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Weekly Press Briefing May 4, 2006

Multi-National Force-Iraq

IRAQ OPERATIONAL UPDATE BRIEFING BRIEFER: MAJOR GENERAL RICK LYNCH, SPOKESMAN, MULTINATIONAL FORCE IRAQ LOCATION: COMBINED PRESS INFORMATION CENTER, BAGHDAD, IRAQ TIME: 8:00 A.M. EDT DATE: THURSDAY, MAY 4, 2006

Baghdad Strategy in English [MSWord]

Briefing Slides [PDF]


GEN. LYNCH: Good day. A lot to talk about, but before I jump into this, let me congratulate the Iraqi Ground Forces Command. The Iraqi Ground Forces Command is essentially the corps-level operational headquarters of the Iraqi army, and they celebrate their one-year anniversary on the 15th of May. But yesterday they opened their their Joint Operations Center on Camp Victory.

This is a million-dollar complex, plasma screens. It gives the staff of the Iraqi Ground Forces Command situation awareness. Forty Iraqi staff officers can monitor the operations across Iraq and make recommendations to their commanders. It's a state-of-the-art facility, and it will give the Iraqi Ground Forces commander the capabilities to command and control operations across Iraq.

Right now the 10 Iraqi army divisions are under his administrative control, but over time, as he attains increasedcapability, he will become the operational commander for actual operations across Iraq. So that was a big day for him yesterday, the Joint Operations Center is a state-of-the-art facility, and they continue to improve on a daily basis.

First graphic, please.

Let me talk about operations around Iraq first. Today, over 253,000 trained and equipped members of the Iraqi security forces -- 253,000. We're at the point now where almost 70 percent of the operations company-level and above are either Iraqi security force- independent or are a combined operation with the coalition forces, and only about 30 percent are coalition force independent operations. We're at the point -- now we're at -- two divisions and 16 brigades and 58 battalions of the Iraqi Security Force have the lead in counter-insurgency operations in their respective territories -- two divisions, 16 brigades, 58 battalions.

Let me highlight one in particular. Just this week, the third battalion of the third brigade of the 3rd Iraqi Army Division assumed the lead for operations in his respective area. We've worked with that battalion now over the course of the last several months. They've attained the level of proficiency where we're all comfortable they can indeed conduct those operations and have the lead, and they attained that this past week.

In addition to up north, there is a(n) ongoing operation led by the Iraqi security forces, specifically the Iraqi Army, working in conjunction with the Iraqi police, in the town of Mosul; 1,500 members of the Iraqi security force conducting operations in Mosul to stabilize that area and give a perception of security to the residents of Mosul. The only coalition force involvement is an outer perimeter by coalition force members, but on the ground in Mosul 1,500 members of the Iraqi security force, both the army and the police working in cooperation.

Of interest, in this particular operation, the Nineweh provincial chief of police said, in the interest of transparency, let's allow the local media -- the local Iraqi media -- to take part in the operations. So as these 1,500 Iraqi soldiers do their job in Mosul, they are accompanied by the local media. So operations do indeed continue to great success up north.

Out west, last week operations came across 17 weapons caches, and killed or detained 300 suspected insurgents. What we're seeing out west is an increased interest on the part of the Sons of Al Anbar to join the Iraqi security forces. So allow me to talk about the army and the police.

This past week, 1,000 Sons of Al Anbar graduated from the Iraqi army basic training, a five-week course to return back the army units in Al Anbar Province to join that unit and increase their proficiency and conduct operations. In addition to that, 230 Sons of Al Anbarhave been successfully screened to enter the Iraqi police training system, and they'll do that shortly.

Yesterday in Fallujah, a suicide attack against an Iraqi police recruiting checkpoint; seven civilians killed, 12 civilians injured, one Iraqi police injured. The recruiting checkpoint shut down for one hour. After one hour it opened again and a line of recruits formed. Now if that's not an amazing testimony to the courage and commitment of the Iraqi people, I don't know what is. Suicide vest attack, seven civilians killed, 12 injured. An hour later recruiting station opens up again and recruits stand in line.

In Baghdad, Operation Scales of Justice continues. Remember, we started Scales of Justice back mid-March to create a stable situation inside of Baghdad for the formation of the national unity government. We brought in 37 additional -- 3,700 additional Iraqi security force and coalition force members, and they continue active patrols. We average about 1,110-plus patrols per day inside of Baghdad; at any given time, 90 active patrols. We've reached the point in Baghdad where seven of the 10 beladiyas now have attack levels lower than they were pre-Samarra -- pre-the golden mosque bombing.

Again, another indication of effective Iraqi security force operations is Operation Babil Perimeter. The second battalion of the second brigade of the 8th Iraqi Army Division, intelligence-led operations in the town of Al Hayy, where you have a suspected terrorist cell located.

The coalition forces performed outer cordon security, much like they're doing now in Mosul. This Iraqi army battalion conducted their operations and detained five known insurgents. In addition to that, they came across two weapons caches, they called in additional dogs and additional people to look for more weapons, and found two additional weapons caches in the town of Al Hayy.

So Iraqi security force increasingly in the lead. Two divisions, 16 brigades, 58 battalions in Operation Lion Hunt, Iraqi army lead, and Operation Babil Perimeter, Iraqi army lead. Operations do, indeed, continue across Iraq.

Next graphic, please.

I'm going to zoom in on a specific kinetic operation that we're conducting inside the coalition with the Iraqi security force. But before I do that, I'd like to talk about the non-kinetic piece of what we're trying to do.

As I've described to you before, successful counterinsurgency operations average nine years. The people that are going to win this counterinsurgency fight are the people of Iraq. As you work through solutions to the counterinsurgency problem, there are kinetic solutions like I described and non-kinetic solutions. And non-kinetic solutions include meeting the basic needs of the people of Iraq. So as they're making determinations whether they want to be part of the problem or part of the solution, they vector to the solution.

So let's talk about a few towns north of Baghdad. The town of Tarmia. We've already completed $10 million worth of projects and had an additional $10 million worth of projects ongoing to meet their basic needs -- installing generators, repairing roads, doing blankets and medical-supply distribution. And you can see in your packet the working projects: water-distribution capability, new electrical line, new birthing room in the local clinic.

Next picture, please.

Same things in the towns of Sababor (ph), Hashidiyah (ph) and Husainiyah -- completed projects that focus on schools and electricity and water treatment and storage, and more projects in the works. Non- kinetic solution to the counterinsurgency problem.

Now let's focus on the most prolific threat to the people of Iraq, and that's al Qaeda and Zarqawi, the fact of al Qaeda. And what I'd like to do is talk you through our analysis of the situation, capabilities, vulnerabilities and intentions of the enemy.

Remember, we believe that the person who has the most to lose in the formation of the national unity government is Zarqawi. He's been told by his leadership that democracy equals failure for Zarqawi in Iraq. He's been told by his leadership to establish a Islamic caliphate in Iraq from where they can spread terror across the region. And the end state for Zarqawi is no democratic society in Iraq; an Islamic caliphate that's been established.

So he continues to get guidance from his leadership, and we see in his own proclamations his intent: establish an Islamic caliphate, remove the coalition forces and the Shi'a population from the region, destabilize the apostate government through civil war, and the establishment of Shari'a law. We've talked about this many times. The stated objective of the insurgency is to derail the democratic process and to discredit the Iraqi government, and that is where Zarqawi is in his mission planning right now, and that's what he's focused on, is stopping the formation of this national unity government. So those are al Qaeda's stated intentions inside of Iraq.

If I could show the first clip, please.

You've seen this clip that was broadcast on the Internet last week, where he talks personally about his objectives in Iraq. And he says specifically that any kind of government in Iraq is a poison dagger in the heart of an Islamic nation. And he says that he and -- he and al Qaeda in Iraq will kill anybody who tries to join the police or who tries to join the army. That's his stated objective; those are clearly his intentions -- discredit the Iraqi government, destabilize the apostate government, inflame sectarian violence -- focus on the Shi'as and inflame sectarian violence.

We're conducting operations against Zarqawi every day. And as we conduct these operations, we kill and capture terrorists, and at the location of the operation we find things. We find documents, we find information. And in this particular operation, we found the complete video that Zarqawi didn't show on the Internet. He showed his edited portion, the things that he wanted the world to see, but I found a couple of other pieces of that clip to be particularly interesting, and I'd like to show those to you now.

Next clip, please. Okay, that's still the first one. The next clip, please.

Okay, there. You saw this on the Internet, him firing this machine gun, apparently at no targets, out in the middle of the desert. He's very proud of the fact that he can operate this machine gun, and he proclaims that, and all of his close associates there are very proud of what Zarqawi does.

This piece you don't see, as he walks away, he's wearing his black uniform and his New Balance tennis shoes as he moves this white pickup truck. And his close associates around him, his trusted advisors, do things like grab the hot barrel of the machine gun and burn themselves. Makes you wonder.

Next slide, please -- next clip.

Here's Zarqawi, the ultimate warrior, trying to shoot his machine gun. It's supposed to be automatic fire. He's shooting single shots. One of the times something's wrong with his machine gun. He looks down, can't figure it out, calls his friend to come block -- unblock the stoppage and get the weapon firing again.

So what you saw on the Internet was what he wanted the world to see -- look at me, I'm a capable leader of a capable organization, and we are indeed declaring war against democracy inside of Iraq, and we're going to establish an Islamic caliphate. What he didn't show you were the clips that I showed, wearing New Balance sneakers with his uniform, surrounded by supposedly competent subordinates who grab the hot barrel of a just-fired machine gun; have a warrior leader, Zarqawi, who doesn't understand how to operate his weapon system and has to rely on his subordinates to clear a weapon stoppage. It makes you wonder.

So study the enemy, capabilities, vulnerabilities and intentions. Zarqawi and al Qaeda, these are their intentions: establish an Islamic caliphate, remove the coalition forces and the Shi'a population from the region, and destabilize the apostate government.

So once you have in your mind the enemy's intentions and, oh, by the way, study the leader, then you as a force say, what can we do to stop his intent? What can we do to disrupt his operations? What capabilities does he have and what vulnerabilities?

Next graphic, please.

We've talked before about the signature attack of al Qaeda in Iraq are the suicide attacks, and the suicide attacks are the most lethal attack against the people of Iraq. That's where the innocent men, women and children of Iraq are being killed or severely wounded. And we've talked before that 90 percent of the suicide bombers that Zarqawi employs are foreign fighters. So we have planned and conducted operations over the last several weeks to deny him that capability, the foreign fighters that he's brought into Iraq to be suicide bombers. Let me make sure we're all on the same sheet of music as we start this discussion.

We've had significant effect against the flow of foreign fighters over the course of the last year, and the result of that is a decrease in the number of suicide attacks inside of Iraq. A year ago the government of Iraq, the people of Iraq, the coalition forces were averaging 75 suicide attacks per month. Now we're averaging less than 25 attacks per month. Significant reduction because the capable system that he's trying to use, the foreign fighters, we've disrupted their flow into Iraq. We believe that he's getting facilitation, foreign fighters and funds out of Syria. We believe that his primary, main effort right now is in the vicinity of Baghdad. And knowing that his capabilities are these foreign fighters, we're planning and conducting operations to take away that capability.

So let me walk you through these. Intelligence that we received led us to believe that Yusufiya, south of Baghdad, was a staging area for these suicide bombers. Remember, we're in this most vulnerable period with the government of Iraq as they form the national unity government. And if they form this national unity government, Zarqawi is indeed a failure. Remember, democracy equals failure for Zarqawi, so he's going to pull out all stops and he's going to use these suicide bombers, and we need to take away that capability.

So we realized that Yusufiya was a staging area. We first launched an operation on the 8th of April, and the numbers that you see on the graphic are the foreign fighters that were killed in that operation. In addition to that, there were other terrorists and insurgents that were either killed or captured, but I'm highlighting for you the foreign fighters, the suicide bombers that were killed as a result of the operation. So let me just work through these.

First one happened in Yusufiya in the 8th of April. Intelligence led us to believe that there was a safe haven -- a safe house, if you will -- for foreign fighters. We planned and conducted an operation. In that particular area, we killed five foreign fighters and detained others. What we find in these operations is that as a result of interrogations and as a result of what we find, it leads us to subsequent locations, and that's what happened here. The operation on the 8th of April led us up north to an operation on the 13th of April in which we killed or captured numerous insurgents, but two foreign fighters.

What we're finding as a trend, when we come across these foreign fighters, they're already outfitted with suicide vests.

So, of these five we killed on the 8th of April, two of them were wearing suicide vests at the time. The operation on the 13th of April led us to another set of operations on the 16th of April, again resulting in killing two of the foreign fighters. Continued to gather intelligence, continued to analyze enemy capability, vulnerabilities and intentions, that led us to a major operation in Yusufiya on the 25th of April.

About eight kilometers north/northeast of where the Apache crashed on the 1st of April, we had intelligence that there was, indeed, a safe house for these suicide bombers. So we planned and conducted an operation against this safe house. As we got close to this safe house our soldiers received direct fire from inside the house. We returned the direct fire. We called in rotary wing support, we called in an air strike. Five of the terrorists were killed outside the house; the remainders were killed inside the house. The effect of the operation was 10 foreign fighters killed in that particular set, 12 all together.

And just this past Tuesday, another operation 40 kilometers south/southeast of Balad. Again, intelligence from the previous operation said this is a safe house for foreign fighters and suicide bombers. We planned and conducted the operation. We got to the safe house. The guard at the safe house was asleep. As our soldiers approached, he woke up, he tried to engage our soldiers with a pistol, he was wounded in the attack. He immediately detonated himself -- he was wearing a suicide vest -- killed himself, injured none of our soldiers. The result of that particular operation was 12 foreign fighters that were killed.

So all told, over the course of the period since the 8th of April, 31 foreign fighters, people that Zarqawi had brought into Iraq to be suicide bombers, were killed, so they couldn't conduct the planned operation. So that is, indeed, a capability that Zarqawi had that we have taken away from him.

Next graphic, please.

What are his vulnerabilities? Remember: think like the enemy. Capabilities, vulnerabilities and intentions. One of his vulnerabilities is his command and control network. As I've talked to you about before, we believe that Zarqawi and al Qaeda in Iraq is organized into three tiers.Tier one are the Zarqawi lieutenants. Those are the individuals who have close and direct ties to Zarqawi and have both Iraq, regional and Osama bin Laden connections. Tier one.

Tier two are those individuals that are leaders in local and regional areas. These are the emirs of the cities, if you will, and they are the tie between tier one lieutenants and the tier three foreign fighters and cell leaders.

And tier three are the individuals who are running the local cell.

When I briefed you on this last, we had killed or captured 120 of Zarqawi's leaders. Since that time we have increased that now to 161, and I'd like to walk you through some of the specific impacts that we've had on his network with a series of slides.

First slide, please.

These are all tier one leaders. These are the individuals, when you look at your graphic, they are here in the white circle; they are Zarqawi's lieutenants. Abu Aziz was killed in September in a raid in Baghdad, and we know that he was the operational commander and, indeed, the main gatekeeper for al Qaeda in Iraq. He controlled the flow of money and information from Baghdad to other cells across Iraq. He was killed in September.

Next slide, please.

Abu Ubaydah was killed in October in a raid in Ramadi. He was Zarqawi's right-hand man. He was Zarqawi's executive secretary. Anybody that wanted to meet with Zarqawi or pass a message to Zarqawi had to do it through Abu Ubaydah.

Next slide, please.

Umar Baziyani was captured in May of '04. One of Zarqawi's lieutenants, one of the members of the original Shura Council, he was captured, he was turned over to the Iraqi authorities. And in the Iraqi court system they have tried him, have found him guilty of crimes against the state, and have sentenced him to death.

Next slide, please?

Omar al-Kurdi: again, captured in January of this year -- or, January 2005. Seventy-five percent of the car bombs used in Baghdad, the United Nations headquarters attack in Baghdad, Jordanian embassy attack. He was captured, he was turned over to the Iraqi authorities and guilty of crimes and has been sentenced to death.

Next slide, please?

Recently I've talked to you about Abu Talha. Abu Talha was the emir of Mosul, and he was one of Zarqawi's most trusted operations officers in Iraq. He was captured, he has been tried, and he has been sentenced to death.


 

And the last one, please.

Abu Ayman we just talked about in a recent press conference. March 2006 he was captured by the Iraqi security forces. Chief of staff of Intelligence during the Saddam Hussein regime, and a primary suspect in the kidnapping of the Italian journalist. He is currently under detention and will soon be tried by the Iraqi authorities.

So when you think about Zarqawi and his vulnerabilities, with one of his vulnerabilities being his ability to command and control his network, our operations are designed to attack that vulnerability. And we've had this level of effect: hundred and sixty-one since January '05, not just the local cell leaders, but also major leaders across this network. Have significantly impacted his operations.

And last graphic, please.

We've continued to try to think like the enemy, and we are empowered by our analysis but also empowered by documents that we find in these operations. I showed you the complete or at least portions of the complete video that we came across in Yusufiya. In some of these operations we've come across planning documents, Zarqawi's planning documents, which give us insights into his plans and his mind. And this is what we found in a local raid that articulated the Baghdad strategy. And you'll get copies of this, if you don't already have copies, in both English and in Arabic. So you'll have time to study yourself, but let me highlight for you specific things that we find of interest and of concern.

He is clearly trying to drive a wedge between the sectarian population here inside of Iraq, and he's focused on the Shi'a community. In all this document he talks about targeting the Shi'as. He's -- operations that are focused on the ethnic makeup of a district or area, and he says that the Shi'a population in Baghdad is his primary target. He wants to reduce the number of attacks in predominantly Sunni areas and eliminate his own spies and informants in the Sunni area. He wants to focus on the Shi'a population, get them out of the mixed neighborhoods, conduct operations to isolate Shi'a areas; displace, reduce operations -- that's coalition forces -- in order to operate against them in Baghdad.

He is focusing his efforts inside of Baghdad. Baghdad is his center of gravity. He's concentrating on static patrols and using IEDs along major lines of operation.

His strategy in Baghdad is to be able to maintain freedom of movement. And you can see specific things he intends to do: strike fixed detachments, striking dispatch centers, and maintain the belt, which is the belt around Baghdad that he needs to maintain freedom of movement, and continue to incite the people against the Shi'a population. Capabilities, vulnerabilities and intentions. He was told by Zawahiri to establish an Islamic caliphate inside of Iraq. He knows that democracy equals failure. He knows that the government of Iraq is on the verge of forming a national unity government. He knows that the people of Iraq have turned away from him and have turned towards a democratic solution. So he is going to continue to focus operation to disrupt this formation, national unity government, and he's going to focus his operations inside of Baghdad.

Our operations will continue. We will continue to focus on his capabilities: foreign fighters that he's going to use as suicide bombers, munitions that he needs, freedom of movement that he wants. Our operations will deprive him of those.

We're also going to focus on his vulnerabilities, continue to study his command and control networks, identify his leaders and take out his leadership network. And now we have a better picture of his intentions specifically in Baghdad. We know that he wants to inflame sectarian violence. We know that he wants to target the Shi'a population, and that will allow us to better focus our own operations inside of Baghdad.

And with that, I'm happy to answer any questions you might have today.

Put the map back up, please.

Q Terry Friel from Reuters.

GEN. LYNCH: Hi, Terry.

Q You mentioned that attack levels in most of Baghdad are actually down. Can you give us some figures to flesh that out and figures for across the country, please?

GEN. LYNCH: Sure. As I say, seven of the 10 districts inside of Baghdad have attack levels that were lower than we experienced prior to 22 February.

(To staff.) Jeff (sp), did you bring attack numbers specifically?

STAFF: Yes, sir. I -- (off mike).

GEN. LYNCH: We'll get those to you to you specifically, about what the attack numbers are.

Q Thanks for that presentation with regard to Zarqawi. I just had a --

GEN. LYNCH: That's the first time you've told me thanks. We've been doing it for 10 months. Q What are you talking about? I've been saying thanks all the time.

GEN. LYNCH: (Chuckles.)

Q Just with regard to the documentary footage and evidence that you showed --

GEN. LYNCH: Yeah.

Q -- can you give us just -- I have a few questions that are kind of all related.

GEN. LYNCH: Sure.

Q Can you give us more details about the -- where these -- the video and the documents were found -- you know, place, time?

And the number of foreign fighters sounds extraordinary, the number of foreign fighters killed. Just how do -- in general, how does the military identify these folks as foreign fighters?

And then I have a couple other questions that are related on that. I'll let you get to --

GEN. LYNCH: Okay. Well, you know I'll forget the second one.

Q Yeah. (Chuckles.)

GEN. LYNCH: I'll focus on the first one.

In all these operations, we look closely at the effect of our operation. We are conscious of the fact that 90 percent of the suicide attacks inside Iraq are done by foreign fighters. And we determine that the individual that was killed or captured is a foreigner based on documents that's on the individual, based on forensic evidence. But each one that I ascertain is indeed a foreign fighter, we can confirm. And each one that I ascertain was here as a suicide bomber, we can also confirm. As I told you, in the conduct of the operations, most of them are already outfitted with their suicide vests.

And that was your second question. What was your first?

Q The first one was just about the documentary evidence, the documents that you discovered and the tape --

GEN. LYNCH: Yeah, we -- you know, I was -- we are taught to think like the enemy.

And he's got to focus on Baghdad because in order to be successful, he's got to stop the formation of this national unity government, so he's full-stop inside of Baghdad to conducting operations. And we know that his primary of weapon of choice are suicide bombers. So we searched in detail for indications of where he is staging these suicide bombers, and we found indications that was going to be in Yusufiya. So the operations started on the eighth of April zoomed in on Yusufiya. And in one of those five operations that I described to you, we came across the complete video, we came across the document that I shared with you, and much more intelligence and information that we will digest over time, and I'll share with you as appropriate.

Q And -- and then I have a couple more sort of speculative questions.

GEN. LYNCH: Why don't we let someone else ask one, and then I'll come back to you?

Q Oh, sure, sure.

GEN. LYNCH: I'm in no hurry today. We got plenty of time, so --

Q Excuse me. Excuse me, sir. Taro Muradi (sp) from NHK Japanese TV.

Why do you think al Qaeda released many video statements last week? And how do you take it? Is it difficult to ignore?

GEN. LYNCH: Yeah. He -- again, we study the enemy. Remember, Zarqawi hasn't shown his face since March of '04, and in this particular video, he makes it a point to show his face, and, oh, by the way, to show his proficiency with weapons system and the fact that he's taking briefings from his inner circle. And we believe that indicated an act of desperation, that he knows he's on the verge of complete failure in Iraq because this national unity government's going to form. So getting out with his face, we believe, was an act of desperation.

He needs additional recruits. He's trying to incite some sectarian violence inside of Iraq, and we believe that's why that video was released and that why it was released in the format that you've seen and I showed you portions of today.

Please. Whoever. Q Hi. Gerry (sp) from AFP.

GEN. LYNCH: (Inaudible) -- Gerry (sp). Hi. How are you doing?

Q Oh, fine.

GEN. LYNCH: Good.

Q It's been a good presentation today.

GEN. LYNCH: Did you say it was a marginal presentation?

Q It was a good presentation.

GEN. LYNCH: Oh, thank you very much. I appreciate that.

Q Well, the point is that you said that Yusufiya, when you were doing these five operations, you came across this evidence of some documents and an Internet video. So do you mean to say that Zarqawi is somewhere in that area, number one? And two, how close are the coalition forces from him or getting him?

GEN. LYNCH: Okay. Thank you for that.

Zarqawi's center of gravity for his operations are in Baghdad. That's what he's focused on right now. We believe, as he said in his Baghdad strategy -- he's willing to pull his people from outside the perimeter of Baghdad into Baghdad to go full out on operations inside of Baghdad, which leads us to believe that his personal location is probably somewhere close to those operations.

We believe it's only a matter of time until Zarqawi is taken down. It's not if but when. What you see with Zarqawi is he's willing to throw out his Tier 1, his Tier 2 and Tier 3 leadership. He's not worried about their protection. He's not worried about their security. He knows that when we take out the emir of Mosul, he can pick somebody else to be the emir of Mosul, not the same capabilities or credentials, but somebody else. So he's focused on his own personal protection, but it's just a matter of time until we take him out.

Q Allen Pizzey, CBS News.

GEN. LYNCH: Hi.

Q Something that you didn't deal with in your briefing, but I've -- it's just come to our attention. We understand that in some areas of Baghdad, the what you might call the local neighborhood watch consists of armed people, and that the U.S. forces -- coalition forces, let's say -- are actually actively working with them or allowing them to carry the arms and increase their capabilities of self-defense. Could you comment on that? Is it true? And if so, how does it work? GEN. LYNCH: It is not true, and that's wrong. The only people inside of Iraq that should be carrying weapons are the members of the Iraqi security forces and the coalition fores who are here to protect the people of Iraq. We don't condone neighborhood watches. We don't condone neighborhood watches with weapons, and anything where we see like that, that is indeed unacceptable.

So any idea that we would condone folks carrying weapons to protect themselves are wrong. We will vector the appropriate Iraqi security forces or the coalition forces to provide their security.

Q Can I just ask one follow-up?

GEN. LYNCH: Sure.

Q You mentioned that over in the West -- the phrase you used was you killed or capture several hundred suspected insurgents. After they're killed or captured and they turn out not to be insurgents, how many turned out not to be insurgents, and what happens to them after that?

GEN. LYNCH: Yeah, we conduct operations against people that we believe to be insurgents, and we label them suspected insurgents, and we move to conduct those operations. And out west last week, our operations killed or captured 300 of those insurgents. As we work to focus clearly on what happened, we can determine that they were indeed insurgents.

Q All of them?

GEN. LYNCH: Yes.

Q Hi, sir. You mentioned -- you went in detail about the training and size of the Iraqi army, but you didn't about the police. I'm wondering if you could discuss that.

And second, the foreign fighters -- where are they coming from? And what's being done to stop the pipeline, maybe not at the border, but in the countries where they originate?

GEN. LYNCH: Yeah, both good questions. I'll tackle the first one first, and then you'll probably have to remind me about the second one.

We indeed focused our operations, our training on the Iraqi army, and we've reached a point now where two divisions and 16 brigades and 58 battalions had the lead of operations in their respective areas. 2006 is indeed the Year of the Police, and we are mustering our resources to focus on the police and improve their capabilities. They now have about 22,000 members of the national police and local police as well. We're bringing in additional trainers, provide police training teams, special police training teams, we're bringing in additional experts for -- improve their proficiency. So the Year of the Police, 2006, will net great capabilities by the end of the year.

By the end of the year, there will be 325,000 members of the Iraqi security forces trained and equipped. That's all they're supposed to be. That's what's planned for, and it'll be a trained and equipped army and a trained and equipped police.

And I'm sorry about your second question. I just get so excited about the first question, and I forget about the second one.

Q The foreign fighters. Where are they coming from? And what's being done at the place of origin to stop the pipeline?

GEN. LYNCH: We are convinced that the majority of foreign fighters are coming across the Syrian border, and that's why we reflect facilitation of fighters and funds. So we're working with the Iraqi government to reestablish control of their borders, and if you remember, last November, we declared and they declared initial control of their borders. There are 258 border forts around Iraq. There are over 20,000 members of the Department of Border Enforcement, and they're focused on securing their own borders, and those capabilities continue to improve.

That flow of foreign fighters has to stop. There's three ways to attack them. One is to kill the foreign fighters that are coming in to be suicide bombers once they come into Iraq, and that's what happened to the 31 that have been killed since the 8th of April. Another way is to block their flow across the border. So these border crossing points, points of entry -- to have a more robust border presence. As I said, 258 border forts already in existence, over 20,000 people. And the third way is through diplomatic overtures to stop these particularly unhelpful countries from allowing foreign fighters to come through their country into Iraq.

Other questions? You had two more?

Q Yeah. It's just such a great presentation, it was actually inspiring.

GEN. LYNCH: Thanks! (Laughs.) Now, it's a great -- (inaudible). I don't know about Eric. He said thanks, and now it's a great presentation.

Q It was actually inspiring. There -- if he's such a incompetent guy that he can't even shoot a gun, how can he be this mastermind? I mean, if the guy's not even able to handle his weapon, how can be this terror mastermind?

GEN. LYNCH: That's an excellent question, and you'll probably need to defer that question to his followers because they've allowed him to be established as a leader, and Zawahiri has designated him as the leader inside of Iraq. What I showed you from the video that he failed to show the world is he tends to have a problem with mastering his own weapons system. He tends to have a problem with the people that are around him being capable and competent, and I just wanted to highlight those pieces for you.

Why he's their leader, I don't know. We study him closely to see what his particular capabilities are.

Q And just to follow up, if I may, one of the things -- one of the strategies was inciting people against the Shi'a. Do you think -- or is it possible -- and again, this speculative -- that maybe the sort of death squad, the so-called death squad killings that are largely attributed to Shi'ite militias with possible ties to the security ministries could be done by people who are linked to Zarqawi? Is that something --

GEN. LYNCH: No. No. No. As I've talked about before, you know, we keep hearing these allegations of death squads as part of the Ministry of Interior forces. Every allegation we get, we work with the Iraqi government to investigate, and to date, all we can confirm is there was a group of highway patrolmen from the Iraqi police who were indeed focused on taking out a Sunni individual. And there was indeed a leader of a Public Order Brigade who was not particularly focused on doing the right thing, and he was removed.

So any idea -- death squads is something that's still speculation, and any ties to Zarqawi we just don't see.

Q General --

GEN. LYNCH: How are you doing?

Q Good. Thank you, General. GEN. LYNCH: Welcome back.

Q Thank you. You've spent a lot of time talking to us about Zarqawi. Could you put his operations into some kind of proportion to the other elements of the insurgency -- the rejectionists, the Ba'athist deadenders, whatever you call them? In terms -- possibly fiscal terms, what percentage of the attacks, what percentage of the most lethal attacks are committed by Zarqawi's people?

GEN. LYNCH: Yeah. Thank you for that question.

And as you're well aware, there's no pure science here. So for me to give you some mathematical formula that says this many belong to Zarqawi, and this many belong to the Iraqi rejectionists, and this many belong to the Saddamists, I can't do. But I can give you some general ideas as to how we see this maturing.

The guy who has the most to lose when this national unity government's formed is Zarqawi. The Iraqi rejectionists, both Sunni and Shi'a, tend to find themselves -- and we tend to find them -- vectoring more towards the political solution.

If you just compare the participation in the elections in December to the participation in elections last January, you see the significant change in the Sunni thought process. And the fact that the Sunnis are represented in the Council of Representatives also shows you that. So we don't believe that a lot of the attacks right now that are trying to inflame sectarian violence belong to those folks in the middle. We do believe they belong to Zarqawi.

John, we're at a point where over the last 10 weeks there's been a 90 percent increase in the number of attacks against civilians, and 50 percent increase in the number of attacks against the Iraqi security forces. And we believe that is signature Zarqawi. He says in his Baghdad strategy that "I got to stop people from joining the police and the army." He says in his videotape, "I'm going to kill anybody who joins the Iraqi police or the army." And he says in his strategy, "I'm going to inflame sectarian violence," and he's indeed targeting civilians to create this cycle of violence.

Please.

Q General, I wonder if you can give us just a little more detail on the documents and the videos you found, as far as, you know, do we know when the videos were made, where they were made. And you said you found them in one of the raids in Yusufiya. At any place you went in Yusufiya, did it look like Zarqawi himself had been there and used it as a base of operations?

And also, has there been any -- I seem to recall the last close call? you-all talked about with Zarqawai was, I think, in Ramadi. I may be wrong about that, but I think it was something last year. Has there been any other episodes like that, where you thought you were very close to getting him?

GEN. LYNCH: Zarqawi is zooming in on Baghdad, we're zooming in on Zarqawi, and it's focused now in Yusufiya, in the areas around Baghdad. And those five operations I described, in which we killed 31 foreign fighters, we're taking away his capability with the suicide bombers. So we're focused on him.

And in those five raids, we came across lots of stuff. We came across that complete, unedited video. We came across his Baghdad strategy. And we came across a lot of other useful documents and things that were of interest. For example, Google global maps of specific areas inside of Iraq. For example, sketches of the Ministryof Culture and sketches of the prison out in Abu Ghraib. And we're right now analyzing all those documents to determine why did he have them, why is he thinking about those things, and what are his future plans? And that's really about as far as I can go with what we have.

Any other questions?

Q Just two very simple ones. One, can you give us a --

GEN. LYNCH: There's no such thing as a simple question.

Q Can you give us a breakdown of the nationalities of the 31 foreign fighters that you killed? And what information do you have about an airstrike on a house in Ramadi today, please?

GEN. LYNCH: We continue to look at the specific nationalities of the foreign fighters, and we will pursue the answer to your question. I don't have that answer right now. We can tell you right now the number of foreign fighters that we have detained. We can tell you that. I just don't have that right now, but I'll chase that information down.

And I did indeed, as I came into the press conference was told about an operation in Ramadi, but I don't have any more details. And we'll chase down those details for you.

Anything else?

Q A repeat of the previous question. So would it be right to say that Zarqawi and his close aides are somewhere very close to this region, Baghdad and Yusifiya?

GEN. LYNCH: We believe he's focused on disrupting operations inside of Baghdad. We believe his Baghdad strategy tells his subordinates, "Let's move into Baghdad and conduct operations." So our ability to study the enemy leads us to believe he's probably personally involved in those kinds of operations. But exact locations, exact (displacement ?) of Zarqawi, we don't have now. But we continue to search for him. And as I told you in your previous question, it's just a matter of time.

One more question. John.

Q General, following the lead of my colleague there, I'd like to ask two questions. What have you learned from those foreign fighters who you have captured, not killed, that's useful intelligence? And do they talk? The second question is, much of last year we saw these repeated Marine-led operations down the Euphrates River Valley to impede the flow of foreign fighters. What now, six months to a year later, can we say about the effectiveness of those operations if significant numbers are still reaching the area around Yusufiya south of Baghdad? GEN. LYNCH: Okay. I'm going to attack the second question, because I've already forgotten the second question. But I'll give you a chance to reengage on the first question.

Zarqawi has been here and focused on discrediting the Iraqi government and disrupting the formation of the government for the last several years. And he wanted to stop the elections in January, he wanted to stop the drafting and ratification of a constitution in October, he wanted to stop the elections in December, and now he's wanting to stop the national unity government formation, and he can't do that because of our operations.

And what you describe, John, is what we did starting last June, is Operation Sayyid, Operation Hunter, which disrupted the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq down the Euphrates River Valley. And the effectiveness of that operation is gauged on the fact that he couldn't stop the elections, couldn't stop the ratification of the constitution. And numerically, as I described to you, the fact that a year ago we averaged about 75 suicide attacks per month, and now it's about 25, again attest to the effectiveness of those operations.

And I do remember your first question. I'm surprising myself.

Yeah, we do capture foreign fighters as well, and we find them to be very vocal. We find them to be able to be more than willing to share information. The fact that we could go from the operation on the 8th of April through five operations culminating last Tuesday, has a lot to do with the fact that as we detain individuals, to include the foreign fighters, they tend to talk about their buddies. Loyalty is not their strong suit.

If I can get the (egg ?) chart graphic, please.

Q Are you surprised about that, General? Because, I mean, these guys are suicide bombers. You would think that -- what's their use in talking with you?

GEN. LYNCH: It's very difficult to get in the mind of the foreign fighters and the individuals that are suicide bombers. But know it to be true that they tend to provide actionable intelligence.

Zarqawi is still out there. Zarqawi wants to discredit the Iraqi government and disrupt the democratic process. He doesn't want this national unity government to form, and he's going to continue operations and he's going to focus inside of Baghdad. And our operations will counter that. We will continue to take out his leaders. The fact that we've taken out 161 since January '05, to include significant leaders inside of his network, is significantlydisrupting his capability to do what he wants to do. The fact that we've taken out 31 of his foreign fighters -- those that he brought in and trained and equipped to blow up innocent people in Baghdad -- shows the effectiveness of our operations. And we will continue to zoom in on al Qaeda in Iraq until he is indeed defeated.

Thank you for your time.

END.




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