'Decisive, Rapid, Lethal'

Dan Rather interviews Gen. Scott Wallace CBS

American soldiers in Kuwait have been training near the Iraqi border for as long as six months. If they get the word to cross the sand berms into Iraq, General Scott Wallace of Fifth Corps, based in Germany, will lead the U.S. Army troops.

CBS News Anchor Dan Rather had an exclusive interview with the general.

Rather: "It's your job to think almost every hour of every day that if the command is to go to invade Iraq, how to do it. Without giving away any secrets, what's the plan?"

Wallace: "The plan is to be decisive, rapid, lethal, and give our potential adversary no edge that he can take advantage of, and hopefully bring all these soldiers home just like we brought them here. We're not gonna pull any punches at the beginning, if that's what you're asking."

One part of the plan Gen. Wallace was willing to talk about -- the sweep through the southern part of Iraq.

Rather: "It's widely assumed you have to take Basra. True or untrue?"

Wallace: "It is less important for logistic backup than for strategic objective. The demonstration that we would have control over that portion of the country."

Rather: "This would be an early strategic objective?"

Wallace: "It would be to our advantage to demonstrate we have control of a major population center in southern Iraq."

Rather: "Do you absolutely, positively have to have the ground forces in Turkey and have a northern front?"

Wallace: "We can do this without it. It is much more convenient, much more uncertain on the part of the enemy if we're coming from two directions, but I don't think any of us are wedded to having a Turkish option and that being the only way we could prosecute this operation."

Lt. General William Scott Wallace, distantly related to the Scottish warrior for independence portrayed in the movie "Braveheart," sees himself as a freedom fighter, as well.

Wallace: "We're targeting an individual regime who has not been the best neighbors in this community. They've invaded Kuwait, they've invaded Iran, they've used chemicals against their own people. This is a regime that needs to go."

Rather: "Are you or are you not saying that if war comes, it's intended to be an army of liberation?"

Wallace: "This army is not here to occupy any country. It's here to let the Iraqi people decide their own way of government. We would be happy to turn it over to them as soon as humanly possible."
  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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