Grange: Treatment of POWs was a violation
(CNN) -- Iraq is holding some U.S. soldiers as prisoners of war after the troops went astray, Pentagon officials said Sunday.
Retired U.S. Army Brig. Gen. David Grange, a CNN military analyst, discussed his experience of having troops under his command taken prisoner with CNN Anchor Renay San Miguel.
San Miguel: General, you were in charge of a division where three soldiers were taken captive during the Kosovo campaign in the spring of 1999. Talk a little bit about that. What was that situation?
Grange: Three of our soldiers were taken prisoner in Macedonia during the Kosovo campaign and taken into Serbia, and were held for awhile until eventually they were released.
San Miguel: And so tell me, what kind of contact did you have with the Serbian army, reminding them about the Geneva Conventions that have been mentioned by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld?
Grange: No direct contact. I believe the government had contact, and of course, you go through the International Red Cross, a third-party representative, in a situation like this. And then later on, I think, through the negotiations with members of the United States, then the three soldiers were released.
San Miguel: We have a graphic here. Secretary Rumsfeld was talking about the Geneva Conventions, his objection to Al-Jazeera showing the pictures of this or to the Iraqi officials showing this. General protection of prisoners of war, Article 13 of the Convention:
"Prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity." Do you believe that Secretary Rumsfeld's objections fit in with this particular article?
Grange: Absolutely. If you look at the difference between -- this is what, over 2,000 prisoners of war, Iraqis, taken by the coalition forces -- one they're captured, searched to make sure they don't have weapons, they are moved immediately to a rear area and a protective status, where they are sheltered, fed and given medical aid. They are not put in a situation where microphones are shoved in their face, flaunted on worldwide television. Totally different approaches to how you're supposed to take care of prisoners of war. And this was, I think, a violation, like the secretary said.
San Miguel: We have a map of southern Iraq, which is the area where supposedly these captures took place. But while we are showing that, I want to ask you, what is the training like for soldiers in the event they are taken prisoner?
Grange: Some soldiers get more extensive training than others, and I probably should just leave it at that.
San Miguel: OK. But, you know, the soldiers are prepared for this event. I have to ask you, though, about the morale once word of this gets out. You combine this, the POW situation, with what happened at Camp Pennsylvania also, with one American soldier accused of turning on his own unit and possibly killing one of his own, what does that do? What could that do to the morale of the soldiers?
Grange: I think the morale issue, when it has to do with prisoners of war, I think right now -- and I just go back to how I felt and my chain of command felt -- is that this will actually strengthen the resolve of the coalition forces to complete their mission, even with more dedication than it has been the last three or four days.
San Miguel: Our Pentagon reporter Barbara Starr reported that apparently these troops were away from -- somehow managed to stray into an area where, as it was said, they should not have been. How could that happen in this particular situation, do you think?
Grange: Very confusing battlefield. You have combat troops, you have support troops. You have troops in between. They're moving back and forth with fuel, with ammunition, with repair parts, moving prisoners, taking care of displaced people, civilians on the battlefield. It may be nighttime. It gets very confusing. It's hard to navigate in a lot of this terrain.
San Miguel: Where do you think the pace of the war goes from here, now that we have this situation with prisoners of war on both sides of the conflict?
Grange: Two things, I believe. One is that the pace, I think, may pick up a bit. And I say that because extraordinary measures have been taken to regulate the amount of damage, hoping that the majority of the Iraqi forces will surrender or just turn down and put down their arms and move back to their garrisons or their home. And I think it's very important now that if that doesn't work, you'll see an increase in pressure to do so.
San Miguel: We have heard reports about the human shields, about Alessio Vinci and Walter Rodgers, actually -- he is one of the embedded journalists -- with the 7th Cavalry. Apparently there are human shields being involved here. Let's talk about the Fedayeen Saddam, the men of sacrifice, here. We have a graphic showing exactly what that's about. Keeping the regular Iraqi army from, what we understand from surrendering, which is what, apparently, they want to do and also gathering women and children near them.
Grange: Yeah, it just goes to show the different types of forces here. I think there's some Iraqi military organizations in the Iraqi army that want to fight as soldiers. And then I think you have the extreme, the thugs that, you know, violate the rule of land warfare and force others to do certain things.
Grange: And it really is -- it goes back also to the treatment of prisoners. It disturbed me that in a situation that these prisoners were shown on television. However, what the positive aspect of this is that the world has seen American prisoners in a certain condition on worldwide television, and expects that they would be treated according to the Geneva Conventions and returned in that same condition or better than we saw on television already today.
San Miguel: Gen. David Grange, thank you for your insight.
Retired Brig. Gen. David Grange was in the U.S. Army for 30 years. He last served as commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division, the "Big Red One." In that position, he served in Germany, Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia. During his military career, Grange was a Ranger and Green Beret. Grange is an executive vice president and chief operating officer at the Robert R. McCormick Tribune Foundation in Chicago, Illinois. He is one of CNN's military analysts, along with retired U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark and retired Maj. Gen. Don Shepperd. Their briefings will appear daily on CNN.com.
EDITOR'S NOTE: CNN's policy is to not report information that puts operational security at risk.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This report was written in accordance with Pentagon ground rules allowing so-called embedded reporting, in which journalists join deployed troops. Among the rules accepted by all participating news organizations is an agreement not to disclose sensitive operational details.