CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Coalition Forces Continue Advance Towards Baghdad
Aired March 24, 2003 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GEN. TOMMY FRANKS, COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: Progress toward our objectives has been rapid and in some cases dramatic.
ANNOUNCER: The many faces and stories of war.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have been up since Friday morning 5:00. And here it is going on Monday night.
ANNOUNCER: On the battlefield, life-or-death decisions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They'll take shots at us, then they'll run up a white flag. And once we stop shooting, they'll run away and shoot at us from another position. It is getting kind of frustrating.
ANNOUNCER: Behind the lines, help for injured.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: We are here just behind the front lines, middle of the desert here. We're in a tent. Behind me is an operating room.
ANNOUNCER: And back home, an agonizing wait.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We all love him. And we just hope that they treat him humanely.
ANNOUNCER: Live from Baghdad, Washington, the Iraqi desert, military bases in Texas and Kentucky, and points around the globe, war in Iraq live from the front lines.
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Just after 3:00 a.m. in Baghdad, coalition forces continue their advance towards this capital of 5 million people. They come from the north and the south. They come from the west. On Monday, the residents of Baghdad heard four separate waves of explosions. There was yet another shortly after midnight Baghdad time.
Good evening again. Once again from the CNN Center in Atlanta, I'm Aaron Brown.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and I'm Wolf Blitzer, reporting tonight live from Kuwait City. While Baghdad awaits the coalition onslaught, there have been a number of other important developments in the war. Within the past hour alone, Pentagon officials have confirmed that two Apache helicopter pilots have been taken prisoner. Iraqi TV pictures of Chief Warrant Officers David S. Williams of Florida and Ronald D. Young. of Georgia seem to indicate the men are in good condition.
Their Apache helicopter was downed about 60 miles south of Baghdad. The defense department has now notified both pilots' families that their loved ones are captives. We'll hear from one of those families in just a few minutes.
A fourth U.S. soldier has been identified as an Iraqi prisoner of war. Army Supply Specialist Edgar Hernandez is shown on the videotape of captured members of the Army's 507th Maintenance Company. Iraqi TV broadcast the pictures Sunday. CNN's Brian Cabell will have more on this story.
The Associated Press reports that a 19-year-old West Virginia woman is among a dozen soldiers reported missing in Iraq. The AP quotes her father as saying she too was with that U.S. Army maintenance crew.
In a videotape aired earlier on Iraqi TV, a man who appeared to be Saddam Hussein praised his troops for causing the infidels to suffer. U.S. officials say this tape may not be new. They're still investigating whether Saddam Hussein may have been killed in last Thursday's initial attack.
Also on Monday, more coalition casualties arrived at a medical center in Germany. Eight of the 12 U.S. troops arriving today suffered from combat-related injuries -- Aaron.
BROWN: Wolf, thank you. As Wolf mentioned, the military has now formally notified two families that their sons are prisoners of war being held tonight in Iraq. The men were aboard an Apache helicopter that went down in a fierce fight about 60 miles south of Baghdad last night.
In suburban Atlanta tonight, CNN's Susan Candiotti talked with Ronald and Kay Young. They are the parents of Chief Warrant Officer Ronald D. Young.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're at the home of Ronald and Kay Young, who have asked us to show us the very first videotape pictures available of their son, who has apparently been captured and is a prisoner of war at this time.
Here is the videotape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (speaks in Arabic)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CANDIOTTI: Mrs. Young, how do you -- how does your son look to you when you see him on that videotape?
KAY YOUNG, MOTHER OF POW RONALD YOUNG: I think he looks good. He looks like he always looks when he's angry. He's a tough soldier, and he believes in what he's doing. He wanted to go. And he just -- he's told me many times -- well, the last thing he told me was, he was going over there, and he was going to spank some butts, in a little worse language. But he -- I think he looks good.
CANDIOTTI: What is the last thing you said to him?
KAY YOUNG: That I loved him, and I cried. And I have cried so much today, I just don't think I have any tears left. But I'm just -- now it is like a bad dream. It is just like a bad dream.
CANDIOTTI: I have to ask you, if you had the chance, and this might be one, to talk to your son, what you to want him to know?
KAY YOUNG: Oh, I want him to know how much I love him, how much we're praying for him. Everybody is. I have family in South Carolina and prayer lists everywhere. And my church is having a fast for him. And he just -- we have prayers coming from every direction. And if prayers can bring you home, it will.
But he -- I want him to know how proud I am of him, and...
CANDIOTTI: Is this something you always thought might happen in the back of your mind?
KAY YOUNG: Yes.
CANDIOTTI: Tell me about that.
KAY YOUNG: When he first went into the service -- well, when 9/11 first happened, he had orders to go to Afghanistan, but he never had to go. But he came home one weekend, and we just both cried. We just held each other and cried. It was so sweet. And then he didn't go.
So this time we didn't really do that. But, you know, I've only talked to him once since he's been gone, and I've gotten one letter. So -- but we have sent boxes, and all my friend have sent boxes, and we've sent mail. And I don't know if he'll get any of it now, but he -- he told me in the letter, you know, their mess tent burned down. He said, My mess tent burnt down, and it took four other tents with it.
And he said, Now we're eating Mr-3s.
CANDIOTTI: MREs, meals ready to eat, right.
KAY YOUNG: (UNINTELLIGIBLE). And, yes, he wasn't real fond of that. But he said that they had their orders, and he didn't think it was going to be very difficult maneuver, that he thought they would be fine.
CANDIOTTI: What is your hope for him now, Mrs. Young?
KAY YOUNG: I really hoped all day long that he would not be captured. But since he has been, I just hope they won't do anything to him, that, you know, they won't hurt him, they won't torture him, and that he'll come back the person he was when he left.
CANDIOTTI: Mr. Young, you were telling me that when you all first saw the tape of the downed helicopter, you had a notion it might have at least belonged to his unit. Tell me about that.
RONALD YOUNG, SR., FATHER OF POW RONALD YOUNG: Well, we saw the emblems on the helmet and on the side of the helicopter that showed the bat wings, and he's with the Vampire Unit of his regiment. So I knew that, you know, it had to be one of them. There is one out of six chances it couldn't have been him. But as luck would have it, it was him.
CANDIOTTI: Obviously you hoped it wasn't.
RONALD YOUNG: I was hoping all day long that it wasn't, but, you know, there's not much you can do in a situation like this. If it is him, then I -- my hope for him now is for him just to come home. I just want him to come home.
CANDIOTTI: You're obviously very proud of him, as only a father would be.
RONALD YOUNG: Oh, yes, absolutely.
CANDIOTTI: Seeing him on tape like this, this is not the way you want to see your son.
RONALD YOUNG: No, no. I would like to see him here with me.
CANDIOTTI: How he did look to you?
RONALD YOUNG: He looked good to me. I mean, he looked like they must have just picked him up, or something, because he didn't look like hurt or starved or anything, just -- he looked like he normally does.
CANDIOTTI: What did you think when he said, Dad, I want to join the Army, I want to be a pilot?
RONALD YOUNG: Well, I tried to talk him into going on to college and finishing up his degree, but he wanted to fly, and they gave him -- and the Army gave him a chance to fly early, which is a two-year degree, and he excelled at the program that he was in. And so he went ahead and I -- if that's what he wants to do, that's what I want him to do.
I just don't want to see him in a situation like this, and I wish they had -- could have been able to get him out, the two boys out, both of them. But, you know, it's one of those things, I guess. Just have to kind of go along, see what happens.
CANDIOTTI: Naturally, there are worries, as any father would be worried. What do you want your son to know?
RONALD YOUNG: That I love him and I can't wait for him to come home. Take care of himself.
CANDIOTTI: When last time you spoke with him?
RONALD YOUNG: It was just before he left, just before he left to go over. We spent a week with him in Texas just before he left to go on this last tour of duty.
CANDIOTTI: How did he feel about his mission?
RONALD YOUNG: He felt good about it, I could tell. He and his roommate both felt real good about what they were doing. March 24, 2003 And they thought that they were going to get out there, and be a quick situation. But it looks like to me it's going to be a little more difficult than they had anticipated.
CANDIOTTI: Kelly, what you to want to say to your brother? I know you also have some photographs of him that...
KELLY LIVELY, SISTER OF POW RONALD YOUNG: We just have -- this is Ron and my brother, my oldest brother's child, Jared, (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...
KAY YOUNG: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...
LIVELY: ... coming out of boot camp. And this is one (UNINTELLIGIBLE) one officer's school. So I just -- when I tell Ron that I love him, and I want everybody to know that we support what he's doing. And that -- just that we love him, and that we know that even if he loses his life or whatever, that it is for a good cause. And that we just support him.
CANDIOTTI: Samantha, your brother, I know you wanted to also talk about him. You must be so proud of him, that he joined the Army, wanted to be in the Air Force. Did you have any misgivings about him going over there?
SAMANTHA GEROW, SISTER OF POW RONALD YOUNG: No, I thought -- I knew he could do it. I had a feeling that nothing was wrong with him. He was OK.
CANDIOTTI: And how does he look to you on the videotape?
GEROW: He looks OK.
CANDIOTTI: He has a very...
CANDIOTTI: ... strong look. And seeing him like this, when you first heard about what had happened, what did you think?
GEROW: I just went in tears. I mean, I couldn't even function. I didn't -- because we didn't know what was going on. We just had Army guys at my mom's house. So we -- I called my husband, Jim, and he came off from work, and we came right here. I mean, it was awful feeling.
CANDIOTTI: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) like that. Mrs. Young, you have a houseful of people here.
KAY YOUNG: And we have said all day, and they are so wonderful.
CANDIOTTI: When you heard about what happened to your son, what was your first thought?
KAY YOUNG: I thought I already knew it. I just already knew it. I had cried all morning. You know, I just knew it.
CANDIOTTI: Why did you feel you knew it was him?
KAY YOUNG: Last night -- I don't know just when this happened, but somewhere around 20 till 12:00 or something, I just had a mother's feeling. I felt like Ron was there with me. I just felt like he kind of put his arms around me. And I guess that was me being comforted, you know.
But then when I saw the helicopter around quarter till five -- I even -- that was so dramatic that I looked at the clock. And so when I saw the helicopter down, I thought, you know, he's gone. I felt like, you know, he had visited me. So I'm so glad that was not true. And I kept telling myself, you know, maybe I'm imagining this, because I knew that they were in heavy fire.
But there is one thing, that I make good friends. They help. But this antiwar, these rallies, they hurt the people who have loved ones over there. Even if they don't mean it to be disrespectful or hurtful, it is. When you've got a son over there who wants to be there and fight and defend the country, you know, this is not a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- a military that has been drafted.
These are people who enlisted and want to serve this country. This is a different thing from Vietnam. My husband served in Vietnam, and it is totally different. And it is hard enough to let your son go, but when people disrespect them that way, that probably bothers me more than anything. And I know you didn't ask me that, but that's really what I wanted to say.
CANDIOTTI: We appreciate your thoughts.
Mr. Young, is there anything you want to add here?
RONALD YOUNG: No, just that I hope this thing didn't last (UNINTELLIGIBLE) at all -- I hope it is not a real prolonged thing, and I hope all the people that are over there, the POWs, do get back, like they left. I hope they're OK, I hope everything is all right with them. CANDIOTTI: He had training. Did you ever talk about that, whether he just (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...
RONALD YOUNG: No, I really didn't. I never really thought about this happening to him. And when it -- when it took place today, the biggest thing -- worry I had on my mind was that he -- they had done something to him while he was there, and he hadn't been able to get out of the plane or something.
But he's captured, and now just hoping for a safe return. That's all I've got on my mind right now.
CANDIOTTI: Well, we thank all of you for joining us and inviting us into your home. And certainly everyone hopes that he'll return home safely.
RONALD YOUNG: Thank you.
LIVELY: Thank you.
Susan Candiotti, CNN, in Lithia Springs, Georgia.
BROWN: Well, Wolf, as you know, we've talked about this, we were out in the Kuwaiti desert with this group a month ago. Among the things they have going for them is, they have been trained in how to deal with this sort of thing, should it happen. In that sense, they have an advantage over the five young Americans who were taken yesterday.
It is difficult to watch families in these sorts of moments, but it is a reminder that this is a war, and these things happen. And it is -- it is tough.
BLITZER: You know, Aaron, it is very tough. And even though there have been POWs in all of America's wars -- including the Persian Gulf War a dozen years ago, there were several POWs -- it still is something that the American public has a hard time dealing with. I'm not sure that the American public was ready for POWs showing up on Iraqi television. I think they were prepared for casualties, but seeing American POWs, including women who are POWs, is especially hard.
One of those U.S. prisoners in Iraq right now is Army Specialist Shoshana Johnson. She is one of the members of that Army maintenance team that was captured on Sunday.
CNN's Ed Lavandera talked with some members of her family and joins us now live from Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas -- Ed.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf.
Well, just a short while ago we wrapped up the interview with Shoshana Johnson's father and sister. Shoshana Johnson's father is a Gulf War veteran himself, a 20-year veteran of the Army. Her sister is an Army captain. And they have been paying very close attention to what's been going on.
Now, Shoshana Johnson's father told me just a little while ago that she -- he found out that his daughter was a prisoner of war by flipping on the television, watching a Spanish -- the Spanish-language network, Telemundo, at 8:00 in the morning, as he was flipping for cartoons for her granddaughter -- for his granddaughter, and then up popped the image of the prisoner of war stories, and then up popped the image of his daughter on the television set.
He didn't find out until six hours later. He didn't get the official word from Army officials that indeed his daughter had been taken as a prisoner of war.
Now, we covered a lot of ground with the Johnson family just a short while ago, and we'll be bringing snippets of that interview throughout the evening here. But they did say that they were a little frustrated by the fact they had to find out about this, because -- over the television, and that they also say that they have had very little contact with officials here at Fort Bliss. There have only been a handful of meetings with them, and there hasn't been a lot of detail as to what exactly has happened to that unit.
In fact, the family says that they had no idea that Shoshana Johnson was into Iraq. Last they'd heard, she was in Kuwait. And given her job -- she's an aspiring chef and had gotten an assignment as the cook for this maintenance company here from Fort Bliss, Texas, and they say that they were shocked to learn that she was even close to harm's way. They expected that she would be very far from the front lines.
The family says they have seen portions of the images from the -- that were broadcast on Arab television. They say that outside of a bandage they believe they saw on one of Shoshana Johnson's legs, that they believe she's OK. Her sister described her as a fighter, someone who'll be able to pull through this. But the father says it for them, right now, it is incredibly important that the Red Cross get in there and assess just what kind of condition these prisoners of war are living under.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLAUDE JOHNSON, FATHER OF POW SHOSHANA JOHNSON: Well, if they play the tape back in its entirety, they'll see exactly what I'm talking about. I want them to realize that soldiers on the battlefield includes everybody. You get a prisoner of war, you need to get Red Cross in there quick, fast, and in a hurry, to ensure that you make an assessment of the prisoners, see what conditions they are. If you wait too long, if you're late, you don't know what the prisoners look like when they got there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAVANDERA: So clearly, the family anticipating any kind of news that they can get from Army officials here, but they know that that will be slow in coming. They desperately want to be able to get -- that Mr. Johnson desperately wants to get his daughter back home, but they do say that they're confident that she knows how to handle herself in these situations -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Ed, I know there are thousands of troops from Fort Bliss who have come over here to the Persian Gulf. How are -- those remaining behind, the family members and the other troops who didn't make it on this mission over here, how are they coping with word of these POWs?
LAVANDERA: Well, you know, they're -- from what the Army officials here say at Fort Bliss, there are several programs in place to help them deal with all this. They've talked a lot about it, family readiness group. And there is also, for example, in the Johnson family case, her sister is an Army captain. Her father is a 20-year veteran of the Army as well. As her sister told me just a little while ago, the kind of consider themselves military brats, if you will.
So they -- there seemed to be a lot of just -- an understanding of how these things go and how these situations work out. So they seemed confident that things will work out the best. In fact, her father told me as we were leaving that hopefully the next time we get to interview him, that his daughter is standing next to him, and we would have a chance to interview her as well.
BLITZER: Ed Lavandera at Fort Bliss in Texas. Thanks very much, Ed.
Meanwhile, casualty totals are, casualty totals are coming in quickly, but not quickly enough, according to some. The Pentagon is double-checking reports from the field and informing families before releasing numbers. By CNN's count, and this is unofficial, coalition casualties since the start of the war include 39 dead. Twenty-two of those are Americans.
One British soldier was killed in action Monday. That's first reported British combat death. Iraqi death tolls are even harder to confirm. Iraq's information ministry lists at least 62 deaths in eight cities -- Aaron.
BROWN: Well, just quickly to underscore something Mr. Johnson said, one of the reasons to put these pictures on television is that it does show the condition of these men and women when they were taken. And it does place the responsibility for their condition clearly now on the Iraqi government. Troops, obviously, are not the only ones in life or death, as you see, the five taken yesterday and the condition -- you see four of the five there, the condition that they were in.
It is now incumbent on the Iraqi government to make sure their condition gets no worse. All of them -- most of them had some injuries. All of them appear to have had those injuries tended to, at least in some way. But the Geneva Convention makes clear what the responsibilities are. And by showing these pictures and allowing the world to see them and the condition they were in helps ensure, we hope, that they will get out in as good a shape as possible.
In any case, the fighting and the bloodshed continues. The medical units have serious work to do out there. As we looked at those casualty numbers, that is certainly clear. Doctors are also on the ground in the war zone as never before. They are working to save lives. They are tending American and British soldiers. They are also tending injured POWs, Iraqi soldiers.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta was in southern Iraq with a medical unit known as the Devil Docs, and he filed this report, extraordinary report, from the field.
GUPTA: We are here just behind the front line in an FRFS, front line resuscitative surgical suite. Right behind me, for first time ever, an operation has been done on the abdomen for a gunshot wound, it's the first time it's ever been done here at this forward resuscitative surgical suite.
Just to give you a sense, we're in the middle of a desert here. We're in a tent. Behind me is an operating room. There's a floor on the tent, there's double layers to the tent to try and keep this clean, try and keep this sterile.
The patient behind, interestingly, is what is known as an EPW, an enemy prisoner of war. Now, the doctors here have an obligation to operate on enemy prisoners of war just as they do coalition forces. This particular patient, an enemy prisoner of war.
All the equipment, as far as the surgical tools themselves, are the same. They're brought over and put here in the desert. They obviously don't have some of the things that they would like to have. But they're able to do an operation that is very sophisticated. Again, a gunshot wound to the abdomen, a very sophisticated operation. Doing that very well here in the desert.
BROWN: Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Frank Buckley is another of our embedded correspondents. He's on the U.S.S. "Constellation," and Frank joins us live now for the latest from there -- Frank.
FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, yes, aboard the U.S.S. "Constellation," flight operations are continuing. But tonight, we're getting our first views of the flight operations from the first strikes into Iraq. These are views that are courtesy of a RIO, that's a radar intercept officer, who's sitting in the back seat of an F-14 Tomcat as he and his pilot are moving into Baghdad on the first night of strikes.
BUCKLEY (voice-over): An F-14 in the night sky, destination, Baghdad. It is the first night of coalition air strikes, the beginning of A-Day. A radar intercept officer in the back seat of another F-14 Tomcat is shooting this home video through his night- vision goggles.
The F-14 and other jets are from the U.S.S. "Constellation" in the Persian Gulf. As they approach Iraq, the jets of each strike package get gas from tanker planes.
It is a beautiful starry night, but the lights down below are even more striking.
On the ground in Baghdad, the source of the lights, explosions from coalition air strikes and cruise missile hits, triple-A, seen as small bursts of light in the air, and surface-to-air missiles, not seen on this tape, are going up. Pilots returning to the "Constellation" describe a spectacular light show.
LT. PAT CRONIN, U.S. NAVY: Just continuous, constant explosions going off all over the place. We saw the triple-A coming up, occasionally you see some missile bursts.
CAPT. BILL BARBER, U.S. MARINES: I don't think anything we could have thought of would have prepared us for what we were going to see happening on the ground out there.
BUCKLEY: Their job done, the strike packages fly out of Iraq and return to the "Constellation." The plan, known as the Shock and Awe campaign, is under way.
BUCKLEY: And increasingly, the aircraft from the U.S.S. "Constellation" and some of the other air assets involved on the coalition side are directed at close air support, that is, supporting troops on the ground. Some of the most recent strikes off the "Constellation" have been in and around -- or just around Saddam International Airport and also directed at Iraqi Republican Guard -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Frank Buckley aboard the U.S.S. "Constellation," one of three U.S. aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf. First time we have heard directly that U.S. air strikes now going after Saddam International Airport, the major airport, of course, in Baghdad, at least positions near that airport. Frank Buckley, one of our embedded journalists.
There is a growing sense that the intensity of the war is increasing, and so is the danger. Coalition forces are gaining ground as they approach Baghdad. Once they get there, they could run into the fiercest fighting yet from special Iraqi troops guarding the capital.
CNN's Pentagon correspondent, our senior Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre, is pursuing all of these details, including the latest on those two captured U.S. pilots -- Jamie.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it does, in fact, look like it's possible the U.S. troops could face not only the most stiffest resistance, but the most feared weapons. U.S. officials tell CNN's David Ensor tonight that U.S. intelligence reports suggest that Iraqi Republican Guard may have been ordered to use chemical weapons if U.S. troops cross a theoretical red line ringing Baghdad.
Now, officials caution that doesn't mean they'll actually use the weapons, but apparently they have been give that authority. This news comes as the U.S. and British forces are preparing for a showdown with the Republican Guard.
MCINTYRE (voice-over): U.S. troops are within 50 miles of Baghdad, preparing to engage a key Republican Guard division in what may be a decisive battle in the war against Iraq.
The first assault against Republican Guard troops has already been conducted south of Baghdad near Karbala with more than 30 U.S. Apache Longbow helicopters and multiple launch rocket systems. From reporter accounts, it was a fierce fight. One Apache was lost, forced to put down in a field, its two-man crew captured and later shown on Iraqi television.
BRIG. GEN. VINCE BROOKS, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: All the other helicopters involved in the mission did accomplish the mission and returned safe to base.
MCINTYRE: But almost all the Apache gunships sustained some damage from heavy Iraqi gunfire. And Pentagon sources say punishing air strikes are now in store to soften up the dug-in troops. In fact, sources say, about half of the air strikes conducted in the last 36 hours have been directed at Republican Guard positions around Baghdad, including one of the best divisions, the Medina Division.
MAJ. GEN. STAN MCCHRISTAL, JOINT STAFF DEPUTY DIRECTOR: I am sure that it has been degraded significantly in the last 48 hours or so. I couldn't judge its current strength. But it is a lynchpin to the consistency of the Republican Guard defense.
MCINTYRE: U.S. commanders insist they are not at all surprised by the stiff Iraqi resistance.
FRANKS: We have come across dead-enders, and we have had some terrific firefights with some of these. Not unexpected. And I think our people are prepared to fight this war.
MCINTYRE: And the U.S. says it is better prepared to deal with acts of deadly deception. Yesterday, Pentagon officials complained that Iraqi forces pretended to surrender or posed as civilians in order to ambush U.S. forces. Today the Pentagon said that was a violation of the international law of armed conflict, which prohibits what is known as perfidy or treachery, because it makes it very difficult for the U.S. to accept surrenders.
Also, Wolf, just a note that the Pentagon has released the identities of the two Apache helicopter pilots who were apparently captured and displayed on Iraqi television, both chief warrant officers, David Williams and Ronald Young -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And given the irregular nature of some of these forces, the dangers facing U.S. troops, is the Pentagon ready to change the so-called rules of engagement to protect U.S. military personnel a little bit more effectively, even if that risks Iraqi civilians in the process?
MCINTYRE: Well, no. The Pentagon says they're not going to change the rules of engagement. They're simply going to be more careful in applying the rules that they have.
Essentially, what they will do is act as if every person is a potential threat. That is, when someone waves a white flag and gives up, the U.S. won't let down its guard. They'll continue to treat them as a threat until they're absolutely sure that they're disarmed and not a threat. Apparently in one of these cases soldiers had laid down their weapons, and as they were approached by U.S. Marines, they picked their weapons back up again and fired into the Marine line -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon. Thanks, Jamie, very much.
When we come back, we're going to show you pictures of that first night of bombing in Baghdad. Pictures you have not seen before from a different angle. You'll also be impressed by the images of war, images of war showing the horrifying nature precisely of what is going on.
BROWN: President Bush expected to meet this week with the British Prime Minister Tony Blair, a show of solidarity for the coalition side. That meeting may come as early as Thursday. There is more news out of the White House as well tonight. CNN's Suzanne Malveaux has the watch. Suzanne Malveaux has the watch. Good to see you tonight.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Aaron. We just got some news. A senior administration official briefed us on the supplemental. This is the cost of the war the president is going to officially unveil tomorrow at the Pentagon. We have some numbers for you here.
Democrats, Republicans and the Defense Department all may not be satisfied with these figures, but this is what the administration has come up with. It is a total of $74.7 billion. Of that, $63 billion for the prosecution of the war, $8 billion for international operations. That also includes relief, aid to other countries, including Jordan, Egypt, $1 billion for Turkey, Pakistan, Philippines, Colombia, just to name a few. And then also $4 billion for homeland security. Now, according to this senior administration official, he says the initial cost to get those troops inside of Iraq, as well as get them out, is $30 billion. He estimates it will cost about $5 billion a month to have the war continue. But, of course, Aaron, as you know, there are a lot of factors in play here. This is all based on what this senior administration official said is a six-month period. If it lasts longer or shorter, these figures could dramatically change -- Aaron.
BROWN: Suzanne, one quick question on the money. The $30 billion, is that separate from the supplemental request? Is that money that's already been spent? And then I want to moven to something else.
MALVEAUX: That is simply an estimate, he says, of what he expects it will cost to actually have those troops go in and out. This is not something that has already been paid for. The supplemental, as you know, is in addition to the $300 billion that is already allotted for the Defense Department. And, of course, you have to account reconstruction as well as humanitarian aid.
All of these things that -- this is going to the taxpayers. This is something that is coming out of the U.S. Treasury. They do not expect a lot of aid to come.
BROWN: All right. Let's do two other things if we can. There is this tension now between the American government and the Russian government over reports of Russian contractors operating in Iraq. What can you report there?
MALVEAUX: Well, you're absolutely right. A rift with Russia today. President Bush actually got on the phone and he called President Putin about this because the White House says that they are quite concerned about this. What they say is that they have evidence -- Secretary Powell saying -- as recently as within the last 48 hours. New evidence that these Russian companies are illegally selling this sensitive military technology to Iraqi military, to Iraqi officials.
Even equipment that could jam up the GPS for those missiles that the U.S. used for its bombing campaign. This is something that they're very concerned that the Iraqis will take advantage of. Well, the foreign minister of Russia, Igor Ivanov, said that, no, they don't have any information about this, no evidence that that is the case. But the administration says they see it quite differently.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: And we are very concerned that there are reports of ongoing cooperation and support to Iraqi military forces being provided by a Russian company that produces GPS-jamming equipment. This is what was discussed in the phone call. There are other causes of concern as well involving night vision goggles and anti-tank guided missiles.
(END VIDEO CLIP) MALVEAUX: So where are we in all of this? Well, we are told that President Putin said he would get back to President Bush, he would look into this. But Russian officials are saying they don't have evidence that they are actually allowing these illegal shipments to take place. But the administration says they have been monitoring this for some time. They are bringing it up because, of course, it is a very sensitive issue, but also it's a very dangerous situation on the ground -- Aaron.
BROWN: All right. One more before we let you get away. Has there been anything in the last hour or so, two hours from the White House on the two Apache POWs that we've been reporting on, or on the POW strain of the story generally?
MALEAUX: Well, I can tell you about it generally. The last couple of hours we've actually been in that briefing with the senior administration official on the whole supplemental issue. But earlier today Ari Fleischer was asked about the state of the POWs and the president's feelings about it.
He said that of course the president feels for the families. That, again, those POWs must be treated humanely. And he also again said that there is every commitment from the administration, of course, for their release.
BROWN: Suzanne, thank you very much. Suzanne Malveaux, busy night at the White House. A lot of developments there.
We come back to the POW question. Those images of the POWs we've seen over the last two days now bring back all too familiar memories for some people. One of them, Colonel Rhonda Cornum. She was a U.S. flight surgeon during the first Gulf War, and she was taken prisoner by the Iraqis. And she spoke to us earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COL. RHONDA CORNUM, U.S. ARMY: Well, I knew that their families, when they found out, would be going through exactly the same thing mine did, which was concern. I felt that these soldiers were trained for this, that they will do the right thing, they will come together and have faith. That their families are going to get taken care of. The readiness groups will take care of each other. And that the military is just as dedicated to getting them out quickly as they were back in '91 when we were captured.
The real things that are of concern to a prisoner of war, are -- the first thing you worry about is what is going to happen to your family. I mean are they OK. And the next things you worry about in order are, are they going to kill me, am I going to be disabled, and when am I going to get out? And I had absolute faith that the administration we had then and General Schwarzkopf and General Powell were going to do everything they could to get me out and I just had to stay alive long enough for them to accomplish that.
Secondly, there obviously isn't any place safe. So combat versus noncombat, you weren't safe in the twin towers, you weren't safe a lot of places. So I don't think that women in combat is really an issue here. Everybody is in combat that is either in the war on terrorism or in Iraqi freedom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Rhonda Cornum. She's not only a lucky woman. She's a very courageous woman as well.
Coalition forces are now within 60 miles of Baghdad. But as the troops get closer, the fight is likely to get tougher. Let's take a look at the big military picture, as we do every night. CNN's Miles O'Brien is standing by live from the CNN newsroom in Atlanta with CNN military analyst, the former NATO supreme commander, retired General Wesley Clark. Go ahead, Miles.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Wolf. Already have been some tough battles. We're going to tell you a little bit about what's going on now.
Joining me, as Wolf said, is General Wes Clark. He's at our map table right now. Let's put our map in motion. General Clark, good to have you with us.
GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Thanks, Miles.
O'BRIEN: Give you a quick regional view, and then we're going to move in on the south, specifically on the Basra area today. And the reason I point out Basra is the Brits took a combat fatality there today, indicative of the fact there is still a lot of engagement there. General Clark, what is going on in the ground here?
CLARK: What we have is, in the Basra area, we still have the British forces engaged. We have some of the Republican Guards and some of the elements of the 51st Division that supposedly surrendered, plus local Fedayeen fighters that have blended back into the city.
They are holding on there. They are resisting the British advance into the city. The Brits occupy an airfield and a couple of key bridges there. But we're not controlling this city.
The city apparently is in some humanitarian crisis as well, and there is fighting. And the question is how do we advance in this? Do we use artillery and our firepower, and do we do that at the risk of harming civilians? And that's the dilemma that the British forces are working.
O'BRIEN: All right. That's a difficult question, because it really makes the forces walk a tight rope between just how far to go, how secure a place needs to be before you move on.
Let's move to Nasiriyah, where it's sort of a similar dilemma. And here what we have today is more evidence of fierce shelling involving Marines, primarily. What is going on there right now, General Clark?
CLARK: Well, Nasiriyah has got two key bridges over the Euphrates River. And what we're trying to do in Nasiriyah is secure it. That is, drive out those elements of the enemy that would interfere with the passage of movement through Nasiriyah.
At least 400 hardcore enemy fighters are in there, more probably coming in at night. They're driving in civilian vehicles. Some of them are in civilian clothes. Some of them are taking buses, pickup trucks and whatever.
They're armed with rocket-propelled grenades, heavy machineguns and mortars. They're fighting from inside buildings. The Marines are fighting back. The Marines have penetrated through the city, but it is not yet cleared.
O'BRIEN: All right. And this is the bridge, which is so crucial. At least one of the bridges. There are two of them there that we're focusing on.
Let's move along to Karbala, which is about 60 miles from Baghdad, where the U.S. forces lost an Apache helicopter today. Its crew missing right now. Although we have just determined, I guess, that they are now prisoners of war.
First of all, this engagement here was helicopter versus the Medina division of the Republican Guard. Is that typically the way tank battles begin, with helicopters first probing?
CLARK: Miles, this was deep attack. This was the first army deep doctrinal deep attack mission. We trained this mission for about 18 years. It was designed to go against the Soviets. We applied it against the 2nd Brigade of the Medina Division.
We had good results on this mission. We took a bunch of T-72s (ph) artillery and infantry. On the other hand, it was a firefight, and we took return fire.
We've learned our lessons. There are things we could do better. We got most of the Apaches back. Many of them did take fire and many of them did have bullet holes.
But this was a successful mission. It is the start of grinding down of one of the key Republican Guard divisions.
O'BRIEN: All right. From Karbala, let's fly into the downtown Baghdad area. And we'll give you a quick -- well, there is the end result of the bombing, the CENTCOM briefing today. Now we'll get you into Baghdad, which is only, as we say, 60 miles away.
And today at the Central Command briefing they released a before and after of some of this bombing effort, which we have been witness to via television. This is one of the special security facilities. This is something that -- an organization run by Qusay Hussein, the son of Saddam Hussein.
And here is another facility here. This is an air force barracks. It's quite dramatic. You'll take a look at the barracks there and then you see the value of precision weaponry, because if you look down here, all these other buildings are still in place. When they say precision, they mean it, don't they?
CLARK: Well, we're really striking at the buildings, and hopefully we know what is underneath them and we have the right ordnance to go in underneath these buildings and take out the command centers.
The issue here is we're taking out some of these command centers. We don't know if they're occupied. And, of course, eventually we're going to be there and we're going want to go through the special security organization to get the evidence on where the weapons of mass destruction really are.
O'BRIEN: Interesting point. You want to preserve some of that evidence. From Baghdad, let's take a quick trip to the north and then we'll button up this overview. The north is a little sketchier, to say the least.
We know there are troops on the ground there. As we swing back and look down to the south, give us a sense of how much is there and what is there right now, General Clark.
CLARK: Well it is, as you say, Miles, it's sketchy. We haven't heard a lot of information about the north. We know we've got about a thousand people who have moved in there by helicopter. We would presume these are Special Forces, maybe some Ranger elements, maybe some people to work with the Kurds.
We know we have a Marine commander in there who has organized the headquarters to help facilitate the coordination. And then it is going to be a matter of taking in a regular fight up against the 40,000-plus Iraqi troops and three corps that are organized up in the north.
O'BRIEN: All right. Headed toward Baghdad at some point. But we don't know exactly when that all fits together. The timing of this very crucial, isn't it, General?
CLARK: It is crucial. But where we are right now is we're still closing the force up. We've made this dash out of Kuwait. We had to do that. We had to get up and close with the Iraqi main defense. We're closing up on that main defense right now 50 miles or so south of Baghdad.
And we're going to pull up, we're going to tighten up, we're going to prepare the battlefield there. We have to shift gears, so to speak. And that process will take another two or three days and then we'll be into the fight against the enemies' first echelon defense.
O'BRIEN: It's a painful, tough process. We're watching it unfold before our very eyes. General Wesley Clark, as always, appreciate your insights -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you very much, Miles. And thank you, General Clark, as well. The Army's 3rd-7th Calvary is stalled for a second day in south central Iraq. CNN senior international correspondent, Walter Rodgers, is embedded with the troops.
WALTER RODGERS, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: For the past 24 hours, the 3rd squadron of the U.S. Army's 7th Cavalry has stayed pretty much in the same position. This is disappointing and frustrating for the soldiers. The commander said yesterday that he intended to be well passed this point and on his way much further north towards the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.
That has not happened. The reason is the Iraqis have put up stiff resistance and they have been quite skillful at using civilians -- Iraqi civilians in and among the Iraqi troops to prevent the United States from calling in air power. We went out on a probe with the 7th Calvary early this morning, looking for a route around this major city in southern Iraq trying to probe for a place where the Army could push on through.
Almost immediately, after we got to an area where we thought it possible, it turned out to be not so. The Army took two rocket- propelled grenades; both missed the tanks and missed the armored personnel carriers by only a nose. But, again, the Iraqis who fired those RPGs at the U.S. forces were virtually embedded in the civilian population.
We were in a small agricultural area in the Mesopotamian Delta. And suddenly, when -- one minute civilians are waving at us, the Iraqi civilians, the next minute, bang, boom, boom, and then there came small arms fire. Again, no U.S. soldier was injured. They did not hit the tanks or Bradley fighting vehicles, but it was a near miss, and afterwards the Army got on its machineguns and killed four of the Iraqis who were firing.
But, again, the progress northward towards Baghdad has been slow because the Iraqis have been screening themselves in civilian population centers. Walter Rodgers, CNN, with the U.S. 7th Cavalry in south central Iraq.
BROWN: It's true in all wars, it's certainly true in this one. It does have a way of creating refugees. We have seen Iraqi refugees camping on makeshift tent cities. Others are taking advantage of a much older form of protection.
Next on this special report, waiting out the war underground. A short break first. Our coverage continues.
JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: ... been under persecution or felt under threat as this community has. These people are Yazitis (ph). It's a very small and little know religious community. There are only about 150,000 of them here. Almost as many in Germany as there are in northern Iraq.
Now over the years they've been persecuted and sometimes even massacred. And the mistaken belief that they're devil worshipers. They say they believe in god and they believe in seven angels. But now they feel under threat because of Iraqi forces.
The Iraqi front lines are just a few kilometers from here, and you can hear bombing. Now this particular house belongs to Kareem Joqi (ph) and his wife, Mahmor (ph). They're here with their 12 children and some of their relatives.
The oldest is named Kurdistan. And one of the middle children, his name is Dick Cheney. And, yes, he is named after the U.S. defense secretary during the 1991 Gulf War, now vice president. His father said that if this war continues and they have another child, he will be naming him George Bush.
Now this is where a lot of families have fled for safety in the ruins of this destroyed village underground. They're not sure they'll be safe here, but they're hoping that this time they will be saved by American forces, they say, as well. Jane Arraf, CNN, reporting from underneath Sheikh Yidri (ph).
BROWN: As you know now, one of the Americans held prisoner of war is a female, Shoshana Johnson. You heard from her family a little bit earlier. And you also heard from Colonel Rhonda Cornum, who was a prisoner of war in the first Gulf War. So it has happened before that an American woman has been taken prisoner of war.
Nevertheless, Ms. Johnson's captivity has renewed the debate over whether women should be this close to combat. CNN's Patty Davis has been reporting on that today.
PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Specialist Shoshana Johnson, a chef with the Army's 507th Maintenance Unit, thew first woman taken prisoner in Iraq. Colonel Rhonda Cornum knows what it is like. The Army flight surgeon, suffering two broken arms and other injuries when her helicopter crashed, was one of two women captured by the Iraqis in the 1991 Gulf War.
CORNUM: The first thing you worry about is what is going to happen to your family. I mean, are they OK. And the next things you worry about in order are, are they going kill me, am I going to be disabled, and when am I going get out?
DAVIS: Cornum did get out, released eight days later, but not before being sexually abused. That's exactly why some say the that women should not be near the front lines of a war.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We know that in that part of the world and in many parts of the world rape is used as a weapon of war.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's all we got.
DAVIS: To give women more opportunities, the Pentagon in 1994 eased its risk rules on women in combat. While it still bars women from direct ground combat, the U.S. military now allows women in combat support jobs and combat air missions. Up from 11 percent in the Gulf War. The National Organization for Women and other groups that advocate women in combat say sexual assault is just another risk in war.
CORNUM: Women aren't the only people who are possibly subject to that. Secondly, there obviously isn't any place safe. So combat versus noncombat, you weren't safe in the twin towers. Your weren't safe a lot of places.
So I don't think that women in combat is really an issue here. Everybody is in combat that is either in the war on terrorism or in Iraqi freedom.
DAVIS: Even with the indignity she endured, Cornum says her goal, like any male soldier, stay alive long enough for the U.S. military to get her out. Patty Davis, CNN, the Pentagon.
BROWN: Well, it is coming up on 4:00 in the morning on a Tuesday morning in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. It is quiet now. It is -- they're getting to that point of the night it will come up on dawn in a couple of days, when Iraqis will come again come out on to the streets and wonder what the day will bring.
Will it bring more bombing? If it does, what kind of bombing? Where will it be? Will they be able to go and do the most basic of life's chores? Go to the store, go to the bank, all of that?
They have been living with this now for five days, six days now. And each day, I'm sure is no easier, as the sirens go off and they wonder when the coalition planes will come in and attack them again. But for now, as it approaches 4:00 on a Tuesday morning in the Iraqi capital, it does, as we look at the picture, appear quiet.
We haven't heard the sirens sounding in some time. But that by no means that there are not in other parts of the country air missions going on. And, in fact, there is some reason to believe that they are.
We're just listening for a second because we thought we heard something. You see a little traffic on the street in Baghdad early this morning, Tuesday morning for them.
This is, as all of you know because you've sat here and watched it for many, many hours now, over the last week, in ways unlike Vietnam, even, the true living room war. It is brought to you often live from the front lines, literally live from the front lines. Even the Gulf War, the first Gulf War had no coverage -- anything like this. In fact, the first Gulf War had hardly anything approaching battlefield coverage. We leave you this hour with some of the images and sounds that our photographers have been able to record as the war has played out in front of them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's a tough soldier and he believes in what he's doing. He wanted to go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting tonight live from Kuwait City. Aaron Brown is at the CNN Newsroom in Atlanta.
It's just after 4:00 a.m. here in Kuwait City, also just after 4:00 a.m. in Baghdad. That's a city that's awaiting the arrival of coalition ground forces. Some U.S. troops are less than 60 miles away.
In the meantime, bombing, intensive bombing continues. There have been several waves of explosions throughout the night. If you're just sitting down to catch up on the war news we want to bring you up to the minute right now. Here's CNN's Miles O'Brien.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): Recapping developments so far today, 3:04 a.m. Eastern time, Iraqi TV broadcast a speech by Saddam Hussein. He praises the Iraqi armed forces, urges Iraqis to fight coalition forces, and predicts Iraqi victory. Analysts are studying the speech to determine when it was made and if it's really the Iraqi president.
3:45 a.m., CNN's Walter Rodgers embedded with the 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry, reports the unit's progress is slow because, sources say, Iraqi forces are using civilians as human shields.
4:00 a.m., Iraqi TV shows pictures of a downed coalition helicopter south of Baghdad. It apparently crash landed amidst an intense U.S. helicopter-Iraqi tank battle witnessed by CNN's Karl Penhaul near Karbala.
CNN's Tom Mintier reports U.S. Central Command confirms one Apache helicopter is missing in Iraq. No wore on the chopper pilots.
6:05 a.m., Bill Hemmer reports Kuwaiti airspace was penetrated half an hour before by an Iraqi missile, which was shot down by a Kuwaiti Patriot missile. He later reports Patriots shot down two more Iraqi missiles and a fourth failed to reach Kuwaiti airspace.
7:15 a.m., CNN's Alessio Vinci, traveling with the 2nd Marine Division, reports a second day of heavy fighting around the southern city of Nasiriya. Today, the Marines exchanged mortar fire with several Iraqi units and called in air support from Cobra helicopters. 9:05 Eastern, U.S. Commander General Tommy Franks says despite sporadic resistance, coalition forces are making rapid progress. He also shows targets being destroyed and says small Special Operations teams are accomplishing wonderful things in northern and western Iraq.
11:05 a.m. Eastern time, 7:05 p.m. in Baghdad, new explosions heard in the Iraqi capital indicating another wave of coalition air strikes.
1:19 p.m. Eastern, Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz announces President Saddam Hussein and his top aides are alive and in control of the government.
BROWN: Miles O'Brien reporting. The lead continues to shift and the lead at this hour, it was just a couple of hours ago that the Pentagon confirmed that two pilots of a downed Army Apache helicopter are, in fact, prisoners of war tonight in Iraq.
Abu Dhabi TV broadcast these pictures of the two men. They have now been identified. Their families notified. They are David Williams of Florida and Ronald Young, Jr. of Georgia. Ronald Young's family lives just outside of suburban Atlanta – lives in suburban Atlanta.
CNN's Susan Candiotti has been talking with his mom and dad, sisters. They're all gathered around the family and Susan joins us now – Susan.
CANDIOTTI: And brothers too, Aaron. It was very, very nice of the family to invite us into their home. They had wanted to see some of the first videotape pictures that were broadcast as you indicated of their son, and we were able to show them to them and they were quite frankly very grateful for that.
Mrs. Young told me that, you know, she had a feeling and her feeling was right that something had happened to her son. She had this feeling when she saw the news on the air that there had been a downed helicopter surrounded by Iraqis and that's when she said she felt as though something was wrong.
And then she said that she and her husband both saw on one of the wings of the chopper these, what they call, it's something that would indicate that he was from the Vampire Unit of Fort Hood, and so naturally they were very concerned about that.
Their son, Ronald Young, has been in the Army as a pilot for about three years. They said it's something he always dreamed of doing and they were kind enough to share their thoughts with us just a short time ago. Here's part of what they said.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He looks good. He looks like he always looks when he's angry. He's a tough soldier and he believes in what he's doing. He wanted to go and he just, he's told me many times – well the last thing he told was he's going over there and he was going to spank some butts in a little worse language. But he – I think he looks good.
CANDIOTTI: What's the last thing you said to him?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That I loved him and I cried and I have cried so much today I just don't think I have any tears left. Now, it's like a bad dream. It's just like a bad dream.
CANDIOTTI: I have to ask you if you had the chance, and this might be one, to talk to your son what do you want him to know?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I want him to know how much I love him, how much we're praying for him. Everybody is. I have family in South Carolina and prayer lists everywhere and my church is having a fast for him and he's just – we have prayers coming from every direction and if prayers can bring you home, it will.
CANDIOTTI: And, in fact, the house right now is filled with family and friends, all offering support to the Youngs. They hope, of course, that their son will be home safely and just a little while ago, Mr. Young told me that he hopes that soon the army can rescue him, get him out of there, he said, not only get him out of there, get them all out of there – Aaron.
BROWN: Mr. Young said something else, I was listening to the longer version that jumped out at me. He said about his son, I wanted him to finish college but he wanted to fly and so he wanted to fly. He was doing what the wanted to do.
CANDIOTTI: He was and this coming from his father who had served in Vietnam back in '69-'70, as he was telling me, and he was very proud of him. They got the word today about noontime when two representatives from Fort McPherson came out here and gave them the news and ever since then they've been glued to the television set anxious to hear anything about their son and now, at least, they've seen him. They said at least we know he's alive.
BROWN: Well, Susan, thank you. We're very grateful that they have given us a window into this young man. He is no longer just a name and a picture on Abu Dhabi TV. He is someone about whom we know some things. Thank you Susan Candiotti – Wolf.
BLITZER: And unfortunately, Aaron, no one should be surprised if there are more POWs in the coming days given the intensity of the fighting, the capability of the Iraqi air defense system. It's going to get tougher as the U.S. and British forces move closer towards Baghdad.
In Kansas, meanwhile, the family of one Army soldier who's been captured has now had about a day to digest the news that their relative is also a POW. CNN's Jeff Flock joins us now live from suburban Wichita where Private 1st Class Patrick Miller's family lives – Jeff.
JEFF FLOCK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, good evening to you, speaking to you in hushed tones tonight because tonight we are attending a prayer service for 23-year-old Private 1st Class Patrick Miller, U.S. Army.
Mr. Miller grew up in this town. As we said, this prayer service being conducted at the First United Methodist Church just a few blocks from where Mr. Miller grew up.
We have a picture that shows him during his time here. He is known by many people in this town. We spent a good bit of this day with members of his family. Mr. Miller is tonight somewhere in Iraq and we have a still frame from the video that was shown on Iraqi television.
We have not been showing the video pictures. His parents have not seen those pictures but they have heard a transcript of what he told interrogators as it was broadcast on Iraqi television and they told us tonight that certainly sounds like Patrick.
He has family in this town, a sister, two brothers, his mom as well. And, his dad does not live in this town any longer. We spent some time today with his brother, Shane Parker, who says despite what happened to his brother in Iraq, he is still firmly behind the U.S. war effort.
FLOCK (voice-over): Do you get angry at anybody over this? I mean who do you get mad at?
SHANE PARKER, POW'S BROTHER: No, I don't get mad. It was his choice to go over there. I mean it's his life. He's got to lead it the way he wants to lead it, you know. All I can do is support him on what he decides.
FLOCK: Do you think the United States is doing the right thing being there?
PARKER: Yes. I don't think that – yes, because I don't think they should have come over here and did what they did.
FLOCK: I'll leave you, Wolf, tonight with one final image. That is the image of yellow ribbons being tied together and tied on trees and telephone poles throughout this town.
Mr. Miller's wife and 4-year-old son and 7-month-old daughter are in just the next town over staying with his wife's mom. They hope that he is able to come back safely.
At this prayer service tonight we should add that not only will there be prayers for Private Miller and his family but for all of the fallen soldiers in Iraq as well as a special prayer for the Iraqi people.
That is the latest from the small town of Bally Center (ph), Kansas -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jeff Flock, I suppose those yellow ribbons are going to be seen in various parts of the country coming up in bigger numbers as well. Jeff Flock in Wichita, thanks very much.
Aerial bombardment over Baghdad took on more rapid pace overnight. Four waves of coalition bombings wiped out a number of targeted sites. CNN's Gary Tuchman who's been reporting on all this action calls it the busiest night so far. He's joining us now live from an air base near Iraq. Gary, what's going on tonight?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via videophone): Well, Wolf, the Shock and Awe campaign began Friday. It's now Tuesday morning, 4:12 in the morning here in the Persian Gulf and there is no let up whatsoever.
At this base where we're standing we haven't gone 15 minutes yet without seeing a warplane take off or land. Right now one is coming into land. You can see the sparkle in the sky. That's from a northerly direction. That's a warplane coming from Iraq, getting ready to land, and we anticipate in the next few minutes seeing a warplane take off.
We are told by officials at this base, we can't say the exact location under Pentagon rules, but we are told that there will be 300 sorties between this morning, Monday morning, and Tuesday morning at 6:00 a.m. local time, a total of 850 flights just out of this one base.
Officials of the Air Force are telling us total 2,000 sorties in Iraq today, 1,000 strike sorties. That means planes that are using bombs or missiles. Of those 1,000, 800 of the sorties are targeted in the Baghdad area to target Republican Guard troops.
Now, we've been talking with pilots in the days we've been here. During the first Gulf War and during the Afghanistan War, the Pentagon would give us the information about pilots' missions, but now we are often learning from the pilots before the Pentagon even finds out what they went through.
A short time ago we talked with a lieutenant colonel who just came back from a mission this past evening. He tells us he's been on seven missions in the last five days and we asked him about his mission and he said his first mission may have been the most dramatic.
TUCHMAN: On your first mission of the war you had tell me about that mission.
LT. COL. J.R., A-10 PILOT: We had some enemy forces who were trying to do a blocking maneuver of our convoy that's moving up. They would actually drive onto the road there. As they drove onto the road, I rolled in with our gun and shot the (unintelligible) on the highway there.
TUCHMAN: What did you actually shoot?
J.R.: We have a gun. It's a 30mm. It was a high incendiary round so I just shot them with that.
TUCHMAN: And did you hit it?
J.R.: Yes, I hit it.
TUCHMAN: Let me ask you now do you ever have any fear that you will hit something or someone that you're not supposed to?
J.R.: No, I don't lose a lot of sleep worrying about that. We're trained very, very hard to know what we're shooting at, to have 100 percent target identification and if I roll down to shoot, to employ, that's what I want to hit.
TUCHMAN: This has been another stressful day at this base. There were two sirens that went off today indicating a missile alert from Iraq. What happens here is the airmen run into the bunkers with their gas masks and their chemical suits on. It's stressful for everyone, civilians when they hear these kind of sirens but here the people are especially stressed because they know this is a military target.
One more thing I want to add. We're talking about the Pentagon rules, how they're allowing the reporters to be embedded, to talk to the people participating in this war, how it's such a huge difference, and here we are able to show you live pictures of these A-10 attack planes with bombs and missiles attached to them.
It's a far cry from just a few weeks ago at this base. I want to show you a sign that we actually took off a wall separating the (unintelligible) we're standing. You can see on the bottom, just a couple of weeks ago, this was the policy. No photography or even drawing anything depicting this installation. So, a few weeks ago you couldn't even draw pictures of what this installation looks like. Now we're able to give you live video – Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: Gary, when you talk to the troops there at that base not far from the Iraqi border. Are they talking about the POWs, the killed in action? Does that come up in regular conversation? Has that filtered down to them what's going on?
TUCHMAN: It actually does Wolf. As a matter of fact, a short time ago we were in the pilots' lounge which is not so far away from here. It's where the pilots go before they fly, where they go after they fly, and they have a big screen TV there.
And, they were watching satellite news coverage of the Apache POWs and you just watched these pilots. They know they're about to go on their missions over Iraq and so many things are going through their minds while they're watching it and most of them who we've talked to say it's very hard to watch it but they just have to concentrate on their jobs, get in their planes, and fly over Iraq.
BLITZER: And they of course know, Gary, when they're in those close support, close air missions to try to protect assaulting, invading U.S. ground forces, they're flying at a much lower altitude, especially the helicopter pilots, the A-10s, the pilots who are engaged in that, and as a result they're more vulnerable to Iraqi antiaircraft fire as opposed to the F-16s that are flying at a much higher altitude.
TUCHMAN: Each and every one of these men and women who fly these planes know they're in danger. The fact is though so far, Wolf, there have been about 7,000 sorties, 7,000 coalition Air Force sorties, only one plane hasn't made it back and that was a British Tornado that was accidentally shot down by a Patriot missile launcher launched from Kuwait.
BLITZER: All right, Gary Tuchman he's at an air base not far from the Iraqi border. Gary thanks very much for that report.
Britain's defense ministry meanwhile is confirming the first British combat death in the Iraq War. He was a soldier who was shot Sunday evening while trying to calm Iraqi civilians near Basra. Today, Prime Minister Tony Blair acknowledged that the serviceman's sacrifice during his speech before Parliament.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I should like to place on record what I know will be the heartfelt gratitude of the entire House for the valor of British servicemen and women.
I send the deepest sympathy of the government and, again, I hope of the whole House, to the families of those who have died. They gave their lives for our safety. They had the courage to take the ultimate risk in the service of their country and of those who value freedom everywhere in the world. We owe them an immense debt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Diplomatic sources tell CNN the prime minister will travel to Washington this week. Those sources say they'll meet with President Bush to talk war strategy, most likely at Camp David – Aaron.
BROWN: Wolf, in the meantime, the White House seems a bit preoccupied with some troubling news concerning Russia. CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is at the White House, joins us with more on that strain of the story, Suzanne, good evening again.
MALVEAUX: Well, good evening, Aaron. From NATO expansion to the war with Iraq, the U.S. and Russia increasingly finding themselves on opposite sides and today was no different.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): Today the Bush administration stated Russia was aiding the Iraqi military by allowing Russian companies to sell sensitive military technology to Iraqi forces in violation of U.N. sanctions.
FLEISCHER: We have credible evidence that Russian companies provided the assistance and the prohibited hardware to the Iraqi regime. That's why we have found these actions to be disturbing.
MALVEAUX: The big concern is that the Iraqis now have equipment that can jam GPS-guided American missiles used in its bombing campaign. While the administration has raised this issue before, today President Bush stepped in and called Russia's President Putin.
FLEISCHER: President Putin assured President Bush that he would look into it and President Bush said he looked forward to hearing the results.
MALVEAUX: But Russia's Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov denied that Moscow had been involved in illegally shipping sensitive military equipment to Iraq, including antitank-guided missiles and night vision goggles, saying...
IGOR IVANOV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): Russia invariably follows all international agreements and did not supply Iraq with any equipment, including military that violated the sanctions.
MALVEAUX: But U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said as recently as within the last 48 hours, the U.S. has discovered new evidence Russian officials have allowed the illegal equipment to slip through.
MALVEAUX: Well, Aaron, this is just the latest flare-up in what's become a bumpy relationship between the administration and Russia. Today, President Putin charged that America's war with Iraq created what he called a humanitarian catastrophe. But aides from both countries say that the two leaders are friends, that they will continue discussions, and they will work it out – Aaron.
BROWN: On the subject of money here for a second, the president will formally make a request for money to fund the war. Can you give us some numbers and I guess parameters for that request?
MALVEAUX: Sure. Actually, a senior administration official briefed us just within the last hour on those numbers, much awaited numbers here, $74.7 billion for the total, $63 billion for what is the prosecution of the war we're told, $8 billion for international operations.
That also includes relief as well as reconstruction. Some aid to countries that they anticipate will incur some damage from the war, including Jordan, Egypt, Pakistan, Philippines, Colombia, and $1 billion for Turkey, and then $4 billion for homeland security – Aaron.
BROWN: And that anticipates a war that lasts how long? MALVEAUX: Well, this is based on a budget that lasts for another – it goes to the end of the year, the six-month period, the Pentagon saying that they expect 30 days of combat but that senior administration officials saying that this is based on six months and that that would be the time that the troops would withdraw. This is the estimate that they've come up with.
BROWN: Thank you very much, Suzanne Malveaux at the White House tonight.
The president also reportedly now has – let's say this again. The president reportedly notified Tony Blair before U.S. forces took that shot at that south Baghdad bunker where they believe Saddam Hussein and high command was staying, whether the Iraqi president is dead or alive, incapacitated, whatever is still unclear and has become somewhat of an obsession for obvious reason for the U.S. intelligence community and everybody else following this.
CNN's David Ensor has pretty much made it his work for the last week and David joins us tonight – David.
DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATL. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Aaron it's a mystery to U.S. officials. They badly want to know whether Saddam Hussein is alive, whether he's been injured, or whether he may not be alive, but each day the Iraqi government seeks to answer the question with another tape and it did so again today.
ENSOR (voice-over): In the taped speech, Saddam Hussein refers to the biggest southern city now encircled by coalition forces, which are bypassing it on the way to Baghdad.
SADDAM HUSSEIN (through translator): In Basra, the beloved Basr, I say to them be patient you brethren. Victory is imminent.
ENSOR: U.S. intelligence officials analyzing the tape say it is the Iraqi leader but there's nothing said that proves when he recorded it.
BLAIR: We can not be sure whether these recordings are prerecorded and some of them appear to be dated but I don't think there is an exact science in this.
ENSOR: Another cause of suspicion about when the tape was made, U.S. officials say Hussein credits some Iraqi units that, in fact, have had nothing to do with the fighting so far.
KEN POLLACK, CNN ANALYST: He may have created these tapes ahead of time to make sure that no matter what happened to him and his regime he could maintain both the morale of his supporters and the fear of the Iraqi population for as long as it was possible to do so.
ENSOR: In Baghdad, Iraq's deputy prime minister angrily denounced as lies any suggestion that Saddam Hussein might not be in full control. TARIQ AZIZ, IRAQI DEP. PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Saddam Hussein has full control of his country and over the armed forces and the Iraqi people and all the resources of Iraq.
ENSOR: Full control or not, some intelligence suggests he may have been wounded in the first bombing, U.S. officials say, but most analysts believe he is alive.
POLLACK: The expectation is that if he were dead we would see the whole place starting to come apart at the seams.
ENSOR: Concerning the Americans taken prisoner in Nasiriya, U.S. officials say they were seized by the Fedayeen Saddam, a paramilitary group known for their black uniforms, now spread throughout the country in plain clothes.
POLLACK: The Saddam Fedayeen are by and large street thugs. They are recruited from among young Sunni men, many of whom couldn't make it in the military, many of whom have ties of one sort or another to Saddam.
ENSOR: Iraq's government may soon show Saddam Hussein in a way that's proof positive he's alive. U.S. officials say it has not done so yet in their view, and in the meantime, his fate is becoming, as you can see, the subject of something of a public relations battle – Aaron.
BROWN: As wars sometimes do. David another strain of this story that would fall into your portfolio, for the last two days now there's been talk of chemical weapons, there was the chemical weapons factory or the chemical factory report last night
Whether they're weapons or not, we do not yet know, and then this story tonight about the possibility that some Republican Guard units have been given authority to use chemical weapons if a certain line is crossed, so what are intelligence officials saying about the voracity of either of those?
ENSOR: They don't put much stock in the former and they do believe the latter, so to cut a long story short they do say that there is some intelligence information suggesting that orders may have gone out to Republican Guard units that if a certain red line around Baghdad is crossed by U.S. forces, they are supposed to use chemical weapons.
Now, of course, as one official put it to me, that doesn't mean they will and the U.S. has been leafleting and e-mailing and phone calling to all the possible commanders warning them they'd be considered war criminals if they did so – Aaron.
BROWN: David, thank you very much, David Ensor who covers national security matters for us.
Worries about the war in Iraq and that it may be longer and bloodier and tougher and all the rest seem to be what moved the Dow to its worst session in about six months. Blue chips tumbled 307 points, almost the low for the day, ending the day at 8214. The NASDAQ took a very heavy hit as well, down 52.
To put this in context, today's sell off follows Wall Street's strongest rally in 20 years last week, so the market's going to move based on the war. The Dow had climbed nearly 1,000 points over the previous eight sessions, so as reporting on the war looks favorable, investors will react, and as reporting on the war looks more difficult, investors are going to react to that as well, proof today.
After a quick war update, we'll be back with more from the families now of the seven U.S. soldiers who are prisoners of war tonight. We'll also take you to the scene of some of the most difficult fighting where a white flag is likely or just as likely to mean surrender as it is to be a trick but an update first.
BROWN: We'll get to the update of the headlines in a second. Quickly, though, in England tonight, western England, these are American B-52s coming back, returning from a mission.
These giant B-52s, warhorse of the U.S. air military campaigns for literally generations, modified, updated over the years, but the basic plane itself has been in action since long before Vietnam and it is in action again.
Now where exactly it flew, what its mission precisely was we don't know. This, of course, is the time of night. It's early in the morning in Baghdad, where there have been ongoing air operations and these planes returning now to Fairford, England, the air base there where they are stationed for this war. They are coming back safely and it's always good to see them return safely back to England.
BROWN: And good to have you back to our continuing coverage. Wolf Blitzer is in Kuwait City tonight.
And the call for prayer, what we would normally hear about this time, have we started to hear it yet?
BLITZER: We certainly have, Aaron.
It's heard right here in Kuwait City. It's also being heard right now in Baghdad, the first morning call to prayer for the faithful, for Muslims. They're getting ready for another day, another day that will bring more war in this part of the world.
BROWN: It's something that's being heard throughout Arab capitals right now, 4:30 in the morning, Tuesday morning, in Kuwait and in Baghdad.
These are heart-wrenching times for the families of U.S. soldiers who have fallen into enemy hands. They are now prisoners of war. Seeing them on TV is, for many, somewhat of a relief, because they know they are alive and they see their condition. And it is also, at the same time, no doubt unbearably hard, because they know that their child or brother or sister is in enemy hands.
That is how, however, seen on TV, the family of Shoshana Johnson found out. She was captured on Sunday. I believe it was a Spanish- language satellite channel that broadcast her images before she was -- or the family was formally notified by the Army.
CNN's Ed Lavandera has talked to the family. He can straighten that out for me. He joins us tonight from Fort Bliss in El Paso.
That's what it was. They saw it on Spanish-language television, right?
LAVANDERA: Absolutely. It was a Spanish-language network, Telemundo, about Sunday morning at 8:00 a.m.
The father of Shoshana Johnson told me just a short while ago that he was flipping through the channels, trying to find some cartoons for his granddaughter when he came across the images the POWs had been taken into custody in Iraq. Then he saw the images of his own daughter. And he knew, in that very split-second, what exactly he was watching.
Now, we had a chance to speak just a few hours ago with Shoshana Johnson's father and sisters, the first time they've spoken publicly about what has happened. And the one thing they have told us so far is that they haven't been getting a lot of information from the Army. In fact, they were told -- or confirmed that Shoshana Johnson had been taken by the Iraqis six hours after they had seen it on a Spanish- language network.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAPT. NIKKI JOHNSON, SISTER OF SHOSHANA JOHNSON: when she went over there, we knew that, obviously, this was a little bit more in- depth and more intensive. But I'm sure she didn't think that -- I'm sure this is the last thing she thought was going to be on her mind. And she is -- maintenance is combat service support. You're not really supposed to be on the front lines at all. They bring things back to you. You don't think about that stuff when you're support element.
CLAUDE JOHNSON, FATHER OF SHOSHANA JOHNSON: What happened? Did they miss a checkpoint? They made a wrong turn? Were they supposed to turn? What happened? Where's the breakdown?
N. JOHNSON: You know you're going over there, but you never really think that this is going to happen. My sister's always had like a little angel following her around. She always manages to get out of stuff. So this was not something we thought was going to happen to her at all. And considering the whole situation in which some individuals did die, and the fact that she was seen on TV, she looks to be staying strong, hopefully, her angel is still with her. C. JOHNSON: I'm hoping that because it was a big televised issue, that they will comply at least to show that they're not as much the animals that they're portrayed to be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAVANDERA: Now, one of the points that Shoshana Johnson's father was adamant about making is that he's very concerned that, so, far the Red Cross, as far as he knows, hasn't been able to reach the five POWs. He says that's essential to making sure that these five POWs are treated properly.
He says that you need a starting point to be able to gauge just exactly what kind of condition they were in when they were first taken into custody. So, they're a little concerned that, since that perhaps hasn't happened yet, that they're very concerned. And they're adamant that that needs to happen quickly. And they want the U.S. Army to insist, to make sure that that happens quickly.
Her father is a Gulf War veteran. Her sister that you just heard from as well is an Army captain. This is a family that understands fully well this type of situation. And they say Ms. Shoshana Johnson knows how to act in these situations. And they're confident that she'll be able to pull through -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Ed Lavandera -- thanks, Ed, very much. Good luck to that entire family.
Meanwhile, Iraqi resistance is still fierce in southern Iraq, where U.S. forces find themselves caught in unexpectedly tough fighting. The battle for control of the port city of Umm Qasr has been touch and go for U.S. forces, under sporadic attack from shadowy Iraqi forces, who often wear no uniforms and hide among civilians.
CNN's Jason Bellini is with the Marines. He's joining us now live via videophone -- Jason.
JASON BELLINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Another messy, frustrating combat situation for the Marines of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, this time outside the port city of Umm Qasr, where they have been for the last three days.
They have moved out and are encountering another fight, this time with a similar situation: armed men coming from the town, firing at them, firing at them sporadically, and then running and hiding back in the residential areas, men who are not in Iraqi military uniforms. They tried to draw them out of the urban area using suppression fire. They fired TWO missiles, several artillery rounds, and machine gun fire in the direction from which these men are coming. At one point, the men came out and waved a white flight. But then, shortly thereafter, they took off again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're trying to figure out who's who and make sure that we don't shoot civilians. But those folks that are military, but aren't in uniform, we're going to go ahead and take care of them.
BELLINI: They went back behind the building where they had been firing from, leaving the Marines to try to suss them out some more, leaving them, again, an hour after this all began, in their same position, in their same battle position, at their machine guns hiding behind a berm here in the desert.
The other thing we saw was an ambulance coming up. And it appeared that some individuals were picked up by that ambulance. Again, this adds to the complexity of their situation in that they know they're dealing with civilians in the area from which they're being fired upon, making very difficult calls for the Marines here at the ground level who have to decide how much force to use.
I'm Jason Bellini with the Marines of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit outside the port city of Umm Qasr.
BLITZER: Let's get some perspective now on what's happening in southern Iraq, the extent of Iraqi resistance, and the hitch it could pose to coalition war plans. Let's bring in Professor Fawaz Gerges. He's the chairman of the Middle East studies department at the Sarah Lawrence University and the author of "America and Political Islam: Clash of Cultures or Clash of Interests?"
Thanks, Professor, so much for joining us.
Are you surprised by the level of Iraqi resistance in southern Iraq, where the Shia are dominant and where most people thought, most so-called experts thought the U.S. military would have it relatively easy?
FAWAZ GERGES, SARAH LAWRENCE COLLEGE: Absolutely, Wolf.
As you know, the dominant conventional wisdom had it that the Shia community not only would welcome American soldiers as liberators, but even they would rise up in arms against the Hussein regime. What happened? Three points. And you can stop me any time, Wolf.
First, we need to remember that the Shia community is very complex and is segmented, not only along ethnic and religious lines, but also along class, ideology, and interests. The Iraqi regime has co-opted some important elements who are secular and urban. And these elements have played, as you know, leading roles in Iraqi political and social life.
Secondly, the religious-oriented Shia segment in Iraq, which is really deeply opposed to the Saddam Hussein regime, revolted against Hussein in 1991 and felt betrayal by the lack of U.S. support. And, in fact, this particular segment the religious-oriented segment, is very much suspicious of American foreign policy and the broader design behind American foreign policy.
And, lastly, I think what we need to remember in the last few weeks, Iranian and Lebanese Shia, more or less, have impressed on their Iraqi counterparts the need not to assist American invading forces and to remain on the sidelines until the dust of the battle, of course, is over. So, these are the reasons, really which might explain why we have not witnessed the great celebrations that the community, the policy community, had expected.
BLITZER: Let me add a fourth reason, Professor, and see if it holds for you: the fact that many of these Shia feel betrayed by the U.S., given what happened 12 years ago after the first Persian Gulf War. They were encouraged by the then-Bush administration to go up and rise up against Saddam Hussein. They did, but they were beaten back and they remember what happened then.
GERGES: Absolutely, Wolf. And I said it, that the religious- oriented Shia community in Iraq revolted against Saddam Hussein in 1991. And this particular community believes that the Bush administration -- that is, the Sr. Bush administration -- not only did not really provide the needed assistance for the Kurds and Shias, but in fact it shut its ears and eyes and enabled the Iraqi regime to use its helicopters to decimate the Kurdish and the Shia's revolt in 1991.
And this is why there's a great deal of suspicion of American foreign policy and, of course, the ongoing American invasion.
BLITZER: So if the Shia are now at least reluctant to join with the U.S. and to fight Saddam Hussein's regime in the south, I can only assume that the Sunni in the central part of Iraq will even put up much stiffer resistance.
GERGES: Wolf, this is a very important point, because it does not really bode well for the American campaign, not only in the next few days and weeks, but also for the potential prolonged American military presence in Iraq.
Already, by the way, continuing resistance in southern Iraq is already stiffening, Iraqi resolve to resist the American invasion. And, as you know, from the Iraqi point of view, the next phase is the most decisive phase in the battle. After all, they positioned their forces in central Iraq and in Baghdad. And I believe that taking over Baghdad is going to be very costly and bloody indeed.
BLITZER: Professor Fawaz Gerges, thanks very much, of Sarah Lawrence University.
Disturbing assessment, Aaron.
BROWN: Yes. It's a complicated piece of business that's going on. And there were certain assumptions and they don't always work out. But it's still early on and we'll see how it plays out.
There's nothing more disturbing in war reporting than this, the casualty counts. The totals are not coming in especially quickly. The Pentagon says it is double-checking reports from the field and, of course, informing family members before releasing any numbers.
By CNN's count, coalition casualties since the start of the war now include 39 dead, 22 of them Americans. One British soldier was killed in action today. That is the first reported British combat death. We underscore combat there. The British have taken serious losses in accidents and a in friendly fire incidents. Iraqi death totals even harder to confirm, of course. Iraq's Information Ministry lists at least 62 dead in eight cities. That's from the Iraqi government. And we are unable to confirm that.
Here, in the first week of the war, much of the coverage has been dedicated to, first, the relatively easy entrance into Iraq and then, over the last couple of days, the other side of war.
And how that is affecting the public mood is the kind of thing we turn to Bill Schneider for. He is our senior political analyst, which is a fancy way of saying he looks at polls, polls from today and polls going back as well.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
They say generals are always fighting the last war. Well, the American public may be doing the same thing.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Consider U.S. wars over the past century. In World War I, the casualty rate was 1 in 15, that is 1 out of every 15 soldiers assigned to that war was either killed or wounded. World War II, exactly the same. One in 15 who served was killed or wounded. In the Korean War, the casualty rate was 1 in 13 American soldiers.
In Vietnam, the figure was back up to 1 in 15. That is a remarkably steady casualty rate for very different wars fought in very different circumstances. The Persian Gulf war broke the pattern. In that war, the casualty rate was 1 in 1,500. Only 760 soldiers were killed or wounded out of more than 1 million who served in the Gulf.
What do Americans expect now in Iraq? Our polling shows they anticipate somewhere between 100 and 300 U.S. troops killed or wounded. That would be the same casualty rate as the Persian Gulf War, about 1 in 1,500. Is that an unreasonable expectation? After all, the U.S. is fighting another war on the same terrain against the same enemy as 12 years ago.
An enemy that is weaker after 12 years of sanctions and a U.S. military with even greater technological prowess. But the Iraqi regime is fighting for its survival in the Iraqi homeland over territory much larger than Kuwait. Suppose the war in Iraq turns out to involve the kind of tough protracted ground movement the U.S. faced in two world wars, Korea and Vietnam, with the casualty rate comparable to those wars. How many casualties would be expected? The answer: about 17,000.
SCHNEIDER: Now, where does that number come from? Two-hundred and fifty thousand troops in Iraq, a casualty rate of one in 15 equals nearly 17,000. And that's a caution, not a prediction. It says, if this war is anything like wars used to be, before the Persian Gulf, that could be the cost. Of course, we all hope this war will be different. And for reasons that I gave in the piece, it may well be.
BROWN: Well, there are a lot of differences. Air is different. Technology is different. But war -- if and when war comes to the streets of Baghdad, this thing -- the numbers equation here is going to get really nasty.
SCHNEIDER: It could. And that is exactly why the Pentagon has said many times, it wants to avoid street fighting, house-to-house fighting in Baghdad. That is the costliest and most difficult kind of war.
BROWN: Thank you. I know your voice is very nearly MIA tonight, so we appreciate that very much.
BROWN: John McCain joins Larry King at the top of the hour on "LARRY KING LIVE."
And we continue after this short break.
MCINTYRE: ... showed the two helicopter pilots that were captured from that incident and displayed them as prisoners of war -- the Pentagon has been complaining about Iraq not adhering to international law when it comes to prisoners of war and also to tactics on the battlefield.
The Pentagon says that most of the battle deaths they've suffered now are from what they call deadly deceptions, in which fanatical Iraqi fighters are posing either as civilians or pretending to surrender. The Pentagon says that these acts are strictly prohibited, because they make it very difficult for the coalition to accept legitimate surrenders. Some, they say, would even label this terrorism. Nevertheless, they say, it is not impeding the progress of the war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VICTORIA CLARKE, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The despicable behavior of the Iraqi regime has in no way stopped the progress of the coalition. Control of the country continues to slip away from the Iraqi regime and coalition forces are closing in on Baghdad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCINTYRE: Now, the U.S. says it still continues to control large portions of the southern part of Iraq. But their strategy is not to necessarily control every individual city, but to simply move around key areas, like Basra and Nasiriyah and Najaf in order to put enough troops around there so that forces from those areas can't threaten the U.S. military, while the main force continues with the thrust toward Baghdad.
Again, indications tonight that the U.S. and British forces are girding for what will be a major showdown with the Republican Guard about 50 miles south of Baghdad, dug in there. That was the subject of that Apache helicopter attack last night. And the U.S. used those Apache helicopters because they're the weapon of choice to go after targets when you don't know where the targets are.
They have the ability to use infrared radars to actually find troops on the ground and then fire at them with either 30-millimeter guns or Hellfire missiles or rockets. Now, we're told that most of those helicopters that came back from that mission suffered some sort of damage from ground fire. So the U.S. is calling in more airstrikes to soften up the area -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Well, we'll see what happens there. Jamie McIntyre, thanks very much, at the Pentagon.
Standard operating procedure, Aaron, is to blow up those helicopters with high-tech equipment, make sure it doesn't get into the wrong hands -- Aaron.
BROWN: Done now. So that helicopter is gone. It's about a $22 million helicopter, as I recall. The two pilots are OK. They have been taken prisoner by the Iraqis.
Miles O'Brien with us in Atlanta, of course, to talk more about this battle that the Apaches were involved in.
Miles, as you know, the Apaches, that's a risky business. They are deep-strike weapons. They go way in.
O'BRIEN: Deep strike is the term.
General Wesley Clark here to tell us about this strategy, this tactic that is used on the battlefield.
Really, the helicopters are there, as much as anything, to probe the armored forces of an enemy, aren't they?
CLARK: Well, in this case, what you want to have is complete intelligence preparation of the battlefield. Then you know what regiment you're targeting and where it is precisely, what its posture is, where the air defense weapons are around it, where all of its protection is.
You want to go in there with the full array of combat support, long-range missile fire, artillery fire to break out over the enemy's lines, Air Force support, close air support, Air Force deep strike, Air Force -- a full array of Air Force lethal and nonlethal suppression. And then the Apaches show up and they know exactly where they're supposed to hit. They get to stand-off from those targets. They've got a 7,000-meter-range missile. They can ripple-fire. Each one of them is carrying up to 16 missiles. They've got a huge destruction potential against an enemy force. O'BRIEN: Let's take a look at one right now. The Apache is, as you said, a $22 million aircraft. And it has the ability, as you said, to identify 16 targets simultaneously, which boggles the mind.
Now, what we're showing here is just giving you a sense of twin engine, 1,800 horsepower each. That should be enough juice. These are Stinger missiles. That's used for air-to-air. How often do they do air-to-air stuff?
CLARK: Well, we're trained on it. If the Iraqis want to fly helicopters, we'll take those out, too.
O'BRIEN: All right. It's not really probably going to be an issue in this fight, I would imagine.
CLARK: Not yet.
O'BRIEN: Moving around, let's go a little bit down to the foreground. I should point out the guy setting in the front, he's the gunner. The guy in the back is the pilot.
And I don't know if you noticed. When he turned his head, that 30-millimeter machine gun there turned with him. The sighting is literally in his eye and connected to his helmet?
CLARK: It is.
Now, one other thing, Miles, is, you're looking at the offensive weapons. I also have to point out, this is a pretty heavily armored airplane. It's got a lot of redundancy in it. It's built to take ground fire. We knew, in that environment, they'd be struck by small arms and other things. And it can take it.
O'BRIEN: So, stuff that comes up, it's very likely that it's heavily armored, more particularly on the bottom.
O'BRIEN: I read something similar, too, that the glass is tempered in such a way so as not to provide as much of a glint as you might suspect.
CLARK: That's right.
O'BRIEN: They don't miss a trick when they're designing these systems.
All right, over here, this is the real business side. On the right side of that stubby wing, these are Hellfire missiles. You probably may recall us talking about the Hellfires in conjunction with these Predator drones. But the Hellfire really started off as an anti-tank weapon, didn't it?
CLARK: That's exactly right. That's what this is. This is a precision weapon. It fires on a laser beam. It goes right to the target. It can also fire electronically from the radar that's picked up on top.
O'BRIEN: And is it a fairly good opponent against the T-72 Russian-made tank?
CLARK: It will overmatch any Iraqi armor.
O'BRIEN: All right, tell me -- we can't see it here in this picture so well. I was going to point out something right before that graphic disappeared. And this is not the Longbow . But if you noticed on the Longbow, there was kind of a bulb up here on the top, kind of up in there. What's in there?
CLARK: That's the millimeter wave radar. That's the target acquisition radar. It finds enemy targets on the battlefield. It's connected with a very sophisticated computer system. It processes those targets. It displays it. It categorizes them. And it can automatically release a missile
O'BRIEN: All right, we've got to land this segment quickly.
Wes Clark, thanks very much.
And we'll send it over to Aaron.
BROWN: Thank you very much. Gentlemen, those Apaches are an impressive machine. And that group that flew them last night within about 50, 60 miles, Wolf, of Baghdad, that's the first time those Longbows had ever been used in anger, as they say. It's tough work. They often fly very, very low.
BLITZER: I remember during the war in Kosovo -- and maybe on another occasion, we could speak with General Clark -- they were reluctant to start using those Apaches, thinking they might be vulnerable to then-Serbian anti-aircraft fire or whatever. But that's for another occasion.
We don't know, Aaron, what brought down the Apache about 60 miles or so outside of Baghdad. It looked to be in pretty good shape, from the pictures we saw earlier today on Iraqi TV.
BROWN: Yes, that was -- in any case, it's all gone now. They blew it up. And so the Iraqis don't have it and nobody else does.
Wolf, thank you. We'll see you again tomorrow.
We'll be back at 10:00 Eastern time tonight for a four-hour edition of "NEWSNIGHT." "LARRY KING LIVE" is coming up next.
We leave you this hour with still photo images of this difficult war in Iraq.
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