U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
|Presenter: Commander Multinational Division-Center and 3rd Infantry Division Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch||May 04, 2007 9:00 AM EDT|
COLONEL GARY KECK (director, Press Office): Good morning, everyone. Welcome to the briefing room again. As most of you know, I'm Colonel Gary Keck, the director of the Press Office. And it's my privilege today to moderate our briefing, which we have with us today Major General Rick Lynch, commander of Multinational Division-Center and the 3rd Infantry Division. You may remember him in his previous role as spokesman for Multinational Forces Iraq, although I want to remind you that he is not here today in any way, shape or form a spokesman for MNF-I; he's here to talk about his division and their efforts. So please show him the courtesy of limiting your questions to what he's specifically responsible for. I'm sure he would appreciate that.
General Lynch and his command took responsibility for ongoing security operations in MND-Center last month.
And with that, I'm going to turn it over to General Lynch for opening comments and an update.
GEN. LYNCH: Hey folks, good morning to you there at the Pentagon. And as the colonel described, I was here in a previous capacity as General Casey's spokesman for the force and as the deputy chief of staff for strategic effects. Now I have the great fortune of being back as a division commander and the commander of Multinational Division-Center.
And I just want to tell you now, like I told you before, thank you for what you do, because your role is so very important as we share this story with the American public. So again, thank you.
As most of you are aware, the 3rd Division Headquarters deployed to Baghdad the third week of March. This is the division's third deployment to Iraq in four years. Of note, about 60 percent of my soldiers in the division headquarters have been to Iraq at least once, many twice, before this particular deployment.
Our return was expected. We were scheduled to arrive this coming summer and replace the 25th Infantry Division in the Headquarters of Multinational Division-North. That had been our focus of planning until February. Our deployment was accelerated as a result of the request for forces that supported the surge of combat forces in a bold campaign to secure Baghdad, the main effort here in Iraq. Within weeks, we refocused and trained for the mission that we now perform.
On the 1st of April, Multinational Division-Center effectively came into existence. The fact that we were able to dynamically refocus our training and planning, deploy here and assume our responsibilities on time for an extremely important sector is a credit to our soldiers, to their families, and to our Army.
I'm very proud of our successes so far, but we have a long way to go.
It's important that you understand our mission. Our mission is inextricably tied to the security of Baghdad. Our goal is to stop the flow of accelerants of violence into Baghdad from the south. Accelerants are, simply stated, the physical components that facilitate violence and perpetuate further instability. We know that these accelerants flow into Baghdad from its exterior, and our job is to stop those flow of accelerants into Baghdad. An important point -- MND-Baghdad, commanded by Major General Fil, is the supported effort. We're focused on blocking the accelerants into Baghdad. We have a supporting role in a very important sector.
Today Task Force Marne consists of three brigade combat teams: the 4th Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division from Fort Richardson, Alaska; the 3rd Brigade from the 3rd Infantry Division out of Fort Benning, Georgia; and the 2nd Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division from Fort Drum. I would note, the 3rd Infantry Division's 1st Brigade is attached to Multinational Division West, and is doing a magnificent job with our brothers out in the Al Anbar province.
As you've heard from both the Multinational Corps-Iraq and the Multinational Force Iraq commanders, all the brigades included into the surge will be on the ground here in mid-June, and that's an important point. Task Force Marne will accept my combat aviation brigade from the 3rd Division and my 2nd Brigade from the 3rd Infantry Division here in the May-June timeframe, and they will be established by mid-June, and that will complete the surge of forces into Iraq.
The Multinational Division Center will continue to grow with both our combat aviation brigade and our 2nd Brigade Combat Team over the next 45 days. So by about the 15th -- (audio break) -- we will have the surge forces in sector prepared to work through their missions.
Our forces are arrayed from the southern edge of Baghdad to the border of Saudi Arabia. It features large portions of the Tigris and Euphrates River Valleys, and is rich both in terms of historic and religious significance as well as its economic benefit to the people of Iraq. We anticipate continued development as Provincial Reconstruction Teams and private -- (audio break) -- look to Iraq and its potential.
As part of the surge, as you're well aware, we as a nation also surged these Provincial Reconstruction Teams.
And two of those Provincial Reconstruction Teams that have been surged are embedded in Task Force Marne, and they're making marked improvements in sector already.
Its government is gaining strength, and the people of Iraq are indeed resilient. From Najaf in the south to Mahmudiyah in the north, and from Tak (sp) in the east to Radwaniyah in the west, we see glimmers of hope. Iraqi security forces are indeed becoming more capable, both its army and its police forces, every day. We see farming and the return of manufacturing industry in our sector. We see children playing -- all the elements of a nation gaining in capacity.
I don't want to give you anything less than a realistic appraisal. The -- (audio break) -- great, and the mission is a difficult one. What we owe you is both the good and the bad, and that's what I intend to give you in this particular press engagement.
In our area of operations, we face Iraq's public enemy number one: al Qaeda and al Qaeda-affiliated Sunni extremists. Al Qaeda continues its campaign of hatred, never distinguishing between targets. They wreak havoc and destruction. They desire to achieve what they achieved with the bombing of the golden mosque: to create sectarian violence and plunge this nation into a continuous downward ungovernable spiral.
In MND-Center's battlespace, we also face extremist networks that with their own sectarian agendas are equally counterproductive to the overall goals of the Iraqi people, its security forces and the legitimate government of Iraq.
There is, has been publicly stated clear evidence that these extremists receive support, financing and training from outside of Iraq.
Just this week a bus containing innocent women and children was exploded in the city of Mahmudiyah, about 20 miles south of Baghdad. Eight were killed, and four were wounded. This act was intolerable, indiscriminate, an affront to all humanity.
What followed was a coordinated effort by Iraqi security forces and U.S. Army soldiers to aid victims, investigate the incident and begin the process to find those responsible for its despicable act.
I got to tell you, as I explained here in Multinational Division- Center in Task Force Marne, the majority of my soldiers have been to Iraq at least once, many on their second and third deployments.
And when you ask the soldiers why they're here, they're here to defeat the terrorists in Iraq so they don't have to fight the terrorists back home. And when incidents like this bus take place -- where eight women were killed, four children were injured -- what they do is they remind themselves that they're fighting over here so that our children and their children can get on a bus back home and not worry about a detonation, an explosion and human carnage.
On April the 8th, coalition and Iraqi army forces responded to a car bombing in Mahmudiyah that killed 17 Iraqis and wounded 26 others. And last week in the same town, Iraqi security forces discovered an abandoned car. The Iraqi army called for assistance from one of our explosive ordnance disposal units, which rendered the would-be car bomb safe. There were no injuries as a result of this joint effort.
In Karbala, the site of the 20th January `07 attack a Provincial Joint Coordination Center that killed five U.S. soldiers; a car bomb detonated last Saturday near the Imam Abbas Mosque – (audio break) -- 55. This was in the vicinity of an earlier attack on a bus stop, an attack that killed 36. In both cases, the Karbala government with which I've recently met has taken the lead to restore security, care for those who are injured and search for the persons responsible for this horrible act.
You know, people tell me, "Hey, Lynch, you just left 10 months ago. What have you seen that's different?" And I got to tell you, in my battle space, in Multinational Division-Center's battle space, what I'm seeing is a marked improvement in the capability of the Iraqi security forces. And let's just use Karbala as an example. When the detonation took place on the 28th of April, there weren't any coalition forces anywhere in the vicinity. We called down the Karbala Iraqi security forces and we said, "Hey, what do you need help with?" And they said, "Nothing. We got it." They handled that situation. It could have been extremely explosive. The second- and third-order consequences of that attack in the vicinity of the mosque could have been horrific, but the Iraqi security forces stabilized the situation.
And they didn't ask for coalition forces. When we asked, they said, "No, we got it." And I got to tell you, that's just a marked improvement from what I saw 10 months ago.
In spite of these brutal attacks in Karbala and Mahmudiyah and the attacks in other towns, we do not see reprisal attacks or sectarian homicides. In fact, in some areas, Sunni and Shi'a live peacefully together. In some towns we see children of both sects attending the same sects (sic), and in some places, they worship together.
Now people ask, "What are indicators of progress? What does right look like over time Iraq?" (Very short audio break) -- those indicators is Shi'a and Sunni living peacefully together. And in my battlespace I see that in some places; like in Yusufiya just yesterday or the day before, the Mahmudiyah qadha chairman, who's a Shi'a, went out west in the Mahmudiyah qadha to meet with the Sunni populace to see "What can we do to help in your area?" So I'm seeing more and more of that Sunni and Shi'a helpful interaction.
Now, there are clearly still places in MND-Center's battlespace where the Sunni and Shi'a fault lines are sources of friction, and we're working through those.
I think there are signs that the Iraqi citizens are conscious of who's responsible for the violence, and we are hopeful that we will see rejection of reciprocal attacks and ultimately the complete ejection of the extremist networks that perpetuate terror here.
What I have the opportunity to do now with my soldiers is get out and engage with the population. For example, in MND-Center's battlespace, we have 23 sites where coalition forces are living amongst the population. And we have a chance to engage with the population. They're tired of the violence. They're tired of the attacks. And now they're mounting forces to help us and help the Iraqi security forces evict the extremist networks from their country.
And that point about the sectarian violence is very important. You know, in the attack in Karbala, that could have generated major sectarian violence. The Shi'a population in Karbala could have said, "Hey, here is just like the Golden Mosque in 2006. Here is al Qaeda attacking one of our most sacred shrines. Let's retaliate." That didn't happen. That didn't happen. They took control of the situation, and there was no sectarian reprisals that we could ascertain after that.
This entire thing is about the people and the security of the Iraqi people.
Every week, the Iraqi security forces grow stronger. This is the direct result of our joint efforts and, frankly, the time and space that separates Iraqis from the terrorists. Today we have established security posts throughout the area.
You know, I am blessed to partner with two Iraqi army divisions -- the 6th Iraqi Army Division and the 8th Iraqi Army Division. And I got to tell you, those two division commanders are magnificent professionals. They are Iraqi and they're focused on the security of their people. And I have the privilege of dealing with them on a routine basis.
We do conduct joint patrols and this immersion does place our forces at risk. In fact, we have lost several brave young men to enemy action. Since the 1st of April when we controlled our battle space, we have lost 13 soldiers to enemy attacks and we have had 39 soldiers wounded. Most of our casualties have come from improvised explosive devices. That's still the primary threat to our soldiers -- IEDs. And we have an aggressive campaign to counter those IEDs, but they still are taking a toll on our soldiers: 13 killed, 39 soldiers wounded.
What we're finding is that the technology and the financing and the training of the explosively formed penetrators are coming from Iran. The EFPs are killing our soldiers, and we can trace that back to Iran.
A U.S. and Iraqi joint raid in Mahmudiyah uncovered three weapons caches containing mortar systems, rockets and ammunition on the 22nd of April. Recent date stamps and Iranian markings appeared on the ammunition. There is plenty of evidence of Iranian influence in our area, and candidly, this is just simply counterproductive. The discovery of these caches, the interdiction of their trafficking, and the capture of the men responsible for their distribution is our main focus.
We do not expect to eliminate violence, but we can certainly help the Iraqis mend the fabric of their society. Unfortunately, we expect the enemy will break many more hearts in the coming days and weeks. As we have surged, we find the enemy surging as well. We're taking the fight to the enemy to counter his capabilities, but over time, especially as we continue to put our forces in areas in which they have never operated, we can expect continued casualties.
Let me use an example in my battle space. There are indeed areas that we're focused on that we know the enemy is trying to use as a sanctuary, and we're going to take the fight to them.
When these surge units get on the ground, we're going to move to control those sanctuaries, but that's going to come at cost. So everybody has to acknowledge the fact that this is still a very difficult, very dangerous situation that we're working through on a daily basis.
It's important that we highlight the great men and women that we have over here on the front line of the war on terror, and I'd like to take a moment to mention one. Candidly, a concern that I have is, we're not spending enough time collectively as a nation recognizing our heroes and talking about those soldiers that are making such a significant contribution here every day. Let me talk about one.
Master Sergeant Eric Gagne (sp) is a recon platoon sergeant assigned to the 2nd Battalion 14th Infantry Regiment with the 2nd Brigade 10th Mountain Division. Sergeant Gagne (sp) displayed gallantry during multiple offensive operations in the highly contested Euphrates River Valley tribal lands and Baghdad's Southern Belt. During a mission in early March of 2007, Master Sergeant Gagne (sp) and his recon platoon spotted two groups of insurgents engaged in armed combat, and later became engaged by a three-man insurgent machine-gun team.
Master Sergeant Gagne (sp) gallantly exposed himself to the withering machine-gun fire, neutralized the enemy position and forced the enemy withdrawal. After capturing the enemy machine gun, he then occupied an abandoned house, overwatching the interrogation and the removal of two semi trucks and trailers suspected of becoming enormous VBIEDs. His undaunted courage in this contested Baghdad Belt has contributed to the success of the Iraqi security forces and the coalition forces.
And I could go on and on and on about the heroes in Multinational Division Center. I told you about our fallen comrades: 13 killed, 39 wounded. I've got to tell you, there are soldiers that are in those patrols when an IED takes place and their buddies are killed or severely wounded. They do the appropriate actions at the point of the explosion; they go back to their bases. And the very next day, they go out on patrol again.
I have yet to see a U.S. soldier, or an Iraqi soldier that matter, falter. They go back out and take the fight to the enemy the very next day. Their courage is just amazing, and I'm privileged to be their commander in Multinational Division Center.
I'll close with a personal expression of gratitude to the families of our young men and women in uniform. When the 3rd Division was accelerated, we as a division said, duty first, boots on the ground. And our soldiers moved to the sound of the guns. They arrived here in good order and engaged in combat operations.
I've got to tell you, the thing that caused me most concern is the families. We've got to continue to reach out to the families, to love them, to tell them that we appreciate their personal sacrifices and take the very best care we can all the time with them. And their morale back home is extremely important. They're magnificent people.
I'll now take your questions.
COL. KECK: Okay, I'll remind you that he cannot see you, so please let him know who you are.
Q General, this is Andrew Gray with Reuters.
You mentioned that as you surge, you see the enemy surging as well. Can you give us any examples of that? Have you seen an increase in attacks in your battlespace? Have you seen an increase in the number of weapons flowing into Baghdad?
GEN. LYNCH: What the enemy has been able to do is, he's been able to establish areas where he have (sic) relatively good freedom of maneuver. He has training sites. He was weapons caches, those kinds of things that he is going to use for violence in Baghdad and the surrounding areas.
So what we've been able to do, with the surge of forces -- and like I explained to you, we don't get the last of those soldiers engaged in combat until the 15th of June -- we can move into those sanctuary areas and take the fight to them. He's not going to give up. He's not going to give those sanctuary areas up without a fight, so there's a fight that's fixing to happen in those sanctuary areas. And he knows that he can continue to work horrific attacks. See, that's the biggest concern. See, when you're fighting al Qaeda, who has no appreciation for human life -- he could care less whether they're killing women or children or innocent civilians, they're going to continue to do these horrific acts of violence to kind of demonstrate their capabilities, and that's what we're seeing.
COL. KECK: Courtney.
Q General, this is Courtney Kube from NBC News. If I could just follow up on that. To say that the enemy is surging is a pretty bold assertion. I mean, can you give us some statistics or something to back that up? Are you seeing an increase in attacks in your area or -- I mean, why specifically would you say they're surging?
GEN. LYNCH: Okay. Courtney, we watch this very close, as we always have, and try to monitor the enemy's capability and our capability to respond, and we're trying to conduct offensive operations over here and taking the fight to him. So every time we take the fight to him, that results in another attack against us. So what you're going to see, as we continue to build forces on the ground and continue to campaign in an offensive manner, you're going to see him respond.
So as I look at attack trends, to answer your specific questions, sure, I see attack trends on the rise, primarily in response to our offensive operations. That's what I'm seeing.
The enemy can't afford for us to create a situation in Iraq where there's stability. We always got to remind ourselves of the end state; the end state in Iraq has always been a representative government that respects the human rights of all Iraqis, that Iraq is not a safe haven for terrorists, an Iraq that has domestic security forces that can maintain domestic order and deny Iraq safe haven for terrorists. So the enemy doesn't want that to happen, so he's going to continue to mount offensive operations, but we're going to take the fight back to him. And what I'm seeing in my battlespace is we have the ability -- and we'll have more ability over time to continue to thwart his efforts.
Q General, this is Guy Raz with NPR. You mentioned that your soldiers are fighting the terrorists there in order to avoid fighting them at home. Are you basing that on any independent assessment that you've carried out or that has been carried out by the army?
GEN. LYNCH: I got to tell you, I live to spend time with my soldiers as do all my leaders, so routinely we're talking to them; we're talking to them about professional issues and personal issues. And I got to tell you, of Task Force Marne and those magnificent soldiers I have the opportunity to command in the 3rd Infantry Division, when I talk to the great men and women in uniform under my command, they all say, "Hey, Boss, we got to fight them here because we don't want to fight them there." I don't know about you, but I've got children, I'll soon have grandchildren, and I worry about them not having the same freedoms that we enjoy.
And that's the sense I get from my soldiers as well. You know, I don't get complaints. Even the soldiers here on their third deployment, I don't get complaints because they know it's duty first. What I get is, "Man, I miss my family," just like I miss my family. That's why we've got to work very hard to take care of the families and ensure that they communicate with their soldier, husbands or wives who are deployed. That's most important.
Q General, this is Joe Tabet with Al Hurra. You've mentioned in your opening statement that you have a long way to go. What do you mean by this? Is it a matter of months, of years? Could you give us more details on that?
GEN. LYNCH: Thank you for that question. I mean, what we're working for here is providing the Iraqis a sustainable presence so they can indeed maintain their own security. That's what we're working for. That's why it's so important to continue to mature the Iraqi security forces, continue to provide them training, continue to provide them additional capabilities. It's going to take some time to do that. I mean, candidly, a lot of times we want to rush to a conclusion as a nation and that can't happen over here. This is going to take some time to build that capability.
So where there are no Iraqi security forces or there are Iraqi security forces that aren't properly trained, that's our mission -- to work with the Iraqi security forces, get them into areas where the enemy might consider that a sanctuary and help them with that fight. And that is indeed going to take some time. Now people are always going to say, "Well, how long's that going to take? Can you say three months, can you say five months, can you say a year?" We can't say that, because there are so many variables over here that we're working with.
Remember, we've always said the level of the coalition force is a function of three things. It's a function of the level of the insurgency, it's a function of the capability of the Iraqi security forces, and it's a function of the capacity of the government. So to me, it's all about continuing to build the Iraqi security forces, continuing to take the fight to the enemy, and continuing to build capacity in the government at the national, provincial and local level. And that's just going to take some time.
Q General, it's Al Pessin from Voice of America. You said that every attack that your forces do results in an attack by the enemy. Are the insurgents that strong that they can really match U.S. and Iraqi forces attack for attack? Do you think your surge will be enough to overcome that apparent match in forces?
And in your story about Master Sergeant Gagne (sp), I thought you said that his patrol came upon two groups of insurgents fighting each other. Is that the kind of thing that's happening, or was that an isolated incident?
GEN. LYNCH: No, I mean, in Master Sergeant Gagne (sp), that particular fight wasn't two groups of insurgents fighting each other. But I got to tell you, we're seeing that here in Iraq. We're seeing it in my battlespace.
Candidly, what we have here is a struggle for power and influence, and it's not all about Sunni violence against Shi'as or Shi'a against Sunnis. Sometimes within the respective sects, you see fighting amongst themselves and a struggle for power and influence.
So we do indeed see instances where different extremist groups or different militias are fighting with themselves to establish power and influence. We're seeing indication of that across our battlespace.
Q My other question was about -- is the enemy strong enough to actually match your attacks one for one?
GEN. LYNCH: Yeah, I'm sorry about that. The folks who worked with me the last year all know I'm not smart enough to remember two questions. I just remembered the second question.
These are combat operations that we're doing. The enemy doesn't want to give up ground. The enemy doesn't want to lose his munitions. The enemy doesn't want to lose his control over the population. So he's just not giving up. As we move into an area, he's fighting back.
But day to day with the Iraqi security forces I see progress in that security line. In general terms -- you know, we talk about five lines of operations, security being one of them. In general terms, between the coalition forces and the markedly improved Iraqi security forces I see in MND-Center, I see progress on the security line. Is it going to solve itself overnight? No. Is the enemy going to be able to do acts of violence, horrific acts of violence? Sure he is. But we'll continue to take the fight to him.
Q General, Bill McMichael with Military Times newspapers. You said you have two Provisional Reconstruction Teams in your sector working with your three BCTs. Admiral Fallon said yesterday the goal was to try to match up one PRT for each brigade combat team. Is that going to be happening in your sector?
And can you talk a bit more in detail about precisely how the PRTs are working with the brigade combat teams to try to achieve your goal there?
GEN. LYNCH: Yeah, a great question for that. Thank you for letting me address the PRTs in more detail. You know, we have -- right now I have three brigade combat teams working directly for me; soon I'll have the fourth. And each of those brigade combat teams will have a PRT. Right now, two of those are embedded PRTs, and they are sourced by the State Department and by USAID, and we have bilingual/bicultural advisers helping that brigade commander in his battle space. And in those brigades that don't have an embedded PRT, we've created our own and have a military PRT. But over time, I see other agencies' involvement in those PRTs. And in addition to that, in our battle space we have a large PRT in the Babil province located down at Hillah, and we work with them all the time. And they focus on capacity-building, governance and economic development.
My first blush with these embedded PRTs is they are indeed going to be value-added. I've meet all the team leaders, I've talked to the members of the team, and they came here with a mission, and that is to improve capacity of the government of Iraq at the local and provincial level. And I have great optimism that those things are going to continue to mature and improve.
Q Could you give us a bit more detail about precisely how they're working with your guys? Perhaps you do a clearing operation, these guys sweep in behind? Or is it more of a day-to-day kind of interaction?
GEN. LYNCH: No, it's a day-to-day interaction. The embedded PRTs live with our brigade combat teams. They attend all the sessions with the brigade combat team leadership.
When the embedded PRT travels to meet the local mayor or the qadha mayor, the brigade leadership goes as well. So it's hand-in-glove.
It is indeed folks like me in uniform working with folks in coats and ties for the betterment of the people of Iraq. And that is exactly the direction this needs to go.
So it's still in its early stages. The embedded PRTs that work with Task Force Marne have only been in position for about a week to 10 days, but I got to tell you, I have a sense of optimism that that's going to be a combat multiplier at the local and the provincial level. It's so important. Economic development, capacity building with the government is so very important. Candidly, it's as important, in my mind, as the security line of operation. We're at a point in this campaign where it's about, in my mind, capacity building, governance and economic development, and that's what the PRTs will help us do.
Q General, Jonathan Karl with ABC News. I'm just wondering. You talked about how you see the situation different from your last tour, but how do you see -- what is the most significant in terms of how the coalition is operating differently from your last time over there? Aside from the surge, aside from the numbers, what has significantly changed about the way coalition forces are operating day to day?
GEN. LYNCH: What we have done -- and by golly, I believe it's exactly right -- is we've now moved our soldiers off the large field operating bases into the population, either on combat outposts or patrol bases or joint security sites with the Iraqi security forces. As I say, in my battlespace I have 23 sites where coalition forces are forward deployed. We focus on their security, we focus on their force protection, but they're out there amongst the population, so there's more active patrolling, there's more active engagement with the people in that local area.
And what you find as a result of that is you find this increased perception of security on the part of the local population.
And they say, hey, the coalition forces are here, and they're here all the time. They're not just coming in, doing operations and leaving; they're staying all the time. And most importantly, there are always combined operations with the Iraqi security forces, and that's candidly how we get a lot of intelligence, by the interaction of the population with the Iraqi security forces. So it's all good.
So the biggest change that I've seen -- and, by golly, I believe it's a change for the better -- is the focus on population security and moving our soldiers out to these patrol bases, combat outposts and joint security sites.
COL. KECK: (Off mike) -- time. We are out of time here. And I just want to give you an opportunity to make some final comments.
GEN. LYNCH: Yeah, I thank you for that.
What you all do is so very important, and every opportunity that we have to share with you our views, we will take advantage of that opportunity. And we'll tell you the good things that are happening, and we'll tell you the bad things that are happening, and it's balanced reporting. And all I ask is that we indeed share that information with the American public.
You know, I worry about our families back home. I worry about their morale. We work very hard to tell them the good and the bad; what's happening that's good and where are we struggling so they have an informed opinion. But if all they see is acts of violence, all they see is bombs exploding on TV and the newspapers, then it affects their morale, and I hope that you understand that and can help us work through that. But you'll always find us in Task Force Marne and Multinational Division Center willing to engage with you and tell you our views.
I want to make one point. The work here is important work, but it's going to take some time, and it's going to take some patience. We're going to have good days, and we're going to have some not so good days, but it's just so important, the accomplishment of this mission, because I don't want my kids or my grandkids to be afraid to go to school, go to work, or worship at their place of worship, and that's why we're fighting this fight here.
Thank you for your opportunity. Thank you for your time, and thanks for all you do.
COL. KECK: Thank you again, sir. We hope to hear from you again soon.
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