of State for the Armed Forces, Adam Ingram:
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Since I spoke to
you last Friday, the coalition has seen further steady
progress both in terms of military advance and in terms
of the other crucial battle that I spoke of last week,
winning the confidence of the Iraqi people through increased
normalisation and security. Sadly, further casualties
have also been sustained through enemy action, through
accidents and through 'blue on blue' incidents. All
these Servicemen died doing their duty, in difficult
and dangerous conditions, in the service of their country.
And I would like to add my condolences to those already
expressed by my colleagues to their families friends
and their colleagues.
focus of this press conference will be the air campaign.
Beside me is Air Chief Marshal Sir Peter Squire, the
Chief of the Air Staff, who will shortly brief you on
the operations that have been conducted to date. But
first I would like to say a few words to put that in
the Defence Secretary gave a comprehensive update to
parliament on our progress in the military campaign.
I do not propose to go over all the details that he
set out. I would however like to
focus in upon the key point that he made, namely the
multiple dimensions of the task that faces our Armed
Forces. I see this conflict as comprising two halves
of equal importance and our military campaign objectives
reflect this fully.
first are the military operations themselves that are
designed to remove Saddams regime from power.
This offensive action is the enabler for the second
half, where the focus in the short term will be upon
normalisation, and ultimately on political security
and economic stability. Our commitment to both of these
is absolute. Let me be clear. Saddam and his barbaric
regime will be removed from power and we will help the
Iraqi people who have suffered under his regime for
too long to look to the future with confidence.
has been particularly important about the way this campaign
has developed is the relationship between these twin
objectives. It is clearly not a campaign where we just
concentrate on the fighting until that is over, and
then turn our minds to what to do next. In fact what
is happening is that as the war fighting progresses
to a conclusion, we are implementing, at times simultaneously,
a security framework for peace.
relationship between these two phases is so close that
the way that our forces are operating in a war fighting
phase is heavily influenced by the requirements of the
follow-on renewal phase. Our approach to the assault
on Basrah is highly illustrative of this. There is no
question that the fire power available to our military
commanders outside the city of Basrah could be used
to a more immediate but destructive effect, for the
welfare of the people of Basrah is key to determining
our strategy. Our restraint should not be interpreted
as weakness, rather it is a sign of care borne out of
the commitment we have made not to harm the Iraqi people.
The city of Basrah is contained. Our commanders on the
ground will use their own professionalism and sound
military judgment to decide when and how to enter the
city. The overriding imperative is a desire to bring
humanitarian aid to the city to augment their water
supplies and to reconnect their electricity. The people
of Basrah have much to look forward to. As soon as it
is safe, what is being delivered to the surrounding
towns and villages of Umm Qasr, Safwan and Az Zubayr
will be directed towards improving the lives of
have already achieved a lot in the area outside Basrah.
Royal Navy mine counter-measure vessels have cleared
a channel half a mile wide leading to Umm Qasr, which
the UN has now declared a permissive environment. The
port is now ready to receive the delivery of further
humanitarian aid. In a growing number of areas the increasing
normality is reflected in patrols by British forces,
exchanging helmets for berets. Schools and markets are
reopening, hospitals that previously only catered for
the favoured few have opened their doors to ordinary
is no humanitarian crisis in southern Iraq. However
the situation is far from ideal, but that is a legacy
of Saddams decades of misrule, not a result of
two short weeks of coalition activity. The stores from
the Sir Galahad are now available to be distributed
when needed. There is indeed a real problem with water,
but for many people we have already alleviated this
through the pipeline we have built to Umm Qasr and through
a reactivation of the water treatment plant there. Water
availability in Basrah is currently thought to be running
at about 60%, thanks to the efforts of the Red Cross.
Once Basrah is secure, the restoration of water supplies
will become a priority.
general we have made a good start to our dual commitments,
to the removal of Saddam Hussein and the threat that
he poses to the region and the wider world, and to the
rebuilding of the nation that he suppressed for too
many years. US forces are now engaging Iraqi Republican
Guard Divisions on the edge of Baghdad and have seized
key crossing points over the Euphrates and the Tigris,
as well as effective control of the airports.
course the air campaign has played a key part of the
coalitions operations from the outset. In a moment
I will hand over to Sir Peter who will describe that
part of the air campaign in more detail. However I would
like to say just a few words on the wider aspects that
underpin this part of the campaign. You will be aware
that this campaign is very different to the last Gulf
War. In 1991 our liberation of Kuwait was preceded by
weeks of intensive bombing. In this campaign the ground
war had started before even the air campaign was fully
under way. The other major difference is a greater focus
on precision we can apply. There has been a huge amount
of media interest in the bombing campaign that we have
conducted against Baghdad. By and large the reporting
sensible and measured. Although we have packed a huge
punch, our overriding concern has been to minimise both
civilian casualties and unnecessary casualties on our
own side. Our precision technology has contributed greatly
to our ability to achieve this.
in the pursuit of our valid military objectives there
have been, and will no doubt continue to be, some civilian
civilian casualties are deeply regretted by the coalition.
We would ask you not to let the Iraqis be your source
for such information. It is a regime built on lies and
callous disregard for their own people.
me close on this point. Our targeting policy has been
guided by a number of considerations. There is a clear
moral imperative to minimise civilian casualties. There
is of course a legal obligation to do the same. Finally,
there is a practical argument derived from our post-conflict
ambitions for Iraq. We want to see Iraq restored to
its rightful place within the region and the international
community. Once again our actions are a visible proof
of our long term commitment to Iraqs future.
will now hand over to Air Chief Marshal Sir Peter Squire
to brief you further on the air campaign.
Chief Marshal Sir Peter Squire:
Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. I want to follow
on from the Ministers introduction by saying a
few words about the air campaign, and in particular
about the Royal Air Forces contribution to it.
But the first point that I would like to make is more
about if you like doctrine and concept, inasmuch of
the transformation that the Royal Air Force has gone
through over the last 10 years. In that time we have
really changed our structure and our training mechanism
quite substantially away from the posture that we adopted
during the Cold War which was very much one of a citadel
operation from our main operating bases in this country
and in Germany, and now we are a fully expeditionary
force, in accordance with the conclusions of the Defence
Review of 1998, and indeed the new chapter work which
was done in the aftermath of the 11 September 2001 incidents.
the Gulf we now have a Royal Air Force air component
deployed at large scale with a full range of capabilities,
and the deployment itself was actually quite a remarkable
success. You will recall that really the decision was
taken only in the first week of February to swing the
deployment of that air component from the north, from
Turkey, down to the south into the Middle East specifically.
I went out to visit our deployments at the end of February
and we had a full operating capability by the end of
the first week of March. Well all very well and good,
but how have we used that capability? Well the daily
air task order calls for about 1200 fixed wing sorties
each day. That does not include the rotary wing support,
which is also extensive, and which I will come back
to in due course. But again it is not sorties that are
important, it is the effect that they create.
the record, the Royal Air Force is contributing about
10% to the overall 1,200 sorties a day, and that matches
if you like the scale of our deployment. But our contribution
in terms of effect is certainly 10% and probably greater,
not least because the balance of our combat air power
deployed is largely offensive rather than defensive.
The Minister has already said that unlike the Gulf War
in 1991 where the offensive air campaign started some
six weeks before the ground campaign, on this occasion
they have been pretty much coincident.
there are several strands to any air campaign, and certainly
to this one. There is on the one hand the strategic
side of it where we are seeking to gain air superiority,
we are looking to take down the command and control
communication centres of the regime and we are looking
for mobile Scud type weapons which carry a WMD capability.
There is also then the support for the land component
in terms of close air support and battlefield air interdiction,
there is the whole gamut of reconnaissance from strategic
right down to tactical, and there is the combat support
sorties, whether they are airborne early warning and
control or whether they are air to air refuelling.
as a fully integrated component of the offensive air
campaign, the Royal Air Force has brought into operational
service in the last two weeks two new weapons systems.
The first specifically designed to take out strategic
targets like air defence operations centres, like Command,
Control and Communication nodes, is the conventionally
armed stand-off missile known as Storm
Shadow, which you see here loaded on this Tornado.
The programme was sufficiently advanced prior to the
conflict for us to declare an initial operating capability
with this weapon. The testing that we had done had given
us very high levels of confidence on its reliability,
its accuracy and certainly on its penetration, and indeed
the deployment of this system, and the employment of
it, on operations has been extremely successful. And
what I would now like to do is to talk you through a
sequence which will give you a little bit more to see.
is one of the weapons being wheeled into a shelter in
the Middle East where it will be loaded on to this aircraft,
loaded and inspected by the air crew who will fly the
aircraft just to make sure that all the loading has
been done correctly. This is a trials drop done in the
United States before the war, and here is the weapon
completing its final manoeuvring before it actually
takes out the target against which it has been designed.
And that was actually an inert weapon, not an explosive
for the full battle damage assessment we will have to
wait until we get inside many of the targets that it
has been tasked against. But I am going to show you
a photograph now of one of the sector air defence headquarters
in Iraq. On the left hand side you can see the two desired
mean points of impact targeted against the building,
take my word that is exactly where we were aiming for,
and if you compare with the right hand side, that is
exactly where the weapons went, and that is absolutely
typical of the 30 or so sorties that we have launched
Storm Shadow on in the last two weeks.
would like to say something about the targeting process
and the care that is taken in the selection and the
planning of all of those sort of targets that you have
seen. Firstly targets are selected only if they contribute
directly to the governments military objectives,
and the minimum force is always used to achieve those
objectives. All the plans are scrutinised most carefully
to ensure the minimum of casualties, civilian and damage
to civilian property. The criteria that we use are in
accordance with the international law of armed conflict.
We do look at the distinction of targets between civil
and military and we only attack military targets. We
look at the necessity to take that target out. If there
are going to be civilian casualties, or likely to be,
then the proportionality between the value of taking
the target out and the risk to civilian population.
And finally we have special rules as they pertain to
protected objects and sites, sites like religious, cultural
and historical, and you will have seen yesterday I think
on television from theatre how again American planning
had very much avoided a mosque which was in close proximity
to one of the targets they were taking on.
me show you here again another target in Baghdad. This
is a communications centre situated right alongside
Saddam Tower, there were a number of desired mean points
of impact for targeting around this area, three I have
got marked in specific. The slide on the right shows
you that the target has been attacked, a bit difficult
perhaps for those right at the back to see, but again
you will see that all of the desired mean points of
impact have been attacked with cruise missile type weapons
and have left the tower completely undamaged and standing,
and again I could have shown you a picture similar to
the one that was available on Sky yesterday from the
American briefing, of a Ministry in Baghdad which had
been taken out right alongside a mosque, but leaving
the mosque completely undamaged.
second new weapon that we have brought in, very much
this time for the tactical battle, is Maverick,
a precision air launched anti-armour weapon, procured
in the aftermath of the Kosovo air campaign when we
found taking out single targets close to buildings and
so forth difficult to achieve with the weapons we then
had in service. This as you see has been integrated
on to the Harrier GR7, which already has a very good
day and night capability, the weapon that we have with
the head that we have again gives us a day-night capability,
specifically in the close air support and battlefield
air interdiction, and again I am going to take you through
a short sequence which shows the weapon loaded on an
aeroplane on one of the outboard pylons, and you will
then see the aircraft shortly taxiing out at night on
a close air support or battlefield air interdiction
sortie. This is the head-up display, dont worry
about the terminology, but you will see the missile
launch, and the aircraft can now depart, it has been
locked on and here you will see the weapon actually
going and impacting an armoured vehicle or tank. Again
the final sequence of that is a trial shot, the actual
sequence that you saw was from an operational sortie
in the Gulf. But having locked the target on, then the
aircraft can complete an evasive manoeuvre to depart
the combination of Storm Shadow, Maverick and indeed
Paveway weapons, those are weapons that we have
added a GPS control facility along with the laser guidance
system on it, again in the aftermath of the Kosovo air
campaign, the combination of those three smart precision
systems have given the Royal Air Force a step increase
in our offensive capability and undoubtedly gives us
a range of weapons which fully matches frankly the American
range of Smart munitions. And it is interesting to note
how the ratio of smart to dumb has changed over the
last 10 years. In 1991 10% of the weapons were smart,
90% were dumb and unguided, although the 10% of the
guided ones did 80% of the damage. In Kosovo the ratio
was probably 60% smart, 40% dumb. In this campaign it
is 90% smart precision and 10% dumb.
think at this stage it is just worth mentioning a number
of the other specialist and complementary capabilities
that the Royal Air Force brings to this campaign. You
will be well aware of our tanker capability which operates
on a probe and drove mechanism, unlike the boom system
operated by most of the American Air Force. This particular
capability, extremely useful for refuelling United States
Navy aircraft, here you see an E-6, a prowler aircraft,
immensely important in the suppression of enemy air
defences through its jamming capability, but it also
refuels the Australian F-18s in theatre.
the ALARM, the air launched anti-radiation missile,
a different missile to the American HARM, but does the
same sort of job but in a different way, and again you
can use these systems very much in a complementary way
to produce a synergistic effect in that part of the
suppression of enemy air defences.
terms of tactical recce, I think we bring, in fact I
know that we bring a range of capabilities which is
actually unique to the Royal Air
Force. Here you see a brand new again reconnaissance
pod that we have recently fitted and cleared for service
on Tornado, a pod called Raptor, the reconnaissance
airborne pod for Tornado, which gives us a medium to
high altitude stand-off capability with a data link
straight down to the ground for rapid processing, but
the ability also for the navigator in the back seat
of the aircraft to do some of the looking at the film
and working out what the pod has seen, he can be doing
that in the air. But the Tornado are not only equipped
with this, but also with the low level IR reconnaissance
system which again gives us a low level day-night capability
which is certainly unique in the theatre.
finally the Nimrod, the MR2 Nimrod that we have, now
equipped for both overland as well as maritime tactical
surveillance both day and night and being used so.
other two capabilities which I havent mentioned,
which I really ought to, about which we perhaps dont
see as much as the high profile offensive, is the role
of the support helicopter force that we have deployed,
a mixture of Chinook and Puma helicopters, very much
in close proximity and working with our land component,
whether it is the Parachute Regiments from the Army,
or the Royal Marines from the Navy. So they are doing
an excellent job, a lot of sorties, and some very interesting
and skilful and demanding flying.
the other capability which we deploy is the Royal Air
Force Regiment which provides for our forward operating
bases the whole panoply if you like of force protection,
from active defence in terms of guarding and patrolling,
to passive defence in terms of NBC detection, protection,
and deployed in full measure with the Royal Air Force
Regiment fully deployed to cover all the range of deployed
operating bases that we have in the Gulf.
while you would expect me to be extremely proud of the
Royal Air Force performance now, as we are on D+16
and I am proud I just want to reiterate that
our contribution is but 10% of this overall coalition
air campaign. It is a campaign which has been planned
and assembled with great care and thought. The targeting
has been precise in both its planning and execution.
We havent taken out every bridge, we have only
taken out the ones we need to, we are being very specific
in terms of avoiding things like religious sites. The
tempo of the campaign has been responsive to strategic
and operational factors. We havent always flown
the number of sorties that we thought we might need
to, we have adjusted that to take account of circumstances.
at the end of the day the campaign has achieved air
superiority and will undoubtedly go on to achieve air
supremacy. It has degraded the regime command and control
in the face of huge resilience. It is and will continue
to shape the battle space in support of the land component.
And it has in my mind achieved its goals with the minimum
civilian casualties and damage to civilian property.
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