalition forces," Rumsfeld said.
Coalition forces in Iraq are dealing with these remnants just as other coalition forces are dealing with the remnants of Al Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan, he said.
Rumsfeld said the coalition is dealing with the challenge of rebuilding Iraq following decades of tyranny. "Coalition forces are helping the Iraqi people get on the path to stability and democratic self-government by helping Iraqis reestablish security and commerce, restore power and basic services, reopen schools and hospitals and establish the rule of law," he said.
"With each passing week, more services come on line," he continued. Coalition forces, working with Iraqi specialists are restoring power and water. Lines at gas stations are disappearing and more Iraqi police are on the streets.
"We must not underestimate how difficult the task is before us," Rumsfeld said. "Yet despite the difficulties they face, most Iraqis are better off today than they were four months ago, let there be no doubt. The residents of Baghdad may not have power 24 hours every day, but they no longer wake up each morning in fear wondering if this will be the day that a death squad will come to cut out their tongues, chop off their ears or take their children away for 'questioning;' never to be seen again."
Rumsfeld appeared at the Senate with former U.S. Central Command chief Army Gen. Tommy Franks. "(Franks) led the coalition forces that liberated two nations," Rumsfeld said. "But how he liberated those two peoples - the tactics, the strategies he developed and employed - will contribute to the freedom of our country and our people for years to come.
"So while General Franks may be leaving the Army," Rumsfeld continued, "his service to our country will live on in the impact of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom ... will have on our budgets, our procedure, our training, our doctrine and our joint warfighting."