U.S.Army Gen. Tommy R. Franks' Visits Baghdad (2)
April 16, 2003
Release Number: 03-04-143
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
POOL REPORT OF GEN FRANKS' TRIP TO BAGHDAD (PART 2 OF 2)
Questions from reporters for Gen. Franks and other commanders.
Gen. Tommy Franks' introductory remarks:
"I appreciate you guys being here and being pros. I asked that all the commanders who have been responsible for this operation meet here in Baghdad today. Part of it actually is an emotional event because they're people who have done the bone-crushing hard work along with obviously all of their subordinates."
Following introductions of the commanders, the commanders took questions.
On emotions they are feeling:
Gen. Moseley: "It 's been a joint team and joint effort that's been since the beginning. There's a sense of satisfaction in being able to come to closure on something we're worked together for so long. Each of the components with each of the things that we bring to bear for the CIC."
Gen. McKiernan: "This is a band of brothers here. I don't say that in the cliché way of World War II movies. But in 2003, this a band of brothers that put all their energies into this campaign, just like bands of brothers (unintelligible)."
Franks: "I call it the block vote. This group of subordinate commanders has voted as a block ever since this operation started and maybe that's the same thing as a band of brothers? I have never seen a more joint effort brought about by more joint-minded professionals."
Adm. Keating: "It took a year to plan and a month to execute. That's better than the other way around."
Gen. Hailston: "I sit here, my emotions for the day come together with these folks, to come together under the CINC? It's a team. Just planning it together. It's a fantastic effort."
Gen. Harrell: "I think the overriding emotion is one team, one fight. A Great bunch of professionals to work with. A lot of hard work has gone into what we've done. I think it's safe to say, so far it's gone better than we thought it would."
On why this venue:
Franks: "I wanted to get our commanders together in Baghdad because that's been of course the center of gravity for this regime while it stood. And as we all recognize it stands no longer. I wanted to have it in Baghdad but I left it up to David McKiernan on where to have it."
McKiernan: "I picked here (inaudible). This is a symbol of a regime we've just moved out of position. To set up in a Saddam Hussein palace is very appropriate to meet out objective for phase three of this campaign."
On whether the locale sends the wrong message about a new king replacing an old king:
Franks: "I didn't occur to me at all. It occurred to me that people in this country recognize that this has been about liberation and not about occupation. I think there's an expectation that our forces will be here operating in this country for some period of time in order to provide more stability so a new government, a government chosen by the Iraqi people, can take its place. Where we happen to be at any particular point in time I think won't generate any ill feeling at all."
On his video teleconference with the president:
Franks: "I very simply provide the president and the national security council a statement of where we are in the operation. I provide my personal assessment as its formed from the views of the commanders. Then I describe for the president my vision of what I think we'll see in the next week to 10 days."
"I think over the past week we have seen water being turned back on in this country, I think we have seen power being turned back on in this country. I think we've seen hospitals going back to work all over the country. I actually believe it'll be better seven days from now by quite a bit than it is today."
On whether the war is over:
Franks: "Actually, the president of the United States will determine when the war is over. What I'll do is describe to him where I think we are in this particular phase. The phase we have been in that you have witnessed close and personal is what we call the decisive combat phase of the operation. We also call that phase three. I'll describe to the president where I think we are in that phase. But he'll make the decision when quote the war is over."
On who whether the decisive combat phase is over:
"Every day we see remnants of what we call Arab fighters or foreign fighters who have come in from a number of other countries. We see them her in Baghdad and so now we're about the business of rooting them out. Gen. McKiernan's people are about the business of rooting them out in a number of places in the city and Gen. Harrell's people are involved in doing exactly the same thing. One thing for sure, the regime of Saddam Hussein is no longer in charge of Iraq."
On why this war was like no other in history:
Franks: "At this point, it is my personal view this has been the most joint campaign in our history. I think each of the services of our own country as well as the services of our allies, the coalition partners, brings certain capabilities to a battlefield. We have had joint operations before but it seems to me and this is a personal view, it seems to me on many occasions in the past we have seen our joint operations have represented the deconfliction of the capabilities brought by the various arms. In some case we have seen synergy. But frequently we have seen something less than reliance of one arm for another. The characteristic of this campaign whether special operations forces, air power, land power, sea power, I think that we have seen reliance of one for another."
Harrell: "We have gone beyond working together to watching one another's back."
Franks' closing remarks:
"There's another reason for all of us to get together and that's to pay tribute to the tremendous performance of all these young men and women. Hundreds of thousands of them have contributed to this and they continue to contribute right now? So part of this meeting also is to have a chance to say thanks a lot to each of them for what they do. "