Rumsfeld Denies Plan for Permanent U.S. Bases in Iraq; Scorns News Story That Pentagon Wants Long-Term Military Presence
Byline: Bill Gertz, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said yesterday the military has no plans to set up long-term bases in Iraq for U.S. forces.
Mr. Rumsfeld said four bases are being used by the military for "stability operations" and for supplying humanitarian aid.
He said the Pentagon is starting to pull forces out of the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, which includes Iraq.
As for how U.S. forces will be deployed in the Middle East in the future, Mr. Rumsfeld said he has some ideas but no concrete plans or anything to announce now.
U.S. military forces attacked Iraq to change a regime, he said.
"We went in there to find weapons of mass destruction," he said. "We went in there to stop them from threatening their neighbors."
In Iraq yesterday, Marines fought a battle near Mosul against unidentified gunmen, said Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
In northern Iraq, Special Forces troops found a large cache of weapons south of Kirkuk. The arms in 40 bunkers included rockets for multiple launchers, artillery rounds and other munitions, including 50 SA-7 hand-held surface-to-air missiles, Gen. Myers said.
"There's still a lot of dangerous work to do in terms of continued security and stability, as well as the search for weapons of mass destruction and support to humanitarian operations," Gen. Myers said.
As for Iraq's hidden weapons, Mr. Rumsfeld said U.S. forces are not likely to uncover chemical, biological or nuclear-related arms and equipment by accident.
"What's going to happen, ultimately, is we'll find people, and the people will decide that they want to look forward instead of back, and they will come to us, as they are, and offer up suggestions as to where one might look and how one might approach it, and testimony on their personal involvements," Mr. Rumsfeld said, noting that "we will obviously look with favor on people that do that."
An Iraqi scientist who worked in Iraq's chemical weapons program disclosed to an American military team that Iraq destroyed chemical and biological arms equipment days before the war began.
The scientist led military weapons specialists to a stockpile of chemicals used in making illegal weapons, defense officials said.
The scientist also said Iraq moved some of its weapons of mass destruction to Syria. …