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Secretary of Defense Cohen News Briefing OPERATION DESERT FOX December 18,1998

Presenter: Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen
December 18, 1998

[Also participating in the briefing was Gen. Hugh Shelton, U.S. Army, Chairman, JCS; Vice Adm. Scott A. Fry, J-3, and Rear Adm. Thomas R. Wilson, J-2]

Secretary Cohen: Good afternoon.

In a moment Vice Admiral Fry and Rear Admiral Wilson are going to brief you on some of the aspects of our ongoing operation against Iraq, but before they do I'd like to report that the United States and British forces are continuing to attack a wide range of military targets in order to decrease Iraq's ability to threaten its neighbors.

We continue to be satisfied with the results, although the strikes are not yet complete. There have been no American or British casualties. Every military operation obviously poses risks, and this one is no exception, but we are taking every precaution to protect our personnel. This is one of the reasons we're sending additional personnel to the Gulf. I'm very, very proud of the job our combined forces are doing.

Mr. Chairman?

Gen. Shelton: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

I'll be brief so that the Secretary and I can take your questions. And as the Secretary mentioned, the new Director of Operations, Adm. Fry, and our Director of Intelligence, Adm. Tom Wilson, will give you some operational details in just a few moments, which I know all of you have been anxiously waiting for.

I am pleased to report, as Secretary Cohen noted, that once again our aircraft pilots and air crews have returned safely from the missions they conducted last night.

As you know, OPERATION DESERT FOX is a joint operation. It's under the command and control of Gen. Tony Zinni, our Commander in Chief of U.S. Central Command based in Tampa, Florida.

In contrast to the first night's actions, which involved primarily naval and Marine strike aircraft and ship-launched Tomahawks, yesterday's strikes were an outstanding example of joint and combined warfare with U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps aircraft joining our British counterparts in coordinated air strikes.

There were more than 200 strike and strike-support sorties flown last night, including the first combat operations of the B-1 bomber.

Most of you saw some large explosions around Baghdad yesterday, and many of you correctly surmised that those were caused by air-launched cruise missiles launched from B-52 aircraft. Navy ships also launched additional Tomahawk missiles at targets in Iraq.

Although I'll not get into the specific numbers and types of cruise missiles launched to date, I can tell you that the total number of air-launched and ship-launched cruise missiles for this operation thus far, now exceed the total number expended during all of OPERATION DESERT STORM.

I don't want to steal Adm. Fry's presentation, but I'll give you a preview of some of the battle damage assessment photos that he and Adm. Wilson will show you in a moment.

This particular photo is one from an air-launched cruise missile, -- correction, from a Tomahawk cruise missile launched from a ship. It is against a missile R&D. It was the fabrication building that is shown right here...you can see the dark area outlined, and the final assembly building, which used to stand right here. You can also see significant damage done to a building over in this area just outside the fabrication.

We, in fact, have had some very good success with our strikes, but not all of them have gone exactly as planned, and later this morning Adm. Wilson will show you some of the good and some that are not quite as good.

Finally, we have for you today some aircraft video of some of the first night's strikes. You may have already seen some of the video of the British Tornadoes in operation. This example that I'll show you now is from the first night, and it's a Navy F-14 Tomcat from the USS ENTERPRISE attacking a critical communications facility with two laser guided bombs.

(Video shown)

A critical communications facility...we'll get you the name and the exact location later.

I know you're anxious to get on with the rest of the operational briefing, now that I hopefully have whetted your appetite for what the results have been thus far so, I'll pause here and the Secretary and I will take your questions before we turn it over to Admirals Fry and Wilson.

Q: Mr. Secretary, can I ask, first of all, can I ask both you gentlemen, has the third round of strikes begun? Have bombing raids, today's bombing raids begun yet?

Also, Mr. Secretary, you said a wide range of military targets continue to be hit, and yet Tariq Aziz said on television today that number one, you had hit the oil refinery in Basrah, and number two, you had hit radio and television facilities. Is that true, and are those military targets?

Secretary Cohen: Radio and television facilities are indeed part of the command and control operations of Saddam Hussein and how he communicates to the Iraqi people as far as his propaganda is concerned, so those were indeed part of our target base.

With respect to the facility in Basrah, that is a very limited attack on a facility that provides for the illegal shipment of oil out of that facility. So that is one of the illegal shipments that he uses at that facility to produce oil in violation of the Security Council resolutions. So that has been in fact...

Q: Has the third round of raids begun? Have bombing raids begun today?

Secretary Cohen: I think I indicated we have ongoing operations.

Q: But Mr. Secretary, if you in fact strike radio and television facilities, doesn't that further serve to isolate Saddam Hussein, and doesn't that in fact serve to destabilize his regime? One thing you said was not a goal in these airstrikes.

Secretary Cohen: We are not seeking to destabilize his regime. We are seeking to prevent him from in any way compromising this operation and from communicating under these circumstances with his other forces that could pose a threat to our pilots that continue to conduct operations.

Q: Excuse me, if I could follow please...

Q: There's a rumor floating around that a ship has been attacked in the Gulf. The oil markets are sky rocketing because of that. Any truth to the rumors that a ship was attacked in the Gulf?

Secretary Cohen: I have no knowledge.

Q:...radio and television communications...

Q: If I could follow up?

Secretary Cohen: Sure.

Q: Radio and television communications, however, are not necessarily used to communicate with his military. He could use that to communicate with his own people. Doesn't that in fact isolate Saddam Hussein and stabilize his regime -- whether that's your goal or not?

Secretary Cohen: Apparently he's still able to communicate to his people. If Tariq Aziz is on television communicating to his people, they're still able to communicate.

Q: About the air raids. We understand that the air activity in the south of Iraq where there's less defense, now after two days, and two and a half nights, is it possible that the air defenses around Baghdad have been reduced to the point that we can fly it?

And I would secondly then ask you, there's a lot of talk about this being over this weekend. Can you say anything about any time limits?

Secretary Cohen: I would have to answer negative to both questions. I wouldn't want to comment in terms of whether our ability to go into Baghdad or over Baghdad has been increased or diminished; and secondly, I won't comment on the length of the operation.

Q: Mr. Secretary, do you plan daylight raids at all? These have been night raids up to now.

Secretary Cohen: I'm not going to comment on that.

Q: Mr. Secretary, has the impeachment debate underway now affected your operations in any way, or has it affected morale in any way that you can determine?

Secretary Cohen: The Chairman can perhaps address this. I would have to speculate at this point that those people involved in this operation are focused on one thing and that's carrying out the mission. I believe they are intensely and intently focused upon their job. Whatever else is going on at this particular moment is probably of little concern to them until they carry out their mission.

I've indicated before -- I've always believed it's best in a time such as this, when people's lives are at risk, that we have expressions of bipartisan support for our men and women in uniform. We've had that on the part of both the House and the Senate Members. What else is taking place I don't believe will be influencing the men and women as they carry out their tasks. But I think the Chairman is probably in a better position to comment.

Gen. Shelton: Mr. Secretary... I think he gave a great answer to you. I would only add to it that at this time we all fully know and understand who the Commander in Chief is. We are focused on the mission at hand. That goes from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs right out to every man and woman that's in the Persian Gulf at this time, and those throughout our armed forces.

Q: Can you characterize the Iraqi military response? What are they doing or not doing? Any SAM firings? How much AAA? More or less than expected? Are they moving troops around?

General Shelton: As you've seen on television, there's been a tremendous amount of AAA. I am not aware of any SAM firings as of this time. The radars have been relatively quiet up to this point. Our aircraft have enjoyed great success.

Q: Can you tell us about...

Q: How close are you to accomplishing your goal ?

Q:...south of Iraq and who authorized it and what did it say?

General Shelton: The leaflets were in fact authorized here by the National Command Authority. It told those units that were down in the south to stay put, not to threaten their neighbors or threaten the forces, and that they would not be engaged.

Q: How close are you to realization of your goals of this mission and how soon might you wrap it up?

Secretary Cohen: We are not going to indicate what the timeframe of this operation is. We are proceeding according to our plan. It's going reasonably well. We're satisfied with the way in which it's being carried out and executed, and we will have to just take it day by day.

Q: So the leaflet did not try to incite them to leave their units, did not try to incite them to overthrow. It was just stay put and you won't be shot.

Gen. Shelton: We can give you a copy of them right after this, John. It basically said, stay where you are, stay put, do not threaten anyone, and you will not be hit.

Q: Saddam Hussein has talked about that the United States is a coward in terms of reaching out and touching Iraq with this technology. Can you talk about the type of warfare that's underway here, how different it is from what was in the Persian Gulf War?

The use of the B-1 bomber indicates that you've got manned aircraft going over Iraq --

Gen. Shelton: We have a substantial number of manned aircraft. At this time, as I indicated, we've conducted a very large number of air strikes. These are manned aircraft. These are American pilots and British pilots that are in harm's way. They have the appropriate support aircraft with them so that, to provide the maximum protection that we can. But if he wants to talk about a coward, I think probably, people that lie, I think probably, should look in the mirror.

Q: Can you comment...

Q:...strike for...

Secretary Cohen: Let me add one other thing to that. We go back to 1991; you may recall that Saddam Hussein said that was going to be "the mother of all wars". In a very short period of time when our forces were arrayed against his, it did not take long to show where the courage was. So I think for them, at this point, to accuse the United States of being cowards, is really quite an extraordinary...

Q:...said yesterday you'd hit 50 targets, I believe about 50 in the first round or raids. Can you tell us how many total you hit in the second round? Give us some quantitative idea of how many targets you've hit.

General Shelton: We're over 75 targets today, as I speak right now.

Q: Can you tell us what the B-1 mission was?

General Shelton: Not to get into the operational detail. It's an ongoing operation at this time, and I'd prefer not to discuss what it's done thus far or what the future plans are.

Q: General, if you want to reduce his ability to threaten his neighbors, why those forces in the south that are closest to his neighbors, why would you not want to engage them?

Gen. Shelton: Because at this time those are not the forces that we were most concerned about and we were applying our resources against others that we thought were a higher threat than those in the south.

Q: How many...

Q:...look at how many Iraqi...

General Shelton: We do not have a count right now, Jamie, on any casualties.

Q: On terms of the number of targets. You said 75 targets have been hit. What about the success rate of the missiles and bombs that are being fired?

Gen. Shelton: We'll show you some of the success rates today, or some of the successful missions that have been carried out today.

Q: There are reports the Russian military has gone on alert. What do you make about that? Is that accurate? Are you concerned about that?

Gen. Shelton: I saw an initial report through the press that that happened, and I saw another one that said they had not been, so I don't make very much of that at this time.

Q: General Shelton, you've used the word "degrade" to talk about the objective of this operation, but degrade is a relative term. Degrade to what? What's the picture you want to see when the dust finally settles, whenever it does?

Gen. Shelton: We said to degrade his ability to threaten his neighbors and to degrade his WMD capabilities which include delivery systems, his ability to manufacture long range missiles, his facilities that he could possibly use to weaponize chemicals, etc. Degrade means that we want to in whatever period of time we intend to use to carry out this operation, to bring down his capabilities as much as we possibly can. We realize that you can't destroy it in all cases, and certainly when you talk about the chemical and biological systems, you've got a lot of dual use facilities that range from things that manufacture legitimate medicines to milk to you name it -- all types of hospitals. We obviously have not gone out to those types of facilities and...

Q: Do you have any definition of degrade?

Gen. Shelton: ...So you can't destroy it, but you can bring it down.

Q: To what level though, sir?

Gen. Shelton: To the level that... The level will be determined from what your start point is; we know what he had. I think you can see from the R&D facility he has, his ability now to conduct research and development for longer range missiles has been degraded. Has it been destroyed? He's got two plants over there that he could possibly use, so we haven't destroyed his total capability right now, but we certainly have reduced his assets.

Q:...various...

Q: Can the...

Q:...Iraq has been very adept at playing a shell game with their chemical and biological weapons. UNSCOM inspectors would show up at a building and find that everything had been moved. While our sophisticated weaponry is very good at striking buildings, are there any guarantees that what you intend to hit is inside? And do you have any indication that you're being successful at hitting not just buildings, but those things that actually contribute to the production and concealment or distribution of his chemical and biological weapons?

Secretary Cohen: The Chairman has already indicated that we have indeed targeted missile fabrication plants, facilities that make weapons. Those have been hit and those have been destroyed -- in some cases a building completely wiped out; in other cases partially destroyed. Yes, we can target those facilities which can pose a threat to the region and have done so.

With respect to the other part of your question?

Q: The fact that every time UNSCOM would show up at a place, it had been moved.

Secretary Cohen: Well, they would move things, move them out, and also move them back. They will not have some of those facilities to move back into; if they have put things back in place they'll have been destroyed. There's no guarantee that you can hit those items which have been moved. They will not have that facility to go back to.

General Shelton: If I can just add, one of the reasons that we revised our plan back on 15 November so that we could strike within 24 hours was to try to hold down on the amount of movement time allowed, so that in those suspected areas, we would achieve maximum effectiveness.

Thank you.

Press: Thank you very much, sir.

Admiral Wilson: I'm Admiral Wilson, the Director of Intelligence for the Joint Staff. This is Vice Admiral Fry, the Director for Operations. We'll give you a military briefing on the operation to date, how to concentrate on some of the target sets and the battle damage assessment to date, and Admiral Fry will discuss the operations which have been ongoing.

I'd like to start, first of all, so we can get the lights down, with some more gun camera film from the USS ENTERPRISE, a strike which occurred the first night against some of the integrated air defense systems and command and control systems in southern Iraq.

The first one is targeted at a reporting post. It's an early warning site which provides both radar and visual information. There are two GBU-24 laser guided bombs into that facility which is assessed as destroyed.

That's a second view.

Also at Ashueva, the naval missile storage facility where offensive cruise missiles are stored. Also an F-14 with GBU-24 laser guided bombs.

A second view of the same attack.

Q: What's the size of the warhead?

Admiral Wilson: Two thousand pound bomb.

The final one is a radio relay facility which is important for providing secure command and control communications from the south up to the capital and points further north.

This was attacked by a F/A-18 Hornet with a GBU-16 1,000 pound bomb, laser guided.

Q: Was there any AA facilities or any radar turned on or any defenses to any of these...

Admiral Wilson: There was no reported AAA against those particular missions.

Q: Can you give us the geographic name again for the radio relay site?

Admiral Wilson: Al Rumaylah.

Q: This is south of the no-fly zone south of Baghdad?

Admiral Wilson: The gun camera film was taken from targets that were in the southern no-fly zone, that's correct.

Q: I meant to say SAM. Any SAM...

Admiral Wilson: We have no reports of any SAM missile firings.

I'd like to go through this briefing, then turn it over to Admiral Fry, and then we prefer to take your questions at the end of the briefing.

This shows the target sets which have been selected for OPERATION DESERT FOX. I'll talk a bit about the purpose of targeting these particular installations and what we see in terms of the battle damage assessments to date.

I would like to emphasize that the operations are ongoing. We are very oriented in our assessment methodologies at looking at targets which are the targets for future strikes, and in particular looking at targets which threaten the air crews which are flying out of the Gulf and the neighboring states.

So we don't have all the assessments complete. It will be days or perhaps even weeks before we have a complete assessment, so what I am passing on is very preliminary data.

We had very robust efforts against the surface-to-air missiles systems and the integrated air defense systems that we call the military IADS in the southern part of Iraq. This was to create access for the aircraft flying north, and in fact to create access even for the cruise missiles so that we increase the probability of those reaching their targets as well.

Our assessment is that the southern Iraq air defense system has been degraded and has largely proven to be ineffective against the strikes which have been conducted to date. it is not completely destroyed. We're still very wary of the capability of the systems down there, especially the mobile surface-to-air missile systems. But we have not had SAMs fired at the aircraft to our knowledge. There hasn't been a lot of AAA fired as you've seen on television, and of course that's especially true in the area of Baghdad.

We're going after command and control targets. As indicated earlier, the radio and TV transmitters are part of that command and control set. They have been severely damaged. It's important not only to know that some of these transmitters are used to broadcast, but also to jam incoming radio and TV signals, for example, Voice of Iraq and things like that. So it is important to helping us get certain kinds of messages in as well, should we choose to do that.

We've also gone heavily after security headquarters, military intelligence, and command and control sites, as well as alternate command and control sites and leadership sites. They have been attacked and damaged, and as I said, the assessments are incomplete.

There's a very extensive security apparatus which Baghdad has used to try to protect it's weapons of mass destruction program, to move these things, hide these things from UNSCOM, as you indicated earlier in this press conference. One of the goals was to degrade in particular the special Republican Guard which is integral to helping move those systems around and keep the Iraqi apparatus one step ahead of UNSCOM as they've tried to conduct, in particular, the interference of inspections which are so important to validating where they actually stand in their WMD development programs.

We've also hit a number of WMD industry, weapons of mass destruction industry and production programs, primarily oriented at the missile programs, the research and development capability that will allow Iraq to develop these systems for the future and to make and improve upon the systems that he currently has, especially to give them more accuracy, longer range, better electronics, and things like that.

We're targeting Republican Guard facilities, especially the division and corps headquarters. The Republican Guard is the element of the Iraqi armed forces that creates or presents the greatest threat to his neighbors, and is also important for the security operations around Baghdad and to go against, for example UNSCOM and help this hide mechanism.

Certain airfields have been attacked, primarily ones that have attack helicopters which he uses to go after the Kurdish and Shia minorities in the north and south respectively, and we've already discussed the single economic target that was attacked, which was the Basrah POL facility, which is important to his illegal export of gas and oil.

Q: What is POL? That's not a refinery.

Admiral Wilson: Petroleum oil lubricant. It is a refinery from which they put stuff out via the Shatt al Arab.

I'd like to go on and finish the briefing before we take your questions.

This just goes through the target sets to date. As I indicated, we still have a lot of assessment in progress. Some of the SAMs are very mobile, even the strategic SAMs have been relocated frequently, so we certainly have not hit all of them. We're assessing the damage. Some have been destroyed; there's been moderate damage and severe damage to others. As I've indicated or said earlier, the southern sector certainly has been degraded and we have created the access for the pilots flying to the north, and also in addition to the damage to the SA-2 and SA-3 sites, which I mentioned earlier, we did significant damage to a very large missile repair facility. It was hit by CALCMs from B-52s last night.

Q: Where was that?

Admiral Wilson: At Taji.

Eighteen command and control facilities have been hit to date, or have been attacked to date. You can see we are halfway through the assessment process. We mentioned earlier the radio and TV transmitters and jammers. Clearly we've gone after the security apparatus in Baghdad, the special security organization and intelligence facilities which conduct collection and repressive operations against the people, as well as cuing the SRG, the Special Republican Guard about how they can avoid UNSCOM inspectors. And we believe we've had a fair degree of success; in fact, you saw the military intelligence headquarters yesterday.

Next chart.

We've attacked to date 19 weapons of mass destruction security details. These are largely the Special Republican Guard headquarters buildings and the barracks buildings for the various brigades and battalions. It's a 30,000 strong organization. They operate throughout the country. We've attacked primarily in the Baghdad and Tikrit areas.

Next chart please.

Eleven WMD industry and production facilities have been attacked. We have information on Al Kindi, Al Karama, and even Al Hatham. Moderate to light damage, but we did go after key aim points that we think were important to the long term research and development of the missile industry. We have a lot more assessment work to do on this particular target set. At this time we're concentrating on the military targets because of force protection.

Next slide.

Eight Republican Guard facilities have been hit. We've only assessed on four of them. You can see the damage reports. Imagery does confirm severe and moderate damage on both Republican Guard corps headquarters and a couple of division headquarters.

Next slide.

And we've attacked five airfields looking primarily to go after attack helos, helicopters, as well as the L-29 aircraft which we have reports are being converted to unmanned aerial vehicles that could potentially be used to conduct reconnaissance operations or even delivery of weapons of mass destruction.

Now I'd like to go into just a few of the images.

This is Al Sava airfield up north of Baghdad. It's an L-29 base. You can see the aircraft were disbursed away from the parking aprons. The maintenance hangars were targeted -- very good precision ordnance delivery here. TLAMs through the roof of both of the hangars. Didn't collapse the buildings but we believe severely damaged or destroyed all the equipment that was inside.

Next chart please.

This is a Special Republican Guard barracks facility in the city of Tikrit in north central Iraq. You saw some other Special Republican Guard facilities yesterday. These are, as I said, very key elements that have been used to thwart UNSCOM and protect these weapons of mass destruction -- hide them, move them, deny access to the records.

We attacked the headquarters building which is right here. There were four barracks buildings here, four barracks buildings right here. Most of those have been destroyed or damaged. One is left standing. Another barracks over here which was attacked by Tomahawk land attack missiles .

Q: How many were killed, if you know?

Admiral Wilson: We do not have casualty estimates or any precise casualty figures for any of the barracks or the headquarters elements that were attacked.

This is a before and after photograph of the Saddam International Military Barracks North which is in the Baghdad area. These are very similar to the ones I just showed you. Here is the headquarters building and some barracks buildings shown right here.

This shows where we had mixed success. This barracks was fairly well destroyed and damaged. The headquarters building, you can see the crater for the Tomahawk land attack missile right here, destroyed half the building.

We have another crater here which did not destroy this building, and all of the facilities which were targeted, for example, were not successfully targeted in this particular photograph.

Q: Where is that?

Admiral Wilson: This is in the Baghdad area.

Next chart.

Finally, I'd like to go into a little bit more detail on this Ibn al Haytham missile research and development center which General Shelton was discussing.

This is a facility which manufactures a shorter range and allowed ballistic missile, but all the technology which is in this facility is useful in developing the longer range versions that could be used to conduct longer range attacks against Saddam's neighbors.

These buildings right here were welding, final fabrication and important buildings for the manufacture of these weapons and the equipment, as well as the building right here which is associated with the missile development. You can see it has been fairly well destroyed, all three of these buildings, and damage to this one right here.

Q: Where is that again? Is that...

Admiral Wilson: It's north of Baghdad. We can get you maps of these facilities later.

Next chart, please.

Another blowup of the Ibn al Haytham missile R&D center. General Shelton mentioned this very large final assembly building here. It was a critical aim point, and essentially there's not much left standing. That entire building has been destroyed. As well, there was light damage to the computer center which they use for research, development, modeling, simulations, things like that.

Q:...did it take to take out that facility?

Admiral Wilson: We're not going to discuss aim points or the number of missiles that were used on these facilities.

Q: Do they have some supercomputers in the computer center there?

Admiral Wilson: I would like to now turn the briefing over to the J-3, Vice Admiral Fry, who will give the operational aspects. Thank you.

Admiral Fry: In the Chairman's remarks he introduced me as the new J-3. I'd like to underscore that. I've had the job for a week. (Laughter) Until a month ago I had command of the EISENHOWER battle group which was also in the Gulf last November.

As you know, there was a decision made earlier that we would have sufficient force in the theater to conduct significant strikes when required. On the first night of the operation that fell to the ENTERPRISE battle group who remains in the theater with her Aegis destroyers and other escorts.

The CARL VINCENT battle group is closing on the Straits of Hormuz as we speak, and will begin her transit this evening. She is bringing two additional cruisers and more destroyers.

Additionally, we've begun to flow the maritime pre-positioned force, some units of that, towards the Gulf.

Air forces, as the Chairman said earlier, land-based air was integrated into the second night of strikes. U.S. Air Force aircraft already in the theater as well as our British allies. These are the kinds of CONUS crisis response forces that will begin flowing at the 48 hour point where we are right now. These begin to provide General Zinni with the additional capability to provide for the force protection of his force in the theater. It also provides added capability as we march down the road to achieving the military objectives.

I've just put up the kinds of capability that are moving in that direction, but those forces will begin loading today.

Next slide.

Q:... where?

Admiral Fry: At TRANSCOM bases throughout the country.

These are the ground forces that we've had in the theater and we will also start flowing headquarters, some more brigade elements into the theater as well as some combat search and rescue and more helicopter capability.

So as the 24 and 48 hour and 72 hour forces that have been on alert begin to flow, there will be a steady buildup of capability in the region for the CINC's effort.

With that...

Q: This will be for Admiral Wilson primarily.

You mentioned two things about the allied aircraft operations. You mentioned something about making a corridor that would be safe to get to Baghdad, I presume. And can you tell us when this might come to pass? Is this imminent? Have any fixed wing aircraft actually flown over Baghdad and some of the SAM facilities?

Admiral Wilson: Whether it's piloted or not piloted, we wanted to reduce the air defense capability in southern Iraq. That was essentially the gateway. So early in the campaign or the DESERT FOX operation, the surface-to-air missile systems and the integrated air defense command and control systems in the south -- Basrah, An Nasiriyah, and places like that -- were targeted. So it's to create access to points farther north, regardless of the kind of platforms we're sending in.

Q: But you can't say if fixed wing aircraft have been farther north into the Baghdad area?

Admiral Fry: As the operation continues, it's not appropriate for us to talk about what kinds of capability or what kinds of units are going to which targets.

Q: Admiral Fry, General Shelton said already more cruise missiles have been fired in this operation than during the Gulf War. Can you tell us how many were fired during the Gulf War, and give us a sense of how many have been fired?

Admiral Wilson: I'm not sure I can answer the question about how many were fired in the Gulf War. Do you know, Tom?

Admiral Fry: Several. (Laughter) Less than 300, I know that.

Q: Have more than 300 been fired now?

Admiral Wilson: No. Mr. McWethy said 289. (Laughter)

Q: You're saying now that more than 300 have been fired?

Admiral Wilson: I didn't say that. We said more than were fired, than during the Gulf War.

Q: A lot more or...

Q: Has there been anything in this military operation so far that has been a surprise to you? Or has everything unfolded according to plan?

Admiral Fry: The strikes have unfolded in the sequence that we planned them. I think if there is any surprise it's the complete lack of response.

Q: What had you expected?

Admiral Wilson: I don't think there have been really many surprises in this operation to date, although all military operations, both from the ops and intel perspective, we always have a fair number of things to adjust to. We need to be flexible, but no big surprises.

Q: Can you give us your assessment of the overall extent of damage inflicted so far on the targets you've selected?

Admiral Wilson: I think the boards we put up there spoke for themselves. I would like to emphasize, we are very very early in the overall assessment of these. When we do battle damage assessment we have three tiers or three phases -- phase one, phase two, phase three. We are essentially in phase one on a relatively small percentage of the target set. So we have a lot more work to do, and it will be awhile before we determine the overall impact.

Q: Up until now how would you gauge the...

Admiral Wilson: I think the forces have carried out very accurate, for the most part accurate precision strikes against their designated targets. Once again, we have a lot of work to do.

Q: Over the last couple of years every time you've hit Iraq, Saddam simply rebuilds whatever capability you've destroyed, especially the integrated air defense.

In the targets that you've hit, can you identify anything where you feel this is it, he could not simply wait it out and come back in several years with a rebuilt capability?

Admiral Wilson: The integrated air defense system and the SAMs are what we would call supporting targets. They are necessary to suppress and degrade and to hit while you are going after other kinds of principle targets in the system. So we think we have degraded that system to support the strikes, and in the sense of, for example, the WMD, our goal is to degrade and delay the way he can develop those capabilities in the future. But as you saw we have had very little assessment to this point on that target set.

Q: The Iraqis say a hospital has been struck in Baghdad. Can you say anything about that?

Admiral Wilson: I have no knowledge of a hospital being struck.

Q: Admiral, Iraq also claims it shot down 77 U.S. cruise missiles. Do we put any...

Admiral Wilson: We have nothing that would confirm that. We don't have any indication that any have been shot down.

Q: Admiral Fry or Admiral Wilson, do you plan to use the B-2 out of CONUS in all this buildup?

Admiral Fry: It would be inappropriate for me to tell you which types of aircraft we intend to use at this point as the operation continues.

Q: The aircraft and the other assets that are deployed, we are told the B-2 was not deployed, would operate from its home bases here in CONUS and use aerial refueling if it's put into play, so there's a little bit of a gray area here as to whether or not the B-2 is going to be used.

Q: True or false on WMD. No actual stores of chemical or biological weapons have either been targeted or destroyed by this operation?

Admiral Wilson: I'm not going to talk about our entire targeting plans. We have targeted at least one chemical facility that has the potential for chemical weapons development in the future, and I will not go beyond that point in this particular target set.

Q: Could you talk a little bit about the ground forces that are in the region and what their activities have been, if any?

Admiral Wilson: The Iraqi army, --Iraq has a robust army. The ground forces that we are principally concerned about are the Republican Guards, and especially their armored and mechanized divisions. For the most part they have been disbursed; it's a disbursed force in a defensive position during the strikes themselves.

Q: Why do either of you gentlemen think the Iraqi armed forces have not responded?

Admiral Wilson: I think they're essentially trying to protect themselves right now and believe that's a better tactic than trying to go and fight against the attack.

Q: During the Persian Gulf War the Pentagon came under some criticism for presenting an unrealistic picture of success by only showing the successful application of smart weapons and not really giving a complete picture.

How complete a picture are we getting here today? Is there a difference because of the increase in the number of precision guided munitions that are used?

Admiral Wilson: I led off by trying to say, and I will reemphasize, it's a very incomplete picture. We are in the initial phases of battle damage assessment. We haven't even looked at all the targets. We are emphasizing the targets which we need to emphasize to provide protection for the striking force. We have had some success, and we have had some areas that were less than successful. So we need to make an assessment over time with all sources of information before we can gauge the total success of the OPERATION DESERT FOX.

Q: Have you used the GBU-28, the earth penetrator? The 5,000 pound bomb.

Admiral Fry: I don't know.

Q: Do you have plans now to deliver that now...

Admiral Fry: We have not; I don't think so.

Q: Can you talk about the overall degradation of communications, unit to unit, north to south, east to west? How taking out the TV transmitter on a different level affects the ability of this government to communicate with the different parts of the country?

Admiral Wilson: I'm not going to get into details about the overall communication systems, I think for obvious reasons. And if you take out the TV stations, clearly you degrade the ability to communicate. I also wanted to indicate, it's not the stations, it's the transmitters. Some of the ones that we took out were also used and can be used to jam incoming signals.

Q:...over the next 48 hours?

Q:...B-1 bomber in combat. I think we ought to talk about that before you sneak out of here.

What capability does that plane bring and why was it...

Admiral Fry: Well, it brings a large level of effort, capability to the fight. Lots of...

Q: How?

Admiral Fry: Lots of iron bombs, and it flew its first sortie last night. We haven't had the bomb damage assessment on it yet so I'm not sure that we can tell you...

Q: What type of munitions did it drop?

Q: Did it...

Q:...by the Iraqis?

Admiral Wilson: We have no information of Saddam using human shields during this particular operation.

Q: You've got troops that are leaving on the eve of Christmas. It sounds like you've got a range of units that are still deploying. Can you give us some sense here of where the operation is headed in terms of longer range? Not really specifically talking about Ramadan as a true or false marker.

Secretary Cohen has talked about being ready for the long term.

Admiral Fry: There are lots of ways to get to an answer on that. As we continue with the operation and as Tom has mentioned in more than one response, we are only in the initial stages of looking at the BDA. We need to gauge how we are moving towards accomplishing our goals with each of those target sets that Tom briefed you on and their contribution to the overall objective of degrading Iraq's ability to attack it's neighbors and deliver weapons of mass destruction.

We are flowing forces into the theater now to enhance our ability as far as force protection, and should Saddam Hussein lash out, either in a thrust south or in some other fashion, we need to have the forces there that can deal with that.

Q: Have you gone back and hit...

Q: Can I...

Q: Have you gone back and hit any targets?

Mr. Bacon: I'd just mention three things. One, we have copies of the pamphlets, or we're making them. They're in English. Obviously the ones that were dropped were in Arabic.

Two, we're leaving behind copies of the bomb damage assessment pictures so you can look at them or shoot them photographically.

Three, we are making small copies of the slides that Admiral Wilson used and you can get those -- I'm not sure we have them yet, but you'll have them soon.

Q: Can we also get the Arabic version of the leaflets?

Mr. Bacon: We're working on that, yes.

Q: And the video?

Mr. Bacon: The video, we'll get that as well.