Some of the speculation is that in a convoy a couple of times and in a bunker once or twice that we were fairly close to having terminated the military leadership of Iraq.
Interview with General Buster Glosson, Chief of CENTCOM offensive air campaign
But I can't be sure that's true. To my knowledge, I'm not sure anyone other than Saddam Hussein can answer that question.
Q: If the Iraqis had started to slaughter people with chemical weapons, biological weapons, what would you guys have done?
Unfortunately, I was one of the people that had to wrestle with that and although the answer would certainly have been a political decision, General Schwarzkopf and General Horner and I had the responsibility of making sure that there were a military option there.
And I think that if you accept number one, that we would never respond in kind, then the only other logical thing that you would be able to do that would get somebody's attention is take a look at the river structure and the dams and the dykes and where their located and the impact of them not being there would be to that society.
Q: Were you asked to check out the nuclear contingency planning?
Glosson: Since the war ended I've read a lot about nuclear contingency planning and so forth and so on that took place. I can tell you emphatically I participated in none, nor would I have participated in any and I was never asked by the Chairman or the CINC to do any such planning.
The dumbest thing that the coalition could have done would have been to even contemplate the use of any kind of nuclear weapon for any purpose. That is not something that you can limit. In other words, when you start that snowball rolling down the hill, you don't know how large it's going to be when it gets to the bottom. And just my personal view, I would not have been part of that.
Now I've had people ask me well what would you have done if you had been given a direct order. I don't know what extreme steps I would have taken unless that situation had arisen but it is absolutely so repulsive to me that it would change me as a person and I would never agree to do anything for anybody that changed me as a person or changed my own moral values of life.
Q: Why was Stealth so successful?
Glosson: I've been asked many times why I put so much weight or put so much focus on the Stealth aircraft and then a follow on to that same question is normally well why were they so successful.
The answer to the first part of the question is that Stealth in my opinion, gave us the opportunity to take advantage of technology and have minimum exposure or loss of life because of the Iraqis inability to deal with it.
I was confident, based on the tests that we had run in this country, that they were not going to be able to deal with it. I told all the fighter pilots flying the airplanes, the Stealth airplanes, the 117s, that I was putting more pressure on them, thatevery day, when the sun came up until it went down, the focus of that day's war effort from a strategic campaign would be centered around the 117 and that I would always target them first and then the other targets that I had to get I would let other systems take those out.
Q: The targeting gear that the Stealth has isn't particularly special, why is it that the Stealth was so much more accurate?
Glosson: The Stealth targeting system is not that different that the targeting systems that we have in some of our other airplanes.
The primary difference is that they can do that targeting without being disrupted by Triple A and SAMs and Migs because none of the three can see them so they can't hit them.
So you're sitting there with your total focus on being able to maximise the capability of that system and you're not dodging a SAM and then trying to go back and pick it up where you left it off. You're driving along very straight and level and I won't say in a sedate environment because those fighter pilots that are there and would see the blanket of Triple A would tell you it's anything but sedate, but to a certain extent, you can't do anything about it.
Q: What did you say to the Stealth guys before the war started, your speech to them, what did you tell them?
Glosson: I visited each one of the fighter units and I remember when I talked to the F117 guys that I told them that the weight of the war, from a stragegic air campaign standpoint, was going to be primarily squarely on their shoulders and that since none of em had been shot at before, there'd be an experience there that they had never seen anything like and they were going to see walls of Triple A and they were going to say to themselves,
"There's no way we can go through that".
And I wanted to make sure they understood that when you're night flying in heavy flak and Triple A that that's not abnormal and people have seen that before and I said the one thing that we will never do is we will never look at that wall of Triple A and say, "That's too thick, I can't make it through." I said so, "We will attack those targets and we will do it as accurately and as quickly as we can because, in the end results, no-one has given any of us any guarantee or made us any more important or our risk of our life any more significant that anybody elses. So one of you F117 pilots are no more important than one of those F15E pilots."
Q: Were you surprised that at least one of the Stealths wasn't shot down.. just through luck? You must have expected to lose a couple.
Glosson: Everything dealing with the 117 was speculative from a standpoint of how many losses we would have. Certainly I thought that the losses would be minimal and now what do I mean by minimal? I honestly did not think that we would lose a single 117 unless we had a mechanical failure.
If a gear door or a bomb door stayed open, or if some mechanical malfunction occurred that would highlight the 117, then I obviously I was concerned that.. that we would lose an airplane.
But as long as all the systems worked well I thought that at the outside a Golden BB might get one of them but I really did not expect to see, you know, half a dozen 117s get shot down, I just didn't believe it was going to happen.
Q: Why were cruise missiles so useful to you?
Glosson: Because they allowed you to do in the daytime what you could do with Stealth at night and so they kept the intensity of the war up during the daylight hours on the Downtown Baghdad, not to the same level that the 117s did because you just couldn't fly that many of 'em, but the important thing was the unknown.
The Iraqi leadership did not know when the next cruise missile attack would be coming and so there was no special period of time during daylight hours where they could feel totally free to move at leisure, do what ever they wanted to do and try to get control of things again and show some leadership of the country that they were still in charge and so forth. That's why they were important.
Q: If you could have got Saddam Hussein--remember the story how Jesse Johnson rang you up and said "Hey, Saddam's in a convoy"?
Glosson: Well Jesse Johnson's information to us concerning Saddam Hussein was quite like a lot of other sources we had on Saddam Hussein and that was everybody thought that they knew where he was or where he was going to be. In reality very few, if any, knew where he really was or where he was going to be.
We had a tremendous historical data base. The accuracy that we had of documenting where he was after the fact was phenomenal, but our ability to project where he was going to be or where he was in time to do anything significant concerning his ability to command and control that war and be the leader of that country during the war is incorrect to say that we had information that we could have acted on or that we didn't act on.
Now that doesn't mean that from time to time we did not know precisely where he was within certain parameters. For example, I might know at a particular time that he is in a civilian home and that home is somewhere on this block which is all civilian homes.
Q: Chuck Horner's told me that you pretty much knew where he was at the end of the war. What did you know, why didn't you hit him?
Glosson: I have often been asked why did we not know where Saddam Hussein was and then conversely why we did not attack where he was. The why we did not know where he was obviously is an Intelligence matter and Intelligence failed.
The times that we did know where he was, he was in locations that would have made it unacceptable to attack him even though he, in many cases, had enough communications with him that he could communicate with the outside world so to speak, his own forces and his own leadership in particular. But at the same time you can't go into the middle of a city block and decimate an entire city block because you know that Saddam Hussein has his cellular telephone and he's talking to somebody else in the leadership structure from a particular home.
That's not our way of life, destroying city blocks full of women and children, we don't do that and so to say that we knew where he was, yes we did on several occasions, but it was not in a situation where we would elect to do anything about it.
Q: Tell me about Winnebagos.. there was a great hunt for Winnebagos. Why was that?
Glosson: Well I think the Winnebago thing was blown out of proportion. We got that little tit bit, as you know, from the dealer that provided 'em and they were bought for five particular people in the hierarchy of the Baghdad leadership of which three of those five were in the chain of command in the military operations side.
So we obviously said that those Winnebagos, if we see one of 'em we're going to take em out because especially if it's outside of Baghdad 'cos the likelihood is, that they're involved in prosecuting some portion of the war. And we were successful in destroying two or three of 'em but that's kind of where it ended.
Q: What was the closest that Saddam Hussein ever came to encountering an airforce bomb?
Glosson: I can't be sure what the answer to that is and only Saddam Hussein can probably answer that for you.
Some of the speculation is that in a convoy a couple of times and in a bunker once or twice that we were fairly close to having terminated the military leadership of Iraq.
But I can't be sure that's true. To my knowledge, I'm not sure anyone other than Saddam Hussein can answer that question.
Q: What was your directive on low flying, what did you want to happen?
Glosson: Of all the things that occurred in the air war probably the most controversial one single factor that I'm most frequently asked about is low flying versus medium altitude versus high flying. The correct answer to `which is correct?'is that they all are. And it depends on the situation and the circumstances.
When you're trying to get tactical surprise and you have a very significant Sam threat, early on in a conflict you may elect to want to fly at low altitude almost exclusively, which for.. to a large extent we did the first two or three days.
But then anyone that's mindful of military history knows that eighty five to eighty seven percent of all the aviation losses, since the Wright Brothers started flying, has occurred as a result of Triple A. Triple A shoots you down basically below ten thousand feet so why would you fly in the envelope where eighty five to eighty seven percent of all the losses have taken place unless you had to.
The first three days of the air campaign we planned to primarily fly low. There were some exceptions to that but, by and large, the bulk of the flying was going to be done low.
The reason for that is because of the tactical surprise you gain and the benefit you get from the SAMs that are the high altitude SAMs, like SA2s, SA3s and 4s and 5s.
But the risk you take is if you do that too long and then you start flying into the strength of a country's capabilities, i.e. Iraq. Iraq's primary capabilities were Triple A and shoulder held SAMs.
Now when we took the command and control system out then all of their Triple A and SAM.. shoulder held SAM units, were operating in an autonomous mode. So why then would we continue to fly into the one area that they had any significant capability of providing a threat to us, that would have been just absolutely criminal.
So we had planned all along after three days, or two or three days, that we were going to fly medium to high altitude so we'd stay out of there. And that's exactly what we did. And all the things you read and all of the second guessing and all the speculation about we did it for some other reason is totally wrong. We planned it from the start that way and that's the way we executed it.
Q: With regard to the RAF and the low flying issue..., can you tell me what happened over that....
Glosson: The low flying issue the most sensitive part is associated with the RAF. Everyone should understand that we asked the RAF to use the particular munition that would close those airfields for four, five, six hours at a time. No-one else had the capability nor the munition to do that. They very willingly accepted that mission.
To continue to have done that mission after it was no longer necessary, when the Iraqis for all practical purposes weren't even flying, would have been criminal. That's why we stopped the mission. For no other reason.
The RAF would have continued that mission until General Horner said that he no longer had a need for it but after the Iraqis basically stopped flying and were not that much of a threat to us, it would have been foolish to continue that low altitude mission and attacking those airfields like that and that's why we made that decision.
We thought that would be the decision we'd made before the war ever started and it turned out to be exactly right that it was.
Q: If people back in London had put pressure on the RAF in theatre to carry on flying low, because that's what they trained to do, what would you have said to the people back in London?
Glosson: The issue of low flying and how much would we have tolerated if the individual coalition member countries had insisted that they fly either low, high or whatever, was an issue that actually came up two or three times.
Segments of the United States Airforce, the RAF, to just mention a couple, and the answer was always the same and it would have been the same no matter how much pressure they tried to exert and that is they were going to fly consistent with the way that General Horner and I had planned and flowed out, the strategic air campaign, or they weren't going to fly.
That's a really very simplistic answer but it's a true answer in that we actually faced that situation in a couple of instances and that was the alternative and we didn't leave any doubt in anybody's mind about that.
Q: Why did you care? Someone else's air force and they do what they want to.
Glosson: I've often been asked the question why General Horner and I really cared if it was a coalition aircraft and it wasn't a US forces aircraft. And that's a very basic, fundamental issue with both of us. It stems from one thing, human life.
We never ask ourselves when we put any aircraft against a target what nation's flying that airplane, but that was a member of the coalition, a living breathing human being and when he went down the pain was the same no matter where he came from or what nation or who he represented in the coalition.
To try to have different rules for different members of the coalition is just totally absurd to my way of thinking.
Q: When the RAF started to take all these losses in the early days, how did you feel, what were you thinking, what was your reaction, as the commander of these guys?
Glosson: One of the most painful times I had was when the RAF experienced their losses early on in closing those airfields because one always, in those type of situations, will step back and take a deep breath and say,
"Is there some other way I can do this? Is this really essential for what we are doing?"
And the losses that they took hit very hard and, believe me, if there had been any other way that I could have thought of to deal with the problem of closing those four or five runways that were the most threat to our AWACS and our J Stars I would have done that.
We just could not come up with another way to do it that.. where we had the munitions or compatability of munition and airplane and capabilities all rolled into one.
Q: And later on when you were worried about the air threat again, when you started to bomb the shelters and so on, why didn't you use low level then.. to dump some stuff in the runways?
Glosson: I know that there are a lot of people that characterize so called potential for a Tet offensive I think that that thought process basically came about as a result of some air power zealots trying to have their own thought process turn into the way that the war was being run.
In other words, in essence that they disapproved of what we were doing at the time and felt that other things were of more significance.
The irony of it is when I briefed the Seventh Corps, before the war started, I told them that after about a week we would start blowing shelters apart because the Iraqi air force would stop flying and they'd start trying to hide their airplanes. So it was nothing, no mystique that they went to that mode, we felt they would.
The other thing that gets lost in the rewriting of history sometimes is it's very difficult for you to taxi out an airplane with a flight of four or a flight of six and lead takes off, two takes off, three watches lead blow up and then two all of a sudden is coming back to land, it is tough for three and four to go ahead and roll down the runway, or five and six.
Well that happened, time and time again in the first few days of the war and so it should be a surprise to anybody, or they should not have difficulty in answering the question, "Why did the Iraqis stop flying?"
Q: Why wasn't the Iraqi advance stopped before they got to Khafji? What happened?
Glosson: Why was the Iraqi advance not stopped prior to Khafji? A very straightforward simple question deserves a very straightforward simple answer.
It was not the Air Force's best day. Had it not in fact been for General Horner later on, Khafji would be remembered as a day that the Air Force would like to forget because the JStars clearly showed advancement of armor moving South but, for whatever reason, decisions were being made in the Ops Center that did not, or were not, consistent with the gravity of the situation from a time standpoint nor a momentum standpoint.
When I walked in the Ops Center, and I believe it was about midnight, I could see the movement of the armor on the J Stars screen and so I obviously asked what was going on and the way it was explained to me made me extremely uncomfortable and so I walked upstairs and told General Horner that I felt that the Iraqis were moving South and that we were operating in kind of a business as usual mode.
He came to the Ops Center and the significance and the results of Khafji, in my opinion, were totally changed as a result of him walking in the Ops Center and taking over because from the decisions he made and the actions he took basically put a stop to it.
Q: Once you guys got to work, what did air power achieve at Khafji?
Glosson: Once General Horner started directing things, basically destroyed the better part of a division's armor -- between thirty and forty tanks-- and made it impossible for them to reinforce and very quickly severed or cut off those four or five tanks that were out in the lead element and isolated them. And so you wound up with three or four tanks, five tanks into Khafji, and then everything behind it was either headed North or burning.
Q: Did you click immediately to the significance of this?
Glosson: When we took an assessment of Khafji the next day General Horner's assessment best summarizes it,I thought, when he said
"We proved last night what we've known all along that without air superiority you can't do anything on the ground. Now what lessons should we take from this?"
In other words are there changes that we should make in the air campaign in preparation if and when we start a land campaign. And we came to the conclusion that there weren't and the reason that we came to that conclusion is because exposed armor moving in a desert is in its most vulnerable position to air, especially when you have total air superiority.
So what, in fact, Khafji proved is it proved what we were saying all along. If we could just get the Iraqis to move either North or South we'll decimate 'em and it's more painful to try to destroy them dug in , you know, by a factor of two or three and so in a sense Khafji only confirmed what we had anticipated and or otherwise had thought would happen when movement started with the armor anyway.
Q Now about this time the Army started to say "Hey, we're getting into early February" -- "We're not getting enough". Were you concentrating too much on bombing targets in Baghdad and not enough on bombing the things that kill Americans?
Glosson: The intensity of the strategic air campaign and when to switch that intensity to more a tactical mode or more toward the field army deployed was always a controversial issue. The Army had one view and the Air Force obviously probably with the Navy had another view.
We believed, and I still do, that the attacking of targets in Baghdad had as much or more to do with the success or failure of that field army than attacking it directly in the overall scheme of what our coalition was trying to accomplish.
It's not a matter of not destroying tanks or not destroying armor or not destroying their fire trenches or the fire pipeline connections that they had set up to create this wall of fire when the ground troops went across. It's a matter of doing it at the correct time so that everything is sequenced together.
If it had not been for General Schwarzkopf, the land commanders would have absolutely gone off the deep end in trying to get us to take out the T Junctions and so forth that fed that fire trench.
But I assured General Schwarzkopf that the 117s could take that out and there was no doubt in his mind they could take it out and we wanted to take it out close enough to when the land campaign started that he didn't have time to repair it.
And it's exactly what we did and, other than two or three trenches that were filled with old oil in front of the marines, there were no oil trenches filled up andmassively set on fire.
The same way with the artillery. Three nights before the land campaign started we put every 111 and every F15 sortie on destroying artillery because that's what the CINC wanted destroyed and so the bottom line in this issue is that General Horner and I tried very hard to do exactly what was consistent with General Schwarzkopf's scheme of war, a combination of air and ground.
We were not running an air campaign off in one section oblivious to the fact that a land campaign was going to take place in three or four days or three weeks down the road.
We were trying to tie it all together in the way that General Schwarzkopf wanted it tied together.
Q: Cal Waller had to come in to check you were doing it properly, that you weren't cheating.
Glosson: General Schwarzkopf gave General Waller the responsibility of having a meeting every afternoon and prioritizing the land commanders target list because, in any war, any commander's appetite is going to be greater than the capability in one particular day. It may take three days to get all of his targets struck but he wants 'em all struck right now.
And the only problem that I had with General Waller and the group that met and prioritised the list of targets is that their Intelligence of what the state of those particular targets, by the time they got on the target lists, happened to be was not cross-checked and two, their decisions were not consistent with the CINCs direction in many many cases.
And so it was a very easy decision for me when something was inconsistent with the CINCs direction, I didn't do it and if the Intelligence that I had showed that a target that they wanted destroyed had either been moved or already destroyed by artillery or something else, I didn't strike that either.
But I need to emphasise that this air campaign, in its totality, was Norman Schwarzkop's air campaign, it wasn't Cal Waller's, nor Buster Glosson nor Chuck Horner's and the campaign was part of .. Schwarzkopf's overall war plan.
We executed that the way he wanted it executed. If that happened to not be the way Cal Waller thought it should be executed, that's tough.
Q: Did the Army get their fair share? In a nutshell, had they any right to be frustrated?
Glosson: I have been asked numerous times did the ground commanders have a right to be frustrated, did they get the air support that they wanted. And I think probably the truthful answer to that is,
"Yes they had a right to be frustrated and they didn't get the amount of air support that they thought they needed".
But they were only one small element of the overall war effort and when General Schwarzkopf said,
"Don't drop any bombs West of the Wadi", if they were West of the Wadi, I don't care how much they wanted, they didn't get anything. And therein is where a lot of the tension and the friction occurred.
But I can tell you one thing for certain, if the United States Army thought that they did not have enough air power in the Gulf War then we are in a sad state of affairs because there were many times when we had eight, ten airplanes orbiting overhead with bombs on them waiting to drop that the United States Army could not find a target that needed to be destroyed.
And if they'd had them then the communication system failed so bad that we did not know that they were asking for that type of strike.
So my point is one of two things, either we have a massive failure in our communication structure, if they didn't get what they wanted, or they were asking for things that were counter to what the CINC had given permission for us to do or the way he wanted his scheme and manoeuvre to occur.
And it's just that simple because the number of airplanes we had in the coalition for this war was significantly more than we needed. There was never a shortage of airplanes at any time during the war.
Q: Tell me.. tank linking, how did that come about?
Glosson: Tank linking came about as a result of us not destroying tanks fast enough because, believe it or not, we had set out a time line of how many, you know, destroying tanks how fast it was that they were going to be destroyed and so forth and we thought that we would destroy tanks somewhere between the twenty and thirty a day after we focused solely on destroying tanks.
And we weren't coming anywhere close we were down in the are of six or eight. And so after about ten days of that I knew that we had to do something different.
So I talked to some of my planners and we were just kind of brainstorming the thing and we were talking about the fact that a particular individual two thousand pound bomb did not have the accuracy to hit a tank and then we discussed the guidance system on the two thousand pound bomb and the fact that a five hundred pound bomb has the exact same guidance system.
So from a pure physics standpoint, the accuracy of a five hundred pound bomb with the exact same fins and guidance system as a two thousand pound bomb is going to increase its accuracy just because of the weight. We didn't know how much it would increase it so we decided we'd give it a try. So I called Tom Lennon, the Wing Commander of the F111s, and I said,
I want you to do this tank linking mission" and I didn't at the time call it tank linking, I called it destroying tanks and I said, "I want you to draw up LGBs on tanks."
And he was not totally convinced that that was the brightest thing that we'd every asked him to do but he went along. And so I told him to make sure that everybody understood the significance, I wanted him to lead the mission and do it himself.
So he did and after the mission he called me and said that that they'd just landed and they had seven out of eight direct hits and I think I pimped him by asking him what happened to the eighth one.
And that is the way it started and then it mushroomed and it went to the F15Es then to the A6s and we got up to about the level of destroying armor that I thought we could be at by using the other types of munitions which we just couldn't do with the tanks dug in.
Q: It was an important development.
Glosson: Very significant in the amount of armor that the ground forces faced and when, you know, we talk about the air.. campaign and what it accomplished or what it didn't accomplish and whether we shifted our emphasis too quick and all those different things, the bottom line is how long and how difficult was the force confronting the ground forces when they started the war.
I mean, if it had been any easier we should have sent a police force over there. I mean, it only took what three days. Remember three days. Three months earlier we were talking about a six month war, losing twenty thousand people, everybody forgets that.
Now, obviously, it was overstatement of what the Iraq capabilities were, that was a significant part of it, but the bombardment that that country absorbed from the coalition airforces was the predominant reason that that land war went so quick and we had so few casualties.
Q: One of the cruise missiles went off course and you got the message from General Powell via General Schwarzkopf... no more cruise missiles?
Glosson: The infamous cruise missile fly by of the Rashid Hotel, the one that was shown on CNN live as it went by the window, resulted in us being told ... no more cruise missiles.
And that was unfortunate from the standpoint that you talk about that intensity and that constant unnerving or being unsure of what's happening and not permit you to just operate at will, that significantly altered that because the cruise missile was the only thing that we were using to go into Downtown Baghdad during the daylight hours.
Q: What was the logic that was given to you for the decision?
Glosson: I'm not the right person to ask that. I think you need to ask Schwarzkopf that. I was told at the time that there was concern that the cruise missile might you know, strike a hotel or something, you what I mean, inadvertently.
Q: Al Firdos ....Just take me through the story of why it was targeted.
Glosson: Certainly one of the most troubling times of the war for me was the Al Firdos bunker and that was solely because of the civilian casualities associated with it.
Prior to the war, during the planning phase, the Intelligence community had laid out the shelter complex in Baghdad and the twenty plus shelters that were there.
We had also been able to ascertain that seven, eight of those had been upgraded in kind of a peculiar way and then, additionally, that three of those seven had been even more upgraded with communications gear and putting in the mode of almost a command and control, back-up command and control facility, which is what, quite candidly, we thought they were going to be used for.
We thought that once we would bomb the underground bunkers that were deeply buried that they would gravitate to these three bunkers to try to control things from them, we felt that was the whole process.
And then we got the word the day before the air campaign started that one of those three bunkers had been activated and so the first night of the war we destroyed one of those bunkers.
So that left two of the types of bunkers that concerned us from a military standpoint.
Our Intelligence on those bunkers was continuous and we monitored what was going on with all of the Intelligence means available.... both signals and imagery that was available to us, some of it from sources and some of it from the eKuwaiti resistance quite honestly that showed some of the leadership people going to this bunker at different times during the night and leaving. And some of the signals that we were picking up indicated that things were happening in that bunker, it was not just a place to go sleep.
And so that's why it became a military target and that's why we bombed it when we did when the activity got fairly significant.
In other words, if you were watching a bunker and maybe there's one or two things occurring on a given night and then all of a sudden the intensity starts getting higher and higher to the point that it looks like it's kind of a constant flow or an hourly flow, so to speak, then that inidicated to us that there was more control coming out of that bunker than had been previously and that's why we decided to er take it out.
Q: How much thought went into hitting this bunker, how much care had been taken?
Glosson: The irony of the situation with the Al Firdos bunker is that probably more thought and more consideration and scrutiny went in to bombing the bunker than almost any other one target we bombed.
And that's the frustrating part, is to have spent that amount of time and effort in focusing on making sure that it was being used for military purposes and then have the catastrophe that happened with the civilians being killed.
Q: You must still be puzzled, frustrated that the Intelligence just missed out the one vital factor.
Glosson: When you look at things in hindsight, as everybody knows, they always become a lot clearer.
In this case that hasn't happened yet and that's also part of the frustration associated with this. Because, given the same set of events, the same circumstances, and putting someone else into my position at that particular time, in the future that type of target would be destroyed again.
And that's what we should be concerned about the most is to make sure that that type of mistake is not made in the future.
Q: Chuck Horner recalls going to.. 'evening prayers' he called it, and seeing this on target and saying to you "Oh, we're getting pretty much to the end of the list now, we're running out of things to hit in Baghdad". Do you recall that conversation?
Glosson: I remember having a conversation with General Horner as we were going over to General Schwarzkopf's evening meet about the particular types of targets and so forth and there was a frustration that both of us felt because the Intelligence community was not being able to give us more concrete hard evidence ofchemical, biological , nuclear that sort of thing, because those were the things that.. that we wanted to definitely take out.
We had basically disrupted the communications, the command and control, to the point that we were reasonably satisfied with where we were there.
So, in that respect, I remember on one of the evenings we were driving over and we were looking at the targets we were striking and knowing that there were .. or at least believing that there were chemical and biological and other targets that were very significant that we didn't have the Intelligence to know where to strike.
I remember us discussing the fact that we did not think that we would have been striking targets that to us, in the overall scope of things, were as low in value as they were compared to when we first started the war. I remember having that discussion yes.
Q: What happened after the bombing of the bunker? Cheney and Powell had a discussion....
Glosson: Yes, I knew the restrictions that were placed on us after the bombing of the bunker and in essence General Schwarzkopf told me that he didn't want to bomb any more targets in Baghdad unless he specifically knew what was being bombed in advance.
So we went into that type of mode of operation which basically meant that instead of having the freedom to bomb the targets that needed to be bombed each target he had to check off or say OK, and he was very reluctant obviously to approve any targets because he was getting quite a bit of pressure from the States and everywhere else..
Q: Does it matter?
Glosson: I think it mattered significantly because you then permit that Iraqi leadership to have the freedom to operate like they're not at war.
Remember, the ground army is not located in Baghdad, so if the leadership is in Baghdad and three hundred miles or a hundred and fifty miles whichever way you want to go, the war's taking place for all practical purposes they're not at war. Of course it matters.
Q: What were your feelings at the time?
Glosson: I thought it was a mistake to lift the intensity off the leadership in Baghdad and I thought it would give them an opportunity to show more mischief and be more involved in what was going on in Kuwait city and then with the land army.
I didn't think that it would impact the ultimate conclusion or results of the war in any significant way other than maybe prolonging it slightly and putting the regime in a stronger position to survive than they may have been otherwise.
Q: If that bombing had been continued do you think there's a chance that Saddam Hussein might not still be there?
Glosson: That is too speculative for me.
Because with the intensity very high up to the point that the Al Firdos bunker occurred, he managed to survive that so I can't with a clear conscience say that keeping the intensity that high he would have somehow not survived the last three, four weeks.
Q: How did the bombing of Highway Six come about? Tell me that story.
Glosson: I got a call from the Kuwaiti resistance that indicated they were starting to pack up and leave out of Kuwait City.
At about the same time, I got a call from Mike McConnell to tell me that their indications were that they were also leaving, and I had been previously alerted about six hours earlier by Mike McConnell that they had picked up some intelligence that indicated that he might be getting ready to withdraw his troops and so forth.
At the ops centre , you could see that developing on JStars very clearly, and they had been putting strikes in against it but because of the weather they were not successful, and so I asked how many of the F15's since the F15's worked for me, I said... under the weather at night low altitude airplane, I said, "How many of those" and they said, "None and because they've already flown and so I can't fly them again" and I said, "Fine" so I went over and called the number two person, Colonel Ball Baker down at the F15E Unit and told him that I wanted twelve F15 E's airborne, I wanted to go straight and check in with JStars and I wanted to stop that exodus going north on Highway Six.
And I acknowledged to him that I knew they had flown and that they were flying without crew rest and all the other requirements and restrictions.
Q: Did you use the words "At all Costs"?
Glossan: No that came later when I, and as we were discussing this Ball Baker asked me, he says "Okay, I'm going to do this" and he says "most of the guys are already in bed"
and I say, "I understand they're already in bed, get them up. Tell them to go to their airplanes, I don't want them to take time to brief, they'll be single ship so they can talk it over among themselves.
I want them to get airborne, and I know that I'm going to take losses. I understand Ball that I will take some losses here", and I said, "but this convoy exodus must be stopped. These are the same people that brutalised Kuwait City for the last five weeks", and so that was how it came about.
Q: And do you remember getting the reports back of what they'd managed to do?
Glossan: I actually got it from the JStars and watching it --I knew they had succeeded in starting... piling it up, backing it up.
Q: Was the setting of the bomb line a source of great frustration to you?
Glossan: In the last 24 hoursof the war, 24 to 36 hours of the war the setting of the fire support coordination line that we called a thistle was a very frustrating experience.
What in essence happened is the Army land commanders wanted to move that line out, away from their troops because they were unsure of exactly where everybody was in their divisions and Corps and so forth, so they wanted to move it out far enough that they could be assured that we'd not dropping bombs on friendlies and that's understandable.
But then when you move that so far in this case they moved it all the way to the Euphrates river that came down from the north west towards Basra and in the canals down into the sea, the gulf, and what happened by moving it there is between the front lines of the coalition forces and the river, was like a hundred and ten miles in many cases, and that pocket had the artillery and armor and tanks and everything else in it...
Q: You must have been going wild?
Glossan: And so the only way we could attack it was if a ground forward air controller had direct contact with the airplane.
Now, I appealed that to General Schwarzkopf and he initially moved the thistle back and it gave us about a twenty five mile area which we bombed quite heavily, but then, his ground commanders started complaining and asked him to move it back up and so that was the thing that frustrated General Horner and I so much because you could see on the JStars and I mean on all the other intelligence systems what was sitting there and what was transpiring and it was choked in to a pocket and water was on all sides of them except the side that the coalition forces were facing.
And yet we didn't destroy that, we permitted --what fifteen hundred, two thousand tanks or whatever they were, the armored vehicles and so forth to stay there and after the ceasefire they took them back across the river and used them against the Shi'ites and everything else they wanted to do with them.
So sure that was very, very frustrating and it should never of happened but it did.
Q: When the war ended, were you clear in your mind that there was still a lot of potential targets?
Glossan: When the war was terminated, my own diary shows that I thought that there were somewhere between seven hundred and a thousand significant pieces of armor targets in that area. I underestimated it by half as you can see, but that's what I thought at the time.
Q: What were your feelings about this?
Glossan: I was frustrated at that because remember one of the coalition's major objectives was to make sure that the potential was not left with this country to be able to duplicate this again in five to ten years.
You can't leave that much armor in the hands of that country and not be concerned that they may not try mischief again.
Q: What did this amazing air war that you coordinated, that you led, what did it achieve?
Some of the lessons that were learned were just relearned and so I wont dwell on those, but there's no question that we established forever that there is no sanctity from air with today's technology of Stealth and precision weapons and the combination of the two.
There is no question that air can decimate a land army given enough time and enough patience and save thousands and thousands of lives. So as we have thought in the past that air, and basically sea, support a land army, I think in the future it will be much like a football game.
There are times when you pass and there are times when you run and when you're passing everybody else is supporting you, and when you're running everybody else is supporting you and in the future you will see air campaigns when everybody else is supporting and you will see land campaigns when everybody else is supporting.
Q: When the land war occurred did you want the air war to go on for longer or did you feel "No, it's time, we got to do it"?
When General Schwarzkopf decided to start the land war I thought that we had reached the point where it was in the best interests of the coalition and the nation to start the land war.
Now I say that with a caveat that we were no longer , being disruptive and eh, impacting the leadership in Baghdad and we had focused our efforts solely on on the land Army so any prolonged bombing or continuation of the air war just for the purpose of getting destruction higher in those units I felt the destruction was high enough and the land campaign would be very brief as it was.
So, no, I did not feel that we should continue the air campaign at that point in time.
Q: You served in Vietnam. Watching those parades, did you think about Vietnam?
Glosson: I guess the feelings I had for the tickertape parade in New York was where flashbacks to Vietnam occurred from the standpoint of I remember distinctly getting off an airplane in civilian clothes coming from Vietnam and not wanting to be in uniform in public.
That's a troubling thing for a military professional to say but I truthfully felt that way at the time as a captain, and the way I felt during the tickertape parade and all of the things that occurred in New York and the way the outpouring of appreciation that the nation showed -- you could not help but think back of friends that you'd lost in Vietnam and they never got an opportunity to see a grateful nation say Thank you.
Q: Did you feel when you thought of those friends-- Well this time we've done it right, this one's for you?
Glosson: When I reflect back on Vietnam although it may sound like some of the scar tissue and some of the biases that I carried into the planning, especially in the execution of this war that there is a lot of resentment may be built up there, but that's not really truthful.
I felt that Vietnam was a combination of political as well as a national -- Vietnam was not the military's proudest day.
I mean we did not do things that were innovative and that could have helped save a lot of lives and done things significantly different even with the constraints that we were under. So I don't carry as much of the animosity and bias or scar tissue toward that time frame as some of my contemporaries.
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