Operational Update-Dec 22, 2005
Wednesday, 21 December 2005
Briefer: Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch
BRIEFING BY MAJOR GENERAL RICK LYNCH, MNF-I DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF, ON TOPICS INCLUDING SECURITY ASPECTS OF ELECTION, CURRENT OPERATIONS, AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR IRAQI SECURITY FORCES LOCATION: THE COMBINED PRESS INFORMATION CENTER, BAGHDAD, IRAQ TIME: 8:00 A.M. EST DATE: THURSDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2005
GEN. LYNCH: What I'd like to talk about is results of the elections, focused specifically on the security aspects, the thing that we've worked so very hard with, both the coalition forces and the Iraqi security forces. I'd like to talk about current operations, what's going on now in our mission to accomplish the assigned end state. I'd like to talk about professional development opportunities for the Iraqi security forces, both the Iraqi army and the Iraqi police.
First graphic, please.
What this chart does, it compares attack trends for January, the referendum in October, and the December elections. And as you can see, with the yellow indicating what took place in January, there was as significant spike in attacks just preceding the January elections. If you look at the red part of the graphic, you see that same spike didn't happen. In fact, in the four days preceding the elections and election day, there was a 57 percent reduction in attacks, January compared to December, and after the elections, an 80 percent reduction in attacks. So there was a significant reduction in the numbers of attacks -- car bombs, suicide bombs, IEDs -- for the December elections compared to last January.
So let's talk about why that happened. There are really four reasons why that happened. One is the detailed collective operations between the coalition forces and the Iraqi security forces over the course of the last several months, focused on defeating the terrorists and foreign fighters and disrupting the insurgency. Those operations were accomplished with great effect.
The second piece is the training and equipping of the Iraqi security forces. They continue to grow with phenomenal capabilities, today 216,000 trained and equipped members of the Iraqi security force, and they made a great contribution to the conduct of a safe and secure environment for these elections.
The next one is the Sunni outreach. There was a detailed, deliberate effort to engage the Sunni leadership -- tribal, religious, local, provincial, regional, national leadership -- to engage that leadership and have them advocate participation in the political process, to choose ballots over bullets. And that all happened very, very well. So you can see the results of that.
But as we talked about every time I talk, the attacks will continue. The insurgents still have the same mission: disrupt the political process and discredit the Iraqi government. And as we're working through a transition period here from the interim government to the constitutionally elected government, and as they work to establish themselves, the attacks will indeed continue.
In fact, over the last 24 hours we have had 84 attacks, 15 more than the previous day.
We had a suicide car bomb in Taji that killed five Iraqi Army soldiers and wounded an additional 12. There was a small-arms fire complex attack against Iraqi police in Samarra, killed three Iraqi police officers and wounded an additional four. Today there was a small-arms attack against Iraqi police here in Baghdad, killed six Iraqi police officers. And also today there was another suicide car bomb.
So the attacks indeed will continue because the insurgency is still out there. But we were able to conduct the elections in a safe and secure environment. Let me talk to you about exactly why that happened.
Next graphic, please.
If you compare specific attack trends -- January, October, December -- and you focus on the polling sites, you'll see this: a large number of attacks in January compared to what we experienced in the elections in December -- significant reductions. Remember how the security was performed. The security was performed by the Iraqi security forces -- Iraqi police at the polling sites, Iraqi army with the inner ring security -- and the coalition forces were indeed over the horizon, if you will, in a quick reaction mode. So we have to applaud the capabilities of the Iraqi security forces, specifically the Iraqi police. There were 64,000 Iraqi police in January, over 90,000 for the conduct of these elections in December.
Three stories on the effectiveness of the Iraqi police. In Mosul, the Iraqi police detained two individuals who had false IECI credentials who were trying to enter a polling site. In north Babil, Iraqi police detained, captured individuals, a militant group, who had a variety of ammunition and weapons, who were preparing to attack a polling site. And my favorite story of them all happened in the town of Kharma the night before the elections. An IED took place, blew a hole in the protective wall around the polling site. Over the course of the evening, the Iraqi police and the Iraqi polling site workers fixed that barrier so that the polling site could open on time at 7:00 the next morning.
So we saw a fantastic performance by the Iraqi police to secure the elections on the 15th of December.
Next graphic, please.
As I say, the operations continue. The end state is still defined: an Iraq that's at peace with its neighbors, that is an ally in the war on terror, that has a representative government that respects the human rights of all Iraqis, that has a security force that can maintain domestic order and deny Iraq as a safe haven for terrorists. Our campaigns continue to that instinct.
Operation National Unity continues in Baghdad. And over the course of the last several months, that campaign has detained and captured over 3,000 insurgents, came across a large number of weapons caches.
Operation Keraton (ph) continues in the Diyala and Salahuddin province, and the Iraqi security forces there are increasingly in the lead and increasingly showing very effective capability.
Operation Moonlight, just completed in the Al Anbar province -- Operation Moonlight was an Iraqi brigade operation, Iraqi-led at the brigade level. Five companies from the 1st Brigade of the 1st Iraqi army Division planned and executed this intelligence-led operation.
They came across weapons caches. They detained suspected terrorists. They did that on their own, with some coalition support.
And Operation Sayyid is the operation that's been ongoing now for the last five months. I'd like to draw your attention to that one specifically.
Next placard, please.
For the last several press conferences, we've talked about the task and purpose of Operation Sayyid, Operation Hunter: defeat terrorists and foreign fighters, disrupt the insurgents, reestablish Iraqi control of the border and create an environment where the people of Al Anbar can participate in the electoral process.
An amazing statistic: In January, just over 13,500 registered voters in Al Anbar voted. For the elections on the 15th of December, over 365,000 voters in Al Anbar participated -- directly a result of the operations we've conducted over the last five months. Those named operations we've talked about in great detail. We've been able to establish forward operating bases, firm bases throughout Al Anbar. We have left behind with the Iraqi government and the Iraqi security force a persistent presence. The Iraqi government and the Iraqi security forces have reclaimed control of the Syrian border, and operations out there continue.
But what we saw in Sayyid that completed today was operations that resulted in an environment where over 365,000 people at Al Anbar could participate in the electoral process -- amazing effect.
Next graphic, please.
One of the major things we do as we work our way to our end state is continue to train and equip the Iraqi security forces. Remember, end state has a security force that can maintain domestic order and deny Iraq as a safe haven for terrorists.
And it's not just about quantity, 216,000 members of the Iraqi security force today trained and equipped. Let's talk about quality. Let's talk about professional development of the Iraqi security forces.
First, let's focus on the army. As you can see from the graphic, there have been established around Iraq professional military institutions to create capable officers and junior officers and noncommissioned officers at all levels. There are basic training sites. There are officer cadet training sites. There are junior and senior staff colleges at Al Rustamiyah, and a new addition for the Iraqi army, for their senior leadership, is a center for ethics and leadership at Al Rustamiyah, to focus on the professionalism of developing the Iraqi army. They have established a(n) Iraq service and support institute. They have recently acquired a world-class multipurpose range complex that allows them to fire all weapons in the Iraqi army inventory.
Continuing to work professional development of the Iraqi army. Couple exciting stories.
One is an Iraqi cadet was sent to the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst and this year graduated as the top foreign cadet.
For the class at West Point that enters this coming summer, there will be a large number of Iraqi cadets attending the United Military Academy at West Point.
So in addition to focus on the quantity of the Iraqi army, great effort to focus on the quality as well, and professionalization of the force.
Next graphic, please.
And the same holds true for the Iraqi police. Across Iraq, there are currently seven academies that focus on training members of the Iraqi police service. In addition that, in Jordan is the Jordan International Police Training Center, where a large number of Iraqi police also go to be trained.
In addition to the basic police officer training, there are specialty schools for the special police commando brigade, for the members of the directorate of border enforcement, for the Iraqi highway patrol and special police.
In addition, there's a large number of police officers and Iraqi army officers who are trained out of country, either by U.S. courses or NATO courses, and to date 225 have been trained.
Take that last graphic down, please.
The mission of the coalition force, the Multinational Force Iraq, continues. We worked our way to the elections, and in conjunction with the Iraqi security force, we created an environment where the people of Iraq can participate in the democratic process. Over 67 percent of the registered voters in Iraq voted on the 15th of December.
But the mission is not complete. We continue to work our way towards the end state.
And the enemy is still there. The insurgents still want to derail the democratic process and discredit the Iraqi government, and they're going to do everything in the power over the coming months to accomplish that objective.
So we'll continue to work our security mission. We'll continue to train and equip the Iraqi security forces. And we will focus on other lines of operation with the Iraqi government and with coalition embassies. Those include the political line of operation, the governance line and the economic line and the communications line. So we will continue to work towards the end state using those lines of operation. We will work to help the Iraqi government build capacity at the national level and at the provincial levels -- local governance capacity building. We will continue to do that. And we will continue to work economic development opportunities.
And we will continue to focus on training and equipping the Iraqi security forces, as that's most important as we work our way to the end state.
And we will continue to focus on defeating terrorists and foreign fighters. Zarqawi is still out there. His folks are still there, with the same stated purpose. And we will continue to focus our operations on defeating terrorists and foreign fighters and disrupting the insurgency.
But remember, successful counterinsurgency operations historically last nine years. And the people that are going to win this counterinsurgency fight are the people of Iraq, and they're moving towards that end state with great, great effect.
On behalf of the 154,000 U.S. servicemembers here in Iraq, allow me to take this opportunity to wish you all a very, very Merry Christmas and a happy holiday period. We'd much rather be home with our families, but we know that freedom isn't free and someone has to pay the price. And we are proud to be here protecting our freedoms and our way of life.
Thank you, and Merry Christmas.
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