Veteran correspondent: War not going 'as well as it should'
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The war in Iraq is not going "as well as it should" for U.S. and coalition forces, longtime war correspondent Joe Galloway told CNN anchor Judy Woodruff Friday.
Galloway, a veteran of four decades covering wars overseas, made his comments after U.S. war planners earlier in the day rejected suggestions they had underestimated the strength of Iraq's Fedayeen Saddam and other paramilitary groups. (Full story)
President Bush also has "some level of frustration with the press corps" for accounts questioning the U.S. and coalition war plan in Iraq, according to a senior administration official. (Full story)
Now a military correspondent for Knight-Ridder newspapers, Galloway co-authored the Vietnam War book "We Were Soldiers Once ... and Young." He was portrayed by Barry Pepper in a 2002 movie based on the book. (Entertainment Weekly review)
WOODRUFF: You are talking to a lot of people in the military establishment. Give us a big picture, if you will. What are they saying about how the war is going?
GALLOWAY: Not as well as it should. We are looking at the troops -- front-line troops deployed now, the Marines, the [Army's] 3rd [Infantry] Division -- up about 50 miles from Baghdad and almost in a holding pattern.
We understand that [U.S. Central Command Chief Army] Gen. [Tommy] Franks says we're not going to go after Baghdad until the air power has degraded those front-line Republican Guard divisions to at least 50 percent of strength so that when it comes time to punch through them, you have a better shot at that.
The overall situation -- you've got long, long supply lines, two or three of them, that stretch 300 miles to the rear, and these are under a great deal of pressure from some people we didn't expect to be there.
The Fedayeen, the irregulars, crazies -- whatever you want to call them -- are putting [on] a lot of heat, and the Marines have had to virtually fight their way through Nasiriya with every supply column.
WOODRUFF: You're saying this is not what the Pentagon and the military commanders necessarily expected?
GALLOWAY: I don't think they expected it at all. The plan did not have the necessary elements in it to deal with this. There was a thought -- an expectation, a hope, if you will -- that this thing was going to be quick and easy and bloodless, and we were going to be welcomed with rose petals on our tanks, and this has not come to pass.
WOODRUFF: Who had those expectations? Because we're now hearing at the White House and at the Pentagon and over at Central Command, they're saying, "No, we didn't have unrealistic expectations. We expected them to put up some fight."
GALLOWAY: Well, they may say that, and I would expect them to, but it doesn't necessarily make it so. I heard [Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld] say this war plan is General Franks' war plan, not mine. Well, if it's not his, how come his fingerprints are all over it?
WOODRUFF: What do you mean by that?
GALLOWAY: I mean that this plan was crafted over months and months of almost bitter fighting ... inside the Pentagon, in the war councils.
The secretary and his civilians started off with an idea they could do this with 50,000 or 60,000 troops, that the nature of war has been so changed by air power and precision munitions and precision strikes that they could do it like we did Afghanistan, and that didn't take into account a lot of the reality in present-day Iraq.
WOODRUFF: Just quickly, the 100,000 additional troops going in next month? Was that expected and planned?
GALLOWAY: Those were divisions that had been given a deployment alert, but had almost been left sitting because the Pentagon folks thought that they wouldn't really be needed except to sort of secure post-war Iraq.
So you have a situation where your immediate reinforcements, the 4th [Infantry] Division, should be there in a couple of weeks, but the follow-on after that -- the 1st Armored Division out of Germany, the 1st Cavalry Division out of Fort Hood -- are five, six, seven weeks away.