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Opening remarks by Rear Adm. Mark I. Fox, Deputy Spokesman for Multinational Force-Iraq, July 30, 2007

Multi-National Force-Iraq

Opening remarks by Rear Adm. Mark I. Fox, Deputy Spokesman for Multinational Force-Iraq, July 30, 2007.

Good afternoon and a’ salaam a’ leikum. 

I must begin today by congratulating Iraq’s National Soccer Team on winning the Asian Cup yesterday!  It was an extremely exciting game; there is nothing like a great sporting event to bring people from all walks of life together. The team represented Iraq with distinction and honor, inspiring all by their unity, teamwork, dedication and athletic ability. We salute them on this tremendous achievement.

Multinational Force-Iraq offensive operations continue, with increasing evidence that the surge is pressuring terrorists, keeping them off balance, and eliminating safe havens.

We have established a degree of tactical momentum … and will continue to build on that momentum.  We continue to pressure former sanctuaries in the Baghdad Belts, around Ramadi and in and around Baqouba - denying AQI freedom of movement and disrupting extremist secret cells while increasing the confidence of the local citizens in the Coalition and Iraqi Security Force.

Let me summarize some recent activities:

•           The number of caches found and cleared continues to grow;

•           In the last week, Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces seized more than 120 weapons caches;

•           We have seized more weapons caches in the first six months of this year than all of last year combined.

A noteworthy part of last week’s total - Iraqi Security Forces conducted a raid in An Nasiriyah last Tuesday, seizing a cache that included 42 improvised explosive devices - each weighing approximately 15 kilograms - approximately 400 rockets of various calibers, 70 mortar rounds and 11 heavy machine guns.

Many of the weapons caches were discovered based on leads and tips received from Iraqi citizens.  Last month there were some 23,000 tips a month, four times the number at this time last year.

The pace and number of weapons caches seized reflects the pressure being applied by the surge of operations. Nevertheless the enemy retains the capability to launch spectacular attacks as we have seen them do with tragic results for innocent Iraqi citizens. 

Weapons seizures are but one of several trends emerging in Iraq - most noteworthy being the Iraqi people themselves turning against violence.

•           On July 7th in Anbar Province, 100 Sheikhs and 400 religious and political leaders met in Ramadi for a conference called “Promise of the People.”  The Ramadi Covenant - a solemn agreement between tribes and most importantly between the tribes and the Government of Iraq - is a clear sign that the people of Iraq are rejecting the hatred, violence, sectarianism and Taliban-like state offered by AQI.

•           On July 14th, in Baqoubah, 50 tribal leaders met at the governor’s house to discuss security, services, and pledged to work together in the Muqdadiyah Tribal Conference.

•           On July 16th, in Taji, Sunni and Shia sheiks pledged unity to one another to stop the sectarian attacks, each signing a map next to their village as a tangible sign of their commitment

•           On July 23rd, in Khalis, 16 local sheiks and tribal leaders pledged on behalf of some 75 sheiks to work to end the violence.

There are many elements of Coalition operations that we sometimes might overlook, but are still essential. We’re going to focus on the use of aircraft in support of the MNF-I mission today.

I am joined this afternoon by Major General Dave Edgington, U.S. Air Force, director of the Air Component Coordination Element for Multinational Force-Iraq.  He serves as the coordinator and liaison between the Combined Forces Air Component Commander and the Commanding General, Multinational Force-Iraq. He is responsible for ensuring the synchronization of all air component assets into MNF-I combat operations.

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