- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 2, 2003

The armed forces scored high marks for joint warfare during the war to topple Saddam Hussein, but still lacks the technologies and methods to prevent “friendly fire” deaths on the battlefield.

That is the assessment of Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani, the commander of U.S. Forces Command, which conducted a far-reaching “lessons learned” study of Operation Iraqi Freedom from the ground up. Breaking from past practices of studying lessons after the fact, Adm. Giambastiani placed 35 persons in various units to watch operations — and note mistakes — as they happened.

“We took this mission on with a clear understanding that its success required ruthless objectivity,” Adm. Giambastiani told the House Armed Services Committee yesterday.

One example of achieving optimum joint warfare — the four branches communicating and executing operations as one — was the large use of special-operations forces in Iraq. The commandos worked with conventional forces on the ground, and also found targets for bombers overhead.

“The net result is that we not only had precision munitions launched from the air and ground, but also precision decisions to direct our smart weapons by the combination of both conventional and special forces, working jointly with all our armed forces,” Adm. Giambastiani testified.

The allies suffered a series of fratricides, such as the Patriot antimissile system mistakenly locking on and shooting down both British and U.S. jet fighters.

“Where we needed substantial improvement, in our view, fratricide prevention is the first on the list,” the admiral said.

He also gave low marks to the way the services deployed more than 200,000 troops to the Persian Gulf region.

“We could not provide the flexibility and adaptation demanded by late changes in planning assumptions or other modifications — we weren’t able to respond,” he said. “We had the lift, the mettle, but our process did not allow us to work here. We’re spending great effort in this area.”

Later yesterday at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld scolded the press for focusing on the bad news in Iraq, while ignoring a number of positive stories.

He expressed particular unhappiness with the major news dailies failing to write about the upbeat congressional testimony of a bipartisan delegation of lawmakers who visited Iraq last month.

“The next day we were all struck by the total absence of coverage of that hearing and the favorable reports that these six or seven members brought back and articulated in the hearing,” Mr. Rumsfeld said. “I saw nothing in any of the four or five papers that I read or on any of the television shows which I occasionally have on. So I guess good news is not news.”

Most news coverage has focused on the guerrilla resistance that almost daily results in the bombing or shooting death of American troops. Senior administration officials have acknowledged they failed to predict the concerted resistance by Saddam Hussein loyalists.

Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, Joint Chiefs chairman, listed a number of achievements since Baghdad fell on April 9: a new task force to restore electricity is now up and running; a vibrant free press is taking hold, with 160 newspapers; Iraqi women now have access to all university courses; all Baghdad hospitals are open; and both the Arab League and Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries have recognized the new Iraqi Governing Council.

“We have really achieved numerous successes and expect the situation to continue to improve,” Gen. Myers said.

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