*EPF203 04/01/2003
DoD Report: Rumsfeld Tells Iraqi People No Cease-Fire Being Considered
(April 1: Combat operations in Iraq) (790)

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld April 1 rejected Iraqi claims that the coalition in Iraq has entered into cease-fire negotiations with the Saddam Hussein regime.

"The only thing this coalition will discuss with this [Iraqi] regime is their unconditional surrender," said Rumsfeld at a Pentagon briefing.

"The circumstances of the [Iraqi] regime are such that Iraqi officials are spreading rumors that the coalition has entered into a cease-fire negotiation with the regime, and that there is a third-party peace plan under consideration," Rumsfeld said. "Their goal is to try to convince the people of Iraq that the coalition does not intend to finish the job," he said.

In reality, "[t]here are no negotiations taking place with anyone in Saddam Hussein's regime," Rumsfeld continued. "There will be no outcome to this war that leaves Saddam Hussein and his regime in power. Let there be no doubt. His time will end, and soon," he said.

In addition, Rumsfeld questioned why Saddam Hussein and key members of the regime have not been seen since the war began:

"[W]here are Iraq's leaders? The night before the ground war began, coalition forces launched a strike on a meeting of Iraq's senior command and control. And they have not been heard from since," Rumsfeld said.

"The fact that Saddam Hussein did not show up for his televised speech today is interesting," Rumsfeld added.

General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, took issue with reported statements from current and former U.S. military officers that the plan for the Iraq campaign does not provide for sufficient coalition ground forces.

"My view of those reports," Myers said, "is that they're bogus." Such criticisms have "not been by responsible members of the team that put this all together," he said.

"It is not helpful to have those kinds of comments come out when we've got troops in combat, because first of all, they're false, they're absolutely wrong, they bear no resemblance to the truth, and its just ... harmful to our troops that are out there fighting very bravely, very courageously," Myers continued.

"You know, we went in there with some very sophisticated objectives. We had diplomacy under way at the United Nations. We wanted to deploy a sufficient force, but not the kind of force that would make it look like diplomacy didn't have a chance to work," Myers said. "General Franks ... wanted tactical surprise. How do you protect tactical surprise when you have 250,000 troops surrounding Iraq on D-day?" he asked.

Myers said surprise was achieved by starting the ground war first, then the air campaign. He then noted that the southern Iraqi oil fields, with 60 percent of Iraq's oil resources, were preserved, and that no Iraqi Scud missiles have been fired, and that humanitarian supplies are flowing through the port of Umm Qasr "because we put the ground forces in there early. Were we 200 miles inside Iraq in 36 hours? Yes," Myers said.

Other topics from the briefing:

-- Coalition air forces flew more than 1,000 sorties on March 31. To date, more than 700 cruise missiles and over 9,000 precision-guided munitions have been used, Myers said.
-- The Ansar al-Islam terrorist camp in northern Iraq was being used by 300-500 terrorists, including elements of al-Qaeda, Myers said. He noted that many of the dead terrorists "appear to be non-Iraqis." Further, "We believe they were developing poisons for use against civilians in Europe and the United States," Myers added.

-- Coalition forces are directing ground and air attacks on Republican Guard forces south of Baghdad, trying to decrease their combat capability, Myers said. Two divisions have had their capability decreased below 50 percent, he said.

-- Rumsfeld said there is "a growing amount of anecdotal evidence from various parts of the country ... indicating that ... some of the regime's families are leaving the country.... This news is "rippling through the society and causing morale to drop on the part of people who support Saddam Hussein and for the others, who don't support him, to feel emboldened," he said.

-- The program to train Free Iraqi Forces in Hungary has been halted because with the war under way, it was unlikely that any more recruits would be trained in time to take part, Rumsfeld said.

-- Rumsfeld refused to call on the Iraqi people to rise up against the regime, citing the killing of thousands of Shiites in 1991 and noting the slaughter following the Hungarian uprising against Soviet rule in 1956.

(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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