Rumsfeld also said that the conflict could last “days, weeks or months” as top U.S. defense officials took to the airwaves to defend their strategy to end Saddam Hussein’s regime.
“We’ve got a good plan and it’s working very, very well,” Rumsfeld said during an interview on the ABC news show This Week.
“There are a lot of second-guessers, but believe me it’s going to end and it will end in victory.”
The Defense Secretary refuted reports that U.S. troops surrounding Baghdad have been told that the ground advance could be paused for several weeks due to difficulties defending overextended military supply lines from pockets of stiff Iraqi resistance.
“We have no plans for pauses or cease-fires or anything else,” Rumsfeld said.
Asked if he anticipated that U.S. troops would still be fighting six months from now, he said: “Oh goodness, we’ve never had a timetable. We’ve always said it could be days, weeks or months. We don’t know.”
According to a Reuters report, military officials told some troops that the land advance could be held up for 35 to 40 days before coalition forces push on into Baghdad.
U.S. General Tommy Franks also denied that troops are in an “operational pause” during a Sunday Central Command news briefing in Doha, Qatar.
“There have been some pundits who have indicated that perhaps we are in an operational pause. It is simply not the case. There is a continuity of operations,” Franks said.
General Richard Myers, head of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, also weighed in on NBC’s Meet the Press that the U.S. campaign was going according to plan, but cautioned that coalition forces would not rush to engage in a ground assault on Baghdad.
“We’re certainly not going to do anything to put our young men and women in danger precipitously,” Myers said. “We’re also not going to put Iraqi civilians in danger as well. We’ll be patient. We’ll just continue to draw the noose tighter and tighter.”
During his appearances on both ABC and Fox News Sunday, Secretary Rumsfeld denied media reports that he overruled original war plans presented by General Franks and demanded a plan that would utilize fewer forces.
“That is not true,” Rumsfeld told Fox News. “I think you’ll find that if you ask anyone who’s been involved in the process from the Central Command that every single thing they’ve requested has in fact happened.”
“The plan we have is his [General Franks],” Rumsfeld said on the ABC program. “I would be delighted to take credit for it. It’s a good plan. It’s a creative and an innovative plan. And it’s going to work.”
Asked if his original war plan called for the use of more troops, Franks said during the Doha press briefing, “No, I did not request additional troops before the beginning of what you refer to as the — as the ground war.”
“Those who would seek to find a wedge between the various people among us, the various leaders who have been party to this, will likely not be able to do so,” Franks said.
Rumsfeld also said on ABC that he was “not at all” concerned that coalition forces had not yet uncovered any Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, a key contention in the Bush administration’s push for war.
“The area in the south and the west and the north that coalition forces control is substantial. It happens not to be the area where weapons of mass destruction were dispersed,” Rumsfeld said.
Myers said that no military officials — including Rumsfeld and Franks– ever promised an easy victory.
“This is going to be a tough war, a tough slog yet, and no responsible officials I know has ever said anything different once the war has started,” Myers said.