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5,2005, 1640 Room 2E572 - review of Iraqi Secur ity Forces Host: Eric Ruff, Tara Jones OSD-PA ON THE RECORD Transcriber: Murphy Mr. Ruff: (intro in progress). So with that will open up with a couple of minutes just to sort of set the stage . It is all on the record. And then he'll obviously take your quest ions. So general , if you'd like to start off, fire away. _ Well let me sort of give a very quick summary of what I talked about with the Pentagon press corps . And the bottom line up front with them was that there has been enormous progress with Iraqi Security Forces over the course of the past 16 months, in the face of a brutal insurgency. There is clearly considerable work still to be done. But with whatever metric you want to have, Iraqi readiness has continued to grow with each passing week . In fact, you could take a percentage off each of them : training , equipp ing, infrastructure, reconstruction, units in the fight , branch schools , academ ies, you name it, and what has been accomplished would still be very , very substantial. The number of trained and equipped , by the way now, is over 197,000, and that should be, in fact, close to about 200,000 by the referendum in mid October. To give a few numbers for you: There are over 115 police and army combat battalions in the fight. I've added the police - that 's the police commandos, the public order battalions, the police mechan ized unit and the emergency response unit to that. Sometimes only combat were reported as when Gen. Casey was talking about some aO-plus last week .
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I've added the police - that 's the police commandos , the public order battalions, the police mechan ized unit and the emergency response unit to that. Sometimes only combat were reported as when Gen. Casey was talking about some aD-pius last week . Now most of these 115 - about ao - are assessed at being Level 3. That is - the title for that is
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I've added the police - that's the police commandos, the public order battalions, the police mechan ized unit and the emergency response unit to that. Sometimes only combat were reported as when Gen. Casey was talking about some aD-pius last week . Now most of these 115 - about aD - are assessed at being Level 3. That is - the title for that is "fighting alongs ide" in this transition readiness report that we 've discussed with some of you before . Over 36 are assessed as being Level 2 or above . Of course the above is that one - lone one that is at Level 1 which is truly- fully independent. And I think a very important point to make is that that does not just mean that it is capable of independent operat ions, which has been talked about a bit, not comp letely correctly. Any unit Level 2 and above generally can conduct independent operat ions , and in fact as evidence of that a substant ial number of the 36 have their own areas of respons ibilities. Seven battalions in Baghdad alone have the ir own areas of operation. And it is of course whe n they have the ir own area of operat ion that they can in fact replace U.S. forces and allow them to move elsewhere or eventually to go home. I don't want to try to create an impression that these are right now candidates for the 101 Airborne or the 1st Marine Division, but they have come a very , very long way in a relatively short period of time in the face of a brutal insurgency, an enemy who 's tried everything to disrupt and derail the establishment of these forces , the reconstruction of their infrastructure and the delivery of their equipment. Aga in, it is not surpr ising that very , very few Iraqi battalions are assessed at Level 1 - that means fully independent. Again , not just capable of fUlly independent operat ions, but of requiring no Coalition 1__ A_.-I :_ &_.-.J. . . . ....form_ _Now they would still have L. trans. ition team with them , but .io.._ _._ assistance in any _ ,.. 1.. . L a _ _ ' L.. : ...J : _ .
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moved them from 1 to 2. They are still in the lead; they still own their area of responsibility; they have still replaced U.S. forces ; but there is an assessme nt that in fact they are not fully independent and they probably need assistance in some area of logistics or perhaps in support from the ministry because of their challenges and capacity and capability, intel structu res and so forth, all of which we are working to help the Iraqis improve . There has been enor mous progress in deve lopmen t of institutions. The latest such example of that is on the zs" of September, the j unior and senior staff colleges did open on time, with NATO support . That was a NATO mission, and you'll recall I was the training mission co mmande r in Iraq as well as the Multi-Nat ional Security Transition Commander-Iraq. That is very, very important to them because it will start to provide the staff skills and trained staff officers that will be so essential at the higher headquarters of the brigade and division level as those organizations come on line. Repair of the infrastructure has gone continually very, very we ll. Hundreds of police stations now , over 100 border forts , dozens of army bases - at least four of which can hold entire divisions , at least light divisions - the Ministry of Defense building, military police acade mies, training facilities and so forth. All of that proceed ing very, very well, albeit with some challenges and a few very tough areas in Anbar province or in a place like Samarrah: The develop ment - delivery of equipment has been enormo us as well. We 're now up to 220 ,000 sets of body armor delivered, over 30,000 radios, over 186,000 AK-47s, over 330 million rounds of ammunition and nearly 20,000 vehicles delivered ju st since 1 July last year . The focus now increasingly is on providing more armored protect ion, and in fact, there are two mechanized brigades now -- one each in the police and the army. Anot her mechanized army brigade is in training. We 're starting the transition of the Iraqis into the new armored security vehic les on the police side made by Cadillac Gage (sp) in the U.S., and about to - have made a purchase, wa iting the delivery of up-armored HUMVEES, and then we'll make a purchase shortly of wheeled armored personne l carr iers, most likely will be non-U.S., but we'll equip three full brigades of Iraqi forces. Now there are other factors than just the development of the forces themselves that will be very important, including the develop ment of a political environment that is in much of the sout h and in the Kurdish areas results in support for Iraqi forces and denies the insurgents sanctuary and assistance; a reduction in unemployment wou ld help as that would reduce the number of potential Iraqi guns for hire; more assistance from neighboring countries in restricting the flow of foreign fighters and suicide bombers would be of enormous importance, and so would , of course , improvements in the gove rnment's provision of basic services , which would undermine the efforts of the insurgents to discredit it. The key to what much of what lies ahead , in fact , will be Iraqi leaders at the national and provincial levels, as well in the ministries and the secur ity forces themselves. And the developments of the next several months will be critical as the constitutional referendum and the general elections are held, and then as a new government, which of course will be the fourth in about 18 months, is formed . So as a bottom, bottom line, let me just say that Iraqi Secur ity Force capab ilities, numbers, readiness have been moving stead ily upward . I'd urge that we widen the aperture to focus on Level 2 and above , because that's the all-important level at which Iraqi forces can replace U.S. forces. The Iraqis are in this fight. They are fighting and dying for their country, and they are fighting increasingly well. And now I'd be happy to take your questions.
Q: Hey, Dave. Th is is Jeff McCausland . First of all, welcome home . Thanks. Great to be back. Q: I would like to add one more thing. I am here in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. There is an Iraqi officer attending the Army War College this year. That is super, and there's one , by the way , at the Command General Staff College as well , and there are others all around the world . In fact , one of the other myths is that the Iraq is are not taking advantage of training offers around the world . And in fact , there are typically 3,200 or so Iraqi Security Force members outs ide the country. Certainly the bulk of those , about 3,100 , are in Jordan , either at the police academy or at the 13-week spec ial operator course . But there are others , such as the one you mentioned, others in the United States . I th ink there 's one even going to West Point. And by the way , beyond that, I should have mentioned , there are now short-, mid-, and longrange plans that are gUiding the development of these forces, and that is something new in the last six months or so, developed with the Iraqis , because as you would rightly point out, think , if you want somebody to graduate from the Military Academy, West Point let's say, five years from now , you 've got to start now with language training and the rest. And so that type of investment is being made, is ongo ing, and that will cont inue to be made even as the focus understandably is on how many are fight ing today, when are they going to start tak ing over from U.S. forces, and when will the logistical apparatus and all that we 're helping to make improve come on line. Q: Let me get to my question . My question is really two quick ones . First is, talk just a little bit about recruitment Dave , because there has been a concern by some people that how well are we doing in ensuring that these are truly integrated battalions. And last week when I was in the U.K., there was a lot of concern about Shi'as, infiltration , and are we just arming for the civil war. And second , something you alluded to, I think I'd like you to develop - the assessments, this category one , two , three and four . Is this a jo int assessment by Iraq i leaders, the unit and the ir
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doing in ensuring that these are tru ly integrated batta lions . And last week when I was in the U.K. , there was a lot of concern about Shi'as , infiltration , and are we just arming for the civil war. And second, something you alluded to, I th ink I'd like you to develop - the assessments, this category one , two , three and four . Is this a jo int assessment by Iraqi leaders, the unit and their counterparts? Or is this solely a U.S. assessment of the Iraqi units? So those are my two questions. All right. The goal is a jo int assessment. I believe that is the case in j ust about all of the units out there . I can 't testify to that. But aga in, the idea is for the trans ition team leader to sit down with his Iraq i counterpart - typ ically battal ion commander, of course - although we have transition teams , as I th ink you know , te-rnan trans ition teams with every brigade headquarters, division headquarters, ground-force headquarters - actually larger there , the joint headquarters, and then in a var iety of the Minister of the Interior counterparts as wel l. And by the way we now have - MNSTCI (Multi -Nat ional Security Transition Command-Iraq) now has responsibility of the two ministries, which was someth ing that they 've just picked up. So it is a joint assessment. In terms of the recru iting, there was indeed a retention and recruiting challenge with Sunni Arabs last fall , and probably what - through February or so. That was a result of the enormous intim idation , in particular in places like western Ninevah province and Anbar province. The Sunn i imams in the ear ly spr ing put out a fatwah that said it's the duty of every good Sunn i Arab male to serve in the security forces , and there has been no shortage of Sunni Arab volunteers since then . There have been challenges in sign ing them up at times because the insurgents wi ll target any recru iting effort. That has not in the least prevented recruiting of these forces , and with the nat ional forces, and I need to distinguish , Jeff, between the national forces wh ich wou ld be army units, part icularly those that are moved around the country, there is an effort to make sure that they reflect the national population , wh ich would mean that they would certainly have some 20 percent or so Sunn i Arabs . That's true in some units , but it needs to be improved in a number of others, because in fact for a while , Shi'a and to a lesser degree Kurds were the
ones that were volunteering . Again , that has long since been a thing of the past, but it then takes time if you have a 13-week program to train an infantryman, for example, wh ich is the tra ining for an individual volunteer now , individual replacement, and there 's a unit development model as well wh ich takes a little less than that time . Again , it takes time for them to actually get out into the field and to populate these units . The challenges in the south - and then there are local forces. And the police of course are locally recruited , nationally tra ined , and the police academies that now have a capacity well over 7,000 at a time , in addit ion to hundreds in spec ialty tra ining in any given time . But those forces , because they are recruited locally, reflect the local popu lation. And of course there have been issues with conflicted loyalties that emerged in the latest dustup down in Basra . I will tell you as a general principal that I think Iraq is can deal with those -- in general -- and I th ink they did in the end . There will be drama, there may even be fisticuffs , bloodshed, but in general, I think that they can still deal with the situations in the south . And by the way , in Najaf and Karbala , I think you all saw - I hope you all saw recently that those areas were actually handed off to Iraqi Security Forces , as many other areas in the south either have been or tacitly are , because what you see when you drive around in Kut , Hillah , Karbala, Najaf, Nasir iyah , Samawah , whatever, what you see are Iraqi police and Iraqi army soldiers, and they are the face of security in thoseand in Basra , by the way . So, aga in, big effort to make national forces -- the police units and the army units reflect the national population with the emphasis most on those that are most deployable, the intervention th th force - t", 3rd , 5 and 9 divis ions and to make sure that the loyalties of the local forces are still in a sense , if you will , to the national cha in of command and not to some local militia leader. Q: Thank you. _ Yep.
Q: Dave , Ken Allard . I want to we lcome you home . Q: Thank you. _ Yep.
Q: Dave , Ken Allard . I want to welcome you home .
Hello , Ken, how are you doctor? Good to talk to you . Q: Well listen , I just literally walked off the set up here . But my question is, can you assess the leader development process for us? I know that 's probably one of the more difficult aspects of this whole th ing. But how competent are these guys? How competent are they getting? And how close are they to actually being able to fight on their own? Yep . It var ies enormously, Ken, to be absolutely up front. There are some exceed ingly competent Iraqi leaders. And you put your finger on the right question because, in fact , leaders matter enormously in th is effort. This is, you know , the loud speaker culture, if you will. It is a culture that for 30 years has been used to respond ing to orders from the tower, if you will , from the top . And so leaders matter enormously. And there is an effort to reestablish the leader development institutions - the military academy has over 500 cadets, for example. It's the Sandhurst model. They've already had the ir first graduation. The staff colleges that I j ust mentioned. Aga in, that's more in the dozens for each of the junior and sen ior staff courses . There are non-comm issioned officer courses that have begun . The squad leader platoon sergeant and then next it will be first sergeant. There are also local - what we would know as PLDC or a cross between PLDC and BNOC (ph). And that's where the trans ition teams and also mob ile train ing teams that we have that are going around to develop not just leader skills , if you will , but also staff skills. Now again , it varies enormously. When you have someone who is a former staff college graduate, and you know that because they have a red stripe on the ir rank , and they 're called staff
major , colonel , general- you really do have somebody that has a good entry level and already a good degree of knowledge about how to do profess ional military planning and operat ions. In other cases you don't have that. In some cases you have people that never had the opportunity to go to it, such as former peshmerga officers - by the way , by and large though what has been recruited for the Iraqi army is former officers from the Iraqi army , but culled out so that you've got the best and brightest of the old army and not those for whom it was just a jobs program . So I guess the short answer again, Ken, would be that it is uneven , that it is improving because of the effort and investment being made in leader development. By the way , you'll be happy to hear me , we are literally form ing an Iraqi TRADOC and an Iraqi national defense university. And I'm sure that I will write back and help them figure out how to do a combined arms center and command as wel l. But, you know, all of that effort is out there . But I was just asked about, you know, how long will it take to develop an NCO corps . And I'd ask , you know, how long did it take us to develop an NCO corps , and we were much more predisposed to it, and knew what it used to look like, and had muscle memory about that. In some cases , this will take generational change , if you will. And so with -- to all of you, this is not just a sweetness and light picture . It is a realist ic picture that does, though , say that Iraqis should get enormous credit for what they have accomplished since the transition to sovereignty, wh ile recogn izing that there is still a great deal of work to be done , and that's true in this area as well. Q: Genera l, Jed Babbin . Can you take the flip side of that question and address whether you have a measu re for how the Iraqi Security Forces are being accepted by the population, the local sheiks , and all the rest of them . How are they getting along with all the people? The - first of all we actually have metrics , by the way. I know there has been some discussion in a sense that , gosh , they need more metrics . I really need somebody to come overor need them to go over now, and see all the metrics that Multi-Nationa l Force-Iraq has. As you nave a measure Tor now me Iraqi secunty r-orces are Delng accepteo oy me popuiauon , me loca l sheiks , and all the rest of them . How are they getting along with all the people? _ The - first of all we actually have metrics , by the way. I know there has been some discussion in a sense that, gosh , they need more metrics . I really need somebody to come over or need them to go over now, and see all the metrics that Multi -National Force-Iraq has. As you would expect, the ORSA (ph) pods in the U.S. military are having a field day, and they have metrics on everything . And one of the metrics is in fact basically a question about support of the military. And the military remains generally either the most or among the most respected institutions - the Army in particular. There is less support and respect for the police because of their historic status as much less cred ible, I guess , or the pride in those organizations was historically less, and it still is. In general, though , Iraqi Secur ity Forces are accepted more than, you know , Coalit ion forces , with the exception of locations where they perceive or want to perceive that it is forces of anothe r ethnic group that are trying to impose their will on them . There have been accusations, for example, that it is Shi'a that is going into Anbar province . Well , the fact of the matter is that those units that were deve loped in the period when Sunni Arabs were not volunteer ing are predominantly Shi'a, and they have come out of the pipeline , and many of them have gone into Anbar province. Now there 's also a number of the more experienced units from -- all of the intervention force battalions , by the way , all 12 of the intervention force battalions are in Anbar province, now, most of them in eastern - Fallujah , Ramadi , but there are now also small numbers of battalions out in the western part. And I think a rough number is somewhere around 3,000 are actually in these operat ions - these three or four operat ions that have just begun. But - and in those cases there is of course resistance . I think the answer to that, candidly , is well , you had your chance , you were allowed to developed the Fallujah brigade, you were allowed to stand up Iraqi national guard battalions from your local areas , and candidly in Anbar province in particular they proved over time ineffective, and they were in fact disestablished, and their
members were recru ited though as part of this reach out outreach to Sunni Arabs to serve as individual replacements in the national forces . So again , you can go anywhere and find any data point, but as a generalization, I think they are generally accepted , although you can find places where again, one ethnic group feels that another ethn ic group 's force is in there.
it's Walt Slocomb. First of all, welcome home , and thanks for everything you've done .
_ We ll thank you, Walt , and you were noted consp icuously by your absence at the 75 anniversary of the Woodrow W ilson school this past weekend . We need an explanation for this.
Q: No excuse .
_ OK, sir.
Q: My question is about the - you said that the Coalition military now has respons ibility for the MOD as well as the military forces themselves . Can you say a little bit about how the development of the Ministry of Defense is going? And the Ministry of Interior? _ The Ministry of Defense actually has probably deve loped more rapidly than the Ministry of Interior, in part because of what you and your colleagues did, frankly . Although it has had its challenges, and there were challenges over time in providing the quantity of advisors that were needed to some degree the right skill sets in those advisors as well, but and it did in fact exper ience under the previous minister and with some previous directors general an apparent degree of corruption there. I don't believe anywhere near the tune of $1 billion ; I think $1 billion was in fact , spent on equipment, some of which amount apparently, allegedly, although again some of the folks making the alleging are from another government and want to make some points that some of that ended up in the director genera l's pocket or some other pockets . But the challenge is that the capac ity and capability are still relative ly thin. And there is a sense
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was in fact, spent on equipment, some of which amount apparently, alleged ly, although again some of the folks making the alleging are from another government and want to make some points that some of that ended up in the director genera l's pocket or some other pockets. But the challenge is that the capac ity and capability are still relatively thin. And there is a sense that it would be a good idea to unify the effort at the ministry advisor level as well as that the joint headquarters level, which was MNSTCI , and that perhaps MNSTCI could bring to bear capab ilities to augment what was already being done at the ministry. And I'll be candid with you and say that, you know , had I been responsible for that, you know, we had a guy from Goldman Sachs for example , a reservist - a vice president from Goldman Sachs who we probably wou ld have thrown at the finance directo r general within the Ministry of Defense had it been our area , but in fact , as you know, it was not. And so we did offer over time, in fact we actually contracted - Roy Auck le (sp) is back over there , by the way , a lot of you will be happy to hear, and to augment that effort . But I think that's probably the right thing to do, and I think that substantively there will be a better synergy in a sense between MNSTCI and the advisor effort than perhaps otherwise. Aga in, the key - the twin - the key words that I mentioned are capacity and capab ility. And in fact discussed this earlier this morn ing with some others that we really need to focus not just on the ministries of Interior and Defense ; we've gotten I think good attention in that area in part because I think the secretary of defense has been quite outspoken in the interagency, but it's other ministries now that will also become critical. You know, again, it's not just the Iraqi Security Forces period. J mentioned also these other factors that are important - but yet another one is, just to take an example , the challenge with pay and the Ministry of Interior is not really within the Ministry of Interior when it emerges, it typically is in the Ministry of Finance . They could actually finance the pay if they could do a reprogramming action and the bureaucracy so far has made that challeng ing. I think they will solve it in the end ; I think they will get a supplemental they have asked for. But if you - you could fix these other two
ministries, develop enormous capacity and capability but if you then don't also fix the Ministry of Finance, which of course does the paying and the budgeting and the provision of resources because sometimes it's not enough to have the money on paper, you have to have it in this culture as you know - in the Iraqi culture - it has to literally be there in the bank or in the safe to actually be spent. And then I would say , you know , the Ministry of Oil, which is generating still some $500 million a week for Iraq , but could aga in probably do even better than that with addi tional assistance. So I think we have to look very , very hard . I mentioned these very key events that are com ing up mid-October, mid-December. Let's not forget there is another one after that , and that is the formation of the new government, which is critical. And that will be (inaudible - of course?) be the fourth government in 18 months. Certainly there will be some falloff at least. you know , in terms of some knowledge of the job unless everybody just stays in the same place , which would be unlikely. And the challenge will be in a sense keeping the civilians in there, the civil service that the embassy and others and we were trying to help develop in the various ministries through these transitions and keeping of course the military leaders. And they did do that this past trans ition . And again , that will be an important point in the next transition . I think one more question , and then they are giving me the hook . Q: this is Barry Posen (sp) . How are you doing?
• • • • Hey Barry , how are you? It's good to see - by the way , I do want to note that you were at the Woodrow Wilson school. Q: And I didn 't even graduate from it. _ And you didn't. But you did teach there. And you did mentor a few of us. So all that I say is your responsibility. ar me vvooarow vvuson scnooi. Q: And I didn 't even graduate from it. And you didn 't. But you did teach there. And you did mentor a few of us. So all that I say is your responsibility. Q: Yeah , right. Blame me . Dave , I would like to ask you to go back to the question of retention in the Iraqi military. You didn 't get a chance to talk quite enough about that. I am curious , what 's the rate at wh ich Iraqis that have been trained up are separating themselves from the military? At what rate_ I don 't think that I can even give a general characterization , other than to say it was a major concern to me last November through about February, probably, wh ich was the height of the Sunn i Arab intimidation. And it has ceased being a problem by and large. There are some units that we have kept our eye on. I remember just before leav ing, it looked as if a unit was start ing - but I mean now we are talk ing about - it was start ing to dip below 90 percent, Barry , so I mean that is not what we were dea ling with back in November when that same unit, you know , we were struggling to keep it above 45 percent. So I think it's a different - very , very different issue right now . In general, most units are actually above 100 percent. In fact if anyth ing, the pressure has to be to keep them below about 110 to 115, because everybody wants to be part of the Iraqi Security Forces right now. Aga in, there is absolutely no shortage of volunteers. And I think you've seen even when , you know , when a recru itinq stat ion will - or an attempt will be made to blow it up, and they typically will get as far as the outer entry control point. But there will still be people there . And you know , we have yet to figure out how you completely protect -I mean somebody has to do the first search in all these locat ions . But the next day they will be lined back up.
I mean there 's an anecdote I remember from the police commando recruiting late last year , early this year , where the insurgents attacked the entry control point where they were doing recruiting for the police commandos. A lot of them were taken to the hospital, and a fairly large number of them actually came back , all bandaged up, and when they were asked by the police commando leader, what do you guys want , they said we still want to be commandos. So there 's a pretty substantial desire to be part of the Iraqi Security Forces . The motivation certain ly does include the fact that it's a great job , and it's a government job , which is the coin of the realm in Iraq, it pays a good salary . But also when you scratch at them a bit, there is also sort of a quiet response that if I don't do this, who will? And there is a sense of fighting for one's country , and it does include more than just the Shi'a Arabs , which of course are the majority party right now. And with that , let me just say thanks to all of you for assembling on short notice . I hope that's been helpful to you. And all the best to everybody, and we hope to see a lot of you out at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, or at one of the other bases or training centers that CAC (sp) is responsible for. Air assault! Q:Thanks_
Transcript Military Analyst Briefing Dec. 13 2005 ; 1230 Briefer:
ON BACKGROUND IDENTIFY AS SENIOR 000 OFFICIAL IN BAGHDAD Host: Tara Jones , OSD-Public Affairs Transcriber: Murphy
Ms. Jones : Thanks for joining us. As always with these calls they are on background, so you are free to quote as long as you quote a senior DoD defense - excuse me - a senior Defense officia l. And with that, if we have • • • • • • on the line, I would like to go ahead and turn it over to you, sir. OK, great. Thanks so much , Tara. Appreciate it. So good to see you and I think if everybody joins us, half of them will be folks that came to Iraq either this past weekend or in October. So great for you all - for me to have a chance to talk with you again. Let me quickly make a few comments and then I am more interested in hearing the quest ions you might have for me. So first , let me tell you how we've gotten to today , at least briefly. The Coalition and Iraqi Secur ity Forces have set the condi tions that are going to ensure success for this elect ion on Thursday. We have arguab ly been setting these cond itions since January, but you know that deliberate operations that we have done throughout the Euphrates River Valley and in the northwest in the Tall Afar and Mosu l area as well in September, and you know that what we have been doing in Ramad i, taking that city a piece at a time in order to reduce the fear, intimidation and the terroris ts that have been in there. They had a great effect on Ramadi during the referendum (Oct. 15) vote . Two percent of Ramadi
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and in the northwest in the Tall Afar and Mosu l area as well in September, and you know that what we have been doing in Ramad i, taking that city a piece at a time in order to reduce the fear, intimidation and the terroris ts that have been in there. They had a great effect on Ramadi during the referendum (Oct. 15) vote . Two percent of Ramadi voted during the refere ndum . There will be a safe and secure opportun ity in Ramadi to vote, it is just a question of how much the fear and intimidation lingers with the people of Ramad i to see whether or not they step out. Fallujah , just up the road, a little bit farther east of Ramadi, of course you had 100,000 of the 225 ,000 people in Fallujah vote . So they had an overwhelm ing turnout and they are expecting to turnout even more . I will tell you the key to all this is the ability to hold the ground we have cleared . And that ability has been enabled by the Iraqi Security Forces . I can tell you stories about the Iraqi Security Forces today that I could not tell you four months ago. I do not know if the expression critical mass fits in this particular case , but we have crossed some threshold with the Iraqi Security Forces that enables us to leave them behind , to be the persistent presence in these towns along the Euphrates River Valley and in particular up in Tall Afar , and , because they have been left behind , even though the demographics of the Iraqi army are not necessarily as representative as the people of al Anbar, there is trust building between the persistent presence and the locals, and that is leading to an increased number of caches and things like that as they are Willing to approach the Iraqi Secur ity Forces knowing that they are going to hang around and if they come forward they are not going to get their head cut off because these guys are going to hang tight with them . And I will tell you that I sense that there is a degree of excitement in the air here with the Iraqi people. You know, eight point something voted in January , 9.4 (million) voted in October. I think the numbe rs that you need to listen for is high 60 percent turnout. Seventy I think would be
perhaps a bit beyond reach but boy , if you hear that , it will be extraord inary. And I think 10 million voters is qu ite poss ible unde r these circumstances. We cont inue to get great encou rag ing words that the Sunn is are go ing to play, and play harder than they did dur ing the referendum . Because after all, no matter what, at the end of voting on Thursday, the Sunn is are in better shape than they were before. And I will also follow up and tell you that 90 percent of the detainees voted , so that 's rough ly 10,000 deta inees, voted yesterday. And 110 ,000 Iraq i Secu rity Forces voted yesterday, and those are the folks that are displaced if you will, ass igned to areas other than their home prov ince . The rest of the Iraqi Security Forces w ill vote in the ir home prov ince on Thursday. So with that extremely br ief once-around-Iraq, let me please turn it over to you for your questions . Q: Hey , this is Jeff McCausland, and once again , my truly heartfelt thanks to you and your guys, Lieutenant Bornan (sp) and Major. Moon (sp) for just a superb job. And I know as an old sold ier what a pain in the butt groups like ours can be. My sincere thanks . Couple pretty uick and easy questions. One is kind of to Tara , it would help out if when we talk about remarks today, Tara, we said rather on background senior defense official speaking from Baghdad. And I want to know if that's a problem. Ms. Jones: Weill would defer to and his team on that.
Q:_would you feel uncomfortable with that or not? No. That's okay. Sure. Q: Okay, and the second question I have is really as far as the futu re and that is it seems to me that you put your finger on it - the right question . And that it is what the turnout (looked at?) when you are ta lking about democracy (inaudible) at th is point in time we don 't know how they --.. .. . No. That's okay. Sure. Q: Okay, and the second question I have is really as far as the future and that is it seems to me that you put your finger on it - the right question. And that it is what the turnout (looked at?) when you are talking about democracy (inaudible) at this point in time we don 't know how they are going to vote , and because of the complexity of the vote , it will be several weeks probably before we know who actually gets elected. But as quickly as people like us can get , you know, better drafts of what the percentage was that turned out, I think we will better be able to paint that picture for the media while the media is still paying attention . Two weeks from now , when the actual results are published by party, they will be look ing at someth ing else.
c:J•••• That is a great point. I am expecting turnout numbers pretty qu ick . I am
expecting turnout numbers w ithin a couple of days in terms of percentages . I hope we can get it that fast. I am expecting some prel iminary vot ing , and if it tracks like we had for the referendum , they kind of do it by prov ince . So they might, you know , at six days we might get 10 prov inces in. And then I understand, unfortunately, that we m ight not - the IEC I (Independent Electoral Comm ission of Iraq) is on ly comm itted to like six January as final resu lt day. Now for the (Oct. 15) referendum , they also pegged the day way out there . And is it turned out , it was - not only did they come ea rly with that date, but the UN immediately confirmed the results. And of course, that 's key , is the UN confirm ing results . So, anyway, that's the way this is kind of staked out. One week or so for pre liminary results, six January for final results , and I am expecting voter turnout numbers in the first day or two .
Q: Well if you can get , as uickly as you can get that to Tara and back to us, and it wou ld be great if you cou ld also , appreciate that , for example, if you could give some indication of turnout in al Anbar which will bespeak, obv iously, Sunni participation , or out in Ramadi , you (can?) point out that you went from as you said from two or three percent, obv iously, to something several times that number, though still perhaps relatively small , I kind of think (that's the kind of thing?) it will help us in painting this picture.
____- - -...... I'll tell you my priority is - I mean I am turning all my resources on - well , we have postu red ourselves to move this information as quickly as we can . We have a pretty good laydown of embeds throughou t the country, so they are going to be doing their own thing quickly. But I think the key is Sunn i part icipat ion ear ly. So the first images that I want to get out is, you know , voting in Ramadi. I wou ld love to show you a picture of a line in Ramadi of people vot ing. But if not Ramadi , it w ill still be Sunn is voting somewhere, because I think that is the key message of the day , so we truly have the sensors keyed on that. You 'll be able to go to our web site, which is like MNF-Iraq.com , I w ill make sure you get that perfectly before we hang up (note - www.mnf-irag.com) and on that web site we are hang ing all our images. And I haven 't seen -- I don 't know the web site's configured yet, but it will be configured so it is easy for you to find that. And you'll be able to get high-resolution photos , and we are going to be dumping them throughout the day on to that. We started send ing email out on the referendum day , but we were just screwing up people 's in boxes doing that. So we ended up chucking out thumb nails to some of our friends , and we found out that as the day went on , the best thing was to park the stuff on the web site and allow people to grab what they needed to grab . So, anyway, that's what we are going to try to do on Thursday. Q: But please keep in mind , and I don 't want to beat this to death , but I know Jed (Babbin) is on here as well , and I am sure he will be nodding his head in a second , but, you know , images don 't help me on CBS Radio too much and don 't help Jed too much , but I will be on multiple radios on Thursday for major cities all across the United States . So any kind of percentages on Thursday, Friday , (we?) can use would just be great stuff.
C:I•• Here 's what we 'll try to do . I don 't know that I am going to like the way that this looks
yet , but I've asked - you know , we 've never done this before - in this med ia operations center, and I have asked these guys to des ign a sit rep , and if the sit rep has the kind of contents that I am hop ing for , then maybe that 's going to be useful for you . And we are going to pump that out r nua y, ~we (J can use WOUIO JUSl oe greal stu rr. -
C:I•• Here's what we 'll try to do. I don 't know that I am going to like the way that this looks
yet , but I've asked - you know , we've never done this before - in this med ia operations center, and I have asked these guys to des ign a sit rep, and if the sit rep has the kind of contents that I am hoping for , then maybe that 's going to be useful for you. And we are going to pump that out dur ing the day. And what I will do is, I - and since it's kind of an experiment here , I am going to look at the data , and if I feel good just cutting that loose , I will make sure that all of the folks that have , you know , visited the last couple of months, plus anybody else who is on the line who wou ld like it, that you can get these sit reps from us. Now , the sit rep from my med ia operations center, I envision that this is going to be trying to track , you know , whatever anecdotal information I am getting from the regiona l embassy offices, as folks ca ll in and say we 've got good things happening in Mosu l, good th ings happening in Ramad i. I mean , it's going to be spot reports of a lot of stuff to ju st give us a feel for what's going on , and to see that things are up and operating, and to get those exceptional things like the IECI did not show up in, you know, in Ta ll Afa r, I don 't know , and you know , the polling stat ions didn 't open the peop le are open ing the polling stat ion themselves - whatever -like happened on the is" of October. But it's, you know , so it's going to kind of be spot reports , anecdotal stuff. I mean , there may be some good human interest that wou ld come out of this, but nonetheless, I just don 't know what that is going to look like. And , but that 's kind of our experiment, and it's all about moving information as fast as I can and giving situational awareness to the leadership as best I can . So, anyway, this is - th is is my vision of this thing , and we'll see how it goes, and as much as I can push any information in your direct ion dur ing the cou rse of the day , I wil l.
What other quest ions? Q: this is Bob Mag innis . Question on stand ing up the new government. As you know it took us, what , two months last spring, or in the winter. Is there someth ing that gives us an indication that perhaps this will come faster , or are we going to go throug h the protracted back-and-forth until the coalit ion is built and so forth . Any sense there? I think that you are going to find us immediately starting to set expectations that this is going to take a wh ile. 1certa inly hope it does not take the same 1DO-day gestation period that it took the last time. I mean , the vote was on January so" and I think Jafaari was announced as the prime minister on about the zs" of April or so, and then he formed his government roughly the s" of May, and even that took some iterations it seemed . So I think you are going to find us trying to set, you know , already start the talk about , you know, democracy is challenging to form these kinds of governments. But 1do think that depend ing on the elect ion outcome 1hope that that could be used as a tool to leverage , you know, have the Iraqi people leverage against the government to say , you know, if it's mandate-like turnout and mandate-like of, you know, percentages of Sunnis voting and everybody else, you know, already there is going to be, you know, the kinds of words coming out of Sunni leaders that are going to talk about setting their expectations for what this government needs to do to represent all Iraqis. So, no, I do not have indications that we are going to give birth to this government with any speed . 1think if you layout everyth ing end to end, and the Iraqis take all the time that is allowed , you don't deliver a government before April. But that's if they expend every clause they can to get them , you know, if they had to string this out. So certa inly nobody here wants to get into that kind of a protracted thing, but it's not our deal. It's the sovere ign government of Iraq's responsibil ity and charge to make that all come together. I will tell you that, you know , we will all be looking to see just how the Chalibis and Allaw is and all the other folks begin to posture after the election . You know, as I recall, I missed the election - I came a week later, but it was all of that time after the election where all of the friction and challenge came in. And as much as we've seen the politics on the telev ision and on all the
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I will tell you that, you know, we will all be looking to see just how the Chalib is and Allaw is and all the other folks begin to posture after the election . You know, as I recall , I missed the election - I came a week later, but it was all of that time after the election where all of the friction and challenge came in. And as much as we've seen the politics on the television and on all the posters and the billboards and stuff, you know, of course we haven't seen anyth ing yet. We will be seeing all of that after the vote is in. So, Bob, I wish had a better answer for you than that, but I think you are going to see us start to talk about how it's a challenge to form these democracies and that it's going to take time. Q: Hey, Jed Babbin. (Question on who is coming over to watch .)
Senator Biden is com ing in. And I will see whethe r or not Rick can find out who else is in that CODEl, so I can tell you exactly what Members are com ing in. But 1know that Senator Biden is going to be here - I am not sure exactly -I think he might arrive -I wonde r if he arrived today , because I mean we start shutting down the airports tomorrow. But I know he is going to be here, and I know he is not alone. So I will let you know who else is here. But yeah , they are going to be here and I don't know if we are going to get them outside of Baghdad or not. I haven 't seen their agenda . But yes , we'll have some folks here. Q: Is Jimmy Carter com ing? Brig Gen Alston : No. Q: Thank you. Q: Hey, ~ It's Jeff McCausland again. Can you comment on, sort of, the evolving threat picture focused on the election . When we left and talked with you and several of the senior people before we left, there was a belief that if something was going to happen , frankly , it was probably going to be today or tomorrow because obviously that has the intimidation factor, as opposed to the
direct attac ks on the 15 , wh ich cou ld, you know , still intimidate but perhaps a little bit more effec tive on the run-up. Any chang ing thoughts on the threa t picture towards the elect ion? No changes from what you got last week when you we re here . We did antic ipate that the spike would have shown itself by now . The spike doesn't show itself on election day ; it wou ld have done it lead ing up to election day , and hasn't happened. I will tell you that there are indications that Za rqaw i is the odd man out. The other terrorists and insurgent gro ups are - that are , you know , Sunni based groups - are lookin g, are showing some overt ures that they want the Sunnis to be able to vote, and that they (audio interference) I am sor ry, let me turn this off here, it's - get over that in a seco nd here. Anywa y, that in fact, you know, that we cou ld have a dec reased amou nt of violence if we are all blessed and lucky here on elect ion day . And that, you know, Zarqaw i will be the one that all will defe nd aga inst. I have to believe that Za rqaw i has got to make a statement. I mean , if he fa ils, if he is silent the whole time , you know , that is - that is extraordinary. He's got no advantage to allowing this democratic process to go unchallenged . So, you know , we 've got a great plan in effect; the Iraqi Security Forces have a great plan in effect; and we - but we still expect that he's got to do someth ing. Now , if the Sunnis, on the other hand , you know, choose the political process for the day and see if, you know, and then we 'll see how enduring that could be, yo u know , we cou ld see the Sunn i turnout -I don't know that I'll call it enhanced , but certa inly there will be - there co uld be less fear and intimidation if they are not stimulating some of that fear and intim idation. Q: T hank you. Q: Bob Maginn is again. The reports about Interior Ministry jails - can you talk about that, provide a context perhaps? nanx you. We ll, yesterday the prime minister had a press conference. He did not lead with
Q: Bob Magi nnis again. The reports abo ut Interior Ministry jails - can you talk abo ut that , provide a co ntex t perhaps? We ll, yesterday the prime minister had a press conference. He did not lead with that information; it wasn 't in his statement, I think it was more of a pre-e lect ion opportun ity, but he was taken on by the med ia with that. He took ownersh ip of the investigative process; he reinfo rced his comm itment to ens uring that the investigations we re completed ; and so that was good for us to see that. Yo u know, there is a - the re certa inly have bee n some wh o have, at least privately, and we are keeping our eye out to see pub licly, w ho wa nt to cast us impinging on the sovereignty of the govern me nt of Iraq wi th this find in the bunke r if you will, and , you know , trying to make overtures that - that in fact, you know , there is some sove reign issues with us wal king in on that. And as you recall , the general officer who began to make the overtures to gain access went directly to the minister, and asked - told him what he needed to do. And the min ister supported his efforts to go there. So, you know, the way this whole thing we nt down is the wa y I think you read it in the papers and saw it on te levision. So I will say that we are engaged , that we are part of the teams that, you know , that went to this othe r site - this site fou r the other day and found som e issues with that. Tha t was the reason the prime minister was asked yesterday, you know, to talk abo ut th is addi tional find, and he had some decent information at his disposa l that was good and accu rate for him to share. That story has been , you know , fairly out there the last coup le of days in decent deta il. So, you know , there will be more of these inspections that will go on, and we are a part of that process. So I think that that process will continue on , and our partic ipat ion is key to supporting the central
government and the prime minister's comm itment to uncover what needs to be uncovered, and fix what needs to be fixed .
Q: Thanks .
Ms. Jones : Gentlemen, any other questions for the general?
Q: Yeah , I have one last one. Can you talk to us for a second on external oversight, you know, what the UN groups are doing , et cetera , to certify that the election was handled in a fair process?
_ Well the Independent Electoral Comm ission of Iraq is responsible for the conduct of the election . These guys have been at it now all year long. They were respons ible for the January election as well as the referendum , and now this. So it's a pretty well-heeled process in terms of ballot accountability and, you know, warehouse control, collection, distribution of ballots . The ballots have been flowing in from out of country over the last couple of days. They are on track to be delivered to all the appropriate centers on time . This is a process that they give us good insight into. Of course , we are helpful to the process , although they privately contract to move all this stuff around, we have great visibility, great transparency, to know how this is being done and how on track it is. So, frankly , we have pretty good confidence in the IECI's ability to do their job . The UN peak (key?) component to this has also been relatively quiet, but functional- maybe even more so than the referendum . I missed the run up to the elections , but I remember the leadership here haVing nothing but great praise for the gentlemen that pulled off the elect ions. The UN leader that was running the referendum has been replaced in her position , but we haven 't been concerned about her replacement. It, you know, business seems to be going on in a productive way. So we've got nothing but indicators that this process continues to, frankly , improve and have the bugs worked out. I will tell you that it is critical that they are - and they are very sensitive to protecting against voter
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been concerned about her replacement. It, you know, business seems to be going on in a productive way . So we've got nothing but indicators that this process continues to, frankly , improve and have the bugs worked out. I will tell you that it is critical that they are - and they are very sensitive to protecting against voter fraud . And so they have their own internal investigative process when there are anomalies, and they have been tracking and accounting for all of their ballots , the voter lists. They had found some discrepancies in voter lists, and they have corrected them to their satisfaction . They have , you know, distributed whatever - whatever, you know, so they have ensure that all the correct voter lists are out at the polling sites . And don't forget , we have got 19 different ballots - 18 different provinces and one national ballot that they are going to be collecting . And also don't forget for the referendum you never saw any lines of people - or pretty much you didn't see any lines -- because all they had to do was check a block. And now they have a multi-page form that they can vote , you know , either for individuals or for parties or blocks or, you know , teams or whatever. So the voting could be - well, it's definitely going to result in lines of people . So I think you are going to have images - for the non-radio guys , let alone all of us actually but, I mean you are going to see those lines, like you did last January , of people , and you are going to see lots of purple fingers when they are walking out. So I think the IECI and UN roles -- we have had no concerns with how well they have managed this up to this point, and we understand the daunting task in front of them , and we have been walking with them - or at least having sufficient oversight - to satisfy us that everything is executable and that the timelines that they have established are reasonable.
Q: Can you make sure to give us that MNF-I (Multi-National Force-Iraq) web site again, so we can -
• • • • • •ThiS is it. www .mnf-irag .com.
Q: MNF -dash-Iraq-dot-com?
c::J•••• That is correct.
you are go ing to try to send - if those sit reps are good , you are go ing to try to send Q: And. us some during the --
• • • • •1 1 ill. I'll tell you what, I am going to send you guys someth ing anyway, because w
even if it's a message to say the sit rep's got some stuff in there that's got me weak in the knees , but I am going to cut these pieces out and I am going to give them to you . So I'll find a way to deliver someth ing , because, you know, we need your help . We've got to get the word out here . I will tell you that , you know , even the government got with the Iraq i press to say , hey , you know how important this is to the nation , so get out early, get out often , and tell our people the story of what's going on for the sake of Iraq. And so, you know, we 're -- we know that the Iraq - and that 's my biggest concern . You know, you're going to get the word. The guys back home are going to get the word . And I am not taking that for granted, but my concern is last January we appeared to gain momentum and gather steam as the day went on . And so I believe that was a funct ion of Iraq is emboldening Iraq is. I think it was a function of the few courageous that went out and inspi red others to go out. And I am not tak ing for granted that that won 't happen aga in this year . And so Whatever we can do to ensure that people get the word that Iraq is are vot ing , we are go ing to do our best to do that. So we are go ing to be send ing out our own MNF-I press releases ; we 'll be I think incorporating pictu res in those kind of things . But the key is Iraq is telling the story to Iraq is, and that - we 've got a lot of med ia in town , and the Iraqis and the pan-Arab fo lks are going to be telling the story I think pretty effectively . But I'll be mon itoring that closely, because I think that's j ust key to ensur ing that all the people of Iraq get the word as soon as poss ible -- that things are going we ll, that things are safe, and that they can go out there and take on the ir democratic responsibility and part icipate in th is constitut ionally based , democratically elected permanent government.
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think pretty effectively . But I'll be mon itoring that closely, because I think that 's j ust key to ensuring that all the people of Iraq get the word as soon as poss ible -- that th ings are go ing well , that things are safe , and that they can go out there and take on the ir democratic responsibility and participate in this constitutionally based , democratically elected permanent government. Q: Great. Ms . Jones. All right , gentlemen. I don 't think we have any more questions. So I just want to remind everyone the call was on background, but you may say that it was a senior 000 official in Baghdad. Thanks for agreeing to that , general. And again , thanks for your time , and we will follow up and get that stuff out to you guys. Call and wr ite any time . Love hea ring from you and thanks so much .
Q: Take care, _
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