Iraq Remains a Threat to No-fly Zone Pilots, Aircrews
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 4, 2002 Iraq continues to threaten coalition forces patrolling that country's northern and southern no-fly zones, top defense officials said today.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard Myers showed Pentagon reporters three video clips taken in the northern no-fly zone.
Two show Iraqi forces firing on American aircraft in late October. The third clip shows two American F-16 fighters dropping 500-pound laser-guided bombs on Iraqi air defense artillery sites Oct. 30.
Iraqi air defense measures have largely been ineffective against coalition aircraft. Myers attributed this to several different things. "In some cases it's cautiousness; in some cases it's probably luck; and in some cases it's good tactics on our part," he said.
He noted the Iraqis routinely fire surface-to-air missiles without using guidance systems, "because if they turn on the radars then we can hit the radars."
Myers also stressed that just because the Iraqis haven't shot down coalition aircraft, that doesn't mean they're not a threat to American pilots.
"Every mission that our pilots go on is considered a combat mission for obvious reasons," the general said.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said such threatening behavior is typical of the Iraqi regime. "It seems to me that it tells a great deal that today at the very time that the United Nations is debating and discussing a new U.N. resolution in Iraq that the Iraqi regime continues to attack coalition aircraft and crews," he said.
Myers also said that maritime operations against Iraq have been particularly successful. Officials estimated last week that coalition naval forces have cut off up to 90 percent of Iraq's smuggling activities.
In the past week, coalition naval forces have diverted at least 73 dhows small, local vessels carrying illegal shipments of oil and dates from Iraq, Myers said.
The secretary also offered some words of wisdom on tomorrow's U.S. elections. He said elections are a good reminder of why this country is fighting a war on terrorism.
"Terrorists attacked us because of the fact that we are free people," Rumsfeld said. "And we're determined to do what is necessary to defend that freedom and our way of life."