Vice Chairman Recaps Trip to Iraq
By Tech Sgt. Adam M. Stump, USAF
American Forces Press Service
BAGHDAD, June 22, 2007 Although U.S. troops serving in Iraq are doing great work and have made slow and steady progress, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today, the ultimate solution to the country’s situation lies with the Iraqis themselves.
U.S. Navy Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, learns about improvised explosive device detection and countermeasures from U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Michael Behrens at Forward Operating Base Loyalty in Baghdad, Iraq, June 20, 2007. Giambastiani visited troops in Iraq to find out about operations, thank troops for their service and to find out if they had all the tools they needed to do their job. Defense Dept. photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Adam M. Stump
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Navy Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani has met with soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines at several sites in Baghdad, Camp Speicher and Fallujah during an Iraq visit that began June 19.
“I wanted to come out here personally and visit with all our troops — soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines — to thank them for the great job that they’re doing, and they really are doing a spectacular job.”
He said during his meetings with the troops, they demonstrated tremendous dedication to the mission.
“Morale is unbelievably high,” the admiral said. “I get motivated when I go out and visit them.”
Giambastiani met with Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, Multinational Force Iraq commander, and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, to hear firsthand about progress in Iraq.
“My impression is that we are making slow, steady progress here, and we’ve got areas of success.”
The admiral cited Iraq’s Anbar province, where attacks are down in numbers and tribal sheiks are now working closely with coalition forces in fighting al Qaeda.
Giambastiani said the arrival of the last “plus-up” forces, including five brigade combat teams, a combat aviation brigade and other support forces including military police, a Marine expeditionary unit and additional Marines in western Iraq, will contribute to the security effort.
“They are making a substantial difference in what we’re doing,” Giambastiani said. “I’m pleased with the slow and steady progress. It doesn’t mean everything is good every day. It doesn’t mean in that every area, attacks are down or the number of killings are down. Clearly, we have more troops in contact on a day-to-day basis, and that may result in greater casualties. But the slow and steady progress is important.”
He said that while progress by U.S. troops is important, the Iraqi people and other national and international efforts will play a huge role.
“Security and what our military forces provide and what the Iraqi forces provide security-wise is only one element of success here. What it takes is a very complete package,” he stated.
Giambastiani said only 20 to 30 percent of the solution to winning in Iraq is the military involvement – and the other 70 to 80 percent of effort needed for success includes reconciliation among different Iraqi groups, economic development and putting Iraqis to work, and diplomacy with the international community and Iraq’s neighbors, including Syria and Iran.
“That takes time. That’s the kind of package it takes to bring this population along. Simply providing security without all these other elements, without the elements in our government and without the Iraqi government standing up to do this themselves -- we can help them, but frankly, the solution ultimately must be an Iraqi one. That’s what it takes to get this done.”
Another key aspect of the admiral’s trip was fielding questions from troops on the latest technology available to them. “Not surprisingly, the troops are wondering how we’re doing about providing them with capabilities,” he said.
The admiral said one of the main reasons he visited was to learn firsthand from the troops about the capabilities they say they need, and to let them know the Defense Department is working 365 days a year to get the equipment to the field.
One of the main projects they asked about was the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, or MRAP. The admiral told several groups that manufacturing of the vehicles has increased and the military is flying the vehicles out as soon as they’re ready.
Another key acquisition the admiral said he was asked about is GBOSS - the 106-foot tower systems that provide surveillance and reconnaissance for troops. Giambastiani said the system, which is self-sufficient with its own generator, provides 360-degree aerial views and continuous surveillance of an area.
Giambastiani said the trip was important, even though he will retire at the end of July and hand over his duties to a new vice chairman.
“Whether I’m retiring or not —this trip, I’ve had scheduled for a long period of time — my view on this is that I need to come out and make sure we’re producing and providing the capabilities that we said we’re going to provide in the Washington environment and get them out here as quickly as possible.”
(Air Force Tech. Sgt. Adam M. Stump is assigned to the Joint Staff public affairs office.)