Pentagon Leadership Discusses Potential War With Iraq
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Mar. 4, 2003 The Pentagon's leadership discussed all aspects of a potential war with Iraq during the Chris Core Show on the ABC Radio network today.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld started the three-hour, live-from-the- Pentagon show by telling Core that it all comes back to the nexus of terrorist groups and rogue states with weapons of mass destruction.
"This is totally different," Rumsfeld said. "(This nexus) poses a danger to the world of tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people being killed." The secretary said the people of the world have to gauge this danger as they think about the threat Saddam Hussein poses.
He said a great risk is that if force has to be used, Hussein could decide "the game is up" and use chemical or biological weapons on neighbors, U.S. forces or his own people. "There's always the risk of acting and there's the risk of not acting," the secretary said. "And those are the things that make this a particularly tough issue."
From his standpoint, the secretary said, he believes that if people saw the threat-reporting and intelligence that comes in day after day, it would be hard to deny that terrorists and the spread of weapons of mass destruction pose a significant risk to the United States.
Rumsfeld said that in the years ahead, the world has to come to grips with the dangers of these weapons. "Free people ought not have to live in that kind of world where terrorist states have these weapons and the ability to give them to terrorist networks and then have them used in a way that gives them 'deniability,'" he said.
Technologically advanced countries of the world must confer and devise rules "that enable us to interdict the transportation and the movement of nuclear weapons, fissile materiel, ballistic missile technology," he said. "This will take enormous cooperation. For example, we stopped that North Korean ship carrying the missiles to Yemen, and we had to give it up because we had no legal right to keep it. We need the right to keep it; we need the ability to do that."
Air Force Gen Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, followed the secretary on the show. He told Core the military can wait "almost indefinitely" for a decision by President Bush. He said the U.S. military is configured in such a way to give the president the utmost flexibility.
Myers said he'd wait before writing a northern front from Turkey off the board. He said there is a "Plan B, and a Plan C, and a Plan D," and the United States will prevail in any conflict with Iraq.
He also generally talked about the changes in the U.S. military that will become apparent if the crisis comes to war. "In Desert Storm, we used about 10 percent precision(-guided) weapons," he said. "In Afghanistan, that went up to between 60 to 70 percent. If it comes to war, I would expect the percentage will be at least that or higher in Iraq. That means we'll hit targets better, and reduce civilian casualties and collateral damage.
He said the way command and control systems have changed will also mean a much better integration of air, land and sea forces.
The chairman said Americans must be ready for casualties if the impasse comes to war. He said he wouldn't guess what casualties could be. "We don't know if Iraq will use weapons of mass destruction, is one variable," he said. "But if the military is ordered to go into Iraq, this is war. War is a dangerous and ugly thing and there will be casualties. I don't think anyone should think this is going to be antiseptic and just like Desert Storm was or just like the Kosovo air campaign. It could be different than that and we have to make ourselves ready."