of State for the Armed Forces, Adam Ingram:
afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. This is the first time
that I have spoken to you in a press conference since
military action against Iraq began last Wednesday. I
would like to begin by offering my condolences to those
families who have lost their loved ones in this campaign.
These men demonstrated all of the qualities which we
admire in our Armed Forces. They lost their lives doing
their jobs and doing it well, in the service of their
country and for the greater security of the world. They
are a credit to the nation, to their families and to
their comrades whom they leave behind in battle.
it doesn't do to dwell or fixate on the details that
near real-time media provides in these tragic circumstances.
Such matters need to be dealt with in a sensitive way.
There is a time for analysis and comment, but there
must also be a time to allow families to grieve in peace,
and I ask that they be now allowed to do so.
Servicemen and women of our Armed Forces have brought
great qualities and capabilities to the current conflict.
That is reflected in the coverage given by the media
and is a fitting tribute to our force's professionalism,
flexibility and their commitment. We are fortunate indeed
to be able to call on them at times of crisis.
us consider for a moment some of the activities that
our Servicemen and women have been undertaking over
the past week and a half. In a remarkably short time
the coalition and the UK presence within it have accomplished
an extraordinary amount. To borrow a phrase from one
of our commanders in the field, they have truly demonstrated
both ferocity in battle and magnanimity in victory.
They are attributes which UK forces have shown time
after time in conflict after conflict. Our troops are
the finest in the world. They have the best training
and they are supported by state of the art equipment.
The Iraqis are simply no match for them. This force
at the disposal of our military commanders is of course
tempered by a precision that is unparalleled in the
history of warfare, and a knowledge at all times of
our obligations under international law. From Storm
Shadow and Tomahawk missiles, to the new SA-80A2 rifle,
our Armed Forces have emphatically demonstrated a new
kind of targeted campaign.
have been civilian casualties and tragedies. That is
inevitable. But in general what has been significant
about the conflict so far is that it is the regime itself,
and the brutal security forces that support it, which
have borne the brunt of our attacks, and not the ordinary
Iraqis whom we seek to liberate. We are committed to
Iraq for the long term. The key to the future is the
confidence its people have in what we seek to do in
flexibility of the force packages deployed by the UK
has been clear throughout. At sea, our amphibious task
group launched the initial assault on the al-Faw Peninsular,
preventing any defeat of the disastrous oil spills that
we saw in the gulf in 1991. Our mine counter-measures
vessels have now cleared the channel through to the
port of Umm Qasr, opening up a vital route for humanitarian
supplies to reach the Iraqi people who have for so many
years suffered deprivation. On land our mobile forces
have secured the Ramaila oilfields, guaranteeing an
economic future for the Iraqi people, where our heavy
armour is a powerful presence outside the key city of
Basrah. In the air, RAF planes have made an important
contribution to the coalition's disruption of the Iraqi
command and control system, flying over 500 missions;
while the Joint Helicopter Command has provided crucial
combat support throughout the operations.
the fighting arena, our forces have been deploying expertise,
derived from a range of operations in countries throughout
the world in a crucial battle to win over the confidence
of the Iraqi people. This is no easy task. The legacy
of Saddam is powerful. Most Iraqis have never experienced
freedom from his instruments of terror. We must convince
them of our good intentions. The momentum of our crucial
humanitarian operations is starting to increase, and
I can confirm that the RFA Sir Galahad has docked
at Umm Qasr, docked at the port within the last few
hours, with a cargo of food, water, medicine and blankets.
Further aid supplies from the US and Australia are en
route to Iraq and are expected to arrive soon. Additionally
the Royal Engineers are busy building a water pipeline
across the border from Kuwait and trucks are starting
to arrive from Kuwait, and this is only the beginning
of our efforts.
you are aware, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced
yesterday a further £120 million for humanitarian
assistance in Iraq, in addition to the £120 million
previously announced. We have always said that we have
no quarrel with the Iraqi people. We have always recognised
that many of their Armed Forces are fighting under duress,
threatened by the paramilitary thugs of Saddam's regime.
Many of them have done the right thing and surrendered,
and that is our message to those conscript forces, we
look to them to work with us as partners in creating
a new Iraq, free from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein.
can be rightly proud of the British military and their
courage and conduct both on and off the battlefield.
Those qualities will prove to be of great benefit throughout
current operations and in the early reconstruction of
the new Iraq.
of the General Staff, General Sir Mike Jackson:
Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to start by echoing
the Minister's condolences to those soldiers, sailors
and airmen who have lost their lives in the campaign.
War fighting is a hard business and inevitably sometimes
that final sacrifice has to be made to pursue the ends.
whilst I have this audience here, again if I could echo
the Minister. Could I ask you all to consider very carefully
indeed the results, the effects, of what you write and
what you show on the television screen on the families
of those who have made that final sacrifice. This is
not about propaganda or spin, it is about human decency
to those who are in very difficult emotional circumstance
and who have the right to grieve in their own way. So
I would just ask you to put yourselves in the position
of the wife, a husband, a mother, brother or sister,
whatever it may, who is in this position and let us
get on with informing our families, we have to be very
careful to get it right, and I would ask you please,
do not harass them in their grief.
I now move on to giving you my view of where we are,
and I am not here to talk about the tactical details
of the campaign. There is plenty, some might argue more
than enough, input at that level. Command is quite rightly
delegated to commanders in theatre, and I certainly
have no wish to interfere with that. I know all our
British commanders in the Army very well, they have
my complete trust to do a very good job, their very
perhaps it is useful to do a little bit of scene setting
for you. There has been comment about a phrase used
this morning I noticed in somebody's report was bogged
down. Well I wouldn't actually describe it in that way.
Let us see where we are.
south east Iraq, 3 Commando Brigade remain in control
on the Al Faw peninsula, and as you heard from the Minister,
are dealing amongst other things with the arrival of
humanitarian aid. 7 Armoured Brigade continue to keep
watch on Basrah, to start to change the circumstances
there, to exploit wherever we can ways of unhinging
the regime's control from the populous. There have been
a number of quite successful, highly successful I would
say, engagements around Basrah well reported, and 16
Air Assault Brigade continue to secure and control the
Ramaila oil complex, denying it to the enemy, and allowing
work and production there to recommence, and hopefully
is worth remembering that just two months ago there
were only the lightest of skeleton forces, a few advance
parties, in the Gulf region. Two months later and nine
days of conflict, we now have over 40,000 of those 300,000
coalition personnel there, engaged in operations, with
their equipment, with their logistic supplies, and it
is a remarkable, in my view, achievement. The oilfields
have been secured, the Al Faw peninsula as I have said.
The Iraqi forces in the south are fixed - by that we
mean that they are pinned down, their ability to manoeuvre
is frankly very little indeed.
have been strategically, very important, there have
been no attacks on Israel, because we all are well aware
of the complications which would ensue from that. We
are conducting shaping operations south of Baghdad.
We have paved the way for humanitarian aid to get into
the country. All of this has been well covered in the
media. But I would, if I may, pay tribute to very often
those unsung heroes, the logisticians, who have made
all of this possible. I find it is a staggering achievement,
it is better even than what was achieved in the first
Gulf War, and they have worked long and hard to get
us to the position we are now in.
perhaps my last point here as I reflect, at a strategic
level, who has the initiative? I doubt - I doubt - that
it is the regime in Baghdad.
I also touch on the question of time span. It is inevitable
that there is a demand for rapid results, but we must
be very careful that what is hoped, and we are all perfectly
entitled to hope things, does not come some sort of
prediction. Those two things are quite different, and
I am certainly not going to stand here and predict the
duration of the conflict. War is a dynamic business,
it is not a fixed plan. Plans vary, there is an opponent
who is trying to ruin your plans from the word go. It
is a dynamic situation. And there can of course be a
third opponent, of which we have seen quite a bit recently,
and that is poor weather. But I can just repeat here
what both the President of the United States and our
own Prime Minister said yesterday, that it will take
as long as it takes to achieve the objectives.
I also just touch on the logistic aspect in this sense
as well, that Armies cannot move forever without stopping
from time to time to regroup, to ensure that their supplies
are up, and even, believe it or not, soldiers need a
bit of sleep from time to time. So this bogged down
is a tendentious phrase, it is a pause whilst people
get themselves sorted out for what comes next.
I also just say, spectacular, fascinating, riveting
as many of the images on the television are, they are
no more than snapshots at a particular time and a particular
place. There have been yet, dramatic they may be, but
frankly they tell you very little, if anything at all,
about the progress of the campaign at a strategic level.
And I would just ask that those two things are seen
as separate, because they most certainly are.
finally if I may, just a word or two about the obvious
conundrum which the civil population pose and which
irregular forces pose. We have not yet seen open displays,
well there have been a few but they are more in small
groups than en masse, of welcoming population in the
streets of wherever. I think it is important to understand
that this is hardly surprising. The Minister reflected
on the nature of the regime against which we are fighting.
The vast majority of the Iraqi people have experienced
nothing but fear for so long, and they are still afraid.
It has been interesting to look at some of the people
coming out of Basrah, amongst other places, who are
quite clearly terrified of what they have left. And
inevitably they are pretty wary of us I suspect as well.
We are strange creatures from another part. This will
take time. This is a very considerable hearts and minds
challenge, but it is part of the campaign, without a
shadow of doubt. We need to earn the trust of the Iraqi
people. This has got to be addressed at all levels by
making clear that we are not in the business of gratuitous
violence for its own sake, that we have their interests
and their future in mind.
I would finish up by saying on this subject, but also
as a generalisation, is that I know of nobody better
placed to take on this challenge of hearts and minds
than the soldiers of the British Army. We are hugely
experienced in doing this. We have I think an innate
understanding that you have got to look at situations
through other people's eyes and through other cultures'
eyes. We have the experience from many a place across
the world, as you know only too well, and it has been
applied to the very best of our ability.
Can I assure you that no-one would dream of harassing
grieving families, but in those circumstances I must
ask you this question. Yesterday the Prime Minister
described the execution of two British Servicemen, today
we are told there is no conclusive evidence as to their
fate, indeed senior officers have told the family that
they died instantly in an ambush. In those circumstances
do you regret the hurt and distress caused to those
Well if hurt has been caused then clearly we have to
regret this. It is why I said in my opening statement
about the sensitive nature of all of these matters,
whether it is as a result of friendly fire incidents
or whether it is the result of loss through conflict,
and General Jackson said the very same thing from an
even more immediate knowledge and experience. So I think
we have got to put in that context, and what the Prime
Minister also said yesterday was placed in the context
of what we know about the depravity of Saddam Hussein's
regime, the way in which he treats his own people, his
own soldiers, and we have witnessed even that over the
last few hours or so when they have been shooting at
people walking out of Basrah, assuming those reports
are accurate. Now in the scale of all of that, and given
the information available to us, it did indicate that
those two soldiers may have been executed. So if they
are hurt from the language used, then we regret that
clearly, that was never the intention, but it was to
point up, as I say, the ... of our knowledge about the
depravity and the brutality of that regime.
Mr Ingram, you said just now the Iraqis are no match
for British troops, and yet we are continuing to see
dogged resistance ruining your plan, as the General
has just called it. And politically we are today seeing
more political and diplomatic opposition at the United
Nations from the Russians to this war and they are threatening
to block further resolutions. Are there any circumstances
in which the British government, can I ask you as a
politician, the General as a military man, would accept
a negotiated peace settlement?
There can be no circumstances in terms of what we are
seeking to achieve, and that is to totally disarm Saddam
Hussein of his weapons of mass destruction. We are wholly
convinced he has that capability. Given the fact he
has the capability, as we move further into the conflict
the intent is likely to be there, and we have seen some
evidence of possible intent. So I can't envisage any
circumstances when that particular conclusion would
be reached. He has to be removed, his regime has to
be removed, that is a commitment that we have given
to the Iraqi people. Their future lies without him,
not with any shape or form approximating to him.
But you are meeting this opposition, particularly from
the Russians, at the Security Council?
Of course there is an international debate still going
on out there and there are still those who do not think
that Resolution 1441 meant what it meant in the way
in which we are now delivering on it, and indeed perhaps
other resolutions as well. In terms of the current conversations
that are going on, and discussions and negotiations
are going on, seeking a new UN resolution for the movement
of humanitarian aid into the country and the administration
of all of that, well let that develop, that has not
come to the end of the road there. I don't know whether
you want General Jackson to mention anything about the
first half of the question.
No, it is not my place to do that. The Army is the servant
of the government and we will do what the government
requires us to do. Can I just pick up on something.
I don't want to be misunderstood. You said something
about changing plans.
You used the phrase ruining your plan.
Attempting to ruin your plan. You know, I know what
you are trying to get me to say, that the campaign plan
has changed. It hasn't, it absolutely has not, but the
enemy will try to interfere with that plan. And at the
tactical level, if you don't adjust your plans according
to the local situation you are not doing your job. I
hope we are clear about this. Anyway that statement
is I hope now very ....
He is not nodding, but I think everyone else is nodding.
... logistics, momentum and Basrah, you have talked
about the logistic chain and it does look rather elaborate,
and you say the heroic performance of 102 Brigade. What
do we have if this does go on? You haven't set a time
line on when the thing is finished, which is understandable,
but do we (a) have enough logistics in the future, and
do we have enough force protection for our logistical
chain, about which there has been a lot of comment in
the press. And the question of momentum in the campaign
at the moment, particularly with regard to Basra where
we do understand that it is a fairly open city and Saddam
has been reinforcing at will and people are coming and
going and it is not quite sure who they are.
First of all, logistic support. I think your question
was in a British context at that point Robert. There
are no difficulties that I am aware of here at all,
and I actually asked the question this morning and was
given a reply which left me encouraged. We are fortunate
of course of having short lines of communication in
south east Iraq. The logistic challenge which the American
V Corps is having to deal with is a big challenge and
they are making it work. Yes, they are having to deal
with irregular activity on some points on that line
of communication, but it works, as we are seeing. On
your second point, I think I have covered the force
protection point. It behoves any army to keep its rear
areas secure. An enemy will attempt to stop you doing
that, and that is why you are seeing fire fights, particularly
on the American line of communication, but it remains
The most senior American ground forces commander, Lt
General William Wallace, the Commander of V Corps, did
say that the enemy has not been behaving according to
the war games that we have been engaged in before the
war started. Do you agree with that? Does that imply
that maybe there have been some surprises which had
not been predicted?
I can't speak for the V Corps Commander. What I can
say is that the resistance we are seeing by Iraqi, mainly
irregulars, the conventional fight if you like with
the Republican Guard is not too far away I suspect,
but on the irregulars, these are supporters of the regime
who have, it seems to me, nowhere else to go, their
futures are pretty limited. If they do not fight us
the outcome is going to be clear, because we shall prevail,
and if they do fight us it is a bit of a last gasp but
the outcome will remain the same. They have my sympathy,
these people, they have nowhere else to go, and I am
afraid they are dying in quite large numbers.
General, can I pick up on that. Military commanders
in the field I think have said that they have been surprised
by Iraqi resistance and tactics too. Would you say that
that is in any way a reflection of poor intelligence
or wishful thinking.
Well if they have said that, they have said that.
Would you put that down to faulty intelligence or misplaced
I am not sure I would put it down to either of those.
You are asking me to give you a reason for something
on which I can surmise with anybody else, and I am not
going to surmise, I don't know.
Could I just pick up on John's question at the beginning,
it is just that we are not trying to harass families
who are bereaved, but given that it appears the families
were upset by what the Prime Minister said, has any
apology been made to them and do you accept that mistakes
have been made? And General Jackson, you said you believe
the Iraqi troops are dying in large numbers, do you
have any estimates on figures on that?
I think in my earlier answer I gave, I don't think there
are any more words I can put to that. We will have to
deal with any pain that is around there, we will have
to deal with that through our welfare support, and let
us do it, don't let us do it through newspaper or television
headlines. Families are grieving, let them grieve and
let's handle it as best as we possibly can.
Can I just hear, hear, what the Minister has just said.
We do have evidence of bereaved families being doorstepped
in a pretty unpleasant way and it is ghoulish activity.
On your second point, I don't think anybody really knows,
but you have seen the reports and I would much rather
they turn their weapons in and surrender, but at the
moment they are not prepared to do that. But it is certainly
in the hundreds and it could be more.
What does large numbers mean - hundreds, thousands?
You are asking me something I don't know and I don't
think anybody does because very often a fire fight takes
place, people move on, and I don't suppose anybody is
going around counting bodies, but it is certainly in
the hundreds, without doubt.
Do you recognise reports that the American military
are asking us to bring 4,000 reinforcements to the Gulf
area? And do you also recognise a report from one military
source who told us in the Gulf that we couldn't do that
if we wanted to because of the fire strike?
This idea that there are sources out there, there are
enough embedded journalists talking to commanders in
the field, talking to serving soldiers, I don't know
where the sources are coming from. There is great transparency
in everything that has been said and been done. Give
us a source and let's see if it stacks up to the other
people who are given the best advice in the field through
the appropriate channels. Who is this source?
I can tell you it is a very good source, I know his
Of course you are going to say it is a very good source,
you are never going to say it is a source that you don't
I am not going to shop my source, but would you like
to answer the suggestion?
Geoff Hoon made it clear yesterday that we have no plans
to do so. At all times beneath the Ministerial level
examination will be taking place, they will have to
look at all of the factors that they are currently facing,
is there a need to do something more. If the answer
to that is yes, then they will advise Ministers and
then decisions would be taken on the back of all of
that. It is certainly not on my desk at this point in
We heard from Admiral Boyce before that the forces were
stretched because of the fire strike, does that remain
the case? Could you not actually send extra ones because
of the fire strike and the number of forces who are
still engaged with that?
We have made it clear that the level of commitments
are exceptionally high, there is no question at all
about that, and all ... taking place in terms of dealing
with the fire dispute is putting pressure on us. 19,000
personnel tied up is a very sizeable proportion of our
available forces. So yes it is putting pressure on us,
but we have to deal with all of those pressures in terms
of where the immediacy and the immediate issues arise.
So it would depend upon the nature of the advice and
the strength of the advice if there is any change to
what we are currently doing.
I don't think there is much I can usefully add to what
the Minister said. It is no secret that the British
Armed Forces, and perhaps the Royal Navy and Royal Air
Force will forgive me if I say the Army in particular
are working very hard at the moment and we are on a
surge basis, this amount of commitment is not sustainable
over a long period of time. It is certainly sustainable
until we get these jobs done.
I wonder if you could comment on the reports coming
from senior commanders in the British Army in the field,
that the POWs from Iraq have suggested that there are
some al-Qu'eda operatives working with Saddam's troops?
We have seen nothing to confirm that and I think we
just have to wait and see how that stacks up. But if
that is the case, well we know the nature of al Qaida,
we know the way in which they will involve themselves
in any type of international arena to maximise damage
to the US, the UK and our allies, so we just have to
wait and see if there is more evidence to that.
General, there have been reports that cluster bombs
have been used, can you confirm if this is the case,
if so how many and against what sort of targets?
No I cannot.
Could I just follow up on the question about reinforcements
if they were to be necessary. With General Wallace saying
it is going to go on much longer than expected and troops
on the ground there working very hard obviously, is
it not the case that you are going to have to at some
stage rotate new troops through, relieve them in some
way, and do you not have these contingency plans already
to rotate these troops through and are these troops
not known to you, who you are going to use?
I was in Germany on Wednesday meeting families who have
got people serving in the Gulf, I met many of the families
asking me that very same question. I couldn't give them
a date on when their people will be coming back. But
I say this to them, that the way in which we look at
these issues, we are conscious of the need to replenish
and recycle people through, and again I am sure all
of that planning has been looked at. But in terms of
playing the detail of that out, that then can lead people
to conclusions about timescales, so why should there
be visibility in all of that. We are not giving timescales,
but we have to plan, as we did in advance of this conflict,
in a prudent way to make sure we had the resources in
the area and all that logistic supply chain beginning
to bite in when it was required. So I can give you assurances
that there is a lot of planning going on, and if those
plans then need to be activated then it will be done
in a way which I answered earlier, the best advice to
Ministers making best decisions.
Without a northern front on the scale that was planned,
and with the Iraqi irregulars and others resisting perhaps
more fiercely than predicted, do you think the Americans
have sufficient strength in Iraq?
The northern front now has of course, and you will have
seen it for yourselves, been opened in a modest way
I accept right now, but I would expect to see developments
there. The Americans have by our standards almost limitless
military capability and further of that is on the way.
I am not going to say yes or no to your question because
it can't be judged in that way. There may be extraordinary
events over the next few days, who knows. What I can
say, and it is out there, because it has been announced,
that particularly the United States are making sure
that they have the combat power to prosecute this war
to its successful end.
You are confident that they may bring in more forces.
Well they have announced they are doing so.
But you are confident they will bring in sufficient
forces, and do you regret that they didn't do this sooner?
We are where we are. I am not going to express regret
or otherwise on the matter, we are where we are.
Questions first to Sir Mike. On Thursday 20 March The
Times printed extracts from a pre-conflict address by
one of your colonels, an address which in its courage
and humanity I thought worthy of Henry V before Agincourt.
Do you plan to make available more widely the full text
of this address?
Colonel Tim Collins' address has been printed verbatim
in several newspapers.
I only saw extracts, that is all. And second, two years
ago the Ministry of Defence mounted a photo exhibition
honouring the contribution made by ethnic minorities
to the Armed Forces over the past 200 years, not least
from what are now Pakistan and Bangladesh, while last
December the US appointed as a second Deputy Commander
of Middle East Forces Lt General John Abisaid, of Lebanese
descent, who is fluent in Arabic. What is the highest
ranking officer of Middle Eastern origin now serving
with the British forces?
I don't want to answer off the top of my head, but what
I can tell you is that we have a lot of energy going
into our recruiting within the ethnic communities of
this country, we set ourselves very tough standards,
we don't meet those targets, but I can tell you across
the three Services we are doing well, not as well as
we would like, but we are doing well and I think it
is a question that is worth examining and I am sorry
I can't give you a specific answer on that.
Minister, could you please confirm what percentage of
the trained strength of the Armed Forces is now currently
committed to whatever operation or another?
Overall in terms of the three Services, in terms of
Op Telic, in terms of what we are doing in the
Gulf it is about a quarter. Overall I couldn't give
you a figure again off the top of my head, but this
is a detail we can provide you with, because it is better
to give you a precise figure than to guess 59% and it
could be 58 or 61%.
We are talking over 50%, yes?
In terms of the Army, yes.
Overall, yes. For the Army it is over 50%.
How many Iraqis have surrendered up till now and how
does that square with your hopes at this stage?
I think it is around 4,000, something of that order,
to United Kingdom forces, I don't have a figure in my
head for US forces, I think it is around 4,000 but I
could stand to be corrected on that, but it is of that
We are making arrangements for well over 10,000 to be
housed if need be.
We have seen the effect so far of sand storms, rain,
that aspect of the weather. How concerned are you at
getting into more continuing sand storms, and after
that into very hot weather?
I mentioned the weather when I was giving you some opening
remarks. In that part of the world the transition between
"winter" and "summer" is very fast,
but you do get these extraordinary conditions of very
high winds and therefore sand storms. I understand that
the last one was the worst storm for a generation, but
there we are. It goes on for a little longer and then
it settles down, and of course you are right, the heat
comes on. But the heat is not a denial to operations,
it makes it more difficult of course, for everybody.
General Jackson, you said that it is no secret that
our Army is working very hard and that it was not sustainable
for a long period. How long is that period? At which
point do you actually have to start thinking about rotating
troops round if this campaign goes on?
I am not prepared to go into detail there because I
think we are getting into operational areas. The point
I am making is that the Army is working very hard. The
Minister has already explained that we have contingency
plans for this, that and everything else, that is our
job, and we watch it.
Given that there is this perception amongst some, however
tendentious, that the coalition campaign is getting
bogged down, I was wondering how much of that perception
you believe is down to modern media techniques of having
24 hour news proliferating everywhere and having these
embedded reporters and things like that?
I think I have touched on the tactical snapshot which
gets converted into a strategic deduction, and there
is a complete mis-match there. We live in a media world,
here you all are, your technology gets better and better
almost every month, it is something which is there.
It is not for me in any way to deny a democratic republic
- sorry, democratic public, or republic as the case
may be - what is going on with their own Armed Forces.
I leave it to you actually to deduce whether or not,
in today's instant media, you are looking for too much,
too soon, to fill the time - 24 hours - and you are
making snap deductions which don't actually bear up
under more careful consideration. But that is for you
to decide, not me.
The technology may be getting better, but the questions
General, after the arrival of Sir Galahad and the aid
she is carrying, given the security situation in the
south, to what extent are you and your forces going
to be able to distribute it and how soon do you think
it will be safe to allow civilians and humanitarian
organisations to get involved?
I think again you are getting into the tactical detail.
You are far better off asking somebody who is there.
These are the decisions for local commanders, not for
But presumably the main priority for you in London is
to see that aid goes out as quickly as you can.
It is one of the things we are doing.
And the Sir Galahad is being unloaded as we speak,
and distribution plans will be put in place and all
of that will begin to role out, that is one of our commitments.
But if there are security risks, then we have to take
them into account. That was why Sir Galahad was
so late getting into port because of the demining activity
that had to go on to make sure that the ship and any
subsequent vessels that went through that channel were
secure. So the same applies on the land as well.
I just want to ask you about contingency plans again.
Do you have contingency plans for reinforcements.
You haven't, you have talked about contingency plans
... I wish to cover it.
So can we assume from that that you do have them for
I gave the answer by saying that the system would not
be delivering well if it didn't look at every possible
eventuality, but it is usually much lower down, there
is nothing surfaced, so in that sense if you are trying
to say there are contingency plans that are now being
played out, that is not the case.
General Jackson, you say the snapshot we see on our
TV screens does not reflect the strategic campaign.
Can you say whether the strategic campaign is going
better or worse than what we see on the TV?
I think I made that very clear in my opening remarks
that what has been achieved in the time frame we have
been talking about is pretty impressive in my view.
General Jackson, I know you don't like snapshots ...
I didn't say I didn't like them, I said get it into
... 24 hour reporting is a series of snapshots.
No I didn't say that either. You are putting words in
I will ask the question more directly. Would you take
time now, from your perception, to tell us what you
think is happening in and around Basrah?
I can certainly do that, and I reflected a bit I think
on this when I was making my opening remarks. Here we
have the second city of Iraq, a million and a half people.
The evidence is that they are being kept under a very,
very tight rein by the organs of Saddam Hussein's regime,
and there are a number of various so-called organisations
who are responsible for this. The historical evidence
certainly is that they have no wish to remain under
Saddam Hussein's regime. The dilemma for the commanders
there, and it is writ large, it is not peculiar to Basrah
but Basrah is the particular and obvious current example,
is the degree to which you prosecute the war against
your enemies, which are not the Iraqi people, but the
structure of the regime, the extent to which you prosecute
that war, bearing in mind your wish not to harm Iraqi
civilians any more than is absolutely necessary in the
prosecution of any war. That is a dilemma, is it not,
and it calls for careful judgments, some clever tactics,
and we will see how Basrah proceeds. It won't remain
as it is forever, that is for sure. Does that help?
... What is your perception currently of the state of
manoeuvre and posture of the Republican Guard, and particularly
in the south where British troops are coming against
You are getting me into operational areas, Robert, which
I think I had better be careful about.
Elements, small elements, I wouldn't go any further
than that. But I don't want to be drawn on where we
think this or that Iraqi formation is.
General, this might be operational too, I don't know.
But I was wondering whether you feel as good one week
into this war as you did one week into the war in Kosovo,
in which you were even more intimately involved on the
ground, and I wondered what the similarities were?
There are some, but I wouldn't want to push it too hard,
because the political circumstances are very different.
But on 21 June 1999, as I recall, I think that was the
day we took the undertaking to demilitarise from the
KLA, which was significant, but there were many parts
of Kosovo which were still pretty violent, indeed the
Serb Army had not completed its withdrawal on D plus
9, it was the 11th day. So we had a very volatile situation,
one which equally well snapshots might have brought
you to an erroneous strategic conclusion. I think that
is as far as I would want to push that parallel.
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