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Presenter: British Army Maj. Gen. Doug Chalmers, deputy commander, strategy and sustainment, Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve June 23, 2016

Department of Defense Press Briefing by Maj. Gen. Chalmers via Teleconference from Baghdad, Iraq


CAPTAIN JEFF DAVIS: So, general, just want to make sure you can hear us and we can hear you.

MAJOR GENERAL DOUG CHALMERS: Jeff, I can hear you loud and clear.

CAPT. DAVIS: OK, very good.

We're pleased to be joined today by British Army Major General Doug Chalmers. He's the deputy commander, strategy and sustainment, for Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, coming to us today live from Baghdad to brief us on the state of the operations.

General, we'll turn it over to you for opening comments.

GEN. CHALMERS: Thank you, Jeff.

Greetings to the Pentagon press corps. Good morning. I'm Major General Doug Chalmers, the deputy commander for strategy and sustainment for Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve.

It's good to see you again. Much has happened in Iraq since March when I last spoke with you. We've seen pressure against Daesh increase significantly and their so-called caliphate continue to unravel and crumble under that pressure.

I've got a short opening statement for you before I take your questions.

The Combined Joint Task Force strategy of degrading, dismantling and defeating Daesh by striking them across the breadth and depth of their formations, by increasing the capability and capacity of our partners, and by harnessing the power of the 65-nation international coalition is making progress.

Just over a year ago, the town of Ramadi fell to Daesh fighters, which was the high water mark of the Daesh expansion. Since then, we've seen the tide turning on Daesh. Not only have their advances been stopped, the terrain they have briefly controlled has been taken back by the Iraqi Security Forces and by Syrian opposition forces dedicated to defeating the terrorist group.

We are striking them on multiple fronts -- their fighters on the front lines, their command and control apparatus, their leaders, their industrial base, and financial system, their communication networks, and the system that they use for bringing foreign fighters in to fill their ranks in both Iraq and Syria.

In other words, we are forcing them to fight in multiple locations and in multiple directions.

In Iraq, we're seeing the Iraqi Security Forces performing much better on the battlefield. While there are multiple reasons for this increase in combat proficiency, we think there are three significant factors.

Firstly, improving Iraqi coordination between the elements of their security forces, the confidence of those forces and the manner in which they work with coalition support.

In Fallujah, we've seen the benefits of all forces involved in an operation under a single chain of coordination, and this has enabled them to act far more in concern than we have seen before.

Coalition support continues to accelerate. Our strikes, in support of the ground advances of the Iraqi Security Forces continue to provide overwhelming combat power at the right time and place on the battlefield.

You already know that we have trained more than 23,000 Iraqi Security Forces, and have seen improved performance from those units that have gone through our build partner capacity sites.

We are also increasing training for Iraqi police officers, and we'll soon be expanding that training to the border security force.

So, not only with the Iraqi Security Forces be able to liberate their territory, they will be better set to be able to hold it and secure the population within it.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we've seen an increase in confidence from the Iraqi Security Forces as they face Daesh fighters on the battlefield and defeat them.

Now, those are not just words. And if you remember when I spoke to you last time in March, we were talking about how this momentum might go.

But the recent advances that they've made in both the Tigris and Euphrates River Valleys at the same time, concurrently, is deeply impressive -- not just in fighting terms, but also in sustainment terms, which is a topic that we discussed back in March.

In Syria, we've seen the same trends by our partnered opposition forces. The multi- ethnic components of the Syrian Democratic Forces are united against Daesh. We've seen opposition forces in the northeast, near Mara, and in the southeast near At Tanf remain focused on defeating Daesh and removing its influence from their homelands.

Our advise and assistance to those forces does increase their effectiveness in combat.

In conclusion, we've seen advances against Daesh in both Iraq and Syria, increasing the pressure on the group throughout both countries. Ongoing operations in Manbij, Fallujah and the Tigris River Valley are shaping the battlefield and establishing the conditions for the two big future fights: Raqqa and Mosul.

We've seen Daesh's desire to mount attacks against the military forces involved in the ongoing fight and against innocent civilian populations.

There will be tough days ahead for our partner forces and for those of us in the coalition that work with them day by day.

But we see the campaign progressing and the military defeat of Daesh in Iraq and Syria as inevitable.

With that, I'll gladly take your questions. Memory tells me -- and I can't quite see into the room -- that the first question goes to either Bob or Lita.

CAPT. DAVIS: And they're, unfortunately, not here. So, we'll -- we'll give the first question of the day to Joe Tabet from Al Hurra.

Q: Thank you, General Chalmers. I don't know if you can give us an update about the ongoing operations in Manbij and Fallujah.

I know you might not like to talk about timelines. Do you know how long it will take to enter Manbij and to clear Fallujah?

GEN. CHALMERS: Fallujah -- first, I think -- and you've seen this in reporting and even some of our own reporting, we were slightly surprised at how quick, actually, some of it was going. And that's where you might have seen a misstep in how much the area was cleared.

But as we've looked to gain a better understating through our Iraqi partners who are the ones who are doing this clearing coordination -- they are well over half way through and now very firmly in the northern part of the city.

And that speed and momentum, the requirement then is sort of what we call back clear, which is go back over ground afterwards. We've still got a while to go. But it's going to be far quicker than we probably had estimated -- a couple of weeks ago. That's for Fallujah.

Over in Manbij, you'll know that the -- the multi-ethnic sort of Syrian democratic piece has effectively isolated that and is now moving towards the city, but you rightly indicated in your question that in terms of future operations and exactly how that next phase will go, I will defer to the commanders on the ground to that one.

Q: Quick follow-up on Manbij. What are the obstacles that the SDF are facing in the Manbij operation?

GEN. CHALMERS: Um, we're -- all we're seeing is -- is quite similar to what you see in Iraq and elsewhere. So we see the IEDs, we see, sort of, rocket fire positions and the sort of berms, et cetera, in that area. So it is a similar type of defensive type network that they are working their way through.

CAPT. DAVIS: Next we'll go to Idris Ali from the little British wire called Reuters.

Q: General, there was a report today by the Syrian Observatory that the SDF forces had fought Islamic State inside Manbij. Could you confirm that?

GEN. CHALMERS: I think -- it depends what you mean by inside Manbij and I think that's the piece we are trying to get. As with any city, they're sort of outlying sort of areas -- suburban areas -- a better word -- or villages and hamlets -- they are in those, but actually -- exactly where they are inside the center of the city is not yet – is my word.

So I think -- I can understand the report. Our understanding is it's more on the outer edges of the -- some of the villages in that area.

Q: And on Fallujah, I mean, just looking over the pictures and some of their reporting, it looks like the destruction of the city is quite widespread. Could you give some details as the clearing operation goes, how much destruction has taken place and in what you are seeing?

GEN. CHALMERS: I mean, this is something after is something after Ramadi, as you remember, we spent quite a lot time sort of analyzing, because we know exactly where all our munitions go. We know there was damage in the city before, which wasn't reconstructed from previous fighting.

And we also know that during the ground combat phase, there is a lot of destruction done in that -- by -- by the ground forces, both the tank munitions, et cetera, and rockets. And sadly, we also know that Daesh rig a lot of these houses. We call them house-born IEDs in that way.

So we are -- we are seeing destruction in Fallujah. It's too early, really, to say how widespread that is and perhaps more important, it's hard to say how much in terms of explosive remnants that still litter the ground.

But the speed with which we're seeing some of the Iraqi Security Forces move through that area in a different way to what we saw in Ramadi, sort of indicates that -- hopefully that challenge will be slightly less than the one that's faced in Ramadi.

CAPT. DAVIS: I'll go with Courtney Kube from NBC News. We're getting the mic to her right now.

Q: Hi, general.

I wanted to ask you about that the Russian strikes in At Tanf. I think I'm saying that incorrectly. But from late last week that the U.S. had a call about -- have there been any other strikes, to your knowledge -- Russian strikes in Syria that have come close to U.S.-backed or coalition-backed opposition forces? And can you give us any -- there were some reports soon after those Russian strikes that they may have used -- dropped some cluster munitions. Has the coalition been able to confirm that at all?

GEN. CHALMERS: I'll go with the first bit and then come further forwards.

I think firstly we were very surprised by the strike on in At Tanf in that garrison. It wasn't close to any of the regime forces. It was way outside of the normal pattern of Russian activity that we've seen in that way.

Our -- our people on the ground reported that they were under -- that they had been attacked by cluster munitions. We're analyzing those reports very carefully, but what we're hearing is what you're hearing, and we're just working through that in detail. But definitely, the people we advise on the ground reported cluster munitions.

In terms of your -- and as you know, there were subsequent high-level discussions between both the U.S. and the Russians to try and work that through. And those discussions were at a much higher level, above our level in terms of interaction, and moving that dialogue further forward.

But what I can say to answer the first part of your question is no, we have not seen any further strikes close to any opposition forces that we are supporting in the fight against Daesh.

Q: And then just two follow-ups on that, just to be clear. When you say that your -- the people on the ground, your people on the ground were reporting that, were those -- so those were SDF forces?

GEN. CHALMERS: I apologize. I work so closely with some of these partners that you often -- you get a sort of a relationship there. These are -- these were the partner forces of occupying that garrison.

Q: And have you seen any numbers on how many of the partner forces, how many individuals were injured or killed in the strikes?

GEN. CHALMERS: I have. A number were killed. A number were wounded. But I have to -- I don't have the precise figure at hands right now.

Q: And then if my colleagues don't mind, I actually have another question on Fallujah.

(CROSSTALK)

Q: Thank you.

We're going to call this a one-on-one interview, just so you know.

Can you give us any update -- I know we've asked several times of Colonel Garver and some of your colleagues there about the -- the reports of civilian Sunnis who are trying to flee Fallujah being detained or even killed as they're trying to leave the fighting there, primarily I think by PMF forces. Have you gotten any more insight into how many -- whether that's continuing? And how many individuals may be involved -- that is, civilians who may have been detained and/or tortured or killed?

GEN. CHALMERS: Yeah, I break your comments there, really, into three. So, detained or killed, and into two parts. And the reason I do so is quite deliberate.

So, we have heard these -- the allegations. I'll pick on those of, you know, deliberate attacking of civilians, not as collateral damage, but a deliberate act to attack civilians, or you used the word "torture" in that way. Those are the allegations that concern us.

But I can tell you, having had a lot of high-level engagement with senior generals in the Iraqi forces, and perhaps more importantly, the prime minister, he is equally as concerned and focused on these allegations and has directed his generals to run, in turn, investigations to try and identify exactly what has happened and hold those who -- if that is found -- if an assessment is found to have bearing, to hold those involved to account through some form of judicial process.

The reason I break the two words up is as the individuals are brought out of -- IDPs, or the displaced people move out of Fallujah, they are screened, and by the Iraqi security forces. And this is something that, you know, the International Committee of the Red Cross, et cetera, have access to. And bearing in mind the time of year and volumes, that then -- you know, these screening centers by the Iraqi police do a great, great job under pretty trying circumstances, as I'm sure you can imagine.

Where individuals are identified as being suspicious, they are detained. And they are detained under police custody to undergo further investigation to then make a judgment to whether they should then face prosecution or whatever with inside the Anbar court system, or then be released back out.

And that's why the sentence you put there, I divide into two. So there are abuses against the civilian population, then there are these screenings which may lead to detention of people that are found that warrant further investigation.

CAPT. DAVIS: Okay, the queue is empty. Anybody? Laurent, you look curious. Oh, go ahead, Andrew Tilghman, from Military Times.

Q: Just a quick question. I'm wondering with all the activity in Fallujah, if there -- if you can say whether any of the American forces have moved into the military facility, once known as Camp Fallujah, there on the south side of the city? Is there -- is there any American, or I guess, more broadly, coalition presence in that particular location in Anbar?

GEN. CHALMERS: No, no, we haven't -- I mean, we haven't needed to.

As you know, we operate from the base in Taqaddum, and our relations with those who are moving through. And the way really we are able to advise and assist has functioned very well, as you've seen, actually, by the speed of movement by the Iraqi Security Forces.

CAPT. DAVIS: Okay, and next, we will go to Brian Everstine from Air Force Magazine.

Q: A follow up on the question of progress on Fallujah. Can you quantify the coalition support as the Iraqis move through the city? Are there strike aircraft on station the whole time, or has it moved to sort of an ISR role? Is -- can you quantity how the coalition air forces are participating?

GEN. CHALMERS: Well, it's a blend of both, as you can imagine.

So, we -- the ISR footprint is the most important piece. And the ISR then, obviously, queues up and strike aircraft that move into that area.

And the ISR is probably the most important part, which then queues up the strike aircraft -- which is, you know, you know very well, can move from one part to the other part incredibly quickly.

CAPT. DAVIS: Next, we will go with Laurent Barthelemy from Agence France-Press.

Q: Hello General, as the -- about Manbij. As the SDF forces are closing into the center of the city, does that change anything for the U.S. advisers that are on the ground?

Does that mean, for instance, that there will be more of them to help the SDF in that -- in the most difficult part of the battle?

GEN. CHALMERS: No. As you know, the advisers are back more with sort of the headquarters helping our planning and coordination role. And that won't change as the forces go into there.

It becomes more complex, and ideally -- and actually, the same question we had about Fallujah comes to part about sort of ISR, and then enabling sort of -- (inaudible).

But no, there's no change to our profile. Strong relationships are in place with those headquarters and they will continue.

CAPT. DAVIS: Okay, anybody else?

Corey Dickstein from Stars and Stripes, and we will go back to Courtney after that.

Q: Hi general.

You said it several times now that the fight in Fallujah has gone quicker than you expected. Can you talk at all about what has made it gone so quick -- or go so quick? Is it soft resistance, or just a force that is operating better than you expected?

GEN. CHALMERS: I think, as I said, I think there's really three factors, I think, that will bring it into there.

One is that, better coordination between the elements. We sort of had federal police, the counter-terrorism service, and one of the commando elements. And that coordination between the three was very good, actually, in terms of bringing that through.

Two, I think the confidence of those involved was better. And three -- and I mentioned this the last time we sort of spoke, that, you know, war is often trial and error. And you see how the Iraqi Security Forces have learned how to deal with some of these Daesh obstacles and how they fight. They have adapted as well.

And the fighting was -- to get into Fallujah, it was probably some of the fiercest I think I've probably seen, particularly to break through some of the defensive belts on the southern side. And how the Iraqi Security Forces worked their way through that, once they made their way through that, how they then sustained momentum.

So, I put it down to three things: better coordination, adaption and lessons learned from previous clearances, which led to confidence.

Q: And just a quick follow up. Do -- do you guys have an idea how many Islamic State fighters are still -- still in Fallujah, and where, kind of, they are?

GEN. CHALMERS: No. I mean, there's estimates and there are numbers, but you know, I would just be adding and fueling sort of -- (inaudible). Are there still Daesh fighters there? Yes. But I'd rather not put a figure on it, because those figures -- I could read three reports in a day that have a different figure.

CAPT. DAVIS: Very good. Next, we'll got to Phil Stewart from Reuters. Hi, there.

Q: Yes, could you just give us a quick update about what's happening inside Manbij City? You know, how many forces are aligned with the Syrian-Arabs, and -- and I guess, some -- some Kurds are fighting inside the city right now.

How many Islamic State are there? Are there any civilians left?

And then I had a follow up question on your comments earlier about Russia.

GEN. CHALMERS: On the Manbij, a live ongoing operation, as you -- as you know only too well.

So, the actual -- I'd rather not give precise definitions of -- of where they are and how they are progressing through. Apart from the ingredients you have just described there, we believe are all still there. So, there's still a civilian population. There is -- or Daesh in defense areas, and the Syrian Democratic Forces are moving closer to them, and have worked through some of the defensive belts we touched on earlier on.

Q: The city proper now?

GEN. CHALMERS: (inaudible) the conversation we had earlier on about this. It depends what you describe the city proper.

The reporting I've had puts them on the edge and the outskirts of some areas, which I describe as the outer element of the city, rather than the city proper. And it's the definition of what we described as the city proper.

Q: And just on Russia, in the statement that came out following the VTC, I don't know, the video conference with the Russians that the -- there was some discussion about improper use of the secure communications channel.

What -- what was that, what is -- what was the improper use? Was it not heeding the U.S. warning, in that way, it was improper? Was it improper -- and was it dismissive? In what way was the communication improper?

GEN. CHALMERS: I -- I was on that conversation, so it would probably be -- and I wasn't on the subsequent discussion that took place between the U.S. and Russia.

So, I'm going to defer that one back into the building that you're in now, actually, if I may.

CAPT. DAVIS: Next, we'll go with Carla Babb. Actually, we'll -- just in the interest of keeping it in order there, we'll go with Lucas Tomlinson from Fox News, and then back to Carla.

Q: Hello, general. What was your first reaction when you found out that the Russians bombed U.S. and coalition-backed rebels in Syria?

GEN. CHALMERS: The fact they bombed them where they had, I think was one of genuine surprise.

It was out of the standard profile that we'd seen. This was not an area where I'd say it's complex or complicated. The last time we spoke back in March, we often talked about how, in some of the areas inside Syria, it's quite a complex network.

That is -- that is not really the case down in here. So, my reaction was one of surprise.

Q: Thank you. And going back to Fallujah, what percentage of the city has been retaken by Iraqi Security Forces?

GEN. CHALMERS: I think this is where we got into a little bit of a numbers counting about three or four days ago as to exactly what the Iraqis are saying and what we thought was done – the overhead imagery.

I think the Iraqis this morning were saying that they had cleared about 70 percent of -- of the city. And from where we see of where their front line traces, I wouldn't demur from what the Iraqi ground commanders are saying. There's almost certainly going to be a little bit of back-clearing to be done behind that, but they're well on top of the northern half of the city at the moment.

Q: So you think that 70 percent is about right?

GEN. CHALMERS: There or thereabouts. I mean, this is where we -- we look at what the Iraqi ground commanders have passed to us, and then we sort of -- we check it across it. And as I say, looking at where they are in terms of the northern part of the city, I think 70 percent there or thereabouts in terms of significant Daesh resistance is right.

Q: General, would you and the other generals inside Iraq want more troops on the ground?

GEN. CHALMERS: I think this is probably linked to an article I think I read last night. We had this discussion I think rightly back in March. So as we've increased momentum, you know, you see this in the Tigris and in the Euphrates River valleys we move on, we understand what works and we understand how we can sustain that momentum. And it was a conversation we had back in March.

And so we're constantly looking to see if we're right-sized. And General MacFarland, who I've had the honor of working with now for nearly a year, is not a man that gets frustrated. (inaudible) -- the article definitely sort of mischaracterized some of the dialogue that goes on. The engagement dialogue up through his chain of command, where he thinks there might be an area that we might require an increase in capability.

And I use that word "capability," because it can be a raft of forums as we spoke about last time. It could be logistics, equipments, or air support or ISR across that piece. And some of that dialogue is going on at the moment, but it would be wrong of me to comment further on that.

Q: Okay. Thank you.

CAPT. DAVIS: And next to Carla Babb from Voice of America.

Q: Hi, general. Thank you for doing this.

There have been reports that on June 12th, the Free Syrian Army was firing on the Kurds outside of Aleppo, both supported by Western forces. Can you confirm the reports that there have been in-fighting between U.S. and coalition-backed fighters in Syria?

GEN. CHALMERS: I've read that -- I read that on the Internet, the – a couple weeks ago. The answer is I can't confirm or deny it. It's not actually an area that I'm -- I know that well. And it's not an incident that I -- I read it in the open source, as you just described now. So sadly, I can't shed any more light onto that.

Q: That's -- that's very different from what we've been told about Manbij, where it's both Kurds and Arabs working together to retake the city. What's the overall feel of the coalition-backed forces? Are you seeing some tensions overall? Maybe not talking specifics like that incident on June 12th? Or has there been a sort of feeling of still working together?

GEN. CHALMERS: Well, I think it's one of still working together. And it's very much the same in all these areas. The partners that we work clearly all have their own sort of agendas and aspirations. And you've seen that change, and you will have watched the Syria situation over many a year. And that's -- that expectation and that desire, particularly if the peace process in the state that it is at the moment, often can lead to tensions.

But for those that we support, they understand that, you know, we as the broader coalition are still in support of them. And it hasn't risen up to any significant rift, which I think may have been implied in your sort of question. But there is tension, yes. That reflects the complexity of Syria. But it's no more now that it has been probably for the last couple of months, by my take.

Q: And are you concerned that the Russians could bomb U.S. and coalition-backed forces again in Syria?

GEN. CHALMERS: Well, it goes back to your question, you know, I was surprised by what they did. So is that a concern? Yes. Is that one of the reasons why those high level talks took place between the U.S. and Russia? Yes.

And so, everything we're doing very much is on trying to avoid that sort of -- exactly sort of situation you have described happening.

Q: (inaudible) -- repercussions if that were to happen again, that you're aware of?

GEN. CHALMERS: I would defer that sort of to the high-level diplomatic discussions that are ongoing.

CAPT. DAVIS: Okay. Give the mic back to Courtney Kube from NBC, who had some follow-ups.

Q: Hey, General. So just one more on the Russian strikes last week. Now that it's been five or six days since it occurred, what is the military analysis of why Russia conducted those strikes? Have you -- have you seen anything? What was their inventive to hit that area?

GEN. CHALMERS: I think -- I think it's -- because we're still surprised and those are those high-level discussions, which I haven't been privy to, have probably untangled some of that more. Not sure of what, you know, the options as to the why, I think it, you know, being as well captured in open -- open press as they have within.

Now I know that's a rather loose answer, but it comes back into my point that, you know, we were surprised at what took place. And I have not been privy to those high-level conversations that have been going on since that strike.

Q: Sort of analytical question. We've seen several -- several cases, Rutbah is on that comes to mind where, when -- when the coalition or the Iraqis or the SDF are moving towards an area, they move through sort of more easily than we had heard they would be.

Obviously, Fallujah and Ramadi and -- are not the -- not the case. But some of the sort of the smaller towns and cities, and it seems that we're hearing that ISIS is just fleeing from some of these areas, or they're backing up or they're moving to other areas.

I'm curious if you have -- if you have seen also any military analysis of this? Is there any -- what's the -- what is your understanding of why ISIS might be -- rather than staying and fighting in some of these areas, fleeing?

Are they backing out to other areas, or moving and creating new strongholds in other parts of Syria or Iraq? Are they moving out of the area -- I guess, what is the trend that you're seeing, if there is one?

GEN. CHALMERS: Well, I think -- I'm just trying to see if I've used the language in my opening statement. I don't think I did. But I know it's been written before.

You know, we -- we've -- we've worked pretty hard at sort of attacking Daesh across their depth, and that has had an effect. And they are definitely weaker now than they were when I first came into see -- to see this area.

So they are making choices, and sometimes that choice is to cede a town and move back. In some times, it is to hold and stand firm on that piece of -- of decision. But I suppose if -- to summarize it is where -- when I first came in, they sort of held everywhere. Now you are seeing them make choices, which I think is what -- your questions gets at quite rightly.

But the other thing I would say, and it comes back into the confidence of the Iraqi Security Forces. You know, a year ago they were very hesitant. So, you know, even the lightest bit of resistance would cause them to pause and to hold off.

That increase in confidence now means that the Iraqi Security Forces, and Rutbah was a good example of it, moved forward until they hit hard resistance rather than be sort of slowed down by -- by light resistance.

And that is probably -- so there's two reasons to why you're saying what you're saying. One, Daesh are weaker. Two, the Iraqi Security Forces are stronger. And that's causing, I think, what you're -- what you're saying in terms of momentum is -- would be the word to describe it.

Q: Thank you.

CAPT. DAVIS: Okay, anybody else?

Back to Phil Stewart from Reuters.

Q: Just a quick question on Fallujah. Do you think that the way that the Iraqis carried out the operation on Fallujah is going to, on a strategic level, improve ties with the Sunnis?

GEN. CHALMERS: I think -- I hope so, but I think it's still fairly early to say.

We've got a very good governor in Anbar. And this is where -- you know, the work with the governor's office and the government of Iraq, in terms of managing of an incredible exodus of pretty malnourished refugees or displaced people from that town. How that will -- how the follow-on story will be pretty important.

But the manner in which -- and we talked about the abuses, but actually I don't you know, speaking to a lot of the Iraqis there, these allegations are being taken very seriously. But they have never fulfilled some of the fear of how Fallujah would go when this was first discussed about a month ago.

So, I think it has gone very well. And I think the governor of Anbar and the Government of Iraq are very aware that this story will continue, and it's how some of these displaced people are looked after in the aftermath that will matter next.

CAPT. DAVIS: We will go back to Lucas Tomlinson from Fox News.

Q: General, just one more crack at it, going back to the potential for more troops going to Iraq.

You mentioned that it, quote, "might be an area of something that's being discussed." How many troops are we talking about here? Are people talking about increasing the number of trainers or any other kind of forces?

GEN. CHALMERS: No. And you will completely understand why I'm going to have to decline that, because that is an ongoing dialogue that, you know, that we are -- General MacFarland is sort of leading up with his chain of command, and it is a dialogue. And so, it's pre-decisional at this moment, items have been discussed.

But it would -- it would be therefore be -- definitely wrong of me to try to put on. And it links into the sort areas that we talked about it. You touched on it there, as well. You know, trainers, some of the logistic elements and some of those other areas that we will be looking in, to help the Iraqis sort of sustain their momentum.

But to put a figure on it at this time, as this dialogue is ongoing would be wrong of me.

Q: And just lastly, are we talking hundreds or thousands, or more in the hundreds scale?

GEN. CHALMERS: Well, I can guarantee you, it's not the thousands. And the -- but it would be -- it would be wrong of me to take it any further than that.

CAPT. DAVIS: Okay, anybody else?

All right, with that general, we thank you for your time today. Did you have any closing comments for us?

GEN. CHALMERS: No. And thank you, again for these sort of questions.

I think it's quite useful to do these things several months apart. And I think -- we haven't really about is the Iraqis ability to sustain. I mean, it's a topic of conversation we had sort of last time. And if you look at what the Iraqis are achieving in terms of momentum, both in the Euphrates and the Tigris River Valley, and sustaining these consumption rates in there with those vehicles, it's deeply impressive.

Actually, the last time I came in front of you in March, I probably inferred that I wasn't 100 percent sure we would able to sustain this momentum. We have reached into help them, to achieve velocity of spare parts and munitions, but what they're achieving -- and when you think about it, it's only been a year and a bit since, you know, as an army, they were massively on retreat and abandoning equipment. It is a significant advance.

And the Iraqis generals who are facing this sustainment challenge, I worked on a daily basis. You know, they are -- they're pretty focused on trying to sustain this momentum.

Are we reaching in to help them? Absolutely. And that comes back into some of the questions we just had now, just to help them maintain that momentum.

But thank you.

CAPT. DAVIS: Thank you, everybody.

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