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Secretary Rumsfeld Stakeout at House of Representatives

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
March 27, 2003

Q: Mr. Secretary? I'm curious, sir. Can you give us any sort of idea of what's happening with respect to material coming into Iraq from Syria?

Rumsfeld: We're concerned. We see pieces of intelligence that causes concern.

Q: Can you give us any specifics at all?

Rumsfeld: I could, but I'm not going to.

Q: No volumes or --

Rumsfeld: We see things that are notably unhelpful.

Q: On the northern front, can you give a sense of why [inaudible], and what kind of forces should the public see flowing in over the next few days [inaudible]?

Rumsfeld: I'm not going to talk about future force flows or operations, needless to say. We had a large number of special operators, Special Forces in the north, and we have friendly Kurdish forces that are armed and capable. And the entry into the north of the 173rd strengthens and beefs up that U.S. presence. That's helpful for a lot of reasons. That gives us a somewhat better ability to make sure that the northern oilfields are not set on fire or destroyed by the Iraqi military. It gives us a better opportunity to work closely with the Kurds. It clearly ought to give confidence to the Turkish government that we're physically present in a way that will enable us to assure that our commitment to keep one single country intact rather than allowing it to be broken into pieces. It complicates the problem for Saddam Hussein in terms of what needs to worry him about the coalition forces. It seems to me those are the essential reasons why it's important to have capabilities up north.

Q: [Inaudible] boots on the ground. [Inaudible] Have you [inaudible]?

Rumsfeld: No, none at all. The flow of forces was decided many weeks and weeks ago. It has been put in place by General Franks. The plan is a good one. It is in place. It is a plan that has been worked through carefully by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, by the combatant commanders around the world, by General Myers, General Pace. It's a good plan and it was designed in a way that forces would continue to flow over a sustained period.

The plan calls for those forces, to the extent they're Guard or Reserve, to have been alerted many, many weeks and months ago, to have been mobilized in sufficient time to be trained, their equipment sent overseas and ultimately the individuals flowing through. So the only big change in the plan was the fact that the 4th Infantry Division did not come in by land through Turkey. But the plan is as it is and every day the number of coalition forces in Iraq is increasing by one or two or three thousand people and it's going to continue to that. We have plenty of forces en-route.

Q: Sir, some of the [inaudible] in the north [inaudible] south. [Inaudible]

Rumsfeld: It's hard to know, but I suppose had it come in from the north and been there by now it would have complicated the task for the Iraqi regime somewhat in terms of how they may have located the Republican Guard units. I don't know that it would have, but it certainly would have put a bit more pressure, although there is pressure now.

Thanks folks.