Press Briefing, Feb. 7, 2007
Wednesday, 07 February 2007
Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell, spokesman, MNF-I
Maj. Gen. Kenneth W. Hunzeker, commanding general, CPATT
IRAQ OPERATIONAL UPDATE BRIEFING BRIEFERS: MAJOR GENERAL WILLIAM CALDWELL, USA, SPOKESMAN, MULTINATIONAL FORCE-IRAQ; MAJOR GENERAL KENNETH W. HUNZEKER, COMMANDER, CIVIL POLICE ASSISTANCE TRAINING TEAM LOCATION: COMBINED PRESS INFORMATION CENTER, BAGHDAD, IRAQ TIME: 7:00 A.M. EST DATE: WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2007
GEN. CALDWELL: Good afternoon. Salaam aleikum. It's good to be back with all of you again.
For quite some time now, I've said this war can only be won by Iraqis determining the solution to Iraqi problems, and that our primary focus is on supporting them in this struggle of theirs to build their political and security institutions. In a counterinsurgency fight, such as this one here in Iraq, kinetic military operations must be reinforced by efforts to bolster political, economic and rule of law sectors in order to be successful. Perhaps no task is more critical than developing a modern, professional police force that enjoys the confidence of all Iraqi peoples. Today I'm joined by Major General Ken Hunzeker, commander of the Civil Police Assistance Training Team here in Iraq. Ken will talk to you about the challenges, the progress, and the way ahead in training the Iraqi police.
The Iraqi police that Ken's command is producing will be integral to the ongoing campaign to secure Baghdad. Eight national police brigades are already deployed throughout Baghdad, along with six Iraqi army brigades. Three additional Iraqi army brigades are in the process of deploying to Baghdad to reinforce the Iraqi security forces already here. This will permit the stationing of Iraqi police forces and Iraqi army brigade and coalition forces in each of the beladiyas of Baghdad. The Baghdad Security Plan remains an extended campaign. Although this new phase has produced some initial signs of progress, it is far too early to state the new strategy is achieving its objectives. These early signs of progress are meaningless if we are unable to reduce the violence that has been inflicted upon the Iraqi people by the terrorists and criminals, such as those responsible for the wake of bombings here in this past week.
Iraq's problems are systemic and require long-term solutions developed by Iraqis. Simply put, we win when they win. One area in which the government of Iraq and the multinational force have made steady progress is in addressing the systemic problems of training and equipping Iraqi police. So, with that, I'll turn it over to Ken Hunzeker.
GEN. HUNZEKER: Good afternoon. As salaam aleikum. As Major General Caldwell said, I'm Major General Ken Hunzeker, the commanding general of the Civilian Police Assistance Training Team, which we normally call CPATT. Before assuming command of CPATT in October of this last year, I heard many of the same stories about the state of the Iraqi police that have discouraged many people throughout the world. Some would say the Iraqi police are hopelessly corrupt. Others claim the Iraqi police are ineffective and won't fight to protect Iraqis. Most commonly the Iraqi police are hopelessly sectarian and brutal.
Four months into my command, I've come to realize that these warnings were the most overstatement than reality that I have seen. Although there are still challenges to overcome in training and equipping, the Iraqi police service, the national police, the Department of Border Enforcement - they are also tens and thousands of people in the Ministry of Interior and Iraqi police who are courageous, well trained and committed to defending Iraq's citizens.
In order to appreciate how far the Iraqi police have come in such a short time since Iraq's liberation, it's important to consider what our starting point was back in 2003. Before the war, many assumed that because Iraq was literally a police state that the police under Saddam were professional and efficient, and merely serving under bad political leadership. Instead, we found the Iraqi police had no concept of active patrolling and community policing; but rather sat in police stations waiting for victims to come to the station to report a crime. A bribe was typically required in order for an investigation to be launched. In fact, bribes were required to gain a job in some cases as a police officer. And one of the most lucrative jobs in Saddam's Iraq was to be a traffic cop with the ability to arbitrarily pull over motorists and invent fineable offenses. Even in the rare instances when an investigation was initiated, the other elements necessary for the rule of law, courts and prisoners were hopelessly corrupted. Today's the Iraqi police force is well on its way to becoming the polar opposite of the predecessor.
Today the Iraqi police are well trained. We have trained over 200,000 policemen and women, and more than 19,000 above our original target goal that we set with the government of Iraq. Iraqi police are trained at the Baghdad Police College, at Indonesia's International Police Training Center and Iraq's police service academies. Last Tuesday, I visited Numaniyah National Police Transition Training Academy with the national police commanding general, General Hussein (ph). Together we watched one of his brigades go through the last week of a four-week training cycle. We watched three battalions conducting simultaneous operations in an urban setting, in an exercise similar to what our brigades would go through in the United States in one of the U.S.-run combined readiness centers. It's this kind of professional training that was almost unthinkable four years ago. On February 15th, this brigade will again be part of the Baghdad Security Plan after four weeks of training.
Today Iraqi police are committed. In 2004, we all looked in dismay as Iraqi police abandoned their posts as angry mobs in the cities throughout Iraq. Now Iraqi policemen frequently will work four-day shifts, sleeping in any corner of the station they can find, whether it's local policemen in Mosul, national policemen in Baghdad, or our border policemen at one of our 400-plus border forts. They are on the job. For example, in Ramadi, on February 3rd of this year, members of the Abu Abayd (ph) Iraq Police Station discovered one of the largest weapon caches in the last year while conducting dismounted patrols. I quote the brigade commander: "The coalition and ISF have discovered many weapon caches over the last six years, but none of this magnitude," said Army Colonel Sean MacFarland, commander of the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division. And finally today's Iraqi police force are heroic. You have heard the minister of interior talk about the more than 12,000 Iraqi policemen that have been killed or injured in the line of duty since 2003. Many of these officers have been lost while preventing suicide bombers from killing large numbers of Iraqis in marketplaces or mosques. Despite being a consistent target of a terrorist attack, we typically see 10 volunteers for every job vacancy within the Iraqi police. For example, according to Colonel Dave Sutherland, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cav commander, reporting on 6 February, "Al Qaeda happened to be targeting more civilians in the Kahalis (ph) area attempting to disrupt their desire for freedom and independence. The Iraqi police attempted to stop the attack and were protecting the rule of law when VBID exploded. They are committed to their people. There are significant obstacles for the Iraqi police as they work to combat the unacceptable high levels of violence plaguing their nation. There are problems of leadership. We face the 5 of finding and developing mid-level leaders. There are problems of logistics. Do the provinces have systems in place to pick up their equipment? Not yet. The Iraqi police also face problems with sustaining their equipment given the current high tempo of operations.
To address these issues, 2007 will be the year that I call leadership and logistics. We will bring training for mid-level managers within the MOI helping to put in place an Iraqi logistics and sustainment system. We also have an initiative to improve police operations in Iraq. We have what I call national police transformation taking place right now in Numaniyah, and it's a four- week individual and collective training plan for all national police brigades. Three brigades have already completed this training.
We also have an Iraqi police station assessment ongoing in Baghdad. We and an MOI team have inspected nine of 54 stations, with the tenth station going on as we speak today. All of them are going exceptionally well. And, finally, we have an initiative to improve our operations at ports of entry. This is really a partnership with our Department of Homeland Security and the MOI's Department of Border Enforcement. As Major General Caldwell noted earlier, we win when the Iraqi people win.
One way to help the Iraqi people is to give them the tools to solve their nation's problems. We have done that with the police, and perhaps no tools is more important to a burgeoning democracy than a well trained police force capable of establishing the rule of law in Iraq and protecting the Iraqi people.
Every day I see tens and thousands committed, courageous, brave Iraqis willing to sacrifice for their country, their communities, and their families to make them secure. Given how far the Iraqi police force has come in the past four years, I believe that with time Iraq will be able to overcome the twin scourges of terrorism and sectarian violence. Thank you, and I look forward to your questions.
Q (Through interpreter.) Mustafa Elhaim (ph) from -- (inaudible) -- TV Station. My question is to General Ken. The multinational forces pledge to give special devices to detect explosive materials to the Iraqi police, like the sonar devices to detect the car bombs and the suicide bombers now. The new security plan is about to be conducted, and these devices have not arrived at the Interior Ministry. Is there any reason why these devices were not provided?
GEN. HUNZEKER: First of all, that's a great question. Thank you.
In some cases these devices have been provided, but for operational reasons I can't tell you exactly where they are. And we are also in the of a new acquisition that was a Ministry of Interior initiative to also buy more devices to find IEDs and alike and explosive devices. And, again, for operational reasons I can't tell you how many we're going to buy and where we're going to put them. But the MOI does have plans in both cases to take care of that.
Q I'm Bill Akis (ph) from AFP. If you don't mind, I'd like to just ask a question about the Baghdad Security Plan perhaps to General Caldwell. Is it fair to say that this plan is already in effect, that it's sort of a rolling plan that elements have already been implemented as much as maybe two weeks ago, that there's not a starting date, that we are already effectively in this plan?
GEN. CALDWELL: You are exactly correct. That is right. When the prime minister came up with the plan, it was briefed at the ministerial committee's meeting, and they decided on what they were going to do, and they've gone through a series of other briefings. They began putting not only the forces, but all the other aspects of this plan into place. They are still currently today moving additional forces into the city. They are still currently today working some of the economic aspects of this plan. You've already heard the prime minister come out and talk to the Council of Representatives on January the 25th, when he laid out his concept of how the Baghdad Security Plan would go. That was explaining to them what was going to happen, and the council voted unanimously to support the principles of that plan. So that is correct; there is not a per se start date that somebody is looking for tomorrow or the next day. But some of the key aspects of it, such as the identification and the notification of who would be the new commander, and then having him actually take charge and stand up the Baghdad operations center and those other aspects as you can see are moving right along too. So the plan is being fully implemented as we speak. Not all aspects are in place at this point.
Q And, sorry, sir, just to follow up with this question, and -- Lorenzo Cominizzi (ph) from the Italian Press -- (inaudible) -- maybe to General Caldwell again. Sorry, general, could you give us a bit of details about this plan, especially on the cooperation between American army on the ground and Iraqi police or armed forces? Can you tell us at the end how many policemen Iraqi agents will be involved in this plan and how many JSS, so-called JSS center will be in place in the capital? And, if I might follow up also, are you planning to put any of these JSS centers also inside Sadr City?
GEN. HUNZEKER: I'll start the first part, if you'd like. On the police side, as you know, there are 54 actual police stations in Baghdad right now. They've been around in existence -- we built a couple since 2003 -- and those will be used throughout the plan. And that's for the 25,000 Iraqi police who are part of the Baghdad police force. To complement that there are also, as General Caldwell talked about, the eight national police brigades that are part of the plan. And they'll be all over, and they'll be based upon where the operational commanders on the ground want to put them based on the neighborhoods, based upon where they're based out of and things along those lines. And that's being operationally developed right now.
As far as the JSSs that are concerned, I know several have been chosen. I'm not sure about Sadr City, but I think, Bill, you might want to talk about that.
GEN. CALDWELL: The JSS, so everybody understands, that's the joint security team that they're putting together. And the intent behind that, the joint security stations, is that they'd be down in the neighborhoods this time instead of people going out on patrol and conducting a patrol and then going back to perhaps Camp Victory or something like this. We're going to establish within the city, the Iraqi government is, joint security stations. They've already established 10. They're going to double, perhaps even more than that -- I should let the Iraqi government talk about the exact number -- but suffice it to say 10 are up and running. It's going to be at least double, if not triple that number that are going to eventually be out there. Within each of these stations you're going to find Iraqi police forces, Iraqi army forces and coalition forces working together as a team. And they'll stay there to provide a 24-by-7 presence in that area which that police station or that joint security station is located. So that's a very significant difference of what you've seen before.
You were asking is the intent to put one within Sadr City. I can tell you they're going to put them throughout the city wherever they deem that they're going to enhance the overall security situation and where they're required. And obviously Sadr City is a big area, and I very well would expect you to find a joint security station within Sadr City. But, again, this is a government of Iraq decision, but I know in the discussions as they've looked throughout the city where they're going to place these things that has been part of the ongoing discussions.
Q (Off mike) -- you say there are 54 police stations -- 54 police stations, right?
GEN. HUNZEKER: Already existing in Baghdad.
Q So these 10, and supposed to be 20 soon, JSS centers, are partly inside the stations or plus?
GEN. HUNZEKER: They'll be both. Some will be part of an existing police station and some will be built in other locations. But you already have a police station that knows the neighborhood, with the policemen who have been walking the beat and know everything about that area. We're trying to use them where we can. So, to answer your question specifically, we are trying to use the existing police stations to build them where possible.
Q And can you give us an idea of what will be the average? How many men of the coalition and of the Iraqis, on average, which will be permanently based in each station? Do you have an idea?
GEN. CALDWELL: There's not really a set number per se that's been discussed, like each station will have 25 police and 50 army or something like that. Rather it was based upon the location of where that joint security station is and the population density that surrounds it. As they've worked where they're going to place all these stations, they've obviously been working the boundaries areas where each of these people from that station would conduct their patrolling and presence and interaction with the local population,which is real key in the Baghdad Security Plan. They're going to have nine districts -- you have the nine beladiyas out there. We're going to be operating in those nine beladiyas, and with each one you're going to find an Iraqi army brigade operating there, Iraqi police forces and coalition forces' battalion in each of those districts. And those forces are already occupying in the beladiyas, but additional forces are still joining them until they get to the final numbers that the prime minister has set as the goal that he wants to reach. You know as far as the coalition forces go, the first brigade, as part of the additional troops that are being brought in to support this plan, has already arrived -- that's the 2nd Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division. It's in Baghdad. It's fully operational at this point and conducting operations as we speak. And already the lead element, the reconnaissance element of the next brigade arrived the other day, and they're starting to already begin the coordination and planning for when that brigade gets here too to continue adding additional forces into the Baghdad Security Plan.
The real key differences are this time it's an Iraqi-led plan. Not only did they plan it, but they're leading. General Abboud (ph) was announced as the commander, and he has the lead for it, unlike last time where there were coalition forces, MND Baghdad commander, was in the lead. This time General Abboud (ph) is in the lead, and he has got two deputies that support him, Iraqi deputies, that can help him command and control throughout the city where you're going to find coalition forces working in support of the Iraqi security forces to achieve the objectives that they've got.
You're also going to see the economic effort that will go on too. You know, the government of Iraq has committed a lot of money in their 2007 budget, some of it very specifically earmarked for Baghdad to help work on economic incentives that the prime minister has laid out that he wants to execute within this plan. He has stated multiple times that he recognizes to achieve success there has got to be along- term economic growth. The last two times we have made attempts to come in and bring down the levels of violence, we have done that with sort of short-term employment opportunities. And this time the effort is really being placed on getting some of the industry up, getting the small businesses up and running and putting forth long-term job growth opportunities out there for the people with the Baghdad area itself. And so those are the kind of things that he's been talking about.
But I'll tell you the most significant thing I've seen since last spring when I got here was the commitment by the prime minister -- I mean, I think some of you may have seen him on TV yesterday talking to his Baghdad commanders. I mean, when you watch the growth of him becoming the commander and chief of the Iraqi security forces -- I saw it yesterday in how he conducted himself in talking with them. He acknowledged that they want to get moving on with this plan, that he wants to get it fully implemented; and that he wants them to get out there, and he does not want them to be deterred in their mission. He does not want politicians calling and interfering with their operations. He was very clear on a lot of things he passed on to his Iraqi commanders, which are very positive. And the fact that he then got the Council of Representatives to do a vote and provide their support for the principles of this plan too is extremely significant. We really didn't have that previously, that kind of political commitment that we're seeing this time.
Q But, sir, how does that political commitment translate? I mean, what loyalty does the prime minister actually have within the Iraqi security forces? What authority? And also to you, general, it's the same thing -- four weeks of reeducation and human rights lectures? Given what we know about how endemic the militia infrastructures are, how robust their external support structures are, given the disenchantment among the Sunni population, given the sectarian divisions, the violence inflamed by Zarqawi and Sunni extremists has entrenched itself now -- honestly, I mean, how do you think any of this changes any of that? I mean, do you really think this is striking at the deep core of the problem? I mean, a bit of reeducation, babysitting by American troops in the suburbs to make sure that these Iraqi security forces don't revert back and go and do what they actually want to do? I mean, just explain -- I understand the practicalities of it all, the deployments and so forth, but how is any of this really going to change? And long-term economic solutions? We've heard that how many times? Remember Operation Turning the Corner with General Chiarelli? How is anything different? How is it really going to change?
GEN. HUNZEKER: Well, I'll start initially. I mean, you talk about the four weeks that we had in Numaniyah. I really invite you to come on down, and what you can truly accomplish in four weeks. When you take a look at these national police brigades and how they were formed, this is their true first collective training event. In many cases they're having their first noncommissioned officer boards to pick middle-management leaders, to figure out how to do the tactics that they sort of done sporadically on the ground: What does right look like? How do you do a cordon and search? How do you truly execute a checkpoint to standard? You know, what are the things that you expect out of your shurtas, and that's, you know, Iraqi for police, when they are actually confronted with a situation like an IED? How do you react to it?
A lot of those things clearly haven't been put together at the tactical level. So I think the force that you get at the end of a four-week period is a totally different brigade, and I'd invite you to come down at any time. I'll take anybody down there. I've done it before. I think it's a true transformation of what takes place.
And they also do a refit. They come out with -- we totally look at all their different equipment, make sure they have the reset and they're not missing anything that they need. And we're doing that in conjunction with the minister of Interior.
So it is totally a different force, and the 8th Brigade's a perfect example. Two months ago, they were probably one of the worst brigades in the national police. I'd put them up against any unit in the national police right now. General Ali (sp), I went down there, watched him go through the training. He had them for three weeks prior to the training cycle. He kicked out over 200 shurtas out of his ranks. Only five vehicles he took that were started. They all start. They all work. I mean, it was a corrupt, bankrupt organization and he's totally transformed it.
So yes, are they making a difference? Is there a change? Absolutely.
GEN. CALDWELL: You know, Michael, I can understand where you could have some skepticism. I mean, we've talked before about plans to bring back the -- you know, reduce the levels of violence in Baghdad. But having sat and watched this one over, you know, the last I guess two months, as the intense discussions have gone on with the Iraqi security forces, I mean, it is really, to me, a very significant difference. This is not an American-run, -led operation. And a lot of times people give that lip service but no, it really is. No, it's really not. General Abboud (ph) is in charge, and the American forces -- the coalition forces are truly going to be a supporting arm to assist his security forces within the city. He is in charge. We are going to increase the number of transition teams, both, you know, for the national police and the army forces within the city, but we're not going to be in charge of and leading the military operations that are going to be conduced. The Iraqi security forces are going to do that.
They have been moving forces into the city. The three brigades that -- movement has begun. Some have already closed. Additional forces are still coming in. But from a year ago, where they were challenged to move a battalion, to where now they're going to actually move and close three brigades, I mean, it will actually occur this time. You can see it, the numbers increasing every day as they work through this. I mean, phenomenal change in just the whole organizational structure of the Iraqi army being able to do that kind of movement from a force that was never made, developed or trained to move to where now they're moving three brigades from across the country. And that whole decision process they went through, deciding where they would bring them from and where they could uncover an area to put them into the Baghdad area, and then how they're going to use them within the Baghdad security plan and where they're going to bed them down. I mean, just tremendous logistical challenges that they faced themselves that they've been working through.
But I go back to the political piece. I mean, that's huge. You know, the military can do kinetic operations all day long, but kinetic operations are never going to achieve the peace. The only way we will achieve peace, we will gain real stability in this country, is through the political process. And the political process will allow the reconciliation to take place. And the prime minister has truly come out very strong this time in talking about the plan, and I for one has listened and heard what he has said, and see a very committed and determined person wanting to make this happen and see it executed properly. And in the past we had politicians calling down and trying to interfere with units and trying to give some instructions. He's been very clear: there's one chain of command that doesn't involve any members of the Council of Representatives. There's a process they go through to make their views and ideas known, but he was very clear that there's a chain of command that they will follow, the Iraqi security forces will. So I mean, there are some really fundamental difference this time that give all of us the optimism and the hope that we will see the forward progress that needs to be made to reduce these levels of violence.
Q What about the mind-sets there? You've made them better soldiers, clearly, but have you actually -- what is it about any of this that suggests one year, five years, whatever, you changing the mind-set, you changing the internal militia hierarchy? Essentially it's DNA rewiring.
GEN. HUNZEKER: Can I get the essence of your -- changing their DNA wiring on the short term with their soldiers?
Q Well, what I'm saying is -- no, what I'm saying is one could argue you're better training people who will one day be your enemies or one day be enemies of each other. I mean, so saying that we've now taught them how to move three brigades, that's not entirely a good thing in some people's point of view. What I'm saying is if essentially this government and these Iraqi security forces are basically alliances of different militias and paramilitaries, and by and large their loyalties still remain to those organizations. The prime minister himself told me on TV last week he knows he doesn't have the full loyalty of his own forces, but he believes that with the constitution and legitimacy behind him, one day he will overcome. What I'm asking you is with all of these things, whilst on the ground there's, you know, practicalities for immediate security concerns, what ultimately do you think this is doing to change those fundamental dynamics, the real building blocks of power and violence in this country?
GEN. HUNZEKER: That's a great question because, you know, throughout time it's hard to change somebody in how they've been raised -- (inaudible) -- and that's your issue, really. And how can you do that overnight?
I'll tell you, an interesting aside is when I go down, and I've taken numerous reporters down with me, and they ask some of the shurtas that are either in police stations or out in training or whatever, "Are you Shi'a?" "Are you Sunni?" And you know what the answer I get is? "I'm Iraqi." And I think that's the first step, recognizing that they're Iraqi in support of their country, and that's where they're coming from. And it's not going to be done overnight, you're absolutely right. But that's why when units come together, it's the cohesion of those units and it's the -- and you got to get good, positive leaders that are putting that cohesion together. And that's what we try to do on the train-and-equip side. And through numerous processes, whether it's vetting with the government of Iraq, vetting with the MOI, vetting with the commanders on the ground, when you find out you've got a leadership that's corrupt or, you know, not doing what right looks like, then we've changed those leaderships out. And through a long, arduous process that you've been part of and you've seen, I think we are making a difference with that.
But it's going to take time. It's not going to -- you know, it's not Pollyanna. It's not going to take place overnight. But I clearly see it. It's that cohesive element where these teams come together and, you know, they talk in terms of their wingmen and how they operate on the field, and they're coming together to do that.
And again, you know, the attrition is not what we thought -- it's only -- I say only -- it's about 20 percent across the board. And that's what we planned for and we're continuing to back-fill it, and we have no loss of volunteers to fill the guys that have left our ranks either through tragedy or on their own volition. So I think it's going to take time.
GEN. CALDWELL: And I -- I guess the only story I would say to Michael -- (inaudible) -- is two weeks ago, when that Iraqi police officer saw that terrorist with the suicide vest on and went up and hugged that terrorist to try to save other innocent Iraqi civilians, I mean, that to me was -- that's the kind of incredible commitment and dedication to a nation that you just -- you can't buy. I mean, that's an intense loyal to his fellow citizens. I mean, that's an Iraqi looking out for an Iraqi. I mean, in our military services, you know, those are the kind of heroic deeds we look at as for our Medal of Honor winners that do those type things. But I mean, he knew when he went and grabbed that individual with the suicide vest on that that was the end of his life, and yet he didn't hesitate and he did it to try to save as many Iraqis as he could. I mean, how do you produce that type of person like that? But we're seeing more and more of that, and that's what gives you hope for the future here of these people.
GEN. HUNZEKER: And I went to a graduation two months ago and you see a father and five sons. I mean, golly gee, you know, if you don't -- if that didn't put a lump in your throat, I mean, just to see the commitment at that level that he brought all five of his sons and they all went through the training together and they're all shurtas today.
Q (Name inaudible) -- with the Chicago Tribune.
Could you give us a sense of the numbers of troops that are involved in the security plan, like the new ones that have come in for it versus the number that were there before it started, if it has indeed started already? How many extra Iraqi troops of the extra ones that are supposed to have been deployed have been deployed now, how many are on their way, and when will you see -- when will we see the peak number, including Iraqis and Americans? How long away do you think that is?
GEN. CALDWELL: First of all, Liz, the government of Iraq really should be the ones to talk about the numbers, although we're all tracking the numbers, obviously. They have made a decision at this point not to openly talk about the numbers for a lot of what they consider operational reasons, and we respect that. As you know, our president is committed to providing up to an additional 21,500 troops. We've already had about 3,000 arrive, and there's others that are moving through the process now of -- in their deployment process of preparing and moving to come over here. And again, for operational reasons, I don't think we're really openly discussing that either, when their exact arrivals will be. But suffice it to say once they're in place we will talk about it and share those numbers, and we'll get you the exact numbers that are currently operating in the city. But so far one brigade of the coalition forces has arrived, as our president has stated it would. That's the 2nd Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division, and it's in place and operating right now within the Baghdad area
Q Are there any new Iraqi security forces in addition to what they -- I mean, you said the plan's already started.
GEN. CALDWELL: No -- oh, I'm sorry, no -- yes, absolutely.
Q Have we actually added troops?
GEN. CALDWELL: We have. Over the last three weeks, there has been several -- and again, I should let them talk in terms of the thousands of -- I mean, you really need to let the Iraqi government talk about their own specific numbers. And I know General Abboud (ph) is setting up his command so they've got the ability to talk as they want to when they want to share those numbers. But quite a few have already arrived, and there are still more coming.
GEN. HUNZEKER: On the police side it's the same number.
I think we'll pick somebody new.
Q Hi, Generals. My name is Ernesto Londonio. I'm with The Washington Post.
We heard a report earlier today about a helicopter that may have crashed near the city. I was wondering if you have any information on that.
GEN. CALDWELL: We do right now. We have CH-46 that is down. The Quick Reaction Force is on site and the investigation is going on as we speak. That was a location to the northwest here of Baghdad, about 20 miles.
Q (Off mike.)
GEN. CALDWELL: That would be probably inappropriate for me to talk about whether or not there are or are not casualties. The QRF is on -- the Quick Reaction Force is on site at the helicopter at this point.
GEN. HUNZEKER: Let's pick somebody new, please.
Q Andrew North from BBC.
Question to you, Major General Caldwell. There's a lot of confusion out there about this plan right now because there have been so many different announcements of it's starting, it's getting under way. The command center was announced, and then subsequently we heard actually it's not up and running. Haven't you made a complete mess of announcing this to the Iraqi people to the point where you're raised expectations and people at the moment are simply seeing violence get worse on the ground with no sense of what is actually happening with the plan?
GEN. CALDWELL: When you say "we," you're referring to us and the Iraqi government?
Q You the U.S. military and the Iraqi military.
GEN. CALDWELL: Andrew, what I would tell you is this. The Iraqi security plan that the prime minister has laid out is going to take some time till everything he has discussed and wants to put in place is in place. It is not there yet, but he has already begun to put things into place. It's just like the joint security stations. He has a vision for quite a few. He's got 10 that have already been organized, manned, equipped and are operating as we speak. He has talked about bringing Iraqi security forces, additional ones, into the city, three additional brigades at least. And he's got portions of those already in the city with more still coming.
So I think the confusion comes -- you could say the plan is ongoing. We're kind of rolling into this plan, eventually reaching the end state of having all the additional forces, the additional economic assistance, which can only start a lot after their budget has passed, which hopefully is by tomorrow. The idea of setting up and getting all the transition teams of the coalition forces deeply embedded, with the additional coalition forces coming in, which will come in over the next -- you know, they're not all here yet. We've only had one brigade of the five our president has discussed that could come in that have come in so far.
So the parts and pieces of this plan are being put into place that the prime minister has talked about, and we would hope to start seeing a difference here in the near future. It's not going to be a sudden, immediate thing; it's going to take time, it's going to take patience. It's not going to grow overnight, but it will be a gradual effort that's under way, with the most important thing being the Iraqis are in charge. I mean, they truly are, with us fully supporting them to implement this prime minister's plan.
Q Just to follow up on that -- just to follow up, there is a lot of confusion out there among Iraqis about what exactly is happening. It's almost a month since President Bush announced it. Just in the way you've handled it from the media point of view of announcing it, and I mean both you and the Iraqi government, it hasn't gone well, has it?
GEN. CALDWELL: Well, I am hoping, Andrew, as we sit here I'm able to clarify for you and lay out what exactly is ongoing with the Baghdad security plan. I mean, that's kind of the intent of having me -- being here today to talk about it, to clarify these questions. There are -- I know there is some confusion. I have heard different messaging about it's started or it hasn't started, it's going to start at this later date. It is ongoing as we speak.
The implementation of the prime minister's plan has already begun and will be fully implemented at a later date, having all the parts and pieces he wants. But portions are already being put into place, and we'll continue to put more into place as the forces arrive and the assets become available. But what I think's important is the Iraqis are standing up their Baghdad Operations Center, their BOC as they call it, with General Abboud (ph) in charge. He's been designated. And they're moving out to fully establish themselves at this point.
GEN. HUNZEKER: Who hasn't gone?
Q Hi. Melanie Bauma (sp) from Fox News. Question for each of you, actually. On the security plan, you did say earlier that there was early signs of progress, so I'd like to know what those are.
GEN. CALDWELL: Well, things that -- I'll tell you, it's just like these joint security stations. We've got 10 of them up and operating as we speak. And when you go down and look at one of these security stations, you know, you actually see and understand this idea of establishing a 24 by 7 presence, where we're going to stay and remain and interface with the population.
In the past, you know, we came in and we sort did the clear area; we would hold it for a while, do some building, and then we moved on. This time, the prime minister has committed enough forces where they can maintain and retain a presence in that area that shouldn't go away afterwards.
So the idea of these joint security stations -- we're seeing some very initial signs of real success out of where they're being placed and how they're starting to operate within that area that they're operating within.
We've already seen the prime minister talking to his commanders. I mean, the talk that he had yesterday -- you know, if you have not had the opportunity to see it, I'd encourage you -- you know, it was televised -- to take a look at it. You'll see a man who's taken charge of his armed forces, who's being positive and acknowledging some of the challenges that exist but at the same time talking about how this is their chance, they need to seize it, they need to take advantage of this and they need to move out.
So there's the initial signs of progress of the Iraqis being able to move the forces into the city that they've talked about moving in. They're making it happen. Those forces are moving, and they're coming into the city. So there's just a lot of positive things like that are starting to occur -- not all fully implemented yet, but the initial signs are very positive about what they're doing to execute what the prime minister has stated he wants to have occur.
Q I guess it's hard to square with all the violence that we've seen in the past week or so, 10 -- two weeks, maybe. GEN. CALDWELL: Right. No, and I understand that. And that's the reason why I think most people are saying it's not going to happen overnight, that there's not going to be an immediate turnabout of the levels of violence. It's going to happen over time.
The number of tips that we are getting and acting on continues to increase each month.
That will be a key, integral piece of this, is the tips from the Iraqi population themselves to the security forces, Iraqi and coalition security forces, telling them where things are or asking them to help out in certain areas.
We want to see that continue. We want to see more interface with them at the city council level and the local areas. You know, the State Department has talked about forming and putting into each brigade combat team with the U.S. these provincial reconstruction teams. So we're going to establish six of them within the six American brigade combat teams that are operating within the Baghdad city area, so that we have the ability to work on the governance and economic piece to further support the prime minister's overall plan.
And those teams will be in place here shortly. They're not there yet, but the people have been identified. They're going through their training. And then they'll be deployed so that they're not just at the Baghdad level but all the way down into the brigade combat team level. So there's a lot of effort that's going on that we have not previously done that we'll do this time.
Q You had said that there are many volunteers for each police position. I'm just wondering, what's the current pay for a police officer?
GEN. HUNZEKER: I didn't bring those numbers with me, but if you look at the median income of what an average citizen in Iraq makes -- a shurta, a basic shurta, which is a policeman, makes two-and-a-half times of what the average income is. So they're well-compensated. Plus they get an allowance for sustenance on a daily basis, as well. Let me get the exact numbers for what those are for you.
STAFF: We've got time for one more question.
GEN. HUNZEKER: One more. Who hasn't gone?
I don't think you've gone, have you?
Q I'm really, actually, very confused about how you're going to secure Baghdad with a security force that Iraqis are afraid of. Sunnis are telling us that okay, if the police come in with Americans, we'll let them into our neighborhoods. But if the police try to take any of us, we'll shoot back; we'll fight back, because this is a death sentence for us. How do you secure a city -- because it's not really just an insurgency anymore. They're fighting each other. Their neighborhoods have separated, Shi'a and Sunni. How are you going to secure a city with security forces that the people do not trust?
GEN. HUNZEKER: Well, you know, you bring up the trust of the security forces. And since I've been here, I've looked at all the polling, and I've looked at that, and the numbers have stayed about the same -- even right now where we are in the security plan, about the same amount trust that don't trust the police or the security forces. So it's a balanced -- you know, it's those that do support and those that don't support.
But the challenge you have moving forward with the security forces is, and I think the strength of the plan moving forward is, it's the Iraqis in the lead. And when you use the police, the police that have been on the ground since the start of this, they know their neighborhoods.
They know the people within it. And that's the trust and confidence that we're trying to bring back and put back into the neighborhood watch kind of things, redo the local patrolling. As General Caldwell said, it's where you do the local patrolling, establish a safe, secure neighborhood and then hold it and make it safe and secure throughout the entire operation. And that's what different about this plan, and I think that's why in many cases I think it has a great chance of success here.
Q Just one quick question, General?
GEN. CALDWELL: If I could, I just was going to add on. Clearly there has been members in the Council of Representatives that represent the Sunni side that have expressed some of these various concerns. And --
Q (Off mike.)
GEN. CALDWELL: No, no, no, I know, people out in the street, but voicing on behalf of them. And I think as the prime minister has stated, they're going to have to prove it through their deeds and their actions, and there's going to have to be a fair, equitable manner in which this plan is implemented. And that's why I think you're going to see a joint security station within the Sadr City area; that's why you're going to see patrols being conducted within the Sadr City area. This is a plan the prime minister has stated will be done equitably across the city.
Those who are violating the law are the ones that, you know, specifically the law enforcement elements of this will target. And it's not going to go after any particular sect, as he has stated too. The intent is to do it equitably across the board for all Iraqis, not a particular sect of an Iraqi.
Q (Off mike) -- such as the operations in Dora, Haifa, Habbaniya? Are you going to have those types of operations in Sadr City?
GEN. CALDWELL: They are going to conduct operations throughout the whole city is what the prime minister has laid out.
GEN. HUNZEKER: All right. Thank you very much. END.
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