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PRESS CONFERENCE: Operational/Energy Update: Brig. Wilks, Rear Adm. Driscoll, July 6, 2008

Multi-National Force-Iraq

Sunday, 06 July 2008

Brigadier Carew Wilks, MNF-I Energy Fusion Cell, and Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll, MNF-I spokesman, provide an operational and energy update.

Briefing Slides [PDF]


PRESS CONFERENCE
RADM PATRICK DRISCOLL, Spokesman, Multi-National Force-Iraq, and
BG Carew Wilks, Director of Energy for Multinational Forces-Iraq, Energy Fusion Cell

DATE: 6 July 2008

PARTICIPANTS:
RADM PATRICK DRISCOLL AND BG CAREW WILKS

REPORTERS:

RPT1 = REPORTER 1
INT = INTERPRETER

RADM DRISCOLL As-Salamu 'Alaykum and good afternoon. Today I'm joined by Brigadier General Carew Wilks, Director of Energy for Multi-National Forces-Iraq, Energy Fusion Cell. He will provide an update on Iraq's energy infrastructure and the government of Iraq's ability to generate electricity and fuel. Following his comments, I'll make a brief update on security operations in Iraq, and then we'll take some of your questions. Brigadier Wilks, welcome, and thank you for joining us today.

BG WILKS Thank you. So I'm Brigadier Carew Wilks, Director of Energy Operations for the Multinational Force-Iraq. And I'm Co-Chair of the Energy Fusion Cell. The Energy Fusion Cell is a partnership of those involved in Iraq's energy issues and works with colleagues in the U.S. Embassy and within the Government of Iraq to coordinate oil and electricity sector restoration. We assist the Directorate for Infrastructure Operations in the Ministry of Defense, and the Ministries of Oil and Electricity to improve Iraq's energy situation. The main focus of our work has been the security and repair of Iraq's strategic energy infrastructure, the vital pipelines and electricity power lines that connect the country and provide the much needed energy to the Iraqi people. Much of Iraq's energy infrastructure is old and in poor condition and has not kept pace with demand. It will take many years and major investment to fully meet the needs of the Iraqi people. But a strong start has been made and significant steps have already been taken through major restoration projects and repairs.

Indeed, I'm delighted to report that over the last six months, we have seen significant improvement in the condition of Iraq's strategic energy infrastructure. The improved security situation across Iraq and the reduced number of attacks on the infrastructure has made it possible for the most important oil pipelines and electricity transmission lines to be repaired. And much of this network is now in use. This has been as a result of a combined effort involving the repair teams from the Ministries of Electricity and Oil and the Security Forces of the Iraqi Army and the Oil Police and Coalition Forces. But I would like to single out the electricity and oil repair teams for special attention. The bravery and dedication of the Iraqi engineers and technicians in these repair teams from the Ministries of Electricity and Oil has been outstanding. They have worked in very difficult and dangerous conditions at constant risk of their lives and for very long hours. The people of Iraq should applaud their work and be very proud of their commitments and their achievements. They are the true heroes of the energy sector.

On the electricity system, most of the critical high voltage transmission lines are now in operation around the country. And this is providing a more stable national grid and a more reliable share of electricity across Iraq. This time last year there were nine critical power lines which had been attacked and needed repair. This year, as we are today, there are none. This means that electricity can be delivered more fairly to the Iraqi people and that the grid is more reliable and more robust. It also means that the Ministry of Electricity's repair teams and resources can now focus on new construction rather than repair. A strong grid is also allowing the Ministry of Electricity to take steps to make the grid more stable and to reduce the number of blackouts. From December to May this year, there were 11 major nationwide blackouts of electricity, each of which leading to days of reduced power supply. But since the middle of June, we have been supporting the Ministry in his new plan to improve the management of power across Iraq. This is very important as there is not enough power to meet all the needs, and it must be shared fairly. And we are working to support the Ministry in improving security and procedures at substations and to ensure that plans to share power are being implemented fairly across Iraq. And the initial results of this plan is very successful. There have been no blackouts for several weeks, and power supply is much higher as a result.

On the oil infrastructure, the improved security situation and the repair of the export pipelines from the Kirkuk oil fields to Turkey has had a major impact on crude oil production and exports for Iraq, accounting for a 25 percent increase since June last year or 500,000 barrels per day. In fact, over recent months, Kirkuk has produced its highest sustained output of oil since 2003, reaching a new record of 650,000 barrels in one day in May. The extensive protection system built along the pipelines from Kirkuk to Bayji is now complete and is guarded by the Iraqi Army. The export pipeline north from Bayji has also been repaired and is guarded by the Iraqi Oil Police, formerly the Oil Protection Force. And the Oil Police is developing its capability for more and improved training and provides excellent protection along the pipelines throughout all of Iraq. The improved conditions have also allowed the Ministry of Oil's plans for restoration and expansion to move ahead. Production from the refineries has reached new records in recent weeks, with output 45 percent higher than one year ago. And this equates to an increase of about 3 million liters per day of kerosene, diesel and benzene. The major contribution is from Bayji Refinery which has significantly increased output this year due to a major refurbishment and more reliable supply of crude oil from the Kirkuk oil fields because of the protection of the pipeline system down from Kirkuk to Bayji. Regional refineries have also reopened in Najaf and Siniyah, and over the last few days, the Haditha refinery has started to reopen and is producing fuel products for Anbar Province. Repairs to many oil and gas distribution pipelines are now completed, and this has led to a big improvement in the supply of LPG, diesel and petrol across Iraq. Recent repairs to pipelines around Baghdad, such as the 14-inch LPG line and the 10-inch product line, along with improved security from the oil police, have made a significant difference in the amounts of fuel available in Baghdad, especially for LPG.

This improvement does remain fragile, and any problems can have an immediate effect on supplies, as we saw recently in Baghdad. But over the last few weeks, repairs have also started on the pipelines running from Bayji down to Baghdad, along with the construction of a new physical barrier to protect those pipelines. This important group of pipelines links the northern areas to Baghdad and will distribute all products such as kerosene and diesel to the people of Baghdad, and natural gas to the electricity power stations at Taji and Doura, which will increase supply of electricity by 200MW once the gas pipeline is repaired. In the longer term, the Ministry of Oil plans to replace the damaged crude oil pipelines within this protected zone. The improved security situation has also helped to provide opportunities for more improvements and much needed investment in both the oil and electricity sectors. For electricity, the Minister of Electricity is making excellent progress in delivering his master plan for Iraq. And new generating capacity is being provided every week onto the national grid. Electricity supply is 24 percent higher this week than the same week last year, and this equates to nearly 1,000MW, enough power for 400,000 homes. Overall for the year so far, power is on average 11 percent higher than the same period last year, even though with the draught, the amount of water in the dams has reduced and there is much less hydropower generation. This increase in electricity generation is due to better maintenance, the construction of new power projects; for example, at Baghdad South Power Station at Irbil and at Mussaib, new power generating plants are being brought onto the grid.

Looking ahead, the Minister has recently signed a number of contracts for more generation, including a major contract with GE for eight large gas turbine generators for delivery next year. This is an important step in bringing modern technology and international expertise into Iraq and demonstrates an increased confidence from big global companies in working to support Iraq's future. And as I speak, four very large new generators are moving to Samarra, having been transported from Jordan. They came through Baghdad a few days ago, and these are the first four generators of a group of 20 that will make up a new power station in Samarra. But even with all this work, it will take many years of major investment to meet the rising electricity demand in Iraq. The improving security situation has also created opportunities for major projects to move forward in the oil sector, and this may encourage further investment. The Minister for Oil recently announced that he will be seeking proposals to develop eight oil and gas fields, and he is in discussion with a number of international companies to work in the development of the oil and gas sector. Such global companies can provide the technology and support needed to help Iraq.

So in summary, the last six months has seen significant progress in Iraq's energy sector. Improved security has enabled major gains to be made in Iraq's electricity and oil production, restoring a basic level of services to many people in Iraq. However, there is still much to do which will require significant investment in Iraq's energy infrastructure over many years. We will continue to support the government of Iraq in taking forward their energy plans. Thank you.

RADM DRISCOLL Thank you, Brigadier Wilks. I'm going to have a few brief comments on security trends, and we'll take your questions. The security trends in Iraq continue to improve. The number of total security incidents across Iraq is still at levels not seen since early 2004. As the ISF enforces the rule of law and improves security in places like Basrah, Mosul, Amarah, and Sadr City, the people are finding new confidence in those that lead and protect them. Iraqis see security forces in their neighborhoods providing protection, and they are increasingly providing the army and police with valuable information that enhances safety. As they operate in areas where they were not always able to operate before, the Iraqi Security Forces are taking more weapons off the street, which further limits the ability of criminals and terrorists to conduct violent attacks against Iraqi citizens, Iraqi Security Forces, and Coalition Forces.

In Basrah we continue to see a dramatic increase in the seizure of weapons and explosives since the Prime Minister led the operation to restore government authority in the area. Since late March, Iraqi Security Forces have captured over 6,200 mortars, almost 8,000 artillery rounds, more than 20 surface-to-air missiles, over 750 rockets, almost 200 rocket-propelled grenade launchers -- excuse me -- almost 340 improvised explosive devices, and more than 50 explosively formed penetrators. In Mosul, 33 weapons caches were seized during the last week of June. And in Baghdad, the ISF and Coalition Forces found and safely cleared 67 weapons caches during the same period. In East Baghdad, in the area of Sadr City, 19 caches were secured, for a total of 217 since the Iraqi Security Forces began intensified operations there. In Amarah, Iraqi Security Forces cleared 139 caches of weapons and explosives just last week. They totaled 240 for the month. On the 29th of June, the Iraqi Army in Amarah seized a significant weapons cache that included enough shaped, charged components to build between 40 and 50 of the deadly explosively formed penetrators, and 400 blocks of C-4 explosives and small arms. This past Tuesday in Amarah, the 38th Iraqi Army Brigade found another weapons cache with the EFP components consisting of 152 copper disks that are the key component of the bomb.

We have taken a lot of the enemy weapons off the battlefield and it's making for significantly improved security. We still face a tough fight. And it is increasingly an Iraqi effort, with the ISF most often in the lead and Coalition in support with key enablers. Iraqis are proving increasingly capable of leading and executing missions as we see in the simultaneous operations ongoing today in Iraq. The Government of Iraq is also undertaking improvements by following up security operations with the restoration of essential service, reconstruction, and economic development. I want to share a few more examples of such work in order to illustrate what Coalition Forces and the Iraqi Security Forces are contributing to in this area. On June 25th, civic leaders welcomed the Iraqi Security Forces, local residents, Coalition Forces, to a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Mansour District of Baghdad. They were there to celebrate the opening of Baghdad's largest public works substation, located in Amarah. The facility will provide the community with its own center that supports street cleaning, sanitation and garbage removal. This is the first time these services will be provided in parts of that neighborhood for over two years. Iraqi firms worked hard to renovate the buildings, install security barriers, and get the facility ready to resume services for 15,000 people. Much of the work was assisted by the embedded provincial reconstruction team from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division. In Basrah, work is continuing on the Basrah Children's Hospital. Nine different Iraqi companies are building this innovative new facility with coordination from the U.S. Engineers of the Gulf Region, South District. When this hospital is completed next year, it will be a highly advanced pediatric cancer treatment center, a truly valuable resource for families in need in the region. The recent operations undertaken by the Government of Iraq in Basrah are improving the prospects that this hospital will open and provide children of Iraq with a world-class medical center.

Iraqi Security Forces received 3,700 up-armored Humvees through programs that refurbish U.S. Army vehicles and pass them on to expand Iraqi capabilities. On June 26th, Iraqi and Coalition Forces held a ceremony to mark the transfer of the 1,000th up-armored Humvee to Iraqi Security Forces under a new program that began in March. The program is on track to provide Iraqi Security Forces with up to 8,000 vehicles by the end of next year. As Iraqi forces take on greater missions to protect more of their country, these vehicles enhance capability by providing mobility and protection to soldiers and police officers.

As I said, we still face a tough fight. We continue to pressure those who want to destroy rather than rebuild Iraq, and Coalition Forces are committed to supporting the Iraqi Security Forces in preserving our hard-fought gains. We will now take your questions. Sir.

RPT1 As-Salamu 'Alaykum.

RADM DRISCOLL As-Salamu 'Alaykum.

RPT1 (Speaking in Arabic.)

INT There are problems happened or occurred in Anbar Province between the Islamic Party and the Awakening Group that actually caused the hindering of the process of -- the pick in Anbar Province. Can you explain that to us, please?

RADM DRISCOLL Yes. The process of transferring security from Multinational Forces over to provincial control in Anbar was delayed for one reason, and as you know, that was weather. If you are in Baghdad or you're out in Anbar, when that process was scheduled to take place, the sand storms were significant. So the process was set to take place; the key players were scheduled to go, but it was delayed. There are political issues that continue to be wrestled with, but I anticipate seeing that turnover of authority here in the very near future. Sir.

RPT2 (Speaking in Arabic.)

INT As far as the compensations for -- for the buildings that have been destroyed in Sadr City, we heard that there are no compensations for the buildings that been hit by mistake or on purpose, where militants or militias were in their buildings. As you know, we know that militias, our people are afraid of them, people fear militias, and they cannot stop -- militias from -- people cannot stop militias from using those buildings. Are these people going to get compensated even though...

RADM DRISCOLL Yes. There has been compensation already distributed. Coalition Forces have used commanders' emergency funds to compensate many people already if their homes or businesses were damaged down in the southern part of Sadr City. The reconstruction committee that's been formed to help the people of Sadr City, this is one of the things on their agenda, and I know that they're going to focus on that. It'll probably take some time, but I believe this is one of the primary objectives is to compensate people, to help them rebuild their homes, to help them rebuild their businesses, so they can start hiring people and create the jobs necessary to spur the economy there. Sir.

RPT3 (Speaking in Arabic.)

INT As far as the fuel and energy sector, the brigadier said that it's going to take years, regardless of the improvement that we are witnessing today. Do you have any justifications why is it going to take years? Why are we always saying "years and years"? Why do we always say it's going to take years and years? Is it that complex? Is it that complicated of an issue why we -- why are we -- why isn't going to improve? Thank you.

BG WILKS The construction of new infrastructure is a very lengthy process. The Minister of Electricity has a detailed master plan for new generating plants across Iraq. If we take, for example, the construction of a big thermal power station, this usually takes five years, anywhere in the world, to put a new power station like that in place. And that's in a country where normality exists. Clearly, here it's been more difficult to start those projects, but there are a number of projects that are working, and the minister's plans will be delivering a growth in electricity generation over the next five to 10 years.

RADM DRISCOLL Next question? Sir.

RPT4 (Speaking in Arabic.)

INT We are witnessing the improvement of security situation in Musayyib and we also witnessing the sheiks in the Musayyib area, and they providing security to the energy sector and -- and our electricity sector and they trying to protect that and all that, but so far we haven't seen any -- any thing or any officials from the government trying to come forward to actually provide electricity to -- to the people of Musayyib. And about electricity, about like five kilometers away from Sayyib City, it's supposed to include Sayyib City as part of, like, you know, providing electricity. So what's -- what's -- how do you comment on that?

BG WILKS The improvements that I referred to are the transmission of electricity across the whole of Iraq. At a local level, there are many challenges still in place in terms of distributing the electricity amongst the towns and villages in Iraq. And there is still more work to be done to make sure that every home is connected to the electricity system. So I'm not sure of the particular case you refer to at Musayyib, but I know that in some areas, the distribution network on a local basis still needs more work to be done on it. But the increasing supply of electricity means that as those people are connected, they should get access to some of this electricity. And I know that in the last few days, the Ministry of Electricity has produced close to record levels, even though the power -- the hydroelectric dams are below normal for the year.

RADM DRISCOLL Sir.

RPT5 (Speaking in Arabic.)

INT I have a question to Mr. Carew -- or Brigadier Carew. With all due respect to what you talked about in your report, but I can tell you that the electricity situation now is really bad, and people are not getting enough electricity. They are getting between one to two hours a day. Also the fuel problem and kerosene problem, I mean, you can -- and benzene -- you can see the gas stations and lined-up cars in front of them, and lines, long lines, and queues. So...

BG WILKS The electricity situation, if we look back five years, it's significantly improved from where it was five years ago. And indeed, in the last six months or so, it is improved. I think before five years ago, electricity was concentrated into Baghdad. Now the electricity is shared across all of Iraq. The rising demand for electricity from the economic development means that every day there is more requirement for electricity, and this provides a challenge as well. But there has been improvements in the amount of electricity available. If we look at how it's distributed, those supplies that are deemed to be essential -- hospitals and water pumping stations -- are allocated power on a full-time basis. This means that some residential customers will not get as much power. But on balance across Iraq, about half the demand is being met.

RADM DRISCOLL I have a question for y'all. How many of you have a cell phone that you use? Raise your hand if you have a cell phone that you use to talk with. Okay. How many of you use a computer in your work or at home? Raise your hand. How many of you had that same capability prior -- five years ago -- prior to the withdrawal of the former regime? That's a great example -- we have one hand, two hands raised, as opposed to the whole room. So it's an illustration of the increased use of electricity in the last five years, and...

RPT5 (Speaking in Arabic.)

INT Sorry. The things, the reports that you're getting, where are you getting them from if you just -- pardon me. Where are you getting them from as far as the electricity situation or status? Where are you getting it from? What are your -- which areas are you talking about? Because we not -- so many areas here, and I personally live in an area that actually has only -- or gets only one hour a day. I mean, we should get at least three to four hours a day, you know, as minimum. But we only get one hour.

BG WILKS The information comes from the Ministry of Electricity. That covers, really, the whole of Iraq and looks at the amount of power in relation to the demand. Clearly there are areas, as I covered earlier, where the local distribution system is not able to make sure that everyone gets a fair supply. I know that the Minister of Electricity is working to improve the fair distribution so that what electricity there is is distributed on an equal basis, but that requires support from all Iraqis to make sure that they help the minister and those in the substations who are doing the switching to make sure that it is done in a fair and balanced way.

RADM DRISCOLL Ma'am?

RPT6 (Speaking in Arabic.)

INT My question is as far as American security -- American forces, now they are doing raids in houses and homes, and the American forces are not confiscating weapons when they find it in homes and houses. But Iraqi Security Forces actually doing that; they actually confiscating weapons and signing receipts to the people. So maybe these security forces, Iraqi Security Forces are selling these weapons. So how do you comment on that? My other question is to Brigadier Wilks about the incident that -- about the -- the incident that actually happened today as American security forces are -- American forces were -- 13 soldiers were killed because of the power or...

RADM DRISCOLL I'll take the first part of the question. The Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces are working together as one team in order to improve security. And that's been very successful over the last year since the surge began. Iraqi Security Forces are taking a large number of weapons off the battlefield right now because they're in areas that only they are present, places like Basrah, Amarah and parts of Sadr City. Iraqi Security Forces are in the lead and are responsible for those operations. So they are the ones that are taking those weapons off the battlefield. Most of these weapons are collected, and in fact most of them are destroyed, especially the explosives. And so my good friend, Mohammed al-Askri, the MoD spokesman, has shown me some of the storage areas where these weapons go, and we work with them as team members in order to make sure these weapons don't get back into the hands of those that will use violence against the Iraqi people.

BG WILKS I think, if I can just confirm the second part of the question related to the deaths of American servicemen inside U.S. bases as a result of electrical faults. Am I correct in thinking that was your question?

RADM DRISCOLL Okay. Maybe I can take that one, yeah.

BG WILKS You may do it, sir.

RADM DRISCOLL That report that there has been a number of electric -- accidental electrocutions is being investigated, and there have been changes made in processes and procedures that we use. But we're very concerned about the safety and wellbeing of our service people here and are looking very hard at solutions to mitigate any future injuries.

RPT7 (Speaking in Arabic.) I have two questions: The first question to Mr. Carew, or Brigadier Carew. The Minister of Fuel -- or Minister of Oil, he said that they have about a 10-year plan, a 5-year plan to increase the production of oil (inaudible) if you see -- if you see the Iraqi -- if you see that -- what's the need? So what's -- if we see that -- Admiral Driscoll, the operations in Mosul, there are so many criticisms to the Iraqi officials, and it's saying that this criticism talking about that these operations has not achieved their purposes, and how do you look to those operations, and what's your assessment?

RADM DRISCOLL If we could get you just to repeat the first part of the question. I've got the Mosul question, but the first part?

RPT7 (Speaking in Arabic.)

INT My first question was there's a plan for the Ministry of Oil to increase their production to 6 million barrels in the upcoming 10 years. What's the need of the Iraqi -- of Iraq to the -- to the foreign -- foreign companies? Because we have a law in place. What's the need for the investments for foreign companies?

BG WILKS Okay. I think we've obviously seen good improvement in the oil production over the last six months or so, as I mentioned before. The Ministry of Oil has a plan to continue to improve the amounts of crude oil production in Iraq. And for that, they will need to have new technology and expertise to support the work of his own Ministry of Oil in taking that forward, and has already announced some plans to ask a number of international companies to come and support Iraq in taking that work forward. These companies will bring in modern, the latest technology to assist in making sure that Iraq gets the best from its oil resources.

RADM DRISCOLL The security question: Mosul is very, very valuable real estate to al Qaeda. As you know, it's up by the border of Syria, and the vast majority of foreign fighters and equipment and money come through the border up near Mosul. And so al Qaeda is determined to hold on to that territory. And there's been on going operations with MND-North, an operation that began, actually, back in December called Phantom Phoenix, and Iron Harvest, and that continues today, as well as the Prime Minister's initiative to intensify operations with Mother of Two Springs, and that's ongoing. We've had success in many parts of the country, and security does continue to improve. But Mosul's a tough fight, and it's going to take continued effort in order to be successful. Sir.

RPT8 (Speaking in Arabic.)

INT As-Salamu Alaykum. General, I think you asked about mobile phones, and you asked about computers that are available right now here and we didn't have it before. Just like you're trying to say that this is just an improvement, you know, by itself, an improvement in the Iraqi situation here. Well, I tell you that the Iraqi people on the street are saying that, Take all this technology you're talking about and give us security back. I have another question now. There are members in the parliament, Iraqi parliament, are worried about getting security situation are collapsing in Mosul again, and they said that the situation in Mosul is getting worse, and, you know, gradually getting worse. My other question is about the areas or compensations in Sadr City and other areas that got destroyed by, you know, during operations. Is American forces are going to pay compensations or the Iraqi governments going to be responsible about compensating those people?

RADM DRISCOLL Well, I'll take the questions in reverse order. First of all, Sadr City. As I mentioned, there's a reconstruction committee set up. There's also a civil/military operation center set up in Sadr City where people can come in and file claims for these -- for these damages. And that's been ongoing now for about a month, and many claims have already been paid. As you move farther north in Sadr City, that compensation process will take a little longer, but those avenues are available. In terms of Mosul, I'll go back to what I said. I think there has been very good progress in Mosul. As you've seen, many al Qaeda flee the city of Mosul and head out to places like the Jazeera Desert and down to the Diyala River Valley where they'll need to be pursued. And so it's an ongoing fight; it's by no means over, and there's a lot of tough combat ahead. And I'll just pass it over to Brigadier Wilks. And I wonder if we know how much demand has increased over the last five years?

BG WILKS Yes, and the point that was being made is that the growth in the economy is a good thing for Iraq. But it does mean that there is a growth in the demand for electricity, and in fact, in the last week, demand has reached its record level, ever, in Iraq, and that's a combination of the hot weather, but also the growing requirement for electricity from -- as we discovered -- mobile phones and computers, but air conditioning, fridges and other equipment that people are buying. And the supply of electricity is still only about 50 percent of that demand. So there are many years of hard work to do to build the power stations needed to close that gap. And I know the Minister of Electricity is looking for the help of the Iraqi people in conserving energy as well.

RADM DRISCOLL Sir?

RPT9 (Speaking in Arabic.)

INT My question is to Mr. Wilks, or Brigadier Wilks. You've mentioned previously that in the past six months that we have noticed or witnessed improvements in both sectors, oil and electricity. Can we know the percentage of production of electricity? And my other question to Admiral Driscoll: The security situation in Baghdad, what are we -- what are we going through -- or what are the things that the Security Forces are going through in Baghdad?

BG WILKS On the electricity side, I think I've said in my short speech that last week electricity was 24 percent higher than the same week the previous year, in 2007. And what that means is about 1,000MW of electricity, which is enough power for about 400,000 homes. Over the year, so far this year, electricity is on average 11 percent higher than the same period for 2008. As you know, the draught has meant reduced water in the rivers and in the dams, and if the levels of water had been the same as last year, there would be a further 500MW available. So that improvement I mentioned, 11 percent for the year and 24 percent last week, would be much higher if it had not been for the draught. So good progress is being made.

RADM DRISCOLL As far as Sadr City, the battle in Sadr City continues on two fronts -- excuse me -- in Baghdad, yes. In Baghdad. I'm sorry. First of all, al Qaeda still remains a very potent threat, and so Iraqi Security Forces and in partnership with the Coalition Forces are still concentrating on the networks that are in Baghdad that can still do these horrendous attacks we see that kill innocent civilians. And then with the security effort that the Iraqi Security Forces have done in Sadr City, they continue to take a lot of caches of weapons that we talked about earlier that are stored there off the street so they can't be used in future criminal and terrorist activity. But the most important effort going right now is that the Coalition Forces partnering with the ISF, working to, first of all, do resources for immediate needs of the people, and then start reconstruction in order to get the infrastructure built back up in the city, which includes electricity, but also sewage, health, all those vital services that are required in Baghdad. And then also that will help with these major projects with employment. And if you have large projects, for instance, putting in a power plant takes a lot of people. It's a long-term employment. Those are the kind of projects we need to get employment going, which will help also keep people from thinking about joining the insurgency. So that's the effort in Sadr City today. Time for one last question. Sir.

RPT10 (Speaking in Arabic.)

INT My question is is there any operations -- search operations, weapons search operations that we can conduct the same way we conducted in Sadr City, especially we have witnessed, we've seen like a lot of weapon caches -- and caches in Sadr City.

RADM DRISCOLL Are you referring to additional searches in Baghdad? Or -- Yes? There are lots of -- in Shula and other neighborhoods, there's been lots of other Iraqi Security Forces in combination with Coalition Security Forces going through the neighborhoods. And most of them aren't really searches; what's really happening is people in their neighborhoods know where these caches are, and people are tired of the violence. People are tired of individuals coming into their neighborhoods and causing this violence. So if they've hidden a weapons cache, as we've seen, by hospitals -- they've hidden them by schools, they've hidden these caches in mosques -- the people are pointing these out to the Iraqi Security Forces. And as Kosimel Adant (phonetic) reports on a regular basis in his weekly updates, almost every week they're taking many of these weapons out of Sadr City and throughout all of Baghdad. Thank you very much for your time. Sorry for the delay. It's good seeing you all. (End)



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