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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

War in Iraq: Marines Find Discarded Uniforms of Iraqi Soldiers

Aired March 29, 2003 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR, WAR IN IRAQ: Major developments in the war against Saddam Hussein tonight. The Pentagon said nearly 100,000 coalition troops are now in Iraq. More are arriving every day. Coalition forces today faced a new Iraqi tactic, a suicide bomb attack. Four U.S. soldiers were killed.
Over the course of this next hour we'll have action reports from the battlefields, analysis of the military campaign, General David Grange, General Wesley Clark will join us and we'll have assessment of the Iraqi strategy from the man who wrote the definitive book on the invasion of Iraq, Kenneth Pollack.

Military commanders today said they were pressing ahead with their campaign against Saddam Hussein. They dismissed reports that the advance to Baghdad has been suspended so that frontline troops can be re-supplied. Chris Plante will report from the Pentagon.

Marines, today, carried out search and destroy missions in the town of Nasiriya. They are trying to destroy the remaining Iraqi units in that town. Alessio Vinci will have our report from the frontline in Nasiriya.

Army Rangers have attack the headquarters of an Iraqi commando unit in western Iraq. More than 50 Iraqi troops taken prisoner. The Rangers also confiscated weapons, ammunition, gas masks, communications equipment, and what we are told, is very important intelligence.

British forces in southern Iraq today carried out aggressive house-to-house searches for Iraqi troops and weapons. British tanks also raided Basra today. They destroyed a lot statue of Saddam Hussein and at least five Iraqi tanks. We'll have a report on the British crackdown on southern Iraq.

We are now looking at a live picture at this hour from Baghdad. More explosions are being reported, earlier large explosions rocked Baghdad in one of the fiercest bombardments of the city since the war began. These pictures, as you see, live, more explosions being heard. And you saw the flashes there briefly, in your picture.

Reuters New Agency reports 10 explosions earlier in the center of Baghdad, as many as 20 in the outskirts of the capitol city.

The dust cloud rising above the city now, the result of the most recent -- and there more as we look across the Tigris to the outskirts of the Baghdad. You see more clouds and smoke rising in the air. Two U.S. Special Forces soldiers today were killed in an ambush in southern Afghanistan. The soldiers were on a reconnaissance patrol west of Kandahar when they were under fire. The assailants used small arms, machine guns and rocket propelled grenades. Another soldier was wounded.

A team from the International Red Cross today entered Iraq from Kuwait and headed for Basra. That group is carrying medical supplies and spare parts for a water treatment plant in the city, the scene of some of the heaviest fighting so far in this war. Basra has been without drinking water for almost a week.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the mysterious illness that has killed 54 people worldwide appears to spread more quickly than originally thought. The CDC now says Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, can be spread without face-to- face contact. SARS has infected more than 15,000 people worldwide.

We're going back to Baghdad. These live pictures that you're looking at now, Baghdad hit by several more explosions in just the last couple of minutes. The city has been hit by at least 30 bombs, or missiles over the course of the day. The bombardment has been relatively steady, unlike previous days, in which there have been intermittent waves of bombing. The bombing today appears to be without let up.

Let's listen to see if there have been more explosions, or will be more explosions.

These airstrikes carried out earlier in the day by U.S. and British aircraft. Those war planes bringing at least 30 explosions with them in the city and in the outskirts, most of those explosions, some 20 in the outskirts of Baghdad. And 10 directed at targets within the city itself.

We'll continue to monitor Baghdad, of course, throughout this next hour. And we'll bring you those pictures as events warrant.

Turning to the war in Iraq, Marines today launched a major attack on Iraqi positions in the city Nasiriya. They used Cobra attack helicopters, tanks, and artillery to hit remaining pockets of resistance. Marines have also continue the search for the remains of their comrades who have fallen in battle.

Alessio Vinci, with the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, reports now from Nasiriya.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On Saturday morning, taking some considerable risk, because they had to go back into town again. U.S. Marines went back, they are in there, and they found two more shallow graves.

Also two graves that were pointed by Iraqi civilians to the U.S. Marines. And recovered there, what they believe are the remains of at least one, maybe two Marines. And U.S. commanders here are now telling us that they believe that almost all of the nine Marines killed in action, their bodies may have been recovered.

The U.S. Marines also conducted some house-to-house searches near the sites where the ambush took place, where that armored vehicle was hit. They believe that during the firefight some of the Marines had sought cover inside one of the houses.

And, indeed, when they went into those houses today looking for more bodies all what they could find were personal belongings there. The military flack jackets, some MOPP suits, some chemical suits, some gasmasks, and even some mail that the Marines had written or had received from their families back home.

From here the bodies of the Marines are handed over to the mortuary affairs, who will conduct a DNA test for positive identification, and then prepare their bodies for the final journey back home to the United States.

I'm Alessio Vinci, CNN, with the U.S. Marines in Nasiriya, Iraq.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOBBS: We want to look at these live pictures, that you have now on your screen, from Baghdad. The smoke rising there over Baghdad the result of a series of explosions that occurred just moments ago at several locations in and around the city. As I said, about 30 explosions over the course of the day. These are live pictures.

And I understand that we have pictures, videotape of those explosions involved. This is the earlier videotape that we're looking at.

This videotape of earlier explosions, several hours ago, in fact. Let's go back to live pictures of Baghdad as we watch that smoke rising over targets on the outer perimeter of the city. These are now live pictures and you see that smoke rising behind those apartment houses in Baghdad. That is quite some distance off. And again, being shot by telephoto.

Again, we will be continuing to watch the night skies over Baghdad throughout the broadcast.

The Pentagon today said nearly 100,000 coalition troops are now inside Iraq. It also said that coalition aircraft have air supremacy over almost the entire country. But the Pentagon continues to face questions about whether there has been a pause in the campaign. Chris Plante reports from the Pentagon.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRS PLANTE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): While coalition forces shore up positions within striking distance of Baghdad, a furious air campaign continues to target Iraq's Republican Guard divisions encircling the city and what Pentagon officials call the command and control apparatus of the regime. Officials at Central Command dismiss the suggestion that there's a pause in the drive toward Baghdad.

MAJ. GEN. VICTOR RENUART, CENTCOM OPERATIONS DIR.: There is no pause on the battlefield. Because you see a particular formation, not moving on a day, does not mean there is a pause in the battlefield.

PLANTE: Overnight U.S. Army Rangers ripped through an Iraqi commando headquarters in western Iraq, taking some 50 prisoners, seizing weapons, ammunition, gas masks, and communications equipment.

In southern Iraq, four soldiers manning a checkpoint were killed Saturday in a suicide bombing, the first incident of its kind in this war which has been filled so far with unconventional by unconventional forces.

MAJ. GEN. STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF DEPUTY DIR.: It looks and feels like terrorism. And what it requires is units to conduct force protection activities, which they're prepared and do all the time. But clearly, when you see a tactic like this, it requires strict adherence or adjustments to your tactics, techniques and procedures to ensure that places like checkpoints are not vulnerable.

PLANTE: Iraqi officials insist there will be more of the same. The coalition says it is now in control of 40 percent of Iraqi territory and 95 percent of its airspace. Here an F-15 drops a precision guided on a leadership compound in Baghdad.

Troops from the 82nd Airborne are providing additional security along the supply routes leading to Baghdad where convoys have come under constant attack. At least one report from an embedded reporter on the frontline indicates food rations are in short supply.

Pentagon officials insist there is no shortage of supplies and say that any suggestion that the U.S. doesn't have enough troops in place is incorrect.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

Also worth noting, two Iraqi soldiers surrendered to U.S. forces near the southern city of Basra today saying that they too had been sent on a suicide mission, but they decided that it wasn't worth dying for the regime of Saddam Hussein and therefore surrendered themselves.

Lou?

DOBBS: Chris, thank you very much. Chris Plante from the Pentagon.

"The Washington Post" today reported that U.S. undercover teams have been operating in urban areas in Iraq. Their mission: To kill members of Saddam Hussein inner circle.

"The Post" reported the targets of those operations include Baath Party officials and commanders of the special Republican Guard. "The Washington Post" reported the teams were from the CIA's paramilitary division and military special operations forces. U.S. government officials made no request of "The Washington Post" to withhold any of that story's details, as they have done with stories similar in the past.

The Pentagon today said that more than a third of the coalition troops in the Gulf now are in Iraq. Joining me now to analyze the coalition's advance, is CNN military analyst, General David Grange.

General, good to have you here.

BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET), U.S. ARMY, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: What do you make of this -- what has become something of a contest of information. The Pentagon saying there is no pause. They're getting word from various quarters that there is. What do you make of that, General?

GRANGE: Well, Lou, allow me to maybe explain a little bit more what the CENTCOM representatives said the other day. Overall, on the battlefield it is probably correct, there is no pause. What happens is individual units, separate units, throughout the battlefield, stop periodically to refit, rearm, refuel, reposition. And while they're doing that other elements are still on the offensive or maneuvering.

And so, it you're moving, you're attacking. If you're stopped you're defending. And it is just a constant move back and forth across the entire battlefield of all these different units, overall, there is no pause.

DOBBS: Even if there were a pause General, I guess what escapes me, what is the problem with resupplying, getting ready for the next phase of a battle and preparing to advance? I'm not certain quite get the criticism?

GRANGE: I don't either. I mean, you know, if you're attacking for six days straight you have to go ahead and refit and refuel and rearm. And so that just makes sense. Plus, you maybe waiting for an organization to your right flank or your left flank to do -- to accomplish a mission that is a precondition before you're next move would be successful.

And so they're all in mutual support. They all depend on each other. And so as one unit is doing something, it effects the movements of the other units to the left and right.

DOBBS: And certainly, as we are witnessing in the picture that you and I are sharing, with the skyline of Baghdad tonight, the air campaign has certainly not let up.

Today we had a tragic event, four soldiers killed in a suicide bombing near Najaf. Do you think this is going to change the tone just as all of the other tactics employed by the Iraqis may have changed the tone for the U.S. and coalition forces on the ground?

GRANGE: Well, they have definitely more emphasis in certain on the battlefield. Most units are trained with tactics used like this, car bombs, truck bombs, on the battlefield. I know, in fact, the units in Germany do it on very combat maneuver training session that they go through.

But the thing is, it is very difficult. How do you search the civilian vehicle? Do you search the civilian vehicle? Do you -- is your first checkpoint where you actually encounter face to face that suspected vehicle that may be a terrorist, it may be Fedayeen, it may be a soldier or a civilian.

You need to layer checkpoints. In other words, you have a standoff capability where vehicles, as an example in this case, are stopped at a distance. And then you layer your security into your final checkpoint. And I would imagine that they're looking at techniques like that to improve their capabilities in doing that type of mission on the battlefield.

DOBBS: General David Grange, as always, good to have you with us.

GRANGE: Thank you very much.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: We are, as always, monitoring the night skies, the skyline of Baghdad, where just about 20 minutes ago, there were more explosions in Baghdad. This time in the southern part of the city. We would like to show you those explosions. Because I'm going to turn to, if I may now, to Nic Robertson, who is Amman, Jordan. And as you may recall a week ago was thrown out of Baghdad by the Iraqis.

Nic, tell us what you can about the location, as it appears to you at least, of these explosions tonight in Baghdad.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INT'L CORRESPONDENT: Lou, for the pictures I've been looking at here, the explosions seem to have happened very close to the Ministry of Information. What I believe we're looking at here, are apartment buildings, either immediately behind the Ministry of Information, or just across the main road from the Ministry of Information.

I believe, we're looking immediately behind the Ministry of Information, almost due west of the Ministry of Information. These are apartment buildings. They're about four stories high and they're mostly owned -- or mostly lived in at least by Iraqi government officials, members of the ruling Baath Party.

And the explosions seems to have happened, either amidst those apartments housing area, of which there are -- and inside that complex of houses, that there are, that I have seen, several bunkers that are in the middle of that housing area. Or possibly that explosion is behind that housing area.

This housing area stretches back for about a quarter of a mile, between a quarter of a mile and half a mile. Behind that, and beyond that, is Iraq's Foreign Ministry buildings. But from what I can see, it doesn't appear to be the Foreign Ministry buildings, it appears to be the smoke coming up from somewhere in the midst of all those apartment buildings. And as I say, there are some bomb shelters in and amongst those apartment buildings - Lou.

DOBBS: And to just orient our viewers. We just put up a map, I don't know whether or not you can see it Nic, showing the Ministry of Information, which is in the southern part of Baghdad. These apartment houses, as I recall, would be more to the west and perhaps a little more to the north of the ministry, is that correct?

ROBERTSON: That's correct. The Ministry of Information is almost on the banks of the river. There is a bridge that there is a main thoroughfare that goes down the long side if you will, of the Ministry of Information. The thoroughfare continues over a bridge over the Tigris River.

We're looking essentially in the opposite direction for the Ministry of Information. As if you had your back to the Tigris River and you're back to the Ministry of Information. And we're looking directly away, into those apartments, into that apartment complex, Lou.

DOBBS: Nic, if you would, we're going to -- please roll that videotape of those explosions. Again, they were heard just about 20 minutes ago in southern Baghdad.

Nic, as you take a look at this, see if you can make out any better the location?

ROBERTSON: Lou, very difficult. I apologize, for me to see ...

DOBBS: Yes, I know, it's very difficult.

ROBERTSON: ...at this time. But the picture -- which I was looking at before, which I believe is the same videotape you're looking at now. It looks behind the Ministry of Information, towards this area of apartments. I think we have seen two pictures this evening.

One taken from a little distance away that shows a huge explosion and the whole area lighting up. And then a little while after the explosion happened, there is another camera location, I think that has been giving a picture that shows black smoke rising up from behind several buildings.

These buildings have numbers on. They're apartment buildings. Now these are mostly occupied by Iraqi government officials, members of the ruling Baath Party.

Now in amongst those buildings are several bunker complexes. And in the days running up to the war we saw several fuel trucks dropping off supplies in that area. One night we saw a large generator system being dropped off, right into that particular area. There is a small restaurant by the side of the road, a small shopping complex behind that or around that, this system of bunkers. Difficult for me to know how deep those bunkers go. Or even who could be expected to use them. But that is what is located in approximately this area, Lou.

DOBBS: But we can assume, safely, would you not say, Nic, regular citizens of Baghdad probably not in them?

ROBERTSON: Probably not. But if one remembers back to the if one remembers back to the An aria bombing incident. That was the shelter that was bombed by coalition aircraft in 1991, of course, civilians had been moved into that particular bunker on that particular night. But again, we don't know what has been hit at this stage. And it only appears to be in the middle of the apartment complex.

We don't even know for sure, has it struck behind the apartment complex. Certainly I can tell you, Lou, that these particular apartment complexes have had a very heavy guard on them. Perhaps for about a week before the war, it was possible to see Iraqi soldiers guarding the perimeter of this particular area of housing.

You couldn't drive into the car parks there without going pas the military security check. So, for us, we only knew this area as government housing. But also a highly secure area that only those obviously with the correct permission could get inside of, Lou.

DOBBS: Nic, thank you very much for trying to orient us to what is happening tonight in Baghdad City, based on your extensive experience there, we appreciate it.

Again, four explosions, Reuters reporting there were four explosions within the last half hour. This is videotape of that strike earlier.

And we're going to turn now to Kuwait City, where Wolf Blitzer is standing by.

Wolf, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have blocked coalition forces now from firing navy Tomahawk missiles over their territory. What can you tell us about those developments?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the Pentagon and the Central Command, Lou, insist it is not going to have an immediate overall effect on the use of those Tomahawk cruise missiles. They are obviously going to continue to launch them from the Persian Gulf as a result they won't have to fly over Saudi airspace or Turkish airspace, because they're going to be limited, of course, from the Red Sea, or the eastern Mediterranean, at least for now.

The problem is that about 1 percent or so of those Tomahawk cruise missiles were not doing what they were supposed to do. When they first build up and begin their drive, they're flight towards their targets, they were malfunctioning and beginning to crash in deserted areas, either in the desert or unpopulated areas.

Didn't cause any damage, didn't cause any injuries, but the Turkish and Saudi government got nervous about it and as a result asked them to stop to see if they could fix the problem before they resumed.

I doubt if they are going to be able fix the problem, but the Pentagon and the Central Command believe they can work around the Saudi and Turkish restrictions and get those cruise missiles launched from other sites where they won't have to fly over that airspace.

So, it's a problem, but that doesn't look like it is going to cause an immediate military impact on the conduct of the war.

DOBBS: Does it surprise you Wolf, because frankly it does me, that the Tomahawk, which has been in use for now two decades, is having these kinds of problems?

BLITZER: Well, it's sort of surprising, but if you speak to the experts, the Pentagon brass, they always say, look this is a mechanical piece of equipment and there is always going to be some mechanical problems.

And the most difficult part of these Tomahawk cruise missiles is when they have to immediately to take off and begin their cruise towards a target and the initial seconds of it are when usually have some problems in the initial launch.

And so they say they're not that surprised. But they have some work to do to get those cruise missiles to be perfect. They probably never will be perfect but there is some serious problems there.

DOBBS: Wolf, thank you very much.

Wolf Blitzer reporting from Kuwait City.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Coalition forces have made rapid progress toward Baghdad. Large parts of the Iraqi army appear to have melted away from the battlefield. Iraq appears to be relying on irregular forces. And joining me now to talk about the Iraqi tactics, the progress of this campaign, is CNN analyst and author, Kenneth Pollack, who is at the Saban Center of the Brookings Institution. He is also the author of the book, "The Threatening Storm: The Case For Invading Iraq".

Ken, good to have you hear. One of the things that I want to say at the outset is that the book that you wrote, and I don't think that enough people probably give you credit, is the definitive advocacy for this invasion. And the other day I had the opportunity to review it and I actually took a look at some parts of it today.

You were very, very close on a great deal.

KENNETH POLLACK, CNN ANALYST: Thank you, Lou. I appreciate you saying that.

Yes, it is unfortunate. I wished that -- even as I wrote it I was hoping that things would work out better than I was predicting. But, yes, they do seem to be going more or less according to along the line that I predicted. DOBBS: One of the things that you address was troops strength. Obviously, you talked about a force of 200,000 to 300,000 troops. But you were talking about cavalry as well as light armored, as well as armored divisions, were you not?

POLLACK: Right, well, the force that I proposed needed to go into Iraq was one with four to six U.S. divisions, hopefully three to five of them big heavy divisions. One to two armored cavalry regiments, plus the British.

What we wound up going in with, what Central Command went in with, a somewhat smaller force. Three U.S. divisions, no armored cavalry regiments just yet, plus the British. And obviously this kind of force shows a lot of combat power, but it always had in it the inherent risk that we're seeing. Which is that supply lines would probably be unprotected and we might not have the troops to really slug it out if there was heavy fighting in the cities.

DOBBS: I'm just going to put it this way, if I may, Ken. How big a deal is this? We're hearing, it is, as I alluded to with General Grange. It is remarkable the fuss if you will that is being made about this so-called pause in the advance and the ground campaign. A great deal of discussion being made of the strategy employed, and we're nine days, well, actually, 10 days into this war. Analyze that for us if you will.

POLLACK: Sure, well personally I am not, I really don't have a problem with the pause, and in fact I don't have a problem calling it a pause. U.S. forces made tremendous progress early on. And I always thought there was going to be inevitable that at some point in time, the 3rd Infantry Division some of the other units, were going to have to stop to refuel, regroup, get the logistics up. In addition, you obviously did have some degree of surprise. U.S. military was not prepared for the level of resistance it encountered. And also was not prepared for some of the tactics that were employed by Saddam's irregulars. That said, you're seeing one of the real great strengths of the U.S. and British militaries, which is their professionalism and their adaptability. They are adapting very quickly. And I think ...

DOBBS: Ken, let me ask you this. Let me ask you this. I'm sorry. But all that is being made of the terror, quote unquote terrorist tactics of the irregulars, the Fedayeen Saddam, which you wrote about in your book as well. Why is everybody surprised? This is a man who has a regime of terror, that's been there for more than two decades.

POLLACK: Well, I guess the only way to really put that is that I think the U.S. military and some of the administration, just had a very optimistic set of assumptions about what was going to happen when we went in. Certainly more optimistic necessarily than I had. I think there was an expectation that the Iraqis were really just waiting to rise up against Saddam Hussein, that they would be able to deal with this, and that Saddam's, the Fedayeen Saddam, some of his other regime protection forces, wouldn't really have the stomach for a fight. DOBBS: Well, and that was a reasonable analysis based on experience again, which you have, you considered in your book; the experience of 1991, trying to explain it in the context of Kosovo and Bosnia, even Afghanistan. But this is, this has turned out to be quite a different battle than a few apparently expected. But nonetheless, this campaign, this coalition, has achieved a great deal in little over a week, have they not?

POLLACK: No question about it. And that is the exact point. U.S. and British forces have made tremendous gains inside of Iraq, and again, it is important to understand, while there were some misassumptions and there clearly have been setbacks, U.S. and British forces have the capabilities to adapt and adjust to these setbacks, and they are doing so.

DOBBS: You know how fickle the media is. But are you surprised by the number of critics who seem to be piling on to this, as if a military campaign never before had to adjust strategy or a tactic? It's remarkable to me.

POLLACK: Well, I'll be honest with you. I'm not terribly surprised by it. There were a number of people, myself included who beforehand, were saying, boy, this force does look a little bit light. It's obviously running some risks, not to suggest that it can't do the job. That said, I think you're absolutely right, that, you know, there's just been pendulums swinging back and forth, kind of an emotional roller coaster. I remember when the operation started out, and there was this exuberance, and I found myself in the position of saying to people, look, you know, U.S. forces are conquering hundreds and hundreds of kilometers of empty desert. So let's not get carried away with that. And then suddenly we run into resistance, and people swing the other way.

DOBBS: Absolutely. Do you expect this air campaign to significantly destroy - it would be significant if it destroyed - let me put it another way, significantly damaged or destroy the Republican Guard's armored ring around Baghdad?

POLLACK: I'll say I don't expect the air campaign by itself to be able to do that. But I think that U.S. air forces working in conjunction with U.S. ground forces, will likely be able, I think there's no question, they will obliterate the Republican Guard Division's ringing Baghdad. The only question is casualties. I do not expect the casualties to be catastrophic, but that said, the Republican Guard is now fighting in much better terrain than they fought in, in 1991. And the advantages that they're going to get from the terrain are probably going to allow to do more damage to U.S. forces, than they did in 1991.

DOBBS: Ken, you had a range of casualty estimates that you put forward a year ago. We are out of time here. Very quickly, you had best case several hundred. Worst case several thousand. Where is your thinking now?

POLLACK: I still think that my most likely case, which was 500 to 1000 combat deaths, is probably about right. But I will say that if that number, if that estimate is wrong, it's probably still going to be on the lower end of the spectrum, that is less than 500 combat deaths than more than 1000. I certainly hope I'm right.

DOBBS: As do we all. Ken Pollack, thank you very much.

A key part of the coalition's strategy in the Gulf, has been to make the most of the nighttime skies over Iraq. New technologies help the coalition to achieve that objective. Frank Buckley is on the USS Constellation in the Persian Gulf, and photographer Greg Caines (ph) as well, and he joins us now live with this story - Frank.

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Lou, once again strike fighters are flying off into the night skies here, off the USS Constellation, into a Iraq to strike a number of different types of targets. And if you talk to tactical aircraft pilots, they will often say that in a combat situation, they prefer to fly at night. In fact, U.S. military officials often like to say that they own the night. And one of the reasons is, one of the technologies that they take in to the night sky. We're talking about night vision goggles. We asked a pilot from one of the squadrons here, the Kestrel Squadron, one of the F-18 squadrons here on Constellation to show us his night vision goggles. Let's take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

Now these are the actual night vision goggles. They look like a pair of binoculars. They're on the helmet of Lieutenant Pat Hourigan, of the Kestrel Squadron. The Lieutenant is a F-18 driver. What we're going to do is take you out here into the darkness, looking out into the Persian Gulf. You can see, it's completely black, but now we're going to look through the night vision goggles to let you see what the pilots see when they're flying over the Persian Gulf. Now through these goggles, it really almost turns the night into day?

LT. PAT HOURIGAN, U.S. NAVY F-18 PILOT: Yes. It, what the goggles do is take ambient light, and enhance it. So if you walked into a cave or something like that, and looked around, you would see nothing but darkness. Get a little bit of scintillating effect, almost like fuzz on a TV screen. But if there's any kind of ambient light, you don't even need a moon, all you need is starlight. Then you can see pretty well.

BUCKLEY: The helicopter with the naked eye, is just a blinking light. But when you put the goggles on, you can really see it clearly. Is that what you see while you're flying?

HOURIGAN: Yes. And one of the biggest advantages of the goggles is we shut the blinking light off, especially if we're over Iraq. We turn our lights down just enough so that we can still make out the other aircraft. And you know, some nights with a full moon, you really don't need any lights at all. You can just look out through the goggles, and see them. So that's where the big advantage is, in letting us stay in formation and keep sight of each other in no light situations.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BUCKLEY: And again, that's one of the tools that is being used by the coalition pilots, and why they claim to have 95 percent air supremacy over Iraq right now - Lou.

DOBBS: Frank, thank you very much. Frank Buckley reporting from the USS Constellation in the Gulf. Coming up next here, we'll have the latest developments in the war in Iraq. British marines carry out house-to-house raids in southern Iraq, searching for Iraqi troops and weapons. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Coming up, a live report from Gary Tuchman, one on the frontlines, then General Wesley Clark will join us to discuss the latest targets of bombing in Iraq. But first, the latest headlines at this hour.

(NEWSBREAK)

DOBBS: British marines in southern Iraq are taking aggressive action to track down members of Saddam Hussein's irregular forces. Today they carried out dawn raids on the homes of suspected Iraqi militiamen in Umm Qasr. Bill Neely of ITN has the report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL NEELY, ITN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In southern Iraq today, the boot's on the other foot. The Royal Marines are now in charge and in pursuit of the old regime. In dawn raids, they broke into dozens of houses to hunt for the soldiers, the secret police. The gloves are off here. This is war. The protests are loud, but the marines are acting on the tip off of informers who've told them where to find the men who never hid before. Among those arrested, a man the marines say is an Iraqi army general, who like the rest of his troops, discarded his uniform and tried to disappear into the civilian population.

The marines now have a tight grip on Umm Qasr. Further north, towards Basra, they've taken the streets of a town of 30,000 people.

UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: A blue Isuzu Trooper.

NEELY: In Umm Qayal (ph), there's still a fight. They put snipers on the rooftops, and pick off men with weapons. Inside the car with the white flag, an armed Iraqi who took a pot shot and paid for it. Here, the population is weary. But resistance from Saddam's loyalist has been warned down.

MAJ. ROB MACGOWAN, BRITISH ROYAL MARINES: We've sent in one of our companies, of about 100 men in here this morning, and we took about 12 or 13 prisoners, three or four enemy were injured, and they've now been flown out, and we're treating them; including a man who was almost dead with a gunshot wound to the chest. We've now evacuated them out, and the enemy now have either fled or they've been captured. NEELY: In buildings and homes, the marines are finding stocks of abandoned weapons. Here, hundreds of rocket propelled grenades. Then, it's on to the dusty streets of a town that rebelled against Saddam 12 years ago. A revolt he brutally crushed.

(on camera): Street by street, town by town in southern Iraq, the marines are imposing their will and their weapons. From now on, here this will be a guerilla war, in which the main threat is the sniper and the ambush.

This is Bill Neely with the Royal Marines in Umm Qayal, southern Iraq.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOBBS: Coming up next here, CNN military analyst, General Wesley Clark will join us. That and a great deal more still ahead. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: U.S. troops in the desert in central Iraq discovered an abandoned Iraqi military post. The Iraqis in this case, left nearly everything behind; their uniforms and more, apparently to blend in with civilians. Martin Savidge is with the 1st Battalion of 7th Marines, and has the report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MASTER SGT. HENRY BERGERON, U.S. MARINES: Looks like a basic - a basic soldier's uniform.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The telltale signs of a vanished army.

BERGERON: There's a gas mask container.

SAVIDGE: That could offer clues of a new kind of threat to U.S. military operations in Iraq.

BERGERON: These here look like old radio packs.

SAVIDGE: All around this newly established U.S. Marine position in central Iraq lays evidence of the Iraqi forces that were here before. Who appeared to have fled at the first sign of U.S. troops.

(on camera): This could be just a small indication of how quickly they left. Pot down here with the tea still inside. Master Sergeant Henry Bergeron, walks me through the scene like a detective on the case. Boxes, helmets, canteens, and other gear, all cast aside. But to the master sergeant, it's the abandoned uniforms that say the most.

BERGERON: It looks like they took off all their military uniforms, left them in place, helmets in place, boots in place, probably changed in civilian attire, they'll blend in with the local population.

SAVIDGE: On the ride north, the master sergeant and other Marines remember seeing men beside the road in civilian clothes, and bare feet. These clues point to an army that didn't fight or surrender, but simply walked away. Clothing isn't the only thing abandoned. There are also weapons, and plenty of ammunition, some of it brand new, still in wrappers.

(on camera): Here's something else that got left behind. This motorcycle. You see a number of them around here. It might look innocent enough, if weren't for the machine gun mount.

(voice over): Marine commanders theorize the soldiers who were here, have either voluntarily or been forced to join guerilla units now attacking U.S. military positions. A paramilitary force that is difficult to find and fight, and that's diverting American assets from fighting a war to protecting long supply lines.

The caches of weapons are simple to get rid of. But dealing with this new kind of Iraqi opposition that appears to have sprung from a former army, may not be as easy.

Martin Savidge CNN, with the 1st Battalion 7th Marines in central Iraq.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOBBS: Coming up next, more bombs fall on Baghdad tonight. Senior military analyst, former NATO supreme commander, General Wesley Clark, will join me. Stay with us.

(COMMERICAL BREAK)

DOBBS: New questions tonight about the role Syria and Iran may be playing in the war in Iraq. This after Defense Secretary Rumsfeld issued stern warnings to the two countries. Joining me now is General Wesley Clark. He's at CNN Center in Atlanta. General, good to have you with us.

GEN. WESLEY CLARK, FMR. NATO SUPREME ALLIED CMDR., CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Good to be here, Lou.

DOBBS: This campaign first, I'd like to ask your judgment. There have been a lot of Monday morning quarterbacks, armchair quarterbacks, and second-guessing about this campaign that's a week and a half old. How's it going?

CLARK: Well, the campaign is basically going in accordance with the concept originally developed. It was an event driven concept. It didn't have as far as I know, firm timelines. There are some challenges, and there always are in war. And there's always a cycle in these campaigns. When you're on offensive, at first it's very exuberant, and then the problems start to surface and people get depressed. And the thing is, that we have to be very steady about this. We're going to apply the resources, we have great commanders, we have outstanding troops in there, we have tremendous technology. And there's no question about the ultimate outcome, and so what needs to be kept in mind, is we're going to have patience, work smart, and stick with the plan.

DOBBS: And more of those troops and commanders and technology and armor, on the way to the region. Let's talk about the very troubling development. The secretary of defense, warning Syria, no more shipments of military material to the Iraqis, and he said that to do so would be quote unquote, a hostile act. Give us your assessment of that development.

CLARK: Well, we've known all along that Iraq is tied in to Syria. There were in fact rumors before the war, that some of the weapons of mass destruction had been exported for hiding into Syria. Perhaps not with the connivance of Bashar Assad, but with other lower level officials, perhaps in return for payoffs. But there are military to military connections there, that have both bought this party states, and Syria feels itself the next target after U.S. success in Iraq. And so, it's only natural that they're going to want Saddam to at least, delay the United States and raise the price for the United States. And so, it's not surprising that they would want to be supporting Saddam covertly. The trouble is, it's now out in the open.

DOBBS: And over to the west, Iran, hardly a state that is empathetic with Saddam Hussein and the Baath Party. But nonetheless, seem to be at least at the margin, sponsoring some volunteers, militia into the, into the country.

CLARK: Well, they're not as you say, although they're not sympathetic to Saddam, they're hardly disinterested spectators, Lou. What they long had concerns about U.S. engagement in Iraq, and what would happen if U.S. forces occupied Iraq. So what they'd like to do, is they'd like to use Iraq the same way we used Iraq against them. They'd like Iraq to bleed the United States, and make us incapable of either handling Iraq or taking on their problem. Iran needs a couple of good years. They need a couple of good years to get those nuclear weapons that they're working on, out and fielded. They'll do a test, they'll be a member of the nuclear club, they'll be in their view, accepted, and respectable like Pakistan is, and they'll be able to then relax and not worry that the United States might roll back Shiite Islamic extremism. And so we're dealing here with a potentially very difficult situation, because we don't want the war to expand at this point, either with respect to Syria or Iran. We want to stay focused on Iraq, but at the same time, we don't want either of these two countries adding resources to sustain Saddam's fight.

DOBBS: Let's talk about where we are in this campaign, and I asked you about the criticism of it. As we look at what is being accomplished in terms of rolling in new troops and forces, do you think that it is unreasonable of critics to suggest there should be a timetable for the coalition to achieve its ultimate goals? Do you think it's unreasonable to question the strategy of this campaign at this point?

CLARK: While I think it's the nature of military strategy, it always gets questioned, Lou. And people who are proposing in it, the commanders, the commander-in-chief, have to be prepared that there's a public diplomacy aspect of military strategy. And in this case as I had said a couple of times, I think you know, as a general, I would've liked more forces there because even if this, turns out to be enough to the job, it's always nice to have an insurance policy, especially if those forces could be made available. Having said that, we should not be asking for a timetable for the results. Time is important; in the next two to three weeks fine. But as we go past the four to six week point, as Saddam shows stiffer resistance, the support he's generating in the Arab world, and not just from Syria and Iran, but elsewhere, will grow. And it will complicate the problem we have afterwards in the occupation.

DOBBS: General Wesley Clark, thank you very much, sir.

CLARK: Thank you, Lou. Good to be with you.

DOBBS: Coming up next, rallies across the country today; for and against war, including a rally for the troops in San Francisco, where some people were for the war and some were against, but all of the demonstrators said they were for the troops.

Then inflammatory speech from a Columbia University professor at a teach-in has sparked a strong reaction to say the least. He wants to visit Mogadishu on U.S. forces. We'll tell you about that, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Demonstrators across the country continue to exercise their right of free speech, with pro and anti-war rallies from one coast to the other. In Los Angeles today, the International Black Coalition for Peace and Justice, voiced their opposition to the war in Iraq. Congresswoman, Maxine Waters was among the speakers.

Meanwhile in the small military of Fort Stewart, Georgia, home to the 3rd Infantry Division, people came out for and against the war, even as word of casualties from the division made their way back to the base.

In San Francisco, a peaceful rally in support of U.S. troops. Several hundred people gathered in downtown San Francisco. Some supported the war, some did not. But they said they all support the troops.

A Columbia University professor says American troops in Iraq should suffer as he said quote, "a million Mogadishus," a reference to the 1993, incident in Somalia that claimed the lives of 18 U.S. soldiers. Nicholas De Genova (ph), an assistant professor of Anthropology and Latino studies made the comments before some 3,000 Columbia students and faculty, at a so-called anti-war teach-in on the Columbia University campus Wednesday. A spokesman for the university said De Genova was exercising his right to free speech. The professor has been outspoken on everything from the support of the Palestinian cause to what he calls the cultural politics of rap music.

One final note on activism. Protests in war tonight. In the name of balanced coverage, we wanted to show you a picture that was emailed to us. And a retired Naval commander found this picture and sent it on. We thought we would share it with you. In case you can't quite read it, it says, war has never solved anything, except for ending slavery, fascism, Nazism, and communism.

Aaron Brown and Wolf Blitzer are coming up next. They'll be followed by "LARRY KING."

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com



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