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Press Briefing, Feb. 28, 2007

Multi-National Force-Iraq

Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Rear Adm. Mark Fox, Communications Division Chief for Strategic Effects , Multi-National Force - Iraq

ADM. FOX: Good afternoon. "As-salaam aleikum." I'm Rear Admiral Mark Fox, communications director for the Multinational Force Iraq.

And before I get started, I'd like to share with you a really neat experience I had this morning. I was the presiding officer for an event over in the embassy for the third anniversary of the Boy Scouts. It was attended by some of the government of Iraq ministers, the minister of Education, and also Ambassador Khalilzad. And I got a really neat little symbol here of the Boy Scouts here in Iraq. So I thought I'd share that with you all before I got started. This past week, Iraqi security and coalition forces continued their efforts to secure Baghdad and protect its citizens through the Iraqi-planned and Iraqi-led Operation Fard al-Qanun. This operation is still in the early phases. Additional Iraqi security forces continue to flow to Baghdad, with four more battalions due over the next two weeks.

Although we've seen some initial progress, we know our enemies will continue to attempt to disrupt our efforts and that improving security in Iraq will take time. We've seen the ruthless and barbaric attacks against innocent civilians this past week and in fact today, and know that we have tough days ahead.

Nevertheless, working together with Iraqi security forces, our commitment to enforcing the law and bringing security to Baghdad and its environment remains unwavering and strong. Iraqi security forces continue to make strides. Last Sunday the Iraqi air force airlifted more than a hundred Iraqi army troops from Sulimaniyah to Baghdad International Airport, demonstrating a growing logistics capability and improved levels of planning and coordination.

Over the past week, 107 weapons caches -- as a matter of fact, one yesterday that we just got cleared here -- a significant cache was found and cleared in MND North yesterday. We found numerous ordnance items and weapons, to include 193 mortar rounds, 162 rockets, 10 mortar tubes and 18 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, with over a hundred RPG rounds.

Over a hundred -- 167 suspects have been detained, more than 32,000 security patrols controls conducted in and around the Iraqi capital. More than half of these patrols were completed by Iraqi police and national police forces.

Additionally, more than 1,900 tips from Iraqi citizens, over 250 per day, contributed to Iraqi security and coalition forces' ability to conduct these operations. And it's important to note that the number of Iraqi civilians providing tips is increasing, directly contributing to the growing number of suspected insurgents detained and caches seized.

Also, the Iraqi government is placing barriers and taking other protective measures to prevent car bombs from having access to areas where large groups of Baghdad citizens gather.

In order to protect the Iraqi people, 15 joint security stations, manned 24 hours a day by Iraqi army, Iraqi police and coalition soldiers, are currently open in different districts in Baghdad. This number will continue to increase significantly over the coming weeks and months until all 10 city districts will have at least one.

It's also important to keep a realistic view of what's happening on the ground. Violence levels are unacceptable, and we will continue to see a high level of violence over the coming weeks and months. Extremists and insurgents will continue their high-profile attacks, targeting opportunities where large numbers of civilians gather, such as recent attacks on Al-Mustansiriyah University, the mosque in Habbaniya and Abu Disheer marketplace.

Al Qaeda and insurgents continue their barbaric attacks on innocent civilians to perpetrate sectarian violence and undermine the government of Iraq in Operation Fard al-Qanun. These criminal acts are against the laws of any society. They are vicious acts of violence targeting innocent men, women and children, regardless of their sect or ethnic group.

The way ahead will be challenging, but the mission of improving security is doable. The effects of Operation Fard al-Qanun will not be seen in days or weeks but over the course of months. There will be tough days on the road ahead, but over time, we anticipate some progress, particularly as the Iraqi people provide tips and information on criminal activities.

It's important to note that in a counterinsurgency fight such as the one that we have in Iraq, military security operations must be reinforced and supplemented by efforts to bolster political governance, economic development, security and basic services in order to be successful. As we've done in the past, we sometimes use these news conferences to focus on a particular area of interest and bring a subject matter expert in to give you additional information.

With me today is Brigadier General Michael Walsh, commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Gulf Region Division, Baghdad. General Walsh is an experienced engineer, having served in a wide variety of Army command and staff assignments associated with construction, project management and civil engineering. He joins us today to give an update on the many projects designed to improve basic services throughout Iraq.


GEN. WALSH: Thank you, Admiral.

Good afternoon, everyone. I appreciate the opportunity to talk to talk to you today about the ongoing construction efforts here in Iraq. It's an extremely challenging effort, but as an Army engineer, there's not a better place to be than rebuilding, helping the Iraqi government rebuild its country.

To date, the United States has contributed almost $22 billion towards the rebuilding effort, and effort that was estimated by the world bank to be well over 60 to $80 billion. They estimated that back in 2004. While our efforts to date have been successful, we should remember that the U.S. contribution was always intended to be a jumpstart in the rebuilding efforts to help the Iraqi government lay its foundation for the rest of -- for the government of Iraq and perhaps donor nations to help rebuild the country.

Every day we see Iraq -- we see successes of the U.S. government's construction program here and better essential services in many places where there were none, at least in some areas. 75 percent of the country has twice as much power as it has had before, and I'll go over some of those statistics later on. Many of the services are things that Americans take for granted -- access to medical facilities, fire stations, a school in your neighborhood, paved road, clean water.

At the end of fiscal year 2006, the Department of Defense obligated all of its $13.4 billion of Iraq reconstruction and relief funds. Of those projects, we have a broad range throughout the country in areas of building, health and education, electricity, water, sewage and irrigation. We have set out goals and we keep track of them and we're going to meet them.

A few examples that I have is -- we have a requirement. We have a metric of -- 10,045 schools have been planned countrywide, and so far we've completed 976 schools. We have completed 154 border forts. 97 fire stations are planned, and we've completed 92. 34 post offices -- projects were planned, and we have completed 32 of those as well. 102 railroad stations were planned to be renovated, and we have completed 93 of those. On any given day, the Gulf Region Division is working on approximately 1100 projects across the country. The vast majority of these projects are on track and good solid construction -- they're meeting their deadlines that we have set.

SIGIR has said it themselves in the January 2007 quarterly report -- we are conducting quality projects. Almost at -- 90 percent of the projects that SIGIR has looked at have met standards. And the SIGIR himself previously pointed out that they inspected mainly troubled projects.

Realize this: If it is -- only one percent of those 1,100 projects that I have brought up have problems with them, that's only 11 projects. And it's those 11 projects that tend to be spotlighted. I submit that's not fair to the American taxpayers or the reconstruction efforts that are here under way.

I am proud of the efforts of our team in the military and the U.S. government civilians, contractors, and the Iraqi associates who continue to put forth in increasing the services.

Americans should hear about the current 989 on-target projects that we are advancing and enhancing the lives of the Iraqi citizens every day. Americans should see the photos of Iraqi children being educated in clean, safe learning environments, or playing in newly- built youth centers. Americans should see the infants being cared (for) in modern medical facilities that previously did not exist. That's what I'm here to talk to you about today.

One thing we hear about continually is the electrical situation in this country. In reality, the country of Iraq never did have 24 hours of power. Before March 2003, much of Iraq received only four to eight hours of power every day, with Baghdad receiving 16 to 22 hours of power. Today, electricity is distributed much more equitable throughout Iraq, with much of the country receiving 10 to 12 hours of power. As I stated earlier, 75 percent of Iraq now receives twice as much power as it had before the war. That's a good thing.

However, I don't want to be Pollyannish about it. Baghdad still only has six to seven hours of power daily, and that's something we're continuing to focus to improve. But to understand electricity, we must take the time to understand the whole picture.

After the war ended in 2003, the demand for power rose 32 percent and has risen more than 10 percent every year since. At present, it is estimated that demand for power has increased more than 70 percent since 2003. And that's a good sign. It means that people are able to buy more luxury items -- washing machines, televisions, air conditions (sic). However, it means that we must continue adding capacity to the Iraqi system, and we find ourselves constantly chasing that increasing demand.

Contrary to what many report on this effort, our goal was never to produce 24 hours of power but, rather, to jump-start the process to help to update and stabilize the national grid. Our goal was to provide Iraqis with enough power for essential services, for hospitals, water treatment plants, police stations, sewage lift stations, and things of that sort, as well as some additional power for homes and businesses. Of course, with more than 17,000 kilometers of transmission lines to protect, the frequent interdiction of power and electrical lines severely hampers our ability to add or even keep the megawatts on the grid that we have put together. But we are making progress.

Another area that I would like to talk about is health care. The Basra Children's Hospital project will be the first newly built hospital in Iraq, I believe, since 1986.

This 94-bed facility is being built on a facility of about 13 acres and will focus on acute care and pediatric oncology. The facility will provide accommodations for physicians and nurses, outpatient examination rooms and pediatric intensive care unit, as well as four general nursing wards.

Currently Iraq's ability to provide adequate care for its country's most seriously ill and injured children is virtually nonexistent. The Basra Children's Hospital is expected to be complete in late 2008.

In Erbil, the water treatment plant is another example of successful reconstruction project. The $191 million facility was completed in July, and operations were turned over to the Kurdish Regional Government. The facility is one of the largest infrastructure projects in Iraq, one of the three largest infrastructure projects in Iraq that provides water to a population of more than 950,000 people, and required us to coordinate with Erbil's ministry of Electricity to build the electrical substation to support the additional water pumps.

So you see, this truly is a success story. It shows how everyone is coming together for the greater good of the Iraqi citizens. However, I cannot forget that we are in a war zone, and the costs of doing construction in the war zone is high. We have lost good people and have had setbacks due to the insurgency and security difficulties. But we still have completed more than 3,000 projects to help the country of Iraq to jump-start its economy and solidify its infrastructure. If we count the thousands of projects being completed by individual commanders using the CERP funds, the total U.S. efforts here represent more than 11,000 projects, both large and small, to help the Iraqi people.

And as I pointed out, we're not doing this alone. We're teaming with our Iraqi partners at the ministries and also at the provinces. In addition, we also employ about 30,000 Iraqi workers in our efforts throughout the country.

Certainly the work in Iraq is challenging and difficult, but reconstruction efforts are a vital component to Iraq's progress towards democracy. Ultimately, it is up to the Iraqi people to rebuild and secure their country. We're giving them the assistance that they need to ensure success. Thank you for your interest in this important part of Iraq's future, and I'm prepared to answer questions, sir.

ADM. FOX: Okay. Yes, sir.

Q Hi. Rich Mauer, McClatchy Newspapers. The 22 billion (dollars) figure that you cite, how does that compare in terms of overhead, or how -- what proportion of that would be bricks, mortars, moving dirt, turbines versus overhead? And how does that compare to, say, like a river project in the United States, a flood project?

GEN. WALSH: The Army Corps of Engineers -- we put, in addition on the projects, between 6 percent and 9 percent back in the United States, and that's what we do here as well.

And that's for paying people's salary, for life support and for security. So about what we would put into the United States on our projects is what we're doing here.

Now, in addition, on part of that overhead, we do get funds directly from the Department of Defense, which is not included in that 22 billion (dollars).

ADM. FOX: Yes, sir?

Q Yeah. Hi. Sig Mittelson (sp), Norwegian Television. About the 22 million -- billion (dollars): How much of this has been spent on actual projects, and how much is security? Is 22 billion (dollars) what you actually spent on material, on -- and how does it scale down?

GEN. WALSH: Well, I was reading the SIGIR report, and SIGIR reports end on -- as they look at particular projects, they found a low of about 7 percent for security and a high of about 16, with an average of about 12 percent for security.

Q (Off mike.)

ADM. FOX: It's going to be a really short one.

Q (Off mike.)

ADM. FOX: A follow-on.

Q Yeah. About the electricity -- you were saying that Iraq has some places twice as much electricity as before. But how much is it in total? Do they have more because Baghdad have less? And what is the total output now compared to, say, March 2003, prewar?

GEN. WALSH: The country averages about 12 hours of power. In prewar it was much less than that. Now, Baghdad, as I mentioned, had 16 to 22 hours of power, but the rest of it did not. If we looked at Al Anbar right now, we're looking at Al Anbar having about 16 hours of power, and prewar it was about two to three hours of power.

Q Yeah, but in total megawatts.

Q Megawatts.

GEN. WALSH: Right now we have brought peak power to about 2,0(00) -- correction -- 4,200 megawatts, peak.

Q And how much before the war?

GEN. WALSH: Before the war it was somewhere between 4,2(00) and 4,5(00). We've got to remember, again, that there was 25 years of underfunding in the electrical system. And certainly most -- about 85 percent of Iraq's generation system and plants, about 1980 generation -- so it's about 30 years old, and it was poorly maintained.

So a lot of the funds that we put into the project was to bring it up to current standards and to bring the maintenance onboard.

Q Hi. Charlie Crane (sp), Time Magazine. Admiral Fox, you said that there have been 167 suspects detained, and also that half of the patrols being run in Baghdad are by the ISF. Just to clarify, are those folks detained by the Iraqis or by the Americans, or is that a total number?

ADM. FOX: It's a total number. It's a combination of both.

Q Okay. Can you give a breakdown of how many of them are --

ADM. FOX: I don't have the breakdown.

Q Okay. And half of the patrols being ISF, is that half of them are ISF alone, or half of them are either ISF alone or joint patrols with the Americans?

ADM. FOX: Joint patrols with the Americans.

Q Okay. And do you have a breakdown on that?

ADM. FOX: I don't have that specific breakdown.

Q All right, thank you.

Q Nick (Banewalsh ?), Channel Four News. Can you comment at all on the events in Ramadi on Monday and Tuesday? There have been conflicting reports about a bomb blast at a soccer field, followed by a controlled device on Tuesday. Are you aware of what happened on Monday?

ADM. FOX: Yeah, let me clarify that. There was an operation that was going on in Ramadi in which coalition forces discovered some explosive material, a large amount of it, as a matter of fact, and they repositioned the explosive material to an abandoned structure and had a controlled detonation. It was yesterday afternoon. And it was a much greater explosion than was anticipated in terms of the intensity of the explosion, and there were actually some superficial injuries associated with that explosion of some flying glass and some folks that were injured by that. No life-threatening injuries, and all the people that were injured were taken for military care. And then yesterday at the same time there began this swirl about a bomb blast at a Ramadi field and 18 children. And we ran this down; there was no blast -- there was no second blast and there were no 18 children killed. The soccer field that was touted in the erroneous report was across the street from the structure that was in the controlled detonation.

Q That blast was at the same time -- (off mike) --

ADM. FOX: Well, the allegation was false. And so obviously somebody was stirring -- I can only speculate as to what was going on there. But there was only one explosion, there were no children killed, and it was a controlled explosion.

Q Were children injured in that -- children among the people injured in that blast, and did they have, you know, cut -- anyone blinded by the glass?

ADM. FOX: Yeah, I don't have a breakdown of exactly who was injured.

I would have to get back to you on the specific -- I'd be speculating if I told you exactly who it was. I think there may have been some children, but I'm not sure.

MR. : A question over here, sir.

Q (Through interpreter.) (Name and affiliation inaudible.)

General Walsh, is there any time ceiling for restoring electricity to Baghdad?

And my question to Admiral Fox -- still there are some areas in Baghdad in which there are a lot of terrorists, and the joint forces have not entered these areas. When are you going to clear these areas of these terrorists? These terrorists are still moving and carrying out their criminal activities in these areas.

GEN. WALSH: Well, thank you for that question. Working with the minister of electricity, Dr. Karim -- he thinks that we should be able to catch the continuing demand for electricity sometime in about 2013. So we're continuing to put generators online. For instance, right now at Kudis, I've got two more turbine generators that we just started work on last week, and we should have that completed by the end of December. And I still have some other generation systems that we're putting in place. But the minister of electricity for the government of Iraq is estimating about 2013 by the time they can catch up with demand.

ADM. FOX: And in answer to your question in regards to the Baghdad security, the areas of Baghdad that have not yet -- there are areas of Baghdad that have not yet been clear, and in fact operations are ongoing. You have to understand that Fard al-Qanun is an operation that will take months to unfold. And in fact the forces are in flow as we speak that have not yet arrived, both Iraqi forces and coalition forces.

And so the thing that's different about this plan is the fact that in previous plans, we would clear and then go on, and then there would be a coming in behind, if you will. In this case, with the joint security stations, once the Iraqi forces, the Iraqi police, the Iraqi army and the coalition force establish a presence and they clear, they maintain the presence in an 24/7 posture. Not all of Baghdad yet has those joint security stations, and not all areas of Baghdad have yet been cleared and are in that position. But -- so this will not be a days or weeks type of operation. It will be months. And so I would anticipate later in the summer is when we could expect that all of the different areas of Baghdad have the coalition forces, and Iraqi security forces have had an opportunity to conduct their operation and stabilize it.

Q (Through interpreter.) My question is to Admiral Fox. There were some displaced families in Saba al-Bor, near Taji. And these families want to come back to their homes, but some terrorists are preventing them from going back to their families. Are you going to clear these areas of these bad people to enable the families to come back to their homes?

ADM. FOX: The government of Iraq has been very clear about their desire for the displaced families in Baghdad to return home. And they have been also very clear about taking steps to ensure that those families do return. And so as the operations unfold, there will be opportunities for these families to return back to their neighborhoods. And so once -- the level of the violence has certainly been unacceptable, and the amount of suffering and displacement of the people of Baghdad has been a tragedy by those people who would use violence to fracture Iraqi and Baghdad society.

So the Baghdad -- or the government of Iraq's policies of bringing the families back into their neighborhoods is clearly articulated and they have described exactly how they want to do that, and we support the Iraqi government in their initiative.

Q Sir, Bill Murphy from The Washington Post. Regarding the cache discovery that you mentioned early on in the briefing, could you just provide us a little bit more on the location, any other details or context of where this was found, what the circumstances were, et cetera?

ADM. FOX: It was 73 kilometers southwest of Mosul. And it was reported to the 2nd Battalion of the Iraqi army. And it was the 2nd Battalion of the Iraqi army that established the cordon, the 2nd Battalion, and the 3rd and 4th, Iraqi army, also responded to this. And as I've described, the number of ordnance items that were in there. It was believed to have been operated by a suspected arms dealer that had been captured on the 21st of February. And the Multinational Division North expects that the insurgents will begin to move other caches in the vicinity of Mosul because of the recent success up there.

Q Thanks. Dave Clark (sp), AFP. We received a press release earlier this week reporting -- a military press release reporting that the number of kidnap and murders in Baghdad have come down significantly. It was lower than it had been for almost a year. Can you put figures to that, how many people are killed and how people used to be? ADM. FOX: Actually, I think I would prefer to just accept the fact that there have been a couple of weeks of reduced levels of kidnappings and extrajudicial murders and that type of thing. There have also been an increase in the number of car bombs or vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices.

So we're very measured and we're very clear-eyed about the nature of the challenge ahead of us.

As General Petraeus has said, the perceptions of security will change when the reality of security changes, and so we're very early in this process right now.

Q Yeah, Admiral Fox, you were saying earlier on that you had an increase in the tips from Iraqi civilians. I've been hearing the same claim from Iraqi -- from your predecessors over the last four years of occupation. Do you have any more figures behind it? Has it increased compared to what? Compared to last month? Compared to last year? Can you just break it down a little bit, please?

ADM. FOX: The context is with the last week and in the more recent past, and I'll have to get that for you in terms of the more contextual -- over time, over a longer period of time.

Q Thank you.

Q In terms of the numbers that you were putting on the number of JSSs that are open, just as a point of clarification, is there -- when you're talking about those numbers, is there a distinction between a JSS on the one hand and a combat outpost on the other hand? And when you talk about that, are you including stuff like the combat outpost in Ghazalia as a JSS or is that a separate category?

ADM. FOX: No. What I'm talking about -- JSSs are the joint security stations -- I'm talking about Baghdad specifically and within the specific beladiyas or districts there within Baghdad.

Q But in terms of -- a JSS is where there would be Iraqi army, Iraqi police and U.S. Army --

ADM. FOX: And coalition, correct.

Q -- co-located, right? Okay.

ADM. FOX: That's correct.

Q And so in bases where they have Iraqi army and U.S. Army but there isn't an Iraqi police presence, that wouldn't be included in the number of JSSs, right?

ADM. FOX: That's correct. The JSS figure that we're using is a Baghdad Security Plan or a Fard al-Qanun figure, if you will.

Q Thank you.

ADM. FOX: Yes, sir.

Q Were any coalition troops injured in the accidentally too large weapons cache disposal in Ramadi?

ADM. FOX: There were, again, superficial injuries, and I'm going to have to get back to you with the specifics of who exactly was injured and the nature of their -- there were no life-threatening wounds. They were all superficial but did require a certain number of people to actually be treated.


You guys are an easy crowd today. I shouldn't brag here, you guys will throw a fast inside one here quick.

Q A couple of days ago, we were invited up to see some weapons displayed that had been seized in Baqubah. A lot of those weapons had been made in Iran. Why are we seeing more concentration now on telling us where these weapons came from?

Has there been a political decision to remind us whenever you find weapons from Iran?

ADM. FOX: No. The -- what's going on here is, our focus is on force security, on force protection. And so the emphasis that we have is when we find these things, we feel like it's an important thing to share the information and to explain where we found them, where they -- you know, the context in which they were found, the recent nature of it, and the time limits of it we feel like is relevant.

But our focus is on force protection, not a policy issue. We've not gotten any guidance to go around and start snooping around trying to find new places to do these things. And it's not a policy issue at all. It's a force protection -- and it's also an opportunity to share exactly what we're seeing in this environment. And it's, I think, an important contextual kind of thing to look at.

Q But we've never been invited to see weapons from Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey --

ADM. FOX: We haven't been finding them from those places. I mean, the reason that we've been talking about the Iranian issue is because we keep finding their stuff all over Iraq.

Q Sorry. A follow-on to that. Can I ask on the announcement yesterday that some U.S. State Department officials will be meeting with Iranian counterparts here in Baghdad in the next few weeks? How does that sit with you guys when you're seeing -- saying you see regular imports of Iranian weapons, yet at the same time the Iranians are going to have one-on-one dialogue for the first time in a while with the U.S.?

ADM. FOX: I think those of us who serve here would be -- we would welcome any initiative that would reduce the levels of violence here in Iraq and that would help us accomplish our mission to give a secure, stable and self-governing Iraq.

Q Yeah. Hi. You said that -- you described this -- the cache had been found after seizing an arms dealer. Who -- was this arms dealer not an Iraqi national? Who was this arms dealer?

ADM. FOX: The information I gave you was just as described. I don't have any additional amplification on that.

Q What -- can I follow that? So if -- my understanding is that most of the weapons that are found here originated in this -- in the arms caches, prewar. Why would they need an arms dealer to distribute it? And is this arms dealer not an Iraqi national?

ADM. FOX: He was a local national. He was an Iraqi national.

Q General Walsh, I was just wondering if you could speak to the question of whether you're having more ability to do reconstruction projects in Shi'ite areas as opposed to Sunni areas, because of -- when we talk to Iraqis, we hear them say, for example, that, you know, you might be able to do something in a Shi'ite area, but not in a Sunni area, because the threat of insurgent violence against people cooperating with those projects might be too great for them to risk, you know -- I don't want to say sticking their neck out, but literally sticking their necks out for that. Are you finding that you're able to get more reconstruction money into certain -- in projects in Shi'ite areas versus Sunni areas?

GEN. WALSH: No, I don't have -- I think we're able to get our construction done throughout the country. I was just looking around for what I call a measle chart -- that shows a pretty good distribution of the projects, from as far north as Dohuk to as far south as Basra, as far west, of course, as Al Anbar and Hut (sp), and right to the Iranian border. So it's pretty well distributed.

Q I'm sorry, just you were saying about the duration of the BSP, that it could take months. Is there any particular point envisaged whereby you will have to take stock as to exactly what you've done so far, how far you've come, when you might have to consider whether it's working or not? Is it an indefinite process where you're just going to keep on until --

ADM. FOX: I think there will certainly be bounds on it. But the thing that we're emphasizing now is that it's not an operation that we're looking for quick results. I think that would be the way that I would characterize it.

Of course as the forces are deployed and as the plans are executed, then there will be -- even as we speak, there are ongoing assessments of how well the plans are being executed and how well our intended -- you know, we're going after effects here. And I think the important take-away here is the focus on economic, on reconstruction, in particular the participation of Iraqi security forces, and a much higher level of political commitment on the part of the government of Iraq. You've seen the prime minister and senior Iraqi officials out and about in their neighborhoods going around to all these different sites, and there's a much higher level of commitment. So we're proud to be partners alongside the Iraqis right now as this security plan is executed.

Q You say there are assessments ongoing now. What do they say?

ADM. FOX: They're preliminary assessments at this point. I won't be able to share that with you for a while. But right now, we're looking at it and taking a very hard look at all of the different factors that are in play. As I said, I didn't want to go into specific details. There are some encouraging signs, quite frankly. The number of extrajudicial killings, the murders and kidnappings seem to be going down a little bit. It's just a couple of weeks into this, and it's too early to make that kind of assessment.

Q Who's measuring unemployment? Who's measuring whether the cooking-gas man can come in, whether the garbage gets picked up? I mean, you know, there are measurements besides bodies on the street and JSSs.

ADM. FOX: Right. Right. It's a much more holistic approach. And in fact, a number of the different things that we talk about are just that -- the hours of power, whether or not there are basic services. Many of the projects that we've been talking about and working on are improvements to water handling and sewer and that sort of thing.

So there is a large effort on the part of all of us -- in fact, in an increasing level of ownership with the Iraqi government, as you heard described by General Walsh, this is a jumpstart initiative. It's not something that is -- the government of Iraq ultimately is going to be responsible for all of the services that we're discussing.

And so there's a, you know -- IRMO, GRD, all of the different facets here of the Multinational Force and the embassy are looking very hard at ways to ensure that we measure the right things and that we understand the conditions on the ground. And the conditions on the ground, quite frankly, are going to be the key metric of how well we are doing. Is how -- our metric, I think, would be, how secure do the Iraqi people feel in the city of Baghdad?

Q Sir, you mentioned I believe an airlift of approximately 100 Iraqi soldiers to Baghdad. A, I presume that was American aircraft?

ADM. FOX: No, that was the Iraqi air force with an Iraqi C-130 that brought them down.

Q Oh, great.

Additionally, with all these other forces flowing in here, have there been any -- has it all gone smoothly, in other words? Has it all gone smoothly in terms of people -- any injuries, any accidents, any casualties, just in transport to Baghdad, that you're aware of?

ADM. FOX: None that I'm aware of -- obviously, any time you have movement, there's the natural friction of just moving large numbers of people. But I don't have any examples that I can point to of injuries or mishaps on the way here.

You know, one of the things that we have learned as we have helped the Iraqi army stand up is the fact that we've looked at them with Western eyes when we helped them stand up. And there's no one in the American Armed Forces that thinks twice about asking somebody to join the military from Florida or Alabama and deploy him to Alaska. It's just what we do, and it's not a big deal, and yet that's not nearly the culture that's here. And so we had to look at how -- when we stood them up, there's much more of a regional feel to the people who join the military. And you know, I think it's important also to remember how much of a unifying institution the army really is to the nation, and how important that is. Q If I could just follow up quickly, all of these Iraqi units that are coming here -- in other words, they have missions elsewhere in the country that they were previously doing before they came here. Has there been any impact that you can cite on the residual impact of the places they left, coming here, in terms of security?

ADM. FOX: Well, in general, no, I can't point to any incidents. The fact that we have been standing up and assisting and facilitating the rebirth, if you will, of the Iraqi army -- the vast majority of our time and effort has been focused on getting them trained up and ready to be able to operate, with a view ultimately of being capable of, you know, owning their own battle space, doing their own planning and doing their own operations.

And we freely admit that there are some shortfalls here, in particular in the world of logistics. They don't have -- they're going to be relying on the coalition for some time to come for movement and logistics, which is one of the reasons that I did highlight the fact that they were using their own air force to move some of their troops. That's a keystone event. That's something that they haven't done much of before.

Q It's actually kind of a follow-up, because these troops come from up north in the Kurdish areas, and what kind of tasks are they being employed into? Are they doing exactly the same as all the rest of the troops, or do they have specific tasks?

ADM. FOX: These are Iraqi army soldiers who come from a different part of Iraq who have the same responsibilities and the same tasks of any other Iraqi unit.

Q But just a follow-up. The Kurdish politicians have been very clear on not wanting to be seen as taking part in in-fighting between Shi'as and Sunnis. What you're saying is that they are actually doing patrols in different areas in and around Baghdad.

ADM. FOX: We view the Iraqi army as the Iraqi army. And when people join the Iraqi army, that means that they're a member of a much larger institution.

Q Last week your colleague General Caldwell said that the coalition would collate any information it has on the alleged rape of Sabrin al-Janabi and would pass that on to the Iraqi judicial authorities if requested. Have you received such a request?

ADM. FOX: Not to my knowledge.

Q And just a follow up to the question about the Kurdish soldiers. They are members of the Iraqi army, but a lot of them don't speak Arabic. Will they be provided with interpreters?

ADM. FOX: That would be a subject I would refer you to the government of Iraq in terms of how they choose to deal with that.

Q I normally wouldn't get this trivial, but -- (laughter) -- at least not in front of the assembled press corps -- that 167 number, what time frame was that in terms of when those folks were detained? ADM. FOX: I described it as over the last week.

Q Okay. Thanks.

ADM. FOX: Okay. Well, thank you very much. I appreciate your time. It's a pleasure having you here.

Q Thank you. Have a good day.


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