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Coalition News Briefing on Humanitarian Assistance

Presenter: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz
February 28, 2003 2:35 PM EDT

(Coalition news briefing on humanitarian assistance. Also participating were Comd. Tony Parr, New Zealand; Brig. Gen. Tor Arnt Sandli, Norway; Brig. Gen. Hanslothar Domroese, Germany; Brig. Gen. Chiangir Dumanli, Turkey; Brig. Gen. Jong Ho Choe, Republic of Korea; Rear Adm. Filippo Foffi, Italy; Rear Adm. Gonzalo Rodriguez, Spain; Capt. Umio Otsuka, Japan; Col. Yousef Alhnaity, Jordan; Col. Viliam Minarik, Czech Republic; Lt. Col. Fahed Al-Shelaimi, Kuwait; and Lt. Col. Mohamed Robleh, Djibouti. Slides shown during this briefing can be found at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Feb2003/g030228-D-9085M.html.))

Wolfowitz: Welcome, everyone. General Franks likes to joke that he always looks forward to an opportunity to leave the Central Command Headquarters in Florida to come here to Washington -- (Chuckles.) -- and on a day like today, I guess it's even more of a joke than usual. (Laughs.) But this is -- we really appreciate not just the effort to come here on a blizzardy day, but more importantly, the extraordinary efforts that our coalition partners, and particularly, the 12 countries that have come for discussions today have been contributing to our efforts in Afghanistan and in the whole war on terrorism.

The commitment of our allies and partners has shown that we are not alone in this defense of freedom and justice and peace, nor are we alone in understanding that the threat posed by the connection between terrorist networks and states that possess weapons of mass terror presents us with a danger of a catastrophe that could be orders of magnitude worse than what we experienced on September 11th.

As evidence of this, these nations, represented here by their outstanding military officers, and many others are part of a large coalition of the willing who have risen to the defense of freedom. In fact, more countries are now involved in the global war on terror than were involved in the coalition that fought the Gulf War 12 years ago, and the coalition continues to grow. The people of these nations and their forces in the field have stood with America and with the rest of the coalition in the war on terrorism, and we are deeply grateful for their support and cooperation.

The purpose of our briefing here today, at the end of many hours of discussions between these gentlemen and representatives of the DOD Policy Office and the Joint Staff, is to give them an opportunity to speak directly to members of our press and to our public and their publics on some of the important accomplishments that they've achieved during the course of their participation in the operation.

I believe today we've selected four -- I don't know if they drew the names out of a hat, because I think any random four from this group could have some remarkable stories to tell. I met them just a few minutes before we were coming in, and as each different country was mentioned, I could recall specific things -- acts of heroism in some cases; tragedies where someone suffered from a mine accident; incredible feats of humanitarian assistance from every one of the 12 countries mentioned here.

The four specifically that you will hear from: the Republic of Korea, that has provided outstanding humanitarian, medical and transportation support; the Kingdom of Jordan, which has, among other things, done some incredible medical assistance work to the people of Afghanistan through army field hospitals there.

Where's our Jordanian representative?

Alhnaity: Here.

Wolfowitz: I had the pleasure of visiting your field hospital in Mazar-e-Sharif, which I think was set up right after the liberation of the city in December of 2001, and visited there, if I recall, in July of last year, and you were already approaching 100,000 patients. And I guess you'll brief these people. It must be another 100,000 by now. And just so many cases of people suffering from chronic illnesses, people suffering from many kinds of wounds that had been suffered during the many years of fighting in that part of Afghanistan. One particularly engaging young girl, who just couldn't stop talking, in translation, the translator had troubling keeping up with her, but expressing just eloquently the gratitude that the people from there feel for the work that you've done, and I know that's reproduced elsewhere.

Spain has provided key assistance in military operations, including maritime assistance and demining, as well as humanitarian aid and medical support, including, as I think many of you know, that outstanding operation that managed to interdict the shipment of Scuds to Yemen, which ultimately we decided we had to release. But the skill and bravery in doing that was outstanding, and I think it sends a message too to people who ship illegal stuff that we have a way to get to them.

And fourth, Kuwait, which has made important contributions to humanitarian efforts and given tons of medical, food and school supplies. This kind of support has helped Afghans rebuild their country after almost a quarter of a century -- I guess we should say to begin rebuilding their country. It's a long task, but it's a very good start. And the goal is that it should never again become a haven for terrorists. And the goal is that the Afghan people will remember this coalition is a coalition that came to liberate their country, not to occupy it. That support has allowed women to return to their professions. It's allowed tens of thousands of children to back to school. It has helped provide the stability and security that has given a representative government in Afghanistan the opportunity to gain a firm hold and continue to flourish.

When Afghanistan is firmly on its feet and no longer needs a coalition presence, we will leave. As I said, our goal has been liberation and not occupation. But we will stay the course to make sure that that country has the assistance it needs.

With that, I'd like to turn the floor over to others that are from CentCom. I'd just like to conclude by saying, on behalf of Secretary Rumsfeld and the rest of us in the Department of Defense, we're delighted to have you here today, in spite of the snowy weather. We appreciate having you as partners and friends in the war on terror, and we thank you very much for the outstanding support your countries have given to this great effort. Thank you.

Alhnaity: Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. My name is Colonel Yousef Alhnaity. I am from the Royal Jordan Air Force. It's my proud privilege and an honor for me to be here today to give you a short brief about my homeland, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, position in the global war on terrorism and their contribution to Operation Enduring Freedom.

Jordanian government repeatedly demonstrated their solidarity with the United States and coalition in support of the global war on terrorism. And His Majesty King Abdullah clearly pledged his full support for as long as it takes to defeat the terrorist threat.

Jordan was among the first countries to join the coalition and to send representatives to Central Command. Jordan has provided basing and overflight permission for all U.S. and coalition forces. Jordan was also among the first few countries who contributed to Operation Enduring Freedom. Our contribution was in terms of humanitarian assistance in two areas.

Next slide, please.

As you are aware, there are little infrastructure and no health care in large areas of Afghanistan. For that, Jordanian government deployed field medical hospital to Mazar-e Sharif area in the northern part of Afghanistan, and it was officially opened since January 8, 2002. The medical staff consists of many senior military doctors who have extensive experience in treating military and civilian patients, including women and children. The hospital is capable of doing minor and major surgeries.

We have expanded the volume of work at the hospital and have sent some of our doctors to run our patients' clinic in the local hospitals and operate there according to circumstances. We have been involved in teaching and training of the local doctors from the local military, civilian and university hospitals.

Cooperation with NGOs. Our preventive medicine expert has helped in providing assistance to the local authorities and international humanitarian organizations with regard to setting up medical screening and vaccination programs. By doing that, we gained the confidence and the trust from the local leaders and the population to the coalition in that part of the country.

Since opening, the hospital has helped more than 165,000 patients and performed more than 2,000 surgeries.

Next slide, please. And next. Next.

Among the patients, there were more than 100,000 women and children. Also, as you are all aware Afghanistan is a country with one of the highest mine density in the world. Therefore, Jordan's contribution in this area was deploying an Aardvark mine-clearing unit and personnel since December 9, 2001. They are currently deployed to Kandahar and have cleared mines from over 280,000 square meters in Bagram and Kandahar area.

I hope by this, I have given you a short brief about Jordan's contribution to Operation Enduring Freedom.

And I'll give the stage now to my friend from Spain.

Rodriguez: (Aside.) Previous one, previous slide, please. (Pause.) No, previous.

Okay. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I am Spanish Rear Admiral Rodriguez, and I will talk to you in the next couple of minutes about the Spanish contribution to the Operation Enduring Freedom and ISAF.

All Spaniards were struck by the September 11th, and we felt very near to the American heart because we have suffered for a long time from terrorism. So we immediately committed ourself in the war on terrorism, which we know is a very long-time effort, bound to be won only if we remain united and persevere on it.

Here we have -- in the previous slide; it's not here, the previous one -- you had the main areas where we are contributing: conducting military operations in the Horn of Africa and Afghanistan; supporting operations with the Spanish military bases; providing a mobile hospital in Bagram from February to September 2002; and with humanitarian assistance. We want our contribution to be complete with ships, aircraft and helicopters and troops from the three services and assets to help to rebuild and put up to speed to the country of Afghanistan.

Here you see the units deployed in the Horn of Africa. Maritime patrol aircraft, helo units, and frigates and logistic ships.

In that area Spain -- next slide, please. In that area, Spain had the command of the Task Force 150, until January 31st, and we did a very important job, very much appreciated by United States authorities.

Everybody remembers the seizure of the So San with the Scuds inside. It was a real turning point in noncompliant interdiction operations. We were relieved over there by a combined European maritime force, with ships from France, Italy and Spain.

Next slide, please.

In Afghanistan, we have helicopters in search and rescue operations. We have airplanes supplying the country. We have an engineer group helping to rebuild bridges and major institutional facilities. We have an explosive deactivation team in Bagram and Kabul, and we have an air deployment unit, also in Kabul, to guiding -- for guiding the cargo entering in Afghanistan.

Next slide, please.

And in ISAF, we have one battalion-size task force operating in Kabul, consisting in a part of the units mentioned before as engineering units and explosive deactivation group, a civil and military cooperation team.

And to promote the stability in the region, we are helping to train the Afghan National Army with the de-mining courses in Spain. The third promotion has been just graduated, and we are preparing the next course.

And this concludes my brief presentation. Thank you very much for your attention.

Choe: Before I start my presentation, I want to introduce this eagle, which is not what they seem, that eagle with the -- all coalition nations' flags. You can find out 48 flags in one eagle. I love it.

I'm Brigadier General Choe, the Korean national representative to the United States CentCom. It is really a great honor for me to present you our nation's contribution to Operation Enduring Freedom, not asking for more help from the United States. The Republic of Korea declared right after the 9/11 incident that we will fully support the global war on the terrorism and join coalition village in Central Command.

Next slide, please.

Our contribution is mainly four areas: Medical support, engineering units for recent reconstruction, air and naval transportation and humanitarian assistance.

Next slide, please.

Korea dispatched 96 personnel, including 16 doctors and 10 nurses with standard operation equipment, essential laboratory and radiographic equipment. The medical team were placed in three different locations because of the tremendous need for medical care in the areas.

If you see the table, the first six months that the first group, only 2,100 patients were treated. But the second six months, we treated 29,000 patients. It shows how we transformed our medical units to increase our contribution for the Afghanistan people.

In Kabul, we provide the physical examinations for the trainees of Afghanistan National Army. The medical situation we encounter is terrible, as you know. For example, most of the trainees met the doctors for the first time in their life, and 80 percent of them suffering from parasites. That's almost same situation of just right after the Korean War.

The medical team in Manas of (Kyrgyzstan?), the patients are usually Korean coalition soldiers.

Next slide, please.

The picture is a destroyed building in front of the gates of the Bagram Air Base, which General Meilin (ph) provide the Korean hospitals for the nearby neighboring Afghanistan village peoples. And so we renovated that building, and the inside of the building is the left pictures and shows what we are doing.

The last one is the Luda (ph), the 19-year-old beautiful girl who came to our hospital last October because her small bowel had a hole and the doctors of the civilian hospital gave up her life. Korean doctors. Korean doctors and the U.S. doctors made a combined operation for surgery, and she became well. But the story is not ended because her small bowel is so weak and made another hole and had two more operations by us. And then another problem comes up, so she's now in Walter Reed through the German hospital.

Yesterday is our anniversary of one year of hospital opening in Afghanistan, and the second group is on the way to Korea. The last report he made, he was to recover the Luda (ph). She became a mascot of Korean hospital. And we now we have a third party, and I hope they can do much better.

Next slide, please.

Yesterday we finished the deployment of construction engineers unit to Bagram, 150 personnel, and they will repair and construct airstrips, roads and various facilities.

Next slide, please.

Korean Air Force 130s took over the charter flights between Singapore to Diego Garcia so that the USSS can deploy other missions. We are there because our airplanes have no self-defense system.

Next slide, please.

Since collapse of the Taliban regime, the Korean government declared at Tokyo conference to devote $45 million for three years. We planned various projects, such as the construction of vocational training center and Avicena hospital, a special renovation. Last year, Korea invited more than 100 Afghan officials in agriculture, labor and woman departments to introduce how we reconstructed and developed our economy since the Korean War and to get ideas what they really need. As a result, we provided Afghan government many computers, vehicles for officials and et cetera. We keep contact with Afghanistan officials to support what they need. Our last support for reconstruction of Afghanistan is just started. We will continue our support as best as we can, even though we have to concentrate our military up to the north.

This has concluded my briefing. Thank you, sir.

Al-Shelaimi: Ladies and gentlemen, it's good to be here and good to see your famous and friendly faces. And a warm welcome on this harsh winter. We came from Florida -- Florida we were having a T-shirt and we were surprised with this snow and cold. (Laughs.)

I would like to introduce myself. I'm Lieutenant Colonel Fahed Al-Shelaimi and I'm from Kuwait. I work for the CentCom; I present Kuwait on the CentCom. We are handling the humanitarian assistance. I'm now the chairman of the Humanitarian Assistance Working Group, where we could provide medicine, food, shelter, and tents and all medical supplies.

I was asked to talk about the countries that participating with us. We have a unique coalition. In fact, Kuwait was liberated with a coalition like this coalition. The new coalition is of 48 countries to help in building Afghanistan. I would like to thank all my colleagues on their participation on this humanitarian mission. In the humanitarian working -- it's called the HAWG, which is a Humanitarian Assistance Working Group.

Can we go to the second slide, please?

In this Humanitarian Assistance Working Group within the coalition, we have a representative -- or, we work with U.S. military, we work with United Nations representative, we work with NGOs' representative, and we can work with other donors, either a government, or NGOs or individuals -- individuals like Mohamed Ben Rashed Al Maktoom from UAE charity; and they were a generous donor for Afghanistan, in fact.

Then we try to direct this donations to the right people and to the right needy. This is just a small short about the HAWG. That's the Humanitarian Assistance Working Group. Some figures and numbers is not in the slide, and I apologize for that.

It's -- we were able to deploy 101 vehicles; 215 metric tons of supplies, 80 metric tons of school supplies; medical supplies, 246. And we were able to accomplish 14 medical vehicles and 41 metric tons of hygienic kits.

So to fight the terrorism, it's not to deploy troops only. To fight the terrorism is to build a nation. And yes, maybe some people have the image of military in uniform shooting, but in uniform sometimes we don't shoot bullets. We "shoot" medical supplies. We "shoot" hopes. We "shoot" school -- we "shoot" school supplies.

Q: Not schools.

Al-Shelaimi: Not schools. Yeah. (Laughs.) Thank you. (Laughs.)

Q: (Off mike.)

Al-Shelaimi: And in fact this is type of the work now to have a nation-building in Afghanistan. We thought it's our commitment in Kuwait, because we are facing -- we had faced international terrorism. And Kuwait were invaded by terrorist actions, in fact, which is a global terrorist action by a neighboring country. And so we thought we (were suffer?) about this. Schools need to be built. People need to be take care. Medical supplies need to be shipped. And we are working with partners and coalitions, like this coalition.

I'll focus a little bit on our country and on my country, of the Kuwait donations. Can we have the other -- the second slide? Okay.

As I told, you could see here a pilot from Canada, a representative from Kuwaiti Red Crescent in Kuwait airport with a Canadian crew and a Kuwaiti crew. So this is a multinational operation that -- people working together to help that nation.

The Kuwaiti donations to Afghanistan or to Horn of Africa, it wasn't after September 11th, it was in 1979, where many charity organizations were there, government support were there, and it started. The reason we focused on that, because we thought it's good to encourage the people to have more donations, more work to help the people of Afghanistan.

Next slide.

Kuwait joined the coalition February last year, 2002. And since that date, we were able to, working with Kuwaiti Red Crescent and Afghani Red Crescent, under U.S. cooperation, to deliver the following: 75 tons of schools, medical, computers for Afghanis. This is in September of 2002. Fifty-seven tons of food, blankets and supplies from Kuwaiti Red Crescent, January 2003. Seventy tons to Horn of Africa countries; to be very specific, to Ethiopia to help that country, flown by the Kuwaiti air force. And lastly, 70 tons of supplies, food, shelter ready to go to Afghanistan as today. And I guess many shipments are coming and hopefully we'll be able to help the people of Afghanistan to have a stable country. This is our commitment to help the people, and hopefully we do our best in the humanitarian assistance.

By this, I will end my brief. And if I may call my friends to join the space, if anybody has any question to the countries that briefed.

Staff: If you have questions, you can just direct them to any of the officers here.

Al-Shelaimi: Let me give him the chance. I want him to -- thank you.

Staff: Sure. Anybody?

Al-Shelaimi(?): I don't know who is the lead for the questions, but you were the first one who raised your hand.

Q: I'd like to pitch this forward a little bit further. They have a policy here of not speaking about other governments' activities, and one thing that we're all very interested in is to know where your countries stand as far as potential war with Iraq. If there is one, would you contribute troops, or would you contribute humanitarian aid, or would you be contributing troops to stability operations afterwards? Would you talk about what your countries are prepared to do and what promises you've made?

Al-Shelaimi(?): So, you --

Q: It was your Afghanistan brief, but --

Al-Shelaimi(?): This is good, but you're talking about --

Q: Iraq.

Al-Shelaimi(?): -- me or about everyone here?

Q: I'm talking with everybody.

Al-Shelaimi(?): Well, okay. Then I'll let somebody answer.

Q: So if you all could take turns.

Foffi(?): I can't give you an answer, because you are asking to the wrong people this question, because we are responsible in the technical military effort in Afghanistan, in Enduring Freedom, in Horn of Africa. We don't work in any activity related to Iraq, so we cannot answer, not because we don't want, but we are not prepared to.

Q: So if there is a war with Iraq, you all will not be the liaison officers?

Foffi(?): We will not. We are involved in Enduring Freedom.

Q: Well, it looks like you've got everybody -- (Inaudible.) -- answering that question.

Al-Shelaimi: If I may add just one single thing here. Humanitarian assistance -- humanitarian assistance is a very important factor. Humanitarian assistance doesn't go to a specific country or to specific people. I think humanitarian assistance is an important factor in any conflict. Humanitarian assistance, Kuwait, through the Crescent, was a very active player in supporting the Iraqi people, even in this time and this minute. They have a camp in Iran, Kuwait Red Crescent; as NGOs, we're supporting the Iraqi people. So humanitarian assistance work, as the chairman of humanitarian assistance, it has a big variety for supporting other countries or other groups. This is -- just I might add to this.

Q: Could I just ask a broad question? What difficulties do you face in trying to help out in Afghanistan? A lot of the infrastructure has been destroyed not just through the recent conflict, but over the years with the Soviets -- the former Soviets, so forth, and so on. What are the handicaps, what are the problems in trying to deal with getting humanitarian assistance in, building hospitals, food, supplies, and training, and so forth?

Al-Shelaimi: I don't want to monopolize, but are you asking me or anybody?

Q: Well, whoever would like to --

(Cross talk.)

Robleh: As you know, Afghanistan is a country that is totally destroyed. Then after it was liberated from the Talibans, the difference, there now is a time of reconstruction. And, you know, I saw somebody who came from there, a general, who was there, American general -(Inaudible.) -- is a country that is almost -- that is more than 75 percent destroyed. So when you see the situation, now it is up to the international -- you know, the world, international community, to build that country, because liberation only is not -- you know, is not enough.

Now -- (Inaudible.) -- must come back to -- (Inaudible.) -- Arab people in the world. I would just add that I am from Djibouti. My name is Robleh. I'm from Djibouti. I don't know if you know that country. Is there anybody who, there is know that country?

Q: (Off mike.)

Robleh: Okay.

Q: (Off mike.)

Robleh: That's a question.

I just want to say two words about my -- the contribution of my country to the Operation Enduring Freedom. We are doing something that nobody knows and nobody talks about, and thus we don't send soldiers, ships, aircraft, you know, or big stuff of, you know, humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. But we are doing something very, very important, and I want you to know that, because through you, the world knows, know what we know -- will know through you, because the day, the terrorists attack this country here in New York, I was watching CNN, your -- I think you work for CNN --

Q: I did. I did. I work for NBC -- (Off mike.). (Laughter.)

Robleh: Yeah, yeah. I was watching -- I was --

Q: (Off mike.) -- have a plug in there. (Laughter.)

Q: (Off mike.) -- works with us.

Robleh: I was watching, you know, CNN, as everybody here -- (Inaudible.) -- and we learn everything -- we were -- we are -- we learn everything from what you gave us.

So I want that, you know, opportunity that -- to talk about my country's contribution. And my country's contribution is very important. Countries like Germany, Spain, every country from Europe sent troops to Afghanistan to fight the terrorists in that area of the Middle East. And where they go when they go there, they go to Djibouti. You know, from there, they operate and fight the terrorism. Somewhere, you know, there is no -- you saw from the slide of the Spanish officer, Djibouti -- Djibouti's -- (Inaudible.). It's there in East Africa. So we are giving the coalition our country. Nobody did that. We are giving the coalition our whole country -- air, sea, land, the ports, seaports, everything. They go there, fight the terrorists, come back, enjoy our freedom, our, you know -- I say Djibouti is a safe haven for the coalition -- for fighting the terrorism there, so excuse me if I say that. But I want you to take that information.

Q: If you don't have any snow there, I may go home with you. (Laughter.)

Robleh: (Laughs.) Thank you.

Q: Are you finding now that the world's attention is less focused on Afghanistan than a year ago? Are you getting the humanitarian assistance that you need or are people losing interest?

Al-Shelaimi: Thank you for the question, in fact. And that is one of the main reasons we want to focus on that issue. We -- everybody's involved in a different issue in the showdown in Iraq and the problems -- and the problems in that part of the world. That's why we try to really count anew, to refresh and help the people of Afghanistan. Another example for that, the Afghani president, Mr. Karzai, is in the country. So we can tie those together and find that as we are trying to help those people. And it's very important for us.

Yes, sir?

Q: If I could ask the representatives from Kuwait and from Jordan and from Djibouti, your countries are all in this area. Do you, as professional military officers, feel Iraq is a significant threat to your countries right now?

Robleh: Jordan? (Laughter.)

Alhnaity(?): I'm not going to answer.

Q: You're not going to answer, or you don't feel that?

Alhnaity(?): I don't think it's part of our collective mandate to answer any questions on Iraq.

Q: Well, I just was looking for your opinion as military officers.

Al-Shelaimi: Well, 1990, what did Iraq did? What did Iraq did? I'm asking you. August 2nd. He invaded a country called Kuwait, he burned 700 oil fields. He's now detaining 626 personnel and 700 oil fields were burned; how much in billions? This is simple -- just some statistics, figures and numbers.

Robleh: For Djibouti, we are in Africa, and Iraq is -- do you know where is Iraq? (Laughter.)

Q: But you're in the neighborhood!

Robleh: So no answer! (Laughs.)

Al-Shelaimi: Yes, sir?

Q: Yes, I was wondering if any of the operations in the respective -- from your respective countries in Afghanistan have been hampered by remaining Taliban or al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan?

Domroese: Hans Lothar Domroese, coming from Germany, a brigade general. Germany has deployed 2,500 soldiers in Afghanistan right now, mainly in the Kabul area. And there are hand grenades and rocket attacks every now and then. In particular, the most famous, if you will, rocket attack was when our secdef, Dr. Peter Stuck, on February the 10th handed over the command to the new general over there in Kabul, and then they were forced to go into the bunkers. So those who know better the people from that area, they say it was sort of celebratory rocket fire. We used to say celebratory fire in Kosovo when they fire in the air because of a marriage or a son was born. So this was celebratory rocket fire.

There are mines, newly planted mines every day. So the food coming in from Pakistan, from the North, from Uzbekistan or from wherever, they face this tremendous mine threat. I do not know exactly how many mines and accidents happen, but they are highly sophisticated now. They are able to do this mine planting in a row, you know. Once the first truck has been hit by or hits the mine, then the last one goes off. So they're able to do this and they have done this recently.

And the (Hekmatyar?) gang is still fighting even soft targets, so-called soft targets. I don't know whether you know, the impression is not a very polite one, so you are sort of soft targets when you are in the field and we are not, although that's not true. So they fight the local governments.

So does this answer your question? There's a permanent threat there.

Q: Thank you.

Domroese: Whether these hate groups are Taliban or Osama bin Laden gang, I do not know exactly, but sort of terrorists there clearly.

Q: Obviously, you highlighted the humanitarian efforts. I was wondering if, if not all of you, some of you could talk about the main liaison for your country to Central Command for Operation Enduring Freedom, how much you are kept informed by the U.S. officials about how the war on terrorism or Operation Enduring Freedom is proceeding, aside from the humanitarian. Are you clued in to what the U.S. is planning, what Central Command is planning in Afghanistan and Pakistan? Some people think that having you here is just for show.

(?): (Inaudible) -- senior committee, head of the committees, representative from New Zealand.

Parr: I'm Commodore Tony Parr from New Zealand and chairman of the Senior National Representatives Coordination Group, which is, obviously, represented here. We're kept very well informed about the way that the war on terrorism is progressing on almost a daily basis; in fact, on a daily basis within the command. These briefings are very informative. They allow us to make proposals through our governments at home, in our respective governments, and also to -- you know, to sort of help weigh things up and see how they're going in a collective manner.

Q: What does a week look like for you all? I mean, what is it that you -- are you sitting there and the folks from Central Command come in with a checklist and they're looking for volunteers? Are you in a room with CentCom and you're helping to shape the policy and the strategy that they're --

Parr: We're helping to shape -- the United States is the lead nation, and each of us has a bilateral relationship with the United States, but we're representative collectively, there are -- sort of unilateral, if you like, or multilateral relationships, of which the Humanitarian Affairs Working Group is a good example. There's also a Public Affairs Working Group, for example; a Communications and Information Systems Working Group. And these are the unilateral -- if you like -- engagements that we have. But with the United States, each of our relationships is bilateral. But there are collective briefings for, you know, how things are going.

(?): And we also have a CPG.

Parr: And a CPG, yes. A Coalition Planning Group, which is the continuity element within the command with regards to Operation Enduring Freedom. Most of us here are here for up to a year, postings from our country, and some for only a few months. Yousef I think has been here for a year now -- one of the longest serving. But we roll over about every -- on average, about every six months or so with our staffs.

Q: Thank you.

Staff: They will be around here for a few minutes if anybody would like to come up and ask individual questions.

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