This is a partial transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume," Nov. 8, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: So, at the request of the interim Iraqi government, coalition sources — soldiers are today assisting Iraqi forces in conducting coordinated offensive operations, in and around the city of Fallujah to restore law and order to this troubled area.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRIT HUME, HOST: So, what kind of military operation is this assault on Fallujah? How bloody is it likely to be? How many terrorists are still left in that troubled city?
For answers, we turn to Fox News contributor, military historian, former Army General Robert Scales who is in our map room in Washington with me.
GEN. ROBERT SCALES (RET.), FOX NEWS MILITARY ANALYST: Hi, Brit.
HUME: Nice to have you. What can you tell us about this operation?
SCALES: Let’s go to the screenwriter, Brit. Recall several weeks ago, you and I talked about Marines establishing the cordon around the city. And over the last few weeks they’ve started to tighten in the cordon. The second part of the operation, which has been going on for about two weeks, is the shaping phase. And that simply allows the innocent Iraqis, the Fallujans to escape from the city and gather tactical intelligence so they know where the pinpoint targets are.
HUME: So they’re sitting on the edge — the Marines in Iraq?
SCALES: The Marines are on the perimeter, yes.
HUME: And as people are leaving, they’re talking to them?
SCALES: Said come on by if you’re...
HUME: Exit polling, in effect.
SCALES: Big time. If you’re between the ages of 18-25, we’d just like to talk to you a bit. And then over the last week or so, and you’ve seen this, strategic strikes at targets using artillery and airpower to soften up the enemy and to cause him to contract away from his positions. And then today, what you saw right at dusk is the beginning of the attack phase, and exactly right on schedule.
It’s a classic hammer and anvil tactic (search), where they close off the Iraqi escape routes. Remember they captured those two bridges. They captured the hospital. The purpose of that was to deny al Jazeera sort of their little propaganda factory that they used back in April. That’s the anvil. And then here comes the hammer. And the hammer is a series of infantry and armored assaults made through the enemy’s outer crust, outer defenses heading towards the middle of the city.
HUME: These red lines represent the outer perimeter.
SCALES: Red lines are the outer perimeter. And the smaller red circle in the middle is probably where the enemy is going try to collapse into once his outer crust is broken.
HUME: Just one question. I notice that we don’t seem to have, by your notations, a perimeter at the lower part of this map. Is that because it’s inhospitable terrain?
SCALES: It’s inhospitable terrain. Most of the focus is in the north because the area that they’re trying to escape — or the area that the enemy is trying to go into is this red area here, Brit. And so as they close in, then enemy begins to fall away from the outer defenses. They did it exactly right. They attacked just at dusk at night, because that’s our advantage, our technological advantage because we have superior night vision.
They used smoke to further obscure the battlefield. They used these explosive line charges, which are essentially explosive devices that allow — that clears away the roadside bombs. And then they instead of attacking down the main streets, which is where the enemy expected them to come, they’ve attacked through the back alleys and the gardens and the back streets, using bulldozer tanks, using bulldozers, bullying up the IEDs, leading with artillery, attacking where the enemy didn’t expect them to attack.
And so after about a week, you’ll see this whole outside perimeter collapse in the middle and the enemy will have nowhere to go. They can’t go west across the Euphrates (search) because it’s an unfortable obstacle. They can’t go to the south. And hopefully, they’ll collapse into the city. And the final fight is going to occur right in here in the middle of the city.
HUME: Now, so far we’re not hearing too much in the way of reports of casualties and so forth. Is that because this is overwhelming force? Or is that because the enemy is likely to fall back and we’ll see all the heavy fighting later?
SCALES: I think a combination of both; the overwhelming force, coming where the enemy didn’t expect, attacking at night. The enemy can’t see. Smoke everywhere. It’s pitch black inside the city. Our soldiers have night division devices, tanks have night vision devices, they can see the enemy. The enemy can’t see us. AC-130s, these are these aerial gun ships flying overhead with infrared sights, being able to pick up the enemy as he tries to escape through those streets. And so this truly is overwhelming force.
HUME: And as we go here, we assume that this place is still a hotbed. Is there reason to believe, Bob, that a lot of the enemy forces may have gone and hidden, or escaped, or otherwise won’t be there?
SCALES: You know, Brit, a lot of people have asked me that. I think perhaps some of the leadership has escaped. But I think the hard core, somewhere between about 2,400 and 3,000 are collapsing in. Remember, for these hardcore insurgents, death is a promotion. And they’re looking for an opportunity for victory or martyrdom. And so you’re going to see a really big fight once they collapse into the middle of the city.
HUME: Do they have — I mean it sounds as if the weaponry that they have, IEDs and so on, is crude compared to what the allied forces have.
SCALES: Not only is it crude, but it’s misplaced. Because you know, you can’t move around your IEDs. Once they’re in place, they’re in place.
HUME: And so to what extent are the Iraqi forces likely to really be? I mean they’re not going to be the spearheads. Or are they?
SCALES: But you know, that is the key $64,000 question, Brit. How are those three battalions of Iraqi National Guardsmen and army soldiers going to perform? So far, the reports are that they’ve performed pretty well. They performed well in the capture of that hospital and the bridge crossings. They’ve done pretty well so far. Time will tell how they act as this battle begins to culminate and get really nasty.
HUME: And if I were to look for something to worry about, should I worry about whether this operation, in crushing these defenses in here, will succeed? Or should I be more worried about what happens afterward?
SCALES: What happens afterward. Because you know, it’s one thing to crush the enemy. The Marines and the soldiers are going to do that real well. The real issue is what’s left behind. Stable government, the military in place to restore order and rebuilding done very quickly. You’re going to see rebuilding done in this operation, literally as the operation goes along, to try to restore the trust of the citizens of Fallujah and convince them their future rests with the government instead of the insurgents.
HUME: And how important a factor is it, in your estimation that for all intents and purposes Al- Jazeera (search) is off the air in Iraq during this?
SCALES: Absolutely key. Al-Jazeera has essentially become a propaganda machine for the bad guys. And one of the things the U.S. forces are doing, and I think doing very well, is trying to shut these guys down, so they don’t create this propaganda frenzy that was a problem the last time we went into Fallujah.
HUME: You mean the civilian casualties?
SCALES: Showing the civilian casualties
HUME: There’s going to be some of those though, right?
SCALES: There are going to be some. But recall, they were in that hospital and they were showing hour after hour of tape on Al-Jazeera of all the human suffering. We’re going to be able to avoid that this time.
HUME: Bob Scales, great to have you. Thanks very much.
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