DoD News Briefing
Friday, December 18, 1998
Presenter: Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen
Operation DESERT FOX
- [Also participating in the briefing was Gen. Hugh Shelton, Chairman, JCS;
- Rear Admiral Thomas R. Wilson, J-2]
Secretary Cohen: Good afternoon.
As you know, the United States and British strikes against Iraq are continuing.
From the beginning of this operation we've been careful to set realistic goals. We've also been careful not to either overstate or exaggerate the results as our intelligence analysts study the very preliminary data.
However, I want to stress that this military action is substantial. It is inflicting significant damage on the seven target categories that we have selected. These are as follows:
Iraq's air defense system.
The command and control system that Saddam Hussein uses to direct his military and to repress his people.
The security forces and facilities to protect and hide his efforts to develop or maintain the deadly chemical and biological weapons. These are the forces that have worked to prevent the United Nations inspectors from doing their jobs.
The industrial base that Saddam Hussein uses to sustain and deliver his deadly weapons.
His military infrastructure, including the elite Republican Guard forces that pose the biggest threat to his neighbors and protect his weapons of mass destruction programs.
The airfields and refinery that produces oil products that Iraq smuggles in violation of economic sanctions.
I'd like to focus on two areas where our strikes have substantially degraded Saddam Hussein's warfighting capability. The first is Iraq's ability to deliver deadly weapons. We estimate that Saddam's missile program has been set back by at least a year. I'd like to offer just another word pertaining to descriptions of damage done.
When we talk about moderate damage inflicted, I think it has to be kept in mind in terms of its comparison. When the Federal Building in Oklahoma City was bombed, the initial photographs, satellite photography that had taken place, described that damage as being moderate. I think we all understand how much damage was in fact done to that building, even though it was described as moderate at that time.
The elimination of the ability to deliver these deadly weapons is one of the jobs that Saddam's security forces prevented the UN inspectors from performing. So the second area where the damage has been substantial is the command and control system. This network of communications, intelligence, propaganda and security service headquarters has been significantly damaged.
Saddam may rebuild and attempt to rebuild some of this military infrastructure in the future, just as he has replaced many facilities including lavish palaces after DESERT STORM. But we have diminished his ability to threaten his neighbors with both conventional and non-conventional weapons.
In closing, I want to again call attention to the superior performance of both the United States and British forces. This action demonstrates the quality of the men and women we have in the military. They are well trained. They are well equipped. They are well led and we owe them a great deal of gratitude.
General Shelton: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.
As the Secretary noted, we are very pleased with the results of the operation thus far. In the primary areas of concern, facilities that support Saddam's weapons of mass destruction capabilities, his command and control, and the security forces associated with these weapons, we have had significant success in our air strikes.
However, it does appear that we've got to do a better job of translating the arcane science of battle damage assessment into plain English, so that you can all relay the information more effectively to the public. So the burden is on us. The burden is to make a complex subject more understandable.
On the plus side, as you will see in just a few minutes when Admiral Wilson briefs, I believe the numbers themselves are clearer today because we've had additional time to conduct our assessments.
Let me take just a moment here to give you a flavor of what we call battle damage assessment. This first photograph is of the electronics plant. Here you can see three different impacts. The one on the left, our analysts assess as moderately damaged. The one here on the bottom, we assessed as destroyed, and I think you can see why. Basically it's been rubbled. The last one, on the upper right, you can see the crater near the corner of this building...our analysts assessed this impact as having produced light damage.
But to put this in perspective, I'll show you some other facilities where we saw explosions outside of buildings that were much smaller then the explosions caused by this weapon.
I'm sure you recognize these as our two embassies -- the one in Tanzania and the one in Kenya. As you can see when you have a chance to get a different angle or a ground view, your sense of damage can be quite different.
Our analysts classified this damage as light to moderate when all they had was overhead imagery to go by.
Again, here's the Taji missile repair facility. It contains a series of buildings, but we only went after selected targets within the compound based on intelligence as to which ones had elements that were critical to the process.
This one was assessed as moderate damage, as was this one. This one was assessed as severe damage, and so on.
My point is, none of these buildings within this compound were assessed as destroyed, not even one. Our analysts are appropriately very conservative in their initial assessments, as I think you would agree in this particular facility. But in my view, this facility will not be useable for Saddam's efforts to maintain or improve his missile capabilities in the years ahead.
I'd also like to point out, as you can see, many of the buildings in this facility appear to be undamaged, and the reason for that is because they were not targeted. We only went after specific buildings within the compound. Again, ones that were related to our mission objectives.
I'll leave the rest of the details to Admiral Wilson.
To sum up, I am very pleased with the results of our strikes. The plan is being executed with precision and success.
Before we take your questions, let me update you for just a second on the status of our operation right now.
As you know, U.S. and British forces are again striking targets in Iraq, as we speak. To update last night's actions, all of our pilots and our air crews returned safely from yesterday's air strikes. We conducted approximately 150 combat and combat support sorties last night over Iraq, as well as some additional Tomahawk and air-launched cruise missile attacks.
While the Iraqis have not aggressively employed their substantial surface-to-air missile systems, we have encountered heavy anti-aircraft fire.
Finally, I'd like to say again, that we can all be proud of the way our men and women in uniform have carried out their assigned mission. They are superb professionals, as are those that are right now in the Crisis Response Force that are starting to deploy, even as the holidays approach. And I might add, as are all the members of our armed forces. My thanks go out to them and their families. Thank you.
Q: General, can I ask, you told us before that I believe 70 targets had been hit. How many targets have now been hit?
And Mr. Secretary, are we nearing the end of these raids?
General Shelton: We're up in the 90s right now in targets, number of targets struck.
Q: And Mr. Secretary, are we drawing close to the end of this?
Secretary Cohen: The operation is going to continue until the President decides that it has been completed, so it's still underway.
Q: It would be very helpful, certainly to me and maybe some of my colleagues and it might ease some of this confusion if you could give us, and you did in a sense, gave us the number of missiles, in that they were more than were fired during the Persian Gulf War, but if you can give us a percentage as it's analyzed, of the successful strikes. And also the percentage of the manned air crews with the smart bombs, dumb bombs, versus a percentage, so we can get a batting average here of how well we're really doing.
I mean this is helpful, but it doesn't tell us the full story.
General Shelton: All of that will come out as part of the post analysis that we're doing. Right now I know the numbers of missiles fired I know the numbers of sorties, but in terms of specific ones that have gone against each target, that will require a lot more detail than I can give you right now, and we will provide that later on.
Q: Can you give us then, sir, if you would, the number of missiles to date including last night's raid, that have been fired? We understand that missiles were fired both from, as you say, aircraft and ships. Do they include the new carrier battle group that's in the Persian Gulf?
General Shelton: The new carrier battle group in the Persian Gulf is zone capable. It's combat ready. It's perfectly capable of participating in the strike, but because it's an ongoing operation, I will not comment on whether or not it has been employed as of this point.
In terms of the exact numbers of missiles, as I've said, once the operation has been... we've achieved our objectives, then we'll share that information.
Q: A ball park, sir, if you would. Just ball park. Are we talking 300versus 100air-launched the other day? Is that figure acceptable to you? Three hundred plus TLAMS plus 100plus CALCMs?
General Shelton: Let's say you're in the ball park.
Q: Was there any specific item that has been targeted in this operation that you believe has stopped Saddam Hussein from actually attacking his neighbors? Was he very close to using these unmanned vehicles supposedly to spew some chemical weaponry anywhere?
Secretary Cohen: That's always been one of our concerns. To the extent that he would have so-called UAVs or take aircraft that could be loaded with a chemical and then launched on an unmanned basis into one of his neighboring countries has always been a concern to us.
Q: But was he very close to doing that? How far along in development was he?
Secretary Cohen: That's an intelligence matter. We were concerned about it.
Q: Can you tell us, are you doing any restrikes?
General Shelton: Yes, we have done some restrikes.
Q: Secretary Cohen, there are reports from the Middle East saying that the UK and the U.S. are very close to the cessation of the bombing. Have you achieved your objective from this bombing? Are you stopping soon?
Secretary Cohen: As I think I indicated, the mission is ongoing and it will stop when the President orders it to stop.
Q:..that you have achieved your objectives?
Secretary Cohen: We will continue to apprise the President on a regular basis where we are in carrying out the mission.
Q:...broadcast that they will not have the weapons inspectors back, that this military action has moved the situation on. So what is your reaction to their declaration?
Secretary Cohen: The one thing that was left out of their equation is that the sanctions will remain in place. They will remain in place until such time as Iraq agrees to fully comply with the Security Council resolutions. So that will require inspectors to return and to complete their job. Otherwise the sanctions have to remain in place.
Q: Secretary Cohen, you seem to be a bit on the defensive today about the portrayal of the results of the bombing campaign so far. Are you presenting a more rosy picture today because in order to call a halt to the campaign you have to be able to say you met your objectives?
Secretary Cohen: Not at all, Jamie. What we have always been concerned about is that our objectives be realistic, and that our success be as direct and open as possible. No exaggerations. By the same token, we don't want to see any understatement of what we've been able to achieve. Some have characterized moderate damage as somehow being less than successful.
What we've tried to point out is, when we make these preliminary assessments, what looks either to be light or moderate, cannot be calibrated in terms of a normal understanding. It can be and will be shown, I believe, to be much more severe.
The reason I mentioned the Oklahoma City bombing was that the satellite photography initially said that was moderate. That building was functionally destroyed. When we look at these types of targets and you see a hole in the roof, that doesn't necessarily describe what has taken place under that roof.
So we will have refinements of the collection of the photographs coming in the next few days and perhaps even few weeks. It will become clearer. What we do not want to have is a misperception that somehow this has been understated or overstated. We want to give as direct and as accurate a portrayal as possible.
Q: Mr. Secretary, you said we have diminished his ability to threaten his neighbors. That was always the stated goal.
Is there a target document or something somewhere which says we must diminish it by such and such a percent, or by so many years of retarding...
Secretary Cohen: We don't talk in terms of percentage or years. We look at the targets that those facilities, that compose, and do pose, a threat to the region. We act accordingly. But we don't do it in terms of...
Q:...vague formulation and deliberately thrown in... I'm not asking you to get more specific, but is there somewhere an understanding of what these vague terms mean operationally? To diminish, to degrade. What does this mean?
Secretary Cohen: As I indicated yesterday, this is a very large country with facilities spread throughout a country the size of the State of California. We have selected those targets which pose the greatest risk to the region, both from a chemical and biological and, indeed, even potentially nuclear capability, and the means to deliver them. We believe that we have inflicted substantial damage upon his capability to do so.
Q: Mr. Secretary, can you give us an assessment of the damage to the security forces, particularly as regards their ability to conceal weapons of mass destruction and protect Saddam Hussein himself?
Secretary Cohen: I think it's too early for us to make that assessment. We don't have sufficient information at this time.
Q: Mr. Secretary, what...
Q: Once the airstrikes end, Mr. Secretary, the inevitable question will arise, what next? You, the President, and today Prime Minister Tony Blair talked about this policy of containment. Just how do you envision this policy of containment being enforced, and to what extent will that involve the U.S. military?
Secretary Cohen: The policy of containment will continue the same way it has continued in the past. The policy of containment has been successful. He has been contained from moving in the north or the south. He has been contained in terms of rebuilding his military capability to the best that we can determine, to the level it was prior to the Persian Gulf War.
What we intend to do is to make sure that that containment policy stays in place and that he comply with those Security Council resolutions. We will keep our forces in place as they've been in place for a number of years now. We will be at the ready should he try to reconstitute those facilities or pose a threat to the region. We'll be prepared to act again in the future.
Q:...without inspectors inside Iraq, will the U.S. military role be increased? Will additional forces or activity on the part of the U.S. military be required?
Secretary Cohen: We will have sufficient forces in place to take whatever action will be necessary.
Q: Mr. Secretary, you offered one qualitative measure, one on the missile R? program. Do you have any other qualitative measures from this campaign, how far you've pushed back him rebuilding command and control, air defense, chem/bio production? Any other qualitative measures?
Secretary Cohen: I think it's too early to tell at this point. We've tried to show through some of these photographs the facilities that have been substantially diminished and degraded and in some cases destroyed in order to indicate that it may take a year or longer to rebuild them. That would pertain also to his missile production facility and several others.
Q: Is what we've achieved here, with all due respect, simply halting Saddam for a year?
Secretary Cohen: A year or more[is what]it would take to rebuild any of these facilities. And I wouldn't want to minimize the impact of the containment policy. It will be much more difficult for him with the containment policy still in place to rebuild any sooner, and it may take him much longer.
Q: Mr. Secretary, are you even going after his chem and bio research, development and production facilities? The industrial base you talk about, you've still got the delivery means... You talked about sustaining, for mainly delivery means. Are you going after the R? and the manufacturing...
Secretary Cohen: I thought we'd indicated consistently in the past that it's very difficult to try to target biological facilities, manufacturing facilities, since it could take place in a room the size of this one right here under the roof of any building.
What we have tried to focus upon are the means to deliver them to the extent that we have specific information on facilities that are dedicated solely to that objective. We tried to take that into account.
Q: UNSCOM did destroy those which were, did destroy the facilities which were solely dedicated to the military effort, but they chose not to destroy those buildings which had a civilian purpose, as statuary medicines, a pharmaceutical plant, a brewery, and so on, on the grounds that they were dual purpose. Why are you destroying them?
Secretary Cohen: I don't believe UNSCOM ever took the position that they destroyed all of the facilities that were capable of manufacturing chemical weapons.
Q: The ones that were dedicated solely to the manufacture of chemical weapons.
Secretary Cohen: I don't even believe they were in a position to make that determination in a country the size of Iraq. You may be right on that; I don't believe that to be the case.
Q: My question is, are you going after dual purpose facilities which could be converted to the manufacture of chemical or biological weapons? If not, why not?
Secretary Cohen: I indicated yesterday that we did not target those facilities that are dual use capable because of the concern that we have for the amount of damage to innocent civilians.
Q: Mr. Secretary if you target them at night, why would they have anybody there?
Secretary Cohen: People don't have to be in the facility in order to do damage to the area itself. We took that into account. We were not going to engage in acts which could result in many, many deaths to innocent people.
Q: There are reports coming out of southern Iraq of uprisings, disturbances, roads being blocked, possible Shiite uprisings down there, possible involvement of military forces down there. Can you tell us what you know about that?
Secretary Cohen: I don't have any information to that effect.
General Shelton: I don't have any additional information. I've heard only what I've seen in the press.
Q: The Commander in Chief has...
Q: Can you characterize the degree of success and the focus perhaps in the third night of strikes on the Republican Guard?
Secretary Cohen: We have targeted the facilities that are either occupied or utilized by the Republican Guard forces. We'll have to make an assessment after this campaign is over to determine the extent of damage.
Q: Is it substantial...
Secretary Cohen: You're going to get a briefing on this. If you look at some of the facilities, you'll see it's substantial.
Q: The Commander in Chief has been impeached. How does, what's your reaction to that? I understand you're going to be over at the White House a little bit later. What's your feeling?
Secretary Cohen: Well, he's the Commander in Chief, and we're going to continue to act accordingly. We're going to carry out this mission and he is going to make the determination as to when it's complete, and he will continue to function as Commander in Chief.
Q: What do you make of the lack of Iraqi military response so far?
Secretary Cohen: We can't make any characterization of it. They may be pursuing a policy of just riding it out and hoping that they can change public opinion. But I would point out that many countries have expressed not only the support for the United States and Great Britain having to carry this out, but have placed the blame squarely upon the shoulders of Saddam Hussein. President Chirac spoke on this issue yesterday, indicating that Saddam Hussein has brought this upon himself.
Q: Mr. Secretary, yesterday you used the word satisfied, which is not a particularly strong word, maybe not in line with some of the...
Secretary Cohen: The Chairman said "pleased". (Laughter)
Q: Would you like to change your characterization?
Secretary Cohen: By saying that I am satisfied we have carried out a sound military operation, I think that would indicate the degree of, I don't want to use the word pleasure. This is not a pleasant affair at all. This is very serious business. So when I say satisfied, I think they have achieved the goals that have been set out for them. I am satisfied that we have the finest military in the world. I'm satisfied they've done a very professional job. And I think it's important not to engage in words that might be misinterpreted. I think satisfied reflects...
Q: Do you have any plans to use ground troops? And if you don't, what are the circumstances which, if you try to use them?
Secretary Cohen: I'll let the Chairman comment on that.
General Shelton: We, of course, have ground troops as a part of this operation. They're on the ground in Kuwait right now, designed to help defend our GCC partners, specifically Kuwait, a threat against Kuwait. That's as far as I'll go with that. We in fact have them on the ground, they're in place, they're prepared.
Q: You said that the object of these raids is not to destabilize, not to destabilize Saddam Hussein's regime, and yet these strikes against the Republican Guard are likely to result in that. Do you still say it's not an object of the raids, and do you expect or hope that it will destabilize?
Secretary Cohen: I've indicated the goal was to degrade his military capacity or capability of threatening his neighbors conventionally or with weapons of mass destruction. To the extent that we attack those forces who are in charge and help him either conceal, move, transport, and maintain these weapons of mass destruction programs, and that can have the consequence of degrading his forces and his stability, but our objective is to go after the capability itself. That could be the consequence.
Q: Do you expect that it will do that?
Secretary Cohen: That remains to be seen.
Q: Mr. Secretary...
Q: So why is it not your objective? Why is it not your objective?
Q: Will we see you tomorrow, Mr. Secretary?
Admiral Wilson: Good afternoon, again.
I'm going to show a little more gun camera footage, once again from the F-14s and F-18s off of the ENTERPRISE. I'll probably just start off by saying these also are in southern Iraq, but yesterday they were down in the Basrah area. We have one here from Al Kut, and another from An Nasiriyah.
After that I'm going to talk a little bit more about battle damage assessment and how we do it and talk just a little bit [about] the Chairman's pictures. Then we'll show a few more as well as some more numbers from updates from yesterday.
So without further ado, let's roll the camera footage.
Q: Which night is this?
Admiral Wilson: I think this was on night two. This is Al Kut. F-14 GBU-12 laser guided 100 pound bombs against the barracks and brigade headquarters of Republican Guard units in the Al Kut area. Second view.
Q: Those are the same barracks?
Admiral Wilson: Multiple aim points in the same barracks, that's correct.
Admiral Wilson: Probably more. We just showed two here.
This is An Nasiriyah, a military cable repeater station, which is an important part of the integrated air defense and command and control network.
This is an F/A-18 also firing a GBU-12.
Q: How many of these targets were struck in the Persian Gulf War? Are these...
Admiral Wilson: We certainly struck the same areas and some of the same facilities and kinds of facilities during the Persian Gulf War. In some cases we would have facilities that are repaired, some new facilities, and things like that. I really haven't gone back and examined the entire target base now compared to what it was during the Gulf War.
Q: How many Republican Guard facilities have you hit overall?
Admiral Wilson: They're on one of these charts, and we'll come up with them here in just a second.
You can also probably tell by the different size charts that we're stretching out our ability to...
Q: Colors. (Laughter)
Admiral Wilson: We wanted to try and color code them for you so you can see the more important severe and moderate damage. But the SAMs and integrated air defense system battle damage assessment continues.
Once again, I really would like to strongly emphasize that these are supporting targets. There really is no long term need to hit SAMs or integrated air defense for the sake of hitting integrated air defense systems. These systems are important to suppress, degrade, or in some cases destroy to support the strike. We have a lot of assessment ongoing. These are mobile targets. They get up and move sometimes every 12-24 hours. It's a little bit of a pea in the shell game.
But the main thing about the SAMs and integrated air defense system is that to date, fortunately, and gladly, we have been able to fly in the system and not been successfully engaged by any of the Iraq air defense systems.
Q: Any painting...
Admiral Wilson: We've had some radar emissions, but no reports of significant lockups or engagements that cause great concern.
Q: Have there been any HARM shoots against any Iraqi...
Admiral Wilson: I've not been briefed of any HARM shoots. I don't want to say there hasn't been any. I'm not aware of any.
Q: But no SAM launches?
Admiral Wilson: I don't think there have been any strategic SAM launches, SA-2s or SA-3s or SA-6s. I feel relatively certain that there have been what we call manned portable air defense systems, MANPAD launches, and perhaps some smaller mobile tactical SAMs, particularly in some of these areas in close to key targets where they have a concentration of air defense.
You saw on television all the air defense systems, and the AAA, and I think it's more than likely that there were SAMs launched in those areas.
Q: Can you quantify that at all? A few? A lot?
Admiral Wilson: There was a lot of AAA for sure. I don't have a number. I cannot quantify the number of possible SAM launches. In fact it's really my assessment and my educated guess that that's occurred. I can't actually say for sure that it has.
Q: But no aircraft has been hit?
Admiral Wilson: No aircraft has been hit to my knowledge...
Q: By AAA or...
Admiral Wilson: By anything that I know of.
Q: None lost for sure, right?
Admiral Wilson: As of the time I came down here none were lost, and we certainly hope to stay that way.
Q: Iraq has been claiming that cruises have been shot down. Is there any evidence of that?
Admiral Wilson: No evidence of that.
Let me finish this briefing and then we'll get into questions, okay? Thanks very much.
Command and control. We have updated this number here. You see additional command and control facilities were attacked. We have done a very good job against this target set and you can see it's been significantly impacted.
Secretary Cohen indicated what those were. Leadership, command and control locations, military command and control, the intelligence services, and some of the propaganda and transmitting facilities.
Next slide, please.
This was a target that was hit very heavily on the first night, as you recall, the WMD security. We have continued the battle damage assessment work which is even now still in what I would call preliminary stages. Because, frankly, the operation is not even over, and we're still doing battle damage assessment.
You can see we have gotten more information on these targets and upgraded in some cases the level of damage to moderate or severe, depending upon the kind of information that we got.
It says assessment in progress, that's because maybe some of these have finished phase one or even into phase two BDA. It hardly ever finishes, because we go back for weeks and months in a third phase assessment to try to get all the details about weapons impacts, locations, performance, things like that.
Q: Are you talking about the Republican Guard?
Admiral Wilson: These are more the Special Republican Guards, the Director of General Security, the Special Security organization. Those are the kind of targets. Certainly the Republican Guards can be involved in that, but it's the SRG which we believe certainly is more involved in that mission of thwarting UNSCOM.
Q: Any casualty estimates yet for the Special Republican Guard?
Admiral Wilson: I don't have any casualty estimates at this point in terms of personnel casualties.
This is the target set which is obviously important. I had very little battle damage assessment to report on the WMD industry and production facilities yesterday. We're still early in phase one. We continue to make the assessments. But I think you'll see by some imagery we'll show you now and probably later today or tomorrow or this week, that we've had some very significant successes, particularly, as Secretary Cohen indicated, against the missile systems and the R? systems that will support the delivery of weapons of mass destruction in the future. The future programs.
Next slide, please.
Republican Guard data to date -- nine RGFC facilities have been hit. Actually it is really the Republican Guard. I don't think we've actually hit regular army facilities. These are primarily going after corps and divisional headquarters as well as some of the barracks areas. I'll show you some imagery on that in just a few minutes.
Most of them are down in the south.
Airfields. We hit a total of six airfields concentrating as I said yesterday on the helicopters, attack helicopters and the UAV program. We have had very good success on these. We've destroyed hangars where the maintenance and even conversion of these assets can happen.
The helicopters disbursed on the first night. We located those again, flew additional TLAMs in last night and destroyed additional attack helicopters up in the area of K-2, it's an Iraqi helicopter base up near Tikrit.
Q: Is that a restrike?
Admiral Wilson: That was a restrike. Actually it wasn't really a restrike, it was a withhold and then strike where you know there are targets. This is a good example of trying to use the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance resources to be very proactive and provide timely support for the strike operations.
Finally, we did have this one economic target, the POL facility down at Basrah. We still haven't gotten real good imagery of it. The damage assessment is light. We've been through that physical damage bit just a little bit, but we targeted some bundles of piping and we're continuing the assessments of that particular target.
Q: Can you respond to a question the regime, the military units not obeying orders...
Admiral Wilson: I have seen none.
Q: Can you define...
Admiral Wilson: Let me go on, and I want to do a little bit more on this battle damage assessment business.
I've been doing this a long time, about 30 years in naval and joint intelligence. I've seen a lot of strikes carried out over the years. We've gotten certainly more precision in our inventory. We do a lot of very detailed work by doctrine and by tactics, techniques and procedures in this battle damage assessment. We are still in phase one, which is physical damage assessments, which you can observe through imagery or visual observations. We go into phase two in which we try to get more information, different sources to confirm, different look angles to see if things appear differently on the next day with different light conditions. So this is a very deliberate process.
We certainly don't want to fool ourselves about how much damage we've done, so we're conservative. Then we usually learn more in phase two. Sometimes the damage assessments get worse. Most often with precision ordnance we find they get better as indicated in the briefing this morning.
Phase three, functional damage assessments, are something that take longer because we really are trying to make a detailed estimate about the function of a system or a facility or something larger than just a single aim point.
This is the picture the Chairman showed you. Generally speaking when a quarter of a building, 25 percent of a building is destroyed or damaged, we call that moderate damage, 15-45 percent. Less than 15 percent is light damage. Zero, of course, is if you miss it. Then it goes on up to severe damage, 45-75. And essentially destroyed is when more than 75 percent of the building is essentially damaged.
In this case, this is severe bordering on destroyed. Essentially half of this building here was dropped, and probably the other half is not functionally useable because of the fragmentation damage and things like that.
In this case, 25 percent of this building is destroyed. Certainly further into the building, or farther into the building I should say, we would have a lot more damage. Then the Chairman already talked about how things look differently from overhead versus if you're standing in the crater and looking into the building.
The other thing we'll need to do, and this is the Al Karamah electronics plant. It supports Iraq's ballistic missile program, the short range, but also a lot of technology which is applicable to a long range program in the future. We will ultimately do a functional damage assessment of this facility, and then a functional damage assessment of the overall impact on ballistic missile development. We're not at that point yet.
Q: How long will it be before that's done?
Admiral Wilson: Probably weeks. Days to weeks certainly.
I also would make the point as the Chairman did, we don't aim at every building in a facility. These weapons are very precise, and they're also relatively expensive. We try to make every one of them count, so we aim for key parts of the facility that we think are the most important to break the production link or the R? link or whatever, and that's what we've done here. I won't go into a lot of detail about exactly which those are.
Q: Admiral, a two-part question if I may, please.
First, have you determined that he has any operational SCUDs and have you tried to take them out?
Secondly, what do you use for your imagery? We assume satellites, but are you using U-2s and other types of recce aircraft including low flying recce aircraft?
Admiral Wilson: We're using all sources of imagery. This is what we call imagery derived product here. Both U-2s, tactical recce, I'm sure in the south where we're flying. Those are all sources.
We have always believed that he may have a few SCUDs hidden. We have seen no indication of him trying to use them. We certainly would try to take them out if he did.
This is the picture of the Taji missile repair facility. The Chairman obviously did a splendid job of describing the functional kill here.
This is a repair facility for SA-2s, SA-3s, the radars that support those missile systems, and has a lot of the technology which is applicable to a ballistic missile program, and we believe it will be a long time before the Taji repair facility is operational again, if they choose to rebuild it, even though we probably have no building which meets the destroyed description in terms of physical damage assessment.
This is an interesting photo for a couple of reasons. This is probably the first damage done by B-1s in a combat situation against a Republican Guard barracks in the Al Kut area. These were not precision guided ordnance. It was the old way, although it's hard to beat a lot of bombs, sometimes. This pilot walked a stick of bombs across this barracks facility in the, I think it's the Al Nidah Division, but I need to check for sure on that.
Interesting because you can get the four physical damage descriptions on the same photograph. Light damage to this barracks here, at least from the top. We don't see the structure collapsed or falling down or any of those kinds of things. This is moderate damage on this one right here. The end of it is pretty well destroyed. Frankly, I would probably kick that up into the severe. This is certainly severe, a bomb hit right in it and cut the barracks building in half. This one here is completely destroyed.
Which brings me to another point. We assess that the overall damage to this particular section of barracks is severe damage, but I really don't think they're very usable right now for housing or troop support.
Q: Were they manned at the time?
Admiral Wilson: We don't know for sure.
Q:...surprise in this particular hit?
Admiral Wilson: I think this strike was conducted about as quickly as could be ever done in the scenarios we've faced in Iraq in the last few years.
Q: Was this the first night?
Admiral Wilson: That was not the first night.
Q:...the first night then, is that correct?
Admiral Wilson: I said that was not the first night.
Q: What bombs were the B-1s dropping?
Admiral Wilson: I don't know for sure.
Q: Five hundred pounds?
Admiral Wilson: Five hundred pound bombs...
Q: Were they used...
Admiral Wilson: I don't know how many.
Q: Were they used again last night? They were used the night before...
Admiral Wilson: I'm also, at this point I would like to stay away from operational matters. I'm the J-2 doing a lot of intelligence work, doing a lot of battle damage assessment. I want to leave the operational details for the J-3 to discuss because he really does have the detailed knowledge about those.
Q: How many troops are normally in those barracks?
Admiral Wilson: I think it's around 80 per building? Forty to 60 per building.
Q: How many buildings there?
Admiral Wilson: There were probably a dozen or more there. Then there are other parts of the facility.
Q: How big is the area?
Admiral Wilson: I don't have the answer to that question right now, and I'm ready to move on to the Secretariat here.
This is downtown Baghdad. This is an example of precision strike, and hopefully some precision intelligence. We believe that this section of the building housed an important command and control capability, and we were concerned about collateral damage over here -- a girls school. This building was attacked in downtown Baghdad by Tomahawk land attack missiles. You can see they impacted at these three points here in the wing that we targeted of this building. Did what is described as moderate damage. May in fact, when we get done, be severe. But it is a good example of both the precision that we use in trying to target these facilities as well as the care that we go in trying to prevent collateral damage.
Next chart, please.
Q: What is that building? What does Secretariat presidential mean?
Admiral Wilson: It's like the working office of the leadership in the regime. One of their working offices.
Q: Was there any collateral damage?
Admiral Wilson: I don't know of any collateral damage. We didn't see any collateral damage in the imagery analysis.
Q: When was...
Admiral Wilson: That was hit on night one.
The final photograph I have today is another of the WMD targets that was successfully struck. This is a graphite building here and a final assembly building, I think. Right, Steve? This supports the liquid engine production for their ballistic missile program, both the short range systems and potentially for the future.
We targeted these two buildings and another test launch stand which is off of this frame of imagery. It was also destroyed. These two buildings are certainly considered to be at least severely, moderately to severely, damaged in terms of a physical damage description, but I believe that they're, in terms of functionality, they're not capable of performing their mission.
Q: Where is that?
Admiral Wilson: That is in -- They're all pretty much in central Iraq.
Q: Which missiles?
Admiral Wilson: That was a TLAM target. That's at a facility called Al Rafah, Iraq. It is right in, southwest, or south of Baghdad, just south of Baghdad. It's an industrial complex.
Q: Does he use liquid engines for his newer type SCUDs and longer range? Or is he still using solids?
Admiral Wilson: Certainly SCUDs are a liquid engine. Most countries in the world which are developing SCUDs or SCUD-like technology including, for example, the Nodongs produced by North Korea, are liquid engine technology, and we think that is the part of his program, Saddam's, that was the furthest developed.
Q: Are you ready for questions?
Admiral Wilson: I'm done. (Laughter)
Q: What more today can you tell us about what American aircraft, where they're operating and what missions they're going...
Admiral Wilson: I'd like to refer that to the J-3.
Q: What signs do you have of movement by the Republican Guard? And specifically, by encouraging revolt, does that force Saddam Hussein to concentrate his forces and make them better targets for us?
Admiral Wilson: For the most part, the movement by the Republican Guard appears to be defensive dispersal, first in garrison. Following that, out of garrison and even into urban areas. Urban areas are a good spot to disperse because we certainly have collateral damage on our minds as we conduct strikes. We don't want to have collateral damage against Iraqi civilians. And it, of course, makes them more available to suppress any rebellions which could occur, although I don't have evidence that that is occurring.
Q: When you talk about missile production, you keep saying short range which are around, but potentially longer range.
Admiral Wilson: Right.
Q: Let's say these attacks weren't going on and they wanted to convert these to longer range missiles. How long would it take them to actually do that?
Admiral Wilson: It would probably be a couple of years that they would be able to move into a successful, longer range program, and the targets that we struck, we believe, will have delayed that progress by at least a year or more, based on the early assessments, and we will continue to make those functional battle damage assessments about that program.
Q: ...prolonged the couple of years that it would have taken them anyway.
Admiral Wilson: At least a year.
Q: Regarding the numbers that you went through earlier and the way that they changed, to give an example, the SAM sites. Yesterday there were eight that were undamaged, today there were zero. Did those numbers change because of restrikes or because of reanalysis of the results of the strikes?
Admiral Wilson: Some of both. You saw some more totals on there. So it's some of both. And trying to balance the checkbook -- exactly how many of which, I really don't know.
Q: Yesterday I think there was a sheet specifically relating to weapons of mass destruction sites. Was there no -- when you were doing the presentation did I miss something or...
Admiral Wilson: The categories were the same, with weapons of mass destruction/industry and weapons of mass destruction/security.
Q: Did the Russian military go on alert as reported yesterday? Strategic Rocket Forces? Any indications...
Admiral Wilson: I don't have any indications about that, no.
Q: Were they doing any long range rocket work at this facility? Or to the best of your knowledge were they doing work there that they were allowed to do under the Gulf War cease-fire accord? And this was purely preemptive?
Admiral Wilson: I believe the answer is both. They were doing work on a short range system and they had designs to develop the R? and the capability to rapidly produce good long range missiles in the future. So in that case it was somewhat preemptive.
Q: Having designs is one thing and doing it is something else.
Admiral Wilson: And doing the computer modeling, the electronics development, the liquid engine propulsion development and refinement, the bending of the steel and metal -- I believe the techniques and the capability to make longer range missiles and to improve their skills in that regard was clearly underway in these facilities, yes.
Q: Another missile, maybe it was a different part of that same Taji missile facility, you have the fabrication thing, you have final assembly. You showed us a computer center that didn't look like it had been - it might have been hit a little bit, but not much. Did you go back and get that? Is that where they have supercomputers?
Admiral Wilson: I don't recall specific phase two work being done on that facility. I did have a picture of a facility called Ibn al Haytham, and we had two destroyed buildings that you'll recall on that, and another large building that was intact. We got another angle view of that yesterday in phase two that showed essentially the side blown out of that, the other side blown out that had been in shadows.
Q: Have you seen a quiet posture on the part of those forces that have been leafletted? Has that effort continued? And have they maintained a...
Admiral Wilson: We have not seen any aggressive behavior by the forces that were leafletted.
Q: Doesn't... Setting something back one year doesn't to me at least sound like a whole lot. Maybe that's because I have the wrong expectations. Is that sort of the best you could hope for in the total...
Admiral Wilson: I think that reflects our -- this is -- I would like to emphasize once again, we are in the preliminary stages of battle damage assessment. The operation is still ongoing. We haven't gotten deeply into functional assessments. But based on the trends of the analysis, the precision that we see, the targets that are being hit, we believe that we'll set back the future development by at least a year and probably more, and we need to do additional analysis before we discuss that further with you.
Thank you very much.
Press: Thank you, sir.
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