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DoD News Briefing with Geoff Morrell from the Pentagon

Presenter: Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell
October 22, 2008
            MR. MORRELL: Good afternoon. It's a pleasure to see you all today. I have a couple of quick announcements. And then I'll be happy to get to questions.   
 
            First, as some of you may have heard, Secretary Gates travels to Fort Bragg tomorrow, where he will participate in a naturalization ceremony for more than 40 members of the United States military. They represent all the services and come from 26 countries on five continents. The melting pot is clearly alive and well in the United States military and the country as a whole for that matter.   
 
            Bragg is headquarters to the 82nd Airborne Division. And he will visit with several members of that world-renowned unit, elements of which will soon be deploying to Afghanistan. He will also meet with an array of Special Forces, who of course regularly deploy to Iraq, Afghanistan and other hot spots around the world for that matter.   
 
            He will, as he does whenever he visits military facilities, dine privately with several troops and later meet behind closed doors with some of their spouses. Since taking office 23 months ago, he has now visited well more than 100 military installations and locations around the world.   
 
            Second, I'm pleased to announce that tomorrow in Iraq, Babil province will transfer to provincial Iraqi control. It will be the 12th of Iraq's provinces to achieve this important security milestone. Iraqi security forces now have responsibility for two-thirds of the country. And that number is expected to grow perhaps as soon as next week.   
 
            With that, I'll take questions.   
 
            Lita.   
 
            Q     Geoff, can you talk a little bit about what the specific issues that the Iraqis would like to reopen, in the SOFA, and what the administration, what the secretary may be doing, I guess, to forward obviously his message to them, that it will not be, that it will not be reopened and/or whether extending the current U.N. mandate is a more viable option?   
 
            MR. MORRELL: Okay. I think I can keep track of those. There were three there.   
 
            First, the first one is, what are the specific concerns that the Iraqis wish to address by reopening the SOFA negotiations? I frankly do not know. I mean, I've read articles. You've read articles. There does seem to be some talk that some members of the Iraqi government have some concerns. But I have not heard specifics.   
 
            With regards to the possibility of reopening negotiations, is that what the second one was?   
 
            Q     How is that being transmitted? Or is it being transmitted?  
 
            MR. MORRELL: The secretary's words; well, I mean, he conveyed them to a group of wire reporters yesterday.   
 
            Q     (Off mike.)   
 
            MR. MORRELL: And he conveyed them to a group of wire reporters yesterday who have global reach. And I'm sure the Iraqis were able to read, as were you and the American people, that the secretary believes this is a good deal.   
 
            This is a deal that is the product of seven months of intense negotiations; one that required compromises by both the Iraqis and the United States, compromises though that never required us to in any way compromise our core principles or values.   
 
            This deal respects Iraqi sovereignty. It respects and grants, in fact, their desire to assume control for their security situation and have hopefully U.S. forces out of the country by the end of 2011. But it's also a deal that gives us the authorities and protections we need to continue to operate in Iraq until that point.   
 
            So I think that has been made loud and clear, in a variety of avenues, from this podium, from that conversation yesterday with the wire reporters. I think Secretary Rice has said similar things. I think you've heard it also from Admiral Mullen during his travels in Europe.   
 
            And your final question.   
 
            Q     Does this mean that extending the U.N. mandate is more viable? I just wanted to make sure. The secretary --  
 
            MR. MORRELL: No.   
 
            Q     Okay.   
 
            MR. MORRELL: Our focus is on getting this SOFA signed by the Iraqis and the United States. That's where the focus is. We are concentrating all of our efforts on that endeavor.   
 
            Now, is there a fallback plan? I think clearly we have two choices here. We either get the SOFA done, or you go back to the U.N. and hope to get a rollover of the mandate we now have to operate there. Our preference is clearly in getting the SOFA done.   
 
            This is a bilateral negotiation, tough enough as it is. Going to the U.N. is a multilateral endeavor, one that has no guarantee of producing a clean rollover. And so our focus is entirely on trying to get this deal done.   
 
            Now, I see also in the Iraqi press that my friend and the Iraqi spokesman -- (name inaudible) -- has voiced some concern about what he's heard from Admiral Mullen on this, somehow feeling as though we are trying to force the Iraqis into signing this agreement. That couldn't be further from the truth.   
 
            We are not trying to pressure the Iraqis or force the Iraqis into signing anything they don't wish to sign. But the truth is, Lita, this document is the result of seven months of negotiations, in which the prime minister handpicked his negotiators to participate in this process. They have been intimately involved in the document which has resulted from that negotiation.   
 
            So we all played a role in this process and now -- with it circulating throughout the Iraqi political system and the U.S. political system. And we hope at the end of that, and there will be ups and downs, ebbs and flows. There will be, there will be fits and starts. But we hope at the end of that, we will all agree that this is the best deal, this is what we need to go forward come 2009.   
 
            Did that cover everything?   
 
            Q     Yeah, I just wanted to clarify -- just -- so the secretary has not had any direct conversations with the Iraqis on this issue?   
 
            MR. MORRELL: No. That would have been a shorter answer to your question, yes. No, no direct conversations with the Iraqis at this point.  
 
            But I would remind you that although this is a deal that obviously fundamentally deals with the presence of the United States forces in Iraq, it's one that's been negotiated fundamentally by the State Department. So I think -- I can't speak as to whether Secretary Rice has had conversations with her counterpart or any other Iraqi politicians. 
 
            Yeah? Go ahead, Dave.   
 
            Q     Geoff, you said the secretary sensed that the objections that have been raised by Iraqi politicians are objections that deal with the main thrust of the SOFA draft or are they objections --  
 
            MR. MORRELL: I don't think we know. I don't think we know what the objections are. But I also don't think we're going to get into a situation where we're responding to things that are said in the Iraqi press and so forth. There's been nothing formally communicated as far as I know with regard to the specific concerns they have.   
 
            I think what the secretary had said on that is that whether it comes through concerns raised by our Congress or the Iraqi Council of Representatives, if they were to come up with something that we have failed to account for, that we have somehow overlooked over the course of this seven-month-long negotiation, we would certainly have to take a hard look at that.   
 
            But that's a pretty high bar, because these guys have been exhaustive in their efforts to cover any and every possibility and requirement for continued operations in Iraq, while at the same time providing the Iraqis with the sovereignty and assumption of greater security responsibility that they desire.   
 
            Now -- still on this? To this? Yeah, Daphne?   
 
            Q     Does the Pentagon have any evidence or suspicions that Iran is interfering with these SOFA negotiations? And General Odierno was mentioning intel reports recently showing an Iranian involvement. So do these intel report talk about intent of bribes or actual cases of corruption?   
 
            MR. MORRELL: Well, listen, I mean, Iranian meddling in Iraq takes on all forms. In its most destructive, devious and deadly ways, it has to do with the flow of arms and weapons into Iraq. Thankfully, really since the operations in Basra, I think back in April, we have seen a decline, to some degree, in the flow of such weapons into Iraq. We have also seen an exodus of JAM special groups leaders, Iranian-backed, from Iraq, seeking cover, if you will, in Iran.   
 
            But when it comes to -- so that's positive.   
 
            But there are, of course, counterbalancing negatives, one of which is clearly an attempt by the Iranians to undermine, undercut, derail the SOFA agreement. They have made their displeasure of this agreement known and have tried to influence Iraqis in all -- in all manner of ways.   
 
            General Odierno talked about intelligence pointing to attempted bribes. He never said or suggested that Iraqis -- Iraqi politicians would ever take such bribes, but there is nothing too low for some of these Iranian operatives to try. And so bribing appears to be one of them; distorting -- distorting the truth in terms of Iraqi politicians' positions on this; trying to influence them to oppose -- oppose the measure; trying to orchestrate rallies in opposition to it.  
 
            I'm not suggesting that this rally was orchestrated by the Iranians, but the one that took place a couple of days ago in Sadr City, I should note, you know, fell far short of expectations. That's a city of 2 million people. My understanding is they had to truck people in, bus people in from outside the country to protest the SOFA agreement. 
 
            So despite attempts by the Iranians to derail this agreement, they have not been successful and I -- and I hope they will not be successful. 
 
            Yeah, Jeff. 
 
            Q     Just to clarify something you said, did you say the goal of the SOFA is that all U.S. troops leave Iraq by the end of 2011 or all combat troops leave Iraq by the end of -- 
 
            MR. MORRELL: I'm not -- I really hesitate to get in to the particulars of this, but it is -- fundamentally, the date is for -- and I'll go back and look at it, because we have talked about the end date and the -- and the interim date, which is mid-2009 for combat forces to leave the cities. But I think the goal of the Iraqis is for U.S. forces to leave the country. I believe it's combat forces, but I will go back and check. 
 
            Okay, J.D.? 
 
            Q     Are there any -- I mean, Secretary Gates said yesterday that basically they would stop doing -- the U.S. troops would stop doing everything they can or -- if the SOFA doesn't go through. Are there preparations being made in that eventuality? 
 
            MR. MORRELL: No, I don't believe so. I mean, I think the focus is on getting this deal done. I don't think we're at the point where making contingency plans on what we should do if we don't have -- I mean, listen. I say that and I know there's somebody in this building planning for something, but I don't think -- I think the focus right now is getting the deal done.   
 
            The hope is, of course, that we won't have to cease our operations come January 1st, 2009, and that we can continue to assist the Iraqis on the security front. We believe they still need it and will need it for some time, although their security forces are clearly, clearly dramatically improved, much larger, much more capable. There is far greater confidence in their abilities than at any time since the invasion in 2003. So that's where our focus is right now in trying to get this deal done, not on how to -- how to stand down in the event that we don't get this and we don't have the authorities to continue to operate there. 
 
            Yeah, Jennifer? 
 
            Q     What contingency is being made for the other allied forces who are going to be there? Will they be covered by this SOFA agreement? Are there going to be addendums to it? Their U.N. mandate will expire at the end of December as well.  Have they --  
 
            MR. MORRELL: This is -- all I can tell you about that -- you'd have to talk to the Iraqis. All I can say is that this is a U.S. and Iraqi status of forces agreement. It does not cover other coalition forces in Iraq.   
 
            Q     But does the Pentagon expect that basically that its allied forces are going to start leaving at the end of the year? 
 
            MR. MORRELL: Well, no, the Iraqis have invited, I think, five nations in total to continue to serve militarily in Iraq. And I think they'll have to work out arrangements with each of those five. But they do not, as they've made clear, I think, a couple weeks ago, need coalition support beyond those five and would prefer that they were to cease their military operations and assist the Iraqis in other ways. 
 
            Yeah, Al? 
 
            Q     Geoff, you mentioned special groups seeking refuge in Iran. How much of a problem -- 
 
            MR. MORRELL: Special group leaders.   
 
            Q     Leaders. How much of a problem has re-infiltration been -- 
 
            MR. MORRELL: Well, we're -- we are always on the lookout for just that possibility. We are constantly vigilant and constantly trying to assess whether or not there is -- whether there has been or is currently an influx of some of these exiled special groups leaders. But -- we can't say for certain that there hasn't been, but at this point there does not seem to be any large influx of them back into the country. 
 
            Yeah, Barbara? 
 
            Q     Different topic? 
 
            MR. MORRELL: Are we good with Iraq and the SOFA?   
 
            Q     (Off mike.) 
 
            MR. MORRELL: Sure. 
 
            Q     You said -- Geoff, you said in Sadr, the rally there, that they bused people in from outside the country? 
 
            MR. MORRELL: Did I say the country? 
 
            Q     You said the country. 
 
            MR. MORRELL: I didn't mean -- 
 
            Q     Did mean country -- 
 
            MR. MORRELL: I didn't mean the country. Sorry. Thank you.   
 
            Q     (Off mike.) 
 
            MR. MORRELL: You guys are always looking out for me. 
 
            Outside Sadr City, yes, thank you very much -- from outside Sadr City, which, as you know, is home to 2 million Iraqis -- you wouldn't think you'd need to do that, but evidently they did. 
 
            Tony? 
 
            Q     Your answer on Iran -- did you have any new insight into that, or was your answer based on what Odierno's already said in your synthesis of public reports? 
 
            MR. MORRELL: Well, I think I was only quoting General Odierno when it came to the attempted bribes of Iraqi politicians. I don't think he's spoken to the other. And with regards to whether it's new insight, I try to keep my insight as current as possible for you, Tony, at all times. 
 
            Q     All right. Why don't you answer my question? 
 
            MR. MORRELL: Okay.   
 
            Let me just think -- let me just look at my notes here quickly on Iraq to see if there's anything else I needed to hit on. I would note also it looks as though we once again are at a point where violence levels in Iraq remain as low as they were at the beginning of 2004, January 2004. This -- there is -- it is possible -- and granted, we're not done with this month yet -- that we will really hit the low in terms of overall violence in Iraq since the invasion began. But obviously we've still got some time left in the month, and as you've seen that there are still tense conditions, particularly up in the north, in Mosul, where there has been intimidation and in some case murders of the Christian population there. 
 
            And it does seem to be at least in part due to elements of al Qaeda that still -- that still enjoy some -- some ability to operate up there. And this is an attempt, it appears, to try to inflame tensions and fault lines that exist between religious and sectarian groups. 
 
            Q     What's your definition of overall violence? Is that attacks against Iraqis and the U.S., or -- 
 
            MR. MORRELL: It's really all measures. But again, just I'm putting it out there as something to -- it's progress, you know, three-quarters of the way through the month or two-thirds of the way through the month, but we're not -- we're not there yet. 
 
            Okay, out of Iraq and on to -- 
 
            Q    In the tribal region? I'm not sure you can answer this, but can you tell us anything about the attack that killed a man named Khalid Habib, said to be a key operations planner for al Qaeda, in South Waziristan, and a key lieutenant in the organization? And I ask this because I also want to ask you -- you know, clearly, there's just no question by any measure that operations have been stepped up against al Qaeda and the Taliban in the tribal region. What should we take away from that? How should we read that? Is this a stepped-up effort at this point in time? 
 
            MR. MORRELL: Barbara, to your first question, I've seen the reports that you're referring to with regard to the killing of a senior al Qaeda leader in Pakistan. I will refrain from talking about any operations that may or may not have been undertaken, that may or may not have resulted in this leader's death.   
 
            I will say this, however. It is clearly dangerous to be an al Qaeda leader even in the so-called safe havens they enjoy in the tribal areas of Pakistan. A number of them seem to have been -- seem to have been taken out recently. So, while we have not -- while we have had, clearly, misgivings about the extent to which al Qaeda and other terrorists are able to operate in the tribal areas, it appears that not even that area is completely safe for them. 
 
            Now, with regards to operations by the Pakistani military, I think in Peshawar, in Swat, in particular over the past, well, two- plus months, dating back to August, you've clearly seen stepped-up operations by the Pakistani military. It is welcomed by this building. It is stepped up not just in terms of tempo, but in terms of effectiveness. And as a result, we have seen some improvement in the flow of foreign fighters across the -- across the border into Afghanistan. So that is a welcome sign. 
 
            Q     My question actually went to stepped-up U.S operations in the region, clearly, by all measures, stepped-up U.S. operations throughout the region to look and try and track and hunt al Qaeda and Taliban leaders wherever you find them. So I guess my question is, should Americans think that there is -- what should they take away from this? Is there some stepped-up U.S. effort before this administration ends, or is it just coincidental that it's all coming at the end of the administration? 
 
            MR. MORRELL: Help me understand what specifically you're talking. You're talking stepped-up U.S. military operations in Pakistan. 
 
            Q     No, I'm not being that specific. I'm saying stepped-up U.S. operations, whether -- 
 
            MR. MORRELL: Well, I only -- I can only speak -- Barbara, I can only speak to U.S. military operations. 
 
            And this building respects the sovereignty of Pakistan. And --  
 
            Q     Let me try again. Let me, let me correct.   
 
            MR. MORRELL: Okay.   
 
            Q     Let me just try one more time.   
 
            U.S. military operations wherever they may be; I'm not specifying a country. I know where the U.S. military operations --  
 
            MR. MORRELL: So now we're back to military operations, okay.   
 
            Q     What I'm asking about is, clearly there are stepped-up operations. We see that. They're discussed.   
 
            Is it just coincidental that they're coming at the end of the administration? Or is there a stepped-up effort specifically at the end of the administration?   
 
            MR. MORRELL: Well, again, you said it two different ways, two different times. So if you're speaking to U.S. military operations in Pakistan --  
 
            Q     (Off mike.)   
 
            MR. MORRELL: Around the world, U.S. military operations around the world.   
 
            Q     I'm asking about U.S. military operations in the border region on the Afghanistan side.   
 
            MR. MORRELL: On the Afghanistan side.   
 
            Pardon me, I just didn't understand the question. Is there a stepped-up effort by the United States military to go after militants and terrorists on the Afghan side of the border? Well, no.   
 
            There's a continuous effort to go after any and all destabilizing influences, throughout the country of Afghanistan, any and all threats to the central government, the democratically elected government.   
 
            I don't think it's -- we would never time such things to a political campaign or a change of administration. We are trying to secure the country, as best we possibly can, as fast as we possibly can. And we don't step them up or stand them down according to the political climate back home.   
 
            Q     Many people think the administration may be trying harder than ever before to get, to be blunt, to get bin Laden before the administration leaves office. Is there any validity to that thought that some people have?   
 
            MR. MORRELL: I don't think that people in this building necessarily believe that Osama bin Laden is hanging out in Afghanistan. So if you're speaking to operations in Afghanistan, I don't -- you know, if he were, you know, we think, we would have probably found him by now. But if you're talking about operations in Pakistan, that's another question.   
 
            Do you find my answers difficult? Okay.   
 
            Jeff.   
 
            Q     The secretary heard from a widow, this week, who said there needs to be some guarantee in place that children attending Defense Department schools can stay in, from kindergarten to 12th grade, even if their father or mother is killed.   
 
            Do you know, has there been any review into this or any movement on this issue?   
 
            MR. MORRELL: You know, Jeff, I don't know. I think that's one of those things.   
 
            As I noted in my intro, his visits with families, with troops and their family members, are really very, very valuable for him for a variety of reasons, one of which is, they really buoy his spirits and they reenergize him to come back and move this bureaucracy, so that it is more responsive to the needs of the warfighter.   
 
            But the second one is drawing his attention to problems that they may be having that he may not be aware of. This may be such a case. I wasn't with him when he had this conversation.   
 
            This often is the -- when that happens, he turns to his aide and says we've got to deal with this, and they write it down and they find a way to address it. I got to find out what specifically we are doing or are not doing with regards to that question, but I think that sounds like one of those things that he at least wants a clear answer as to why we can't change things for the better or, if we can, why aren't we doing it. But let me look into it. 
 
            Yeah? 
 
            Q     (Off mike) -- issue, here. Can you give a metric in terms of how many foreign fighters maybe five months ago were going over -- 
 
            MR. MORRELL: No, I can't. I can't. No. 
 
            Q     Okay. But more effective results -- I mean, can you give a feel for why that might be? 
 
            MR. MORRELL: These are -- these are military assessments that are made by our folks. And it does look as though the operations that are being conducted by the Pakistani military are not just more and more often but are more effective as well, dedicating more forces, more resources, perhaps better strategy and are having results, particularly, as I said, in Bajaur and in Swat. 
 
            Q     (Off mike) -- really been an improvement in the U.S. intelligence-sharing or equipment we've been giving them, training? 
 
            MR. MORRELL: Well, maybe. There is -- there are, you know, billions of dollars in coalition support funds that go to help the Pakistanis and their military be more effective, so clearly -- hopefully, this is the result of that considerable investment.   
 
            What it's also clearly a result of, though, Tony, is the will of the new government. I mean, they clearly, based upon the stepped-up action in the tribal areas, recognize that the threat there is not only targeted at us and our forces in Afghanistan and the government of Afghanistan but at their government as well, as is evidenced by, you know, sadly a -- multiple suicide attacks, including the attack on the Marriott hotel where the prime minister and the president, I believe, were supposed to be -- have been dining that evening. 
 
            So I think there's a recognition on the part of the new Pakistani government that this is a threat that they have to deal with directly for their own good, not just for ours. 
 
            Q     What's the status of getting U.S. trainers into Pakistan? This was an issue five, six months ago, that they were supposed to be in -- 
 
            MR. MORRELL: Well, we -- there -- there has been a very, very small "train the trainer" operation going on in Pakistan for some time. It has -- it has been stepped up, but it still remains very, very small. But the hope is that the more trainers we train, the more effective they will be in training their forces and the more capable forces will then be able to take the fight to the militants in the tribal areas where they operate. 
 
            And so this is one of those cases of trying to enhance the ability of our partners to do things so we don't have to. And that's the whole point of coalition support funds: Paying -- supporting the Afghans -- the Pakistanis, rather, in their attempt to do things which we see as beneficial to the global war on terror and to our security. 
 
            Q     Just one follow-on. (Inaudible) -- foreign fighters cross the border, you can't get into any -- (inaudible) -- areas where -- 
 
            MR. MORRELL: I can't -- I can't -- 
 
            Q     Why not? 
 
            MR. MORRELL: Because I'm -- first, I'm not armed with it.  
 
            I'm sure it's classified and that it's sort of anecdotal account of sort of what we've seen as a result of this. 
 
            Q     (Off mike) -- precise -- I mean, you have semi-precise measures -- 
 
            MR. MORRELL: Yeah. Okay. Okay. 
 
            Q     Geoff, is it your understanding that the Pakistani military operations in Bajaur are targeted specifically at al Qaeda and other groups of foreign fighters?   
 
            MR. MORRELL: Say that one more time. 
 
            Q     I said is it your understanding that Pakistani military operations in Bajaur are targeted specifically at al Qaeda and other foreign -- 
 
            MR. MORRELL: I think you have -- I think you'd have to talk to the Pakistanis as to who they're targeting.   
 
            Let me note two -- a couple other things on Afghanistan, one of which is, as we've talked about before, there is a desire on the part of commanders there to get more MRAPs into theater. And in our effort to meet that need as quickly as possible, I would point out that we have begun airlifting MRAPs to Afghanistan, so that we can get them up to their -- to the strength they desire. I think, as of right now, of the 9,341 MRAPs that are in the hands of our warfighters in Iraq and Afghanistan, 1,122 are in Afghanistan. And in an effort to get them additional vehicles, the additional vehicles they need as quickly as possible, we've begun flying them there. 
 
            I should also note that as of -- I think this is last month we issued a -- about a $750 million contract for a lighter enhanced maneuverability MRAP built by Navistar Defense. So we've contracted for another 822 vehicles, which will mostly go toward -- to Afghanistan, where of course, you know, they need the lighter, more maneuverable vehicles. And hopefully they will start being fielded as early as next month. 
 
            Q     Can I ask you -- is there any plan to buy more than the $750 million worth of these new -- 
 
            MR. MORRELL: Of the new Navistar -- I think that's where the focus is right now. I mean, I think that the acquisition objective still remains a total of 15,000 -- roughly 800 vehicles.   
 
            Q     Why do they need more MRAPs? Do you think it's obvious that -- is this a reflection of the increased fighting? 
 
            MR. MORRELL: Sure. We have seen -- we've seen an increase in IEDs in Afghanistan, and -- but frankly, even before that increase, it was always the desire to get more of these, you know, very effective lifesaving vehicles into the hands of our troops over there. That need is and that desire is all the more urgent because we have seen an increase in IED attacks. 
 
            I would note, however, that we have not seen, as we can tell, an increase in suicide attacks, despite a television report to the contrary last night, which suggested that suicide attacks in Afghanistan had doubled. In fact, I think we've seen a 22 percent decline in suicide attacks in Afghanistan, compared -- 
 
            Q     Over what time? 
 
            MR. MORRELL: Year to date, compared to the same period last year. But the problem we're mostly confronting is IED attacks, and that was why these MRAPs are particularly effective and needed.   
 
            Q     Any morphing of Iranian-supplied explosively formed penetrator IEDs, the really deadly ones?   
 
            MR. MORRELL: Well, I mean, we -- I think the last we had on that was a long time ago, where we've -- I think the British intercepted a convoy coming over from the Iranian side into -- near Herat, I believe, in which -- this is many, many months ago -- in which there were some EFPs found. But I'd -- you know, I think, as in Iraq, I don't recall a large influx of such materials over the last several months from Iran.   
 
            Okay. Let's take a couple more. I know I'm making Bryan nervous as it is, that I've been out here this long. So we'll say a couple more and then we'll go.   
 
            Q     On the MRAPs --  
 
            MR. MORRELL: Yeah?   
 
            Q     -- what's the latest chance for those MRAPs being airlifted to Afghanistan? And how many --  
 
            MR. MORRELL: We'll have to look at -- well, you can talk to TRANSCOM, or I'll try to help you get it. But I mean, you've obviously -- you know, these planes can only handle -- I don't know -- two -- probably, of these small ones, maybe two, three a planeload. So --  
 
            Q     And what --  
 
            MR. MORRELL: And I don't think we have on the -- you know, the airlift we had on to get to Iraq when -- you know, early on, were multiple planes, including planes under contract. And I don't believe we're at that point. I think we're using our available resources.   
 
            Q     How many are planned to be transferred?   
 
            MR. MORRELL: No, I don't -- 
 
            Q     (Inaudible.)   
 
            MR. MORRELL: I don't know how many we're planning.   
 
            Q     Are any coming over from Iraq?   
 
            MR. MORRELL: I think there's an attempt to figure out if there is anything in Kuwait that would fit the bill in Afghanistan that we can, instead of moving into Iraq, move into Afghanistan. So many of these vehicles are -- have been off-loaded in Kuwait on their way to Iraq. They're getting some of their necessary equipment. There's some training going on and so forth. But there's -- we are now looking at -- I know the Army's looking at whether some of those, the lighter vehicles, can be used instead in Afghanistan. 
 
            Yeah, Jeff? 
 
            Q     Just to clarify, because you mentioned my favorite topic, when you say airlifts --  
 
            MR. MORRELL: America Supports You?  (Scattered laughter.) 
 
            Oh, your other favorite topic. I'm sorry. (Scattered laughter.) 
 
            Q     When you say that MRAPs are being airlifted to Afghanistan, I thought they had always been airlifted to Afghanistan because it's landlocked. Is this a stepped-up airlift or --  
 
            MR. MORRELL: You know, I don't -- I think we had -- I'm not so -- well, let me go back and look at that. I think this is stepped-up in its attempt to get to Afghanistan.   
 
            Q     (Off mike) -- any problems --  
 
            MR. MORRELL: I'm not so sure that -- I think this -- some of this is usually brought in by ground.  But I -- through our lines of communication into Afghanistan. But let me look at that.   
 
            Q     Are you talking about an airlift from Kuwait or an airlift from North Carolina?   
 
            MR. MORRELL: I think it's from stateside, so it goes directly.   
 
            Okay. Luis and then Al, and we're out of here.   
 
            Q     This would be about Afghanistan. Do you have anything on the reports on the Special Forces rescue of an American contractor last week in Afghanistan?   
 
            MR. MORRELL: I don't, and I wouldn't speak to our Special Forces operations if I did. Yep. What's your other one?   
 
            Q     It's about the MRAPs. Is there any discussion about procurement of something called the light MRAPs, which are the next generation MRAPs, specifically designed for -- (off mike) --  
 
            MR. MORRELL: Well, I just -- 
 
            Q     -- (off mike) -- discussing --  
 
            MR. MORRELL: I just spoke to it. I mean, this Navistar buy is sort of -- is the next one. It's different than -- it is different than those that have been purchased thus far -- lighter, more mobile, designed primarily for Afghanistan. 
 
            Q     Do you have the numbers involved with that? 
 
            MR. MORRELL: Yeah, I think I just went through it; didn't I, Brad? I think it's 822 vehicles, a $752 million buy. Okay? 
 
            Q     A one-time purchase so far? 
 
            MR. MORRELL: That's where we are right now. So that's one thing I wanted to mention.   
 
            The other thing I wanted to mention on Afghanistan is we commend the Germans on their decision, on the Bundestag's decision to raise the number of troops that can serve in Afghanistan -- I think by a thousand, up to 4,500 -- and their decision to extend their commitment, I think by 14 months, to that effort in Afghanistan. So that's certainly good news.   
 
            And I would also join the chorus of people who have strongly condemned the recent just heinous attacks by the Taliban, particularly the beheading of those Afghans who were down in Kandahar, I believe, trying to get jobs, yanked off a bus and executed; in addition, that Christian aid worker who was murdered. So there has clearly been some -- a spate of recent violence, high-profile attacks, which have really demonstrated once again to the world the enemy that we are dealing with there, that has complete and utter disregard for the civilian population. 
 
            So we get a lot of -- a lot of trouble and a lot of condemnation ourselves when we, in the course of our operations to protect the Afghan people, mistakenly kill civilians. And it's tragic and it must be avoided, and we're doing everything we can to minimize those incidents. But make no mistake about it, this enemy puts those people deliberately in harm's way and, as we saw this week, goes out of their way to kill them in the most disgusting of ways. 
 
            So Al, and that's it . 
 
            Q     You mentioned the train-the-trainer effort in Pakistan. I understand that a group of U.S. trainers arrived last week. Is this an increase or a replacement? Do you have any numbers to quantify that effort? 
 
            MR. MORRELL: I'm not going to get into numbers. As I said, the footprint was small to begin with. It is somewhat larger but remains very small. This is -- you know, this is something that is done also out -- well outside the tribal areas. This is something that's done in cooperation with the Pakistani military on a very small scale to help their trainers be better able to train their forces to go after these destabilizing influences in the region. 
 
            Q     And what are they teaching them, specifically? 
 
            MR. MORRELL: They're teaching them how to conduct combat operations and effectively go after -- after militants. 
 
            Thanks so much.
 
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