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DoD Press Briefing with Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli from the Pentagon

Presenters: Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, U.S. Army Commander, Multinational Corps Iraq
December 08, 2006

    (Note:  Lt. Gen. Chiarelli appears via teleconference from Iraq.)

 

    BRYAN WHITMAN (deputy assistant secretary of defense for public

affairs):  Well, good morning, and welcome.  I see that we have video

of General Chiarelli.  Let's just see if he can hear us. 

 

    General, it's Bryan Whitman at the Pentagon.  Can you hear me

okay?

 

    GEN. CHIARELLI:  I can, sir.

 

    MR. WHITMAN:  Very good. 

 

    GEN. CHIARELLI:  I -- (off mike).

 

    MR. WHITMAN:  Well, thank you very much, General, for joining us

today.  This is, again, my privilege to introduce to you Lieutenant

General Pete Chiarelli, who is the commanding general of Multinational

Corps in Iraq.  He's been there since January of this year.  And he

directs, of course, the operations of the joint and coalition forces

in all sectors of Iraq.  And it's been a few months since he last

briefed you, and we really do appreciate the opportunity to get your

perspective, General, as the corps commander, and thank you for taking

our questions today.

 

    So with that, let me turn it over to you, though, for some

opening remarks, and then we'll take some questions.

 

    GEN. CHIARELLI:  Well, thank you, sir, and I appreciate everybody

being there this morning, your time, afternoon here. 

 

    The last time I was here -- and I think many of you know this is

my second tour in Iraq -- we left on a big high, having just completed

the elections of January 2005 and seeing Iraqis turn out at the polls

in numbers that, quite frankly, we never expected.

 

    This time, I know, we have achieved a great deal, and the

situation would be far worse than it was, is, if it were not for the

American heroes that are out on the street every day in Baghdad and

across the country.

 

    But I know I am leaving Iraq in a more uncertain and somewhat

more tumultuous state than the last time I left.

 

    The Iraqis are going through a kind of transformation in their

society.  History shows us that transformational change like this is

often accompanied by violence.

 

    Many people want to call this a civil war, and the debate whether

Iraq is in a civil war or not is largely a debate over semantics in

which I don't particularly care to engage.  I find this public

discussion really counterproductive.  People are trying to boil down a

very complex situation into a sound bite.  It's an attempt to

oversimplify what I believe is a very complicated situation.  Arguing

about what bumper stickers should be used to describe this conflict is

potentially misleading and enflames rather than illuminates.  The

other day I was talking to my British deputy about the American

Revolution, and he responded, "You mean your country's first civil

war?"  So I guess it's where you stand is where you sit.

 

    The situation is what it is, and what I see happening on a daily

basis is a needless loss of life because foreign fighters and some

members of this society would rather use violence to settle the issues

they are working through rather than the political process.  At some

point, Iraqis have to decide if they want peace.  They have to decide

that the future of their children is more important than the past or

present problems, and they must be willing to work through them and

through the political process.

 

    We've had a lot of accomplishments in the year that we've been

here.  A lot of great things that we have done are not always visible

to the public at home, and they see the continuing violence as a sign

we have not accomplished anything.  I don't believe that.  I believe

we have accomplished a lot.  We are in the difficult business of

proving a negative, and that's, in the absence of our efforts, really,

how much worse would it be?  This corps and the great military forces

we command have helped to bring stability and hope to thousands of

Iraqis that would otherwise not see these benefits.

 

    That said, there is a lot more work to be done, and we should not

give in to the defeatist mood that I sometimes see displayed.  This

mission is the most critical and significant that we've undertaken in

perhaps 50 years, and failure, in my opinion, is not an option.

 

    I still believe the mission can succeed if the proper resources are

brought to bear at the issues at hand. 

 

    The proper political pieces must be in place in order for any of

the military, economic or social initiatives to take hold and to

flourish.  We need to get out of thinking this is solely a military

conflict where we must simply apply more U.S. or coalition and Iraqi

forces against an enemy that we can destroy.  All our nation's

strengths -- diplomatic, economic, political -- must be leveraged to

help the Iraqis find their way through this process. 

 

    Iraq has tremendous potential in the economic realm and we need

to bring our capabilities, specifically our human capital, to bear to

help the Iraqis have a functioning economy where people are gainfully

employed.  Iraq could be the most significant power in the region if

we could help them stabilize their country and bring their economy to

its full potential.

 

    In order for these things to succeed, however, we need a

commitment by all Iraqis of all the ethno-sectarian groups to commit

first to  nonviolence and to resolving their differences through the

political process.  We need, quite frankly, to move toward

reconciliation.  Iraqi citizens must feel that their government is a

genuine unity government that is working for the benefit of all its

people.

 

    In conclusion, again, this situation cannot be resolved by

military forces alone.  And I know that is uncomfortable for a lot of

people both in and out of uniform who were raised on the concepts of

destroying a certain portion of the enemy's forces and declaring

victory.  This conflict will take all efforts in government, economic

development and transition working together.  I believe that the days

of these kinds of conflicts are over. 

 

    The situation in Iraq is, in fact, far more representative of the

challenges we will face in the world to come, and we need to prepare

our military and our government more broadly to deal with these

challenges.  Civil-military integration is key to that.  We still have

work to do on getting our organizations and systems right so that we

can operate simultaneously along all the lines of operation and the

other lines, such as political and economic.  And Iraq and this region

are critical to our future security and we need to use this experience

as an object lesson for the kinds of conflicts and challenges we will

face in the future.

 

    I will now take your question.

 

    MR. WHITMAN:  Well, thank you, General, for that overview and

perspective.

 

    Let's go ahead and get started, with Pam.

 

    Q     General, this is Pam Hess with United Press International.

The narrative that we've gotten here over the last year in Iraq is

that it was the Golden Mosque bombing that set this all off and set

Iraq on the course it's on now.  But I think it's got to be more

complicated than that,  Can you explain to us how you think Iraq got

from the elections that you talked abut to where it is now, what the

missteps were on the part of the United States that we could have done

differently?  I think we're aware of what the Iraqi government could

have done differently, as in getting organized more quickly, moving

towards reconciliation, handling their oil.  But could you focus on

the U.S. end?  What missteps did we make in the last year?

 

    GEN. CHIARELLI:  Well, I think the Golden Mosque bombing was

absolutely critical.  In my two years here, there's not been a single

more definitive event that seemed to have changed the way Iraqis

looked at themselves and looked at their country. I remember when I

was over here in my first year, the issues of sectarianism were

something that were possibly below the surface, but when you talked to

Iraqis, they considered themselves Iraqis. 

 

    And there wasn't a single situation that I remember in my first

year where they pointed to the difference between Sunni and Shi'a when

you went down into the neighborhoods.  When you went down into the

neighborhoods in Baghdad, where I was the first time, you found mixed

neighborhoods of Sunnis and Shi'as who had lived together for many,

many years.  And quite frankly, neighbors didn't know what the sect of

each other was.

 

    I happen to believe that we have done everything militarily we

possibly can.  We're working to strengthen the Iraqi military.  The

Iraqi army gets better every day.  But I really believe the key to

this conflict is to understand that it's going to take more than

military action to solve the problems that face Iraq and to pull

people together.  It's going to take working along with other lines of

operation, the economic and the political lines of operation, the

reconstruction line of operation, to give Iraqis hope for their

future. 

 

    I'm still struck by the fact that when I go into the provinces

and talk to provincial governors and ask them what's the one thing

that I could do to, in fact, make things better and create a better

security situation in their province, they unanimously tell me every

time, put the angry young man to work, find jobs for them.  And I think

that it's those kinds of things that we need to do better, and I think

it's those kinds of things that we have to convince the Iraqi

government are absolutely critical to lowering the level of violence

at the same time that we do what's necessary for those who do not want

Iraqi democracy to succeed.

 

    Q     And, sir, you don't think it's -- it's not too late for

that?  You think there's still an opportunity to turn things around?

 

    GEN. CHIARELLI:  I definitely think there's an opportunity to

turn things around.  There's no doubt in my mind there is.  I think we

need to sit down -- and I know we are, I know the ambassador and

General Casey are, and talk to the Iraqi government of some of those

non-kinetic things that they need to do, some of the legislation that

they need to get through the Council of Representatives that will move

this country toward a brighter economic future that will put people to

work, that will take away the power base from many of the militias and

many of the insurgents which attack our forces and Iraqi forces.  I

definitely think that this is winnable, but we've got to do those

things that are necessary and convince -- help convince the Iraqis

that it's not just the military alone that will solve the problems

that face them.

 

    MR. WHITMAN:  Tom.

 

    Q     General, Tom Bowman with NPR.  When I was walking around

that Baghdad neighborhood with you back in September, at that time the

reconstruction money wasn't flowing to Anbar as it should have, of

course where the bulk of the Sunnis live.  There was no date for

provincial elections by the Shi'a-led government.  And Baghdad was

being ethnically cleansed of Sunnis.  Given all that, what hope do the

Sunnis have?  And have you seen any real movement toward

reconciliation?

 

    GEN. CHIARELLI:  Well, we see some movement of the money toward

Al Anbar.  I wish it was moving quicker. 

 

    In fact, I wish money was moving quicker to all the provinces.  One of

the biggest complaints that we get when we get out away from Baghdad

into the provinces is the movement of money into the provinces so they

can do what's necessary.  And those are things that are going to have

to be worked out in the Council of Representatives, and that is the

role the provinces play.  My understanding of this country is that

it's been Baghdad-centered for a long time, and when you move out into

the provinces, what you find is that the people are very, very focused

on the provincial government.

 

    That's why I happen to believe that provincial elections are

absolutely critical.  I mentioned the elections in January of 2005.

They were very, very important, and a lot of Iraqis got out and voted.

But you know and I know that in many of the provinces the Sunnis

didn't get out and vote in the numbers that they should have, and in

some of the provinces, we have an overrepresentation of Shi'as on the

provincial council.  In some of them they dominate only the provincial

councils.  And again, when we talk to Iraqis, they in fact,

particularly the Sunnis, bring up the need to move toward provincial

elections as soon as we can.  So I happen to believe that's a critical

element in the next year, and it's something that I hope happens.

 

    MR. WHITMAN:  Jim.

 

    Q     General Chiarelli, Jim Miklaszewski --

 

    GEN. CHIARELLI:  Hang on.  Reconciliation.  I think it's a

critical element when it comes to reconciliation, that the new

announcement of the date for those elections would have a tremendous

impact in many of the Sunni neighborhoods.  So it didn't die down

outside Baghdad -- up north and out west.

 

    I'm sorry to cut you off, sir.

 

    Q     You said this is what the government has to do, but is

there any sense of when the elections would be?

 

    GEN. CHIARELLI:  I haven't seen it yet.  I know General Casey and

the ambassador are working it very hard, and I haven't seen it yet.  I

look forward to the publication of that date and getting the necessary

legislation in place that will allow that to happen.

 

    MR. WHITMAN:  Let's go back to Jim now.

 

    Q     General Chiarelli, Jim Miklaszewski with NBC.  The Iraq

Study Group has set a goal of removing all U.S. combat forces from

Iraq by the first quarter of 2008, save those that would be left

behind for force protection.  Is that even feasible?  Can you set that

kind of goal at this point?  And what do you think of their

proposition that you have to set these goals to let the Iraqis know

the U.S. commitment is not open-ended or they won't take any steps on

their own behalf such as reconciliation?

 

    GEN. CHIARELLI:  Well, first of all, Jim, I haven't had an

opportunity to read the entire report in its entirety, and I plan to

do that in the next couple of days.  But it would be unfair for me to

comment on the specifics of the report.  I will tell you I think

that's possible if in fact we have interim steps that are agreed upon

with timelines that basically move us toward reconciliation.  I don't

believe reconciliation is going to happen tomorrow.  I don't believe

it's going to happen in the next month.  I don't believe it's going to

happen in the next 60 days.

 

    But I believe we could create a series of steps along a timeline that

would take us to a point where we could see reconciliation, and I'm

very confident that that could happen.  And I happen to think that

there are things that are happening now that might bring to the Iraqis

an understanding that this is absolutely critical to them and their

government to do just this.  And I know the prime minister has been

talking about reconciliation.  He's got his emissaries, they're

working throughout the country trying to put together such a plan.

And I know General Casey is working very, very hard, along with the

ambassador, to do that. 

 

    But I think that if we set up a series of goals, goals that are

tied to dates of certain critical things that have to be done to make

all the Iraqi people believe that this is a government of national

unity, that we could regain their confidence, and anything is

possible. 

 

    Q     Could you share with us, General, what those things are

that are happening now that lead you to believe that reconciliation is

at least possible? 

 

    GEN. CHIARELLI:  Well, as you know, as part of the Baghdad

Security Plan, one of the things that we have that I don't think

really was explained that way it needed to be, was we went in to clear

particular areas, we went in to hold particular areas, and we went in

to build particular areas.  And maybe the most important portion of

the Baghdad Security Plan was that "build" portion. 

 

    And as you know, our ERF money is in fact running out, that

$18.4 million, and we understood that for many of the large

infrastructure projects, that the Iraqi people and the Iraqi

government would be the ones who needed to pick those up.  Now, we

have helped them establish processes.  One of them is our JROC.  It's

a command and control center for reconstruction.  It was initially an

organization that was manned only by coalition members, but now we

have seven members of the Amanat that are down working with us on

a daily basis.  They're part of that entire process. 

 

    We've set up a process here that I see moving in the right

direction.  Have we gotten enough dirt turning in the neighborhood?

Absolutely not, and we need to do more of that, and we need to move

the Iraqis along a little bit quicker in working some of those large

infrastructure projects.  It would do two things. 

 

    First of all, it gives the people hope for their future when they see

the dirt turning, when they see the sewer systems go in, when they see

the electrical distribution start to be put in, when they see trash

being picked up.  And if you do it on a scale that is needed in this

country, it has the second effect of employment.  And as I mentioned

earlier, employment is absolutely critical to what we're doing to take

the angry young men off the street.

 

    We've been doing some work with some different kind of models

that take a look at what we could do if we can, in fact, improve job

satisfaction with the Iraqis.  And we see for really a very, very

small improvement in job satisfaction, what our models tell us is that

we could have a tremendous impact on the violence that is occurring in

and around Baghdad.  I think that this is absolutely critical to, in

fact, moving in that direction. 

 

    But again, the Iraqis are key to this.  We are not only in a

period of transition to the Iraqi army, we also have to transition

these other requirements, such as the capital spending that's so

absolutely critical for this country so that it can be a major

economic player both in the region and in the world, and put its

people to work.

 

    MR. WHITMAN:  Let's go to Lolita.

 

    Q     General Chiarelli, it's Lolita Baldor with the Associated

Press.  You just referred to the transition of the Iraqi army.  One of

the discussions here is the increase in the number of trainers to go

over and embed with the Iraqis to help bring them along.  Can you give

us your assessment whether an additional 10,000 to 20,000 trainers

would be enough to do that, and whether or not you think that's

possible, how well you think that would happen in order to get the

U.S. troops to significantly reduce by early 2008.

 

    GEN. CHIARELLI:  I won't give you a number because the staffs are

working on numbers now in many of the options that they're working for

General Casey.

 

    I will tell you, I think that this is a very important step.

 

    I think there's some misperception in the open press about what

we had over here.  We had a number of transition teams that were

organic to the divisions and the units that came into Iraq.  For the

most part, those transition teams -- about a third of the transition

teams we had were 40- to 50- to 60-man transition teams.  The decision

was made to -- for the other transition teams -- and we have many,

many; almost 300 transition teams throughout the country -- to have

small transition teams, correctly reported in the press of 10 to 12

individuals.  But what has not been reported is the fact that those 10

to 12 individuals working at the battalion staff level were partnered

with a unit.  They were partnered with a unit that provided that

additional training down to the company and the platoon level.  We

believe now that what we need to do is to embed those trainers, to

make that organic as part of the Iraqi army and the Iraqi police.

 

    You know, one of the things that's given us a real good look at

the police in Baghdad is the fact that, along with the Baghdad

Security Plan, we moved five MP companies into Baghdad, made them

training teams for the police.  And we basically had a one-on-one

coverage of all the police stations, and we've uncovered some issues

that we've got down at the individual police stations.

 

    The same with the national police.  I think you know we're

training the national police a brigade at a time down at Numaniyah.

They're going through a four-week training period at the end of that.

They're issued a new uniform and they're moved back up into Baghdad.

That first brigade, the 4th Brigade, is in Baghdad now.  It is in its

own sector with -- plus a PTT team, or NPTT team, we call them --

National Police Training Team.  That National Police Training Team has

the capability to be with those national police 24/7.  They don't

conduct an operation that there aren't U.S. advisers out there with

them, and that has proved to be very, very effective.  But we've got

to change the perception, as we have improved the capabilities of the

national police in and around Baghdad, as being an organization that

handles both Sunnis and Shi'as the same.

 

    So I happen to believe that, as we transition to Iraqi control

and as I hope that we'll see us moving out of some the major

metropolitan areas, that having these larger embedded training teams,

if that's the course of action that General Casey chooses, will be a

real benefit to what we see and a real benefit to the Iraqi army, but

in addition to that, to the Iraqi police and particularly the national

police.

 

    MR. WHITMAN:  Jamie.

 

    Q     General Chiarelli, Jamie McIntyre from CNN.  I know you say

you haven't read the Iraq Study Group recommendations, but certainly

you've heard the conclusion of the panel that the situation in Iraq is

grave and deteriorating and that the ability of the United States to

influence events there is diminishing.  Do you agree with that

assessment?

 

    GEN. CHIARELLI:  I think it's fair to say that 2007 -- and I know

this has been said many, many times -- that 2007 will be an absolute

critical year.

 

    And I think that we will take the right steps militarily.  I think

that we will work very, very hard on the Iraqi logistics system, to

get it up into its capabilities, so that it can in fact support its

army. 

 

    But I just have to reiterate that I happen to believe that the

economic and political piece of this is so absolutely critical.  And

if this has been kind of a shock, what has happened here, for the

Iraqi government, if they can see this as a situation that could

deteriorate rather rapidly if they don't take some of these actions, I

think that with help from us, we could do the kinds of things that are

necessary.  We're seeing some help that we're getting from the States

right now in the economic area that's proven to be very, very helpful.

 

    And I think that there are definitely some things that we could

do, some strategies that, from what I know of the report, could be put

in place, that would have tremendous impact in making 2007 a year

where we really move ahead in this particular mission.

 

    MR. WHITMAN:  Andrew.

 

    Q     General, Andrew Gray from Reuters here.  Can I ask you

about a specific incident?  As you know, there are very conflicting

reports about this overnight raid in Ishaqi.  Local people there are

holding up the bodies of children and saying that civilians have been

killed.  What's your understanding of what happened there?

 

    GEN. CHIARELLI:  I can tell you I saw that report just as I was

leaving to come over here today.  I can promise you that in every one

of these incidents that occurs, that it will be fully investigated.  I

think you've seen that in the past.  And this one will be fully

investigated if in fact there's any merit to the charges that are

being made, at least from what I've seen in the press.  And I promise

you that that's exactly what we'll do. 

 

    But having not had an opportunity to talk to commanders or to

look into this in any great depth at this time, I would ask that we

let the system work.  And I know that you'll hear from us down the

road if in fact there's any credence to these reports.

 

    MR. WHITMAN:  Jonathan.

 

    Q     General Chiarelli, Jonathan Karl with ABC News.  Two

questions.  One, just on the embedded trainers, in your estimation,

 

how long would it take if -- to quadruple the number of embedded

trainers to train the trainers?  How long would that process take?

 

    And then one of the central recommendations, central themes of

the Iraq Study Group is that the Iraqi government needs to be

essentially given disincentives if they do not do what they need to do

and that economic assistance and security assistance should be

withheld if they don't do what they should do.

 

    Given what you've said about how important it is to get the

unemployment rate down, what do you think about that idea of

withholding economic assistance and other assistance, even security

assistance, you know, if the Iraqis don't do it what they're supposed

to do?

 

    GEN. CHIARELLI:  Well, first of all, on embedded trainers, we're

going through the staff process now of seeing how quick we could do

this.

 

    I think we could it a lot faster than many people would believe.  I

don't look at time as being a problem at this particular time.  I

think we've got forces in-country that will assist us with that.

There may be requirement for some additional trainers in very specific

areas, but I think a majority -- and there some of the issues -- some

of the plans we're looking at could come from in-country, and I think

that that's something that we can do rather rapidly.

 

    As far as economics, I believe the Iraqi Study Group -- at least

from time with them; I had an opportunity to talk with them when they

were here -- feel as I do, that putting Iraqis back to work is

absolutely critical.  When I briefed them and made that point to them,

they were in agreement.  And from the little that I've read of the

report so far, I don't see anything in it that in fact goes against

that.  And I think the Iraqis understand the importance of that, and I

know that General Casey and the ambassador, along with all of us, are

going to do our best to try to use some of the new information and

some of the new things that we've got to show them how absolutely

critical this is.

 

    And I really think that the process of working them through the

bill portion of the Baghdad security plan, it's been something that

hasn't come on-line as quick as we wanted it to come on-line, I got to

tell you.  I wish I was turning a lot more dirt down in those cleared

areas.  But I will tell you that we've done some projects down in the

cleared areas, and I will tell you that General Casey recounted to me

this morning that he was down in two or three of those areas just

yesterday, and he came back saying that life has returned to normal in

those areas for the most part -- lots of people out, people who were

out on the street, markets that are open, and life is going on as

normal in many of those areas -- in those areas that he was in.  So he

was very pleased with what he saw.

 

    I think we just have to expand this and convince the Iraqi

government that there may be an amount of money that could be spent on

creating jobs for Iraqis that would be just as important as growing

the size of their army above what has already been announced.  So I

think that that is a very, very important component of what we need to

do in the upcoming year.

 

    MR. WHITMAN:  I think we need to make this our last one.

 

    Joe.

 

    Q     General, this is Joe Tabet with Al Hurra.  As a commander

on the ground, why do you think the reconciliation has failed til

now?  What are the main problems?

 

    GEN. CHIARELLI:  Sir, I'm the operational commander, and the kind

of things that I see when I go out -- I'd ask you to direct that

question to General Casey and to the ambassador.  But I will tell you,

one of the things that I get told every time I go out is the one I

mentioned earlier -- provincial elections.  I will tell you that many

Iraqis in the many of the provinces feel that that's critical,

particularly some of the Sunni tribal sheikhs that we talk to and

members of the Sunni community that we talk to.  And many of them have

told my commanders that set a date for provincial elections and that

will have a big impact.

 

    I think seeing their lives get better is absolutely critical.  I

will tell you, one of the things that we did down in the Amiriyah area

was we opened up a bank, a bank that had been shut down for five

months.  Now, that may not seem too important to an American that a

bank is open in a neighborhood.  But to the people of Amiriyah, that,

and electricity, and working on some sewage problems were the number

one things that they asked us to get fixed.  We went through the

process with the minister of Finance of getting the bank, the (inaudible) bank open in Amiriyah.  It has proved to be a big boom in making

the people feel that their life is returning back to normal and that

their government is, in fact, doing the kinds of things that they

think are important. 

 

    Now, I understand that a small thing like that may not seem to

have the kind of impact that I'm attributing to it, but I will tell

you that a whole bunch of small wins like that, with an increase in

employment, an ability to go after the terrorists wherever they are,

if you take all those things together, it has a tremendous impact, and

I think it would move us toward national reconciliation.

 

    MR. WHITMAN:  One last --

 

    Q     Can I follow on that?

 

    (Cross talk.)

 

    MR. WHITMAN:  (Inaudible) -- and I know we have reached the end

of our time.  Is there a critical follow-up there that you needed, Mr.

Miklaszewski?

 

    Q     Yes.  General, is the U.S. winning in Iraq?

 

    GEN. CHIARELLI:  You know, I thought that -- I thought I'd

escaped that one.  But militarily, I can say without a doubt that we

are winning.

 

    We've never been defeated on any battlefield certainly in this

conflict, nor will we be.  To ask us if we're winning in Iraq is to

think that one could boil the situation down to a simple yes-or-no

answer, and I don't believe there is a simple yes-or-no answer.  I

think it is the wrong question. 

 

    The real question that I think we should be asking ourselves is,

are we making the progress toward our strategic objectives?  And I

would have to give that answer a yes.  Are we moving as fast as I wish

we were and I know General Casey wishes we were toward meeting those

strategic objectives?  We are not.  And I know that he and the

ambassador are working every single day to figure out ways to further

the progress along those strategic objectives.

 

    I've always told you, sir, that I think that many people back in

the United States do not see the progress that has been made in this

country because they are only showing the daily violence in Baghdad.

And there's a whole bunch of reasons for that.  You know and your

comrades know how difficult it is to get in and out even around

Baghdad and around the rest of the country. And I know most of you are

stationed in Baghdad and the level of violence in Baghdad has in fact

been very, very high, much higher than any of us want it to be.

 

    But I will tell you that if it were not for the soldiers, the

Marines, the sailors and the airmen who look the devil in the eye

every single day that they conduct their mission after mission to go

out and, first of all, do their best to keep the sectarian violence

down, and second of all, the promotion of a democratic Iraq, things

would be a lot worse.  I believe that with all my heart.

 

    Success does not rest on what we do alone.  The real key is for

the Iraqis to win this thing.  It rests on the Iraqis, our coalition

partners and Iraq's neighbors to provide stability to this region and

help the Iraqi people build a better future for their children.

 

    So in answer to your question, I would say from the military

standpoint we are winning, and from meeting our strategic goals, yes,

we are moving in the right direction, but not as fast as I know we all

wish we were.

 

    MR. WHITMAN:  Well, General, thank you very much for your time.

I know we've gone a bit over, and I appreciate your indulgence.  This

has been very illuminating for us. 

 

    And again, we just want to thank not only you but also you for

making your subordinate commanders available to us on a weekly basis

to give us the kind of insights that only the commanders on the

ground, in the field, can give us back here in Washington.

 

    GEN. CHIARELLI:  Well, sir, I appreciate it. 

 

    And I want to thank the press.  Many of you have been over here

working under very, very difficult situations, and I know how hard and

tough it is for you, and we appreciate your commitment to getting out

and seeing what's going on.  I only wish we could get you out more

into more places to see many of the good things that have happened.  I

just returned from two days in Al Anbar here over the weekend, and I

see some great things happening out there. 

 

    I'd like to add, though, that in the debate over the events

happening in Iraq, I think that some people have lost sight of the

daily acts of heroism that our service members perform here in the

name of service to our nation and to freedom.  I just signed an award

recommendation for a soldier who performed an act of heroism that

saved the lives of his buddies, four of them, and cost his own life in

the process.  And I'd like to use this story as an illustration of the

tremendous dedication and sacrifice on the part of our service members

that often goes largely unnoticed. 

 

    Serving on a combat patrol as a Humvee gunner, the soldier saw a

hand grenade coming at his vehicle and tried to deflect it.  He was

unsuccessful.  The grenade slipped past him and into the truck that he

was riding in.  He shouted, "Grenade!" and began to jump out of the

truck per the standard grenade drill that the unit had.  When he

looked back, he saw that no one else inside the truck had heeded his

warning, that somehow they had thought that his shouting of "Grenade!"

meant that there was a grenade outside the vehicle.  And in a singular

act of heroism, this soldier, who was halfway out of the truck,

dropped back into the truck and placed his body against that grenade,

thereby saving the lives of the four other individuals that were

inside that truck. 

 

    This is just one example of the daily acts of heroism, courage,

and selfless service our service members perform for each other and

for their Iraqi counterparts.  I'm extremely proud of their service

and our service over here.  And it's hard to leave knowing that much

work still needs to be done.  But the performance of these service

members on the ground is what has made me feel so honored to have been

their commander this last year, and I thank them from the bottom of my

heart for that opportunity. 

 

    Thank you very much. 

 

    MR. WHITMAN:  Thank you, General.

 

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