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Defense Department Regular Briefing

Presenters: Lawrence Di Rita, Pentagon Spokesman; and Lieutenant General James T. Conway, Director, Operations, Joint Staff
May 05, 2005 2:40 PM EDT
Defense Department Regular Briefing

       MR. DI RITA: Good afternoon. I would like to first welcome General Conway to the briefing studio. I think many of you know General Conway; have maybe met with him when he was deployed overseas. He's, obviously, currently the Director of Operations on the Joint Staff. We're very pleased that he's available to do this today. We may see General Conway from time to time. We have some other officers who have returned from command assignments in Iraq who are on the Joint Staff who would be also terrific briefers, and we'll probably see them from time to time as well.

 

       But I do welcome General Conway to the briefing studio.

 

       I also want to -- if some of you had the chance to see the salute to the troops in the center courtyard, we had a terrific line-up of some country music talent. "America Supports You" is the umbrella program that we've opened up for people to look for ways to help U.S. forces around the world. And we had a terrific event out there that the secretary participated in, including the unveiling of a NASCAR from Lowe's Home Improvement Company that has the "America Supports You" logo on the car. So it's kind of a neat thing. We had nice -- very nice event, which you can all watch on the reruns on the Pentagon channel, I'm sure.

 

       If I could take a minute to acknowledge that tomorrow we'll be celebrating military spouse -- will be -- Military Spouse Appreciation Month is this month, and there will be some announcements and some other activities associated with that tomorrow and through the weekend. We, obviously, always talk about how we recruit soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, but we retain families, and we retain families largely because of military spouses and the terrific service that they provide as well. We honor them, and this is the month where we will be taking particular time to honor them.

 

       And with that, General Conway, if you have any comments.

 

       GEN. CONWAY: Thank you, Larry.

 

       Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I would tell you that in the last 48 hours we have had two soldiers who are suspected of smuggling ammunition in Colombia be detained by Colombian authorities. This morning, at 0700 Eastern Standard Time, those soldiers were released to U.S. custody at the American embassy in Bogota, and the embassy is now working to determine the facts surrounding the matter. It is the intent of the ambassador to allow a Colombian investigator to speak with them at some point in time.

 

       Also, earlier this week, delighted to announce that Pakistani authorities have captured Abu Farraj al-Libbi. He is the number 3 man in the al Qaeda organization. And this is one of our most significant successes in the global war on terrorism to date.

 

       And with that, I think we'd like to take your questions.

 

       MR. DI RITA: Mr. Aldinger?

 

       Q General Conway, first, welcome to the briefing room. We'd like to have you come see us often.

 

       MR. DI RITA: Be nice to him and he'll come back.

 

       Q We have a story out of Somalia here quoting Somali officials as saying that a small number of U.S. Marines, apparently about 20, lightly armed, landed in Somaliland, which is apparently an enclave of Somalia on the coast, on Tuesday, showed some pictures of terrorists they were looking for, and then left. Is that true? Have any U.S. forces landed on the coast of Somalia for any reason -- looking for terrorists or otherwise?

 

       GEN. CONWAY: I heard that report just shortly before stepping over here. I checked with my DDO and those people in our Regional Operations Directorate who are responsible for that portion of the world. The report is false. The Marines have not landed, but the situation is still well in hand.

 

       Q The situation is still -- (laughter) -- well in hand?

 

       GEN. CONWAY: (Chuckles.)

 

       MR. DI RITA: Come on, Charlie. Work with us here.

 

       Q So no U.S. troops have gone ashore --

 

       GEN. CONWAY: That's correct, Charlie, that there's no indication that the people in the Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa have landed on the Somali coast. They're still in Djibouti and conducting operations.

 

       Q Well, I have 10 questions, but I'll limit it to two to begin, and I'll come back when I have a chance.

 

       MR. DI RITA: Why don't you limit to one and then we'll come back to you --

 

       Q Well, it's kind of hung together a little bit.

 

       MR. DI RITA: Okay, go ahead.

 

       Q The report we have is that the Pentagon is practically out of money to pay for the war until Congress passes the emergency supplemental we're told the House could very well approve this afternoon. But the Senate is postponing any action until next week, till after the recess. Is that true? Are you technically out of money? And are you taking it out of hide somewhere?

       And the other, peripheral question is, we're getting announcements out of Iraq that the as much as $100 million in reconstruction funds are missing. Any comment on either of those?

 

       MR. DI RITA: I'll take them in turn.

 

       The -- we have asked for and received approval for reprogramming of plus or minus a billion dollars to cover emergency -- overseas war expenses. And this -- we did this anticipating that we might not get the emergency supplemental approved prior to the recess for the Senate, which began last Thursday. It wasn't approved. There's -- I've seen press reports that there's been an agreement between the conferees, but we expect that that will -- we hope and expect that it will be passed for final approval shortly after the Senate reconvenes next week.

 

       But in the meantime, we have done some reprogramming, and that will -- and we'll be fine. But we do need the supplemental, and we expect that it will be passed in short order.

 

       With respect to the CPA, I believe what you are referring to is an audit that was conducted of a pot of money called the Development Funds for Iraq, DFI. And that was money that was recaptured assets, some revenues -- Iraqi revenues. It was, in short, Iraqi money.

 

       But in fact we had stewardship over that, the CPA. And as you know, we established an inspector general for the CPA. The inspector general is doing what he should be doing, which is auditing the expenditure of funds, and has determined that out of about $100 million in reconstruction funds of various types that were used out of this fund of money -- which, again, is not U.S. appropriated funds, but it's from other sources -- something on the order of 90 million (dollars) of it was not properly accounted for.

 

       Again -- and the report, as I understand it, does not have any finding that the money was -- that there's been any abuse or fraud. It's just that it, in terms of accounting procedures, they can't properly account for it, there's not sufficient documentation, and that about 7 million (dollars) -- 7.2 (million dollars) -- could not be accounted for at all. So you had two categories: about 90 million (dollars) that was accounted for, but insufficiently for audit purposes, and about 7 million (dollars) that was accounted for -- or that could not be accounted for.

 

       And again, we have a number of audits that continue. The inspector general of the Iraq CPA has additional audits that it will be conducting from time to time. The Defense Contract Audit Agency has conducted numerous audits. It's a large sum of money that has been committed to this country, to Iraq, and we take the stewardship of that money seriously. But there have been, in fact, some indications that the accounting hasn't been as good as it should be at times, and we acknowledge that.

 

       The report is quite thorough and complete and, I believe, has been or will soon be briefed to the appropriate committees on the Hill.

 

       Brett?

 

       Q General Conway, commanders in Iraq are confirming there was a raid on a hospital in Ramadi, based on information that terrorists were in and around there.

 

       Was that launched on the possibility that Abu Musaad Zarqawi was there, and can you update us on that hunt based on the information from that laptop that we know was retrieved in February?

 

       GEN. CONWAY: There was a search and destroy mission of sorts that took place at the hospital in Ramadi. It was not based, necessarily, upon information that Zarqawi was there. We have not been able to confirm that Zarqawi was either wounded in a firefight in Rawah or was receiving treatment at the hospital. We were simply told that a group of insurgents were there, and the Marines and soldiers responded, circled the hospital, and went in.

 

       In terms of the effort -- the search for Zarqawi -- I think it's not a surprise that some of our best and most capable forces in Iraq are dedicated to the mission. They respond anytime that there is a tip or an indicator that he might be present, and as you might imagine, with a $25 million reward on his head, we get a lot of tips and a lot of rumors of Zarqawi sightings. So we will continue the search for him. I'm absolutely confident that if he stays in Iraq he will be captured, or if he resists, he'll be killed.

 

       And I might add that I think his stock is running pretty thin with the Iraqi people. He continues to take credit for some of these massive attacks where Iraqis -- Iraqi civilians in particular are killed in large numbers. And it's our belief -- and I think some of the trends are starting to indicate that there's a saturation point that the Iraqi citizens are starting to get to. Tips are starting to come in more frequently on all manner of things that help us fight the insurgency. And I think those factors, combined, indicate we're going to catch him, so.

 

       Q Zarqawi's group posted a statement that he was in the hospital; there are some people on the ground that say he was there. From the people who went into the hospital and have since reviewed the information and the people they have talked to, there's no way to know whether he was or not?

 

       GEN. CONWAY: I can simply say there has been no evidence to indicate that he was there, either through interrogation of the people that we spoke to afterwards or any physical evidence of his presence.

 

       Q General, from the same topic.  Did the fact that you didn't find anybody there of interest, any insurgents at all, indicate that that was a bad tip? And are you getting those kinds of misleading tips?

 

       GEN. CONWAY: That happens from time to time. We have a term for it; it's called a dry hole. And again, you know, you go with what you've got, hoping that the intelligence is valid. And one day, guess what? You turn up a guy like al-Libby, and it's all worth it at that point.

 

       Q But there was no one there of interest?

 

       GEN. CONWAY: No. That's correct.

 

       MR. DI RITA: Owen Fay.

 

       Q Concerning IEDs. Right now, there are hearings going on on the Hill concerning the improvised explosive devices, with a lot of focus on uparmored humvees. Down in Camp Shelby, there's a conference going on about training soldiers for to recognize IEDs. Can you give us some sort of update of where this situation stands -- not so much the uparmoring issue, but the other sides of overcoming the IED issues?

 

       MR. DI RITA: Well, I'll start, and then the General could follow up, but it's not unlike the armor issue that you pointed to, and that is, as tactics change, the commanders say I would like -- I'm going to change my tactics, and in the meantime I need more of something. And that's what happened in the case of armor, and we went in just over a year from something on the order of 250 armored Humvees in-theater to over 20,000. A lot of effort was put into getting to that level. But in the meantime, the commanders had to change their tactics, they had to educate soldiers better about how to operate in that environment in the absence of everything that they wanted, but eventually that they got. Sure enough, once they get everything that they think they need, the tactics will change because the adversary has a vote in this thing.

 

       And we're doing a similar thing in the case of improvised explosive devices. We're addressing a large number of resources to various types of technology, to get better at interdicting, at finding, at stopping these -- or, letting them detonate at times when it's not going to be as damaging to U.S. forces remotely, et cetera. So we're adopting a number of technology fixes, but at the same time while that gets better and better, the commanders are adjusting their techniques and procedures. I think the hearing today, they talked about that, the military officers who were testifying, that that's an important requirement, and the education that you mentioned at -- at that -- at the installation here is a part of that.

 

       (To Gen. Conway.) And I don't know if you want --

 

       GEN. CONWAY: Yeah, I think Larry is exactly right. And I would add to it that our motivation is sound. On a day-in and day-out basis we see something akin to about 70 percent of our casualties, both killed and wounded, attributable to IEDs. From the beginning we have sought the technological solution, regardless of the cost, to try to find the device that would both detect and destroy the IEDs before our troops came within range. We have means of delaying the effects. I won't get much more into it than that, but we still haven't found the defeat mechanism.

 

       As a matter of our own TTPs, we looked at the whole chain of events: the resources to put the device together, the bomb maker himself. The British found good success, for instance, in Northern Ireland, going after that link in the chain. So we have examined that as potentially the weak link. The person who lays it into place, and the person then who detonates it, who sometimes are very different individuals.

 

       Then we've gone to our own defensive mechanisms: the armor that Larry spoke of, troop recognition, variances of convoy routes and those types of things. So we continue to bring those TTPs back. They're trained up with the troops that are about to go over in the next rotation, and we continue to pursue the technological solutions. So every measure of American power is going in to try to defeat this threat.

 

       MR. DI RITA: One final thought on that. We're also getting -- because the intelligence is getting better, we're getting -- we're finding a lot -- we're finding more large ammo caches. It's -- with large amounts of -- I mean, larger and larger quantities. So it's the intelligence getting better; obviously, this is the kind of stuff that goes into making these things.

 

       So, it's a full-court press.

 

       You do everything. There will not be a single solution to this problem.

 

       Will?

 

       Q Larry, let me ask you a question about the investigation regarding the Marine who shot the wounded insurgent in the mosque in Fallujah. The statement put out by the Marines says that this Marine's actions were consistent with the established rules of engagement. Are you able to tell us what those rules of engagement are? And also, is this investigation the last word on this incident, or is there a criminal investigation as well?

 

       MR. DI RITA: We don't discuss rules of engagement, so --

 

       Q Can you say why?

 

       MR. DI RITA: Because it's unsafe to our troops if we tell people what they're supposed to do to protect themselves. So we just don't discuss rules of engagement. But they have the right of self-defense at all times, and that's a consistent rule of engagement.

 

       As I understand it, there are two investigations. There's an investigation going on -- and I'll refer you for any details, because I'm going to go as deep as I know on this. There was an Article 32 type of investigation. Is that what it was?

 

       GEN. CONWAY: That's correct.

 

       MR. DI RITA: And then there's an investigation that's being conducted by the Navy Criminal Investigative Service. And I don't know the precepts of that investigation, but as I understand, there's one other investigatory activity that continues.

 

       Q So NCIS is continuing?

 

       MR. DI RITA: As I understand it, that's correct. And I would just refer you to the Department of the Navy for additional details, because I just don't have them.

 

       Q General, to get back to the IEDs. The Baghdad road, for some of us it seems difficult to understand why it's been so hard to have a relatively short stretch of road -- why it's been so hard to secure that area of road. Can you help us understand why that road today is still such a hotbed of insurgent activity, why it's so dangerous still?

 

       GEN. CONWAY: Well, not entirely, but I will offer a few thoughts. I think that the insurgents realize the political and the media value in continuing to have Route Irish be perceived, at least, to be as dangerous as it is. They are willing to accept the risk associated with attempting to lay those weapons, because what you don't hear about are the number of Iraqis that are intercepted, the number of IEDs that are found and those types of things. I just think it's one of these areas where they deem that it's sufficiently worth the cost to continue to try to lay the IEDs alongside the road. There are --

 

       MR. DI RITA: If you think about that road, every journalist that goes into Iraq drives down that road. Every VIP, every member of Congress drives down that road. So it's clearly a highway that gets a lot of attention, for the purposes as the general described.

 

       There's an interesting item in todays' Early Bird that I would refer you to from a soldier in Iraq talking about what he finds a curious perception that that road is somehow uniquely unsafe compared to other areas of Baghdad that have some unsafe aspects. He just talks about a very mixed picture inside Baghdad, which we acknowledge is mixed, some places are better than others. It was just an interesting observation from somebody who's there.

 

       Q Are you saying that road isn't that dangerous and --

 

       MR. DI RITA: I'm not saying that.

 

       Q (Off mike) -- driving that road. I mean, most of the people are terrified of that road.

 

       MR. DI RITA: I didn't say that. I said precisely because of what you're saying, these insurgents understand that. But this at least one anecdotal indication from this soldier, I mention it because it happens to be in today's Bird, and I know you guys live and die by that thing. (Laughter.) I know I don't, but --

 

       Q General, how concerned --

 

       Q You’re in there all the time right.

 

       MR. DI RITA: Sorry?

 

       Q You're in there all the time.

 

       MR. DI RITA: Yes, I'm a published often now.

 

       Q General, how concerned are you – there are thousands of jammers are now being sent to Iraq to deal with IEDs, the remote detonated kind. But in testimony today they talked about how insurgents are now switching tactics to hard-wired roadside bombs. So how concerned are you that as a solution gets into theater, as more technology gets into theater, the insurgents are already on a new device, a new tactic, that will be ineffective against what is being sent over there?

 

       GEN. CONWAY: We are concerned. And it brings to mind simply that we are dealing with a thinking, willful enemy that's going to go to whatever means he thinks he has to to accomplish his ends.

 

       Jammers work to a degree, but jammers have to have the range to be effective for the entirety of a convoy. Just to protect the vehicle with a jammer is never sufficient. They have to be at the right frequency in order to be effective, and they have to be at the right location and, of course, in the right numbers. And it gets back to our point, is that the nation will spare no expense to protect our soldiers and Marines on the roadways.

 

       MR. DI RITA: Barbara?

 

       Q General Conway, you mentioned the arrest of al-Libbi a couple of times. Can you bring us up to date on a couple of things? First of all, can you absolutely rule out, was there any U.S. military involvement in this mission, including any support role to other government agencies or to the Pakistanis?

 

       And second, in your view, what message does this arrest send to Osama bin Laden? Should he be more nervous than he's ever been before? Does this bring you closer to Osama bin Laden? Does this make him have to turn to a less trustworthy tier of associates?

 

       GEN. CONWAY: You've asked a lot of questions Barbara, I’m going to pick the two that I want to answer? (Laughter.)

 

       Q I'd prefer you answer all of them. I can repeat them for you.

 

       GEN. CONWAY: Yes, ma'am. I can tell you that there was no U.S. military involvement in the Pakistani capture of al-Libbi. And in that regard, I think that the Pakistani people should be delighted that their security forces have completed such a sophisticated operation. Remember, this guy tried to kill their President twice. He was their number one terrorist, and now their commandos have taken him down and put him behind bars.

 

       I think it should send a strong message to bin Laden and his followers that you are not going to rest in peace as long as this global war on terrorism is in search of you and your compatriots. We will hunt you to your dying days and either capture you, or kill you if you resist.

 

       And it should also send, I think, a positive message to our people, because remember, this guy was number three; he was my counterpart in the operation, he was ops. And he was the guy that would do things outside of Afghanistan or Pakistan, or that region in its entirety, in order to try to get at high-level targets.

 

       Q But, sir, for three-and-a-half years, the Bush administration has clearly said they will hunt bin Laden to the end. What my question is, is do you feel that the al-Libbi arrest; number one, brings you closer; number two, should bin Laden be more afraid; and three, is it your assessment that he now has to turn to a less trustworthy tier of people around him?

 

       GEN. CONWAY: I think that bin Laden should be very concerned that we are that much closer to he wherever, and his compatriots, again, wherever they are.

 

       MR. DI RITA: But I will offer the following standard qualifier, and that's: When we have him, we'll have him, and we don't have him. So, it's -- this is clearly a major victory in the war on terror, that al-Libbi was captured. But we don't have Osama bin Laden.

 

       Q Does he have less protection around him now?

 

       MR. DI RITA: When we have him, we'll have him.

 

       Q General Conway, does he have less protection around him now?

 

       GEN. CONWAY: Well, he's going to someone lesser capable than al- Libbi, obviously, because we now have him.

 

       Q General Conway, there have been reports of heavy fighting in Afghanistan, southern Afghanistan. Are you seeing a resurgence of offensive or al Qaeda fighters there?

 

       GEN. CONWAY: Well, you know, over the winter periods, the concept of operations was to push the insurgents into the mountains, into the caves, and have them endure what turned out to be a very harsh winter. So, that concept, we think, worked very well. We also anticipated that come spring and better weather, that we would see the reappearance of some of these people, and we have. I will say that within the last couple of weeks we've had some very successful operations in finding these people and in taking them out. Just as of this morning, in fact, there was a group between 40 and 50 that were engaged by Special Operations Forces and killed in a compound.

 

        MR. DI RITA: Yes, ma'am?

 

       Q General, with regard to the hearing on the IEDs again, I think it was General Mattis was saying that something as simple as a powerful scope on a rifle has been really helpful in terms of detecting wires and being able to avoid the IEDs. Are there any other things that are being looked at, above and beyond like rifle scopes, cheap fixes, that may save lives?

 

       GEN. CONWAY: We'd like to think that we've faced this problem now for several months and that there are no other cheap fixes, if you will. We are still pressing American industry and American technology to come up with that golden beebee that will both do the detection and the destruction. And some of our best minds are at work at it, is probably the best I can say at this point.

 

       MR. DI RITA: But it's just -- I just really want to emphasize there will be no single solution to this, and when we think we have a solution to this, there'll be another problem. So, it's really important to keep that in mind. Jeanie's question is relevant to that point. I mean, they're now using a particular type of IED that the jammers have a more difficult time with. These will -- we're going to do everything that can be done. It's an important threat to our forces, but we're not going to -- it would be -- it would probably not be helpful if we focus so much on this threat that we ignore the development of other threats. And obviously we're not doing that. But, it's important to remember that; that there'll be another problem down the road and we'll have had to spend as much time thinking about that when it comes up.

 

       Jim.

 

       Q General, I'd like to ask you about the letter to Zarqawi that was captured recently, what you make of that? What does it tell you about the state of his organization?

 

       GEN. CONWAY: Well, I was happy to see it to the extent that one of his lieutenants is telling him that there's poor morale in the organization; that they are experiencing less than competent leaders; and that this whole thought process of Iraqi democracy, and the improvement of Iraqi security forces is not good news, from their perspective.

 

       It matches some things we saw in the Zarqawi letter himself quite some time ago. So it echoes those things that we would like to be creating on the battlefield, and it encourages us all the more to maintain our present momentum.

 

       Q Are you seeing any other evidence of divisions within his network or organization?

 

       GEN. CONWAY: That's actually more an intelligence question than it is operations. But what we're seeing, I think, is a division -- a separation, if you will, between the people and their willingness to come forward, in more cases than not, to their Iraqi security forces with information and tips that allow us to open up these large caches that Larry talks about and to go find the insurgents, such as at the hospital.

 

       Q Larry, going back to the IED subject and the supplemental subject, there are reports out today that say the secretary uses emergency powers to purchase jammers, I guess, for IEDs, for use over in Iraq. Did he do that? And can you tell us how much was spent?

 

       MR. DI RITA: I'll tell you, I'll have come to back. We'll get you the information on it, because offhand I don't know. And you know, if it was in the paper, it must be true, but I always like to check these things, just to be sure.

 

       I don't know. I saw the same report, and I'm just not prepared to answer it. And we'll provide the information.

 

       Brett?

 

        Q General, talking about Zarqawi and his tactics, you say that that letter was encouraging to you. Yet there seem to be more and more suicide bombers -- three today. Seems to be an increase recently.

 

       Is that a finite number? Where are these people coming from? It was thought that Iraqis really wouldn't be suicide bombers. Obviously, he's recruiting from somewhere.

 

       GEN. CONWAY: Yeah. Well, that's a question that our intelligence people are dealing with as we speak, because you're right; in the last probably 10 days, two weeks, we have seen an increase in the number of VBIEDs and suicide VBIEDs as a part of that.

 

       MR. DI RITA: But I'm not sure that we know that they're Iraqis that are doing it. I mean, you kind of asserted that they are.

 

       Q No, I'm saying that the general assumption is that Iraqis would not.

 

       MR. DI RITA: I see. And it may still be the case. We just -- I mean, we don't know whether these are Iraqis or foreign --

 

       GEN. CONWAY: It gets to the issue that the intelligence people are asking themselves, and we're looking at the forensics. Are all of these people foreign fighters, such as we have seen at least be the tendency in the past? Is there some possibility that Iraqis are being forced into that condition by virtue of the fact that someone has got their family, you know, 20 miles away? We do have some indication that we're seeing more remote detonation of some of the suicide bombers than we've had in past. So we're asking ourselves: What's all that mean? And we don't have the answers yet.

 

       MR. DI RITA: But --

 

       Q I'm sorry. Suicide bombers and somebody else is detonating?

 

       GEN. CONWAY: (Off mike.)

 

       MR. DI RITA: And remember, in -- you know, one of the unfortunate -- the tragic indicators is that it's obviously very easy to kill women and children, and that's what's happening in larger and larger numbers. It's obviously a -- I think it gets to this question of how much longer will Iraqis -- well, we're seeing it already. Iraqis are coming forward more and more, because this is clearly something that's starting to become very clear is contrary to the vast majority of Iraqis.

 

       We've got time for maybe one or two. I'll come back to you.

 

       Q Going -- going back to that end, is there any sense of -- you were over in Fallujah for a while. Is there any sense what -- what's coming across the Syrian border? Is there -- is there an influx of foreign fighters coming in now, or is there just a pool of foreign fighters that have been in Iraq for a while, sleepers or whatever, that we're seeing?

 

       GEN. CONWAY: I don't think we know the answer to that for sure. We have tried to gauge the percent of the insurgency that is represented by foreign fighters. We do know that some of the insurgent websites have called this the jihad superbowl, if you will, and now is the time to come fight and try to kick the Americans out of the region. How much people are responding to that we're just not certain at this point, but we continue to seek that answer.

 

       MR. DI RITA: We -- and we know that the border remains very porous. I mean, there's no question.

 

       Q There's no --

 

       MR. DI RITA: Yeah.

 

       Q Just to follow up on that, is -- are the Iraqis and the U.S. military having success on tightening the western border as of late?

 

       GEN. CONWAY: We think so. It's still porous. I mean, you can go five kilometers either direction and have just as good an avenue of approach as you do down the roadway, unfortunately, in that region. And it's traditionally an area where smuggler routes and that type of thing --

 

       If you fly over the ground, it's just a network, it's a spider web of routes that lead you virtually anyplace you want to go. So it's very difficult to close it down completely. But we do have some technological means at the border check stations and those types of things that have helped us to gauge what's inside some of the larger vehicles and that type of thing that we think are helping.

 

        MR. DI RITA: Maybe -- maybe the last -- well, you asked one already, Adam.

 

       Q He's got a quickee follow-up. (Laughter.)

 

       Q General, I'd actually like to ask you a question about military transformation, if I could. As someone who has actually -- has the experience in Iraq in combat operations, I'm wondering if you see, how you see the relationship between the joint operating concepts that are being developed and being propagated throughout the force and what's actually happening on the ground in Iraq, if you see any contrast, or how they function or anything like that.

 

       GEN. CONWAY: My personal view is that jointness is almost passe now. It is a way of life. And as a classic example, in Ramadi we had a Marine battalion working for an Army brigade commander who worked for a Marine division commander who worked for me, and I work for an Army three-star. So it is -- it has infiltrated up and down the chain of command.

 

       We still have some work to do on interoperability, in terms of the equipment meshing and some of that type of thing. But the concepts are there. And you're going to see soon our Army soldiers wearing a 1st Marine Division or a 2nd Marine Division patch that represents their battle patch. And I think that'll be very symbolic of this whole idea of jointness.

 

       MR. DI RITA: Last question, Allen.

 

       Q General, what's your impression of the recent increase in the number and severity of the bombings in Iraq? Is this -- can you say whether it's a new trend, and what extra steps are being taken to fight it? And can you say a little more about those remote-detonated -- suicide, or does that make it not a suicide, bombing?

 

       How many of them are there, and what more can you tell us about it?

 

       GEN. CONWAY: We have seen the increase. Again, we don't know at this point what it means. We don't think that it can be sustained because of the increase of what we have seen recently. But again, that is a premier question for our intelligence officers, and they're working the issue hard.

 

       We have seen some instances -- I can't put a figure on it, and I guess I really wouldn't -- but we have seen some instances where an individual has obviously been detonated from afar; he has not pulled the cord or done the self-detonation thing. And there's at least one instance of a foreigner, I think a Saudi, who indicated that he was asked to drive a truck to some location, he stopped, got out of the truck and it was blown up. He didn't do it. And he felt a little deceived that perhaps he was meant to go up with the truck.

 

       So, those things happen, and we're asking ourselves, what does it mean? Is it a different tactic that we're going to see employed more and more? What's the impact on our forces?

 

       Q Is it new?

 

       GEN. CONWAY: It's something that we have started to see in the last six months or so.

 

       Q That Saudi, we saw the video; didn't the Iraqis release the video of that Saudi?

 

       MR. DI RITA: The Iraqis have done -- with the people of that nature, they've captured, they've put a lot of them on television, released a lot of the video, and we have seen some of this before. So in that sense, it's not new.

 

       Thank you very much.

 

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