CENTCOM Ready for Any 'Combination, Permutation' Regarding Iraq
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 29, 2002 Once President Bush makes a decision regarding possible military action in Iraq, leaders of U.S. Central Command are ready for any "combination and permutation" of forces and movement in the region.
"With respect to what we have the ability to do in my region, we're prepared to do what the president of the United States tells us to do," Gen. Tommy Franks said in the Pentagon today.
As commander of U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla., Franks is responsible for U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf and Middle East. He'd come to Washington Monday to brief Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on issues concerning CENTCOM and spoke to reporters in a Pentagon briefing.
In response to a reporter's question concerning the potential size of force involved in any such action and deployment timelines, Franks said, "Maybe large, maybe small. Maybe fast, maybe slow. All these represent combinations and permutations that deserve study."
He said he doesn't think it would serve him or the country well to talk about "delivery timelines."
Franks also noted a solid link between al Qaeda and Iraq "is not the issue." He said he is satisfied that Iraq has the potential to provide weapons of mass destruction to transnational terrorist groups.
"I believe that risk exists," Franks said.
"It actually doesn't make any difference whether it's al Qaeda or whether it is (another group with) terrorist capability," he added. "The fact is that the nexus of state sponsorship with terrorists and weapons of mass destruction is a present and growing danger to the international community."
He also added that there is strong international support for America's position on Iraq.
"I think the one thing that is not fully appreciated is the depth of commitment of nations around this world to the notion that the regime in Baghdad is not helpful either within the region or around the world, that the threat is present, that the threat is growing," Franks said.
"In terms of how many nations would join the coalition, I don't know, and I have to leave it at that," he said. "My sense (in) visiting the region is that we have a great many friends, partners and allies who see the situation the same way we do."