General: Guerrilla Warfare In Iraq

Gen. William Wallace in Baghdad, May 29, 2003 CBS

General William Wallace is the man directly responsible for Baghdad and all the other hot spots where American soldiers were killed and wounded this week. In an interview with CBS News' David Martin he said the battle against diehard Saddam Supporters is turning into urban guerrilla warfare.

"Today we're dealing with an enemy that seems to be falling into the population, taking advantage of his ability to meld into the population," said Wallace.

Besides defeating the enemy, Wallace must also protect Iraqis from themselves. At Baghdad's main police station he met with east Baghdad's chief of police to go over a plan to turn the streets back to the Iraqi police in 90 days, letting the American MP's go home in August. Then he went out for a reality check on the streets of Baghdad.

Asked about the risks of walking Baghdad's war-torn streets, where getting a reality check could be deadly, Wallace was determined.

"If it wasn't my problem I wouldn't be walking the streets of Baghdad trying to get a reality check on the problem," he said.

At a row of shops where the only reliable electricity comes from a sidewalk generator, he gets an earful from a resident.

"The house is so hot that we need to sleep on the roof, but then we can't get to the roof because people start, you know, firing and we end up going back inside the house," the man said with the help of a translator.

Another man also had his say with the general.

"Even the taxi cabs, when they're taking their customer, they have to check them to make sure they have no weapons," he said.

Wallace himself is not safe on these streets since he is a prime target for any lurking Saddam supporter. But the risks, it seems, are all in a day's work.

"I can't command these soldiers unless I'm willing to take the same risks that they do," Wallace said. And asked if he feels safer walking the streets today than he did on his first walk in Baghdad, the general is certain. "Oh, absolutely, absolutely. No question about it."

That first walk was days after the war ended and Wallace needed a bodyguard, not of soldiers, but of tanks and armored vehicles. That is how progress is measured in Baghdad.
  • Brian Bernbaum

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