SEC. WOLFOWITZ: I’ve been down to the National Training Center a number of times, and 29 Palms and Nellis. We’ve had a big push from even before September 11th on joint training. And I’ve had a special interest in it because last time I was in the Pentagon working for Cheney during the Gulf War, I was sort of the action officer for Scud hunting and we were trying to keep the Israelis out of the war, which we’ve succeeded at. We didn’t succeed in stopping the Scud attacks although I think we got them bouncing significantly. But we flew a lot of planes over western Iraq and dropped a lot of bombs and the pilots couldn’t really find anything from the air. We put some guys in on the ground – very, very heroic effort. And they saw Scud launchers, but the ability to connect ground and air was so poor back then, we took out all of one Scud launcher and it turned out to be a decoy. [Chuckles] So it’s a revolution 12 years later to be able to do what we did in Afghanistan and in Iraq. And in fact, at McChord, I gave Bronze Stars to two Air Force guys who were forward air controllers, one in Afghanistan and one in Iraq. And by pure dumb luck for me, these were guys who were doing exactly the thing that I had hoped we could do after not being able to do it 12 years ago.
I got the Army and the Air Force together in the summer of ’01 and said, look, we’ve got to be able to train together, ground and air. There was a sort of – I heard one senior Air Force general back then say, look, guy in a tank doesn’t really have to know what the Air Force does. There’s a certain notion that joint operations really integrated a command level. Lots of joint command and control exercises, but joint tactical stuff was – a lot of people still rebelled at it because training time is one of the scarcest commodities in the service. It’s not a free good. It cost money. It’s time away from families. It’s a lot of things. So you want your tank gunners to be as good as they can possibly be. And if they’re wasting their time waiting for some guy to come in flying a close-air support sortie just for practice, it’s not as illogical as it sounds. But at any rate, so we – I guess we’re – this is all on the record, right?
Q: Yes, that’s fine.
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: It’s better for you if it’s on the record.
Q: It’s better for us.
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: Yeah.
Q: It’s on the record, unless you tell us otherwise.
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: OK, fair enough.
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: OK. And we’ve known for a long time that training is one of our enormous advantages. And I think it’s – I mean, I suppose you could say, well, we’ve known it throughout history. But I think it’s become clearer with a volunteer force when you have people who really spend their careers at the business. You train them and you train them. We were just with the Special Forces guys. I’d say the average of the ones we talked to is probably at least 10 years in the service and at least five years in the Special Forces. But they’ve lost a little bit of their edge because they’ve been deployed to Thailand and they were doing something different. So they’re training up to get that edge back. And I remember what the Army did – training took a big leap forward with information technology, with the ability of using lasers to have realistic training exercises, so you knew whether in a non-live fire exercise you can tell whether somebody hit the target. And they developed this extraordinary precision down at Fort Irwin in California at the National Training Center. And the real revolution I learned 12 years ago was not just that this allowed you to do a realistic maneuver. And what they do is they have this thing they call OP4 – Opposition Force, which is a very highly trained bunch of – I guess it’s about a regiment – brigade size, small brigade-size unit that learned how to play Soviet tactics and they’re very, very good at it.
Q: They’ve never been beaten, have they?
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: Pardon?
Q: They have never been beaten. As far as I understand…
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: Pretty much, never been beaten. And of course, the rules are rigged a little bit in their favor, too, because the purpose is to beat the crap out of the trainees. [Chuckles] You know, if you do well, it’s not good enough training. It’s like a lawyer who wins every case. Obviously, is too risk averse. [Chuckles] But the real revolution, it turned out, was that in the after-action assessments, they used to spend 80 percent of their time or more arguing about what happened. And because those arguments went away completely, they had real-time basically videotape, I mean, a computer tape of what happened and whether somebody got taken out or not. If they get taken out, they get certain wounds or the tank gets -- I mean, they’ll identify what the hit is supposed to be.
Instead of arguing about what happened, they would discuss the decision-making and how they got into this mess and who made which mistakes. And the real thing that came from that – and I think the first person that pointed this out to me was actually the chief of staff of the Israeli armed forces, said it forces commanders to sit and listen to their subordinates criticize their decisions. And it is a huge culture change. And instead of – it’s a change from thinking that you preserve command authority by being infallible to accepting that nobody thinks you’re infallible. And your authority comes from your ability to engage in give-and-take and acknowledge what you did right and what you did wrong and listen to your troops.
Q: And that’s not something you can do by policy declaration?
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: You sure can’t. No. And there’s a lot of culture change going on throughout the military. I mean, the whole role of women is extraordinary. Stop me, if I’m going too…
Q: [Inaudible] hard to do in the civilian world, too.
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: Pardon?
Q: Take criticism…
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: It’s hard…
… and especially in any bureaucracy, it’s very hard. I think in some ways the military handles a certain kind of subordinate criticism better than some other civilian bureaucracies I know of. At least that’s been my observation over the years and maybe I’m mythologizing. Well, I worked eight years in State, so this is not just from the outside.
But the way it seems to me is that there is a sort of military tradition of saying, “With all due respect, sir, I think we’re going to get murdered if we take that hill,” and the commander says, “We’re going to take that hill anyway,” and he knows his people are going to take the hill. And in fact, because they’re going to go and do what they’re told to do, they have a certain right to question whether it’s the right thing to do.
In other places, where the obedience to orders is – I mean, believe me, in fact, in civilian bureaucracies, people tend often just to ignore instruction. So people start looking for real loyalty and subordinates frequently try to prove by sucking up to their superiors that they’re really trustworthy and they start to get afraid that if they criticize something it’ll be misinterpreted. I think there’s a little less fear of that in the military. But it’s human. I mean, it’s everywhere.
So coming into this administration and being so impressed with what the Army had done at the National Training Center, what the Air Force has done at Nellis is something called Red Flag – very realistic fighter on fighter -- multiple fighter on multiple fighter engagements – terrific kind of training. That started in the very late ‘70s and sort of progressed through the ‘80s. But coming into this administration and remembering that experience with western Iraq and the Scud Hunt and how ineffective it was, I was very seized with the idea we ought to be training together. And when I heard this Air Force general say that the guy in the tank doesn’t need to waste his time, [Chuckles] knowing what’s going on in the air, it really got me.
But obviously, there was a lot more progress that had been made or we wouldn’t have done what we did in Afghanistan so quickly. But we thought about setting up a joint national training center. In other words, the Army has Fort Irwin and Yakima and a training center down in Louisiana for sort of light infantry urban stuff. The Marine Corps has 29 Palms and the Navy has Fallon, the Air Force has Nellis, but they’re all separate. There’s a little bit of overlap. We thought, well, maybe we should create a joint national training center. And the pushback from the military was very strong and I think correct, actually, that we’ll put a big investment into a facility and we still need to do our individual service training. And in this day and age of internetting and simulation and so forth, bottom line is we change it to a joint national training capability. It’s not a physical center. So you can have a training exercise going on in Louisiana with light infantry that is hooked up by computers with something that’s going on at Fort Irwin with the tanks. And this range I don’t believe – at least nothing I saw today -- suggests that it’s into that hook-up. Then they will actually fly close-air Sorties out of Nellis and sometimes they’ll actually sort of work the National Training Center piece.
But this ability for services to work together, we’ve always known it has a huge payoff and it’s called “jointness.” We have always known there’s a cultural resistance to it, which has some healthy roots to it. I mean, Marines do well because they’re proud of being Marines and ditto for Army and ditto for Air Force. So you don’t want them to be all just one mélange. Goldwater-Nichols bill in 1987 forced a lot of joint activity on the part of services and it basically made it very hard to get promoted as a general officer if you had no time in a joint command, for example.
But at the time -- ’87 -- if you recall, was sort of this sort of opening edge of the information evolution people, none of us, I think, contemplated just how much you could do working jointly, now that it’s possible to integrate things at such great distances and in such complicated ways. And my favorite example is that of Afghanistan, are these young Special Forces guys who were literally on horseback in some cases calling in B-52 and B-2 strikes from the United States. And the intelligence was put together from multiple different sources by guys and women in usually airborne platforms literally using chat rooms, the kind of thing that most people over 50 haven’t even heard of, but our teenagers are doing it all the time. Only this time, instead of talking about who’s dating whom, it’s “Well, this target looks to me like it’s, you know, a Taliban tank,” and “No, no, we just” – but being able by different sources and talking over an internetted connection to sort out what’s the real thing from the bad thing.
And then you have some other innovations like the unmanned aerial vehicles, the Predator. But it is just quite phenomenal what we can deliver -- deliver is sort of the wrong word, deliver sort of implies Air Force – a way in which we can find targets with precision and then take them out with precision. And precision sometimes means a sniper on the ground and sometimes it means a bomb from 12,000 miles away.
Q: It seems to prevent some more of the blue-on-blue in fratricide incidents?
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: Huge. I think, absolutely. I mean we now, in fact, have what they call Blue Force Tracker. And the Stryker units which are – and this is “Stryker Mecca” it turns out, and I guess you’ve just heard there’s going to be a third Stryker Brigade up here.
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: I think I was in Mosul when the first Stryker took an RPG in combat. The press tried to portray it as shooting at me, but it was actually 10 miles away. [Laughter] But we’ve been in the hotel on my previous visit and they were shooting at the hotel, so it was kind of nice to sensationalize. But it took a hit and nobody was hurt, which is the nice part of the story.
But Stryker is supposed to have a great deal of information technology inside. I think it does.
Q: Which [inaudible]?
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: So you can track your own people, as well.
Q: Well, I understand the Army now is building into their new utility uniforms the ability to recognize friend or foe, too, with a little patch that has a Velcro covering…
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: You’re a step ahead of me, but that doesn’t surprise me at all.
Q: It’s amazing.
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: Yes.
Q: What’s going on with re-enlistment rates?
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: We watch them very closely, it won’t suprise you. The most recent statistics I saw are very good for the active force. All of the services are ahead of their re-enlistment goals for the third quarter – at or ahead of. And I mean, that’s very encouraging. There’s a little – we do other things, too. We survey family attitudes because, I mean, the only thing about a volunteer army, it’s a family army. Dan Inouye anyway, who’s, I guess you know, a Medal of Honor winner from World War II, commented to me awhile back that the difference between the Army of today and the Army of his time is he went to a military hospital. In his day, it was all single males. If you go to a military hospital now it’s full of pregnant women and families. So family attitudes really matter. And not surprisingly is a certain level of anxiety that turns up in questionnaires more about just the strain of a lot of deployment away from home. At any rate, so far, it looks good with the active force and most of the Reserve components. The Army National Guard is a little below where they want to be.
Q: Average age climbing up?
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: I don’t think so. I think – you mean in the Guard or overall?
Q: Just overall. Are new people, you know…
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: No. New people are coming in.
Q: [Inaudible] not just new people, but younger people.
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: At McChord yesterday, I heard from one airman who was a little bit concerned that -- because the Air Force, if anything, has more people than they want. They Navy has actually been bringing its numbers down – not hugely, but sort of 3 or 4 percentage points. But this one airman who I think was an E-4 or E-5 was concerned if the Air Force shrank a little, his career opportunities would shrink with it and couldn’t we keep the experienced people and have not taken as many new folks. That was the question to me.
I mean, my main answer is, look, the Secretary of the Air Force, the chief of staff of the Air Force are the experts on this. But what has impressed me and it impressed me a lot during the downsizing, big downsizing we did when Cheney was secretary. I had sort of the same reaction that this kid did when I saw how they were going to keep retiring experienced pilots and bringing in young ones. And I thought, well, if you’re going to shrink the size of it, why don’t you just cut off the intake. And the answer is if you do that for very long, you’re going to get a…
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: And you’ll get people who were over age for what – I mean, I’m 60, so this is going to--
Q: For [inaudible]?
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: Exactly, exactly. And that it was – the State Department where I worked really did have a tendency when personnel were cut, they wouldn’t cut at the top. They just sort of choke off the young blood and it’s a mistake. So as far as I can tell, the age range is still petty balanced. Rumsfeld has been trying from the beginning to get the military to re-look at the sort of 20-year retirement, this sort of idea that you take somebody whom you’ve had that huge investment in and still has many, many productive years left and that of a sort of industrial age a set of practices you’ve retired. I mean, I think that really does need some looking at. But you can’t – that’s a different matter from saying, you know, you meet a changed personnel requirement by not taking new people. I think what…
Well, what you’re asking is are the young people still volunteering and I think the answer is yes and in considerable numbers.
Q: Can we pan over to Afghanistan for a moment?
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: Absolutely.
Q: It doesn’t seem to get the coverage it rightfully deserves, but Bin Laden, I mean, it seemed like with all this attention being paid, there should be some conclusion of that. [Chuckles] [Inaudible] I know you hope so, too.
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: We hope so, too. But I mean, we really do hope so. But there are two different things. I mean, one is Afghanistan and the other is Bin Laden. Let me start with Bin Laden. He is almost surely not in Afghanistan. He’s probably in Pakistan. And if we had to… <<>>
<<>> Afghanistan itself is – the enemy there now is mostly Taliban. That is to say, Afghans, not Arabs, not al Qaeda. And part of it is because it’s not a terribly good place to hide, since we can go anywhere we want and we have increasing allies among the Afghans.
Our commanders’ assessment is that, on balance, we’re making progress against them. It’s a little bit of – it’s very hard to measure in that kind of wild country and it’s not something where, unless for some reason, they were finally to decide to accept the new arrangement in Afghanistan and decide to come over. And that is a possibility at some point, but they certainly haven’t accepted it so far. As the Soviets learned to their great grief, it’s a place where guerillas can hang out very easily. When these guys go back and forth across the Pakistan border, which just makes it harder to, they will mount an attack in Eastern Afghanistan and then we’ll retreat into the wilds of Pakistan to hide.
So the key there really – and it’s also the key in Iraq – is not necessarily total victory over the Taliban. They may be around for a long time. But having the Afghans able to take care of most of the problems themselves and that means both an Afghan army that can function and we’ve trained about 10,000 so far. Pace is a little slow, but I think it’s picking up. And the government that has some degree of popular support – and I think Karzai’s done amazingly well to have a constitution that is pretty remarkable by the standards of the Muslim world.
Well, there are going to be elections – presidential elections this fall and parliamentary elections some time next year. But it’s going to take a long time. And I think the key, there’s some argument about this, but I find it actually a little baffling when some people say, well, the answer in Afghanistan is more American troops, as though people had forgotten what happened to the British or what happened to the Soviets when they became an occupying power.
I think the key to Afghanistan is not being seen as occupiers. And we managed to keep enough of a presence there that when there’s a target that’s important to us, we can go and hit it. But…
Q: [Inadible] pretty constant or…
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: It’s crept up a little bit, but it’s now, I think, don’t hold me to precision -- we’re in the neighborhood of 15,000 and we have in the neighborhood of 6 or 7,000 coalition partners mostly from NATO countries. And that’s crept up a bit, too, which is a good thing. I mean, not as fast as we’d like. Our real goal would be to get NATO to do more. But the fact is that NATO countries have been dismantling their militaries over the last 10 or 15 years – 15, actually, I guess. But there are some – I mean, the Romanians that contributed, for example, I pick it not quite at random, but it was a surprise to me to learn that Romania, which is a fairly mountainous country, has some very good mountain troops and they contributed a whole battalion at one stage during some real fighting. New Zealand, tiny though it is, has some good special forces.
And the concept that General Franks invented when he was still in charge, which we’ve built on, to extend our reach and the reach of the central government out in these wild areas without having 200,000 Americans there – something they call provincial reconstruction teams where you take 100 or so special forces-type military people and 100 or so AID civilian State Department reconstruction types and put them out in a provincial city. And New Zealand, actually is taking charge of one of these reconstruction teams. I was pleasantly surprised to see they could do that. And NATO is now committed to taking on another four or five. So by the end of this year, I think there’ll be 15 or 20 of them around the country. But it’s a wild place in a different way. Both Afghanistan and Iraq have been horribly abused. In Afghanistan’s case, it was started with the Soviet – well, actually the Civil War that led to the Soviet invasion and the invasion and then the Civil War that followed – the departure of the Soviets. And it wasn’t exactly very far past the Stone Age when it all began.
But our goal has to be at a minimum to keep it from reverting to a country that harbors terrorists and, hopefully, get beyond that. And I think there’s a real chance of it to being a reasonable success story by the standards of what Afghanistan’s been historically.
Q: Is there an estimate of when the tipping point will come, what it will take in either Afghanistan or Iraq to have the provision – thinking being that you’d want a constitutional government, that supported the popular personal [inaudible], if not. And that, I guess actively opposes the lawlessness?
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: I think I would say an important way in Afghanistan, we have reached maybe not the tipping point, but a major tipping point with the – and they have this thing they call the loya jirga which is a sort of version of parliamentary democracy. It’s kind of a tribal council sort of way of discussing things. We had a constitutional loya jirga last December. It agreed on this new constitution which really is remarkable in a lot of ways, including the fact that it has certain guarantees of rights for women in a country that, under the Taliban, women would be shot if they didn’t go out completely covered. And there’s been some, I think, very encouraging results in the registration for these elections. I think the number, it’s over six million Afghans have registered to vote, I think, 40 percent of them women. And this is in the face of some real intimidation because the Taliban have attacked voter registration operations several times. Actually killed a couple of U.N. workers who were doing voter registration.
But they can’t stop, you know, when it’s six million if the number’s overwhelm them and I think it’s a very good sign. And so there’s – in some ways, a tipping point in terms of belief in a decent sort of government I think has been reached. Tipping point in terms of when they really have adequate military of their own with their own central government isn’t there yet. We’re actually trying to assess what that, you know, in terms of numbers, what that would mean I think I mentioned 10,000 is where they’re at now. That’s army and police is another important requirement. But from what I would guess the requirement is, we’re only a third of the way there at this point, but that doesn’t mean it will take another – the rate at which it’s growing, it’s not just a flat straight line. It’s an upward moving curve. And then the third piece in Afghanistan which really is critical, is apart from just being the Taliban, is getting the warlords under control. And that really is a challenge and you’re dealing with something that in some ways, is a historic phenomenon. It was never. There’s always a lot of local control, but these warlords, in part, were a product of the invasion and the Civil War.
<<>> Well, that’s the nature of that country. It’s – by the way, one of the things that’s interesting about the range here is that in certain respects, this sort of high-desert environment does have some similarities to Afghanistan. I’m told the winters are also similar to Afghanistan. And they even found one or two things that looked like an Afghan cave complex.
But I’ll tell you one thing, they cannot reproduce our mountains that go up basically from, like, 6,000 feet to 20,000 feet within human sight. I mean, it’s stunning to see the changes in altitude. And they start pretty high to begin with. So it’s – I think sometimes when people who don’t know what their country looks like, try to evaluate progress there, you need to – realism is really required. Iraq is a completely different story in terms of topography, for one thing, in terms of resources. I mean, here’s a number that impresses me, at least. The total budget for the Afghan government is $600 million and 50 percent of that comes from foreign donations.
The Iraqi government, to date, has spent or committed approximately $20 billion entirely from Iraqi funds. About half of it from accumulated oil-for-food money that belonged to the U.N. before and another $10 billion that’s been earned with oil exports since the liberation of Iraq and projected another $8 billion by the end of this year, unless the terrorists are able to blow up pipelines. That’s the real challenge. So just at that level alone, you’ve got huge difference. But way beyond that, I mean, the people of Iraq – and the only thing that Saddam did for a while that was any good at all and he began to stop doing it was to have an educational system at least on technical education was one of the best in the Arab world. And historically, these are some of the most talented people in the Arab world. I mean, historically going back, actually thousands of years, before they were Arabs even and so there’s a lot of human resources there.
There are four million Iraqi exiles in the U.K. and the U.S. and other places, some of whom are going back and not necessarily in large numbers, but again very talented people. One guy I met in Virginia had fled as a refugee in 1991. I guess he’d been trained as a cardiologist. He drove – I think cardiology is the right – at any rate, an MD, let’s just make it – he may have only been general practice, but he drove a taxi for two years, while he studied for his medical boards and he’s now a practicing physician in the United States. I doubt if he’ll go back, but there’s a Iraqi-American at the University of South Florida whom I know quite well who took a leave without pay to go out there for a year to help the health ministry. So they’ve got a huge pool of talent.
And third, historically, it’s been a very rich agricultural country. Again, a lot of damage done by the various – we use this word “reconstruction” of Iraq, as thought we’re repairing wartime damage. I decided the only correct word is the resurrection of Iraq. I mean, this was a country that was pushed really almost to death’s door by deliberate disinvestment. I mean, this guy would punish the people he didn’t like, like most of the people in southern Iraq by just not building schools, not building hospitals, not building sewage. And anyway, it saved his money for building palaces and armies.
Q: That’s interesting you should mentioned that Mr. Secretary, because I think that’s the general idea people get is that when people mention construction, that…
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: It’s fixing our damage.
Q: It’s all of our laser-guided bomb’s damage that we’re fixing and I just--
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: It’s not at all.
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: It’s not all.
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: And in fact, one of the things that’s really stunning in Iraq is to see when – I mean, it was precise as hell. I mean, you see what was obviously the target and I assume it was probably a correctly chosen target, most of the time. I mean, we made some mistakes, we know that. And in fact, I think my own theory is that first hit that was supposed to be Saddam Hussein was Saddam Hussein’s people playing a game on us. He certainly wasn’t there, we know that, but that, you know, you’ll drive down the street in an Iraqi city and you’ll see two government buildings completely demolished and apartment blocks right next door completely intact. And in fact, during the war, you could observe people during the middle of bombing raids going about their business in commercial sections of Baghdad…
Q: That’s a lot of trust.
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: It is a lot of trust.
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: So it’s not – we’re not repairing wartime damage. We’re repairing an incredibly debilitated infrastructure. And you know, the Michael Moores of the world will say, “Yes, that’s because of your sanctions and what your sanctions did.” But that is, I tell you, that physical demonstration is not true. You go to Northern Iraq in the area that the Kurds control, for the last 12 years, they were under the same sanctions as the rest of the country and it is thriving and prosperous and there’s enough electricity. There are hotels you’d actually be happy to stay in. People are well-fed. This was just a complete misallocation of the resources of a fairly rich country. And some of it was, as I say to punish people he didn’t like and some of it was simply to invest in the things that he cared about including, it would seem, buying a lot of influence around the world [Chuckles].
Q: What do you think the key is to getting [inaudible].
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: I think the statistic is that the per capita expenditure on health care has gone up 30 times since liberation. I mean, that’s the worst one, where he really just trashed people. But electricity now is way above – well, I think the numbers are – prewar peak was 4,400 megawatts and we’re up to 5,000 megawatts. But this blossoming of satellite dishes and air conditioners and people still don’t pay much for electricity, the demand has gone up to 9,000 megawatts, so we’re chasing a rapidly moving target – or they are now.
Q: Your boss [Inaudible] – used a term called “dead-enders”…
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: Um-hm.
Q: … in characterizing, you know. And I just wondered if you could characterize this and what you think makes up the – the most recent insurgents?
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: Yes. And I call them the enemy and I – no, no, its…
Q: It should be called that.
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: No. And it’s -- the terminology is important and I think we’ve missed it for over a year. I mean, we’ve had an even, you know, for a long time in our own intelligence analysis we call them former regime loyalists. And that would be like calling former members of the Gestapo and the SS former regime loyalists. Well, I suppose yes. Former Nazi loyalists [Chuckles]. That word “Baathist” really does come very close to being Nazi, but it doesn’t mean that to Americans. And I was really delighted to see the new prime minister refer to what they are, which is the evil enemy [Chuckles]. But beyond – I’m not just quibbling semantics, I mean factually. And again, all of this is with – there’s so much that we don’t know, although I am impressed, in this case, that we do know a lot and a lot of what we know comes from capturing people and by the way, from interrogating them. And as horrible as the abuses were in Abu Ghraib --and they were horrible – it would be dangerous if we turned around and said therefore, you can’t interrogate people, if you do it humanely. I mean, we have learned a lot about the enemy and we’ve captured a lot of people. In fact, we captured Saddam Hussein by interrogating layers moving up to him. And to me, what is really striking is how large a chunk of what we’re dealing with is the old terror apparatus of the old regime. And if you stop and think about it, it’s not that surprising. Saddam didn’t kill – I mean, some estimates are a million to four million Iraqis, but let’s just say it’s only 400,000. He didn’t do that single-handedly. He had some thousands of people doing it for him. And they were concentrated in certain organizations, one of which really the ugliest of which was the Fedayeen Saddam which means literally those who will commit suicide for Saddam – will sacrifice themselves for Saddam.
I’ve never seen a very good analysis of how that organization was formed. I think it was led by Uday, the worst of his two horrible sons. And I think it sometimes tended to pick up sort of street criminals and young thuggish kids and kind of indoctrinate them with a ideology that made them feel that they were doing the right thing by doing what they liked to do which is to kill people. It’s – but really, they’re horrible people. And the Marine general who commanded the 1st Marine division in the heavy stage of combat told me back last July that the only people who really stood and fought to the death were foreign fighters and Fedayeen Saddam. I asked him well, how did you know they were foreign fighters, well, we picked up passports and he showed me some of them. Guys who came in across the Syrian border in late March and that one of them had an entry permit stamped “Purpose of visit: to perform Jihad.” [Chuckles]
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: But there are some of these people who were – OK, there’s Fedayeen Saddam, then there’s what they call the Mukhabarat, what we sometimes call the Iraqi Intelligence Service. But it’s not intelligence like the CIA, it’s intelligence like the Gestapo. I mean, it was Secret Service to mainly torture Iraqis and oppress Iraqis. And there are two particular divisions of the Mukhabarat that had been very active in fighting us. One is called M-14. There was an interesting article M-14 in The New York Times about two months ago. I try not to read The New York Times too much these days, but it was a good article. And M-14 was a so-called antiterrorism branch of the Mukhabarat. It’s George Orwell at work, its specialty was kidnappings, bombings, assassinations and hijackings [Chuckles]. And according to detainees that we’ve picked up, a colonel in M-14, a woman, blew herself up at Haditha Dam last year to kill Americans. Now I showed this actually to my boss and he said, “But I didn’t think Iraqis commit suicide.” Apparently, they do and it is definitely the case, because we went back and checked it. At Haditha Dam, I think on April 29th of last year or the date is known, maybe it – no, it was the beginning of April. I’m sorry, I’m confusing a different one. A car stopped, a pregnant woman got out of the car, yelled for help. Three Americans came over to help her and, boom, they all went up in the air.
There’s also a group and they’re – M-16 is sort of this – sounds like the technical development branch of Mukhabarat. They’ve been working on bomb making for years and years and one of their key bomb makers is a – I’d call him a former Palestinian. He’s lived in Iraq for 25 years, so – his name is Abu Ibrahim. He’s sort of in the same class as Carlos “The Jackal”. And one of the world’s experts on plastic explosives. And I mentioned him in a public testimony a while back and some so-called intelligence analysts rushed to “Newsday” to say, oh, Wolfowitz doesn’t know what’s he talking about. This guy is – from the 1980s, he put plastic explosives on a PanAm airplane through an agent in a suitcase in 1982. I think he’s indicted for it. Well, that’s true, but it’s also true that he’s still – at least as recently as six months ago, creating bomb factories in Iraq. And we’ve had detainees who’ve told us about him and who’ve identified devices that we’ve picked up as being the characteristic Abu Ibrahim device.
One of them – and now I’m not saying it’s Abu Ibrahim, but one of them told us that they had a car bomb by remote control that blew up in Najaf on March 29th, the second week of the war. I went and checked was there – killed an American. I went and checked was there a car bomb in Najaf. Yeah, there was a car bomb that killed four Americans. So he was all – usually they exaggerate the other way. And some of these suicides may actually not realize they’re on suicide missions. I mean, you put a guy in a truck and then you blow it up remote control. They were building suicide vests before the war. They were building remote-controlled radio devices before the war. Not saying all this goes back to before the war, but I guess the bottom line is my sense – oh, and they were working with Mr. Zarqawi before the war and you’ve heard of him, I assume.
And I tell you, if you haven’t read it, it really is worth going online and getting that 10-page letter that he sent to his buddies in Afghanistan. Unless you read it, it’s hard to fathom. The spleen and the venom and the hatred of everybody, including Shia. I mean, as far as he’s concerned, Shia Muslims are in the same league as Jews and Americans. And the more of them you kill, the better, especially if you can win that way. And there is a degree to which these killers have been joined in at least the Sunni-Arab areas, by some people who just began to think we were planning to stay there forever – that nationalism may have been aroused, their sense that they would not have a place in the future of Iraq. I mean, relatively not necessarily wonderful people, but not killers, but who began to feel if the choices between the Americans and the killers, maybe the killers are the real Iraq. And one of the reasons we in defense were so eager to get this occupation ended and getting Iraqi government in place was to stop any of these fence-sitters from continuing to tip over to the other side. And I guess I could say it a dozen times, it doesn’t happen overnight. And one of my favorite benchmarks is to point out the Marshall Plan which was, you know, to bail out a failing Europe three years after the end of World War II. It was spring of 1948, things were so bad that we looking for how to rescue things. By that standard, to be where we are, after 14 months, when the enemy still hasn’t really given up, isn’t bad, but it’s a huge thing for Iraqis to believe that this really is their country and they’re going to get it back because one of the worst pieces of propaganda that work against us inside the country is to play back to 1991 when, unfortunately we called for an uprising in Saddam. And then when it happened, we didn’t support it. And to say the Americans really only came to steal your oil. Now that they’ve done that, they’re going to do some deal with somebody or other and they’ll leave and they’ll hand it back to some new dictator and they’ll get what they came here for. And it’s – I think we’re having – I mean, I’m really impressed with Allawi.
Q: Are you telling me…[Inaudible]
Q: We’re getting closer. Another couple of minutes.
SEC. WOLFOWITZ: I think he’s very, very good. But the bunch of them are very good. I’d like to say something about that in a minute. But having an Iraqi government instead of an American administrator talking about what’s going on and when there’s – there’s a car bombing, we could go on the front page of our papers at least, had Allawi and his deputy prime minister Barham Saleh were at the bomb site within 30 minutes of it happening, which also shows courage. But it shows that their government’s there.
And what goes along with it is a very rapid growth in Iraqi security forces. I mean, if it took us 2.5 years to get 10,000 in Afghanistan, Iraq is a completely different matter. And again, because you have much more developed economy in society and have lots of available trainable military manpower, much of which may have had some training. And every time they advertise a position in the police or National Guard or the Army, five or 10 guys come forward for each opening.
And when they bombed a police station, recruiting station, a few weeks ago, the very next day, there were lines outside the same recruiting station. And you ask why do they do this and I think – I really think it’s a mixture. Some of it is because they need a job and their families aren’t too unhappy because the death benefits are reasonably good if they get killed. It’s a horrible thing. By the way, 500 or so have been killed. This is, you know, I find every casualty of ours extremely painful and I hope we can get to the point where it starts being them being killed instead of us. But at the moment at least, they’re out there fighting, too and taking hits. But I think it’s also a real belief in trying to have a better future for the country. And certainly, that’s true and here’s the list I – bear with me for a minute, to go though – because I was in Iraq in June. I spent about eight hours with Allawi and his national security team talking about how to structure their army and what kind of resources they could count on from us and what they need to plan on from their own budget or from some of their other rich Arab friends. I found them extremely rational and with a good clear sense of first things, first and second things second. And they have some six things that maybe we not be able to afford, but the sequence was very rational.
But flying home, I stopped and thought about the fact that when we were in Fallujah – well, let me start here with Allawi. Allawi was in his apartment in London in 1979. And an assassin sent by Saddam brought an axe down and it would have chopped his head open if he hadn’t woken in time to move. His leg was almost severed. His wife suffered a nervous breakdown from which she never recovered. And he didn’t – and he’s number one on Zarqawi’s hit list. He’s not doing it just for money and glory. I mean, there’s clearly some motivation there that’s genuine patriotism. I just don’t see how you can take that away from him. And maybe he wants to be president. That’s – I mean, ambition’s important in facing up to that kind of thing. Then there’s the new president whom I had met Allawi many years ago and knew him reasonably. The new president I never met before. His name is Sheikh Gazi al-Yawer. He is just – he looks like a Saudi prince, dresses like one. He’s a Sunni Arab – pretty devout, I think. He comes from one of the biggest tribes in Iraq, which means one of the biggest clans in Iraq.
He was on the old governing council and became the president of the old governing council because his predecessor’s president was blown up by a car bomb outside, as he actually waiting in line to enter our compound, which makes you wonder. We shouldn’t have these guys waiting in line, but that’s -- he knows he’s at risk. Barham Saleh was the deputy prime minister who is a Kurd and I’ve known a long time. He lived in Washington. He went back to northern Iraq to be the deputy prime minister of part of Kurdistan. He’s been the target of assassination attempts.
We were in Fallujah. We met a Marine whose life had been saved by five members of the Iraqi National Guard who risked their lives to save him. And the one that really got to me the most was up north in Mosul. There was a young Iraqi woman – Kurdish woman – who was our translator for a meeting with the governor who, unfortunately – really unfortunately has since been murdered -- the governor has. But my military assistant who just opened the door was the assistant division commander up there for seven months and he knew this young woman and he said, “How are you doing?” She says, “I’m fine, but my sister was murdered six weeks ago because I’m working for the Americans.” And he said, “Well, why do you continue working for us?” and she said, “Because my father told me you must never retreat in the face of evil.”
There is a lot of that. There is a lot of courage. There’s a lot of desire not to go back to the past. I think that’s ultimately, in many ways, our strongest suit. I mean, that word “insurgency” -- and I’m not trying to argue semantically, but I dislike every word that conveys some sense of heroism to the people we’re fighting. I do think our biggest edge ultimately is that I don’t know of an insurgency. I’ll accept that word -- that I’ve read about that offered nothing positive, just simply death and destruction and threats and intimidation. And that seems to be what these people and Zarqawi – I mean, here’s a Jordanian who beheads people, who treats Shia and Kurds like lesser beings. Even in Fallujah, there’s some indication they may be getting sick of Zarqawi. So the very evil of the enemy, which makes it hard to stand up to, I think also ultimately will be their undoing. But I guess I’m getting the hook.
Q: Appreciate your time. Thank you.
ALL: Thank you.