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Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing

Presenters: Maj. Gen. Martin Dempsey, Commander, 1st Armored Division
March 18, 2004 10:05 AM EDT
Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing

            (Note: General Dempsey's remarks in progress due to audio problems from the source.)

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  (In progress) -- commander of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps in Baghdad.  He's got seven battalions totaling about 6,500.  It's actually 6,853 I think today.

 

            And on my left is Majed (sp) -- Patrolman Majed (sp), who is a recent graduate of the Baghdad Police Academy.  And I brought him with me today because, as I recall, last time I was here some of you had questions about the Baghdad Police Academy and the curriculum and what kind of tools and skills we were trying to arm the policemen in Baghdad with.

 

            Next slide.

 

            The first thing I'll do is update you on the number of Iraqi security forces in the city of Baghdad.  As you see there, the goal for the city of Baghdad is 19,000 police.  That's to achieve a ratio of one-to-300, which is generally the accepted standard for a modern city.  We just crested 10,000.  We've got about 2,000 in class right now that will come out over the period of the next four weeks or so. And as you see we're not having any trouble -- I know that some of you have asked about how well or not so well we're able to recruit, and the answer is that for about every slot we have, we get five or six recruits -- five or six candidates.

 

            The Iraqi Civil Defense Corps is completely recruited, and we're in the training phase of that.  They're trained up through the platoon level.  Within about the next month they'll be trained fully at the company level.  And then over the course of time they will continue to have their skills improved, both under the tutelage of the next unit in after me, the 1st Cavalry Division, but also under Colonel Mudhir (ph), who is now taking an active role in their training and employment.

 

            The third one of course is the Iraqi army.  We mentor an Iraqi army battalion up in Taji.  By July there will be two additional battalions up there, for a total of three.  And as you see, they are fully manned at this point in time.  And in fact, all three of these organizations have taken part over the past several days in Operation Iron Promise and will continue to take part in operations with us.

 

            And that's one thing I wanted to mention to you, is these organizations have been established and trained to a point; the training must continue.  And potentially more important, they have to begin to work together.  So we have to get to the point here where the Civil Defense Corps and the police are comfortable working the streets of Baghdad together, and the Army in support of that as necessary.

 

            The box at the bottom I want to mention to you.  People often ask me how many people are working on the security challenges in Baghdad. And as you see, I've chosen to measure that against the unit that will follow me. But when you add up the number of coalition forces -- police, Iraqi Civil Defense Corps and Army -- there's a force of about 47,000 available to continue to improve the security of Baghdad.

 

            Next slide.

 

            (Short audio break) -- of us moving to local stand-off as we call it.  I've used this slide before.  Some of you may have seen it.  But essentially, when I arrived here last June we had 46 forward-operating bases spread throughout the city, 36,000 soldiers; and at transfer from me to the next unit, we'll have eight forward-operating bases and 25,000 coalition soldiers, but again, we'll have an additional 22,000 or so Iraqi civil -- not civil, but Iraqi security forces.

 

            Next slide.

 

            This is the mission statement for Iron Promise.  And the way I would describe it to you is that since about the first of the year, as we saw some of the attacks that you are very familiar with, it occurred to us that the character of the attacks had changed and that these terrorist attacks, in particular, had a quality about them that led us to believe that there was some linkage between international terrorism and extremism inside the country of Iraq.  In other words, there remains a domestic problem, but it's also taken on a characterization of international terrorism.

 

            And so we set about to try to determine what that linkage might look like and then to attack it.  And in the course of Iron Promise, for example, in the past 48 hours, most notably yesterday, I'll just give you one brigade's example, in the 2nd Brigade Combat Team's area of operations.  We had 22 targets where we thought we had linkages between international terrorists and religious extremists that might be supporting them.  And of those 22 targets that we identified, we captured 16 of them in the past 24 hours.  We actually captured a total in that brigade's area of 31 individuals, but some of them just happened to be in the same house when we did our raids.

 

            As I've described to you before, these are not big, sweeping operations any longer, they're very precise raids, and so we're fairly confident that of those targets we captured, we will be able to now exploit the intelligence we gain and make our way into this linkage that I'm describing to you.

 

            Next slide.

 

            This is -- I want to make a point, though, that as I said, there's both a domestic problem and an international problem.  It's not a simple matter of closing the borders, as you'll hear sometimes people on the street suggest.  Close the borders and all the problems go away.  It's just not the case.  This is a case -- this example here, is a raid that was conducted down in the Rasheed neighborhood where 2nd of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment soldiers came upon four Iraqi men who in the trunk of their car had explosive devices. They then went into the house and found the rest of things you see listed there.  And so this is the kind of raid that results in the capture of an IED maker or a bomb-making capacity, and it was strictly four Iraqi men.  Now we are in the process of interrogating them to determine their motivation.  But in point of fact, this particular raid netted a domestic terrorist problem.

 

            And then next slide.

 

            That's not to say -- and we certainly agree that there is an international component to this.  This particular raid, which took place out in the area of Abu Gharib, we captured a Jordanian and he had the things you see there with him and he was about to set up an ambush on Iraqi police, and we were able to preempt that before he was able to execute it.  So both problems exist here.  We have -- we continue to work the intelligence to determine how they work together, and they clearly do work together.  And then as we gain the intelligence necessary, we conduct operations such as the one you're being briefed on now, Operation Iron Promise.

 

            The name was very carefully chosen to suggest that it's not only the actions against these linkages I'm suggesting, but it's also our promise to the Iraqi people that as we transfer authority in terms of coalition forces from the 1st Armored Division to the 1st Cavalry Division that we will remain committed and resolved to defeat the enemies of the emerging Iraqi state.  And I think you'll find, and I hope you take the opportunity to ask questions of the two men on my left and right, that they are committed as well, but not yet.

 

            Next slide.

 

            And so that's the extent of my briefing.  I wanted to spend the majority of time answering your questions.  And at this point we will take your questions.

 

            Yes, ma'am?

 

            Q      What evidence do you have linking the Jordanian man to al- Zarqawi?

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  I can't -- this is not being -- I'm not avoiding the question.  I will tell you that the evidence is a document.  It's also his admission in interrogation.  Now, his admission in interrogation could be somewhat exaggerated.  I will tell you that there are certain catch phrases on the street of Baghdad that all people know we respond to, WMD, al Qaeda, al-Zarqawi, and he did say that he had met with, and we are now exploiting the intelligence to try to determine if in fact that's true.  But that's the evidence, a document in his possession as well as his claim during interrogation.

 

            Yes, sir?

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  Mr. Dempsey, we notice an increase in the number of terrorist actions in Baghdad during these days.  We know that the coalition forces are doing what they can.  But you -- they are useless.  Why do you hand over the security force to the Iraqis if you are not able to defeat the terrorists?

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  Well, let me give you the benefit of the doubt and suggest that the interpreter chose some words poorly up there.  But the question is, how can we possibly turn over security of Baghdad if we have not yet defeated the terrorists.  I think that's a reasonable summary of what you said.  And I'll ask the colonel in a moment to comment on that.

 

            The simple facts -- the facts -- are that at some point in the future -- now, we can debate how far the future is, but at some point in the future Iraq will not only have to but want to take responsible for security.  As I've said to you as part of this briefing, we have stood up the security forces necessary to account for security.  They are not ready to operate on their own independently yet.  We have not yet, for example, equipped Colonel Mudhir (ph) with communications or transportation.  We will.  In the interim, we continue to work with them, and even after we do, we'll continue to work with them in a partnership role so that increasingly they take over responsibility. While I, as the coalition commander, continue to try to defeat the enemy -- I'm not going to reduce it to zero, I will tell you that right now, but I can knock it down to a point that when they take over complete responsibility for security, that they will be able to handle it.

 

            This is a very perplexing problem, this terrorist problem.  And it's not just a problem here in Baghdad or in Iraq; I mean it's a problem around the world.  And I think it's becoming apparent to the world that it is an international problem.

 

            Colonel, would you like to add something?

 

            COLONEL MUDHIR (sp) (commander, ICDC, Baghdad):  (Through interpreter.)  As General Dempsey said, the issue of security is very complicated, not only for the Iraqis and the Americans or the coalition forces.  We should work together, even the people of Iraq, so that we can reach security and we can make our country quiet and our country will assume its position in the international community.  We ask God to enable us to handle this problem as soon as possible.

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  Next question, please.  Yes, sir?

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  (Name and affiliation inaudible.) On your war against terrorism, the number of terrorist acts has increased and these acts have not finished.  Since you occupied Iraq, Afghanistan, the terrorist operations are continuing all over the world.

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  I'm not sure exactly where the question is there. I guess the question there is if we stop attacking terrorism, would terrorism go away?  And I would answer that question absolutely no. The terrorists have a view of the world that is far different from ours and far different from the men that are on my left and right. And so, as we've said in previous briefings, if the future of -- if you want the future of your region to be one where you remain in approximately the 7th century; where computers are banned, satellite television is banned, the role of women is completely denied; then I suppose when sovereignty is restored to Iraq you may cast your vote in that direction.  But I happen to believe in my heart that the majority of the Iraqi people will vote quite the contrary to that.

 

            Next.  Yes?

 

            Q     Thanassis Cambanis from the Boston Globe.  I'm wondering if you've seen a pattern in attacks that you have defused.  We know about the spectacular bombings that have succeeded.  The ones you're defusing, are they targeting a particular kind of place, kinds of civilians?  Do you see them trying to disrupt economic activity or simply trying to kill as many civilians as possible?  Any light you can shed for us on that?

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  Yeah.  There is -- there are patterns to the attacks, and there are probably patterns to the attacks that allow us to see different organizations involved.  For example, there have been three attacks on the -- three VBIEDs, that's the vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, on the Karada district alone.  Those three attacks all seemed to be aimed at places or establishments -- the Nabil Hotel (sp), the Mount Jordan Hotel (sic) last night -- that had a Western clientele.  The Nabil Hotel (sp), by the way, was the New Year's Eve attack.

 

            So that group that's conducting those attacks, who could be Ansar al-Islam, seem to have a tendency to attack those establishments that are -- that have a Western character to them.

 

            Zarqawi, on the other hand, seems to us -- and again, I can only speak for Baghdad -- but seems to us to be attacking evidence of progress, whether it's the Iraqi police, whether it is the freedoms that the Shi'a would enjoy during their annual religious festival.

 

            So as we work to try to establish these patterns, it does seem to us that the targets selected gives us some insights into who's probably doing it.  I think -- if that answers your question.

 

            Q     Yeah.  But what about attacks you've defused?  I mean, you're speaking of the ones we know.  Are you seeing patterns of attempted IEDs or other kinds of suicide bombings you might have stopped?

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  Well, the IEDs have been relatively steady state since I arrived here 10 months ago.  The IED, as we've said all along, is the weapon of choice against the coalition and remains so.

 

            The -- there are patterns to the IEDs as well.  There is forensic evidence that we gather that allows us to see a fingerprint, almost, of particular bomb-makers.  At one point in time not so long ago, we believed we knew who the master bomb-makers were on one side of the river and who they were on the other side of the river.  We are -- that's a constant effort at fusing intelligence from all sources -- human, technology, forensic -- to try to gain those pictures.  And once you have the picture, then you go and you find what you're looking for.  And we've had -- we have had some success.

 

            Yes?

 

            STAFF:  Sir, we want to take one from the Pentagon.

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  Yeah, I'll do that next.

 

            But go ahead, please.

 

            Q     General Dempsey, Sewell Chan from The Washington Post. Could I just ask you two quick questions?  One is, what was the third VBIED attack on the Karada district after the Nabil (sp) restaurant (sic) and yesterday's hotel bombing?  And secondly, could you give us some more specifics on, you know, what has been yielded so far in Operation Iron Promise, in terms of the -- you mentioned what the 2nd Brigade Combat Team have done, but can you give us the total number of suspects or, you know, evidence seized?

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  Yeah, I can.  Let me apologize for not remembering the name of the location for the third VBIED attack on the Karada district.  It was across from an area that we call Outpost Beach, where we have a small outpost.  And I don't remember exactly the target, but I can get you that.

 

            I do have a roll-up of Iron Promise.  You know, I am always reluctant to put scorecards up, but let me give you some of the things that we have just in the past 48 hours gained through Iron Promise.  Fifty battalion-level operations.  We killed one and captured 88.  The most significant capture was one individual who we absolutely know has a linkage between one of the international terrorist organizations and one of the extreme religious organizations that we know operates inside of Baghdad.  And so that linkage is -- that's the one that this mission is targeted against.  We've found 109 rifles, 44 RPG launchers, 71 artillery rounds, 54 sticks of dynamite, 10 machine guns, and so on and so forth.  I mean, the amount of ammunition and weapons captured is fairly consistent from mission to mission.  The big change in this mission is the specificity with which we're targeting, and we're very satisfied with the results of the first 48 hours.

 

            Let's go to the Pentagon for one.

 

            Q     General Dempsey, Barbara Starr with CNN.  As you begin to approach this transition period of June 30th and don't have a settled agreement yet on what that transitional government will look like and how it will exactly happen, what's the sense that you have of how much the violence may be related to that very issue, the fact that there is this -- there's no decision yet about a transitional government?  Do you think terrorists are trying to take advantage of this 12-, 14-week time frame period that lies ahead?

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  Well, the only definitive evidence of that, of course, is the now famous Zarqawi letter where he says we have a finite, closing window of opportunity to influence the future of Iraq. And so, I mean, intuitively, I would say that the more the final status remains unstated, the more the window remains open.  But I mean that's really not -- that's not an issue for the military to take up as much as for the political side of this.  But they're moving as fast as they can, I know that.

 

            Q     Right.  I understand that's a diplomatic issue, if you will.  But -- (break in audio from the Pentagon).

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  Okay, Tom.

 

            Q     General, it's Tom Shanker from The New York Times.  Talk a little bit more if you would, sir, about the intel part of what you're doing.  It's been said before that as you move from the battle against FREs to terrorists, intel becomes much more important than the kinetic power.  How are you getting intel today on these terrorists and what are the different challenges, sir, of getting intelligence on the homegrown Iraqi terrorists and those small numbers coming in from outside?

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  Yeah.  Well, we have become far better, far more sophisticated and cast a far wider net in terms of intelligence gathering for this challenge that faces us.  I think the biggest single difference is that we are standing up, helping to establish an indigenous Iraqi tactical intelligence capability so that at the point in the future when we do turn over responsibility entirely the Iraqi security forces will each be able to tap into an intelligence network. So in the process of helping that stand up, it, of course, has the obvious added benefit of providing intelligence to us.  That's probably the single biggest difference between our intelligence picture that existed six months ago and that which exists today.

 

            The last part of your question?

 

            Q     The different challenges of gathering intel on homegrown Iraqi extremists and terrorists versus those that come in from outside.

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  The single biggest impediment to gaining intelligence on homegrown domestic terrorism is an unwillingness on the part of the Iraqi people to acknowledge it.  I mean, that's just simply stated.  There is this idea out there that all problems are outside problems.  And it's just not true.  It's not true in this country, it's not true in Spain, it's not true in the United States. And so that's the biggest impediment.  But we're working our way through that and making strides.

 

            Yes, ma'am?

 

            Q     General, I'm Carol Rosenberg with the Miami Herald.  Can you help me out?  I think you said that you think there is a suicide bombing cell in Karada aimed at Western clientele that is not Zarqawi and you think it's Ansar al-Islam.  Is that -- because --

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  If I said I think that many times, then I probably confused myself.

 

            Q     So the conclusion is that it's not Zarqawi, because he's targeting Iraq police and Shi'a?

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  No.

 

            Q     Can you help me through that again?

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  Yes.

 

            Q     And what was the car that blew up last night?

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  What was it?  Or who was it?

 

            Q     Okay.

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  And the answer to both is I don't know and I don't know, at this point.  That's not true.  We have an idea of what kind of car it may have been, what size car, what size bomb.  I heard the question asked earlier of Dan and Mark about the science of forensic explosive ordnance, and it is a very exact science with computer modeling.  And we will figure out exactly what happened last night.

 

            In terms of who it is, what I'm suggesting to you is that there are other international terrorist organizations, not just Zarqawi. And we have seen the possibility that in Baghdad -- and again, I can only speak for Baghdad -- that groups like Ansar al-Islam, their signature target seems to us to be those institutions and those establishments that acknowledge and in some cases welcome the presence of Westerners.  The Zarqawi target of choice seems to us to be any evidence of progress among the Iraqi people, whether it's their police, their political institutions, their religious freedoms. That's kind of how I see Baghdad when we sit down with my intel analysts to try to figure it out.  And the challenge, of course, is to see where these things are linked together.  That's the purpose of the mission we're into right now.

 

            Yes?

 

            Q     James Haider (sp) from the Times.  I have a question for Colonel Mudhir (sp).  The coalition said a few months ago that one of the ICDC battalions would be made up of members of former militias from the various political parties within the IGC, with a special task of gathering intelligence.  I was wondering if you could give us an update on how far along that is, if it's operating and how well it's functioning.

 

            COL. MUDHIR (sp):  (Through interpreter.)  This battalion of the Iraqi army and Iraqi Civil Defense are open for all Iraqis, all those who want to volunteer in this new army are welcome.  Many Iraqi veterans came to volunteer in this battalion, and they finished training and they started working to secure the Iraqi people in coordination with the coalition forces and the Iraqi police.  Our aim is to make Iraq a secure country and we kick out any terrorists.  This is a natural issue.  We allow the old Iraqi -- the elements of the old Iraqi army who wants to cooperate with us, they are welcome in this battalion and other battalions that will be established in the future. And they are formed of the militias who will take intelligence.  This battalion -- many parties presented us with many candidates.  This battalion is now ready, and they are doing intelligence to provide coalition forces and Civil Defense Corps with their information.

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  Yeah.  If the gentleman's suggesting that it's -- it was a challenge to convince them to share intelligence among each other, yeah, absolutely.  That's part of the benefit of putting this unit together.

 

            The Pentagon.

 

            Q      Sir, this is Jim Garamone.  I'm with American Forces Press Service.  I guess it follows along with what you just said.  How do you share intelligence with the Iraqi service -- security forces?  Are they right in your intelligence center?  And when will the Iraqi security forces be fully equipped?

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  Well, the -- we have established an organization we call the collection -- you know us; we have to have an acronym -- that's CMAD, C-M-A-D, Collection, Management and Analysis Directorate. And in there sits the intelligence analysts from -- in fact, it's from each of the parties that participate in the 36th Battalion, the one that you were just speaking of.  And they are tutored and mentored by some of my intel analysts.

 

            And we've been at this now for about 90 days, and in the beginning, of course, there was reluctance to share intelligence. What I can report to you is that over time that -- those barriers to communication have been reduced.  They're not gone.

 

            I'll also tell you that we have linked them together electronically, through computers; we've taught them how to do target folders, how to take intelligence from raw intelligence and turn it into targetable information; and that we have actually gone out and acted on that intelligence and found it to be fairly reliable.  A hundred percent reliable?  No.  There is no such thing in the universe, I'm convinced.  But this intelligence we get from CMAD is fairly reliable, and we're -- and we think we've got that organization moving in the right direction.

 

            When is the Iraqi security forces to be fully equipped?  We actually in Baghdad are a little better off, either owing to the fact that we're here in the capital or owing to the fact that we've been a little more aggressive about it.  I make no judgments on that.  But   most of our police -- of the 10,000 police, most all of them have a uniform, a weapon.  We have the right ratio of cars and radios.  Most of them have protective vests, not all.  And the better we do at producing them, the more challenging the equipping will be.

 

            The Iraqi Civil Defense Corps is fully outfitted in individual equipment, but lacks communications and trucks.  And there's a contract being worked by CJTF-7 to fill that need.  And the Iraqi army battalion we have, which by the way has performed impressively, is fully outfitted.  So we are at the -- I would describe it at the 75th percentile, with some optimism that by sovereignty, 1 July, we will have them fully equipped.

 

            Yes, sir.

 

            Q     Just a couple of questions on last night's bombing.  It's been suggested that that hotel may not have been the target.  Can you elaborate on that?  Can you also indicate if that wasn't the target where you think it might have gone, and also why the casualty figures were so dramatically revised downward?

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  To the targeting, it's a very intricate part of town and I haven't come to any conclusions about the target for that vehicle-borne bomb.  I'm proceeding on the assumption it went where it wanted to.  These vehicle-borne bombers, these suicide bombers, we're convinced, do reconnaissance before they actually execute the mission, so the idea that they would get lost is a little bit tough to swallow. But it's not impossible that they would have gotten lost.  And you know, when people speculate about whether that was the target or not it's because of other things in the neighborhood.  For example, the World Health Organization is a block away, so someone said I wonder if he made a wrong turn and turned into the -- one street too soon. Well, we'll never know that, but that's how those things happen.

 

            Now as for casualty estimates, I am always very careful with my commanders.  We have a saying in the Army -- and I'm a cavalryman, actually, by background -- that the first report is never correct. But to be honest, you all and my superiors normally ask me for an initial report, and generally speaking my initial report is not accurate.  So it's absolutely unsurprising that in these kind of situations, which are chaotic, that the casualty figures would wax and wane.

 

            I -- (technical difficulties from source) -- thing about the chaos that existed.  I was out with the 36th Battalion in fact last night on a raid and got to the bombing site a little bit after the fact, but got there.  And I will tell you that the police and the fire service and the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps were in control of that site in a way that if were having that conversation at the U.N. bombing or the Jordanian Embassy bombing they would not have been in control of the site; I would have been in control of the site.  So that's a measure of progress, and I think we probably ought to acknowledge that.

 

            Yes, sir.  By the way, if you don't ask him a question, I'm going to ask him.

 

            Q     The question is to him.

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  Okay.  Go ahead.

 

            Q     The first question's for you; the second one's for him.

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  Okay.

 

            Q     Can I start with your one first, General?

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  Yeah.

 

            Q     There were some reports from Iraqi people at the scene that U.S. soldiers later on in the evening were handing out some sort of leaflet.  Can you just comment on that leaflet?  If it's true, what did the leaflet say?  And secondly -- I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name, sir.  I believe you're a new recruit?

 

            PATROLMAN MAJED (sp):  Majed (sp).

 

            Q     Majed (sp).  Could I just ask you, do you feel that you are well trained?  Do you feel that you are well-equipped?  And lastly, do you feel that you and your colleagues are able to -- are you able to deal with such attacks as last night?

 

            PATROLMAN MAJED (sp):  (Through interpreter.)  Our course included since the first month study -- a study about human rights and about law and that the police force is not above the law.  We have been trained on tactics and we have been on the most modern weapons. This is something very good.  We were taught by American teachers in the college of police in Baghdad.  

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  And the question for me was?

 

            Q     The leaflets.

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  Ah, yes.  We routinely -- the answer to your question is I don't think we did hand out leaflets last night, because I talked to the brigade commander, Colonel Baker, before I came in here and asked him that question.  However, we do that, quite often.  We do it most often for the roadside bombs, which tend to inflict civilian casualties, to make sure that we can let it be known that these are as much or more a danger to Iraqi civilians than they are to us, and also to enlist their assistance in trying to figure out where they came from.  But to my knowledge we didn't distribute leaflets last night.

 

            Q     Is there any way we can find out definitively whether --

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  Well, I asked the brigade commander -- although he had just woken up, because he was up through the night as I was.  I can find out.  I'll make sure that you get a -- which organization are you with?

 

            Q     Sorry, ABC.

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  Okay.  Yeah, I'll let you know whether we did it or not.  I hope we did actually.

 

            Yeah.             

 

  Q        Ned Parker with AFP.  I was wondering, first off, you mentioned this targeted individual that you wanted to get, and you said there was an international terror organization and an extremist organization.  I was wondering if you could elaborate about the two organizations, whether the second one was Iraqi.  And then also I was hoping you could talk about the extremist Islamic element in Baghdad beyond Ansar al-Islam, what it consists of, how it cooperates with the people who plot these attacks; and even is it possible that Iraqis could be committing suicide bomb attacks now?  Is it just strictly foreigners, since you said the problem is here as well?

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  This is a work in progress for us in terms of trying to determine the linkages that I spoke about earlier.  We began, though, from the premise that a suicide bomber must have an extremist view of some kind or another, either an extreme political view, but more likely especially in this part of the world, an extreme religious view.  So if that exists, then we looked around for places where we might find extremist religious views. And we have had over the course of time some indications that some of the very extreme -- the Salafists, for example, who are openly coalition and anti- progress, that they may have undertaken activities, not just anti- coalition rhetoric, but may, in fact, be involved in providing safe haven or at least establishing a climate in which terrorism can flourish.

 

            As for the question of whether some of the terrorists are Iraqi, I've already said it's my belief that there is an element of domestic terrorism at work here.  We have no evidence -- frankly, we have no evidence one way or the other on whether a suicide bomber might be an Iraqi, for obvious reasons.  But because there's no evidence, I really don't want to say whether it's my personal belief.

 

            Pentagon again?  Okay.  Pentagon.

 

            Q     Thank you.  Adam Charron (sp) from Talk Radio News. General, do major attacks such as what occurred last night result in an increase in intelligence provided; are more people forthcoming to help you all with that?  Or does the reverse occur; do these intelligence providers go underground, so to speak, and not provide you with what you need to find out?

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  Your transmission broke up rather badly, but I think I captured the essence of it, which is, these sensational attacks, do they generally lead to an increase in intelligence flow, human intelligence, or a decrease?  And I've actually fielded that question in the past.  In the initial period immediately following the attack, there's no question that it results in a reduction of human intelligence because of the fear that is generated by these kind of attacks.  But it's just as clear that over time -- and I'll say 48 to 72 hours later -- we do begin to then see an increase.  So it's a cyclic thing as we see these sensational attacks in Baghdad.

 

            I would like to ask the colonel if, in his view, we would expect to see increased intelligence or decrease in intelligence as a result of these terrorist attacks.

 

            COL. MUDHIR (sp):  (Through interpreter.)  I expect that the parties and the people -- if the parties and the people help the coalition forces in providing them with information, if the people want to watch over the terrorists, it will give important information to the security forces and the coalition forces.  The parties send elements, and these elements were trained.  They have become effective.

 

            A part of the people was afraid to give information to the police, fearing that this information will go for unwanted elements. Many people say that if we give information to police, we are afraid that this information -- that the person who gives this information will be targeted by terrorists.

 

            For the time being, I expect that, in cooperation with all parties and the cooperation of all organizations -- there is an organization -- I don't want to mention its name -- has opened an office to gather intelligence, and this organization as well has a well reputation and has opened an office to receive the information. And they begin providing these informations, and we ask God we can defeat all the enemies and get rid of the terrorists in our country. I expect that they -- these operations before the assuming of power will decrease.

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  Thank you, Colonel.

 

            The other thing I want to mention, in terms of the willingness of local Iraqis to approach their security forces, is, we must all admit that's a change in the life of Baghdad.  And I hope it didn't escape you that when Patrolman Majed (sp) here began his answer on what he learned in the academy, he began it with -- that the police work for the people and are not above the law.  Now that's a profound change in the approach of the Iraqi police service in Baghdad.

 

            Yes?

 

            Q     Mike Dorning, Chicago Tribune.  Two questions; one on a point you raised.  This gentleman whom you have arrested, who you said is, quote, "absolutely," close quote, related to both international terrorist organizations and domestic groups here, is this the same person you mentioned at the beginning, the Jordanian?  If not, what is the terrorist group he's linked to, what is the domestic extremist organization, and how do you actually know that?

 

            Number two, a broader question.  What is your intelligence telling you about the threat level coming up to the anniversary of the invasion, and what are you doing to address that when it comes to civilian targets around Baghdad, like this hotel?

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  Well, I'm not going to satisfy your interest in the first.  It is not the same person.  But beyond that, we just made this capture yesterday and we really need to exploit it before we advertise any particular details about it.

 

            But the question of preparing for anniversaries and holidays, I am absolutely convinced, having lived here for three years and experienced my share of anniversary bombings and other attacks, that the best, and really the only effective way to prepare for those is to be on offense.  You cannot sit back and wait for a terrorist to pick the point of his choosing to attack you because there just simply is -- there's not enough concrete in this hemisphere for me to protect every hotel in Baghdad.  It just -- that's a fact.  And so we have to stay on offense.

 

            Now, that said, we also increase our force protection in anticipation of each of these events.  And as you know, there are many of them.  There are Arabic holidays, cultural holidays, religious holidays, American holidays.  And, you know, last night was Saint Patrick's Day -- I hope that had no bearing on this.  But my point is, there are so many different holidays that you could truly drive yourself to distraction.  The right answer is attack, and that's what we do.

 

            Yes, sir?

 

            Q     General, it seems like an appropriate occasion, about 11 hours now from the anniversary of the first missiles and bombs that hit this city, since you've been in command of the 1st Armored Division here for a year, nearly, to ask:  Are you prevailing in this war?  Is this war, as it changes shape, more winnable?  Are you closer to the end or not?  Because you can make the construct, looking at the complexities that you describe, that while it's changed, in some ways it's become more difficult.

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  Yeah, I think there's no simple answer to your question.  It's a very profound question that lends itself to a profound answer that I probably will not -- I'll probably fumble here just extemporaneously.  The question is, are we winning?  And my answer simply is we are winning.

 

            And the enemy is evolving in a way that was somewhat predictable. We said back in July -- when we were fighting, clearly, the former regime, the new Ba'ath Party, the Fedayeen, the remnants of what the coalition had defeated on the way to Baghdad, we were fighting them knowing full well that the better we did, the harder it would get. And what I mean by that is it is far easier to fight an enemy that fights you conventionally and who fights you in some similar fashion that you fight him than it is to fight an enemy who uses the tools of terror.  But we had to get to that point, I think.  We had to get to the point where the principal enemy was a terrorist.  That, after all, is why we see that this part of the world needs to be assisted, because it is, in some ways, the crucible of terror.  I mean, we all know that.  So we are winning, because we got the fight to that point and we are putting in place the mechanisms to defeat terror.

 

            The two gentlemen on my flanks will have more to say about that than I do because, as I've said to you all along, the best way to defeat the terrorists is to enlist the aid and allow those who live in the region to take primacy for the responsibility, while making sure they have the tools and the training to do so.  That's where we are. So, yeah, we're winning. There is fight left to be fought.

 

            Q     How long --

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  How long?  I have no idea.

 

            Q     General?

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  I'm leaving in 30 days, so let me promise you this; it's not going to be done by the time I leave.

 

            Pentagon.

 

            Q      John Lumpkin with the Associated Press.  Just curious, what do you see, what are the differences, the distinguishing characteristics between Ansar al-Islam, on one hand, and Zarqawi on the other?  Where is the divide between those organizations?

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  You know, that's a question that we look at constantly in terms of motivations.  I heard General Kimmitt take a question, or maybe it was Dan Senor, earlier about motivations.  We know what we stand for.  You know, we stand for freedom here.  I don't know exactly what the terrorist stands for.  I really don't.  If you walked the ground with me last night at this particular terrorist bombing site, it's very difficult to rationalize and understand what was to be gained by the terrorist in that particular target.  If I do wonder about the target, that's the reason, because it was a very difficult target to understand.

 

            I will tell you that as I leave this region after three years, with the expectation that I'll be back someday, I have certainly come to look in the eye of terror and understand exactly what the word means.  And as for how Ansar al-Islam and Zarqawi define their particular piece of terror I don't know.  I cannot fathom it.

 

            Yeah, one more?  Okay, one more question.  Yes, sir?

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  Before I begin my question, why do you ignore the Iraqi press?  (In English.)  Sorry.  General Dempsey, I'm sorry.  (Through interpreter.)  Why do you ignore the Iraqi press? The Iraqi journalists are the people who are concerned with the events.  We live and we want to convey the mission to the Iraqis, not the foreigners who are in Iraq.  We want an explanation.  We want what's going on.  You can't ignore us.

 

            My question is, you talked about eight bases in the next summer and more than 25,000 soldiers in the city of Baghdad.  Can you give us an idea about the location of these forces?  My question to General Dempsey.

 

            My question is for the commander of the battalion of the Civil Defense.  One week ago, the Battalion 302 has graduated, but they did not perform their duties.  We didn't see any action for this battalion.  When will this battalion operate?

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  Yeah, I -- the question is ignoring the Arab press.  We actually, the 1st Armored Division, have a monthly media luncheon with the Arab press.  And I don't know exactly why you haven't been invited, but we can certainly make that happen.  My public affairs officer will ensure we have your name.  We absolutely understand -- I actually think your press is more important to me than my press because as the Iraqi people begin to gain confidence, they will only do so through your press.  So we will work with you.

 

            As for the location of the bases, the two biggest ones, one is in Taji and one is in the vicinity north of the airport but not on the airport.  We are getting off the airport so that very soon the airport can return to normalcy and support the Iraqi people economically.  The other six are around the perimeter.  I don't remember all of the names for them.  And one of them, of course, is here in the Green Zone.  So there's three: the Green Zone, Taji, and north of the airport.  And then the other five are on the perimeter of the city.

 

            Let me let Colonel Mudhir (sp) answer the question about the 302nd Battalion.

 

            COL. MUDHIR (sp):  (Through interpreter.)  Battalion 320 (sic) graduated in Mosul Airport and a ceremony was held for this graduation.  We are all waiting for the completion of these seven battalions with equipment and communication and vehicles.  There are some joint operations with the coalition forces to increase the information and enhance the Civil Defense forces of how to deal with these enemies. No unit in the Iraqi army has dealt with this issue before.  The issue of fighting terrorism needs a special technique, it needs a special training.  Therefore, the battalions which have been formed are trained intensively to train them on these techniques.  And we are waiting for the day when we will receive our equipment and our vehicles to grasp the security file in coordination with the new Iraqi army and the Iraq police.  And we will work -- and I thank General Dempsey for following up the equipment of the Civil Defense Corps.

 

            The Civil Defense battalions are formed for the first time in the history of Iraq.  Before that, the term "civil defense" was given to the battalions concerned with fire brigades.  Their mission is the internal security, checkpoints, security for the establishment and coordination with the police to fight the gangs which kidnap people and plunder.  This experiment is going on for the first time in Iraq. That's why the training which we give to the Civil Defense elements, this is unprecedented training.  I am from special forces.  I have been through many courses of combat in the buildings.  But fighting terrorism needs a special technique.  I ask God to help us and we can cooperate with people in the internal security forces to accomplish our mission, and that's security in this beloved country.

 

            GEN. DEMPSEY:  Well, thank you for your attendance here today. We'll have a -- I will be here for one more press event and that, I think, is on the 8th of April when I'll bring Major General Chiarelli, who will take Baghdad after me; and we'll have Colonel Mudhir (sp) back here as well and the Iraqi army battalion commander at that time.

 

            So God bless us all.

 

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