Image of Pentagon oval   United States Department of Defense
News Transcripts

Presenter: Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmett and Dan Senor
Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Coalition Provisional Authority Operational Update Briefing

(Participating Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmett, Deputy Director for Operations

Dan Senor, Senior Advisor to Coalition Provisional Authority)        


MR. SENOR:  (In progress) -- former vice chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council, Northern Region commander, deputy secretary-general of the Ba'ath Party Regional Command, and deputy commander of armed forces.  He indicated that the military was in aggressive pursuit because of reasons to believe that he is behind some of the recent attacks inside Iraq.  This week we will be launching a public information campaign across Iraq to promote a $10 million reward for information that will lead to his capture or killing.


            Later this week Ambassador Bremer, in his weekly televised address to the Iraqi people, will further promote this reward program. He will also remind Iraqis that there is a $25 million reward available for the killing or capture of Saddam Hussein.  He will remind the Iraqi people that when Uday and Qusay Hussein's careers were ended, it resulted in the quickest turnaround of reward funding in the history of the program.


            General Kimmitt.


            GEN. KIMMITT:  Good evening.  Let me provide you an operational update from the military.


            Today coalition forces continue offensive operations against anti-coalition elements, and stability and support operations to enable restoration of a free Iraq.  The military situation remains stable, but the coalition focus is on potential unrest during Ramadan.


            Our forces remain offensively oriented and active in pursuit of enemy targets.  To that end, in the last 24 hours the coalition conducted 1,588 patrols, 19 raids, and captured 101 anti-coalition suspects.  In the Northern Zone, the 101st Airborne conducted 176 patrols and several cordon and search operations, detaining 23 individuals, and confiscated numerous weapons and ammunition.  Forces conducted a search of the Al Atton (ph) Religious College in Mosul, after receiving permission from the director of the faculty. During the search, they seized a large amount of military equipment, and numerous pamphlets stamped "IIP," Iraqi Islamic Party.


            Close coordination with Iraqi security forces continues.  In Haman (ph), Iraqi police led a coalition patrol to a weapons cache and to the home of the responsible individual.  Disposal teams destroyed the weapons.  Iraqi police identified a booby trap near the Iraq- Turkey pipeline east of Tal Afar.  Disposal teams cleared the booby trap without injuries to personnel or damage to the pipeline.  Iraqi police also turned over an individual arrested for involvement in the 5 November ambush in Tal  Afar.  Additionally, Iraqi civilians turned in 110 grenade launchers, four launchers, 110 rocket grenades, to coalition forces.


            Finally, this morning the 101st initiated an air assault operation involving elements of two infantry battalions in remote areas of their sector, targeting potential enemy infiltration sites and capturing a number of weapons and individuals.


            In the Northeast Zone, the 4th Infantry Division continues Operation Ivy Cyclone II to clear enemy forces in the Tikrit-Baqubah- Kirkuk-Balad region, and also to counter air defense threats, mortars and explosive threats in order to establish a safe and secure environment and zone.


            Extensive use of coalition aircraft targeted numerous facilities and structures used to harbor fighters and to facilitate terrorist activities in the Baqubah-Balad region.  This board shows a number of those attacks, centered in this region and this region and over here.


            Soldiers destroyed 26 anti-coalition structures and suppressed eight mortar-firing locations as well as 10 ambush sites. Additionally, in separate raids, soldiers captured 25 personnel, including three individuals directly targeted for anti-coalition activities.


            Forces also conducted a cordon-and-search operation near Balad. Three targets were detained, along with nine other conspirators. They were wanted  for supporting Fedayeen activities as well as selling and transporting weapons.  The patrol found a large sum of counterfeit money, 19 million dinars, and explosive materials.


            In Baqubah, a meeting on dislocated civilians was held with the Danish Refugee Council.  The council wants to build housing units for 70 families at Camp Saad.  And if this project goes well, the council is willing to follow up with over 100 additional units.


            In Baghdad, Operation Iron Hammer continues to target enemy operating areas, deny the enemy opportunity to stage weapons and destroy forces conducting attacks against coalition bases.  In the past 24 hours, operations within Baghdad resulted in the capture of 20 individuals suspected of ties to Saddam Fedayeen and other anti-coalition forces.


            Forces conducted a raid based on a tip from an Iraqi citizen, detaining one individual captured with multiple grenade rocket launchers and rifles.  The weapons were secured and the detainee held for interrogation.


            An arms supplier for an anti-coalition cell was detained.  This target had helped supply enemy elements conducting anti-coalition attacks in the southern portion of Baghdad and is also suspected of driving a reconnaissance vehicle to pave the way for the attack on the Al-Rashid Hotel.


            Coalition aircraft last night targeted four known areas used by enemy elements to stage and conduct attacks against coalition forces. Those locations are shown on the board.  We primarily used AC-130s for those missions.


            In Al Anbar Province, the 82nd Airborne Division conducted five offensive operations, 160 patrols, and 17 joint patrols with the Iraqi border police and Iraqi border service.  Fifteen enemy personnel were captured, and one weapons cache was destroyed.


            Near Iskandariyah, in a joint operation with the Iraqi Facilities Protection Service, two looters were shot at the Hadim (sp) Munition Factory, killing one.  The wounded looter was captured and taken to a coalition medical facility for medical care.


            Along the Syrian, Jordanian and Saudi borders, denial operations continue.  A total of 188 personnel were denied access into Iraq over the past 24 hours.  Civil Affair teams continued working with the Scientific Council for Development in Fallujah.  They have established various committees for engineering, economy, health, politics, law, religion and education.


            Additionally, the 82nd held an open forum with students from Al Anbar University, to open dialogues on rebuilding efforts, along with other areas of mutual interest.


            In the central south zone, coalition forces conducted 132 mounted and dismounted patrols, 11 joint patrols, and executed 87 checkpoints and deported 77 illegal immigrants back to Iran.


            Special Forces teams with two doctors provided medical assistance to Iraqi families in Al Hillah.


            In the southeast division, Iraqi police detained a woman with surveillance equipment in Basra.  She was arrested while attempting to gain entry to the Basra old port house.  She was found to be wearing a vest with suspected listening devices, and documentation, including maps, was found underneath her clothing.


            As part of ongoing development of Iraqi security forces, the number of coalition-trained Iraqi Civilian Defense Corps members in multinational southeast reached 1,277 personnel, and 696 other members are in training.



            Yesterday Task Force De Minios (sp) carried out Operation Bolt to block and deny enemy operations, and to target smuggling in illegal weapons in An Nasiriyah.  Two personnel were detained and handed over to the local police.



            Thank you.  We'd be happy to take your questions at this point.


            MR. SENOR:  Jane?


            Q     Thank you.  General Kimmitt, about Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, he's known to be -- have been very ill for some years.  I wonder if you have any idea what sort of shape he's in and also what specific role he's had in directing the attacks?


            About the poster, it says information should be given six days a week, 8:00 to 4:00, I believe.  What sort of infrastructure do you have for following up those tips?


            GEN. KIMMITT:  Yeah.  First of all, we have understanding that he may be ill as well.  However, it is clear that we have persuasive evidence linking him to anti-coalition activities, as well as his position as number six on the coalition target list, for his activities prior to the end of major combat operations.


            In terms of the infrastructure, as you see, there are some telephone numbers on here that concerned citizens with information could call.  And there will be persons and Arab translators that will be able to translate any information that is given.




            Q     Is the fact that those hours are limited an indication you don't have the resources to deal with those calls all the time?


            GEN. KIMMITT:  It is an -- it is not an indication of anything other than we're trying to get the resources to put this together.


            Q     Peter Biles, BBC.  On Monday you said you were getting closer to Izzat Ibrahim.  Have you any idea which part of the country he is in?  And can be quite clear about the terms of this reward poster?  Is it $10 million for his capture and/or killing, or just his capture?


            MR. SENOR:  It is the maximum reward, which will be based on the quality and credibility and the usefulness of the information provided, which is the standard criteria.  When Uday and Qusay Hussein were killed, a full $30 million was provided to the informant.


            GEN. KIMMITT:  With regards to his location, we're not prepared at this point in -- over television, to announce where we think he is, what we think he's doing, or what we think his plans are going to be.


            Q     Lisa Barron, CBS.  How much is the growing fear among the Iraqis of working with the coalition hampering the work that the coalition is doing here?


            GEN. KIMMITT:  I'm not aware of a growing fear among those Iraqis working with us.  In fact, those Iraqis that are working with us in the Iraqi security services are quite happy to be working alongside of us.  We're training them.  We're equipping them.  They understand that they are the future here in Iraq for a future security force, whether it's in the Facilities Protection Service, the border service, the Civil Defense Corps or the new Iraqi army.  That is the future for the security for this country, and those Iraqis that are participating in those activities are looking forward to more training, more equipping, so that they can take over that responsibility one day.


            MR. SENOR:  And whether they are -- I'd add that whether they are participating with us on the front lines or just generally -- general support for us across the country, as I said before, all the polling data and anecdotal information we have indicates three things:


            The overwhelming majority of Iraqis are grateful for the liberation.


            The overwhelming majority of Iraqis are -- don't want us to leave, because they know if we depart, the situation could be destabilized here.


            And the third thing they tell us over and over and over is we need you to improve the security.  That's what these most recent operations are about, and we are sensing a great deal of support for getting tough on the terrorists and the former regime loyalists.




            Q     Susan Sachs (sp) from the New York Times.  General, you mentioned this raid on the religious college in Mosul, where you said there were weapons found, as well as pamphlets from the Iraq Islamic Party.  Are you or the 101st suggesting that there's a link between the Iraq Islamic Party and coordination or planning of any attacks on the coalition?


            GEN. KIMMITT:  We haven't determined those linkages.  I did not say "weapons" I said "military equipment."  In fact, most of what was found were optical equipment -- binoculars, so on and so forth.  I'm not aware of any weapons that were actually picked up in that raid.


            Q     Well, do you find the cache of optical equipment suggestive that that college was used for coordination, planning or launching of any operation?


            GEN. KIMMITT:  I think what that tells us is that we need to get the intelligence analysts to take a hard look at that college to see if there's any further evidence of that.


            Q     Do you think you need to do the same thing to the Iraq Islamic Party, which I believe is on the Governing Council.  No?


            MR. SENOR:  I'm sorry?


            Q     The Iraq Islamic Party, is that not members of the Governing Council?


            MR. SENOR:  Yeah.  But we do not believe there's any member of the Iraqi Governing Council that's been involved in terrorist attacks or any sort of attacks against the coalition.


            Q     I'm not suggesting the council member.  But you mentioned the Iraq Islamic Party in connection with suspicious materials found in this college.  What connection are you looking at, possibly?


            GEN. KIMMITT:  We are looking at any intelligence source that would suggest that anybody is a threat to the coalition here in Iraq.  We do not exclude any organization, and we include -- we do not exclude any persons.  If there is evidence and intelligence suggesting any organization or any person is a threat to the coalition, we will take appropriate action.


            Q     Thank you.  My name is Tanaka,  Japanese NHK TV correspondent.  I'd like to go back to the question of Izzat Ibrahim. Do you believe that he's masterminding anti-coalition activities with Saddam Hussein?  And is this first time you prepare award to capture or kill Izzat Ibrahim?  And do you confirm U.S. forces attacked last night his house or his home or his building, last night?


            Thank you.


            GEN. KIMMITT:  Let me take those from the last one to the first one.  Yes, I can confirm that one of the targets that was attacked last night was a home that was being built by Izzat Ibrahim.


            With regard to do we believe he is the mastermind, we don't have that puzzle completely put together yet.  We are continuing to make that puzzle, but I'm not certain at this point we can stand up and say that he is the mastermind behind a centralized program for attacks against coalition forces here in Iraq.


            MR. SENOR:  As for the reward program, the two most widely publicized reward programs we've had thus far are for information leading to the killing or capture of Saddam Hussein, Uday Hussein, and Qusay Hussein.  The Izzat Ibrahim reward program is just being unveiled this week for the first time.


            Q     Andrew (Gray ?) from Reuters.  General, can you give us some statistics on attacks against coalition forces in the last 24 hours; how many there have been, and also whether there has been a reduction or an increase during the time that you've stepped up operations with Ivy Cyclone, Iron Hammer, et cetera?


            GEN. KIMMITT:  Well, as we showed on the first slide, the number of engagements we had today I believe was 30 -- over the last 24 hours; 26 or so the last 24 hours prior to that.


            As General Sanchez said during his press conference last week, we have seen those attacks rise, but they have stabilized from the 10 to 15 that we had perhaps a few months ago, to about the 25-to-30 region right now.  It's flattened out for about the last two weeks.  Do we expect them to rise?  We stay vigilant in case they do rise.  We believe that there is a connection with some of the holy days, some of the feast days in Ramadan.  We remain vigilant and we remain prepared.


            Q     General, I just want to make sure I understood this correctly.  You said one of the targets was the home that was being built by Izzat Ibrahim.  Are you suggesting that he's building homes while he's on the run?


            And the second question is, the code name "Iron Hammer" apparently, it was reported on the wires, that was also a code name that was used during Nazi Germany.  Do you have any idea who came up with this name and whether you intend to change it?


            GEN. KIMMITT:  To answer the second question, the 1st Armored Division calls themselves the "Iron Soldiers."  Their patch on the side says Ironsides  -- "Old Ironsides," replicating the Old Ironsides ship of our history.  If in fact there is a linkage to a notorious operation run in the past, I would suspect that the division commander will review that and make a decision.  But there certainly is no linkage.  It would have been accidental at best.


            Q     I'm sorry, the home, Izzat Ibrahim's home.


            GEN. KIMMITT:  What I know about -- as I mentioned earlier, we were made aware that this was a home that Ibrahim -- Izzat Ibrahim had been building.  And that's all the information that I have.


            Q     Hi.  John Hendrin (sp) with the LA Times.  You had mentioned 26 anti-coalition structures were destroyed by 4th ID in the Baqubah-Balad region.  Did this include some that were empty farm houses and empty structures?  And if so, what are you trying to do, deny the attackers territory, or is it a show of force?  What's the goal?


            GEN. KIMMITT:  Well, let's be very clear about the structures that we attacked.  In every one of those structures that we attacked, we had strong intelligence suggesting that that facility had been used to harbor terrorists, used as a mortar-firing point, used for the construction of IEDs, used as a former-regime loyalist observation post, any number of reasons which caused us to be concerned about that structure's ongoing opportunity to be used by the terrorists.


            Q    Lourdes Navarro (sp), AP.  You just mentioned that a lot of these structures were used or you believe they were used by people launching attacks.  How effective, really, is it to drop 2,000-pound bombs on structures in areas where there might be civilian damage? And isn't part of intelligence-gathering perhaps looking at these places and trying to figure out who is using them, instead of just destroying them point blank?


            GEN. KIMMITT:  Agreed.  And when we use ordnance against a military target, as we've shown time after time again during major combat operations, and we have continued to show since the end of combat operations, we strike precisely and surgically, minimize collateral damage, minimize the chance of injury to civilian personnel.


            Q     (Name inaudible), Romanian Radio.  Sir, you said that 198 people were denied entrance to Iraq.  Can you tell us on what grounds or suspicion? And my second question, can you be more specific on last night's operation in Baghdad?


            GEN. KIMMITT:  Sure.  In terms of what we do on the borders, we facilitate with the border police service the checking of ID cards, the checking of passports, the checking of other documentation that is expected any time you cross a national boundary.  Those people without the proper credentials were not allowed to pass.


            As regards Operation Iron Hammer last night, the noise that most people probably heard in Baghdad was the noise of coalition aircraft going after four targets in Baghdad, all structures that we had persuasive evidence and intelligence that they had been used by anti- coalition forces to launch rockets, to launch mortars, to make IEDs, all sorts of activities that were directed against anti-coalition forces.


            Q    May I follow up on that?


            GEN. KIMMITT:  Please.


            Q     Isn't it much more cost-effective to send out a patrol and raid the places with explosives and blow them up, rather than having airstrikes in the middle of a densely packed city which you control?


            GEN. KIMMITT:  The weapon systems that we use to attack these targets are the choices of the commanders involved.  They weigh all those considerations about the best way to attack that target. They have a wide range of options to draw from.  And it's the judgment of the commander that if he wants to attack that target, the best method for which uses -- attacks that target.  We give him tremendous flexibility in that matter.


            Q     Namir (sp) from Spanish News Agency.  Please, you mentioned to target Izzat Ibrahim house.  Is the present  location of the house in Tikrit or here on -- (inaudible)?


            GEN. KIMMITT:  Which house was it?


            Q     From Izzat Ibrahim house.


            GEN. KIMMITT:  It was part of Operation Ivy Cyclone.  It was actually this target right here, structure under construction by Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri and used as an observation post by former regime loyalists.  So this one -- (off mike).


            Q     Tom Poppak (sp), ABC News.  I understand Iraq will be attending upcoming OPEC meetings.  Could you give us an update on the state of oil production in the country?  And specifically, can you give us an idea what kind of production is being exported?  And are you meeting domestic oil needs right now?


            MR. SENOR:  Right now Iraq is producing approximately 2.2 million barrels per day.  Iraq is exporting over 1 million barrels per day. This exceeds the levels projected for this period.  December production projected -- projected production levels were 2 million for December 2004, and we are already at that level.  And we are quite near the export numbers for December '04.  So we are moving here right according to plan.  We still have to import the sort of by-products -- natural gas, LPG, kerosene -- because we are not generating a sufficient capacity right now to generate those by-products.  Once we get to that point, we'll be able to reduce the imports.


            Q      Charles Klover (sp) from the Financial Times.  There's been a fair amount of talk about increasing -- or attracting more Sunni Arabs into the political process as part of the new political strategy.  I was just wondering what sort of -- is there a a specific plan for how to do that? And is there any contradiction with the de- Ba'athification issue in terms of finding popular representatives for Sunni Arabs in the political process?


            MR. SENOR:  We do not believe that being a Sunni Iraqi -- Sunni Muslim Iraqi automatically equates with being a senior-level Ba'athist, who are the Ba'athists that are singled out, if you will, by the de-Ba'athification policy.  So Sunnis that don't fall into that category within our de-Ba'athification policy will have a role in the new Iraq.  Many of them are embracing it.  The Governing Council in   the weeks ahead, as they work to establishing a basic law and work towards the interim government, will be reaching out more and more to Sunni Muslims to demonstrate that every Iraqi who is not a former regime loyalist and is not part of the destruction, is not part of the torture chambers and wasn't part of the rape rooms and chemical attacks and mass graves, every single Iraqi who believes in a new, free, democratic Iraq has a stake in this new system.


            Q     Christine Spolar, Chicago Tribune.  Operation Iron Hammer -- is there a point where you say, yes, this is the person we wanted to get, or this is the cache we wanted to get?  Is there a natural life to Operation Iron Hammer?


            GEN. KIMMITT:  The answer to that question is Operation Iron Hammer, Operation Ivy Cyclone, and like operations, quite simply, will continue as long as there are people out there that will attack the coalition and Iraqi citizens.  Our mission is to provide a safe and secure environment to the citizens of Iraq so they can get on with the primary purpose of what we're here for, which is to restore essential services, restore the economy, and pass the governance of this country over to the people.


            So, the answer to that question is the conditions on the ground will always form our basis for whether these operations need to continue or not.


            Q     Can  I follow up?  But when do those -- now you're saying there were 10 to 15 attacks before two weeks ago, now they're up to 25.  Is there a tipping point, when it gets down to 20, then you're okay with it?  What's your gauge?


            GEN. KIMMITT:  Well, the other gauge is how quickly the Iraqi security services can be stood up, how quickly can we form the border police, CDC, the Iraqi police, to be able to take charge of their own destiny, take charge of their own security.  That probably is the tipping point, when we can start pulling back and letting the Iraqis take responsibility for their own security.


            Q     Steve Covey (sp) from AFP.  You said that it's really down to the local commanders what sort of weaponry you use.  But the fact is that six weeks ago, two months ago, you weren't using the sort of aerial platforms you've been using in recent operations.  So clearly, there's been some much higher policy decision to open that up.


            Is it really the case that using that sort of aerial bombardment in the heart of the capital city is going to boost the sense of security?  Doesn't it make people in Baghdad think they're still in the midst of a war zone -- what are we now? -- seven months after the entry of U.S. troops?


            GEN. KIMMITT:  I would say that if I was an Iraqi citizen in Baghdad and I knew I had terrorists living across the street, and I  knew that those terrorists were making bombs, shooting Iraqi forces, shooting Iraqi civilians, shooting coalition forces, I would feel less secure.  And if I saw that house go away, if I saw those soldiers -- those anti-coalition forces being taken off, put into jail, I'd feel more secure.


            Q     Steve Komarow with USA Today.  A lot of these targets have been show-of-force sort of things, empty buildings, that sort of thing.  Can you give me a historical precedent where such shows of force have resulted in an insurrection like this being ended?


            GEN. KIMMITT:  Again, these are not all show of forces.  These in fact are locations for people to wage war against the coalition.


            I can show you plenty of historical examples that when you have defeated an enemy, and you've taken away his resources and you've taken away his will to fight, that insurgency has collapsed.  That fight has collapsed.


            MR. SENOR:  Let me also just add that the military operation is just one dimension of our security strategy.  Security strategy also includes a political dimension, which reached a historic moment this weekend, with the deal that was reached between the Governing Council and the coalition for the path to sovereignty that was accelerated to this summer, transfer of authority, the unprecedented rate, to the Iraqi people.


            It also includes our continued reconstruction efforts, even in the areas that are affected by Operation Ivy Cyclone and Iron Hammer.


            Let me just tell you, in the last few days, projects ongoing in the affected areas include the Rashid district, where three repairs to sewer lines were implemented.  In the Mansour district, we rehabilitated two sewer pumping stations.  In areas covered by Operation Ivy Cyclone, assistance to the Al Ramadi General Hospital was executed.  We opened Ramadi Women and Children Center.  We rehabilitated the west Fallujah water treatment facility.  We established the Fallujah cultural house.  Internet nodes were installed at the public libraries and university in Diyala Province. Work on Ramadi's drainage system is ongoing.


            So we continue with the reconstruction efforts in these areas while the military operations continue.  The military component is not the only element within our security strategy.


            Q     Jeff Wilkinson, Knight Ridder Newspapers.  Do you believe that al-Douri is in consultation with Saddam Hussein?  And can you talk more about how the command structure works?


            GEN. KIMMITT:  We can't answer that question, because we don't know.




            Q     Gregor Meyer (sp) from German Press Agency, DPA.  General, up to now, as it seems, your operations are against empty buildings in quiet areas, not very densely populated.  But aren't you concerned that the enemy forces could move into more densely populated areas? And then how can you bomb them?


            GEN. KIMMITT:  Well, first of all, I would challenge that the only thing that we are accomplishing is knocking over warehouses.  The last time I briefed, we said that day we had brought 99 soldiers, former regime loyalists who had been striking against coalition forces, today we brought in 101.


            So, I think the longer we continue an operation to get these people off the street, in detention, take away their sources of supply, take away their sources of sanctuary, and take away their weapons, the sooner we will be able to restore Iraq to a safe and secure environment.


            MR. SENOR:  Jane?


            Q     Thank you.  General, we're hearing what seem to be increasing military statements that there are not a lot of foreign fighters who have been identified or detained.  Does that, indeed, mean what it seems to suggest, that these attacks, including the suicide bombs, are being done by Iraqis?


            GEN. KIMMITT:  The overwhelming number of attacks are done by Iraqis.  We have a significant number of people, who hold foreign passports, suspected of attacks against coalition forces; somewhere on the order of 300 currently under detention.


            MR. SENOR:  And I would add that if you look at September 11th, it was a sterling -- unfortunately, sterling, tragic example of the fact that less than 20 individuals can carry out a major terrorist attack; less than 20 people with limited funding can carry out a destructive terrorist attack that results in the loss of life in the thousands.


            So, we have to take very seriously, regardless of the size of the numbers, those terrorists and foreign fighters that are coming in.


            We've got time for one more question.


            Go ahead.


            Q     Colin Freeman (sp), London Evening Standard.  Given the amount of derelict buildings in this city, are you just going to keep on squashing every single derelict building until there's nowhere else for the terrorists to launch their strikes from?


            GEN. KIMMITT:  We will continue to attack terrorists where they operate from, where they store their weapons, where they store their bombs, where they conduct their activities from.


            MR. SENOR:  Thank you, everybody.