Vice Chairman Calls on Iraqi Commanders To Disobey Illegal and Immoral Orders
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 2, 2003 While the fate of Saddam Hussein and his regime of thugs is not in doubt, Marine Gen. Peter Pace today said Iraqi military commanders can still determine their own fate and that of their troops.
"They can still surrender. They can still not commit crimes against humanity. They can still not execute any kinds of orders that might tell them to use weapons of mass destruction," the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said on CNN's American Morning.
"For those who are not in the very small circle of leaders in and around Saddam himself," he said, "they still have very clear choices to make, and their choices will have major impact, both on the troops who look to them for leadership right now and on their own personal fate when this is all over."
Pace said he believes Iraqi commanders recognize that they should not obey any order to use any kind of a weapon of mass destruction.
"I think that there are Iraqi soldiers out there who know what is right and who will in fact disobey illegal and immoral orders," he said.
Turning to U.S. operations, Pace said a combination of air and ground power is now destroying Iraqi divisions that are in and around Baghdad and Al Kut.
"Over the last several days," he said, "air power has done a tremendous job of pounding them to the point where they have been destroyed in large measure. Ground maneuver is now taking place to both destroy the remnants that are still there and to better position coalition forces to take advantage of air power. The combination of air and ground will continue."
The general noted that the coalition bombing campaign around Baghdad has been very precise to avoid collateral damage and civilian casualties. "In my opinion," he said, "a large measure of the civilian casualties on the ground are being caused by the inaccurate and very strong use of anti-aircraft weapons.
"It is possible that some of our weapons did not perform the way they should have," he observed. "On the other hand, the amount of anti-aircraft unguided missiles and surface- to-air missiles that have been fired by the Iraqis, the amount of small arms weapons that have been fired all that stuff goes up, misses the airplanes and comes back down."
The general praised the U.S. military team that rescued Pfc. Jessica D. Lynch from an Iraqi hospital April 1. According to defense officials, Lynch had been listed as Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown following an ambush of her convoy by enemy forces on March 23. She is assigned to the 507th Ordnance Maintenance Company, Fort Bliss, Texas.
Pace talked about the good intelligence received and the multiservice effort put into the raid to free Lynch. "It was really a great operation and the skills and bravery of those who went in to free her over time will probably be recognized and acknowledged," he said.
Coalition forces are working as a team in Iraq, Pace said. He pointed out U.S., British, Australian and Polish commanders are working closely with U.S. Army Gen. Tommy Franks, head of U.S. Central Command.
"Everyone gets a chance to put their ideas on the table as commanders," Pace said. "I'm very pleased and proud of the cooperation and especially, the professionalism of the British troops, who are doing a tremendous job in and around Basra right now."