Presenter: Major General Victor E. "Gene" Renuart, Director of Operations April 5, 2003
MAJ. GEN. VICTOR RENUART: (In progress) -- the events that have occurred over the last number of days.
First of all, I just want to make -- continue the statement that says -- (inaudible) -- and I don't want that to sound like it's meant to be minimized. There has been a very concentrated effort to keep this plan going exactly the way General Franks and the staff have built it, and the plan goes on, on time line, and in the direction we'd like for it to go.
As always, we take a minute just to remember those folks who have been wounded or lost in combat. It's important for us not to forget the cost that each of these operations exacts on the young men and women of all of the nations of the coalition.
The focus of today's briefing is going to be a sort of an operational summary. There will be some history here, things that you've seen before, but my goal today is to try to put some of that in a context for you that will hopefully allow you to understand how the operations have flowed over time.
As you know, we began building up forces some number of weeks ago, potentially months ago as we floated some forces in the early days of -- or late days of last year with the 3rd Infantry Division. Those forces continued to build over time until we began combat operations on the 21st of March.
On the 21st, we began with an insertion of special operating forces and a strike in Baghdad by a number of Tomahawk land attack cruise missiles. Those targets were key leadership targets. We think the results were very favorable, and we're not exactly sure of the result of the leaders that were involved in that, but we continue to see disruption in the command and control of the regime.
Shortly after that, the 1st Marine Division crossed the line of departure, moved north out of Kuwait into the oil fields in the south, taking control of those oilfields and begin to secure them for the future of the Iraqi people. The key elements of those oil fields were the gas-oil separators, the individual wellheads themselves, and the objective was to be able to secure those before the Iraqi regime had the opportunity to destroy them. As many of you know, there were some wellheads that were destroyed. We have since been able to bring those well fires under control. We're down to two wellheads remaining to be secured and the fires put out. A joint Kuwaiti and coalition oil firefighting team is working on those. We hope to get the last two of those oil well fires put out within the next few days.
In addition to the oil heads that were damaged, we had a number of breaks in pipelines. Some of those were ignited. We have had a number of pools of oil that were let out on to the ground. Some of those were ignited as well. And we have since brought the majority of those under control, both securing the infrastructure in the oil fields and repairing those to be able to bring that back into operation.
I had some maps earlier that were going to go along with this, but as you know, sometimes computers trick you, and so I'm going to have to go without the maps that will kind of walk you through what the ground looked like as we moved through southern Iraq.
But during those first few days, we moved with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force from south to north from Kuwait, and then with the 3rd Infantry Division moving from Kuwait's western, northwestern border to the northwest towards An Nasiriyah, As-Samawa, An Najaf, and then continuing on. The 3rd Infantry Division attacked to seize initially the Tallil airfield, the town of An Nasiriyah, and then to follow -- with a follow-on objective of the town of As-Samawa. We also seized key Highway 1 bridges in the vicinity of An Nasiriyah to allow for the 1st Marine Division to then move forward to the north as they made the turn coming up out of the oil fields and continuing on towards As-Shatra (sp) and al-Kut to engage a Republican Guard division in the vicinity of al-Kut.
I think the progress could be characterized as nothing short of superb. A lot was made about we were out there for three or four days -- as you know, bad weather had challenged us a bit. A lot was made of bringing the supply lines along. I think what we've shown is that the plan was very smoothly executed, that logistics support, humanitarian assistance has flowed in behind the combat troops in a way that allowed the momentum of the fight to be carried to the Iraqis in a steady fashion with great results.
Over the five days from about the 27th of March until right at the end of the month, 5th Corps forces pressed north to the vicinity of Karbala, and the 1 MEF forces pressed from An Nasiriyah towards al-Kut, As-Diwaniyah, and the town of As-Shatra (sp), in each case, taking the time to reduce pockets of irregular forces in each of these locations, forces that were holding the local leaders of the towns an the populations of those towns hostage, if you will, and in some cases terrorizing them to the point of inactivity by any of the leaders in the town to resist.
The 1st U.K. Armor entered the battlefield also on the 27th of March, beginning to secure the area from south to north from Umm Qasr to As-Zubair into the town of Basra. In addition, they expanded to the northwest to provide additional security for the southern oil fields.
And then in the north, on the 27th, the 173rd Airborne Brigade jumped into an area near Bashur (sp) in northern Iraq to provide additional combat power to the special operating forces that had already inserted themselves into Kurdish-held territory.
At the same time, combat operations were ongoing. Humanitarian aid -- I mention this repeatedly because that is really one of the two great pillars of this combat operation -- at the same time you're exerting combat power against a very focused enemy, you want to be able to infuse into that fight humanitarian assistance that will begin to normalize the lives of the people in the towns that you're liberating. And things like bringing in wheat to Umm Qasr, bringing in humanitarian aid over land from Kuwait -- great support from the Kuwaitis to infuse that aid into the fight was noted as early as the second or third day after combat operations began.
The water pipeline was constructed and is completed now from Kuwait into Umm Qasr, up to Zubair, and we now have a situation just a few days ago, a couple days ago, where water into Basra is almost completely restored. We have a few small areas that we're completing that infusion.
Those operations continued until the 4th of April, just yesterday, where we saw great operations conducted on a two-core front approach in towards Baghdad. The 3rd Infantry Division moved north from Karbala to the highway intersections of routes 1 and 8, just south of the city, about seven miles from the city center. In fact, you saw some of the forces that were at that intersection today driving through the inner city of Baghdad.
In addition, forces moved to the west, initially created a force to attack and then secure the Baghdad International Airport. Those forces have completed that operation and now hold the airport secure. And we are continuing to flow forces in there to reinforce and establish a main operating base.
At the same time, the 1st Marine forces, the 1st Marine Expeditionary Forces were attacking from the vicinity of As-Diwaniyah and south of al-Kut to destroy the remnants of the Baghdad Division and then turn northwest along Highway 6 to the southeast corner of Baghdad, attacking remnants of a regular army division and a Republican Guard infantry division, destroying those forces as they moved forth to establish an operating base on the southeast edge of Baghdad.
Finally, continuing the great work in Basra and then moving further to the north, the 1st U.K. Armored Division has moved north through the oil fields to begin to secure more and more of those vital resources for the future, and we now have a substantial percentage of what we call the southern oil fields, the Ramallah fields, the Khorna (sp) fields, and some other smaller fields, Zubair, under our -- under our safe control, and we continue to expand that U.K. lodgment position further north along Highway 6 to complete the destruction of -- the remnants, really, of four regular army divisions that began the fight in the vicinity between al-Amarah and Khorna (sp) in the eastern portion of the country.
Finally, we've alluded to special operating forces throughout the operation, and I just want to spend a minute or two describing the intent of these very highly capable forces, the use of those highly capable forces around the country.
As we were beginning combat operations, special operating forces were infiltrated into western Iraq, into northern Iraq, and some areas in the south. The intent of these forces was to establish a relationship with leaders in the local area, to be able to call fires on theater ballistic missile launch sites in the west in order to protect neighbors in the region, other neighbors that were threatened by the Iraqi theater ballistic missile capability, to begin to set conditions to bring follow-on forces in to take advantage of the airfields in the west and in the north. In addition, to begin working in an unconventional warfare manner, engaging with Iraqi forces in the north who might be interested in laying down their arms and not continuing to fight. Those operations have been highly successful.
In addition to the unconventional warfare operations in the north, as many of you know, we attacked a terrorist base camp in -- near the little town of Khourma (sp). The intent here was to eliminate an al Qaeda and Ansar al-Islam based terrorist training camp and military facility, and potential chemical WMD processing or manufacturing plant. Those operations were very successful. It was a combination of U.S. special forces and Kurdish fighters, and those operations actually continue to eliminate small pockets of terrorist activity in extreme northeastern Iraq.
Finally, on a -- on a note of success that was very visible to you all, the special operating forces, in coordination with conventional forces from the Marine Corps and the Air Force and the Army were able to successfully rescue Private First Class Jennifer (sic) Lynch out of a hospital and irregular military headquarters facility that was being used by these death squads in Nasiriyah and successfully return her to U.S. hands and on to medical care and a reunion with her family. I'll talk a little bit about that operation in just a little bit, so if you'll hold for that one just a second, I'll come back to it.
Finally, to continue to beat the drum of humanitarian assistance, we have worked to secure key bridges and infrastructure to maintain those for future use, and we begin -- have begun to really accelerate the infusion of humanitarian assistance into the country.
Throughout all of these operations, we've encountered an enemy who has been determined. We have encountered an enemy who has chosen to use fear and terror and brutality as a means to push the people either to not support a change in their own communities, or even to the extremes to be used as shields to protect these fighters as they try to engage our forces. We've seen forces fighting in civilian clothes from vehicles we call technical vehicles, pick-up trucks with machine guns loaded on to them, SUVs. We've seen them stringing wire across roads that would be designed to decapitate people driving in trucks. We've seen them wearing uniforms that were U.S. or U.K. or Australia based equipment so that they might fit in. We've seen them using flags of truth -- truce, I'm sorry -- to gain a position of advantage on the battlefield, and on and on, from suicide bombings to other acts of terror on the field.
This has been an unconventional enemy, but not one we have not trained for. Through it all, we've seen prudent use of the military. We've seen professional performance by our soldiers, and they have been able to, in each case, defeat this enemy threat as we've moved on to each of our objectives.
Now, all of that happens because the people behind the scenes, the logisticians, ensure that we have the tools that we need to carry the battle forward on the field. Some of you have had a chance to listen to some of the logistics facts that we've used out there. And I won't go into lots and lots of them, but I do have a few tidbits of trivia that might be interesting for you.
The line of communication that we are maintaining open from Kuwait up to Baghdad is about 350 miles. On any given day out there on the battlefield, we've probably got 2,500 or more logistics support-related vehicles traveling on that road.
So if you can sort of imagine driving from LA to San Francisco, along the way there you'll see a whole -- it's sort of like having a big old convoy of semi tractor-trailers running up and down that road, moving food and fuel and water and humanitarian assistance to our forces.
We've moved something on the order of 65 million gallons of fuel into the region in order to fill supply points around the area to allow our forces to continue operations unencumbered. If you throw that into a -- well, I've got a little car, so I get about 20 miles to the gallon. If you throw that into my car, I could do an around-the-world trip about 52,000 times.
To fly the air tasking order that we have each day, the aircraft that are out there to support our operations, takes something on the order of about two and a half million gallons of fuel. And in that same car of mine, I could only make the trip around the world about 1,736 times.
So, to give you some perspective, the cost -- the support required to keep these operations going continuously is substantial. And the work that is being carried out by our logistics experts in the field is nothing short of herculean. There are some real superstars out there.
In order to keep our forces properly hydrated, we use about a million and a half liters of water a day. About 2 million tons of spare parts and support equipment is moved around the battlefield each day.
And then, finally, soldiers, as they say -- you know, you feed the army; you have to maintain its ability to eat. And, you know, about a third of a million MREs are consumed each day. So for that one Marine out there that didn't get more than one that day, we've got some more out there coming to him and I think we've solved that problem.
We continue to have great days of supply out in the field at each of our supply points, and I think we have continued to excel day by day to improve that process.
I talked about a lot of humanitarian aid a minute ago, and I want to give you just a few tidbits on what we call CMO, civil military operations. These are some good-news stories, and they're not stories that the military has brought to the fight. They're stories that other non-governmental organizations and international organizations bring in.
The World Food Program, for example, delivered a thousand metric tons of wheat yesterday. We have had support from non-governmental organizations to distribute kerosene to families to allow them to heat their homes. There were not many cool nights left, but there were a few. And we've been able to get kerosene in to some of the families in order to run heaters.
The World Food Program's warehouse in Basra has built up substantial stockpiles of cooking oil, coffee, flour and miscellaneous items, and those continue to be packaged for distribution.
We talked about DART teams before, and these are designed to respond to a disaster, really. But this is also an element that gives us command and control for distribution of humanitarian aid. We've formed the largest DART team ever in history.
It's a three-phrase front from Kuwait to Jordan to Turkey to enable us to move humanitarian assistance very rapidly in. And I'm pleased to say that today we moved a number of trucks of humanitarian assistance in from Turkey as well as we are continuing to grow the size of assistance that we're able to move in from Jordan over time.
So the successes are there. We continue to have need for more. We're far from perfect in that regard, but we are making a stronger attempt every day to increase and improve our ability to move those kinds of supplies and support to the Iraqi people at the same time we prosecute combat operations against the Iraqi regime.
Now, I told you I'd spend a minute or two talking about the rescue of Private Lynch. And I'd like to -- you'll forgive me for referring to notes a little bit more, but the facts of this are important and I'd like to go through those with you to try to give you a sense of what is really one of the characteristics of this operation.
There is nothing done on this battlefield that is not a joint and integrated operation. It's a combined operation. It takes the capabilities of each of our components -- and I know I've talked about this a couple of times from the podium here, but I can't overstress this -- each nation contributing.
Each force on the battlefield brings a capability that has to be integrated in order to be successful out there. And this is but one example, this one very localized to a very unique problem, but across the battlefield we have the same kinds of circumstances. And I'll cover those in questions, if you like.
In the situation that we're talking about here with Private Lynch, as you know, on about the 23rd of March, her 507th Maintenance Company was ambushed in the vicinity of An Nasiriyah. A number of the members of that maintenance company were killed, a number of captured, and a number were unaccounted for, she being one of them.
As the situation developed over time, we began to get some indications from local contacts in the community. And as we have used Special Forces to develop intelligence on the battlefield, as we do everywhere on the battlefield, we got an indication that there may be an injured U.S. military member held in this hospital, the Saddam Hospital in An Nasiriyah.
Any time we have a situation like that, we put together a planning team that investigates the intelligence and decides, is this credible, and if so, do we have the capability to respond to recover our service member?
In this case, after some detailed planning and study, it was felt that we not only had good intelligence information and had good access and had the potential for good access, but we, in fact, also felt that we had a feasible plan.
On the night of the first of April, a coalition Special Forces operation was put together that included the U.S. Army Rangers, Special Forces, and aviators from the Army, U.S. Navy SEALs, Air Force pilots, combat controllers and United States Marines.
The team was designed in a way to very rapidly get into the area of the hospital, to determine the location of Private Lynch, and then to bring her out, and at the same time exploit some areas of the hospital where we had reports of enemy headquarters, command-and-control facilities and the like.
As the night unfolded, the Marine task force was given two missions. Task Force Charlie was asked to create a diversionary tack, to focus what small elements of Iraqi irregulars there might be in the surrounding part of the town away from the hospital, in order to draw them into a fight in another part of the town.
At the same time, elements of the Marines, using helicopters, moved the recovery force rapidly into the hospital area with both ground transport and helicopter infiltration, with the principal priority being to recover Private Lynch and very rapidly move her out of the hospital area.
Upon entering the hospital, the assault force actually persuaded a local physician to lead them to Private Lynch's location, and this local physician claimed at the same time that there were potentially remnants -- I'm sorry, were remains of other U.S. military, either in the morgue or possibly buried close by.
As the team entered the hospital room, they found Private Lynch in a hospital bed. The first man approached the door and came in and called her name. She had been scared, had the sheet up over her head because she didn't know what was happening. She lowered the sheet from her head. She didn't really respond yet because I think she was probably pretty scared.
The soldier again said, "Jessica Lynch, we're the United States soldiers and we're here to protect you and take you home." She seemed to understand that. And as he walked over and took his helmet off, she looked up to him and said, "I'm an American soldier, too."
As they prepared to evacuate her, a team member made a preliminary assessment of her medical condition. The physician who had accompanied them -- this is our physician who accompanied the assault -- took the opportunity to further evaluate her condition, stabilized her for evacuation. She had injuries both to her legs, her arm, a head injury, and seemed to be in a fair amount of pain.
After she was prepared for movement and secured to the stretcher, the team members carried her down the stairwell out to the front door to the waiting helicopter. While the helicopter transported her to a nearby aircraft, who was then going to move her on to a field hospital, Jessica held up her hand and grabbed the Ranger doctor's hand, held on to it for the entire time and said, "Please don't let anybody leave me." It was clear she knew where she was and she didn't want to be left anywhere in the hands of the enemy.
After a short period of time, the hospital (sic) departed and she was moved back to the field hospital and her condition -- I'm sorry, her evaluation, her treatment was expanded.
After Private Lynch was removed from the hospital, the team continued with the rest of its mission. Searching through the hospital they found a weapons cache. They found a terrain model.
And, in fact, what this was was a planning -- it was like a sandbox model done on the floor of the basement of the hospital, and it was a model of the town of An Nasiriyah, and it had blue and red markers on there just like we would use for a war game, and depicted with relative accuracy the general positions of U.S. forces and also enemy forces in the town. So it allowed our Special Forces to gain a bit of intelligence as well from that activity.
At the same time, the team was led to a burial site, where, in fact, they did find a number of bodies that they believed could be Americans missing in action. They, in fact, did not have shovels in order to dig those graves up, so they dug them up with their hands. And they wanted to do that very rapidly so that they could race the sun and be off the site before the sun came up; a great testament to the will and desire of coalition forces to bring their own home.
After completing the excavation and ensuring there were none left behind, the force recovered all bodies and transported them back to the staging location and moved those back with the rest of the assault force. And as you know, we've since returned those bodies to the States, and we have identified nine of those sets of remains.
Eight of them, in fact, were from the 507th Maintenance Company and one from the -- a soldier from the Third Forward Support Group of the Third Infantry Division. And those next of kin now know -- have been notified and they know the status of their loved ones.
So while we grieve at the loss of those soldiers, we are pleased that we were able to make a determination of their fate and bring that back to their families.
Well, that completes the comments that I wanted to make. Let me open up for questions for you today. This gentleman was eager to get in early, so I'll start off right here.
Q Jonathan Marcus, BBC. General, could you give us some characterization of the events in southwestern Baghdad earlier today? And could I ask that -- they've been using a lot of precision-guided munitions. Some of the statements from press officers here today have been very vague -- talk about downtown Baghdad, U.S. forces in the center of the city.
We have people who are in the center of the city, and they clearly haven't been actually in the center. So could I ask for a little bit greater precision from some of the statements, but also some indication from you as to what has been going on?
GEN. RENUART: Well, I think the very first clarity of what was going on was riding in one of those tanks in the Second Brigade Combat Team, and it was one of the embedded reporters. So you probably can't see a better up-to-date report than what you saw there.
But I will try to put some context to what you saw. This was an operation conducted by two task forces of the Third Infantry Division. They, in fact, had been south of the city and conducted a raid through the city, proceeding north to the Tigris River and then continuing out to the west in the direction of the airport.
As to why your colleagues were not able to see that from the center of the city, I'm not sure. But I'm pretty comfortable that in some parts of downtown London you can't see what's going on in other parts of downtown London. So I can't give you any better answer than that.
I'm pretty comfortable I know where those guys were, and I'm pretty comfortable the reporters gave you an accurate picture of the scenes on the road.
It was, I think, a clear statement of the ability of the coalition forces to move into Baghdad at times and places of their choosing and to establish their presence really wherever they need to in the city. And those kinds of operations, I believe, will continue.
Q General, Jeff Reed (sp) from Sky News. At times, sir, your review sounded almost like a victory speech. Was it? Have you now reached the tipping point? And can I ask the daily weapons-of-mass-destruction question? They haven't been deployed. They haven't been discovered. Is this war going to make history by being ended before you've found its cause?
GEN. RENUART: That's a great question. Let me first say that in no way should any of the comments I made be taken as a victory speech. Victory will come, of that there is no doubt. But this fight is far from over. As we have said, we've been about to move into the area of Baghdad city. As you look at the map of Iraq, you'll note that there are many other parts of the country where we have not yet taken control of enemy forces in that region. And so the fight will continue. The fight is far from finished in Baghdad.
As to weapons of mass destruction, I think we continue to look at sites around the country. But I think as I mentioned last week as I was up here, many of the sites that we believe were most likely were in areas that we had not yet put troops. We're beginning to close down some of these areas and put troops into there, and we will in fact, over time, go through each of the sites where we believe to be -- that they may have stored, hidden or in some way cached any kind of weapon of mass destruction.
Q (Inaudible) -- with CNN. You talked about setting up a base of operations at the Baghdad International Airport. Is the security such that that can be done now? And what about the runways? They were disabled for normal use, but will they suffice for your use?
GEN. RENUART: It's a good question. And I guess what I'd say in terms of a base of operation, as you know, you can create a base of operation in the middle of the desert where you secure a particular area and bring in your logistics forces. The airport gives us a fairly substantial area to operate from, and I believe we will continue to operate from the field. Whether we make it a main base of operation or not, time will tell.
With respect to security on the airfield, the 3rd ID folks, elements of the 101st have, I think, secured the airfield to a fairly good degree. That does not mean that there's not a threat from artillery from enemy forces who have continued to attack throughout the course of today to varying degrees and in varying sizes, but with no success. There are a number of sites on the airfield that we want to make sure we spend extra time to ensure there's not booby traps and those kinds of things. But we feel like we can operate on the airfield with ease.
In terms of, is the airfield functional, we believe that at least one of the runways is -- will be functioning very rapidly. Most of the obstructions there were dirt, so they can be cleaned off very quickly, and I think we will have that capability very rapidly. It appears the rest of the infrastructure on the airport was intact, and I think the -- well, the Iraqi government still today says we're not there, so clearly they weren't expecting us, so they left the airfield in a fairly operable condition.
Q Who disabled the runways, coalition forces, or did they put -- did they put obstacles in your way?
GEN. RENUART: Well, I think --
Q Yesterday it sounded like that you took out portions of the runway so they couldn't be used, and I don't think you could have put dirt in yesterday.
GEN. RENUART: (Laughs.) Even we're not that fast. No, we had -- Baghdad International Airport has two runways, two sides of the airfield. One of them is the military side, and we -- because there were some military-capable aircraft over there that we were concerned about, obstructed that one ourselves. On the other airfield, our intent was to leave that intact. The Iraqis, in fact, covered -- put dirt mounds in a number of places. I think they may have been worried that we were going to do some sort of an air landing or something, and they wanted to ensure that maybe that was not possible. I think they underestimate our capabilities. However, we will be about clearing those dirt mounds, et cetera, to get that runway functional very rapidly. And at the appropriate point, we'll start using it as we need to to bring in supplies or other items.
Q Jane Seck (ph) of Sky News. Can I just ask you, firstly, about the discovery of these bodies in Al Zubair? Do you have any information about that?
And secondly, were you surprised by the levels of resistance that you've faced so far going into Baghdad? Do you really think the Republican Guard is gone, or do you think they're waiting for you somewhere else?
GEN. RENUART: First, the question on reports in Zubair, I heard those really just coming over today. I can't give you any more specifics -- one, if the reports are accurate, or two, what the -- you know, what type of people these might be if they are accurate reports. So I'm afraid I can't give you too much more than that.
However, we have asked our -- in coordination with the land-component commander, to take these kinds of reports and try to run them to ground so that we can come up with some sense of truth. As you know, on the battlefield, many times, first reports are in some way inaccurate, and so we physically need to go there and find out, and we'll know more once we are on the ground.
Your second question was the Republican Guard. I think sometimes it's very difficult for people to understand the power of air power. I don't want to sound like I'm an airman beating the air power horn, but the integration of fires from both land and air --
STAFF (?): (Off mike.)
GEN. RENUART: I think it went off.
-- was substantial. And we were able to take advantage of superiority in the skies to prepare the battlefield. And as the forces moved through, they still found substantial Republican Guard capability, and in many cases those forces fought hard. But they were more isolated. They were not well organized. And I think you can -- that is a direct result of the combine-arms team that prepared that battlefield before the forces actually moved into the area.
Let me go over here. I'll come back in a minute. Kelly.
Q Hi, General. We have reports today of another suicide bombing at Baghdad airport. If you could address that. And secondly, do you have any indications there are substantial Republican Guard in Tikrit?
GEN. RENUART: I heard the reports about a potential suicide bomb at the airport. We've had a couple of reports of those activities that have been true over the last few days. The one today I tried to check just before I walked in. That has not come up on anybody's radar scope. Obviously, I think it was a media report. There have been a number of attacks out there. I would say some of them I'd term as suicidal in that very lightly armed forces trying to attack more heavily armored forces on the airfield. But I don't have what we would – what, at least, I would refer to as a suicide bomb attack that I'm aware of.
And I'm sorry, your second question?
Q Do you have of Republican Guard still substantial --
GEN. RENUART: In Tikrit?
GEN. RENUART: Certainly through the conflict, we've seen a number of Republican Guard units in an around Tikrit. We continue to look in that area very carefully because certainly that's one of the key leadership nodes, we think, that tie to the Ba'ath Party.
As our forces drew closer to Baghdad, many of the Republican Guard units were sort of thrown into the fight, literally. And there certainly are some remnants of Republican Guard in that area. As to how large a force that is, we're still trying to get a little better intelligence on that.
Q Hi, General. Jeff Schaeffer, Associated Press Television News. Can you elaborate on your definition of favorable with regard to the strike on the leadership of the 21st? What exactly does that mean? And on the same track, can you talk -- can you give us your assessment of the Saddam Hussein video that was put out yesterday?
GEN. RENUART: Favorable means really good. (Laughter.) We hit exactly where we wanted to go, and we're pretty sure that one of the targets we were aiming at we got. Now, beyond that, I'm going to let it -- leave it there. Good try though.
And I think that goes to really your second question: Was this Saddam on the tapes yesterday? You know, I can't tell you. They are tapes, clearly. We know from intelligence that in the months preceding combat operations, a number of tapes were made to be used, some to be released locally; some to be released from other places in the world. I don't know. I truly don't know. But the fact of the matter is, it really doesn't matter. This -- the operation is to end the regime in Iraq, and we'll continue with that one. So whether that was or was not Saddam is truly not relevant to the plan. We'll continue until we complete the operations.
Yes, sir, back here. The gentleman from, I think, Qatari TV?
Q (Inaudible) -- from Kuwait TV.
GEN. RENUART: I'm sorry, Kuwait TV. I'm sorry.
Q Yes. Okay, I have a question, General. What is the problem which is the American army's -- (inaudible) -- in Baghdad now exactly?
GEN. RENUART: I'm sorry, could --
Q What is the problem which is the American army's -- (inaudible) -- in Baghdad now?
GEN. RENUART: Okay, so you're asking are we having difficulties with our Americans --
Q Difficult now exactly at the south of Baghdad. Thank you.
GEN. RENUART: I think -- I think our operations from -- that I described early that moved from the south through the center of Baghdad and out to the west are -- were very successful for us. The challenge with that were pockets of very intense fighting. As I mentioned, we had a task force that moved through the city made up of both Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and Abrams tanks. The fight through there was characterized by a number of irregular forces mixed with Republican Guard or Special Republican Guard infantry fighting positions, rocket-propelled grenades, nests of irregular forces and the technical vehicles that I described earlier and air-to-air artillery weapons that were used in a direct-fire mode against our forces, so 23 mm, 57 mm anti-aircraft cannons that were used in a direct-fire mode against our forces.
It was, as war reported, intense fighting in areas. On the other hand, in some areas, people were standing on the sidewalks waving to us. So clearly there is confusion in Baghdad. Clearly there is -- there is some chaos in terms of the command and control and ability of the military defending Baghdad. On the other hand, there are people who appear to acknowledge the presence of coalition forces favorably in that area.
Does that answer your question for you?
GEN. RENUART: Okay, good.
Q I'm Matt Harrison with AFP. Can you confirm that the 3rd ID reached the center or the heart or the middle of the city today? And can you tell us where those troops are now?
GEN. RENUART: Moving wherever they need to. You know, I'm not sure I can tell you -- define to you what the center of Baghdad is. But I think someone described the Tigris River makes a pretty narrow bend at Highway 1 comes into what I would call pretty near the center of Baghdad and then turns out to the west. So our forces moved up into that area and then continued out to the west. And it's about as close to the center as I know how to define.
Q Thank you, General. I'm Martha Brant with Newsweek magazine. First of all, thank you very much for giving us that level of detail about Jessica Lynch. I had a couple of follow-up questions about her. We had been told that possibly "Chemical Ali," as he is called, may have been in that hospital. Do you know anything about that? Did you get him?
And secondly, the injuries she has, did she sustain them during the ambush, or did her captors inflict them on her?
GEN. RENUART: Let me go to your second question first, because I guess the answer to the first is, we think that he was there. He had used that area. But on the evening of the attack, he was not located in the hospital. That's not to say that we haven't been tracking him down at some other locations and will continue to do so until we're pretty confident that he's been eliminated.
As to her injuries, as I mentioned, arm injuries, leg injuries, she's undergone some back surgery as well. I don't have any way to determine if those were inflicted on her after her capture, and so it would be unfair of me to try to speculate on that. I just really can't say.
Q (Off mike.)
GEN. RENUART: No, I don't know of any other information to be more clear than that for you.
Q Adi Rival (ph), ABC News. The situation in Baghdad is such where the residents are getting mixed messages -- one message from the Iraqi leadership, the Information Ministry, that everything is fine; don't worry about it; they haven't taken over any of our command and control facilities; the coalition forces obviously presenting a different message. Now it seem the message, your message, the coalition forces' message is more important than ever. How are you getting through the Iraqi propaganda and talking directly to the people of Baghdad saying whatever you want to say in terms of issuing admonitions about, this is where we'll be, et cetera, et cetera? And why is the Information Ministry still broadcasting its propaganda?
Thank you, sir.
GEN. RENUART: It's a good question. As you know, the technology for broadcast is pretty sophisticated. And you can purchase satellite time on a variety of corporation satellites. And so as to how they're still being able to broadcast, while I'm not technically proficient to tell you how that happens, I can say that it appears that there are a number of satellite companies who have sold broadcast time to Iraqi National Television, and so we're trying to work in some way to encourage that not happen.
But I think more importantly is the question really of how do we get our message to the Iraqi people. We have a capability to broadcast on the Iraqi Channel 3, and we are continuing to do that. We're trying to expand our ability for Iraqis to broadcast on satellite television. And as we try to improve that capability and expand that capability, we will do so. We're beginning to see many more leaders in the communities of Basra and An Nasiriyah, As-Samawa, Najaf, even now towards Karbala, become much more supportive, openly supportive of the coalition forces as they see the threat from these other irregular troops go away. And some have expressed interest in helping to get that message out.
You have to be careful though. You have to be careful because it has to be an honest message from the Iraqi. And so we're sensitive to try to create the opportunity for Iraqis broadcast on their network.
Q You said that you want to broadcast on Iraqi TV, but there are reports that the electricity in Baghdad was off. Do you know if the electricity is back on? Obviously that causes some problems in terms of wanting the coalition forces to broadcast their message.
GEN. RENUART: You know, I can't tell you throughout Baghdad if it's on. I know we have reports in certain areas that there is electricity. Certainly Iraqi TV has electricity. So they've taken it away from their people, but they save it for themselves. But we are seeing reports that it is on in certain areas, and we are trying to develop that a little bit more. We are looking for ways to try to get that power back on as rapidly as we can.
Yes, ma'am, right here.
Q My name is Nora Garbi (ph) from Abu Dhabi TV. I'm just wondering about the coalition troops, they've been like sending messages through these notes -- asking, you know, people not to fight or to surrender. Do we have any reports about the Iraqi in the Republican troops or the Iraqi people have been surrendering yet, or --
GEN. RENUART: Yes, ma'am. Actually that's a very good question, because one of our real desires was to pass the message that it would -- for the future of the country it was -- it would be important for them to preserve their ability to be part of the future. We have now in custody some six and a half thousand Iraqi military members, many of whom surrendered without a fight. We also have reports of a number of units in the country who are -- who have expressed interest in that. But as we move through the country, we haven't been able to get to some of those yet to determine whether they will choose to fight or not. We will continue to work through step by step, continuing on our plan, and we hope that many of these units will make that decision.
I will tell you that many units that we have seen in some areas just left their equipment and went home. So they didn't surrender -- they just chose not to fight, and left and returned to their homes.
Let me see -- back in the back, sir.
Q (Off mike.) Sir, what was the purpose of the raid today? And, second question: If the troops move from the south towards the center and then back out west, does that mean that they are no longer in the area of the center of the city?
GEN. RENUART: Well, I'm really not going to speculate on where we physically have troops sitting at any one time. I will just -- I gave you the characteristics of this particular movement. Whether -- when and where and whether there will be similar movements, whether we have let troops behind -- I am just not going to speculate on that.
I think that the message though really is to in a way put a bit of an exclamation point on the fact that coalition troops are in fact in the vicinity of Baghdad, do in fact have the ability to come into the city at places of their choosing, and demonstrate to the Iraqi leadership that they do not have control in a fashion that they continue to say they do on their television. And I think we made that point.
Q Kind of testing the -- (inaudible) -- sir?
GEN. RENUART: I have a great mood. Over here.
Q General -- (inaudible) -- from the Independent in London. You said that there'd been some intense fighting in parts of Baghdad. Do you want to put a figure on what you estimate the casualties to have been on both sides in those engagements?
GEN. RENUART: I'd really not like to put a figure on it, and it's mostly because the reports of all of those operations are still being finalized. As you can imagine, taking a force like that and driving 20 or 25 miles at, you know, 30 or 40 kilometers an hour in those vehicles, there probably weren't a lot of people collecting their thoughts to put real numbers to that. The adrenaline was high, and the battle was raging. However, at the completion of those operations, the forces then began to put together what they believed to be the facts of all of that. And from that we'll get a better -- I think a better feel for what their estimates were of numbers and that sort of thing.
Q (Off mike.)
GEN. RENUART: I didn't give you a chance already, did I?
GEN. RENUART: I got yelled at last time for letting somebody have two questions. (Laughter.)
Q No, no, I've had my hand up since the beginning. You've given us an idea obviously of how this mission was conducted this morning. But beyond saying that it was to send a message, you haven't really identified any strategic purpose. Had any ground been taken? Is any ground being held? Or are you just back at the airport, having sent a robust message?
GEN. RENUART: Well, I think on the battlefield, messages are critical to your strategy. I also said that I'm not going to tell you what we still have or don't have in terms of forces that are in the city. And I think it's probably fair to leave it at that. The point we continue to make is we are moving very, very well along the plan that we have laid out, and in due time and in due course, I think the message and the plan will be more clear.
Let me come back over here. Yes, sir, right here.
Q Yes, general, I'm Craig Gordon (sp) from Newsday. Along the line of messages, General Myers at the Pentagon I think a couple of days ago sort of painted this notion of you folks taking control of water plants, electrical plants, essentially sending the message to the Iraqi people that we sort of run the city now, not Saddam Hussein. Can you -- can you match that up with some of the military moves that you are making and put the two together for us, so we can understand how some of the military maneuvers fit into the strategic picture, but also into almost the psychological picture of sending the message that the United States is in charge, not Saddam Hussein?
GEN. RENUART: Again, a really good question. I think it's important to understand that it goes back to those two pillars I talked about. It's as important to demonstrate control of the battlefield as it is to demonstrate support for the people. A lot of speculation a couple days ago -- I think the power went out in Baghdad -- I'm just guessing -- I think it was, say, 5:30 or six o'clock in the evening. Within about four minutes I had 12 phone calls wanting to know what we had done. And in fact our intent was not to take the power out, and we did not take the power out in Baghdad. The Iraqi regime took that from its own people. Our intent is to try to put the power back on. And do we know where the power generation plants are? Yes. Is it our intent to get to those and get the power back on as we are able to? For sure. Is it our intent to ensure that water flows and there are utilities and normal services for the city of Iraq, or for the city of Baghdad, excuse me? Absolutely. But this is also a very complicated battlefield, and it will take time to make all of those happen. You'll recall that it -- 48 hours ago General Brooks was standing up here and we were still moving. So in a very short period of time we have moved very rapidly into the vicinity of Baghdad, continue to move forces to a number of areas around the city, continue to engage Republican Guard units outside the city to prevent them from moving into the city. And as we are able to create more stability, we will very rapidly try to return normal services to the people of Baghdad.
Yes, sir? I'll get you both here.
Q General, Chas Henry from WTOP Radio. It's unusual for a senior military leader to be relieved of command in the course of conducting combat operations. So a number of questions have been raised with the decision to do that with a Marine Corps regimental commander operating in Iraq. At the Pentagon they've said this is a question to be addressed by his chain of command. So I put the question here. Can you tell us why he was relieved?
GEN. RENUART: Really I am not going to discuss it. At every level of command, commanders have to make tough decisions about the nature of the leaders that they have under their chain. And, in this case this was a decision made by the commander in the field. I don't think it's fair for me to go into why or what his rationale may be. He made a decision he felt was right, and that's his decision.
Q Frederic Gastelle (ph), BBC French Service. Sir, first could you tell us the number of air sorties? Two, perhaps a naive question, but why this bold and dangerous move inside a city during daytime instead of nighttime where you have more night vision capability? And, third, any contacts with Iraqi military officials defecting or giving you insurance that you could move around the city with less fighting?
GEN. RENUART: First, to your last question I'd say it probably would not be a good thing for me to discuss how much or how little contact we have with any Iraqi officials. That's critical battlefield information, and I think that's better left in that category.
In terms of day or night, I think that it was very clear to the people of Baghdad that coalition forces were in the city. That image is important, and so I think being in the daytime was a very clear -- it was a very clear statement to the Iraqi regime as well that we can move at times and places of our choosing, even into their capital city.
And your first question was the number of air sorties for today?
Q (Off mike)?
GEN. RENUART: Oh, I think I'll be wrong, because I'm going to give you an estimate, but I think overall around the theater we flew something close to 3,000 total sorties. I think within the Iraqi, immediate Iraqi area probably about 1,500, and actual combat missions something under a thousand inside the country itself. That's a rough order of magnitude, but -- and that's a relatively typical day.
Way in the back, sir?
Q General -- (inaudible) -- International. General, you have told us in great detail about the rescue of Jessica Lynch. I'm just wondering can you give us a copy of this story, Saving Private Lynch, because CENTCOM posts the transcript of today's briefing? Because, you know, in order to report on this rescue.
GEN. RENUART: I'll just defer that to Jim Wilkinson (ph), and he'll do whatever he does in magic, because I -- I'm just a humble operations guy.
Q Another question. And there are reports from today there's U.S. -- I mean military commander Joe Dowdy sacked. Can you explain that and confirm that, please?
GEN. RENUART: Yeah, I think that was similar to Chas's question up here a moment ago. Yes, the reports are there that a military commander was relieved, but I am not going to speculate on the way. I truly don't know the reasons for that. That is a decision made by a commander on the battlefield, and I have to respect his judgment to do what is right for his situation on the battlefield.
Yes, sir, right on the out line back here.
Q General, Michael Kearns (ph), Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Will the coalition invite any independent analysis of suspected weapons of mass destruction?
GEN. RENUART: I really -- I am probably not able to tell you one way or the other. The battlefield is a pretty dangerous place out there right now, and so it's important for us to gain control of the country and to gain control of sites that might have weapons of mass destruction or evidence of those. And I think that once those are complete those will be, you know, made available in due course. And I am sure there will be thousands of independent people who will do analysis of that information. But right now I can't speculate on when or how that might occur.
Yes, ma'am, over here.
Q I am Mariel (ph) from Independent Television, Finland. General, I am sure you have some timing, some goals for the timing. How many more days do you think this war is going to take?
GEN. RENUART: (Laughs.) You know, General Franks has been up on a number of occasions, and I think we have all been consistent to say that the plan is very well put together, and it will take as long as it takes. Now, that's not an answer. We in our society want to know -- well, that must be four days or eight days or a hundred days. And I think it's just not fair to try to put a time to it. It's important that we are -- that we actually achieve all of the objectives that we have laid out in the operation, and to try to put a time to that would -- is really unfair. It's unfair to the military members on the battlefield to put them under a time constraint, and it's unfair to create an expectation that may or may not be realistic in public.
Q Hi, Nicole Enfield (ph), Associated Press. You've spoken a lot about the south of Baghdad. We know some coalition troops control the roads to the north. Can you tell us what you are seeing up there? We have reports that some residents are fleeing. Are you seeing that? Are you able to control that? Are you able to control or see if any reinforcements are coming down possibly?
And, second question: One of our embeds has reported some very kind of hand-to-hand combat in the southeast of Baghdad, including some foreign fighters -- Jordanian, Sudanese, Egyptians that were engaging the Marines. Can you speak about that? Is that the first time you've seen a significant number of foreign fighters who have come in to support the regime?
GEN. RENUART: Okay, two good questions, Nicole. Let me go to the second one first, and I'll come back to sort of the status of refugee -- potential refugee movements.
The southeast of the city and the east side of the city is the Marine zone, the first mech is operating in that area. They did have some challenging areas of combat over the last 36 hours, some of it what we would call dismounted combat, which some might call hand-to-hand, but that's basically infantry moving through positions on the battlefield. So I am certain that they probably had some very difficult engagements in that area.
I've seen the reports also of other nationalities fighting on the battlefield. I have no way to confirm that specifically. We certainly would like to get more of that information, and would continue to try to pursue that.
As to does that surprise me, well, we saw in Afghanistan Chechens and members of other countries fighting on the side of al Qaeda. So nothing would surprise me on a battlefield.
Q Back to the first part?
GEN. RENUART: And back to the first part, over the -- have we seen refugees moving out of the --
GEN. RENUART: And reinforcements. I think we really focus on two aspects both. We want to create a situation where reinforcements don't get into the city, so essentially isolation, if you will, and we will continue to operate with our forces around the city to prevent forces from coming into the city and challenging us.
I think with respect to refugees, we have had some reports of people leaving the city to the north and to the northwest. Again, sort of contrary to the information minister's comment about there's nobody about there -- it's all a virtual war. I think many of the people in Baghdad are concerned, because they know there are coalition forces, and we see reflections of that in some intelligence, that people are saying, Hey, the Americans and the coalition are coming. I think there is some concern that they will be caught in a cross-fire. So it's understandable that people will try to leave to move out. We have not seen large numbers -- you know, hundreds of thousands of refugees moving. We have seen in some cases numbers of cars, trucks, et cetera, household goods. In fact, in the Marine zone yesterday we showed -- there was a picture of an elderly gentleman with his car and all of his household goods on the roof trying to leave the city to the southeast. The Marines took very good action to ensure that he was who he was, and that he was not threatening in any way, and allowed him to continue on. Many people in the Baghdad area have family in other parts of the country, and our intent would be to, obviously, to have folks stay in their homes primarily, and as if there is a number of folks that are displacing themselves to get away from the city, we'll try to accommodate that in a manner that doesn't endanger anybody on the battlefield.
Let's see, the gentleman back there in the blue shirt.
Q (Off mike) -- Finnish News Broadcasting Company. Do you have any signs that the Iraqi regime will use human shields to defend Baghdad? And what are the instructions in case a huge amount of civilian people are approaching the airport?
GEN. RENUART: I have not seen any indications in Baghdad that that has occurred. We have seen a number of cases well documented on the battlefield where women and children have been used as shields for some of these Iraqi forces.
Our forces are -- I mean, continue to train to deal with that kind of a situation, and I am confident that the commanders on the battlefield are able, if in fact they see something like that, to make the right decisions to preserve life and yet allow them to defend themselves if there is a need.
You got a question already I think. No? Okay, go ahead.
Q (Off mike) -- of Reuters. I wanted to ask you about Tikrit. We have heard that you sealed the road between there and Baghdad. Have there been indications that people have been moving up there, important people? What is the situation in the city itself, and are you still targeting things there?
GEN. RENUART: In the city of Tikrit? I don't know what the situation is in the city. And as to whether we have closed the road or not, I can't really tell --
Q -- have special forces --
GEN. RENUART: We have had special forces up in that area. I don't think I said we closed the road. I -- but we certainly are monitoring the traffic in the roads throughout the country, and so we will continue to do that.
In terms of have we had forces in Tikrit, I am really not going to talk about where we are moving forces, other than those I have already talked about today.
Q (Off mike) -- leaders moving up there?
GEN. RENUART: I -- in terms of leadership moving out of the city, I'd like to not speculate, and I think I'll leave it at that one.
Yes, ma'am, third row back here.
Q Thanks, general. Anne Barnard from the Boston Globe. Just to follow up on the situation inside Baghdad and the civilians there, more broadly than just the specific use of human shields, what's the situation when the forces entered Baghdad? Were people mostly staying inside their homes? Were civilians in the way in the cross-fire? And what do you know about the situation with water supply, sanitation and other problems affecting civilians?
GEN. RENUART: I don't have any information that would indicate the water supply has been turned off, or the sanitation system is not functioning. So I can't give you more than that. I do know -- we do know there power has been shut down. That will have some effect -- although most facilities have some backup power to continue to operate those.
In terms of what have the civilians been doing in the city, I think you saw a good characterization of that with the movement through the city. In some places the sidewalks are quiet. In some places there were people that appeared to be trying to have some normalcy in their lives. And I think that's probably a fair characterization of what we have seen in the city itself. So I -- I think we'll have to -- there will be just as the gentleman behind you asked, there's parts of the city that may not know we're there yet, and so their life probably continues about as normal as they can make it.
I think I have time for one more. The whole row over here is standing up to tell me that I'm about done. (Laughter.) Yes, ma'am?
Q (Off mike) -- USA Today. The conventional wisdom has been that if the regime felt cornered that it would use weapons of mass destruction. At this point the U.S. military seems to be sending the message that, You are indeed cornered. So could you give me your assessment of what the likelihood is that you think the weapons of mass destruction will be used? And, also, what's the situation with these unconventional attacks? How does that affect the way you will respond in Baghdad?
GEN. RENUART: Well, I hope you are saying that the Iraqi regime is cornered, not we are cornered.
Q Right. The message from the U.S. military is --
GEN. RENUART: Okay, I got that.
Q -- the Iraqi regime is cornered.
GEN. RENUART: There you go. I -- as with any desperate regime -- I don't have a lot of experience in many desperate regimes, but I think any person that feels threatened is likely to lash out in a way that might be unpredictable. So we would not in any way expect that this regime might not take the opportunity to do something desperate and to use a weapon like that, even in the area of its own city where its own people were.
So how does that affect what we do? We continue to have our forces prepared, and clearly they are well trained to operate under the most diverse and difficult situations, to include chemical or biological attacks. And I think that's probably a fair depiction of what I see there.
And then, I'm sorry, I forgot what your first part of it was.
Q The second part was the Iraqi minister has said that there would be these unconventional attacks --
GEN. RENUART: Oh, okay, yeah --
Q Maybe suicide bombing.
GEN. RENUART: Well, he said yesterday that there would be this amazing new attack last night, and I don't know what that was -- unless it was the videos. (Laughter.) You know, we really do prepare our forces for any kind of unusual or unconventional attack. We have seen a number of these technical vehicles, irregular forces assaulting our positions. We had a number of these forces take one of the fire trucks on the airfield in the early days and try to attack an Abrams tank. For those of you who have been out in the road in LA if you get in the way of, you know, a really big, heavy vehicle, you probably lose, and unfortunately this guy took a gamble that was not good for him, and the vehicle was destroyed.
So we will continue to see I think those kinds of tactics. But it does not affect the ability on the battlefield for us to continue to accomplish the mission. The forces that we have train against those unconventional kinds of enemies, just like we train against a conventional enemy. So I am really not -- I don't feel that will be a distracter for us.
Folks, thank you very much. I really appreciate your time today.
They did take fire on entry from anti-aircraft artillery. Near the entry point of the compound itself, the helicopter was put down on the ground. And aerial gunship provided some support, as required. You can see the movement in the upper corner. Entering into the building, it was just blown open. The raid did not yield any regime leaders in this case, but documents were taken that will be valuable for intelligence, and they will be examined further. The raiding force did accomplish its mission, with no combat losses. And this illustrates the ability of this coalition to operate anywhere against any regime target.
The land component attack to destroy Republican Guard forces defending the outskirts of Baghdad continued throughout the day and is ongoing. We begin with actions by the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, isolating the town of al-Kut, and continue their attacks west of An- Numaniyah. This is a zoom-in that shows just the relationship between the two. Al-Kut on the east side, the river as it goes along -- this is the Tigris River -- and Numaniyah. There is a road that runs along the northern side of the river, and by seizing that location and the space between it, the 1st MEF commander now has a number of maneuver options.
Fifth Corps penetrated the Karbala Gap, as we refer to it, and that's the narrow area between the town of Karbala and the Lake Razzaza which is off to the left side. You can see these marked on the map -- Karbala on the side, Lake Razzaza beyond it, and this is a narrow gap through which the 5th Corps forces had to push. It was defended by the Baghdad Division and elements of the Nebuchadnezzar Division. Most of those were arrayed in here and further up to the northwest.
In crossing through this area, the 5th Corps forces were able to seize a bridge intact over the Euphrates River. It was in fact rigged for demolition. They were able to remove the demolition, cross the bridge, and continue the attack. At this point, 5th Corps is conducting a deliberate attack toward Baghdad, carefully done, and developing the fight as opportunities emerge. They are also continuing raids against identified regime pockets in places where the regime no longer has control.
I want to highlight at this point the treatment that is extended by our forces on the battlefield. As our coalition forces advance, they do not overlook wounded Iraqi combatants. Medical attention is provided whenever it's possible. This next image shows you some medical treatment, emergency medical treatment being provided to a wounded Iraqi, who was stabilized before further evacuation. During this treatment, there was a report of an incoming missile. The medical treatment crews put on their protective masks to increase their protective posture, and continued to treat the patient.
The same thing applies to civilians that are encountered on the battlefield that require medical attention. One great example is the story of a child born in the battalion aid station of a Marine infantry battalion near Nasiriyah just yesterday.
Our maritime component continues its efforts to keep the waterways open, and as they did some patrolling yesterday along the Khor Abdullah, which remains a primary focus to ensure that humanitarian supplies can come in, they discovered a small boat that was beached along one of the banks. As the small boat was searched and inspected, they discovered first that there were booby traps on it, but also that there were weapons caches nearby in the surrounding area. Several weapons were found inside of this, and also a tunnel complex that joined these different caches one to another. Small arms, grenades, rocket-propelled grenades and launchers, gas masks and uniforms were found at these sites. An expanded search is ongoing.
We continue to deliver leaflet products throughout the country. Some are related to not interfering with coalition forces, and others are directed to specific units, informing them of the consequences already inflicted on some of their colleagues in different parts of the battlefield.
The coalition's efforts to preserve Iraq's future resources also continue on a daily basis, and I would highlight a few things. First, our oil engineers and ordinance disposal teams are continuing to make assessments in the Ramallah oil fields and the southern oil field region. As these assessments occur, throughout more and more of the oil field we discover new examples of intentional sabotage and destruction attempts by the regime. These efforts -- these attempts have not occurred recently, but what we're finding is the evidence of attempts that occurred before we came in.
The good news is there are only two wellheads on fire still, but there are more that will require repairs that we've discovered. And these next images show some examples of what we've found.
In this case, the regime placed an explosive charge on the wellhead and detonated it, and it separated one of the pipes from the wellhead. You can see in this one that there are some flange bolts that are bent over, and other ones that are just severed off. The connecting pipes are also broken. There's usually a joining piece here. And, as with many other places, there is electrical firing wire that's associated with the demolition.
Another image shows a different wellhead, and you can see how saboteurs tried to explosively rupture the wellhead at its base. That's one of the methods of trying to create the fire. You blow an explosive at the base of it, which causes then a secondary ignition of oil spray that comes up, and it remains on fire. And that's what we've seen in the two wellheads that are still burning. In this case, it did not succeed in breaking through the pipe, but did cause some damage. Explosive scarring is visible, and also the denting of the casing. This one will be fairly easily repaired, and there are some that have a little bit more damage than that. What I would also tell you is that about 12 feet if time fuse and 60 feet of wiring were recovered at this particular wellhead.
We've also seen some electronic firing devices that were recovered from some of the damaged wells. The next image shows that. Each one of these is an electronic device so that they could be triggered to fire at a later time. Fairly deliberate work, but it was not done very well, and we're thankful for that. The good news is the damage is done, but will require relatively minor repair compared to the potential damage that could have occurred if the attempts had been more thorough.
And I would at that the -- at the current time, we have Iraqi oil field workers that are being interviewed to begin work again, and they should be able to begin work potentially as early as next week, with pay.
Our civil affairs teams continue their efforts to make great progress wherever they do their work. For example, I reported that a children's school opened in Umm Qasr recently. The next photo here shows another school, this one near An Najaf, where civil affairs teams are orchestrating and assisting repairs, getting it cleaned up to get it put back into use. This is a school. Also in An Najaf, the coalition is providing fresh water and interfacing with the populace whenever they can.
In the background of this image, you can see a military -- what we call a water buffalo. It's a water container, and it has spigots on the outside of it. That is being used to provide water to the Iraqi population, and that's being carried in this case in a very large container. The response beyond that looks about like this.
The last thing I'll point is, first, in the wake of yesterday's operations near Najaf and -- (inaudible) -- operations to date, a prominent cleric, Grand Ayatollah Sistani (sp), who had been placed under house arrest by the regime for a considerable period of time, issued a fatwa. And it was done this morning, instructing the population to remain calm and to not interfere with coalition actions. We believe this is a very significant turning point, and yet another indicator that the Iraqi regime is approaching its end.
I'll take your questions now. Please.
Q (Inaudible) -- from Reuters. I wanted to ask you about the F-18 jet that was -- came down today. We've seen reports that it might have been hit by a Patriot missile. Can you tell us anything about that?
BRIG. GEN. BROOKS: We do have one FA-18 fighter and strike aircraft that is missing. We have a number of things that we are examining at this point in time. There were several actions that were ongoing during the night when it was reported missing, to include the reports of some surface-to-surface missile fires and also some surface-to-air missile fires in and around where that aircraft occurred. We have more examination to do at this point. It's too early for me to be able to determine what the cause was, but as that investigation is complete, we'll provide additional information.
Q General, Cammie (sp) McCormack, CBS News. Can you tell us what, as specifically as you can, will be behind the decision on when to enter Baghdad? And once that decision is made, what can the Iraqi forces defending the city and the world expect to see?
BRIG. GEN. BROOKS: Well, Cammie (sp), I certainly don't want to talk about the specifics of what the conditions will be and what the timing will be. What I can tell you is that first, General Franks is in command, and when General Franks believes it's time to take additional steps, he and his subordinate commanders will take those steps. We believe that we are operating in a way that we have control of the situation currently, but we are also cautiously optimistic. While we are having successes now, we still believe there's fighting ahead. We can't predict entirely what will occur next and how that fighting will unfold. So, the best thing we can do is be prepared, be alert to changing circumstances on the battlefield, see the opportunities as they develop, force the vulnerabilities to be exposed to us, and then take the appropriate action at the appropriate time.
Q Tom Mintier with CNN. I'd like to go back to the Special Operations flight into the palace. You said that you had indications that this was a palace that Saddam and his son were known to frequent. What kind of information did you have going into that raid that he might be there?
GEN. BROOKS: It would be inappropriate for me to talk about the specifics of some of our intelligence information and the specific timings of when we do operations.
We believed that we could have success going into this particular objective area. We also have some indications of where regime leaders move at a given time. And we have a variety of methods that we use to try to attack those regime leaders wherever possible or to attack their mechanisms that they would use for control in a variety of places.
On the left side, please. Mike.
Q In light of the special operations, your spokespeople say that the Special Operations people have infiltrated a number of command-and-control structures; they also said one on the palace on the outskirts of Baghdad. Could you provide us any more clarity as to the number of command-and-control structures that have been seized? How many of them are Baath Party headquarters? How many of them are palaces? The extent to which you can tell us what is controlled now by the Special Forces since they have infiltrated these structures.
GEN. BROOKS: The locations where we actually have our Special Forces, we have to be very careful about. Some of them I've exposed to you, like Haditha Dam, where we have Special Operations forces still in place. And so I wouldn't want to comment specifically where we have Special Forces.
We've said throughout that we have the ability to conduct special operations throughout the country. And we will continue to develop new opportunities for our Special Operations force and, in due time, conventional forces as well.
What we do know is that this regime expended a tremendous amount of the Iraqi resources on building opulent palaces for recreation and also for protection. Many of those have been attacked by some of our precision-guided munitions and our work over the last several weeks, to destroy them, to take them out of the command-and-control architecture, because in many cases they're backup locations for command and control. And so those have been attacked.
We have not occupied all of those. In many cases we've tried to render them unusable for command and control. And in many cases as well, if we have indications that there are regime leaders, we'll try to attack them while they're in there to ensure that the people as well as the physical structures are rendered incapable of command and control.
So that's an ongoing effort. I wouldn't want to get any more specific about where Special Operations are.
Second row, please.
Q (Inaudible) -- Washington Post. General, we understand elements of four Republican Guard divisions have been repositioning, moving forward to reinforce frontline Iraqi positions. Can you tell us a little bit more about that movement? Which units are being repositioned? Who are they reinforcing? And what does that tell you about the Iraqi strategy at this point?
GEN. BROOKS: As we've seen over a number of days, there are some repositionings that are occurring. Some of them occurred before we arrived at the close areas of Baghdad where we have current operations, and some of them were weeks ago we saw some repositioning.
It's difficult to determine exactly what decisions are being made, whether these are low-level commanders that are moving to the sound of the guns, whether they're moving on the regime themselves, or whether they're responding to the damages that have been inflicted on frontline forces by coalition actions.
Impossible to speculate on exactly what that means. What we do, though, is we read the circumstances and we make a determination of whether there's a new vulnerability that exists. Particularly moving forces are very vulnerable to our air operations and our precision attacks.
Things that we can see and meet on the ground, we have a variety of systems in the land forces that can address those targets as well. I think we have a fair awareness of movements that are ongoing, and we want to see what decisions are being made before we continue operations against them.
Q (Off mike.)
GEN. BROOKS: In a variety of areas. We see it around different parts of town. I wouldn't want to get too specific about that at this point.
Please. Let me go right here.
Q (Inaudible) -- Al Jazeera Satellite Channel. We've heard various reports throughout the day about coalition forces being about 10 to 20 kilometers on the outskirts of Baghdad, close to Saddam International Airport. Can you clarify that -- (inaudible)?
And I'm sure you're aware, sir, that the Iraqis contest your attestation that you've inflicted heavy damage on the Republican Guard in the past few days. I was wondering if and when you can show us videos, combat footage of that, proof of that? Thank you.
GEN. BROOKS: Omar, first, the exact locations where our forces are currently engaged, I will not disclose here. We have some embedded media that are giving some indications of where operations are occurring. But, remember, those are only with certain units. And so our forces continue operations throughout the majority of the country, whether they're Special Operations or conventional forces. And those operations will continue.
We certainly are in close proximity of Baghdad. I wouldn't want to characterize exactly how close or how soon it will be that we will arrive at different points in Baghdad.
As to the damage inflicted on Republican Guard forces command and other organizations throughout the country, I think time will have to tell exactly what level of damage has been inflicted. It's not a precise science. It's more an art than a science in this case. But we believe we have conditions set well for our current operations.
And, as I mentioned, we remain cautiously optimistic. We don't think the fighting is over yet. And so there are still options available to the regime, including the use of weapons of mass destruction. We take that very seriously. We take it in a sober fashion, and at the same time we remain prepared to continue operations.
Q (Inaudible.) If, as the embeds are telling us, the forces are very close now to Baghdad, militarily how do you read that? How do you interpret the apparent ease with which they covered that ground?
And also, again, can you tell us what you think has happened to these Republican Guard divisions? You haven't met the opposition you expected. Have they been killed? Have they deserted? Have they melted away? Or are they preparing defensive positions inside Baghdad? Thank you.
GEN. BROOKS: Well, I think a lot of us would like to know the answer to that question. And as I said before, it's not a precise science. I think, frankly, that all the things you described are possibilities, and we think that there are realities in each one of them.
We know that we've inflicted some damage. There's no question about that. We know that there are some that have pulled out of position and tried to move in different places, whether it is melting away, as you stated, by choosing not to fight anymore, or whether it's repositioning. There is some movement that's ongoing.
Some of those movements have been attacked. We know that we had a bus, for example, near Al Kut this morning -- actually, just off to the west of it -- a bus that approached. And I believe the number was 53 members of the Republican Guard said, "We've had enough. We surrender." And so there are surrenders that are ongoing as well. We've captured enemy prisoners of war as a result of combat action.
All these dynamics are in play. And so we would not want to be overconfident at what we are seeing. There still, we believe, will be fighting ahead. We should be sober about our approach, and we will be.
Let me come back to the left. Please.
Q (Inaudible) -- Associated Press. Following up on this melting away, I mean, the fact that you have plowed through so much of the Republican Guard, have you begun encountering what we had expected would be the paramilitaries closer in to the ring of Baghdad? If not, are you concerned that this is some kind of a trap, that they're giving you an easy entry only to suck you into the capital, which is what they've said they were going to do?
And secondly, can you give us just a few more details on the palace raid? You said you didn't find any regime leaders. But was the palace completely empty? Did you find anyone there? What was the reception once you were actually physically in the building?
GEN. BROOKS: Well, let me start with the palace raid. As I mentioned, the force did take fire as it was coming in, so most of the defending work was done from outside and on the outside edges of the palace complex. We did not find any regime leaders inside of it, but we did find a considerable amount of information.
The regime moves from place to place. The regime leaders move from place to place. And we track them where we can, and we act on those pieces of information when we can. In this case we didn't find them, but that's all right, because there are other options that are ongoing. There are strikes that occur. And we're able to react in a very, very timely way.
As to what is inside of Baghdad, we'll see soon enough. There are a number of things that could be considered at this point. Has this regime expended all of its capability in other areas? Did they use too much of what they had against us? Well, one would have to speculate on that. We take that into consideration.
Have they pulled back into Baghdad to await our arrival? Well, we'd certainly take that into consideration and see if that is the case and look for information that tells us one way or another.
Any one of these potential options goes into prudent military planning, and then decisions are made based on what we begin to discover. We seek information for ourselves through our own processes that tell us what is in front of us; what's next. And that's an ongoing process.
I'm not going to characterize what we see right now or what we think is going to happen. We'll make decisions based on what we think is going to occur in the future and what we see right now.
Q (Inaudible.) General, could you describe a little more the situation with the Black Hawk helicopter which was allegedly lost? There was some confusion about the casualties. And also there were reports that it may have been downed with small arms fire. Is that possible at all, that such a modern helicopter is downed with small arms fire? Thanks.
GEN. BROOKS: We did have a Black Hawk helicopter that went down during operations yesterday evening. And, as with everything, we have to always dig for the facts first. What we know is that there were some initial reports, as all reports -- and your embedded media have seen them -- all initial reports we treat as suspect, because there's usually immediate information that requires further development.
The investigation of that is ongoing. We believe we do have some casualties as a result of that. We don't think it was a result of hostile fire. But more will be developed as time goes on, and we'll let you know when we have more to talk about.
In the second row, please.
Q (Inaudible.) The British defense secretary said this morning there were 9,000 prisoners of war. Is he right? And, if so, how did that number go up so quickly in just a couple of days?
GEN. BROOKS: Well, I didn't hear the report. And I know there are different numbers out there. I think that within the coalition we'll examine all of our numbers and provide a report out. I'm certainly not going to position myself to argue with the minister of defense.
Yes, please -- back there.
Q Jonathan Marcus (sp), BBC. Yesterday you showed us this film of an unexplained explosion in a civilian area in Baghdad. Today briefers here have been talking about the possibility of some sort of alleged plot by the Iraqis to place bombs in Shiite areas of Baghdad.
Could you say a little bit more about what you're getting at here? There seem to be nudges and hints and winks, as it were. You're suggesting that the Iraqis are setting about putting explosives in their own capital. Could you say a bit more about what evidence you have to base this on?
GEN. BROOKS: What we have is a -- we've used this term a number of times -- a mosaic of information. We have bridges rigged for demolition. The first ones rigged separate Saddam City, a Shiah neighborhood, from the regime. We have fights that are happening outside of mosques, the most important ones in Shiah Islam.
We have a variety of pieces of evidence out there, like the explosion that's unaccounted for beside a mosque, like indications of command posts that move into or underneath of mosques in some cases, using schools, using hospitals. We have examples of the regime pushing people out in front so that they can be caught in a crossfire, and then there's an opportunity to say the coalition is doing something that is immoral or unjust.
We have this pattern that emerges, and that includes information of what might happen from a variety of sources, particularly explosions that will happen in certain areas that have no apparent connection, in our view, to coalition action, but often are accompanied by an accusation of some sort by the regime.
So I'll let you draw your own conclusion as to what might be ongoing here and what the real picture of the mosaic is. We have our view, and we believe that the population should be concerned about the regime, as it really is justified in having been for many decades.
Q (Inaudible.) We're hearing reports that U.S. forces have begun to arm some Shiite tribal leaders to the south to help stabilize their villages and also potentially defend themselves against the regime. Is this true? What can you tell us about this?
And also, a couple of days ago you mentioned that you captured an Iraqi general, with no mention of who, where, when, how. Can you tell us anything more about that?
GEN. BROOKS: First, unconventional war, as we describe it, occurs throughout the country. We make contact with a variety of leaders who are against this regime. And there are far more than I would even hope to begin to number at this point, and more emerge every day.
The actions we take with them, we have to be very careful about discussing. And so I'm not going to characterize specifically what we do to try to organize, assist, guide, or even work with different organizations and different groups that emerge.
The second part of your question I'm happy to answer if you prompt me one more time on it.
Q (Inaudible) -- general.
GEN. BROOKS: Okay. We have a number of senior leaders that have been taken into our custody through combat action, through surrenders, through voluntarily coming into our lines. Information is gained from each of them, and we then act on that information.
The one I referred to the other day was a senior military officer, and he had information that was of value to us. We've begun to act on that. And with each one of these actions, more information emerges. It's too early for us to talk about who that is or what information is given us.
And similarly, it's too early to talk about information we've gathered from other leaders. But there's a clear pattern out there that not all the leaders of military forces were loyal to the regime. That's what I would leave with you.
Off to the far right, please.
Q (Inaudible.) Can you confirm that military vehicles were shipped into northern Iraq via Turkey? And while we're still in the area, can you give us an update on what was described as a major terrorist training facility up there? Is there anything to be said about that? Thank you.
GEN. BROOKS: First, we have Special Operations that are doing work in northern Iraq. We've been doing that for some period of time. Those outfits, like all of the military outfits, require support. And so there are support packages that have been moved in through a variety of means.
It's inappropriate at this point to describe exactly how they got there, because the methods that we use to deliver forces are then exposed to risk and a variety of other things. So I'm not going to characterize specifically how they got in place.
The terrorist camp in northern Iraq also -- as General Franks mentioned, it is a massive complex. And while we directed some initial combat action against it to destroy much of the facilities, we also moved forces into place, coalition forces and also Peshmerga, as I mentioned yesterday, to try to get a closer look at what's on the ground, to do a detailed examination of different areas, to look through the remains of what has been damaged and see what evidence there might be to tell us who was there, what actions they may have been involved in.
There are caves associated with these complexes. There are outlying villages that are associated with this. And work continues in that area to find more information. Again, it's premature to talk about what it is we've found. When that time comes for us to reveal what we've found, that will come out.
Right beside you, please.
Q Paul Martin from World News. Could we ask you what indications you're having now of who's in charge in Baghdad? Is it President Hussein? Is it one of his sons? Or is it some other general? And what intelligence do you have or that you can reveal to us about the kind of communications going on between them? What does it indicate to you, sir?
GEN. BROOKS: We can't tell who's in charge. I don't think the Iraqi people can tell who's in charge either. And we have indications that the Iraqi forces don't know who's in charge.
We are able to observe communications having been degraded. We're able to see things that would indicate that there is not a coherent unified structure giving orders. And we have not seen the faces of some of the people you described in a considerably long time, and we don't believe the Iraqi people have seen them either.
So I wouldn't want to speculate as to what their condition is. And we certainly cannot speculate as to who really is in charge.
Okay, let me go to the second row.
Q (Inaudible) -- Los Angeles Times. Last night a Red Cross worker described a fairly horrific scene in Hillah. And you put out a release shortly after that saying that you were investigating that. What has that investigation shown so far?
GEN. BROOKS: I don't have any kind of update on that at this point. We've certainly heard the reports. If they're true, then we'll examine that to see what may have contributed to the cause. We don't even know if the report is true at this point. So I don't have any update to provide you.
Q (Inaudible) -- follow up on that. Was there any U.S. aircraft or artillery (or even?) cluster bombs in that area at the time that the casualties were reported? And why is the U.S. military using cluster bombs there or elsewhere?
GEN. BROOKS: I don't think we know enough at this point to say exactly what may have contributed to this report. We don't have a factual basis to even begin from at the current time.
The munitions we choose to use at a given time are related to a tactical purpose. We have a number of munitions that are available to us on the ground, in the air, and things that are delivered even from ground to ground. So all these things are tactical choices that are made to achieve a specific effect at a given time. And that's probably as far as I need to go about that.
Second row, please.
Q (Inaudible) -- from the Sun in London. If I could ask you to give us some indication of the numbers of enemy forces still in action, if you like. So far as we've been told, only three Republican Guard divisions have been taken out of action, effectively.
But presumably they have had hundreds of thousands of soldiers who, for all intents and purposes, we don't know where they are. Are you saying that there are still several hundred thousand Republican Guard and special Republican Guard in Baghdad?
GEN. BROOKS: It's really not possible to account for every soldier in the Iraqi formation, and that includes forces we've encountered. Some may have gone back to their homes. Some have moved to fight another day. Some were destroyed by combat action. Some are in our possession. Some are just flat unaccounted for.
And so I can't give you a number as to what is still out there. We examine military capability where we see it appearing on the battlefield. If we see something that looks like a coherent formation, we make an assessment of where that is and what strength it might have, and also what vulnerabilities it might have. And then we seek to address that, or bypass it in some cases.
We know that there are still a number of forces on the battlefield that have not been joined significantly in battle. And what choices they'll make, we don't know. Some of them may still be looking for an opportunity to surrender if they can get the regime away from their formations; in the north is an example.
We know that there are leaders that would be willing to change their association and not be focused on the regime. But they also have members of the regime, Baath Party leaders and others, that are there to ensure that they don't break; they don't leave the line. How long that will last, we'll have to see. We know that that's still out there.
So there are a variety of dynamics on the battlefield right now that make it very difficult to account for everybody.
Second row, please.
Q (Inaudible) -- USA Today. Can you tell me what becomes of the Republican Guard who surrender, like the 53 who surrendered yesterday? Are they taken prisoner of war or are they allowed to put down their arms and return home?
GEN. BROOKS: Generally speaking, forces we've already engaged in combat with, when any of the combatants come into our possession, they're treated as enemy prisoners of war. That's the general convention.
There have been some cases where we deemed it was appropriate, when someone no longer had a choice or desire to fight, and we sent them back to their homes, particularly in the early days.
The forces we're engaging with now and the circumstances that we're encountering, they're treated as enemy prisoners of war. And then we have later opportunities to determine different status, if it's appropriate.
Q What are those different statuses?
GEN. BROOKS: There are a number of things that are out there. There is -- there's really an Article 5 tribunal on it. I'd ask you to go back and look into the details of what that means.
Okay, in the back, please.
Q (Off mike) -- Telemundo network. And I need to find out the number of POWs taken so far by the regime. Any news on the transportation unit that was shown on TV, and also if the Red Cross, International Red Cross, has made any attempts to contact them? Thank you.
GEN. BROOKS: Well, there's controversy surrounding our POW numbers today, so I am going to be very careful about that. But we certainly are over 4,000 -- I can leave it at that point. And we have a good grip on what that is, and we'll sort out what the differences are in reporting.
The transportation unit that was on the battlefield -- I assume you are referring to the one that PFC Lynch was from. We are still gathering more and more information to find out what the circumstances were surrounding that particular outfit and the combat it was involved in. That story is not complete yet. It will be a long time before it is complete.
And your third question was what?
Q Has the Red Cross made any attempts --
GEN. BROOKS: Okay --
Q -- to get in contact with them?
GEN. BROOKS: I can't speak for the Red Cross. There have been reports provided to us from the Red Cross that say they've made contact with coalition prisoners of war in possession of the regime. We continue to reiterate that the regime is responsible for the treatment of any held prisoners of war, and we expect them to treat our prisoners of war the same way we are treating prisoners that we have taken into our custody.
In the back, please?
Q Ivan -- (inaudible) -- Looking at the military operations reminds me with the Israeli invasion of Lebanon 1982. Are you taking in your consideration the Israeli experience, (taking ?) any Israeli advice at all, or any -- (inaudible) -- working in the field? And are you going to surround the capital and keep bombing the city, that city, and waiting for a collapse in the regime?
GEN. BROOKS: Well this operation is unique in military history, and so we focus on the design of this operation. We take into account the realities of this operation. We take into account the circumstances that led to this operation. And we designed the operation to be what it is, and that's ongoing. All lessons from military history are considered, our own experience and the experience of others as we consider what we are going to do.
I would like to work against the characterization you described on bombing the city of Baghdad. I have shown you day after day that our attacks against anything in Baghdad are precision attacks. Every attack that has occurred has been a precision attack against a specific regime structure or against a military complex, something that has military relevance. Unlike previous wars in history, there is no bombing of a city, there is no bombing of a population. It hasn't happened in this case. Now, the regime has some different evidence in terms of what they have been doing to their own population, and we have concern about that. But as for our actions in the coalition, this is unlike any war in history.
Q Kathy Shen (ph) with Phoenix Satellite TV from Hong Kong. If the plan to take down Baghdad didn't succeed, and the coalition would have to retreat, and without giving a detailed description of the location, where would the coalition troops retreat to, since most of the cities around Baghdad are only partially secure -- not completely taken by U.S. led force? Thank you.
GEN. BROOKS: Well, that's a highly speculative question, and you will not get a speculative answer. Right now we are on plan, and we are doing fine. So I am not even going to consider what it is you ask.
Q (Off mike) -- with CBC News, Canada. Just to go back to the leadership question, and given the special operation targeting of a palace used by Saddam Hussein and his sons, does that mean that you think that Saddam Hussein is alive?
GEN. BROOKS: What we know is these regime palaces have protection and command and control opportunities for a number of members of the regime. We have stated from the start, from the outset, that this is not about any single individual. It remains that way. This is about a regime that has oppressed its people for decades. This is about a regime that marches people out in front of military formations. This is about a regime that takes people they consider to be military forces, put them in civilian clothes, and have them attacked from buses. That's what this is about.
So while that complex may or may not have had regime leaders in it, we certainly focus on the structures of the regime and those that might be in power, whoever that happens to be at this point in time.
Let me go in the third row, or fourth row, excuse me.
Q I'm Michael Mazzan (ph). I am here representing an organization called the Committee to Protect Journalists. And we are concerned about two missing members of the ITN News crew where Terry Lloyd got killed in the Basra area. And it's believed that that was -- that they were caught in crossfire between U.S. and Iraqi forces. And those two are still missing. And the wife of Fred Nerac, who was the cameraman, has appealed to the U.S. government and military to do an investigation. Do you know if the U.S. military is investigating that, or undertaking any efforts to locate those two people?
GEN. BROOKS: We have heard the reports, and we certainly regret the loss of any lives, journalists included, on the battlefield. (Laughter.) But in this case what I would tell you, in all seriousness, is that the reports we have is that they were in an area that was involved in combat. We don't know the circumstances surrounding the lack of accountability for them at this point in time or what their circumstances are. We take the -- we take the concerns seriously, and we are looking into it. And that's about as much as I can tell you at this point in time.
Q (Off mike) -- BBC French Service. From the initial debriefing of soldier Jessica Lynch, do you know if there were any signs of torture in the area of An Nasiriyah Hospital?
GEN. BROOKS: I am not aware of any information, but I don't have all the reports from her initial debrief. And so I really don't know. We didn't see indications of torture structures within the building, but there's still additional examination that is ongoing. I believe some media crews have been taken to the building to take a look for themselves as well.
As time goes on we will determine more and more. We certainly know that from what we have already seen by images that were televised that our prisoners of war were not treated in a way that we would expect them to be treated. What we will find out about this case is yet to be completely told.
Yes, sir, in the back?
Q Jack Kelly (ph) of Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Have you made any progress in identifying the 11 bodies found in and near the hospital where Jessica was recovered?
GEN. BROOKS: That also is an ongoing piece of work. It takes a little bit of time to get good, solid information. We do know that we evacuated the -- what we think is the remains of 11 persons, and there are a number of additional steps that have to be taken to do a real detailed pathological testing. Some of the remains will be moved to Dover, in the United States, to do a detailed examination. That process is ongoing, and we will find out more as the work is done -- that very complicated activity.
Let me go right here, sir.
Q (Off mike) -- from AFP. Do you have any information about al Jazeera reporters' expulsion from Baghdad? And how do you feel about that?
GEN. BROOKS: The al Jazeera report about what? I didn't catch that portion of your question.
Q Do you have any information about the al Jazeera reporters' expulsion from Baghdad?
GEN. BROOKS: Well, I think that's a --
Q And how do you feel about that?
GEN. BROOKS: I think that's a matter for the al Jazeera network and whoever ejected them. I don't know if it was regime leaders who rejected them, or the minister of information who rejected them. But that certainly is an issue for al Jazeera to deal with and not this command.
Q Pete Smallowitz from Knight Ridder. You mention that special forces last night and took documents. Can you, without getting too specific, can you give us a sense of the number of locations they went into around Iraq last night, and what else -- what kinds of locations they were and what else they might have found?
GEN. BROOKS: We did a number of things in a variety of areas to regime complexes. What I'll tell you about is the types of work done last night. In some cases we raided with conventional forces into Baath Party headquarters that had been identified. That happened in, as I recall, two different locations last night. In some cases we destroyed Baath headquarters, the Iraqi intelligence service meetings in progress, terrorist groups. It's wherever we find these types of targets emerging that we will direct our efforts to attack and destroy those. In other cases, like the Tharthar (ph) Palace. It was a physical raid that went into the complex.
Another example is an operation that occurred near H-3 airfield, where we went into -- the location, I am sorry, was in Mudsasas (ph), in the southwest part of the Iraqi desert -- went into this complex and found a number of bottles. Some of them wee marked in strange ways, and we are doing further examination on that. All over the country we conduct operations. We have good freedom of access at this point to apply our forces, conventional or unconventional forces, in a way that we see fit, to gather more information, to limit the capabilities of the regime to command and control its forces and its structures, and also to make it clear to the Iraqi people that the end is near for this organization.
I'll take one more question.
Q (Off mike)?
GEN. BROOKS: I think we'll have more information here in the next few days and we can talk about that some more.
Yes, please, Kelly?
Q Hello, general, Kelly O'Donnell from NBC. You described the comments of the grand ayatollah as a significant turning point. To what extent did the U.S. or U.S. allies facilitate, encourage, participate in his comments. Is he under protection now, and are there others who are being encouraged to make similar statements?
GEN. BROOKS: We believe that the grand ayatollah's statement was his statement, and it has been pushed out to the Iraqi population. We think it was a courageous statement also, because we know that he has certainly been under threat by this regime for a considerable period of time.
We are seeing evidence of other religious leaders that have had enough of this regime, and in due time we believe that they will also speak out.
We have to always bear in mind that because there are still elements of the regime, and because of the methods that they have used for so long, there is not a careless willingness for people to just step out and say things that might lead to their death. It's very, very serious. We recognize that. And so any steps, like this one taken by the ayatollah, are very, very courageous and bold, we believe.
Q Are you protecting him?
GEN. BROOKS: I don't want to go too specifically into what his condition is, where he is located or what circumstances he is under right now. It just wouldn't be appropriate.
Q (Off mike) -- two-pronged approach to Baghdad on the west and the east. What about at the center, back to Hillah again? We are hearing very little from there. Are you meeting greater resistance there? Are you stalled there? And looking further back down the supply line, how would you characterize the level of resistance at places like Najaf and Nasiriyah? Are you close to being in a position to free up troops from there to move forward again?
GEN. BROOKS: What we are finding is as we continue our movements and our operations, we are having effectiveness again causing the population to assist us more, especially in areas we have already passed through -- Najaf, Nasiriyah, Basra, Umm Qasr -- all these areas that we can follow the pathway of the operation up the map. That's very positive and encouraging.
As it relates to forces, we have forces available to be used, as the commander sees fit to use them, at any time. The center area, as you've described it, is also influenced by our operations. We have good freedom of action inside of them. As you saw in the early days, we choose where we are going to fight. We chose where we are going to apply our military force. And so we may decide to bypass an area at a given time, or bypass a unit at a given time to achieve what it is we are after now. And then we'll deal with that problem later.
As you have seen as well in some circumstances, leaving formations alone may cause them to melt. There's a dynamic that also occurs when people realize their side is losing. And we take that into account. We don't take it for granted, but we do take into account. And so in this case, as we continue our advance with the two corps, that does not mean two separate lines that are not joined by fires, the ability to maneuver, security, and a number of other things that we have in place. And we're doing fine. We are on plan, and we remain very confident in the outcome of our operations.
Thank you very much.