Central Command Briefing
|Presenter: British Major General Graeme Lamb, Head of Coalition Forces in Southeast Iraq||December 23, 2003|
GEN. LAMB: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I'm Graeme Lamb. I command the Multidivision Southeast, a British-led division, which is slightly different from my American counterparts in the North, insomuch as it is a little smaller, and it's made up of 11 separate nations. The division is mainly drawn from Europe.
I've personally been in theater for a little under six months, was here during the war and took part in Desert Storm in 1991. So I'm no stranger to Iraq, but equally I'm no expert.
I'm delighted to have this opportunity to brief you on the way I see things from the South, my perception.
Firstly, a little bit of orientation. Multinational Division Southeast is, by European standards and what we have become used to in our operations in the Balkans and elsewhere around the globe, a fairly large piece of real estate. It has some 200 -- is about 275 miles wide, and it's just short -- about 260 miles deep. And it has over 600 miles of border with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran. It covers about a quarter of Iraq and is made up of the four provinces of al- Basra, with Iraq's access to the Gulf, al-Muthanna, Dhi Qar and Maysan.
It has some cracking history; the city of Ur, near Tallil, claimed to be the birthplace of Abraham; the confluence of those two great rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris, just north of Basra; and the great marshes, which are beginning to come back to life. I've readily eaten the fish.
The region's population is about 5 million, of which about 85 percent are Shi'a. The division who's responsible (for this area and civil ?) people that I have is a little over 13,000 troops. About two-thirds of these are British. The remaining third is made up of an Italian brigade, supported by the Carabinieri; a Dutch, Danish and Romanian battle group; of Portuguese police; Norwegian and New Zealand engineers; some police from the Czech Republic -- they had a hospital in the town, which did some great work -- a small contingent from Lithuanian -- Lithuania; and two explosive ordnance experts from Iceland.
I work alongside with over 15,000 Iraq police officers; some 2,000 members of the new Civil Defense Corps -- and there are more being trained -- a new river police service and border force of about another thousand officers. My mission is quite simply to help to create the conditions that will allow the southeast Iraq to make a swift and successful recovery, and we're doing this with the consent and active support of the Iraqi people in the South. Everything I'm doing is working towards building a partnership for this future with my Iraqi brothers.
While we build on this partnership, we have an equally important task, and that is to start rebuilding the essential services. We were faced in the south with a severely broken infrastructure. Years of neglect and the lack of an active investment program in the essential services had left a great deal of the power, water and fuel oil networks in an extremely fragile state. This fragility was further complicated by the looting, which was widespread, which took place following the war.
Our work in this field, which you could claim has little to do with soldiering, has absolutely everything to do with security. It underpins our commitment to making progress and putting us in a position to earn the respect and support of the local people.
Finally, our focus there is to deliver the better life we promised -- a real sense of prosperity and a new beginning for the people of Iraq, which we do passionately believe in.
So where do I think we are on the road of progress, and what of our continuing efforts and new initiatives to give meaning to this partnership with those civilian security forces we work alongside? And what sense of prosperity? I've just completed my farewell visit to all the four provinces in the divisional area, so I speak from a little recent experience.
Our priority on arriving in Iraq, besides working toward establishing a safer environment, was the restoration of essential services -- above all, oil, power and water. Without these, very little else could get started. I was told in no uncertain terms by all the Iraqi leadership I met -- be they counselors, the professional bodies, the senior clerics, the tribal sheiks and the local people -- that this needed fixing and quickly. Not only was it a point of frustration, but a real danger to people's health. We discovered obsolete power stations, oil refineries, shortages of fuel, an erratic distribution supply of electricity and blocked sewage systems -- a legacy from the old sponsored oil-smuggling organizations, which would be conducted on a huge scale and damaged power infrastructure, including downed pylons, massive theft of copper wire, which was seriously affecting the power supply.
The shortage of fuel and electricity in the summer heat, which reached, as we all remember, 55 degrees, and then kicked in with 100 percent humidity, led to long queues at the petrol pumps, lifeless air conditioners and idle factories, all causing hardship and unrest. When the power grid overloaded in the heat and collapsed, we had to urgently deal with the problem and a potentially volatile situation. Our divisional engineers, local Iraqi contractors, the director- generals and their employees in the various essential service sectors along with the American and British contractors deployed to numerous sites to devise rapid solutions. Output has since increased systematically over the months, and there are many parts in the south which have virtually full-time electricity, exceeding pre-war levels. Some power is being exported to the north.
We're still working with Iraqi engineers and international experts to establish a stable national grid and provide electricity to those areas which never had any. I can now identify the difference between a 132- and a 400-kv line. That's a lot more than I could do before I got here.
The water supply too has improved. Some 80 percent of Basra now has access to running water, and a third of the city has a basic sewage system. Military, civilian and Iraqi engineers are repairing water infrastructure, reverse-osmosis plants and installing purifications facilities to bring drinking water to places that never had it. A hundred and six million is being provided under an emergency infrastructure plan which we put together with the CPA for the restoration of key oil, power and water facilities in the south. With the additional U.S. funds, that probably rises this figure up to somewhere in the region of about a quarter of a billion dollars.
We are engage in literally thousands of other initiatives in conjunction with CPA itself and the Iraqi community to help get the south back on track and to set those conditions I referred to to a better life.
We have carried out over a thousand UK quick-impact-funds projects, With over $150 million committed and another 50 million in the pipeline. Projects include work on power lines, hospitals, clinics, cultural institutions, security infrastructure and schools. To repair schools in time for the autumn term, nearly 2,400 received support, whether it be repairs or equipment. And all this work continues.
I would be foolish to claim that it is now complete or being completed. There is a huge amount still to do, a huge amount that still needs to be identified, but we are not taking our foot off or our partners' feet off the accelerators. In truth, as the millions of dollars for this work committed from the CPA, the United Kingdom, the donor conferences, from the Japanese and the U.S. supplement funds begin to kick in, I sense a real and demonstrative progress, and with it, increasing prosperity.
Agriculture is an important part of the southeast's economy. We have worked on all sorts of projects: regenerating date palm production, which was one of the second biggest economies in the Southeast after oil; and tomato yields. When low temperature and annual rains threatened to ruin this year's crop, we sourced 900 tonnes of plastic sheeting necessary to protect them from the elements, which has so far safeguarded the crop, which I'm told is looking good.
We have also been working with the Marsh Arabs east of An Nasiriyah and in Maysan, bringing electricity, schools and clinics back on-line and helping to improve the water quality, after a huge area of the marshes were drained after Saddam Hussein, and many of the people then departed. There's still a long way to go, but progress has been made.
With the Iraqis' coastline in our area, recovery of the port complexes has been a high priority. The ports of Umm Qasr, Al Zubair and others along the Shatt al-Arab are key component in regenerating the country's trade and commerce. We regularly mount land and river patrols in the area, and working with CPA itself setting up various business centers.
The Southeast still has a large amount of unexploded ordnance. A project is underway in the Southeast to clear the significant amounts of Iraqi ammunition that still endanger both the Iraqi population and my own forces. Divisional explosive ordnance disposal teams of several nationalities have cleared hundreds of thousands of items of ordnance. We've already destroyed or moved all the small sites, are in the process of doing the same with the medium-scale sites which we hope to have completed in the early part of next year, and with the Iraqi Civil Defense Forces, we've secured all the sites in the area.
We regularly seize weapons and contraband through the divisional area. In the past two weeks in Maysan province, we smashed a major copper and aluminium smuggling ring, seized copper and around two tonnes of smelted aluminium in the form of 2500 ingots, including the track that was used to pull down the pylons.
An urgent problem facing us when we arrived was the need to combat smuggling, tribal shootings, kidnappings, theft and other crime. The security situation in the Southeast is now relatively stable and improving, I sense, day by day. But we've had setbacks, such as the deaths in the summer of the nine Royal Military Police personnel, as well as a number of Iraqi civilians in separate outrages, and of course the tragic murder of the 19 Italian troops and civilians, as well as many Iraqis, in the bombing attack in An Nasiriyah last month. We continue to follow up on these attacks, and while they do not reflect the general trend of progress in the Southeast, we work extremely hard to disrupt and detain those who continue to plan such outrages against us and the community.
Do I envisage attacks in the future -- yes. Will they knock us off course -- quite simply, no. The attack against the Italians has not deterred the Sassari Brigade, who come from Sardinia, in continuing their work to improve the security situation for the people in Dhi Qar. The training program for the Iraqi security force in their area continues at full pace, and they're carrying out a wide range of initiatives to help regenerate the local communities, including those that are off the major routes.
Following the attack and during the holy month of Ramadan, they continue to sort and deliver large amounts of food and fuel to the poor people in the province.
One of the largest criminal problems we've been facing is oil smuggling. There were acute dangers during the summer months. If fuel was not available, excessive black-market prices and illegal export of oil would have had a direct impact on the progress we've been working towards.
My legal team, working with Iraqi judges to establish a legal code drawn from basic Iraqi law that both the coalition could enforce, the local police could operate under and the Iraqi judicial system could recognize.
We apply this to a series of operations to be conducted, from impounding illegal oil barges, the confiscation of pumps used to transfer the oil from the road tankers to river craft, smugglers and numerous ships being used to smuggle oil from the country, and our first target was the oil tanker Navstar I, which we queued and the Royal Navy detained.
Ship now being sold for the benefit of the Iraqis. The oil's been recovered, and the captain and his first mate have been arrested under Iraqi law, tried in an Iraqi court and received long prison sentences.
At least 15 more ships have been confiscating (sic) and are pending further proceedings, which go ahead.
Meanwhile, anti-smuggling operations continue, be that against cars, trucks, even sheep rustling. And we'll continue to carry out more of these operations as we go though the new year.
Our efforts to train the Iraqi security forces continues apace, and together great strikes have been made. Recruitment and training of volunteers for the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps to work with us in the Southeast is well under way, and some 2,000 members are operational across the region. Our target is almost 4,000 by next February.
Almost 15,000 Iraqi police are working in the southern region, and a full training program started last month. Over a hundred police stations are now open. The aim is to train a total of some 6,500 police officers across the divisional area. In addition, some 380 border police have been trained in Basra.
Almost 300 police officers have been formed into police support units, and they passed out only a fortnight ago, with another hundred graduates making the third PSU unit, done in front of the chief police in Basra. They're already operating, without the coalition forces, as a strike force for the chief of police and the provincial governing council under Judge Latif.
Joint patrols by divisional forces and Iraqi police have been under way in the Southeast since mid-April and are increasing as we give real meaning, as we intend to, to the notion of partnership.
Highway security is important, and we continue to train a new Iraqi highway patrol, which operates along the main routes in the south. We've trained about 50 specialist officers, who act against carjacking, car theft ad other road offenses, and we've equipped them with radios and vehicles.
The way forward in all these initiatives in one of a partnership, continuing to bring our own operations alongside those of the Iraqi security forces here in the south. By operating alongside them on the streets, by working with them to identify criminal and terrorist groupings and planning and coordinating the control of our efforts, we continue to learn from them, and them from us.
Finally, my observations on prosperity. I have in my time here witnessed a real surge in the local economy, all the normal start-up garage industries one would imagine -- car repair, shops and growing markets. What is not so obvious are the carpenters, the stonesmiths and the goldsmiths which are operating. I've wandered around the markets and watched the quality and the quantity of the produce increase month by month. I've spoken with a fair number of local people. We seem to have had a reasonable, and for some, a memorable, holy month of Ramadan, and expressed real joy during the festival of Eid. The local economy in the south is going well. People are more prosperous than they were a year ago, and it could be, they're more prosperous than they have ever been. But ultimately, that's for you to ask and for them to judge.
Any success that the MND Southeast has achieved has been the result of full multinational approach and its combined strengths, because the Iraqi people support us with their consent and their security forces allow it to operate successfully.
There is still much to be done. Our plans for the next year are well formed as the political process moves forward and we continue our efforts to help the Iraqis in the southeast improve their lives, working towards a smooth transition of sovereignty in June of 2004. I'm delighted at the political framework for the transition to sovereignty, the steps for the election of an Iraqi body to write a new constitution in early 2005, and then by December of that year, full and fair elections, as I believe it matches our military transition program of support exactly.
We will continue our approach to mentor and monitor the civilian security forces we are working with. We will continue to help and guide those fores. But we will, when they and the government and the people see that they are capable, self-confident and credible and able to secure progress and maintain security, be ready to go home.
My troops are carrying out joint patrols with the ICDC and the Iraqi police and helping them to apply their training, and other forces will be coming out shortly to dedicate themselves to this work. We will continue to build on this partnership with our Iraqi brothers in arms to establish a safe and secure Iraq.
I return to Great Britain shortly. My time here is truly nearly done. The coalition force will stay just long enough to do the job they're here to do, but no longer than they're required.
Finally, I will pay tribute to the troops of all nationalities under my command. I'm immensely proud of their commitment, their professionalism and their true sense of duty.
I applaud and embrace the Iraqi friends who work alongside us, who face the same -- and often greater -- dangers and difficulties as we set the conditions for this country's future. Together we are making a real difference. And with the Iraqi people, who continue to support our efforts, they have my deepest admiration. I wish them well in this Herculean effort, which moves forward, as I see it, with real purpose. Nothing is going to stop us restoring this country once again to greatness.
Thanks very much indeed. I'll take any questions.
Q Thank you, General. Peter Spiegel with The Financial Times. Can I ask you just a two-part question about the resistance? And to characterize it a little bit more specifically in the South, the metric they've been using up here quite frequently is attacks per day. Can you give us a similar metric of how it's been in the Southeast and maybe a trend line on that?
And also, related to that, can you characterize the people you have captured, resistance fighters, in the region? Do you believe they're locally grown? Are they coming from the Sunni Triangle down to attack down there? Give us a sense of who you believe you're facing there.
GEN. LAMB: Yeah. Thanks, Peter. The attacks per day -- we don't get as many, in effect, as the -- as this sort of slightly simplistic kinetic measure that people are very keen to try and pull together. I sense it's misleading as well.
What you don't do is -- you can't see the number -- amount of disruption and potential attacks which we are -- we have dealt with by either good intelligence, by lifting these people at an early stage, or based on an intelligence baseline. So it's difficult to pull the two together. But we're not getting anything like as much as Marty Dempsey or Dave Petraeus up in the North is, from where we're looking at.
We have a consistent head rate that sits somewhere between about -- I don't know -- three, five, something like that. But -- so the problem isn't going away. But from our perspective, it is contained.
It rose up dramatically during the summer months, when people were genuinely upset and we were establishing our intelligence baselines. I sense that now we're in a reasonably steady state.
As to the people we've captured -- and yes, we do, we capture quite a lot of those guys, all those intelligence are based on reasonably and improving intelligence -- there's a combination. The majority of them are Iraqis and not the so-called foreign fighters, the Mujahideen or people from the outside. Occasionally we'll find somebody who is of a foreign nationality, but quite often you'll find they've been in Iraq for some time.
Q If I could just follow up on that, I'm just curious whether -- by home-grown, I meant are they from the Southeast, specifically, or are you finding from Sunni Triangle, sort of where there's been more resistance, whether they're filtering down and agitating down in the south?
GEN. LAMB: No, they're mainly from down in our part of the world. Thank you.
Q (Question in Arabic, untranslated.)
GEN. LAMB: The question was about attacks to the south and whether this was something that was drawn from local people and was it as a result that we had fewer attacks because of the way we dealt with the people in the south? I said the dynamics of the problem I have in the south are definitely different from the center band and even further north. As I said in the briefing, we have about 85 percent of the population down there are Shi'a; most of those people suffered pretty badly under Saddam. I've been around the world a fair bit, and when I came across the border this time round, I had not quite appreciated just how subjugated the population were. I think they've suffered in a way that is quite difficult to appreciate in this, the 21st century. I think it was something more akin to Caligula, rather than Stalin.
And so therefore, we had a population who were, I think, immensely relieved at being in effect safeguarded for a period of time. They remained cautious in those early stages about whether the regime would come back. And I think the American successes against the two sons, Uday and Qusay up in Mosul, and then the recent arrest of Saddam Hussein himself have just buried that nail truly into the coffin, which -- they're not coming back.
These are difficult waters for those who would wish us harm to swim in. The Shi'a population are very conscious of those who are outsiders who come down. And so they therefore can stand out amongst the population. The relationship therefore we've established is one of working alongside and with the Iraqis so they can pass some of that information to us which we can then act upon it. And so the truth is that I think that our relationship in the south is one that is -- we've taken the opportunity to develop very quickly; that it has delivered on some of those intelligence requirements that we needed, and it is an area where it is very difficult for former regime loyalists to come down and operate against us. So I sense that in that respect, we're in good shape down in the south. It's more difficult, I know, for the likes of Marty Dempsey (sp) and the boys in the center land as is.
Q (In Arabic.)
GEN. LAMB: The question is, who are the most important figures? I wouldn't want to go into details and names and the like, but it's individual people who are running some of the cells, for instance, who would wish to operate against us. And there's a grouping of intelligence baselines that we have, understanding who some of these cells are which some of the groupings are coming from, and as we make progress on that particular line, these are the important people to get out of the way, because they're just going to -- they're going to kill us, but more importantly, they're also going to kill the local people. And so we've made some pretty good progress on that front.
Thank you. One last swing across here. Sorry.
Q Sam Dagger (ph) with AFP. General, just -- there have been some reports by Iraqi police that al Qaeda and former Ba'ath members or Ba'ath members have been attacking Shi'a shrines down in your area. Could you tell us about that? And also, there have been reports of revenge killings against former Ba'ath members as well.
GEN. LAMB: Yeah, the -- when you've got 85 percent of the population down in the south that's Shi'a, there's going to be a series of attacks, whether against us or we're in proximity to those, that are obviously going to hit the Shi'a. So in which case therefore one can it as some sort of a development of Sunni/FRL/AQ attack upon the Shi'a community itself. We don't see that sort of -- that sort of trend line. I sensed that when one looked at the -- when the five vehicle-born IDs went off here in Baghdad. The way I was reading -- and I wasn't up here, I was down in the South here -- but the way it was -- the Iraqi people were reading it was that this was not only attack against the coalition forces, but actually it was killing quite a number of Iraqis, just innocent people who were out in the streets. And therefore this was not at all welcome in any shape nor form.
So I'm not getting a great deal of -- we get indications. Am I seeing a great deal of some sort of whatever those terrorist groups are -- and everybody likes to try and slam them into an AQ or a sort of, you know, foreign fighter. Some of these foreign fighters are just simple souls. These are people that, at the end of the day, have for various reasons been drawn, I sense, from outside the country or possibly from inside, and are being used by others in a way they wish to promote this campaign. But they are genuinely just simple souls.
But I'm not seeing anything down in the South which tells me that in fact we're seeing some sort of, you know, hit from the AQ or whatever the case may be, trying to run a series of attacks against the Shi'a tribes.
On the revenge and the killings in the South, yes, we've seen some of those. We every so often come across individuals who have been executed. Fact of life.
Are there many? In truth, one is too many, but there aren't that many. If you look at the events following World War II in France, the circumstances of Italy, the -- I've been surprised that there hasn't been a great deal more of retribution going out there.
We engage with all the people in the South, and that includes elements of the political parties and all the rest, and make it quite clear what of the -- of how we wish to see them conducting and setting the conditions for their future life. And these sort of events and these attacks have no part.
If we come across them and conducting that, then make no mistake; then we'll arrest them. If they resist, then we'll kill them, whether it be Shi'a or Sunni.
Q Thank you. Just a follow-up on the retribution part. Do you think that's being held back right now and we're just going to see more of it down the road, just based on your assessment?
GEN. LAMB: No. And the reason I say that -- I sense that there is a, you know -- and it's very difficult for a Westerner, an outsider, to get a perception of this, but I sense there is a huge capacity in Iraq for managing grief and these events.
The -- we had an unfortunate incident -- and I was down last night having supper with one of the big tribes just north of Basra -- where a member of that tribe had been acting in a way which is very suspicious -- two women in a car, a weapon, which he was (not within rights ?) to have. The long and the short of it -- and we ended up shooting that fellow, because we thought he was hijacking, kidnapping the women, which occurs in the South. He wasn't. A tragic mistake.
But I then -- you know, we then go discuss this. We sit down with the tribe. We talk it through. We investigate the situation and the circumstances fully.
It is interesting to see how the tribal structure, the -- sort of the bigger family structure in Iraq is able to therefore accommodate some of this -- what I call sort of this hurt, this pain threshold. And I sense that applies right across the board. I don't come across -- what is interesting, I talk to a great deal of people out there, and it doesn't matter whether they're Shi'a, whether they're Sunni -- I'm engaged with all those -- and occasionally the odd Kurd when I come up north and do some business with some of the other divisional commanders. What I find really interesting, I haven't come across a single individual, not one, that refers to himself as Shi'a, Sunni or Kurd. They all refer to themselves as Iraqis, and that gives me truthfully just huge optimism.
So I sense that they -- we're not going to see some surge, something contained and held back. I sense that people will be looking at prosperity, looking towards a new future, and they've got a capacity to managing some of that. Now, for those that are guilty of crimes against humanity: then, we all have a duty to find those people. We need to see them then going up and being taken forward to a fair trial here in Iraq.
I need to swing across here; I'm really sorry.
Q (Question in Arabic, not translated.)
GEN. LAMB: Yeah, the question was about are the British forces more experienced in dealing with the Iraqi people, and therefore did the Iraqis ask us to assist? And the answer is, -- and the experience line was being questioned against my American partners in this coalition. A number of years ago, I'd have said without a question of doubt the British were very much more experienced in dealing with some of these issues. One should not underestimate just how busy the United States have been in the Balkans and elsewhere around the world in gaining some of those experiences. Put against the benchmark of where we are, I sense they're just slightly behind the drag curve. And that's a result of thirty years over in Northern Ireland, working in Africa and then working in the Middle East in particular over many years. So I sense actually we've just got a bit of an advantage over most of the forces we have here. But when I look around the sum of the experience, there are very few force elements -- and it's wrong to just judge in effect a force by the individual you'll speak -- you'll meet on the street, whether he be from Birmingham or from Baltimore. The truth is, actually both of those guys will have probably a little bit of experience. I met some paratroopers up here the other day from the British, and they'd only been in the army for two months. So they got zero experience. They come with -- (inaudible.) So it would be wrong to do that.
But the officers, the NCOs and the leadership of those organizations, I keep on coming across the same faces -- (laughs) -- friends around the world, whether they be from the United States, whether they be from the Netherlands, whether they be from Italy, whether they be from the Norwegians, we keep on coming across -- you know, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bosnia. So there's a level of experience in doing business.
I sense that, as I said, the circumstances I face in the south have allowed us to accelerate a little quicker in building that early relationship, because you had a people there who predominantly had been subjugated and had suffered greatly under Saddam, especially following the 1991 uprising.
So my view is that the Iraqis genuinely help us. And that's why, when I talk -- and it's not some glib line; I wrote all this stuff that I read, by the way, so anybody doesn't want to be under any misunderstanding -- the -- that when I talk about a partnership, the answer is, that is exactly what I see. When I talk about this issue being one which is everything to do -- nothing to do with or little to do with soldiering and everything to do with security, it's heartfelt from years and years of what I call (cut and ?) business. People talked about heart and minds. You got to walk the walk; you got to get out there and do this. Actually, that's what everybody's doing.
If I was up north, if I was in the mid-range where Marty is now, I would have to be doing business differently. So the idea that you can sort of, you know, say, "Oh, you know, Uncle Sam's doing it this way, and the Brits are doing it differently this way," actually, you've got to look at the circumstances on the ground. I would have to be managing the coalition affairs in effect quite differently if I was in Baghdad or if I was up towards Tikrit and around there. It's -- that's they way you'd have to do it.
But the experience line in many ways, yeah. The answer is, I've got a hugely experienced division. There's no two ways about it. Don't count these divisions, don't look at them by just merely ratcheting up how many helicopters has he got; how many -- you know, what size caliber are his guns; how many main battle tanks can he put on the field of battle right now. The answer is, what you're looking for is this level of experience. And actually, it sits right across the whole coalition, most importantly at the command and the leadership levels. It matters a lot, because actually, you know, you can get this thing quite wrong in trying to get forward to a solution. Thank you.
Q Will you help the Americans by your experiences?
GEN. LAMB: I just thought I'd (stay a minute ?). Yeah, again, the idea that in fact that somehow I'm in some sort of isolated, doing our own thing down in the south could not even be further from the truth. I work for General Sanchez, I go up and I see, I talk, I have a good working relationship with Chuck and with the 82nd, Dave Petraeus, up in the north, Ray -- I was up the other day with 4 ID and Marty Dempsey here in Baghdad, as well as the Polish to the north of my boundary line. So we do.
And actually, the truth is, the idea that in effect I'm just giving lots of good ideas and everybody's taking them couldn't be further from the truth. What we do is have a professional, honest, straightforward, no nonsense way of doing business -- what is working, what is not working. You know, in business, people talk about exchanging best practice and that is precisely what we do. My intelligence officers, my G-3s, all these people have a constant dialog across the board on the basis that actually no one wants to be in a position that they think they're smart enough to do it alone. We're all learning from each other.
Sorry; just let me --
Q John Burns (ph) from the New York Times. Since you're leaving, it might be a good idea to ask you the widest question of all. You're well aware that in the United Kingdom and the United States, at least if you took the temperature in mid-November, there was a pretty widespread sense that this was not going to work, that we were getting ourselves into a quagmire here. You've told us about the south, where you're making progress. What are you going to be telling people when you get back to the U.K.? Are you going to be saying this is a doable thing or it's not a doable thing, that we can get out of here -- United States, United Kingdom and their allies -- with some dignity and with a successful accomplishment, or that we've got ourselves into a travail without end?
GEN. LAMB: Now you'd expect me to come back with a sort of what I call, you know, just sort of (the pot ?). I'm neither an optimist nor am I a pessimist; I'm just a hard-boiled realist. There's no two ways about it -- in the summertime when I turned up here in the end of June/July -- I think on day one we had this difficulty where the Iranians had just come across the border by about 800 yards or so because in fact they were under water and the empty posts on the other side weren't. And then the power grid fell over on the second day. I looked at this and thought, This is going to be a lot more difficult than we realized.
We -- in good military fashion, all of us were doing this, we began to disassemble the problems, identify solutions and then set the conditions for getting this thing back on line.
I remember during the war you had us dead and buried on about day seven, as I remember rightly -- that in fact the plan was failing, the whole thing wasn't going to work, and it was a disaster waiting to happen.
The original plan, if you remember 1003 Victor here, was 125 days to Baghdad. I think the 3rd Infantry Division, yeah, with some considerable bravery, in effect were knocking at the door here on about day 23.
My view is that I think we've -- and why could we do that? Because we identified the nature of how the regime was wanting to resist and manage its part of the campaign, and adjusted accordingly. He who has initiative tends to win the game.
In this case, I sense we're in exactly the same course of action. It is a real danger, I think, to measure -- and that's why, to go back to the very first question that was asked by Peter -- that there's real danger in just taking simple measurements as to what's good and bad, what people can resist and what people can't resist, what's going to work and what's going to fail.
My inclination is not discount in any way, you know, for the 20 guys I've lost during the time I've been here and the numbers that the Americans have taken as casualties and as -- but if you look on the other side of the scales, if you merely measure it by how many have we killed and get into a sort of what I call body count affair, then you're missing the point. What you've got to do is see the other side of the scales -- the hospitals, the water, the schools; actually, the quality of life, how people are going about their business. And the fact that the -- you know, normally -- and I could think of some places I've gone to around the world here -- in effect, in the Arab countries -- you know, you go to the souk, and what do you find? You find lots of really great spices, and you find those noodles that are stuck inside plastic packets here that have been put together in China, and not a lot else. You know, I go down to Basra, and the place is groaning, and I sense it's much the same up here.
So where does that take me in what is a very honest opinion? You can come back to me in later life and ask me if I got this one wrong. I sense I won't have, that I think we're in good shape. You know -- (inaudible) -- once said, you know, things are never as good or as bad as you think they are. And I sense that they are definitely a whole lot better than people will really want to admit or stand up to.
I sense that we're well in the turn. We haven't yet turned the corner. There's a huge amount to do, and that's why the partnership of the CPA in moving this political process forward with the Iraqi people is absolutely crucial. That's why, when I talk about capability for the Iraqi security forces that we're responsible, that are going to take on our piece of the business, which is security and stabilization, it is about capability, it's about credibility, and it's about self confidence. And the three have to go hand in hand. Capability is just mechanics. That's just training, getting the right numbers, the volunteers, and getting the sort of the equipment profiles, communications, vehicles, weapons, et cetera. The credibility sits with the Iraqi people. And I'm beginning to get -- and I hear it from Baghdad, so it's not just -- this is not just an issue from down in the south, but I get it from places like Baghdad, where I hear, in effect, that the Iraqi police are beginning to be seen, beginning to get out, getting some credibility out in the street there.
Now, you'll find somebody -- it's a bit like asking a farmer if everything's all well; they invariably will tell you that it's not -- you can find people who would say it's all going backwards. I speak to a lot of people that say it's actually doing all right. And they are getting that level of credibility. I was speaking to Judge Latif (ph) the other day on the pre-support unit. I said, "How's it all going? My sense is, the police are getting a little better." You know, typical British, sort of, you know, slightly understatement, modesty, you know, I thought we're doing all right, but just cut it down a little bit down. He said, "Oh no." He said, "You're doing really well. Really well."
You know, I just sent the old PSU down to (Al-Khalouf ?) to do something on their lonesome. You know, they went down, sorted the problem, and came back again.
So my sense is that that credibility has got to come in, and they they've got have the self confidence to do it themselves. And so the idea of -- and I hear the old term "cut and run." I think it's a complete load of nonsense. Nobody's cutting and running out of here. Actually what we're doing is we're setting in place something which I think that we'll be able to look back and genuinely take a statement and say, you know, "I was in Iraq in 2003, 2004, and we made a real difference," because I do not see this thing going backwards. People just don't -- I mean, down in the south, they're just not going to go left and right. They're not going to go back. Nobody's going to take them back. They can only go forward. And so, it's not blind optimism. It's genuine, you know, six months of being out there walking the street, dealing with the people, understanding their frustrations, trying to get a clear view about what their fears, concerns -- and there were real concerns, and that's why, in fact, you know, getting Saddam, seeing him the way he was was really important, because there was always the thought it could go back. And it goes back to this point, you know, here was a nation that had been subjugated, controlled, managed. The distribution networks all brought back to Baghdad in a way that in my sense did not allow them to feel that freedom.
I was speaking to one of the imams during -- at one of the iftars during Ramadan, and, you know, it was interesting. It wasn't a case of saying, well, everybody's now come back to the mosque. Everybody can -- it was -- what we had really delighted about was the ability of individuals to express their religious freedom. So there was no forced nature of this. It wasn't a case of for the cameras at a time of your choosing that in fact to be out to be seen there. It was quite the opposite. What it was was people were actually expressing their religious freedoms as they felt fit and as they saw necessary, and that sort of level of freedom. People on the streets, they aren't going to walk away from that. That's just a simple soldier's view.
Q Can I just ask you one supplementary, very basic --
GEN. LAMB: Sure.
Q -- for American readers. They'll want to know from whom this comes. Can you tell us your age and your background in the British Army in terms of places that are relevant to this, like Northern Ireland?
GEN. LAMB: I've spent -- you know, I went straight from school, and went straight in the army. I saw it by way of a vocation. It's given me a really good life. There's not too many continents I haven't been to. There's not too many conflicts from the British experience that I --
Q Can you give me some examples?
GEN. LAMB: Oh, Afghanistan; the Balkans; Northern Ireland; most of Africa; a bit of South America; Central America; Asia; the Falklands. You know, there's a fair bit of, you know, baseline to where I'm coming from there. So it's -- as I've said, it's neither one of optimism nor pessimism. It's just the way I see it.
Q The hardest question you didn't answer. How old are you?
GEN. LAMB: Oh, yeah. And I do that. I've just taken up snowboarding. (Laughter.) I'm just over 50. (Laughter.) And I reckon I've lived about one-and-a-half lifetimes.
Q (Bus pass ?) coming up.
GEN. LAMB: Yeah. Thank you. Sorry. Sorry, sir. Yeah.
Q (In Arabic.)
GEN. LAMB: The question that was raised was whether that an idea from the Iraqi -- that in fact we were merely using this country as a place to deal with al Qaeda. I sense that the phenomenon that was al Qaeda -- and of course, I did Afghanistan too, so I'm acutely aware of this sort of more of a phenomenon rather than actually sort of you know this sort sense of organization.
Will we deal with elements of whatever you want to refer to as al Qaeda here? If they come across us, yeah, absolutely. Will there be some individuals who come in who claim that sort of jihad relationship, the sort of an opportunity to fight, whether it's the British or the Americans? Yeah, I sense so. Is this an opportunity for the coalition forces to find some battle space to deal with this? Absolute rubbish.
Q Say George Bush --
GEN. LAMB: Sorry?
Q Mr. George Bush said -- (in Arabic.)
GEN. LAMB: Yeah, but I sense that again, you look at the United States at the moment, and of course they're in a high level of -- they're dealing with this threat that they face. Actually, they deal with the threat in every single one of their embassies around the world. So the idea that somehow that you just draw the problem into Iraq -- now we have -- you know, the Americans have 130,000-plus troops, you know. So they've got a lot of people here, which allows them -- the circumstances allow people to come in, and if they wish to, in fact, take this war to American forces, they can do so.
But it's not tied to Iraq. I sense that we're all looking at dealing with this terrorism.
Militancy is something which, at the end of the day, people like me deal with. And it doesn't matter where it is; as long as it threatens, in effect, those innocent people, a way of life, then that's what we deal with.
But just for the moment, the idea that we're in Iraq to deal with al Qaeda is just simply not the case, my friend.
Q Thank you.
GEN. LAMB: Sir?
Q General, Chris Hogg from the BBC.
GEN. LAMB: Oh, sorry. (Chuckles.) Break in the system.
Q Two questions. First of all, there's been announced an announcement today about hazard pay for the Iraqi security services. How much of a problem has the poor pay for Iraqi soldiers and policemen been? And how much of a difference is this going to make?
And just picking up on a point you made earlier about the revenge killings, I wasn't quite clear what you were saying. Is there anything that the coalition can do to try to prevent these revenge killings?
GEN. LAMB: Yeah. I think we're very conscious of -- that, you know -- in Maysan, for instance, you know, Abu Rashid (sp), who was the chief of police -- you know, I mean, you know, a strong individual; if there was somebody committed to what I call taking Iraq forward, you know, he was a good example of it -- was killed.
There are members of the Iraqi security force elements that are getting injured and mainly intimidated and occasionally killed.
And therefore, in fact, you know, is the idea of some sort of hazard pay appropriate? My view is that what -- all we should do is recognize what is appropriate pay. The idea that you can define and say, "Well, this individual" -- because actually the truth is that the DG or one of the employees at a power station, working the oil infrastructure, is going to find himself potentially also intimidated and/or threatened. As we get this sort of difficulty to identify between those who would wish to fight us and those that are in this sort of -- this change between criminality. And I sense that you see a switch-over between both force elements. The -- it's just -- you know, the world's not binary.
We have to be very careful about what pay scales we put in place. I was told that before the war, for instance -- I regularly -- sorry -- I regularly get -- people challenge me to say for the ICDC that $60 is not enough. And for all of us around here, most of us around here, we'd turn around and say $60 doesn't sound like a great deal of money. Before the war, I'm told that a teacher got paid $7 a month.
When you look at what your $60 can buy and all the rest here -- and we've got to be very conscious about inflation -- then that is a case of being very careful of what pay scales we put down.
We also have to be very, very careful -- and this is not my business; this is for Ambassador Bremer and the CPA and all the rest, and with the ministers in the Ministry of Finance -- to profile out actually what the country's wealth will be, because if we in fact -- you know, to get us through sort of, you know, this short-term period, so we just buy in, you know, at huge cost, and they get this inflated price -- you know, I regularly find around the world that in fact, you know, the prices are all getting corrupted by you guys that go around and sort of buy off hotels or buy off interpreters, you know, and everything ranks up. The truth is that we have to be very careful that we don't set an expectation -- a pay line which then cannot be maintained at a point in time that we rightly, as this country gets forward and begins to -- you know, everything begins to crank up -- can then be maintained. And so therefore it's quite important we look at those base levels.
My view is that the pay scales have been looked at by CPA and the ministries. We'll see how that comes through. All I do manage the expectation down the front end, with the people that are doing their job. Actually, they ask for money. They always -- but the truth is, actually, if you say, you know, you've got an opportunity between more money or actually in fact better training, more equipment and actually being able to do your job better, quite often it is actually to the latter, you know, which speaks volumes about their genuine commitment for making this enterprise work.
On the revenge killings, is there any (sic) else we could do? We're looking at every single angle. You know, we've cranked up in many ways, you know, the business of -- you know, you had a law which needed reconstructing, in many ways, or relooking at. Actually, basic Iraqi law is very good law. And I'm not a lawyer, but so I'm told by the people I talk to. It has just been corrupted by Saddam in certain ways.
What we've been doing, therefore, is trying to set up, you know, due process, to make sure that you go from crime to conviction to incarceration. That means you got to have prisons to go to, you've got to have judges who are not intimidated, you got courts, you got to have an evidential system, you got to have all that side of life -- it's as much to deal with revenge killings and this level of intimidation -- at one end of the scale.
At the other end of the scale, we're out in the streets. We're dealing with people, talking to those, and any grouping, any sort of -- any circumstance we came across, you know, where this was occurring, then the truth is, in effect, we're going to either arrest them or we're going to kill them. The -- it's not a case of sort of turning a blind eye, on the basis that, you know, what we do in a short time in war will set the conditions for peace. And so therefore, we -- you know, we are rightly acting, very responsibly, in a way of trying to get people to feel comfortable with the ideas of civil society, what is right and what is wrong.
What is really interesting is the number of people that we get either identified or brought to us who are, in effect, individuals who others would claim as being extreme Ba'athists or people who are guilty of crimes. And so the idea they're just going out and killing people willy-nilly is just not the case. But there are, inevitably, one or two cases of that, which we have to deal with.
So, right at the back. Sorry.
Q (Off mike.)
GEN. LAMB: The question was first of all congratulating the CPA, and I would include the Americans, on the capture of Saddam. And then, when are we going to complete this -- sort of this period of -- for the Iraqi people? Our view is -- at least my views is that we arrived here and clearly identified consent and support of the people as being crucial to progress, and secondly, that we should leave in a timely manner. These are more difficult areas to identify. What we have to do is deliver security and stability. What is normal? Quite difficult to identify sometimes. But I sense that what I'm seeing, you know, from my slightly sort of, you know, narrow angle from down in the south, is a clear confluence between the interests of what we the military have set out to do, the progress that we're making, the work that is now being put in place and is being forced -- has been brought together with -- by CPA and the IGC and all the rest in setting out the political timelines, which, when I go round and talk to all the provinces, in my view is a very worthy time scale. We're moving forward in a way that if we rushed to try and do elections too quickly, you know, from where I saw it, the answer is that, you know, you would have had to put in something like a ration card system. Well, we know there was corruption in the ration card system around that there were more ration cards than there were people. So that wouldn't work.
Equally, if we waited too long, the answer is that the Iraqi people have got a real energy to get on with their lives. You know, I see it all the time. You know, people say, you know, "Well who did that? What organized this?" And you go, "Well, I didn't." You know, the Iraqis did. You know, when the (Hatha ?) power station caught fire, it was a straightforward fire; nothing to do with sabotage -- just, you know, minor fire -- you know, we turned up the next morning, in effect, you know, well actually in the early hours of the morning, during the nighttime, to arrive there, you know, in effect, and there was something like about 125 Iraqis already there, in effect getting the power station back on line.
You know, I went across to Al-Samarra the other day to a concrete factory. The -- and again, you know, it's nothing to do with -- it's everything to do with security. Went to a concrete factory. The factory had been looted and wasn't working. It employed 700 people, and it turns out concrete, and this country needs concrete, and it's going to need an awful lot of concrete as we go through the coming years.
They had -- you know, the Iraqis had got out there and they had squared away the electricity with the -- through the DG. They were getting fuel in up on the railway system to work the generators. They had cannibalized two of the lines to get a third two-thirds running. And the bits they were missing, which, if you had given it to us, we would immediately have turned round and said, "Right, okay, what I need to do is go out and source this equipment." Is it British? Is it American? Is it German? Who's the company who made it? Where was it -- you know, and it would have taken forever and a day. Oh, no. The Iraqis in fact went straight out on local television, you know, stuck up a picture and said, "This is what's missing. Who's got it?" Fantastic! You know, next day, out comes, you know, "I didn't take it." You know, end of the day, you know, I got it from someone on the side of the road type, and brought back in that factory working, you know, crunching out bags of cement, making money.
And therefore I see a real energy amongst the Iraqi people to crack this thing. And my view is that, put that together, I sense that therefore the timelines that we're running on at the moment, which have been set out, which see us through a transitional authority, sovereignty, and that into 2005 are pretty attractive.
So I need to go to this side. Sorry. Madam. And I'll come to you, sir. Don't worry.
Q (In Arabic.)
GEN. LAMB: The question was about smuggling oil, and what procedures we had down in the south and what we were doing about it? And do we have a plan, and what were these other forces that were coming?
Yeah, we have been doing quite a lot about it. We ran a fairly large operation in October, which I brought in the assistance from the 13th MEU, who is American -- is a ESG in the northern part of the Gulf, and we used the whole of the division resources to run, in effect, what was an anti-crime operation. And that included bringing in some extra specialist ISR assets and the like in support of that from the United Kingdom. So they're the sort of extra forces I'm talking about as we go through this.
What were the results? We first of all needed to establish -- and this is the interesting part of the operation. I had to get all the mechanics of this thing together, so I brought in specialist aircraft from the UK; got these additional American troops that worked the al-Faw peninsula to support us; had all the bits and pieces; worked the intelligence. It's not something I could have done in July or August. I needed to get the intelligence to understand what we were doing. And it wasn't just about cracking down on the young -- the guy who was driving the truck. You know, at the end of the day, the guys that's driving the truck's just trying to feed his family. He's out of order, because he's smuggling oil, but he's just trying to feed his family. What we need to do is actually understand the organization that goes with it, actually who was dealing with it, what was within Iraq, and what were the indications of outside Iraq.
During the course of that operation, we pulled up in effect about --and secured about 50 barges, about 22 vessels out in the northern part of the Gulf, and arrested about 291 people and then a whole lot of other goods that make that industry fire.
But I couldn't have done that operation, couldn't have started that operation, until my -- Charlie Barnett (sp), my legal fellow, had got up here, sat down. Ambassador Bremer brought in the CPA legal ruling. We'd taken Iraqi law, put the two together, made sure that actually we could genuinely go, in effect, from a conviction -- from a crime being identified to a conviction.
Identifying the crime was extremely difficult because it had been almost a state-sponsored industry beforehand, and trying to identify what is legal and what is illegal is quite tricky. So actually, in fact, we needed to embrace and try and understand the nature of the illegality that was being conducted, rather than just in fact some guy driving a truck, which he might well have been able do quite legally. So that's what drove us to this.
How have we done? I sense that the loss of the Navstar and some of these other big vessels has certainly put a dent into the side of what was probably almost a national enterprise, before the war, of smuggling large quantities of oil out of Iraq. It's very difficult for them to get through us and then, in effect, the off-loading with the barges, and then out and then be stopped by the coalition naval forces down in the Gulf. And we're proceeding that all the way down to where some of these vessels operate from. The -- and we'll continue to do that.
The question about the Japanese and other forces -- yeah, the Japanese have said that they wish to send forces, and when the time is right -- I sense that is shortly -- then it is -- I'd be entirely comfortable. I'd welcome them as partners. I sense it is a big step forward for Japan. And they've been hugely supportive in contribution of capital, as in money. It will be really nice to see them alongside us on the ground, driving towards principally what is engineering and humanitarian work. So I would welcome that greatly.
Sorry. Go ahead. And I'll come back to you in a second, sir. Yup.
Q (In Arabic.)
GEN. LAMB: Yeah. The -- really, again, about smuggling in the South and saying that the British didn't do anything, I think you're being a little hard on us. The -- we've -- we've done quite a lot against smuggling.
The second point is that -- you know, saying that just -- you know, shut the border down. The -- you know, I came here twice before during the wars of '91 and then recently, of which there was lots of border guards; it didn't stop us getting through the borders. And that was coming across, in effect, you know, quietly, rather than actually sort of, you know, bluntly.
So the truth is that you can't just seal off a border. What we are doing is identifying actually where the smuggling, the nature of the organized crime, and really, who the people who are directing this is coming from. That takes intelligence, it takes a little bit of time, but we are working through that. And we're working through that with the Iraqi people, too, the Iraqi police services here.
So my view is that I think you've just been a touch unkind to us. But I acknowledge it, that we need to do a lot more. We continue to do as much as we can. The answer is, we keep quite focused on this. And I sense as we build with the Iraqis the -- in this -- the partnership I referred to, which is not a glib phrase, it is a genuine phrase, then I sense this will improve.
I'll give you a good quick example. There was a Portuguese journalist, -- (word inaudible) -- Carlos, who was kidnapped down in the south. He'd come across on day one and got carjacked and then was kidnapped from that event. We were looking at ways in how to sort of, you know, through a process of analysis, how we might get to him and identify where he could be operating from, looking through all sorts of technical options, high tech, sort of, you know, arrangement to see where he was. The Basra chief of police walked in and said "He's at this house."
So, you know, this partnership is really positive. It allows us to do work in ways that they were -- and the same applies to smuggling.
Do not underestimate, I sense, in the South, because we haven't, that this was a -- this was a national industry. During sanctions, you had arrangements for moving huge volumes of oil under the noses of the -- of those that were trying to impose the -- keep the sanctions in place, which succeeded on many fronts. And so therefore, there was an architecture, an organized, national organized crime syndicate that was running this here. To get into that takes a little bit of time, to understand where the blockages are, what we can do with it. And as I said, it's not just about dealing with the guy who's driving the truck. I've got to go all the way back up the line. And my sense is that that's what we're dealing with. What we're not going to do is drop the ball in smuggling. It is, I agree, tardy. It's very important to people in the South; it's pretty important to us, too. So --
You've been very patient. Sorry. And I'll come back. Just one second.
Q (In Arabic.)
GEN. LAMB: I think that in 1991, when we came across here, the -- we did a fair amount of damage in the South against, in effect, what was the very infrastructure you're talking about.
I think 12 years, then, of sanctions, plus the 1991 uprising, meant that there was zero investment down here. So therefore, it began to fall apart.
I think this time round, in the war, that people were hugely conscious of this responsibility, especially after Kosovo, yeah. We looked to that, and therefore in fact the easy options of just shutting down the power, making sure that we took control of that, was something that General Franks and the coalition were very conscious of not doing. And so therefore, in fact, we -- there was very little sort of beating up of some of this infrastructure you're talking about here.
You made the comment "working well before the war." I think that's a fairly bold statement. And the reason I say that is because I was down at one of the meetings quite early on, and the -- I think this was in Dhi Qar -- and the number two in the council said we had -- that the whole of Nasiriyah had -- actually, it wasn't; it was Basra -- it was the number two in Basra. He said -- the deputy, deputy -- he said before the war, we had -- everywhere had running water, everybody had water in Basra. And I said, "That's just not the case. You know, I've got the plans." We've actually gone out with the (inaudible word) that tell you where the pipes are and all that -- (inaudible). I know exactly what -- and a least a third of the city hasn't got any piped water.
Now if he had said that before the war, he'd have probably had a one-way ticket out to the desert. So the deal is that in fact you ended up with this sort of land of lies, where in fact no one would say anything was bad; everything was wonderful. And the truth is that there was a lot that wasn't working well.
Where I think that we -- as we concentrated on the combat operations and therefore the forces we were going to deal with, as we concentrated on the -- that nature, with our intelligence assets, before the war, and then, in effect, squared away a large humanitarian effort to see how that would hold out, the -- we probably didn't spend quite enough time digging down into and looking at just how fragile some of the infrastructure was and how broken it was. It is a breath- taking experience to go around and look at some of these places, just see in fact how it had been patched together. You had pylon lines where the splicing was just two pylons clamped together. You had arrangements in some of the oil -- in the oil refineries that health and safety would -- you just could not operate under.
So it was extremely fragile. And so therefore, I would say that there was a lot that wasn't working at all well. And what we've done is to try and identify, in fact, how to stabilize some of that. Interestingly, things like it's not the amount of power, we're up at about 4- -- I think about 4,000-plus megawatts down in the south here at the moment. The -- it was looking at the odd things like distribution that was the problem, because that actually gave all the outages. So the distribution network needed to be looked at.
So there's a number of things we've have been working on this, which is very important, that -- I would say that needed to be done. It wasn't something that was already working. It was really broken. I mean, really, really broken. And we put in place what is just an emergency plan to start with. As I look towards the integration we're doing with CPA and then moving on beyond that to the supplemental and the commitment the United States have made and other donor countries have made around the world, my sense is that we're going to see a huge amount of investment which will go forward from what is an emergency infrastructure plan into really stabilizing those networks, bringing power, water and life support to parts of this country that have just never had it, pylons going up and stability of the network.
So I remain just hugely optimistic.
Q And the security?
GEN. LAMB: Security? Yeah. Again, on the security issue, I'm comfortable where we are. I've said, if you just merely count, you know, hits against us and the attacks and this sort of thing as that which dents will and progress, it's a poor measure. It's a poor measure. I look at the way the security -- the Iraqi security forces are moving forward, the potential they've got; I look at what we've achieved so far in sort of the -- (inaudible) -- I look from the six months in effect from behind here and now; I look at the next six months, I see, in effect, the, you know, basic election process, things in governance that are hugely respectable in the way they're doing business. And my view is that they're taking -- you know, they've begun -- they're showing themselves back up on-line, capable, credible, self confident. And I'd just go back to the comment from the -- my friend from, I think it was New York or wherever it was, that, is this doable? You better believe it.
Thank you very much indeed.
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