~~An Interview with Rick Francona~~

DS     Seeing as there has been much written about Desert-Storm and the surrounding events and times, what makes your book diffrent from other such writings?

RF     My book is an eyewitness account of what happened to US-Iraq relations from 1988, to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, and through Desert Storm.  In 1988, I was in Iraq as part of the American government's effort to assist Iraq in its war with Iran.  As the war between the two countries raged during the 1980's, U.S. intelligence assessed that the likely outcome of the war would
be an Iranian victory.  An Iranian victory over Iraq was unacceptable to the United States, as it would allow Iran to exert undue influence over the oil-rich Gulf Arab states, particularly Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. 

   Lt Col Rick Francona 
   U.S. Air Force (Retired)

           After the decision was made to assist the Iraqis in a variety of ways, I was sent to Baghdad as part of the Department of Defense effort to work with the Iraqi armed forces.  One of the officers I worked with was the deputy director of military intelligence.  During Desert Storm, he became Saddam's director of military intelligence.  So, in effect, I had a personal relationship with the enemy J-2.
          During the Iran-Iraq War, I was able to observe several of the Iraqi battlefields, visit Iraqi headquarters units and field installations, and tour Iraqi front line positions and obstacle emplacements, the same type of obstacles and positions we were to face in Kuwait and southern Iraq during Desert Storm.  I also was able to fly a few sorties with the Iraqi air force, visit some air bases, and got a feel for their capabilities.
         Enduring Iranian SCUD attacks during the war of the cities was also an interesting experience.  Just being in Baghdad was an experience, one that only a handful of American military officers had.
         Soon after the Iranian acceptance of the United Nations resolution ending the war in August of 1988, the Iraqis made it clear we had nothing more to discuss, and my mission to Baghdad ended.   Over the next two years, I watched with sadness as the relations between Iraq and the United States continued on a downward spiral.  I felt a sense of dread at the vitriolic
rhetoric aimed at Kuwait and Israel in the summer of 1990, and observed in disbelief the invasion of Kuwait.
          Because of my time in Baghdad and personal acquaintance with many of the senior Iraqi officers we were now facing as enemies, I was selected to be general Schwarzkopf's interpreter.  It was a unique vantage point to observe events.
         When Desert Storm opened in January 1991 with the massive air attacks on Baghdad, I knew the military intelligence compound, where I had met with my Iraqi colleagues in 1988, was on the target list.  The entire compound was virtually destroyed in a series of air and missile attacks. I understood the military decision, but also felt remorse at the certain loss of life
among the Iraqi officers, colleagues I had come to know, like, and respect.

Continue to Page 3 of the Interview with Rick Francona

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