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Presenter: Lieutenant General Jeffrey Harrigian, commander, U.S. Air Forces Central Command September 13, 2016

Department of Defense Press Briefing by Lt. Gen. Harrigian via teleconference from Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar


CAPTAIN JEFF DAVIS: Good morning. We're pleased to be joined today by Major General (sic) Jeff Harrigian. He is the component commander for CENTCOM Air Forces of the United States Central Command, as well as the commander of the Combined Forces Air Component Command for Operation Inherent Resolve.

General, we want to make sure you can hear us and we can hear you.

LIEUTENANT GENERAL JEFFREY HARRIGIAN: I've got you loud and. How me?

CAPT. DAVIS: You sound great. And we'll turn it over to you for your opening comments.

LT. GEN. HARRIGIAN: All right, thank you, and good morning, everyone. Glad to have this opportunity to speak to you today. I've been the commander of the United States Air Forces Central Command and the Combined Force Air Component for almost two months now. And there's been no shortage of activity over here, that's for sure.

The battle space is becoming increasingly more complex and active by the day. Whether that involves safety-of-flight issues, cross-border operations or targeting challenges, our team is getting it done. We're using air power to better understand and get after threats in the region, particularly Daesh and other terrorist elements.

In Afghanistan, precision air strikes continue to enable the success of the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan counterinsurgency in U.S. operations across Afghanistan, as well as providing protection for ground forces.

Resolute Support continues to train, advise and assist the Afghan government as they take the lead for security in Afghanistan. The Afghan A-29 combat operations began in April, and they have now flown almost 700 missions. As I look across the AOR, we continue to deliver air power, develop relationships, and ensure that we are defending the region.

All of this is enabled by talented and highly dedicated coalition warriors. Recognizing the importance of the coalition, I've already met with counterparts in seven countries. Those include Qatar, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait, to better understand the complexities of the battle space and explore ways to best leverage their capabilities.

Beyond the increasingly complex air and battlespace of AOR, there's a lot going on across the U.S. Central Command region. A recent activity that we are working is the possible establishment of a joint integration center with the Russians. The first step is a cessation of hostilities for seven days. And this is something the Russians and the regime must do, and they must do it properly.

The intelligence community will continue to monitor the cessation and ensure that we are developing throughout this process to execute the mission. That is, if we get that far. Again, the cessation of hostilities for seven days will be key. We are in close coordination with U.S. Central Command, CJTF OIR and our fellow components to work the details.

As I mentioned, the battle space is very complex. So my intent is to not make it more complex, but this will take some work. As the terms of reference are finalized, we'll take that guidance, review it, and build an operational plan that executes the mission precisely, minimizing risk to the coalition team and civilians on the ground.

We are still early in the process, but we'll work through the specifics and assess our resources to be able to execute in accordance with the agreement. Our intent is to ensure we don't impact coalition cohesion or current momentum, or the precision effects that we demand. We're still working the details, but those are areas that will be addressed.

While I'm prepared to answer questions about activity across the area of responsibility, I'd like to center today's remarks on what I'm seeing related to AOR and some of the unique things we're doing to dismantle Daesh and help accelerate the liberation of Mosul and Raqqah. We should not underestimate what air power can accomplish with our partners against a threat like Daesh.

My intention is to continue to apply persistent pressure against this enemy and to exhaust their capability to function, sustain operations across the area of operations and impact their ability to project influence beyond the region. This means actively getting after their revenue streams and severing their ability to sustain their terrorist fighters by using a full array of our capabilities.

As we challenge this enemy in several areas, we are also maintaining strong linkages with the intelligence community to improve our ability to deliberately target Daesh. Discovering, analyzing and destroying Daesh targets remains critically important to our success.

Although it is a complex battle space environment, I'll remind you that this remains the most precise air campaign in history. Our coalition includes various countries and multiple entities operating on land, sea, air space and cyberspace domains and all recognize that Daesh is an enemy that hides behind the civilian populace.

My focus remains on creating an insurmountably tough and complex set of problems for Daesh across Iraq and Syria. We will continue to shape the battle space, going after their revenue streams, killing their leaders and creating organizational dysfunction. We will seek to use the weight of air power to remove Daesh's legitimacy, shatter their vision, enable -- and enable taking back the territory and resources they have stolen.

We will also look to supply forces on the ground. We're using rapid global mobility to provide delivery on-demand.

And Jeff, if you can, can you please roll the clip? This clip is from a recent airdrop delivering an assortment of supplies in northern Iraq. For operational security reasons, I won't go into detail concerning who these supplies were delivered to or their contents. But this demonstrates another way air power is being used to respond and adapt faster than the adversary, to appropriately supply our partners on the ground in this important effort.

Further, we are saturating the battle space with ISR, particularly in the areas of Mosul and Raqqah, getting real-time visibility and awareness to the right people. Coalition airpower continues to impact Daesh's ability to fight and conduct operations in Iraq and Syria.

The second clip I'd like to show -- and Jeff, if you could please roll that clip now -- demonstrates a strike we just executed the other night on a Daesh headquarters also used to -- as a weapons production facility. The strike included U.S. F-15Es, A-10s, B-52s, F-16s and Marine Corps F-18Ds that destroyed more than 50 points of interest, removing a significant chemical threat to innocent Iraqis -- threat to innocent Iraqis.

Intelligence had indicated that Daesh converted a pharmaceutical plant complex into a chemical weapons productions capability. This represents just another example of Daesh blatant disregard for international law and norms.

The enemy is using innocent civilians as shields against our values and respect for human life. Daesh fled Manbij, hiding among the civilian populace.

This war requires increased persistence and ability to remain vigilant in efforts to capitalize on Daesh's tactical errors, as we have done with several of the recent large oil tanker strikes in a large VBIED production facility in Mosul. Last week alone, we destroyed more than 110 oil tanker trucks. In September, coalition aircraft also destroyed 42 tanker trucks in the vicinity of Raqqah.

A great amount of progress has been made and we are maintaining momentum, but there is still a tough fight ahead against an adaptive enemy that will try to challenge us as we hone in on Mosul and Raqqah. Using the complement of airpower available to us, we will continue to deliver more destruction to Daesh's command-and-control than they can absorb.

We have gathered lessons from Manbij and will leverage them in coordination with our partnered ground forces to allow us -- (inaudible) -- tools of terror from the battlefield. As we discover new or evolving Daesh capabilities, such as small unmanned aerial systems, you can be sure we'll take off the battlefield.

We will continue to work closely with our coalition partners to prepare the battle space, ensure we're pursuing opportunities and ultimately prevailing.

And with that, Jeff, I'm ready to take any questions.

CAPT. DAVIS: Bob Burns from the Associated Press.

Q: Thank you. General, in your opening comments, when you referred to the possible establishment of what I think you called a joint interaction center with Russia. On Syria, you said you wanted to be sure that it didn't harm coalition cohesion. I'm wondering if you could elaborate on that point about protecting coalition cohesion?

And also, could you comment on the reports that two U.S. Navy surveillance aircraft were threatened by Iran over the weekend while flying near the Iranian coast?

LT. GEN. HARRIGIAN: Yes, sir. Thanks for that question.

So with respect to JIC, as I said, the first point here is to ensure that the cessation of hostilities are accomplished and that the Russians and the regime do the right thing over the course of the now six days remaining. Meanwhile, our job is to ensure that we maintain our coalition momentum and continue to execute the attacks on ISIL, maintain pressure on Daesh and ensure that as the coalition continues to operate together, that we maintain our cohesion.

With respect to your second question, I would tell you that from where we sit here at Al Udeid, that has been a continuing issue with respect to Iranian intercepts. And while we continue that, the specifics would be better directed to NAVCENT and to work with them to directly understand the specifics of those activities.

CAPT. DAVIS: Next to Barbara Starr from CNN.

Q: Sir, I want to follow up on both points.

More broadly than the Navy incident with the Iranians, what are you yourself, your command, specifically seeing in the way of Iranian activity against U.S. aircraft and coalition aircraft? What concerns do you have about it?

And to follow up on Bob's other question, I'm still not sure I understand what you mean by cohesion. So let me ask, how critical is it for you to see a promise by the Russians and the regime to move to precision-guided munitions to avoid their possibility of striking civilians given the fact they don't use precision munitions right now?

LT. GEN. HARRIGIAN: Yes, ma'am. On the -- the first question with respect to the Iranians, clearly we are always monitoring Iranian activity, and frankly, in -- with respect to our operations and OIR, we've had no interactions with them that have led us in OIR to have any issues with our ability to execute operations --(inaudible).

We will, though, continue to monitor activity, work closely with our NAVCENT partners to report any activity that would be provocative or not in accordance with the norms that we operate on a daily basis in the Arabian Gulf.

Concerning the Russians and use of specific weapons, anybody that we work with -- as you know, we take great lengths to ensure, number one, that as we develop our targets, we clearly understand that -- understand what we're targeting so as to be able to protect civilians.

As you know, this has been the most precise fight that we've had in history. And we have been able to deliver weapons with precision since the beginning of this -- of this war. And we will continue to do that. And anybody that we work with, we'll ensure that they have the capability to precisely understand what the target is, what weapons they're using, and ensure that the weapons are delivered with proportionality on military-appropriate targets.

That's the way we operate, and will continue to operate. And we do that today with our coalition partners, taking great lengths to understand that we know what the target is, where the civilians are, and mitigating any possible -- possible risk to them.

Q: Can I just follow up very quickly? Sir, I still don't understand what you're saying. So, number one, are you going to require the Russians and the regime to use precision-guided munitions as a condition of you working with them? And on Iran, I don't hear you saying that they're posing a threat in the Gulf. Is Iran posing a threat to aviation in the Gulf?

LT. GEN. HARRIGIAN: Let me get back to the first question. And we are still very early in the process when it comes to the agreement with the Russians. And I think the important key to remember right now is we will continue to do prudent planning with respect to any implementation, but the reality is we have to get through six more days of the Russians and the regime doing the right thing.

And that's what we will continue to work ourselves towards with respect to our processes going forward.

With respect to Iran, that again is an area where, as I said, we continue to monitor all the activity in the Gulf. The -- their actions with respect to NAVCENT entities and airplanes maneuvering, we expect them to adhere to the professional norms of intercepts that we operate under every in the Arabian Gulf and in international waters.

CAPT. DAVIS: We'll go to David Martin from CBS.

Q: I'm going to try the -- the coalition cohesion question one other way. How would integrated airstrikes with Russia damage or how could it damage coalition cohesion?

And second, you say you're doing the planning now. Is the planning being done in such a way so that if there is reduced violence for the next -- for seven days, on day eight the U.S. is ready to conduct integrated airstrikes with Russia?

LT. GEN. HARRIGIAN: So, let me answer the first question again, and maybe I can clarify a little bit for you.

On the coalition cohesion, what I'm specifically talking about is our ability to ensure that we can continue to maintain the momentum we've been able to gather against Daesh. As you all know, we have been able to really pressurize them and force them to come up with different tactics and adapt to the pressure that we've put on them over the last several months. And I think that's an opportunity that we will continue to leverage with our coalition partners.

So, as we look forward, should the cessation of hostilities hold, and I say that's again important that we all understand that the Russians and the regime have to do the right thing, right now we're doing prudent planning to think through what that would take. And I think it would be very premature for me to get into any details on what those specifics are, because we've got to work our way through that. And we've got to get through these first seven days of cessation.

So that -- that's the approach we're taking. I think that's the prudent way from a military perspective to approach this problem set. And right now, we're waiting for those -- the next six days of cessation to occur.

Q: Would you be ready to implement the plan on day eight?

LT. GEN. HARRIGIAN: Well, that's going to depend on what the plan ends up being. And so, like I said, we're working through that, and I think, again, it would be premature to say we're going to jump right into it. And I'm not saying yes or no. I'm saying we've got work to do to understand what that plan is going to look like.

CAPT. DAVIS: Next to Carla Babb with Voice of America.

Q: Thanks for doing this, general.

I have two questions, the first on the cessation of hostilities. How confident are you that Russia and the regime are going to hold the cessation?

LT. GEN. HARRIGIAN: Yes, ma'am. Well, I think the -- the international, or I'm sorry, the intelligence community will be monitoring this. And I'll leave it to them to sort through the details of how the cessation works. And quite frankly, it would be inappropriate for me to speculate on how the Russians will react.

What I would say is for us to move forward, they and the regime are going to need to do the right thing to make sure we can get through these seven days.

Q: Then going more broadly on the air power over Syria and Iraq, there have been generals in the past that have testified on the Hill about shortages that the Air Force has seen, particularly with ISR drone pilots and also with some fighter pilots.

What are you working with here? Do you feel like you have a shortage of pilots? Do you feel like you have enough resources? Give us a picture.

LT. GEN. HARRIGIAN: Yes, ma'am. Thanks for that. That's a great question.

So, what I would tell you is from where I sit, I am constantly reviewing our resources -- whether it be ISR, strike platforms, tankers, people -- to anticipate the operational environment and what requirements we might have. Clearly, ISR is always a challenge. What I would tell you is I am consistently impressed by what our coalition warriors are able to do with the assets that we have.

Is it a constant effort? Yes. It takes work every day and we've got airmen from across the coalition that come together to solve this problem. And it's one that we work on a daily basis. What I would also tell you is we're getting the job done right now. I think the results prove that we've been able to gain and maintain momentum, and I see that into the future.

Now, what I would also tell you is if I have to make a call back to the services asking for more support, whether it be people or weapons or specific platforms, I have no doubt in my mind they're going to deliver.

Q: With the expansion into Libya, how much has that affected the resources you have?

LT. GEN. HARRIGIAN: From my perspective, we've been able to work through that. You'll have to get to EUCOM and let them dive into specifics. From the AFCENT perspective here, we've been able to execute everything we've been asked of, and like I said, we've come up with some creative ways to leverage the capabilities that we have in theater now to get the job done.

CAPT. DAVIS: Okay. And next to Carlo Munoz with the Washington Times.

Q: Hey, sir, a quick question. First, an update -- kind of shifting gears to Iraq. What is the current status of the upgrades being conducted at the air base in Qayyarah? And how soon could U.S. or coalition attack aircraft, fixed-wing, be able to start carrying out missions from the base?

LT. GEN. HARRIGIAN: Well, I won't get into the operational specifics, but I will tell you there's been great progress out there and it's continuing every day and it's -- again, this is a partnered effort. This is something we're working from both the land component perspective with the Iraqis and clearly ensuring that as we begin to put some of our airplanes in there in the future that it's got the capabilities that we need.

I don't want to get into the operational details, but I will tell you that we'll make sure it's ready, and when the ISF is ready to move on in their operations to get after Mosul, we'll be prepared to support that and the airfield will be ready.

Q: And a question on civilian casualties. We've seen in Fallujah, Manbij, other -- other battles that when ISIS has sort of moved these convoys out of the city as soon as these areas were about to collapse, there been some times where coalition aircraft have engaged these convoys and sometimes they have not.

Now, with the number of safe havens, I guess, in Iraq and Syria sort of shrinking where these guys can run to, do you anticipate a change in the rules of engagement as the battle for Mosul kind of starts off and you see more of these convoys moving out?

LT. GEN. HARRIGIAN: So number one, I do not expect a change in the rules of engagement. I can tell you that we will continue to use the very deliberate process that we have for both what we call deliberate targeting and then those situations that require dynamic targeting, which is typically what happens as you start to close in on the enemy, as you saw in Manbij and has happened in Fallujah and Ramadi, all the locations that we've been able to defeat Daesh.

So I would suspect as we close in on Mosul, we're going to work closely with the ground component and they're going to develop a scheme of maneuver that could put them in the same type of situation. And we will use our very deliberate process where we're going to search out for and look out for civilians to ensure that before we release any weapon, we've done everything conceivably possible to protect those civilians and ensure -- and to ensure that we're going only after militarily appropriate targets.

And we have worked through learning some of the lessons that we saw both Fallujah and up in Manbij to -- what I would offer to you to be very precise about how we do that. Now, there are occasionally, as you've read, issues that we will go into great depth to investigate to determine what happened. And what I'd offer to you there is that we have -- not just from the air component, but in coordination with the ground component -- a very robust process that allows us to identify where we think something happened then take a look at it and then run a robust investigation, if required, to understand what happened.

CAPT. DAVIS: Andrew Tilghman with Military Times.

Q: Thanks. On the prospect of joint operations with the Russians, can you help us understand from your point of view, what would be the operational advantage of that? Are the Russians going to bring a capability that -- that we don't have? Are they going to be providing us some sort of intelligence or ISR that we can't otherwise obtain?

Is there really an operational advantage to this from your perspective or is this primarily part of a broader diplomatic process?

LT. GEN. HARRIGIAN: Well, I would offer to you that that would probably be better asked at the diplomatic level. Clearly, from my perspective, my job will be to, number one, ensure that as this moves forward, we're comfortable that the guidance that we get is operationalized into a process that allows us to continue the momentum that we have against ISIL; build on the coalition that we have put together to allow us to continue to pressure Daesh.

Beyond that, with respect to what the Russians might bring to this fight, I'm not going to speculate about that right now. I think we've got to get through these seven days and ensure that the regime and the Russians do the right thing. And then we've got to work the process to see how that would ultimately flesh out into an operation that would be executable.

CAPT. DAVIS: Tony Cappaccio with Bloomberg.

Q: Thanks. Could you walk through the concept of operations for Mosul in terms of the air campaign? Would it mostly be CAS provided by A-10s and AC-130s? And what is the capability of the ISF now to call in close-air support fairly quickly, rather than going through the joint operations center?

And I have a second question.

LT. GEN. HARRIGIAN: Yeah, Tony. So first off, I can tell you're we're already shaping the environment for the Iraqi security forces. And by that, as I demonstrated, we're getting after VBIED factories. We're getting after command and control nodes. We're getting after command and control nodes.

Although it's a little bit more strategic in nature, getting after some of the oil tankers is another way that we've been able to impact the way Daesh is operating inside of Mosul. The intent there is really to shape the environment so that as the ISF prepares to liberate Mosul, we've softened up the enemy for them.

And I think that is having great affect. Now, we're going to continue to do that until they're ready to execute. Again, it wouldn't be appropriate, I don't think, to get into the specifics of how they're going to do that, but I can tell you it's -- it's closely coordinated with us, so that we understand their scheme of maneuver.

And so what I would tell you will happen as we get closer and the ISF begins to move out, it will move into that environment similar to what you say in Manbij, where we're doing dynamic targeting. And I'll tell you, we're being very effective communicating with the ISF to our JTACs and our strike cells to be able to rapidly understand, number one, where the target is, where any of the closest civilians or friendly forces are, and then deliver ordnance into that target.

That's how we operated in Manbij. It's what we did in Fallujah. And we've continued to refine those tactics, techniques and procedures to a point that I think we're being very effective in a very timely fashion to deliver precise effects on the battlefield.

Q: (inaudible) -- chemical weapons that you attacked? You know, we're always skeptical when we hear about chemical weapons in the Middle East. Was this a chlorine plant? Or, you know, sarin, or what? And why the breadth of aircraft you used? You went from Harriers to B-52s.

LT. GEN. HARRIGIAN: So, the target set, as we better understood it, was basically a pharmaceutical element that they were, we believe, using them for most probably chlorine or mustard gas. We don't know for sure at this point.

But with respect to the number of airplanes we used, so as we looked at the number of points of interest -- Tony, you probably understand JDPIs -- that's -- specifically we had a pretty significant number of them. And so to allocate the right types of weapons from the -- the necessary number of platforms, we needed that many jets to be able to take out the breadth from that facility that was out there on the ground.

So again, it's a matter of looking at what the target is, determining the necessary types of weapons to achieve the effects that we wanted, and that's the deliberate process that we use to -- to execute what we would call deliberate targeting.

Q: Inventories -- you dropped about 52,000 munitions since August 2014. What's the state of your inventory now? Are you on your last legs waiting for the cavalry to come or do you have adequate supplies at the moment?

LT. GEN. HARRIGIAN: Last legs -- come on, Tony. We're good. We've got plenty of weapons. And I would tell you that in fact, every day, I get an update on some of our key munitions to make sure we're tracking it.

And you know, for specifics, we actually have triggers that are identified to me that I then use to relay to higher headquarters for resupplies, and we share this with both Headquarters, Air Force and CENTCOM so that we all have a common understanding of where we're at. And when we believe based on forecasts and operational activities we're going to need resupplies, they've been very proactive in -- in getting us what we need.

CAPT. DAVIS: Next to Joe Tabet with Al Hurra.

Q: Thank you. I don't know if you can answer my question, sir, in regards to the joint integration center with Russia. Do we know the location of the center is going to be in -- somewhere in the -- at least could you share something, any details with us?

LT. GEN. HARRIGIAN: So I think right now, that is still in work. There are planning activities ongoing with respect to that, and quite frankly, I'd be premature to declare the specific location that it's going to happen at.

Q: Quick -- quick follow-up, sir. Go back -- I want to go back to your opening statement. You mentioned that you had discussions and meetings with GCC leads. Could you give us more details on that?

LT. GEN. HARRIGIAN: Yes, sir. So as I arrived on station, I reached out to the other air chiefs, so the commanders of the respective air forces from each one of those nations, number one to introduce myself and then number two to get a sense of how we could better cooperate, get a sense of how their air force was operating, things that we could do to better work together, looking for both opportunities and understanding any challenges they may have.

And with each one of them, it's always a great opportunity, quite frankly, to build an airman-to-airman relationship so that if there is an issue, they can call me or I can do that in a manner that allows us to work through problems in a personal manner.

CAPT. DAVIS: Lucas Tomlinson with Fox News.

Q: General, do you trust the Russians?

LT. GEN. HARRIGIAN: So right now -- right now, the Russians and the regime need to do the right thing. And I'm not going to tell you I trust them. I think -- we from our side have to do some planning and they need to do the right thing. We'll see what happens from there.

Q: Are you concerned that if the next hospital is bombed in Syria by either the regime or the Russians that the United States will get the blame?

LT. GEN. HARRIGIAN: Well, first off, the intel community will have to validate that, and I'll allow the seniors to work through, number one, sorting out what the facts are and the determining who the appropriate entity needs to be held accountable for that.

CAPT. DAVIS: Next to Luis Martinez with ABC News.

Q: Hi, general. Thank you for doing this briefing. I just have a couple of short questions.

Could you clarify something? I know that we're talking about this joint center ahead of time. But is there going to be a division of labor where the Russians target al-Nusra and the U.S. will stick only to ISIS? Or is it going to be a combination where we also will target al-Nusra?

LT. GEN. HARRIGIAN: So, that's yet to be figured out. I think, again, you know, we've got to get through these seven days of cessation of hostilities. And from our end, we're going to continue to prudently plan how we would execute the guidance that we're given into the future.

So, those are details that are yet to be worked out.

Q: And this is probably going to fall under that category as well, but you bring a very detailed, very rigorous process for target selection to minimize civilian casualties. Are you going to provide that level of detail to the Russians, potentially, so that they can work it on their end?

LT. GEN. HARRIGIAN: Well, what I'll tell you is our process won't change. We are going to continue to execute with precision; ensure that as we develop targets, we fully understand them. And then when we go execute, again we'll ensure that as we prosecute the -- whatever target it is, we'll continue in the same manner that we execute today, which is to ensure that we clear for civilians, understand where -- what the target is and what it's military advantage is, and continue to use the same process that we have today.

Q: To follow up on the operation that occurred on the border with Turkey, where the Turks and the vetted moderate opposition. I assume that the vetted opposition that was calling in airstrike support there in that operation, how did that work with how you normally call in airstrikes?

LT. GEN. HARRIGIAN: So, there were a couple of different situations there. And just to be clear, so the Turkish -- are you talking about the Turkish supporting their own guys on the ground? Or the strikes that we executed in support of the vetted Syrian opposition?

Q: Mainly the latter, but if you could expand on both, that would be good as well.

LT. GEN. HARRIGIAN: So, on the -- in support of the VSOs, when we executed those, we have forces that are talking to and in coordination with the VSO. So we know where they're at. We have clear comms with them. And then our U.S. entities that are talking to the VSO, they have what we call strike cells.

And those strike cells are manned with the appropriate number of people to, again, understand where the VSO is at; where the target is at; and then they relay that to our airplanes so that we can strike. Again, a tactic, technique and procedure we've refined over time and quite frankly have been able to execute with -- with great precision.

The Turkish, on the other hand, as they were operating, they were doing that within their own national capabilities. What I would tell you, though, is we had knowledge that they were flying. We were able to de-conflict with them. We actually have folks that are up in their air operation center so that we have good connectivity with our people to work that deconfliction, and in fact, to give us notification that they're going to be executing operations up there.

So again, this is a mechanism that we've been leveraging for a while now and has proven in most cases -- it's not perfect -- but in most cases, to ensure that we're able to have appropriate notice and then work the deconfliction.

CAPT. DAVIS: Next, we'll go to (Inaudible).

Q: Morning, general. Following up on -- (inaudible) -- question, the Turks, since they've gotten involved mostly in the Syrian theater, how has that affected your operations still flying out of Incirlik? Is the Turkish operation having any -- any conflict or reducing your resources available for your targeting?

LT. GEN. HARRIGIAN: Thanks, sir. So early after the coup, we had to work through a few challenges as the Turkish military regrouped. I will tell you now, we've worked through that. We have had no issues at all from our perspective in terms of operating out of Incirlik or out of Diyarbakir. And that continues to be an area, though, that we will obviously continue our discussions with them and make sure that we have a good communications link.

But from the perspective of executing operations, it's had no impact on our ability continue to pressure Daesh and -- and hammer the enemy across the battle space.

CAPT. DAVIS: Next, we'll go to Jim Miklaszewski with NBC News.

Q: Going back to the integrated air strikes, understanding, of course, that the Russians have to do the right thing, would it primarily entail deconfliction of airspace or is it within the realm of possibility that U.S. and Russian warplanes would be sharing the same battle space over Syria?

LT. GEN. HARRIGIAN: Yeah, Jim, that'll be part of the prudent planning that we have to sort out. Those -- those details are not sorted out at this point and I think you understand my first point. So we will continue to, on our side, think about those things and work through those as part of our planning process.

Q: You envision the possibility that Russian and American commanders would be sitting back and -- and sharing information and directing each other's aircraft on what targets to attack when?

LT. GEN. HARRIGIAN: We've got a way to get to that point is -- is how I see that right now.

CAPT. DAVIS: Okay. Next, we'll go to Gordon Lubold with The Wall Street Journal.

Q: Hi, general. I just wondered if you could speak at all to these new reports that Israeli warplanes hit some artillery positions inside Syria after some stray shells went into the Golan Heights region? Do you know anything about that at all? And can you confirm that either way?

LT. GEN. HARRIGIAN: At this point, I'm tracking the initial reporting, and that's about it. I think initial reporting has got to be fleshed out by the intel community. So at this point, I'd be just speculating with respect, and I frankly don't know at this point.

Q: No sense that those warplanes might've been shot down?

LT. GEN. HARRIGIAN: I don't have any sense on that right now.

CAPT. DAVIS: Next to Tom Bowman with National Public Radio.

Q: General, you say you execute with precision because you use precision weapons. The Russians do not; they use mostly dumb bombs. So looking forward, if you do coordinate airstrikes, how much of a problem will that be? You give them coordinates for a certain target and they may miss it because, again, they're not using precision weapons.

LT. GEN. HARRIGIAN: All right, so those -- those are part of the details that have to get worked out. What I will tell you is, as you know, while we -- I would also tell you there is the ISR on the front end to understand precisely where the target it; it's the capabilities on our airplanes from the pods that we carry, to quite frankly the coalition airmen that are executing every day that are able to take those capabilities and then leverage them to make sure we're putting the right weapon on the right target at the right time, that allows us to be precise.

So while precision is part of it, from the actual weapon perspective, there's a whole lot more that goes into that. And how the Russians will ultimately deliver that will be something that will be determined in the future. Clearly, a concern of everybody involved because this is all about protecting civilians and making sure we get at military appropriate targets.

Q: Well, you say these are details that have to be worked out. But it's a fact that they use dumb bombs. I'm asking you what impact will that have in going after targets? Will you give them, quote-unquote, "easier" targets that aren't in civilian areas? Just walk me through your -- you do this for a living. How much of a problem will that be?

LT. GEN. HARRIGIAN: There will be some challenges there. And that will be something that we'll have to work out. I acknowledge that there are some physics involved with this that we're going to have to sort out over the period of time once we get through this cessation of hostilities.

CAPT. DAVIS: Okay. Phil Stewart with Reuters.

Q: Moving away from the physics for a second, can you talk to us about the legal implications here? I mean, if you are providing information -- targeting information to the Russians and the Russians kill civilians, or strike people that are not the intended targets, what legal implications? Is there a law of war there? Is the United States a co-belligerent, then, in that attack?

LT. GEN. HARRIGIAN: You're probably getting ahead of the game, I would say, right now in terms of specifically how information is going to get exchanged. The whole target discussion I think is premature at this point.

And clearly, there will be some authorities and legalities that we're going to need to work through to make sure everybody understands what the agreement is. And those are the types of things that we've got to work through to make sure everybody's aligned once we've gotten through these seven days of cessation of hostilities.

Q: And what about the classification aspects? I mean -- (inaudible) – giving away TTPs for the Russians?

LT. GEN. HARRIGIAN: Well, we don't intend to do that. But that will be, again, as you work through -- I'll use the word tactical execution details that are, you know, out there into the future, it will be something that there's work to be done there. And I can tell you up front we haven't sorted that out yet.

CAPT. DAVIS: We have time for one more quick one here from Thomas Watkins of Agence France-Presse.

Q: Hello, general.

You've -- you've repeatedly gone back to saying that this JIC is in the planning stages and you haven't really been able to provide any specifics. I understand that it's all very preliminary. Are you saying, then, that the -- that when Kerry and Lavrov announced this last week, that CENTCOM and Defense -- (inaudible) -- hadn't even been consulted in terms of how this would actually be implemented?

And can I ask you -- also ask you personally as an Air Force officer how you feel about potentially sharing intelligence information and flying with America's longest or oldest adversary?

LT. GEN. HARRIGIAN: So, clearly we were -- and I'm not going to talk for CENTCOM but clearly this has been in discussion for a while, so to get into the details of how much had been shared. Clearly, we were thinking about it, but this is something that as it becomes closer, we're -- we're always aware of what our higher headquarters are -- are working their way through. So that's something that I think is -- you know, we work -- the diplomatic-to-military piece is always something that we've got to stay engaged with and something that we understand is -- is all part of the process as our diplomatic leaders continue to work what are very challenging problems, quite frankly, for the world.

And with respect to my airmen's perspective going into the future, well, time will tell how this all works out. Again, at this point, I'm very much focused on ensuring that the Russians, the regime do the right thing and -- and take care of business to make sure that civilians are getting protected here in the -- in the very near future.

CAPT. DAVIS: General, we're out of time. Did you have anything else for us?

LT. GEN. HARRIGIAN: No. I thank everyone for -- for the questions. It's -- it's, again, a very dynamic time over here in the AOR and I guess I'd -- I'd remind everyone that the coalition continues to work very well together and we're continuing to pressure Daesh and do great things in support of what we're trying to do here in this mission.

CAPT. DAVIS: Thank you, sir.

Thank you, everybody.

http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Transcripts/Transcript-View/Article/943264/



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