This is a partial transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume," Dec. 21, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
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BRIT HUME, HOST: Only a day after President Bush defended his defense secretary and with Christmas just days off, that attack on the base at Mosul (search) comes at a particularly painful moment. But what does the attack mean in military terms?
For answers we turn to FOX News military analyst, retired Army General Robert Scales, a noted military historian as well.
Bob, welcome. Nice to have you back. Talk to me about the significance of this attack. As Bret Baier pointed out, this is the worst single day’s loss that we’ve taken, in I guess, in a single attack.
MAJ. GEN. BOB SCALES (RET.), FOX NEWS MILITARY ANALYST: There are a couple of lessons to take away from this. First of all, clearly, after the fall of Fallujah (search), the enemy has moved his center of gravity or his headquarters, sort of his symbol of his power from Fallujah to Mosul. Mosul has become sort of the big target, if you will, for the insurgency because he’s trying to regenerate and pick himself up again. And he’s chosen Mosul as essentially both his moral and physical area to do that.
Secondly, this was a classic cheap shot, if you will. It was a one off rocket, 122-Katyusha. If you look at a picture of that tent, you can see where the rocket came in. And it was the tent roof that actually detonated the rocket, as it went into the tent. You could see it there.
And of course, what happened was this was the mess hall that was crammed with over 400 soldiers. The shrapnel effect, of course, dispersed in the air at about 10 or 12 feet in the air. Unfortunately, every piece of shrapnel found a human being.
HUME: This was a shot of the dark. Shot it into the area and hope for the best, or the worst, is it?
SCALES: Right. It is a very inaccurate weapon. It is a free-flight ballistic rocket. We had them fired against us in Vietnam.
But one of the points that this incident points out is the enemy is using very simple 1950s era, Soviet technology in a very artful, creative, and adaptive ways. I think what this tells us is well, for instance, the greatest killer of American soldiers since the end of World War II (search) to the present, the greatest killer of Americans by the enemy have been mortars and rockets. Simple devices used creatively, low tech. The intent being not to win a battle but merely just to kill Americans for effect.
HUME: Now, might more come of this in your view than would come of such a — I mean in other words, is this going to be militarily more significant than the fact that it was a lucky hit?
SCALES: Well, what it shows is the garrison at Mosul is going to have to hunker down, much as the garrison at Fallujah did, because the enemy has got his cross hairs squarely on the American garrison.
HUME: And will there need to be the same kind of military operation mounted as was mounted in Fallujah to clean the place out?
SCALES: Sure. Two things needs to happen. First of all, they’re going to have to bunker in these areas. Soldiers are going to have to start dispersing within these areas so the effects of this one offshoot won’t be catastrophic.
And the second thing is we have been saying on your program for a long time now, you know, the best defense is a good offense. You have got to take the war to the enemy. You have got to go into Mosul, find these Sunni (search) areas, and clean them out before they embed and entrench themselves, much as they did four or five, six months ago in Fallujah.
HUME: Let me turn to Secretary Rumsfeld and his fortunes. It appears for now, at least with the endorsement of the president, that he is safe in his job at least for now and perhaps for as long as he wants it. He was in the newspaper today and USA Today talking about his larger objectives.
What is your sense as a military man about him, about what he’s trying to do, and the trouble he’s in, or has been in, I should say?
SCALES: A lot of my comrades have been — the e-mails have been flying around as you can imagine. I think the consensus is that he certainly needs — you’ve got to keep the military team in place until after the elections. I’m reasonably sure that you’re going to see this insurrection begin to sort of blossom, if you will, in the late winter and the early spring.
HUME: You mean get worse?
SCALES: Oh, clearly because the Sunnis are going to see the handwriting on the wall. They are going to see themselves marginalized by the elections. And they’re going to do whatever they can to gain the political advantage, until the Iraqi government is able to set itself politically, morally, and militarily and begin to take the fight to the Sunnis. So it’s best to keep the team in place until this peak of military violence occurs in the late winter or early spring.
HUME: And what about these larger objectives that existed before 9/11, the transformation of the military? Which he appears he has been trying to do even as this fight goes on, and trying even to introduce this idea of a lighter, more mobile force into Iraq?
SCALES: Right. Right. He’s right there. If you saw a piece in USA Today, he gave two warning orders. One, he said that a lot of these Cold War, big ticket programs that we’ve had in place since before the Cold War are going to be looked at very carefully.
And the second thing he said is watch structure very carefully. The Cold War apportionment between the regular Army and Marine Corps and National Guard and the Army Reserve are going to be overlooked.
Ninety-five percent of the killing and dying will be done by two services, the Army and Marine Corps. Eighty-one percent of those who have been killed in war since World War II have been infantrymen. Not soldiers or Marines but infantrymen; four out of five. Six percent of the DOD force doing 80 percent of the dying.
We’ve simply got to go back and look at our force structure, look at our priorities for development and programs and reshape them to fit the realities of the world that we live in today.
HUME: Is it your view that he is on the right track in what he’s trying to do in this area?
SCALES: In transformation, not exactly. He has been looking for a light force, but he still is strongly in favor of these big-ticket programs. What he telegraphed to us yesterday, he’s beginning to rethink that. In my opinion, at least, that’s a good thing.
HUME: General Scales, always a pleasure to have you. Thanks very much.
SCALES: Thanks, Brit.
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