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Gen. Franks On Troop Levels

Co-anchor Harry Smith interviewed retired Gen. Tommy Franks, who led the war against Iraq, for The Early Show. Franks spoke about the plan to invade Iraq with a controversially low number of troops, his expectations for stability in Iraq after the invasion, whether the size of U.S. forces needs to be increased and his relationship with the Defense Department during the preparation for the invasion.

Here is a transcript of the interview, followed by an excerpt from Franks' new book, "American Soldier."

HARRY SMITH: First off, the audacious plan of attack in terms of Iraq. One of the things you described yourself as in this book is a kind of a maverick. And this war was sort of made for your way of thinking.


HARRY SMITH: Talk a little about that.

TOMMY FRANKS: It's sort of interesting. I think you can be a maverick because you don't ever agree with anything anyone else has in mind. In this particular case, it was interesting that the evolution of technological capability and the state of training in armed forces for multiservice warfare, where you can have the Army, the Navy, everyone together like that, advanced a lot over the previous 10 years. And having been involved in that in one way or another, when it came time to write a plan for Iraq, it turned out to be something of a maverick plan, but it was based on where we had been and what we'd done in the previous 10 years.

HARRY SMITH: In the thinking for this war plan, an audacious war plan, were people aware that securing the peace was going to be as difficult or more difficult than winning the initial war?

TOMMY FRANKS: That is such a great question. So topical, so timely. The honest answer is: didn't know. Sort of like a continuum. You could have combat operations - major combat operations - and then wind up with the Iraqis stepping forward immediately and a personality emerging and having no problem. Or you could get up there and look around and say, "Oh, serious insurgency." Didn't know which way it would go.

HARRY SMITH: Weren't there people from the War College, people from the Pentagon, who said, "Boy, you need to put a lot more people on the ground to secure the safety of this country."

TOMMY FRANKS: Lots and lots.


TOMMY FRANKS: Lots and lots. People at the War College doing studies, a lot of people who would look at one dimension of the plan. Now, what I mean by one dimension is it has always been true that the guy with the largest army is going to have the greatest long-term chance for something.


TOMMY FRANKS: But a lot of times when you see that, you're not able to factor in the necessity of surprise, the need to be able to get someplace very quickly or the practicalities of diplomacy in the Middle East. The plan factored that in, Harry.

HARRY SMITH: Did you have arguments, conversations with Rumsfeld, et cetera, to say --


HARRY SMITH: We didn't have enough people here to make this place secure. We're still reaping the negative benefits of that a year-and-a-half later.

TOMMY FRANKS: We're reaping the negative benefits. Discussions, absolutely. Arguments, absolutely. Any sort of vitriol, absolutely not. This was an occasion where for 14 months, we iterated this plan back and forth and back and forth. It is a very interesting thing that if you say you want to have a lot of troops, then the next thing you say is how long will it take you to get them there and say, well, it may be six months. You say what would Saddam Hussein do during that six-month buildup? So we opted to go with a smaller force and a plan to build the force as necessary over time. It's very interesting.

HARRY SMITH: Based on the assumption that he had WMD and everything else?

TOMMY FRANKS: Absolutely.

HARRY SMITH: Let me jump way, way ahead. Does our armed forces need to be bigger now. There's a piece in the Wall Street Journal about the stress on reservists, guys that went to Afghanistan with you, come home - the next thing they're going off to Iraq for a year or 14 months.

TOMMY FRANKS: Harry, I think the current chief of staff of the army, Gen. Peter Schoomaker - heck of a soldier - would sense some increase was necessary in the size of the Army, and I think that will go forward rather quickly.

HARRY SMITH: I want your shot, though. You're a civilian now. Shoot from the hip.

TOMMY FRANKS: One thing I know for sure, now, Harry, you're going to say don't give me a circuitous answer.

HARRY SMITH: I don't have time for one.

TOMMY FRANKS: I'm going to give you a short answer. What we know is that we don't have enough military policemen. We don't have enough civil affairs people. But we're not sure that we don't have enough total force. We know that the jobs inside the active Army and the Reserve, the National Guard, not balanced right. But we're not sure exactly what that balance ought to be yet.

HARRY SMITH: All right. The book is worth reading alone to hear your personal story.

TOMMY FRANKS: I'm glad you like it.

The following is an excerpt from American Soldier by Gen. Tommy R. Franks:
Chapter One - Planting Seeds

JUNE 1950

My understanding of the world and its consequences -- of right and wrong, good and evil -- began when I was five in central Oklahoma. That may be hard to believe, but it's true.

It was my father, Ray Franks, who taught me those lessons.

"You pull up just as hard as you push down, Tommy Ray," Dad said. He was trimming two-by-fours for our barn roof with a handsaw on the tailgate of the old Ford pickup. The saw blade snarled down through the board and ripped up with a thinner sound. His right arm, tanned like leather under the short sleeve of a washed-out shirt, bulged as he leaned his stocky weight into the saw.

It was summer, nice in the shade of the cottonwood trees near the barn. I was barefoot, in faded bib overalls that were getting short in the legs, sitting in the dirt, watching my father work, listening closely, as always, to his soft-spoken words. He smiled a lot and liked to josh around. But when we were alone together, my dad often took a moment to explain the things he'd learned in his life.

"Here, Tommy Ray," he said, tossing me a couple of splintery cuttings. "You can play with these blocks."

"But, Dad, they ain't real toys."

"Aren't real toys," he corrected, flipping another board end to me. "But they are, you see. A few years back, kids had to make do with toys their daddies made for them. They couldn't just drive to the five-and-dime in town and buy ready-made."

I fingered the wood, still hot from the saw blade. "How come?"

He wiped his face with a handkerchief, laid another plank across the tailgate, and lined up the saw. "Well, Tommy Ray, we had a war. Most of the countries in the whole world were fighting. America had to fight the Germans and the Japanese. Millions and millions of guys my age and younger were soldiers and sailors and flyers and had to go fight."

Fight, I thought. That was like when the barnyard chickens went rolling around, pecking and squawking. Or like when the big kids walking to school in the winter threw ice balls. But what would make a million soldiers and sailors fight?

"How come, Dad?"

"Bad people, Tommy Ray. The Japanese attacked us at a place called Pearl Harbor. It went on for years, and a lot of our boys didn't come home."

"Where'd they go?"

Father laid down the saw and smiled that soft grin he had when he needed to explain something sad, like when Ginger the cat got hit by a truck. "Well, those boys got killed. They died for America, Tommy Ray."

My mother said people went to heaven when they died. Those boys went to fight and just kept going till they got to heaven.

"Did you go fight?"

"I was in the Army Air Corps, Tommy Ray. I fixed airplanes for the boys to fly. I didn't have to fight, but I think my job was important."
In my mind's eye, I could see my father fixing airplanes with shiny propellers. He could mend anything -- the electric water heater for the bathroom, the truck, the tractor, all the different plows and reapers. Folks were always bringing their broken things to the farm for Ray Franks to fix. Mother told me that Dad could never say no if people needed help.

"Did you go to Pearl Harbor?"

My father shook his head, smiling. "No, Tommy Ray. I went to a place called
the Panama Canal Zone. They've got palm trees down there, and really pretty birds called parrots."

"Mother didn't have to fight, did she?"

"The ladies stayed home and worked really hard, son. Lots of men, too. The whole country went to work. People planted victory gardens for their food. The boys in my Scout troop collected tin cans and newspapers. Things were scarce. That's why children couldn't always have new toys, why their dads or uncles had to make them blocks and doll houses."

My father always explained things so I could see a picture. So many years later, I recall that afternoon clearly. This was my first appreciation of war. What I learned was clear: Bad people started wars, and Americans had to go fight. I already understood about cats getting run over. About steers going to the slaughterhouse. Now I saw that whenever wars were started, some boys didn't come home.

"Will I have to go fight?"

My father stacked the trimmed boards up against the fender and sighed. "Tommy Ray, I hope not. But you get used to playing with those blocks I just cut, because there are more bad people starting trouble again in a place called Korea. I think America is in for another trying time, son."
I set my blocks in a square and then leaned forward to scratch in the dirt between my ankles, fascinated by the little rust-colored bugs swarming up from the ground. They looked angry, like a million soldiers.

"Oh, hey ... " I yelped. The bugs were crawling up my legs am biting. "Dad ..."

He snatched me up with one arm and shook the flapping legs of my overalls. "Tommy Ray, you were sitting on an anthill. Those little devils are red ants, son. They're nasty."

We were at the garden spigot now, and Dad ran the water over my ankles. It felt cool. But in my mind I pictured crowds of soldiers with guns like my father's 12-gauge shotgun, boiling out of the ground, just like the ants.
That night, I had my bath, said my prayers, and my mother tucked me in. But I couldn't go to sleep right away. I'd learned important new information out in the shade of the cottonwoods. When there are wars, boys go to fight, mothers work hard, and kids like me go without toys.

The foregoing is excerpted from American Soldier by Tommy Franks. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022size>

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