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News Briefing with Maj. Gen. Timothy Ghormley

Presenters: Marine Corps Major General Timothy Ghormley, commander, Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa
September 21, 2005 3:05 PM EDT
News Briefing with Maj. Gen. Timothy Ghormley

            MODERATOR:  Well, good afternoon and thank you for joining us this afternoon.  We are very pleased to have with us Major General Timothy Ghormley, who is the commander of the Combined Task Force Horn of Africa for U.S. Central Command.  He has been here in Washington, and has graciously offered to give us some of his time to tell us about what's been going on in the operations in the Horn of Africa. 

 

            He assumed command of JTF-HOA, as we know it, on May 17th, and he leads the 1,400 U.S. and coalition personnel that are in the region there, that are very much engaged in part of this war on terrorism. He's got a rather comprehensive and very good briefing that he would like to give you, and then we'll get into some questions after that. 

 

            So with that, I'll turn it over to you, General.  Thank you again.   

 

            GEN. GHORMLEY:  Thank you very much.  Appreciate it. 

 

            Good afternoon.  How y'all doing? 

 

            Next slide, please. 

 

            This is my mission in a collage.  Upper left-hand corner you have the terrorists -- the hyena, the jackal waiting to prey on the herd, on the innocent.  The only way they can protect themselves is as a herd, regionally.  How are we helping them?  We're helping them through mil to mil, through our CA CMO projects.  And who are we doing it for?  We're doing it for the youth.  We're doing it for the next generation.  The region stands to protect -- basically to form the regional partnership that's going to deter the terroristic spread. 

 

            Next slide, please. 

 

            That's my CJOA, the coalition joint op area.  It's approximately two-thirds the size of the United States; about 500 percent the size of Afghanistan and Iraq combined.  One hundred and twenty-three million people live there.  If you can imagine having a business with the headquarters in Buffalo; you have a branch in Cincinnati, Ohio; and you have a branch in Jacksonville, Florida.  You have no real infrastructure, no means of communication other than that which is jerry rigged.  And I would like to conduct business and increase the profitability of your business.  That's basically what we're faced with. 

 

            The flags on the left and the right are those that are within the op area.  We call it the AOR, area of responsibility, and AOI, area of interest.  You have Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Yemen.  Those are the countries -- well, let me go back here.  We don't work in Somalia.  But those are the countries that I'm responsible for. 

 

            Next slide, please. 

 

            Those are the colonial areas, the areas that have been described as the boundaries or the borders for the established sovereign nations. 

 

            Next slide. 

 

            Those, however, are the way the Africans divide themselves up, so you can see there's a slight bit of a mix here.  If you look up in Eritrea and Ethiopia, where you see the Tigre, just so happens that there are some issues up in that area.  And it's over a town up along the Ethiopian-Eritrean border, which happens to be in the Tigrean area.  Both Prime Minister Meles and President Isaias are Tigrean, so neither are willing to really take too serious of a look at trying to solve that issue at this particular time. 

 

            You have the Oromia, down in the lower left-hand corner of Ethiopia.  The tribes all have to be addressed.  Each one of my young soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines that go out have to be aware of the tribal area within which they're working. 

 

            Next slide, please. 

 

            Now we get into the religious.  So now you're having the tribe and the religious.  You have a rather unique area up in Yemen, up in the highlands.  Over 200,000 Jews lived there since Christ walked the face of the earth, and they've got along quite well in the Muslim nation. 

 

            Next slide, please. 

 

            And then, of course, you have the threat.  Those are the challenges.  You have your sovereign boundaries, you have your tribal, you have your religious, and then, of course, you have your terrorist threat.  Coming from Yemen you have the al Qaeda.  Down into Somalia you have the al Qaeda network and associated movements.  Then you have AIAI.  And I blow this constantly -- it's al-Ittihad al-Islami; and then put an "O" at the end of it for Ogaden, and now you have the AIAI, AIAIO.  And within the Ogaden, you also have the ONLF, which is Ogaden National Liberation Front.  A little bit to the left there you have Oramean, which is the OLF, the Oramean Liberation Front.  Up into Darfur you have the Jinjaweit; you have the Lord's Resistance Army, and of course you have the unrest along the Eritrean-Ethiopian border. You also have the seam that exists, which is the 12-mile limit.  If you were to stand at high tide and let the water lap up at your ankles and then face about, I own all of that; what's behind me, I don't own. You're not allowed within 12 nautical miles of land; therefore, there's that gap that exists.  That's -- the lower right-hand corner is the embassy, 1998. 

 

            Next slide, please.  This is my mission statement.  I have operations and training.  I conduct CMOs, Civil Military Operations and Civil Affairs Operations.  And I also conduct training within the CJTF-HOA.  It's to combat terrorism, and to establish a secure  environment and regional stability.  You can't have any type of peace, you can't have any type of prosperity without security and stability, and that's our goal. 

 

            Next slide, please. 

 

            I want to make it really clear I'm not a direct action unit.  I don't saddle up and go out and hunt down the enemy.  That's not to say I don't have the inherent right of self-defense.  My people go out, they have force protection.  This time around, my force protection is provided by Bravo Company, 1st of the 294th, the National Guard out of Guam.  Absolutely spectacular soldiers.  They go out, they protect my Civil Affairs teams and Civil Military Operations operations.  We don't seek to engage the enemy, but we do seek out those in need.  The way we go about seeking out those in need, I send out CA assessment teams, Civil Affairs assessment teams, and they go out throughout the villages, they go out into the towns, they meet with the leadership of the villages, the Imam, the village elders, the mayor, ask them what they believe that that village could use to enhance that stability, to make life easier for the people.  People want the same thing there as we want here.  If you're a father or a mother, you want to be able to provide for your children. They're no different.  If their child is hurting, they want to do something about it.  We're trying to provide that. 

 

            So they go out, they collect these projects, they take them to the embassy.  I'm one of the tools that the embassy can employ.  I try to solve the -- I try to address, I should say, the mission performance parameters, the MPPs, that each of the embassies have got. I do that through my civil affairs.  Once the embassy has agreed to what my CA assessment teams have come up with, they bring it back to the CJTF headquarters.  Each of those projects are vetted, racked and stacked, prioritized, and then they're addressed with resources. 

 

            Our primary maneuver elements?  Doctors, veterinarians, well drillers, civil engineers.  And it's so important that you understand about my -- the folks that go out and what they can accomplish.  Where can seven soldiers who work for five months to drill a well affect 1,500 people for the next 10 years?  I had -- there's a small town out in -- Yoboki, in Djibouti.  The well is 640 feet deep, drilled through volcanic rock.  Took us five months to drill it.  Those young soldiers pumped water on the Army's 230th birthday.   They said it was coincidence; I don't believe it.  I think they did that just to prove a point.  But they pumped water.  It comes out at 105 degrees.  The nomads out there, the Bedouins, have never had a well out there.  Now, for the next at least 10 years, they're going to have a water source. Quite a significant impact. 

 

            I also conduct mil-to-mil training.  I have forces that go forward and conduct border security.  They conduct counterterrorism training.  And they conduct your basic military training:  taking a group of individuals, forming a squad, moving them along to fire maneuver, disciplined fire, and mutual support. 

 

            Next slide, please. 

 

            Okay, building host nation capacity.  I'm not a nation-builder. I don't do that.  I am building capacity.  They already have a degree of capability.  I am simply enhancing that capability or that capacity to engage the enemy. 

 

            And we're also trying to improve the underlying conditions. Poverty itself doesn't bring about terrorism.  Destitution with no way ahead brings about a turn to a more radical approach.  We give them an option.  We are trying to show them a way to prosperity, to a better life.  They're at a crossroads right now; "Do I choose the radical or do I choose the more peaceful route?"   

 

            My operations.  You notice it says centralized planning, decentralized control.  That's militarese as saying that we get together at my headquarters, we plan what we want to do, and then we send out the young soldiers, the young sailors and airmen and Marines and they conduct those operations. 

 

            Bear in mind that I'm inside of only one country, and that's Djibouti.  I am outside of every other country.  So every time I do something, I'm on the outside coming in, which makes the job a little bit more difficult than you may have up north.  I have strategic planning and I make just a brief pause at operations, and then I go right down to tactical.  It's from the command headquarters down to the operator. 

 

            Finally, when we are doing our missions, we are doing several different types of missions simultaneously in the same area.  What's important is to show that the military can be used for things other than conflict.  It's the soldiers that are going out and building the hospitals, the Navy that's going out and building the libraries. That's what we're trying to get across.  When we train our military, when we train the military of the host nations, we don't just train them up and then leave.  They're trained in the classroom.  They're trained with core values.  They're trained with the same values that we hold dear in our military.   

 

            And it's a generational perspective.  And of course, generational means a long time.  We're not there for a few years.  It took forever for the terrorists to finally percolate to the top, and it's going to take just about as long to get them to go back down again.  At some point, those nations that have asked for our help will be able to stand on their own, be able to thank us, and we'll know it's time to go home. 

 

            Next slide, please. 

 

            Holy trinity.  Three things for success.  I absolutely must have access.  I must have access throughout the AOR.  I have to go where there is the unrest, where there is the terrorist activity.  Once I get in there, once I have been granted the access, I have to be able to be present.  I have to get in there somehow.  And then once I'm in there, if I'm not doing anything, I'm doing no good, so now I have to start my engagement.  So those are the three steps to a successful campaign: access, presence and engagement.  And you can see that Camp Hurso is right there in Jajiga, Ethiopia.  That's where members of the 294th are training their soldiers.  We have a MEDCAP going down, lower left-hand corner. 

 

            Next slide, please. 

 

            Lines of operations.  A simple way of saying how are we accomplishing our mission, what is it that we're trying to do.  We're capacity building. Again, not building nations, just capacity.  We're doing our strategic communications, our information operations.  We're trying to show them that there is a way ahead other than through the radical ideology that's being put forward. 

 

            Security and stability.  Without it, we're not going to be able to move ahead with the more -- beneficial for the people.  And finally, the development.   

 

            In the middle there, it's kind of hard to explain, we did a MEDCAP -- a VETCAP.   

 

            Next slide, please.  Maybe it's up there. 

 

            We did a VETCAP in a village, and it took us a while to get people to come down to us.  And this was related to me by the ambassador, that we treated one of the goats, and the goat was going for about 30 bucks a head on the market.  And about two months after we left, after we treated the goat, had it cured of its ailments, the goat brought $80 on the market.  Now you think, oh, that's ridiculous, spending that amount of time, that amount of money on a goat.  But that $30 was all that gentleman had, and I just gave him a significant increase in his profitability.  That's big news, and that's one at a time.  That's one step.  It is baby steps. 

 

            Next slide, please.  Civil-military ops, well drilling, that wasn't the one I'm talking about.  That's far more spectacular.  I was out there when they pumped water, and all that did was wash hot water across their boots. 

 

            Next slide, please. 

 

            There's the VETCAP I was telling you about.  The people of Qabridahar welcome the U.S. Army's Civil Affairs Unit.  It's real tough to claim any type of objective success.  I can't tell you that I have a bag of hearts and a bag of minds here -- you know, 17 hearts, 12 minds, these are mine -- because one, you just can't do it; and two, you could lose it the next day.  But when you're welcomed back on a continuing basis and they're excited to see you, when you leave they are asking you to come back, there is a measure of effectiveness. 

 

            In one of the small towns I visited recently, the doctor came up and thanked me profusely for the fact that we had refurbished his hospital.  It had been built in 1945 and not been touched until last April.  The people of Jijiga believe it's a miracle that the U.S. came in and fixed their hospital. 

 

            So those are the measures of effectiveness that we base our way ahead on.  And you can see that the people are extremely pleased.  We get the word out.  Seeing as how there are no means of mass communications, we get the word out by runners.  Runners take off and they inform the outlying folks that we're in the area, and eventually the word gets out and more people come in. 

 

            Next slide, please. 

 

            HA operations.  We're there for the embassy when there is a disaster.  We have a small capability to go forward and assist. 

 

            Next slide, please. 

 

            Mil-to-mil training.  Our instructors will snap in on their weapons and then teach them how to shoot the weapons, how to set their sights properly, how to do fire discipline -- rather than pumping out a magazine to whom it may concern, it will be more of a refined fire.   

 

            We have country coordinator conferences.  We have members from our host nations come in to Djibouti and they'll attend a week -- seven-day -- or, I'm sorry, a week -- 10-day class.  And we show them all the things that we can do, how to get it, how to facilitate our entry into the country through their ministries.  They come through, then they go back and move into positions of influence so that they can help our operations into their countries and help us choose which operations are most beneficial for our host nation.  Again, marksmanship, how to detonate IEDs, and of course recognition of IEDs and the Coast Guard. 

 

            Next slide, please. 

 

            We've been working with the Kenyan Coast Guard as well as with the Yemeni Coast Guard.  We had an officer stand up the Yemeni Coast Guard over a two-year period of time.  A U.S. officer Coast Guard moved on.  The U.K. moved in and then picked up right where we left off.  We've been having a great partnership with our British brethren working on our mil-to-mil as well as some of our CA projects. 

 

            Next slide, please. 

 

            Some of the areas where we've been working, we try to complete a project every three to four days, and that is -- that includes projects that we have done ourselves and those projects that we have outsourced, that we have contracted for.  We try to contract or we do contract with host-nation individuals, but we use U.S. contract rules, so it's open bidding, and -- I'm sorry -- it's a sealed bid, but it's open to all comers.  Some of the areas you have to obviously be careful of is make sure you're not feathering a nest, but my young soldiers that go out there and work with these contracts do a tremendous job at it. 

 

            Next slide, please. 

 

            Accomplishments.  We've been working with our host nations.  They are very immutable.  They are very excited.  They're dedicated to it. I have nobody who's lackadaisical out there.  The Horn is welcoming us and welcoming what we have.  We have expanded our access.  We've included now going into Uganda as well as Tanzania.  We've expanded our mil-to-mil activities in Yemen, and of course, we haven't had much luck getting into Eritrea.  We would certainly like to do that though. 

 

            Next slide, please, way ahead. 

 

            One of our -- one of the issues we'd like to get on the road is having our coalition partners field forces.  There's a difficulty with that because of the bilats.  Am I responsible for a third party, or is it the responsibility of that nation to address the coalition? Remember, again, I'm outside trying to get in of seven different countries, so that does in fact present a problem. 

 

            We need to get more interagency participation.  We're a small economy of forces.  Only 700 of us, actually, outside are capable of going outside the wire.  The others are inside the wire to support.   So we'd like to get some interagency participation.  And at some point, we'd like to be able to get the operations and exercises going with the interagencies and with the other countries. 

 

            Next slide, please. 

 

            Winning the conflict, that's what we're trying to do.  We have made some fairly significant inroads with the nations.  There is a new center in Nairobi called the Golden Spear, which has just opened up from the -- it was a EUCOM-CENTCOM initiative, and it is a clearing house for all resources of those signatory nations in the event of a natural disaster.  So there is a volcanic eruption.  There will be -- that is the clearing house for nations to volunteer assets and people, and then the Golden Spear will send it out. 

 

            Next slide, please. 

 

            And that's my presentation of CJTF-HOA, and I'm ready to answer any questions you got. 

 

            Yes, sir? 

 

            Q     Hi, General, just a small one first.  How many troops do you have?  And then, could you also explain what the situation is regarding Djibouti, and what other options might there be for moving headquarters? 

 

            GEN. GHORMLEY:  The number of people I have?  I have between 700 and 800.  And I know that's kind of like measuring with a micrometer and marking it with a mark slot.  It's kind of a broad -- (off mike) -- rotate in and out.  I have three tour lengths:  four months, six months, and 12 months.  So at any one time, I have what we call the rotator in and out changing troops.  And that belongs to CJTF-HOA. Remember that I'm a tenet unit on Camp Lemonier.  Camp Lemonier is owned by MARCENT; MARCENT provides the condominium that I rent.  I'm just like any other tenet; once I leave, Camp Lemonier is still there.  So they have another 600 there to provide the support. 

 

            And the issue about Djibouti -- what issue is that?  I'm sorry. Moving the headquarters, is that your question? 

 

            Q     Yes.  Is there discussion of a possible headquarters move out of Djibouti? 

 

            GEN. GHORMLEY:  It will not -- if it does move, it will not occur in the very near future.  There is a movement, there is a way ahead for the CJTF to become a CJIATF, a Coalition Joint Inter-Agency Task Force.  But that is not within the next three or four years.  So no, it won't be moving. 

 

            Yes, sir? 

 

            Q     General, you said you're not a direct action force. 

 

            GEN. GHORMLEY:  Yes, sir. 

 

            Q     Has that changed over time?   

 

            GEN. GHORMLEY:  Yes. 

 

            Q     So there were some special operators there that were kicking in doors for a while? 

 

            GEN. GHORMLEY:  I don't think they kicked in any doors, but they were there ready to.  Yes, sir, when this first stood up, it stood up as a Crises Response Force.  After time, the missions slowly morphed into an unconventional war.   

 

            But, you know -- thank you for giving me this chance.  There's a war going on there, and it's -- we're waging peace, and we're waging it as hard as we can.  There are a number of phases to the warfare, and we're in Phase Zero right now.  We'd love to keep it there. That's pre-conflict.  So the young soldiers who went out and drilled that well in Yoboki, or the sailors that went out and built the school in Jajiga, or the CA team that went to Yemen and did the MEDCAP and the VETCAP, they're fighting just as hard as the folks up north. 

 

            So, it is a battle for the hearts and minds.  That has changed quite a bit.  I stress that I'm not a direct action, because I need that credibility to get in.  If I -- if there's -- if there's a thought that somebody's going to end up missing when I leave, I won't get in.  My access is so important. 

 

            Q     Let me give a hypothetical.  If you get intelligence that some al Qaeda cell is operating in your AOR, and you know about it -- 

 

            GEN. GHORMLEY:  I'd bounce it right straight up to CENTCOM.   

 

            Q     Uh-huh. 

 

            GEN. GHORMLEY:  And then I await guidance. 

 

            Q     Because -- can you talk about al Qaeda presence there and kind of what about -- talk about the terrorist threat that you see in the Horn of Africa? 

 

            GEN. GHORMLEY:  I see the terrorist threat coming south.  At some point those -- we're winning up north.  We're winning in Afghanistan, we're winning in Iraq.  They're going to have to go someplace.  We see the possibility of even coming -- of them coming south.  And that's why it's so important for us to get out, get our message across to the people that there is an alternative, and that we are there for them, and that we can, in fact, protect them.  Remember, I said I don't go seek them out, but I certainly have the right, the inherent right of self-defense.  Does that answer your question? 

 

            Q     Yeah.  Just the last thing.  I'm sure you're aware a lot of the suicide bombers that you're seeing in Iraq, some are from Yemen, some are from Sudan.  Are you hearing about recruiting in your area for that kind of activity? 

 

            GEN. GHORMLEY:  I'm seeing -- I've heard nothing of -- I don't know what's going on in Somalia.  We're not in Somalia.  I have no charter to go in there.  So what's happening down there, I don't know. I know that there's a great amount of concern about it, especially with the -- coming from Yemen south into Somalia.   

 

            I know of no recruiting.  I have heard of the transnationals coming up through Sudan and then on into Saudi Arabia and across. 

 

            Q     Follow-up on that, sir?   

 

            GEN. GHORMLEY:  Sir. 

 

            Q     The prime minister of Ethiopia has said that there's an al Qaeda cell in Mogadishu.  Can you confirm that, or at least confirm the suspicion?  Are you or CENTCOM doing anything about that? 

 

            GEN. GHORMLEY:  I -- no.  We are -- we are not going into Somalia.  We are not in Mogadishu.  Yes, I know that the prime minister has said that there is an al Qaeda cell in Mogadishu.  I think on my slide I showed you that there is al Qaeda in Mogadishu.  I have no direct information, I have no direct intelligence source telling me in CJTF-HOA that that is going on.  Okay?  That doesn't mean -- that doesn't mean there isn't an intel source out there. 

 

            Q     Bret's other question about terrorism moving into your area -- are you concerned about increasing fundamentalism in the schools, in the madrassas in any particular areas that -- and is there anything that you can do about increased fundamentalism at that level? 

 

            GEN. GHORMLEY:  I have no true fundamentalistic madrassas in the area that I know of.  I know that, from the reports that I get, that mosques are springing up rather rapidly in Mogadishu.  But I don't know about the number of madrassas that that would involve or would include. 

 

            Q     But not in your -- in the areas where you do operate? 

 

            GEN. GHORMLEY:  No.  I don't know of any severe radicalism in the areas that I operate. 

 

            Q     General? 

 

            GEN. GHORMLEY:  Yes, sir? 

 

            Q     What would it take to get you engaged in Somalia? 

 

            GEN. GHORMLEY:  Permission from DOS. 

 

            Q     And -- it sounds like you ought to be there. 

 

            GEN. GHORMLEY:  Yes, sir. 

 

            Q     Well, is that in the works?  Are you pushing them for it? 

 

            GEN. GHORMLEY:  I know that there's quite a bit of interest on it, on what's going on in Somalia.  But, no, sir, I am not pushing to get into Somalia. 

 

            Q     Because it's technically a failed state -- 

 

            GEN. GHORMLEY:  Absolutely. 

 

            Q     Okay. 

 

            GEN. GHORMLEY:  Absolutely.     

 

            Yes, sir? 

 

            Q     What about the information that the U.S. Navy is preparing to assume command in your area? 

 

            GEN. GHORMLEY:  Yes, sir.  They, in fact, are.  The -- well, I say it -- it's a well-formed mist.  That's how positive we are about it.  Right now the Navy is taking a look at standing up the command to replace mine -- the same command -- pardon me -- is CJTF-HOA.  It'll stay within the naval service; it will just be a Navy officer now. And the change of command will be transparent.  They will be set for success, and they will continue to conduct the mission as the previous commanders have.  It'll just go from the Marine Corps to the Navy.   

 

            So it's -- I know there's a -- there's been a couple of articles about it.  I think Jane's just put out an article recently; as a matter of fact, just this morning I read it, so that's pretty recent -- and they mentioned that they would be taking over.   

 

            To us, it's not really that big of a deal.  We have an admiral coming in.  He's going to take over.  He's -- he's going to have to be a competent individual, and the staff -- remember, the staff is joint. So it's not going to be a Navy command, it will a Navy commander, as I am a Marine commander.  But my one -- right now my J-1 is a Marine; my two, three, four, they're Army; the five was a Marine, he may become a Navy; my six, my -- I'm sorry, my communications, is an Air Force colonel, my IG is a Navy commander.  So it will be a total joint -- and the Army supplies the CA, so that the field troops will continue to be sourced by the Army. 

 

            Yes, sir? 

 

            Q     General, could I just clear up something?  Am I to understand you'd like to be operating in Somalia but the State Department says you can't? 

 

            GEN. GHORMLEY:  No, sir, we're not going to go so far as to say that.  I'm going to say that Somalia is in my AOR.  If given permission to go into Somalia, I will certainly do that.  Does that make it clear? 

 

            Q     No, it sure doesn't.  It sounds like you ought to be operating there and you're not, and I'm not sure I understand why not. 

 

            GEN. GHORMLEY:  Somalia right now is with the AU, the African Union.  The African Union is handling what's going on in Somalia.  And the U.S., from what I can tell, is honoring the AU's requests.  So that's where we stand right now. 

 

            Q     Can I ask you one other thing?  I thought I heard you say that you'd like to have more interagency -- i.e., civilian -- folks working with you out there, especially in this ideological struggle. 

 

            GEN. GHORMLEY:  Yes, sir. 

 

            Q     Why isn't that happening?  And what, specifically, would you like to have? 

 

            GEN. GHORMLEY:  We are just now getting around to addressing those issues, those particular billets that we'd like to have in there.  And I won't tell you who I want right now.  I don't want to go there on that.  But yes, sir, we intend to go forward with it to get the agencies to move in.  And I don't mean "the agency," but the agencies. 

 

            Q     Right.   

 

            GEN. GHORMLEY:  Yes, ma'am? 

 

            Q     If you're looking at what the terrorists have to offer to people vice what you have to offer the people, where would you say the clash is?  Do they have money?  Do they have -- what are their tools vice your tools, as you see them? 

 

            GEN. GHORMLEY:  I don't see it so much as a contrast in tools or contrast in offers.  I see it as access to the first -- I guess the first to make the pitch and then follow up, which is why access is so important to us, why we have to be able to get there and why, once we are granted access, we have to have a presence there.  Once we get in there, there's no doubt that our message and what we can do for them will, in fact, sway them to the more moderate approach, but it is the access and then the presence that will get us in there. 

 

            Yes, ma'am? 

 

            Q     Sir, can I ask a follow-up on the interagency question? You said you didn't want to discuss it, or numbers.  Can you tell me a bit why you don't want to discuss it?  And can you just -- 

 

            GEN. GHORMLEY:  Sure.  I would rather not tell you the directions that I want to go within the task force, the areas that I would like to go into. 

 

            (Pause.) 

 

            MODERATOR:  Well, thanks very much. 

 

            Q     You know, a lot of people know about Iraq and Afghanistan, and you've presented a lot about what you're doing in Horn of Africa.  For somebody at home who doesn't get the big picture, can you sum it up, what those 1,400 or 800-plus-six are really getting done? 

 

            GEN. GHORMLEY:  Absolutely, absolutely. 

 

            What you have is a(n) area that is at the crossroads.  You have nations that want to go forward, that want to join the greater population.  They wish to become a part of a functioning society.  And in their own individual ways, they are.  We wanted to be a regional approach.  We want them to be able to enjoy the stability and security, and that's what these young folks are doing. 

 

            I came into the Marine Corps in 1967.  The soldiers and the sailors and the airmen and the Marines of today are far greater performance-wise, individual-wise than when I came in.  Absolutely spectacular what we have today, and they're all volunteers, every one of them.  And they go out and they address each of the needs.  They do the MEDCAPs, the VETCAPs.  And slowly but surely they are winning people over to a moderate lifestyle, to a lifestyle that will accept a governance from their sovereign country, their sovereign government. It is the pre-conflict.  It is setting the stage for peace. 

 

            It's not -- there are no body counts, which is extremely difficult to get across.  But I have -- like I say, it's 7(00) to 800 of my own, and then I have Camp Lemonier, 1,400.  Figure that there is three or four dependents at home waiting.  Let's give it a round number of 5,000 dependents supporting the 1,400, 1,500 that I've got there.  Absolutely spectacular.  The debt of gratitude that we owe the families is equal to the gratitude that we owe those that are working out in the country. 

 

            MODERATOR:  Anything else? 

 

            GEN. GHORMLEY:  Thank you very much.  Appreciate it.  

 

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