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Schwarzkopf Opposes Women in Some Combat Roles

June 12, 1991

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf said today women should be excluded from some combat roles, even though they performed well in Operation Desert Storm.

″I am very much in favor of women’s rights,″ Schwarzkopf told Congress. But, he said, ″I do not believe we want our infantry 50 percent men and 50 percent women.″

Pressed on his views by Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., Schwarzkopf said he favors ″some sort of combat exclusion″ rule that keeps women out of certain jobs.

For instance, he said the U.S. military would be disadvantaged if women were forced to go into hand-to-hand combat in trenches against all-male foreign armies.

Schwarzkopf, the father of two daughters, said decisions on what roles women should play in war must be based on military standards, not women’s rights.

The House, influenced by the performance of women in the Persian Gulf, recently passed legislation that would allow women a greater role in combat. The Senate will consider similar legislation soon.

In the Iraqi conflict, women flew combat helicopters and served in key logistical and operational roles. One woman was killed and another was taken prisoner of war.

Schwarzkopf, whose leadership of military forces in Operation Desert Storm has made him a national hero, also said a strong U.S. military presence will be needed in the Middle East to prevent conflict from erupting there.

Another regional conflict, if not contained, could threaten vital U.S. interests, he said.

″We could again face substantial enemy forces armed with increasingly lethal conventional and unconventional weaponry,″ Schwarzkopf told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

He said the allied success stemmed from state-of-the-art equipment, vigorous training and strong support from the U.S. public.

Looking ahead, he said, the United States must keep a military presence in the region, ″a combination of forward-deployed forces, pre-positioning, security assistance and combined exercises.″

Schwarzkopf, dressed in his military uniform, has announced plans to retire soon. His appearance before the Senate committee will be followed later today with one before the House Armed Services Committee.

Senators questioned Schwarzkopf about reports of controversy within the military that have emerged since the 100-hour war ended.

The blunt-spoken general described as ″sheer unadulterated poppycock″ a report that Marines did not follow his orders precisely during the invasion of Kuwait. He said there was ″zero interservice rivalry that occurred in the war.″

In his postwar assessment, Schwarzkopf suggested that U.S. military planners devise some way of providing ″tactical intelligence - real-time intelligence″ to military commanders in the field.

He said that while intelligence efforts were good, the theater commanders did not always receive the best up-to-date information they needed to run the war.

Moreover, he said, there was confusion in the battle-damage assessment that resulted from different assessments made by military leaders on the ground and intelligence analysts interpreting satellite photos in Washington.

But Schwarzkopf said it was ″blatantly false″ and ″very misleading″ to suggest the military overestimated Iraqi troop strength or potential U.S. military casualties.

″I don’t feel we overestimated at all. ...Iraq had 42 divisions in the theater of operations,″ he said.

Schwarzkopf also described how the war ended. Some analysts have suggested that the United States stopped fighting too soon, thus allowing Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to redeploy his forces for use against the independence-minded Kurdish minority in the north and disgruntled factions in the south.

Schwarzkopf recounted that Gen. Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called him in Saudi Arabia at about 8 p.m. Saudi time on Feb. 27 asking him the state of the war effort.

Schwarzkopf told Powell that the U.S. military objectives had been achieved but ″my plans are to continue the attack for probably one more day.″

The telephone call ended, but shortly afterward Powell called back, informing Schwarzkopf that the thinking in Washington was to end the war in about 12 hours.

The general said he concurred, saying, ″That’s as good a time as any other.″

Some U.S. military commanders were pleased with the decision because ″we were really wreaking great destruction upon the enemy and taking lives unnecessarily,″ he said.

As for the effect on Saddam Hussein, Schwarzkopf said the decision to end hostilities played no role in the Iraqi president’s future actions. He noted that Iraq maintained ″a huge military force″ in Iraq as well as in Kuwait.

For instance, he said, there were 10 Iraqi heavy divisions in Kuwait, three in Iraq. It is those divisions outside Kuwait that have formed the nucleus of Iraq’s efforts to rebuild its military, he said

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