International Information Programs
International Security | Terrorism

22 March 2003

U.S. Says Rumaylah Oil Fields Now in Coalition Hands

U.S. Central Command report, March 22

By David Anthony Denny
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- The vital Iraqi Rumaylah oil fields have been seized by U.S. forces, according to U.S. military officials briefing the media in Doha, Qatar, March 22.

Brigadier General Vince Brooks, after preparatory remarks by Central Command (CENTCOM) commander General Tommy Franks, gave an update on military operations for the first three days of combat operations in Iraq. Brooks said ground forces had seized the Rumaylah oil fields. "The oil fields were spared destruction that was intended by the regime because of the effectiveness of these attacks," Brooks said.

"[T]he good news is: only nine of the roughly 500 oil wells that are in the Rumaylah oil fields ... were sabotaged by the regime.... All the rest of them are OK," Brooks said.

Franks said the current campaign "will be ... unlike any other in history: a campaign characterized by shock, by surprise, by flexibility, by the employment of precise munitions on a scale never before seen, and by the application of overwhelming force." The plan includes the use of U.S. Army and Marine ground forces, air forces from several nations, naval forces including the U.S. Coast Guard, and special operations forces, Franks said.

Turning to combat operations so far, Franks said special operations forces entered Iraq first, followed by ground forces, and then "the introduction of shock air forces.

"That sequence was based on our intelligence reads, how we see the enemy, and on our sense of the capabilities of our own forces," Franks said.

Brooks said coalition special operations forces captured three key oil terminals in southern Iraq and in the Persian Gulf used to export oil to tanker ships. Found at the terminals were weapons, ammunition and explosives not meant for defensive purposes, he said.

"By preventing certain destruction [of the terminals], the coalition has preserved the future of Iraq," Brooks said.

Commanders of several Iraqi regular army divisions have surrendered to coalition forces, Brooks said, and their troops have laid down their equipment and have gone home. This, he said, was due to the "power of information" -- a reference to millions of leaflets dropped by air, plus military broadcasts over the past weeks urging Iraqi soldiers not to fight for "a dying regime" and giving them explicit instructions on how to surrender.

Asked about the status of ongoing negotiations for the surrender of the Iraqi regime, Franks said: "[W]e have ongoing dialogues ... with a number of senior Iraqi officials. And so those discussions, both with people in uniform and not in uniform, will continue in the hours and the days ahead."

Asked whether any evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction had yet been found, Franks said: "One would expect that weapons of mass destruction would perhaps be found in certain parts of the country, and that is work that lies in front of us, rather than work we have already accomplished. ... There is no doubt that the regime of Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction. And ... as this operation continues, those weapons will be identified, found, along with the people who have produced them and who guard them."

In response to a question about Ansar al-Islam terrorists' presence in the Kurdish northern part of Iraq, Franks said: "[F]rom time to time ... we will come across what we believe to be terrorist-associated activity or people, and when we do, we will strike them, and then we will exploit the site (afterward). ... [W]e did strike last evening [March 21] a terrorist complex: the one you just made reference to. And I won't describe exactly what action we'll be taking in the next few days with regard to that particular site."

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