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Military

U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Transcript

Presenter: Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, U.S. Army Commander, Multinational Corps Iraq December 08, 2006

DoD Press Briefing with Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli from the Pentagon


(Note: Lt. Gen. Chiarelli appears via teleconference from Iraq.)

BRYAN WHITMAN (deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs): Well, good morning, and welcome. I see that we have video of General Chiarelli. Let's just see if he can hear us.

General, it's Bryan Whitman at the Pentagon. Can you hear me okay?

GEN. CHIARELLI: I can, sir.

MR. WHITMAN: Very good.

GEN. CHIARELLI: I -- (off mike).

MR. WHITMAN: Well, thank you very much, General, for joining us today. This is, again, my privilege to introduce to you Lieutenant General Pete Chiarelli, who is the commanding general of Multinational Corps in Iraq. He's been there since January of this year. And he directs, of course, the operations of the joint and coalition forces in all sectors of Iraq. And it's been a few months since he last briefed you, and we really do appreciate the opportunity to get your perspective, General, as the corps commander, and thank you for taking our questions today.

So with that, let me turn it over to you, though, for some opening remarks, and then we'll take some questions.

GEN. CHIARELLI: Well, thank you, sir, and I appreciate everybody being there this morning, your time, afternoon here.

The last time I was here -- and I think many of you know this is my second tour in Iraq -- we left on a big high, having just completed the elections of January 2005 and seeing Iraqis turn out at the polls in numbers that, quite frankly, we never expected.

This time, I know, we have achieved a great deal, and the situation would be far worse than it was, is, if it were not for the American heroes that are out on the street every day in Baghdad and across the country.

But I know I am leaving Iraq in a more uncertain and somewhat more tumultuous state than the last time I left.

The Iraqis are going through a kind of transformation in their society. History shows us that transformational change like this is often accompanied by violence.

Many people want to call this a civil war, and the debate whether Iraq is in a civil war or not is largely a debate over semantics in which I don't particularly care to engage. I find this public discussion really counterproductive. People are trying to boil down a very complex situation into a sound bite. It's an attempt to oversimplify what I believe is a very complicated situation. Arguing about what bumper stickers should be used to describe this conflict is potentially misleading and enflames rather than illuminates. The other day I was talking to my British deputy about the American Revolution, and he responded, "You mean your country's first civil war?" So I guess it's where you stand is where you sit.

The situation is what it is, and what I see happening on a daily basis is a needless loss of life because foreign fighters and some members of this society would rather use violence to settle the issues they are working through rather than the political process. At some point, Iraqis have to decide if they want peace. They have to decide that the future of their children is more important than the past or present problems, and they must be willing to work through them and through the political process.

We've had a lot of accomplishments in the year that we've been here. A lot of great things that we have done are not always visible to the public at home, and they see the continuing violence as a sign we have not accomplished anything. I don't believe that. I believe we have accomplished a lot. We are in the difficult business of proving a negative, and that's, in the absence of our efforts, really, how much worse would it be? This corps and the great military forces we command have helped to bring stability and hope to thousands of Iraqis that would otherwise not see these benefits.

That said, there is a lot more work to be done, and we should not give in to the defeatist mood that I sometimes see displayed. This mission is the most critical and significant that we've undertaken in perhaps 50 years, and failure, in my opinion, is not an option.

I still believe the mission can succeed if the proper resources are brought to bear at the issues at hand.

The proper political pieces must be in place in order for any of the military, economic or social initiatives to take hold and to flourish. We need to get out of thinking this is solely a military conflict where we must simply apply more U.S. or coalition and Iraqi forces against an enemy that we can destroy. All our nation's strengths -- diplomatic, economic, political -- must be leveraged to help the Iraqis find their way through this process.

Iraq has tremendous potential in the economic realm and we need to bring our capabilities, specifically our human capital, to bear to help the Iraqis have a functioning economy where people are gainfully employed. Iraq could be the most significant power in the region if we could help them stabilize their country and bring their economy to its full potential.

In order for these things to succeed, however, we need a commitment by all Iraqis of all the ethno-sectarian groups to commit first to nonviolence and to resolving their differences through the political process. We need, quite frankly, to move toward reconciliation. Iraqi citizens must feel that their government is a genuine unity government that is working for the benefit of all its people.

In conclusion, again, this situation cannot be resolved by military forces alone. And I know that is uncomfortable for a lot of people both in and out of uniform who were raised on the concepts of destroying a certain portion of the enemy's forces and declaring victory. This conflict will take all efforts in government, economic development and transition working together. I believe that the days of these kinds of conflicts are over.

The situation in Iraq is, in fact, far more representative of the challenges we will face in the world to come, and we need to prepare our military and our government more broadly to deal with these challenges. Civil-military integration is key to that. We still have work to do on getting our organizations and systems right so that we can operate simultaneously along all the lines of operation and the other lines, such as political and economic. And Iraq and this region are critical to our future security and we need to use this experience as an object lesson for the kinds of conflicts and challenges we will face in the future.

I will now take your question.

MR. WHITMAN: Well, thank you, General, for that overview and perspective.

Let's go ahead and get started, with Pam.

Q General, this is Pam Hess with United Press International. The narrative that we've gotten here over the last year in Iraq is that it was the Golden Mosque bombing that set this all off and set Iraq on the course it's on now. But I think it's got to be more complicated than that, Can you explain to us how you think Iraq got from the elections that you talked abut to where it is now, what the missteps were on the part of the United States that we could have done differently? I think we're aware of what the Iraqi government could have done differently, as in getting organized more quickly, moving towards reconciliation, handling their oil. But could you focus on the U.S. end? What missteps did we make in the last year?

GEN. CHIARELLI: Well, I think the Golden Mosque bombing was absolutely critical. In my two years here, there's not been a single more definitive event that seemed to have changed the way Iraqis looked at themselves and looked at their country. I remember when I was over here in my first year, the issues of sectarianism were something that were possibly below the surface, but when you talked to Iraqis, they considered themselves Iraqis.

And there wasn't a single situation that I remember in my first year where they pointed to the difference between Sunni and Shi'a when you went down into the neighborhoods. When you went down into the neighborhoods in Baghdad, where I was the first time, you found mixed neighborhoods of Sunnis and Shi'as who had lived together for many, many years. And quite frankly, neighbors didn't know what the sect of each other was.

I happen to believe that we have done everything militarily we possibly can. We're working to strengthen the Iraqi military. The Iraqi army gets better every day. But I really believe the key to this conflict is to understand that it's going to take more than military action to solve the problems that face Iraq and to pull people together. It's going to take working along with other lines of operation, the economic and the political lines of operation, the reconstruction line of operation, to give Iraqis hope for their future.

I'm still struck by the fact that when I go into the provinces and talk to provincial governors and ask them what's the one thing that I could do to, in fact, make things better and create a better security situation in their province, they unanimously tell me every time, put the angry young man to work, find jobs for them. And I think that it's those kinds of things that we need to do better, and I think it's those kinds of things that we have to convince the Iraqi government are absolutely critical to lowering the level of violence at the same time that we do what's necessary for those who do not want Iraqi democracy to succeed.

Q And, sir, you don't think it's -- it's not too late for that? You think there's still an opportunity to turn things around?

GEN. CHIARELLI: I definitely think there's an opportunity to turn things around. There's no doubt in my mind there is. I think we need to sit down -- and I know we are, I know the ambassador and General Casey are, and talk to the Iraqi government of some of those non-kinetic things that they need to do, some of the legislation that they need to get through the Council of Representatives that will move this country toward a brighter economic future that will put people to work, that will take away the power base from many of the militias and many of the insurgents which attack our forces and Iraqi forces. I definitely think that this is winnable, but we've got to do those things that are necessary and convince -- help convince the Iraqis that it's not just the military alone that will solve the problems that face them.

MR. WHITMAN: Tom.

Q General, Tom Bowman with NPR. When I was walking around that Baghdad neighborhood with you back in September, at that time the reconstruction money wasn't flowing to Anbar as it should have, of course where the bulk of the Sunnis live. There was no date for provincial elections by the Shi'a-led government. And Baghdad was being ethnically cleansed of Sunnis. Given all that, what hope do the Sunnis have? And have you seen any real movement toward reconciliation?

GEN. CHIARELLI: Well, we see some movement of the money toward Al Anbar. I wish it was moving quicker.

In fact, I wish money was moving quicker to all the provinces. One of the biggest complaints that we get when we get out away from Baghdad into the provinces is the movement of money into the provinces so they can do what's necessary. And those are things that are going to have to be worked out in the Council of Representatives, and that is the role the provinces play. My understanding of this country is that it's been Baghdad-centered for a long time, and when you move out into the provinces, what you find is that the people are very, very focused on the provincial government.

That's why I happen to believe that provincial elections are absolutely critical. I mentioned the elections in January of 2005. They were very, very important, and a lot of Iraqis got out and voted. But you know and I know that in many of the provinces the Sunnis didn't get out and vote in the numbers that they should have, and in some of the provinces, we have an overrepresentation of Shi'as on the provincial council. In some of them they dominate only the provincial councils. And again, when we talk to Iraqis, they in fact, particularly the Sunnis, bring up the need to move toward provincial elections as soon as we can. So I happen to believe that's a critical element in the next year, and it's something that I hope happens.

MR. WHITMAN: Jim.

Q General Chiarelli, Jim Miklaszewski --

GEN. CHIARELLI: Hang on. Reconciliation. I think it's a critical element when it comes to reconciliation, that the new announcement of the date for those elections would have a tremendous impact in many of the Sunni neighborhoods. So it didn't die down outside Baghdad -- up north and out west.

I'm sorry to cut you off, sir.

Q You said this is what the government has to do, but is there any sense of when the elections would be?

GEN. CHIARELLI: I haven't seen it yet. I know General Casey and the ambassador are working it very hard, and I haven't seen it yet. I look forward to the publication of that date and getting the necessary legislation in place that will allow that to happen.

MR. WHITMAN: Let's go back to Jim now.

Q General Chiarelli, Jim Miklaszewski with NBC. The Iraq Study Group has set a goal of removing all U.S. combat forces from Iraq by the first quarter of 2008, save those that would be left behind for force protection. Is that even feasible? Can you set that kind of goal at this point? And what do you think of their proposition that you have to set these goals to let the Iraqis know the U.S. commitment is not open-ended or they won't take any steps on their own behalf such as reconciliation?

GEN. CHIARELLI: Well, first of all, Jim, I haven't had an opportunity to read the entire report in its entirety, and I plan to do that in the next couple of days. But it would be unfair for me to comment on the specifics of the report. I will tell you I think that's possible if in fact we have interim steps that are agreed upon with timelines that basically move us toward reconciliation. I don't believe reconciliation is going to happen tomorrow. I don't believe it's going to happen in the next month. I don't believe it's going to happen in the next 60 days.

But I believe we could create a series of steps along a timeline that would take us to a point where we could see reconciliation, and I'm very confident that that could happen. And I happen to think that there are things that are happening now that might bring to the Iraqis an understanding that this is absolutely critical to them and their government to do just this. And I know the prime minister has been talking about reconciliation. He's got his emissaries, they're working throughout the country trying to put together such a plan. And I know General Casey is working very, very hard, along with the ambassador, to do that.

But I think that if we set up a series of goals, goals that are tied to dates of certain critical things that have to be done to make all the Iraqi people believe that this is a government of national unity, that we could regain their confidence, and anything is possible.

Q Could you share with us, General, what those things are that are happening now that lead you to believe that reconciliation is at least possible?

GEN. CHIARELLI: Well, as you know, as part of the Baghdad Security Plan, one of the things that we have that I don't think really was explained that way it needed to be, was we went in to clear particular areas, we went in to hold particular areas, and we went in to build particular areas. And maybe the most important portion of the Baghdad Security Plan was that "build" portion.

And as you know, our ERF money is in fact running out, that $18.4 million, and we understood that for many of the large infrastructure projects, that the Iraqi people and the Iraqi government would be the ones who needed to pick those up. Now, we have helped them establish processes. One of them is our JROC. It's a command and control center for reconstruction. It was initially an organization that was manned only by coalition members, but now we have seven members of the Amanat that are down working with us on a daily basis. They're part of that entire process.

We've set up a process here that I see moving in the right direction. Have we gotten enough dirt turning in the neighborhood? Absolutely not, and we need to do more of that, and we need to move the Iraqis along a little bit quicker in working some of those large infrastructure projects. It would do two things.

First of all, it gives the people hope for their future when they see the dirt turning, when they see the sewer systems go in, when they see the electrical distribution start to be put in, when they see trash being picked up. And if you do it on a scale that is needed in this country, it has the second effect of employment. And as I mentioned earlier, employment is absolutely critical to what we're doing to take the angry young men off the street.

We've been doing some work with some different kind of models that take a look at what we could do if we can, in fact, improve job satisfaction with the Iraqis. And we see for really a very, very small improvement in job satisfaction, what our models tell us is that we could have a tremendous impact on the violence that is occurring in and around Baghdad. I think that this is absolutely critical to, in fact, moving in that direction.

But again, the Iraqis are key to this. We are not only in a period of transition to the Iraqi army, we also have to transition these other requirements, such as the capital spending that's so absolutely critical for this country so that it can be a major economic player both in the region and in the world, and put its people to work.

MR. WHITMAN: Let's go to Lolita.

Q General Chiarelli, it's Lolita Baldor with the Associated Press. You just referred to the transition of the Iraqi army. One of the discussions here is the increase in the number of trainers to go over and embed with the Iraqis to help bring them along. Can you give us your assessment whether an additional 10,000 to 20,000 trainers would be enough to do that, and whether or not you think that's possible, how well you think that would happen in order to get the U.S. troops to significantly reduce by early 2008.

GEN. CHIARELLI: I won't give you a number because the staffs are working on numbers now in many of the options that they're working for General Casey.

I will tell you, I think that this is a very important step.

I think there's some misperception in the open press about what we had over here. We had a number of transition teams that were organic to the divisions and the units that came into Iraq. For the most part, those transition teams -- about a third of the transition teams we had were 40- to 50- to 60-man transition teams. The decision was made to -- for the other transition teams -- and we have many, many; almost 300 transition teams throughout the country -- to have small transition teams, correctly reported in the press of 10 to 12 individuals. But what has not been reported is the fact that those 10 to 12 individuals working at the battalion staff level were partnered with a unit. They were partnered with a unit that provided that additional training down to the company and the platoon level. We believe now that what we need to do is to embed those trainers, to make that organic as part of the Iraqi army and the Iraqi police.

You know, one of the things that's given us a real good look at the police in Baghdad is the fact that, along with the Baghdad Security Plan, we moved five MP companies into Baghdad, made them training teams for the police. And we basically had a one-on-one coverage of all the police stations, and we've uncovered some issues that we've got down at the individual police stations.

The same with the national police. I think you know we're training the national police a brigade at a time down at Numaniyah. They're going through a four-week training period at the end of that. They're issued a new uniform and they're moved back up into Baghdad. That first brigade, the 4th Brigade, is in Baghdad now. It is in its own sector with -- plus a PTT team, or NPTT team, we call them -- National Police Training Team. That National Police Training Team has the capability to be with those national police 24/7. They don't conduct an operation that there aren't U.S. advisers out there with them, and that has proved to be very, very effective. But we've got to change the perception, as we have improved the capabilities of the national police in and around Baghdad, as being an organization that handles both Sunnis and Shi'as the same.

So I happen to believe that, as we transition to Iraqi control and as I hope that we'll see us moving out of some the major metropolitan areas, that having these larger embedded training teams, if that's the course of action that General Casey chooses, will be a real benefit to what we see and a real benefit to the Iraqi army, but in addition to that, to the Iraqi police and particularly the national police.

MR. WHITMAN: Jamie.

Q General Chiarelli, Jamie McIntyre from CNN. I know you say you haven't read the Iraq Study Group recommendations, but certainly you've heard the conclusion of the panel that the situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating and that the ability of the United States to influence events there is diminishing. Do you agree with that assessment?

GEN. CHIARELLI: I think it's fair to say that 2007 -- and I know this has been said many, many times -- that 2007 will be an absolute critical year.

And I think that we will take the right steps militarily. I think that we will work very, very hard on the Iraqi logistics system, to get it up into its capabilities, so that it can in fact support its army.

But I just have to reiterate that I happen to believe that the economic and political piece of this is so absolutely critical. And if this has been kind of a shock, what has happened here, for the Iraqi government, if they can see this as a situation that could deteriorate rather rapidly if they don't take some of these actions, I think that with help from us, we could do the kinds of things that are necessary. We're seeing some help that we're getting from the States right now in the economic area that's proven to be very, very helpful.

And I think that there are definitely some things that we could do, some strategies that, from what I know of the report, could be put in place, that would have tremendous impact in making 2007 a year where we really move ahead in this particular mission.

MR. WHITMAN: Andrew.

Q General, Andrew Gray from Reuters here. Can I ask you about a specific incident? As you know, there are very conflicting reports about this overnight raid in Ishaqi. Local people there are holding up the bodies of children and saying that civilians have been killed. What's your understanding of what happened there?

GEN. CHIARELLI: I can tell you I saw that report just as I was leaving to come over here today. I can promise you that in every one of these incidents that occurs, that it will be fully investigated. I think you've seen that in the past. And this one will be fully investigated if in fact there's any merit to the charges that are being made, at least from what I've seen in the press. And I promise you that that's exactly what we'll do.

But having not had an opportunity to talk to commanders or to look into this in any great depth at this time, I would ask that we let the system work. And I know that you'll hear from us down the road if in fact there's any credence to these reports.

MR. WHITMAN: Jonathan.

Q General Chiarelli, Jonathan Karl with ABC News. Two questions. One, just on the embedded trainers, in your estimation,

how long would it take if -- to quadruple the number of embedded trainers to train the trainers? How long would that process take?

And then one of the central recommendations, central themes of the Iraq Study Group is that the Iraqi government needs to be essentially given disincentives if they do not do what they need to do and that economic assistance and security assistance should be withheld if they don't do what they should do.

Given what you've said about how important it is to get the unemployment rate down, what do you think about that idea of withholding economic assistance and other assistance, even security assistance, you know, if the Iraqis don't do it what they're supposed to do?

GEN. CHIARELLI: Well, first of all, on embedded trainers, we're going through the staff process now of seeing how quick we could do this.

I think we could it a lot faster than many people would believe. I don't look at time as being a problem at this particular time. I think we've got forces in-country that will assist us with that. There may be requirement for some additional trainers in very specific areas, but I think a majority -- and there some of the issues -- some of the plans we're looking at could come from in-country, and I think that that's something that we can do rather rapidly.

As far as economics, I believe the Iraqi Study Group -- at least from time with them; I had an opportunity to talk with them when they were here -- feel as I do, that putting Iraqis back to work is absolutely critical. When I briefed them and made that point to them, they were in agreement. And from the little that I've read of the report so far, I don't see anything in it that in fact goes against that. And I think the Iraqis understand the importance of that, and I know that General Casey and the ambassador, along with all of us, are going to do our best to try to use some of the new information and some of the new things that we've got to show them how absolutely critical this is.

And I really think that the process of working them through the bill portion of the Baghdad security plan, it's been something that hasn't come on-line as quick as we wanted it to come on-line, I got to tell you. I wish I was turning a lot more dirt down in those cleared areas. But I will tell you that we've done some projects down in the cleared areas, and I will tell you that General Casey recounted to me this morning that he was down in two or three of those areas just yesterday, and he came back saying that life has returned to normal in those areas for the most part -- lots of people out, people who were out on the street, markets that are open, and life is going on as normal in many of those areas -- in those areas that he was in. So he was very pleased with what he saw.

I think we just have to expand this and convince the Iraqi government that there may be an amount of money that could be spent on creating jobs for Iraqis that would be just as important as growing the size of their army above what has already been announced. So I think that that is a very, very important component of what we need to do in the upcoming year.

MR. WHITMAN: I think we need to make this our last one.

Joe.

Q General, this is Joe Tabet with Al Hurra. As a commander on the ground, why do you think the reconciliation has failed til now? What are the main problems?

GEN. CHIARELLI: Sir, I'm the operational commander, and the kind of things that I see when I go out -- I'd ask you to direct that question to General Casey and to the ambassador. But I will tell you, one of the things that I get told every time I go out is the one I mentioned earlier -- provincial elections. I will tell you that many Iraqis in the many of the provinces feel that that's critical, particularly some of the Sunni tribal sheikhs that we talk to and members of the Sunni community that we talk to. And many of them have told my commanders that set a date for provincial elections and that will have a big impact.

I think seeing their lives get better is absolutely critical. I will tell you, one of the things that we did down in the Amiriyah area was we opened up a bank, a bank that had been shut down for five months. Now, that may not seem too important to an American that a bank is open in a neighborhood. But to the people of Amiriyah, that, and electricity, and working on some sewage problems were the number one things that they asked us to get fixed. We went through the process with the minister of Finance of getting the bank, the (inaudible) bank open in Amiriyah. It has proved to be a big boom in making the people feel that their life is returning back to normal and that their government is, in fact, doing the kinds of things that they think are important.

Now, I understand that a small thing like that may not seem to have the kind of impact that I'm attributing to it, but I will tell you that a whole bunch of small wins like that, with an increase in employment, an ability to go after the terrorists wherever they are, if you take all those things together, it has a tremendous impact, and I think it would move us toward national reconciliation.

MR. WHITMAN: One last --

Q Can I follow on that?

(Cross talk.)

MR. WHITMAN: (Inaudible) -- and I know we have reached the end of our time. Is there a critical follow-up there that you needed, Mr. Miklaszewski?

Q Yes. General, is the U.S. winning in Iraq?

GEN. CHIARELLI: You know, I thought that -- I thought I'd escaped that one. But militarily, I can say without a doubt that we are winning.

We've never been defeated on any battlefield certainly in this conflict, nor will we be. To ask us if we're winning in Iraq is to think that one could boil the situation down to a simple yes-or-no answer, and I don't believe there is a simple yes-or-no answer. I think it is the wrong question.

The real question that I think we should be asking ourselves is, are we making the progress toward our strategic objectives? And I would have to give that answer a yes. Are we moving as fast as I wish we were and I know General Casey wishes we were toward meeting those strategic objectives? We are not. And I know that he and the ambassador are working every single day to figure out ways to further the progress along those strategic objectives.

I've always told you, sir, that I think that many people back in the United States do not see the progress that has been made in this country because they are only showing the daily violence in Baghdad. And there's a whole bunch of reasons for that. You know and your comrades know how difficult it is to get in and out even around Baghdad and around the rest of the country. And I know most of you are stationed in Baghdad and the level of violence in Baghdad has in fact been very, very high, much higher than any of us want it to be.

But I will tell you that if it were not for the soldiers, the Marines, the sailors and the airmen who look the devil in the eye every single day that they conduct their mission after mission to go out and, first of all, do their best to keep the sectarian violence down, and second of all, the promotion of a democratic Iraq, things would be a lot worse. I believe that with all my heart.

Success does not rest on what we do alone. The real key is for the Iraqis to win this thing. It rests on the Iraqis, our coalition partners and Iraq's neighbors to provide stability to this region and help the Iraqi people build a better future for their children.

So in answer to your question, I would say from the military standpoint we are winning, and from meeting our strategic goals, yes, we are moving in the right direction, but not as fast as I know we all wish we were.

MR. WHITMAN: Well, General, thank you very much for your time. I know we've gone a bit over, and I appreciate your indulgence. This has been very illuminating for us.

And again, we just want to thank not only you but also you for making your subordinate commanders available to us on a weekly basis to give us the kind of insights that only the commanders on the ground, in the field, can give us back here in Washington.

GEN. CHIARELLI: Well, sir, I appreciate it.

And I want to thank the press. Many of you have been over here working under very, very difficult situations, and I know how hard and tough it is for you, and we appreciate your commitment to getting out and seeing what's going on. I only wish we could get you out more into more places to see many of the good things that have happened. I just returned from two days in Al Anbar here over the weekend, and I see some great things happening out there.

I'd like to add, though, that in the debate over the events happening in Iraq, I think that some people have lost sight of the daily acts of heroism that our service members perform here in the name of service to our nation and to freedom. I just signed an award recommendation for a soldier who performed an act of heroism that saved the lives of his buddies, four of them, and cost his own life in the process. And I'd like to use this story as an illustration of the tremendous dedication and sacrifice on the part of our service members that often goes largely unnoticed.

Serving on a combat patrol as a Humvee gunner, the soldier saw a hand grenade coming at his vehicle and tried to deflect it. He was unsuccessful. The grenade slipped past him and into the truck that he was riding in. He shouted, "Grenade!" and began to jump out of the truck per the standard grenade drill that the unit had. When he looked back, he saw that no one else inside the truck had heeded his warning, that somehow they had thought that his shouting of "Grenade!" meant that there was a grenade outside the vehicle. And in a singular act of heroism, this soldier, who was halfway out of the truck, dropped back into the truck and placed his body against that grenade, thereby saving the lives of the four other individuals that were inside that truck.

This is just one example of the daily acts of heroism, courage, and selfless service our service members perform for each other and for their Iraqi counterparts. I'm extremely proud of their service and our service over here. And it's hard to leave knowing that much work still needs to be done. But the performance of these service members on the ground is what has made me feel so honored to have been their commander this last year, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart for that opportunity.

Thank you very much.

MR. WHITMAN: Thank you, General.

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