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Military

U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Transcript

Presenter: Marine Corps Brigadier General Kevin J. Killea, chief of staff, Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) September 4, 2015

Department of Defense Press Briefing with Brigadier General Kevin J. Killea, chief of staff, Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve via DVIDS from Southwest Asia on Operation Inherent Resolve

CAPTAIN JEFF DAVIS: Good morning, everybody. Thank you for joining us today. We're happy to have General Killea with us again from CJTF-OIR [Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve].

General, confirm you can hear us, and when you're ready, we'll give the floor to you, sir.

BRIGADIER GENERAL KEVIN J. KILLEA: Okay, thanks, Jeff.

The -- the comms are okay. A little bit broken up, coming in and out, so I'd ask folks, when they ask questions, just speak slowly. That'll be great.

And I appreciate everyone attending today.

I'd like to provide you with an operational update on Iraq and the overall effect this is having on the combined joint operations area. The training and equipping in Iraq, we'll talk about that a little bit and some details on Turkey's contributions to the air campaign against ISIL, since that's relatively new, and that they've recently joined the CJTF ATO [air tasking order].

After that, I'll take your questions.

So over the past couple weeks, there has been some significant activity in northern Iraq, particularly in and around Tuz, an area just east of Mosul.

So if you recall, Colonel Ryder highlighted the gains in Tuz last week. I want to give you some more context about what these operations mean more broadly across Iraq.

Locally, this was obviously a significant advancement in the war against ISIL. But along with the work of other Iraqi security forces in northern Iraq, this offensive has put pressure on ISIL by moving them backwards, denying them terrain and causing them to make some hard operational decisions.

These actions demonstrate, once again, that territory can be retaken from ISIL, reducing their ability to control seized areas for significant periods of time and thereby degrading the establishment of any level of governance.

The reality is that the Mosul-to-Bayji corridor along the TRV [Tigris River Valley] is a crucial ground line of communication and movement for ISIL. With Bayji remaining contested, ISIL can take advantage of this corridor for resource resupply, and ISF forces subsequently face stiff resistance in the lower TRV.

We have certainly seen this play out in areas like Samarra and west from Bayji to Haditha. This is why operational gains up north are crucial to the overall fight. Gaining control of ground lines of communication, wherever that may be, degrades ISIL resources and their resupply capabilities.

Let me bring you up to date on training and equipping in Iraq. This week, the 75th Iraqi Army Brigade continues their latest block of instruction on coalition-provided weapons. In the next week, we will issue weapons and equipment to battalions of the 75th through the government of Iraq.

This will lead to a two-week training block on the use and maintenance of those weapons systems. The completion of training for the first battalion of the 75th, as well as the start of training for the 2nd battalion of the 75th, gets us closer to having a fifth Iraqi army brigade trained at a building partner capacity (BPC) platform.

We fully expect that this training will give the 75th the necessary level of tactical proficiency to provide the Iraqi army an overall greater level of confidence in their operational capabilities.

While I'm talking about the training-and-equipping piece, you have heard me refer to the constant threat that the ISF [Iraqi Security Forces] face with IEDs [improvised explosive devices] and VBIEDs [vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices]. IEDs have consistently been a leading cause of casualties for ISF forces and have contributed significantly to slowing the pace of operations in places like Ramadi.

Because it took as long as it did to launch the counterattack, ISIL was able to cover up Ramadi area with IEDs and other obstacles. As a result, the Iraqis are now methodically clearing them as they close on the city along multiple axes of approach.

CJTF Operation Inherent Resolve is keenly aware of the significant counter-IED fight the ISF is currently engaged in and expects to face in future operations. Over the past several months, the CJTF has prioritized the issuance of counter-IED equipment to the ISF in the form of bulldozers, mine-clearing equipment, anti-armor weapons for the VBIED threat and other assured mobility assets.

Concurrently, the coalition training focus has paralleled the equipping efforts by deploying counter-IED training teams to augment the BPC trainers at Taji, Besmaya and Al Asad.

Over 8,000 Iraqi army and Peshmerga soldiers have trained in various aspects of counter-IED operations. This is in addition to the initial training that the more-than-12,000 BPC unit graduates -- graduates have received as part of the four-to-six-week courses.

Now, with regard to Turkey, last week, they began conducting airstrikes against ISIL. While I won't go into details about the number, location or type of targets they specifically hit, I can tell you that Turkey's entry into CJTF operations, along with our ability to base attack platforms out of Incirlik, has significantly broadened our capabilities by increasing flexibility in targeting and target area coverage overall.

Our -- our Turkish military counterparts are now included in the CJTF air tasking order, resulting in a seamless level of coordination and synchronization of their operations.

This latest evolution in the ongoing partnership with Turkey will ensure further operational integration and successes. In the end, Turkey's recent contributions to CJTF operations is another example of partner nations working towards the common goal of defeating ISIL.

And with that, I'll take your questions.

CAPT. DAVIS: Thank you, sir.

We're going to do today without the Phil Donahue microphone style, so we're going to use the house mics. So, I just ask, when -- when you are speaking, speak up.

And sir, if you do have problems hearing, do let us know, and we'll go back to the -- the way we did it last week.

And I would also ask -- he can't see you, so please identify yourself when -- when you're called upon.

Laurent, I'll give you the first question today.

Q: Yeah. So, Laurent Barthelemy from Agence France Presse, AFP.

I -- I wanted to ask you, what was the -- the result of the analysis that were to be carried out to determine if a mustard agent has been used near -- Makhtour (sic)? In a previous briefing, I think you -- you -- you told us that such analysis were to be carried out -- sorry, the name of the -- is Makhmur.

So, you told us that such analysis were to be carried out, so I was curious to know, what was the result of this analysis?

GEN. KILLEA: Yes, thank you for that question.

And if you recall, two weeks ago, when I mentioned that, there was a presumptive field test on -- on -- on materials that were -- that were collected by Makhmur, near Makhmur, and those materials have now been packaged up, and they have been shipped to what we call a gold-level laboratory. It's an internationally recognized laboratory for complete and thorough analysis so that we can ultimately get to conclusive results on what -- what that material was.

Q: So, you don't have the results yet? When will you expect them?

GEN. KILLEA: Yeah, so, I -- I can't give you an exact date on when that is. I can tell you that that material left shortly after my conference with you two weeks ago, my press conference with -- with you two weeks ago. It was packaged up, and it left, I believe within 10 days of that. You have to be very careful about how you do that, as you could imagine.

And it's with the gold-level laboratory right now, and I suspect it'll be a couple of more weeks before we have the exact analysis on that. But I don't know the exact date.

CAPT. DAVIS: Joe?

Q: General Killea, this is Joe Tabet with Alhurra Television.

Could you give us an update on the current situation in Bayji? Could you confirm if ISIL militants have retaken the refinery and part of the city?

GEN. KILLEA: Okay, another great question, and thank you for that.

I'll go back to what I said about Bayji two weeks ago. It was -- I -- I referenced it as hotly contested and that it is a situation of attack, counterattack, and it continues to be that way, a very contested fight.

We have seen ISIL continue to put a large amount of reinforcements into that fight, and they're paying a heavy price for it, by the way. But it all -- that goes to show you the strategic importance of -- of Bayji. You don't need to look at a map to see that, but if you do, you realize what a strategic crossroads Bayji City is and then north of Bayji, as you alluded to, the oil refinery.

So, I would continue to characterize it as contested.

Q: A quick follow-up, sir. What about the -- the city of Ramadi? Where are the Iraqi Security Forces now? How far are they from going back and retaking the city?

GEN. KILLEA: I'm sorry. Which city are we talking about? We still talking about Bayji?

Q: Ramadi.

GEN. KILLEA: Oh, Ramadi.

So the situation in Ramadi is not -- really, I don't have anything significant to report on that since last week's press conference.

The Iraqi security forces are still in the isolation phase. They continue to close down on the city. There is movement along the multiple axes of approach there. There is constant coalition air support there and in Bayji, as -- the city we just talked about.

But -- but other than that, I don't have any detailed update for you on Ramadi.

CAPT. DAVIS: Courtney?

Q: Hi, General. This is Courtney Kube from NBC News.

Can you talk a little bit about -- there's been some media reports -- reporting this week about Russian presence, new Russian presence, in Syria. Can you tell us what it is that you're seeing there? What are you seeing the Russians bring in, your assessment on what you think they might be doing?

And some of the reporting has included analysis that they may be bringing in air assets to do airstrikes on behalf of the Assad regime. I'm curious if -- if Russia was ever invited to be a part of the coalition, the air coalition.

GEN. KILLEA: Right. Thank you for that, Courtney, and I -- I saw that open-source reporting that alluded to that as well.

Unfortunately, I don't have an answer for you. I don't have any details on Russian activity in Syria. I -- I would defer that to probably OSD PA [Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs] for those questions.

CAPT. DAVIS: Bill?

Q: (off mic) question, but Bill Hennigan, Los Angeles Times.

Are you -- are you saying that you haven't seen a Russian presence there?

GEN. KILLEA: I'm saying -- Bill, I'm saying I don't have any information on activity, on Russian activity, in Syria.

From the position I am, chief of staff of the Combined Joint Task Force here in Inherent Resolve, I don't have any information on Russian activity in Syria for you today.

Q: Would their presence there complicate the -- the picture, and would it -- what are some of the things that you have to mitigate, deconfliction, things like that, if they -- if they were indeed there?

GEN. KILLEA: Well, Russia notwithstanding, Bill, we have issues with the regime, obviously, operating in Syria, and we have challenges there that we have to make sure that we deconflict with. I -- I can't imagine that -- if we went down that road, that it would be much different.

But again, I've got zero information on Russian activity in Syria.

CAPT. DAVIS: Thomas?

Q: Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Washington Post.

There's been some reports -- this is going back to Ramadi -- some reports from your Iraqi counterparts that they had been asking for airstrikes in and around Ramadi and haven't had them properly sourced. Do you have any visuals on that?

GEN. KILLEA: I -- I'll tell you what I have visuals on. I have visuals on how much air support we've been giving on a daily basis, and -- and I actually saw some information on that open source as well, and I've looked at the numbers, and just in the last week along, we've done 16 -- 16 or 17 strikes in the Ramadi area alone.

And a strike, as you know, is multiple engagements. It's not just one bomb off of -- off an airplane, but -- so, I know that the number in Ramadi is just as much as the number up in Bayji as it is in other areas where we're supporting the ISF on the ground in Iraq.

It's an interesting perspective that they say they need more. Whoever said that, I -- I can't confirm that -- that that source was a valid source with regard to air support, because from my perspective, the air support that we're giving in -- in Iraq for the security forces is -- is what they need.

Q: Follow-up on that, can you characterize the tasking for your air crews as being strained, or is it, you know, a normal amount?

GEN. KILLEA: I -- I missed the last end of that question, I apologize. Would I characterize the tasking for the air crews as what?

Q: Are the number of sorties that you're putting up, is that -- is it a lot for the resources that you have, or is it about a normal amount for the amount of aircraft you have in the area of operations?

GEN. KILLEA: I would say that that's probably a better question for the CFACC [Combined Forces Air Component commander] to ask what kind of stress that puts on their capacity to support the requirements in Iraq. But I can tell you that we have not had an issue where we've asked for something and it hasn't been available.

Obviously, there are times when requirements peak above what you plan for, but we had the ability to move assets around when needed to cover areas that are -- that, like -- that pop up, if you will, that aren't planned for.

CAPT. DAVIS: Nancy?

Q: This Nancy Youssef from The Daily Beast, and I wanted to follow up on the Ramadi question, then I had one out of Syria.

You mentioned 16 or 17 strikes in the last week in Ramadi. Can you give us some sense of what the Iraqis have asked for? Did they ask for a substantial more or about that number of strikes and what the correlation is between what they asked for and how you make the decision to conduct strikes?

GEN. KILLEA: That's -- that's a great question, and -- and while I don't have that data at my fingertips, I can get that for you. I'd have to go up to the Combined Joint Operations Center in Baghdad to see what those -- what that number of requests was, and we can provide that to you after the interview.

Q: And then I had a question on Syria and the YPG. Have the YPG put it any requests for strikes? We haven't seen any movement by them, any effort to claim territory in recent weeks, and there has been some concern about tensions between the YPG and the coalition in light of the Turkey agreement.

Have they made requests for support, and if so, what is the coalition response?

GEN. KILLEA: So, two things on that. I -- I -- I can't give out details on -- on YPG requests for support or what they're doing for support, nor can I talk to -- because I don't know -- what the plans are for their operational maneuver. But obviously, we wouldn't -- we wouldn't discuss that either, due to security reasons.

But the short of it is, I -- I -- I -- I don't -- I don't have the information that would provide a level of interest or a level of detail for what the YPG is requesting. I -- I -- I have not heard of any issues or conflict with -- with YPG with -- with respect to resource requests.

Q: Can I ask it this way, then? Does the U.S. continue to agree to support YPG requests for air support? Has that -- has there been any change in recent weeks on that front?

GEN. KILLEA: Absolutely not. YPG has been an incredible, reliable partner of ours on the ground in the fight against ISIL up in the northern part of Syria, no doubt. And so there is no -- there's no change that I'm aware of, of denying them support in their continued efforts to fight ISIL and eradicate them from the battlefield.

CAPT. DAVIS: (off mic)

Q: Thank you. Jeff Sullivan from Voice of America.

Question about Syria and some of the deconfliction issues. Are you seeing any new indications that the Assad regime is flying -- or more flights or putting more resources in the air as it tries to hold on in Syria?

GEN. KILLEA: Yeah, I don't have anything for you on that question. I'm sorry. There's levels of detail that -- that I wouldn't be privy to.

Q: This is Mark Schantz with Air Force Magazine. You mentioned the aircraft tasking. I want to go back to Turkey.

You have about -- open sources indicate you have about six tails of F-16s flying out of Incirlik. That's a relatively small portion of the total air coalition that's operating right now.

Is there any agreement with the Turkish government for plans to expand that presence with further strike assets or combat search-and-rescue assets, and will those plans include putting those assets at other bases, such as Konya and Batman?

GEN. KILLEA: Great question, and I can't talk to the details of any discussions that are going on between the Turkish government and the coalition with regard to expanding the footprint, but I would remind everybody that those F-16s in Incirlik are not alone.

Again, we're flying armed RPA [remotely piloted aircraft] out of there as well, and that has been an expansion to our capabilities in the northern part of Syria and Iraq. No doubt, you can call that a small number of tails, but it is having a great effect, especially when you consider the airborne tankers that are flying out of Incirlik as well that support not only time over the target, but number of targets struck, when you do the time distance and how those F-16s can be turned.

CAPT. DAVIS: Jim?

Q: General, Jim Michaels at USA Today.

Just coming back to Ramadi, the -- the offensive there has been going on for some time. Are you satisfied with the -- the pace of the ground offensive there? Is it -- is it taking about the amount of time that you expected?

GEN. KILLEA: I would say that -- that's a great question. I would say that my expectations of time are not relevant here. It's -- we are on the government of Iraq's timeline for when they feel they have set the conditions properly to go to the next phase and clear Ramadi.

I think it's a good point. I think everybody has different expectations, and that's why different people would characterize the situation in Ramadi differently, and that's -- that -- that leads to -- leads to debate.

But our position here at the CJTF is to support the government of Iraq in their scheme of maneuver and in their imposed timelines and how they're gonna -- gonna -- like I said, go to the next phase and -- and take back the city.

Q: And just a quick follow, is there a sense that the offensive has in any way stalled or delayed, or do you -- do you feel that it is continuing to move forward?

GEN. KILLEA: So, it has not stalled and delayed. There's -- there's movement on both sides everyday. You may not see big arrows on a map, but there is -- there's fighting going on, there's strikes going on, as I just alluded to in an earlier question, so I wouldn't characterize it with either one of those words.

CAPT. DAVIS: Richard?

Q: Sir, Richard Sisk, military.com.

General, can you give us any clarity on Turkey, how many airstrikes they've carried out as part of the coalition?

Also, are they continuing to strike in Northwestern Iraq? Do you have any sense of numbers, the number of airstrikes they may have carried out there?

Thirdly, sir, are you aware of -- can you give us any clarity on whether there have been any direct threats against -- against Incirlik itself, which led to the order yesterday about voluntary evacuation?

GEN. KILLEA: So, for the first question, the Turkish air force is a daily part of our air tasking order.

For the second question, I can't speak to the details of unilateral Turkish actions in Northern Iraq, or on the other side of the border between Iraq and Turkey.

And for the third question, I don't have any details about threat levels at Incirlik. I would refer you to the government of Turkey, or to European Command for information on that base and its threat levels.

Q: Just, General, can you tell us how many airstrikes the Turks have carried out in Syria as part of the coalition?

GEN. KILLEA: I cannot. I don't have that information. All's I know is that they're a daily part of our air tasking order.

CAPT. DAVIS: Thanks. Anyone else? Molly ?

Q: Molly O'Toole from Defense One.

What is the status of -- there had been some reporting on an agreement being finalized between Turkey and the U.S. regarding -- there've been a lot of terms used. Safe zone, clearing the area of -- of the border. What is the status of those efforts, and what role would the U.S. train-and-equip forces have in that?

And also, what lessons may have been learned for the next round of the train and equip before they're inserted into Syria, given the challenges that sort of the first group have faced?

GEN. KILLEA: So I -- I -- I missed the second half of your question.

But the first half of your question, with regard to any zone along the border is -- if -- if -- if -- if there's discussions in that area, they're in their beginning stages.

And I hear people talk about zones and safe zones all the time, and I'm not aware of any from the CJTF perspective that we're exploring. And certainly, we're not talking about a no-fly zone. It's got nothing to do on the aviation side.

We will continue to support -- the coalition, that is, to support anti-ISIL forces on the ground to defeat ISIL and to take back territory that they've gained in northern Syria. And I see that as -- as an obvious positive step to securing the border area between Turkey and Syria.

And I -- and what was the second half of your question, I'm sorry?

Q: Regarding the -- the U.S. train-and-equip Syrian forces, what lessons have been learned, or what -- what sort of changes will there be to the approach, given the challenges that were faced by the first group that was inserted in Syria, as this next group prepares to sort of graduate, so to speak, that -- that training program?

GEN. KILLEA: Yeah, that's a fantastic question.

I -- I don't -- don't have any details about the lesson learned, because it gets into the specifics of -- of training and the vetting. But we have seen that the classes and the training that's ongoing for that are -- are very promising.

The recruiting numbers for follow-on classes is -- is very promising, and I think that says a lot to the program itself in -- in that, as the numbers continue, this'll be very additive to the anti-ISIL forces that are in northern Syria.

As you know, it is challenging. We don't have direct command and control with those forces once we do finish training and equipping them when we put them back into the flight, if you will, with the vetted Syrian opposition and the moderate Syrian opposition forces that are in northern Syrian fighting ISIL.

So that -- that piece of it is a challenge, and if I had to point to a place where -- where we could explore better lessons learned, that would be it minus any details I could give you.

Q: Sorry. If I could just follow on that really quickly. So nothing changed in terms of what level of support the -- obviously, you don't have command and control, but nothing -- nothing changed in terms of level of support or protection that would be given to these forces once they're inserted back into Syria? Nothing has changed in that regard? No additional protective measures might be taken with this next round?

GEN. KILLEA: Well -- well, respectfully, that's a completely different question. I mean, if you're asking me about the support that we give them and the protection that we give them once they're in the fight, I think we demonstrated that on July 31st when that first group was attacked by ANF [Al Nusra Front].

(inaudible) – we will continue to support the new Syria forces, the vetted Syrian opposition, the YPG, all of the forces in northern Syria that are fighting ISIL. We'll continue to support them to the capabilities of our authorizations and to the capability of our resources.

CAPT. DAVIS: James?

Q: Sir, James Rosen, McClatchy.

No disrespect intended at all, but some might argue that -- regarding that first group of Syrian trained-and-equipped troops who went in -- who went back in to Syria on July 31st, that they did not receive adequate protection.

So I -- I have a follow-up question on that. What -- what does the United States know about the fate of the people, those who are captured, the Syrians who were captured by Al Nusra, and what is -- what are your folks doing to secure their release?

GEN. KILLEA: So, on your -- on your first comment, you obviously have a different information on the outcome of that fight that night on July 31st.

On the second point, with regard to the ANF, I can't -- I can't release details on where -- what the ANF is doing or what they're doing. I -- I -- I -- I would defer you to CENTCOM [U.S. Central Command] or OSD for information on that that may be releasable.

Q: Could you improve my understanding of the outcome of that fight, please? (off mic)

GEN. KILLEA: Yeah, I -- I understand it was, you know -- the coalition aircraft were able to beat back that -- that ANF attack and provide the new Syrian forces that were engaged there.

The -- the air -- the air power that they needed, as they fought back against the -- the ANF, and the air -- the coalition airstrikes supported them in -- in beating back that attack by over 50 ANF soldiers.

Q: How many were captured by Al Nusra?

GEN. KILLEA: Yeah, I don't have those details for you. Thanks.

CAPT. DAVIS: We have time for a couple more. Jamie, then Luis.

Q: Thank you, General. Jamie Crawford with CNN.

I just wanted to follow up real quickly on the question of mustard agents. Just to clarify, have you -- are there -- have there been any attacks besides the two instances that we've already discussed, and, just a follow on that, do you have a sense of how much of -- of this material or other chemical agents are in ISIS's arsenal at this point?

GEN. KILLEA: So, for the first part of your question, I'm not sure which instances you're talking about.

The earlier question was about the August 11th alleged attack against the Pesh near Makhmur. So -- so that -- that instance is what materials have been packaged up and sent to what we call a gold-level laboratory, an international laboratory, for final analysis.

There has been multiple reports, open-source, a couple in Mara, and another one up near Mosul that was open-source. That was reported, but to date, we -- we don't have any direct coalition input into either of those.

I do know that those instances are being looked at by the international community, and if you have questions about those, the best place to go right now is the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, who is looking into that internationally.

CAPT. DAVIS: Luis?

Q: General, it's Luis Martinez, of ABC News. I have two questions, one to follow up on the -- the chemical aspect.

There's a report out that U.S. troops in Iraq have been ordered to be reequipped with chemical suits, or hazmat suits, in light of these attacks. Is that accurate? What other force protection measures are you implementing as a result of that?

And then I have a separate question on a different issue.

GEN. KILLEA: So thanks for the question. The force protection for the coalition forces is an extremely high priority, if not the top priority for us.

The pre-deployment training that everybody goes through prepares them for the -- the worst-case instances that you might imagine for chem [chemical], bio [biological], radiological events.

So there -- this isn't anything that we had to react to in that sense. We didn't have to do anything new. We just have to monitor the situation and evaluate the threat, and address that threat level as it may or may not change.

Q: And the -- and the other question, sir, was about -- in your opening statement, you spoke a lot about the IED threat and the training to counter that -- that -- since ISIS is using so many IEDs. But you spoke particularly about Ramadi.

Can you talk about how much of a threat the IEDs are causing to ISF forces there? Are they causing significant numbers of casualties? Is that why it seems to be -- the operation there seems to be progressing so slowly?

GEN. KILLEA: I -- I think those are all accurate perspectives. It is a -- a weapon of choice for ISIL, not only in placements to support barricades and obstacles, which they cover by fire, but also as vehicle-borne IEDs, where they like to -- when they have -- like, I'm looking for a word for types of attacks.

For smaller types of distracting attacks where they try to create a reaction from the ISF, they'll use vehicle borne IEDs to lead into that initial engagement as a means to start it off.

So we see -- we see that often, and we have obviously taken appropriate measures to address that with -- with the ISF, with equipment that I talked about. Anti-amour weapons are proving to be a huge plus for them with regard to identifying VBIEDs and destroying them before they become a factor.

But no doubt, it's a -- it's a huge weapon for ISIL, it's a leading cause of causalities there, and it has definitely added to the pace of the operation.

Q: And if I could go back again to the chem/bio suit question. You've talked about the preparations and the lead up and the equipping, but the -- in light of these new reports, have there been orders for U.S. troops to be on a higher state alert in case this type of attack occurs wherever they are?

GEN. KILLEA: I think the -- the best way to answer that question is that the preparedness level is there for the troops to adjust to whatever risk assessment is made by the commander on the ground.

CAPT. DAVIS: Courtney has one quick follow up, sir.

Q: It's Courtney Kube from NBC again. It's about that same issue that Luis was just asking.

I think the -- the specific media report was that U.S. forces were told to, quote, "dust off" their chem/bio equipment. Do you -- do you take issue with that report? Is that -- is that correct? Were they -- are -- are personnel carrying them around when they weren't a week or two ago before these chemical-weapons attacks reports occurred?

GEN. KILLEA: Now, I -- Courtney, I think that's a funny use of words, and I -- I wouldn't deny somebody the -- the ability to use the term "dust off" when it comes to making sure that their equipment is ready to go, especially when you're fighting in the desert.

I -- I think the way that people are interpreting that is up to them. But for me, you have to imagine that this is -- I'll use a play on words, right? This isn't our first rodeo over there.

So to suggest that that equipment wasn't readily available or that our troops and our coalition forces weren't trained to it would be -- would -- wouldn't be proper in my mind.

Q: Thank you.

CAPT. DAVIS: All right General, thank you very much for joining us in what is, I know, very late in your day. Appreciate your time, sir, and signing off from here.

http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Transcripts/Transcript-View/Article/616346/department-of-defense-press-briefing-with-brigadier-general-kevin-j-killea-chie



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