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Department of Defense Press Briefing by Brigadier General Anderson via Teleconference From Iraq

Press Operations

Canadian Armed Forces Brigadier General D.J. Anderson, Director of Partner Force Development and Ministerial Liaison Team, Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve; Captain Jeff Davis, Director, Defense Press Office
July 6, 2017
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CAPTAIN JEFF DAVIS:  So today we're joined by Canadian Armed Forces Brigadier General D.J. Anderson, who I know you've met before on this screen.  General Anderson, as you'll recall, is the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve director of force -- partner force development and the ministerial liaison team, also known as the CJ7 in our -- our operational coding of assignments.

General, thank you very much for joining us, our -- our afternoon, your evening in Baghdad.  And, sir, we'll turn it over to you for your opening comments.

BRIGADIER GENERAL D.J. ANDERSON:  Thank you, Jeff.

And good afternoon, everyone.  It's nice to be with many of you again.  As Jeff mentioned, I have met some of you.

For those you who I've not spoken with before, I'm Brigadier General Dave Anderson, of the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, where I work as the CJ7.  And that includes both partner force development and the Canadian-led Ministerial Liaison Team, or MLT for short.

Essentially, on behalf of the commanding general, Lieutenant General Townsend, I'm responsible for staff oversight of the train and equip enterprise for our partner forces to build enduring and self-sustaining capability.

I've been with the coalition for just shy of 14 months now, and I have seen the incredible transformation of the Iraqi Security Forces and our partner forces in Syria, and how the fight against ISIS has evolved and accelerated in both countries.

Much of this progress has been possible due to our close collaboration with the government of Iraq and our international partners.  Today, in my final briefing to you, I'll first provide you with a quick operational overview as what is -- of what is happening in Mosul and Raqqa, a review of our assistance to our partner forces, and then dig a little bit deeper into the efforts of the Ministerial Liaison Team.  This will provide you with an overview of what we've accomplished to help defeat ISIS.

Our partner force in Raqqa, the Syrian Democratic Forces, have just completed the first month of offensive operations to defeat ISIS in their self-declared capital.  The SDF have taken about 45 square kilometers of ground from ISIS in and around the city of Raqqa this past week.  On Monday night, the SDF gained a foothold into the old city of Raqqa by breaching the ancient al-Rafiqa Wall, and they are now progressively pushing further into the city.

The SDF are exerting pressure on ISIS from four different fronts throughout the city.  With a push to the east along the southern portion of the Euphrates River, ISIS is now completely encircled by SDF forces.

The fight in Raqqa is going well, but we know there will be tough days ahead.  However, I'm confident that our partner forces are up to the task.

Moving on to Mosul, the Iraq Security Forces have pushed into the final 500-meter pocket of ISIS-held ground in the old city.  Iraq forces are within sight of the Tigris River from the west, and are facing an enemy on its absolutely last legs.

The imminent liberation of Mosul rids Iraq of ISIS and sets conditions for political reconciliation.  The coalition's role in preparing for what comes after ISIS is to train and equip hold forces and wide-area security forces so stabilization can occur, which leads me into the role of the Ministerial Liaison Team.

Our partner forces have done some extraordinary work by any measure.  They have liberated nearly 2 million Iraqis from the yolk of a truly evil and oppressive enemy.  They have taken back over 70 percent of the terrain once held by ISIS.  And in the face of determined resistance, they have -- have -- they have placed relentless pressure on Daesh.

The coalition is here to support our partner forces in the defeat of ISIL.  This support not only takes the form of advice and assistance and kinetic elements such as strikes and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, but also is delivered in terms of trading and equipment.

Since its inception, the coalition has trained 106,000 members of the Iraq Security Force, including 4,000 -- 40,000 Iraqi army, 15,000 police, 6,000 border guards, 21,000 Peshmerga, 14,000 from the Counter Terrorism Service, and 9,500 tribal mobilization forces.  This year alone, the coalition has delivered weapons -- (inaudible), approximately 900 Humvees, and more than 1,300 support vehicles for 75,000 Iraqi troops and policemen.

In Syria, we have trained over 8,500 members of the SDF.  And just this year have delivered weapons and ammunition and over 400 vehicles and personal equipment for over 40,000 troops.

This support is the essence of the by-with-and-through strategy, enabling our partner forces to defeat ISIS.

These forces have liberated more than 4 million civilians throughout Iraq and Syria.  They have fought and they have sacrificed dearly, and I honor their martyrs.  And I am -- and more importantly, I am confident that they will win this fight.

I have another hat, the director of the Canadian-led Ministerial Liaison Team.  Our task is to provide advice, assist -- and assistance and act as a liaison in order to enable the successful execution of the campaign plan and set the conditions for an enduring and sustainable Iraqi Security Force.

Specifically, we work with the Ministries of Interior, Defense, Peshmerga and Health, as well as with the national security adviser and the prime minister's National Operations Center.  This is achieved with a team of 13 colonels from eight different countries:  a true coalition effort.

In January, the MLT assisted the Iraqi minister of interior in preparing a two-year plan for restoring readiness in liberated provinces.  And that was successfully delivered to the Iraqi prime minister for endorsement, and we are now midway through implementing that plan.

We're also currently working on a two-year plan for the Ministry of Defense.  And we continue to make great gains in the realms of intelligence, logistics, counter-IED and communications.

A recent milestone occurred just earlier this week when the MLT divested the first of 100 police-presence-in-a-box packages, which are essentially temporary stations that provide a local police force with the equipment necessary to establish themselves in areas where ISIS has destroyed their infrastructure.

The equipment from this project arrives in a shipping container, and includes a tent with a large working space, furniture, lighting, water tanks, laptops, phones, GPS, weapons storage, checkpoint equipment, and two land cruisers; in essence, everything they need to set up a visible presence.  The contents can be unpacked and set up quickly to allow the police to immediate begin serving their citizens.

The delivery of the first of the 100 containers will roll out over this summer.  And this initiative will be followed by a border-guard-in-a-box project that will enable a similar capability for Iraq's Border Service.

An effective and credible police and civil defense structure is imperative in order to make the transition from the current green, or army, policing to true blue policing based on the model of intelligence-led community-based policing, which is the future.

In closing, I'd like to thank our partner forces and our international partners for their incredible hard work and dedication during my tenure here.

At the same time, I need to acknowledge the professionalism and bravery of all the members of the Iraqi Security Forces and our partner forces who are taking the fight to a truly evil and increasingly desperate organization.  As I've said before and will say today for the last time, it's been an absolute honor to play a small part in their effort.

Truly the transformation I've witnessed has been impressive as our partners in Iraq and Syria have achieved an astounding reversal since 2014 when ISIS seized key terrain in Syria and Iraq.  I leave theater noting that the fight is not yet over, yet ISIS has been all but vanquished from its holdings and of course laying the groundwork that prevents the ISIS -- the rise of ISIS 2.0 remains of critical importance.

Thank you.  I'll now take your questions.

CAPT. DAVIS:  Sure.  We'll start with Lita Baldor of the Associated Press.

Q:  Hi, General.  Thanks so much.

A couple of quick questions on Mosul.

Can you give at least an estimate of the number of civilians you think remain in the city, as well as the number of ISIS that remain in the city at this point in that small area?

And then secondly, as you look ahead to a hold force, what role is the U.S. going to play in helping the Iraqis hold the city at least for the near future?

GEN. ANDERSON:  So, Lita, I'll answer your second question first, which is, what role will the U.S. play in helping the hold forces?

It's the U.S. and the entire coalition that will assist.  In essence, we've already trained and equipped the hold force that's there.  It's predominantly based around local police -- and by local, I mean policemen from -- from Anbar -- reinforced of course by the Iraqi army.

We will continue to provide advice and assistance as we have been doing in eastern Mosul and will do so in western Mosul as they assist in holding and establishing some sort of stability so that there's security for the citizens.

As to the specific numbers of the civilians and the military -- and military that are still in the remaining, you know, 500 square meter pocket, it's hard for me to give you the -- the exact numbers, because it's -- the pocket is shrinking so quickly.

And to be honest with you, I'm here less focused on the operational piece than I am on what got us there and what we've got to do next.

Q:  And can you say how many ISIS are remaining, do you think?

GEN. ANDERSON:  I actually don't know.  I'm actually the wrong guy to -- wrong guy to ask.  The spokesman is a great guy to ask, and as I understand it, he'll be in -- he'll be in Washington next week.  No doubt by the time he's in Washington next week there'll be no ISIL remaining, because there'll be no 500 square meters still being held.

CAPT. DAVIS:  OK.  Kristina Wong of Breitbart?

Q:  Hi, General.  Thanks for doing this.

You mentioned great gains with the Iraqi forces in building their own logistics capability, ISR and -- and other things.  Where exactly are they in doing that?  And how long will they need coalition support, enabling support for that?

GEN. ANDERSON:  Thanks, Kristina.  That's a great question.

They've actually come an extraordinarily long way in their ability to self-sustain.  And that does include things like, as you pointed out, logistics and -- and ISR.

They are a completely different army than they were in 2014.  That's absolutely evident to anybody that works with them.  Part of that is because of the great work of the coalition, in terms of training them and preparing them for this fight, this long slog in my time, Ramadi, Fallujah, and then up through Qayyarah West and into Mosul.  So a lot of work is done to prepare them for that.

In that, they've had to learn to do what for them is expeditionary logistics.  I had one senior Iraqi tell me that projecting logistics to Mosul is -- for us is the same thing as the Brits projecting logistics to the Falklands.  That's how far away it is in terms of their normal set, because normally they do regionally based operations.  They've learned quickly, they've learned well, and have been able to sustain their own forces with some assistance from us, in what has been a pretty long and grueling fight.

So, very impressed with where they've -- where they've gone with that.  They do have some -- some pretty good ISR capability of their own, and increasingly, they're using it to enable their operations on top of the ISR obviously that we have for them.  So on the whole, it's a good news story.

How long do we have to be here?  We'll be here as long as we need to be here.  Our mission is to make sure that they -- it's a self-sustaining force, and a self-sustaining force means that its able to train itself, it's able to feed itself and its able to fight by itself.

We're well on our way to achieving that -- Kristina.

Q:  And then secondly, could you talk a little bit more about this police in a box -- force-in-a-box concept?

GEN. ANDERSON:  Absolutely, happy to do so.  So, the vast majority of the infrastructure, particularly the security infrastructure in -- in Nineveh province has been destroyed by ISIS.  It's really important to the people of Mosul, the Moslawis to -- to have a sense of normalcy, and nothing says normal like a policeman.  And it -- and it's important psychologically as well as in terms of actual security, but there's nowhere for them to go and set up; their buildings have been destroyed, or they need to be cleared. And so the idea was to establish -- give them the capability in all five of the liberated provinces -- or recently liberated provinces to establish a visible police presence as soon as possible.

So the idea came up during a workshop with about 70 Iraqi senior policemen, and we were talking about how to do that.  Infrastructure takes a long time to build, and so we considered the idea of something that was temporary and relocatable.

So inside what is in essence a freshly painted (inudible) with "Iraqi Police" painted on the side, is everything they need to set up a police station.  So that includes the barriers around the station, if required, to defend themselves, the ability to conduct checkpoints, but also a large enough tent -- that's 20 by 30 meters -- to enable them to conduct police business with separate areas for investigations, and for even the police station commander to have a place to work.

The idea is that they can get in there very quickly within a day, everything that's in the box -- everything they require is in the box.  That includes power.  That includes white and gray water takes, the whole nine yards.  It's all there so that they can set up as quickly as possible.

I presided over the ceremonial divestiture of the first box earlier this week, and the Iraqis are very, very excited by this.  It enables them to get their presence there that much quicker.

CAPT. DAVIS:  Zach Biggs of Jane's Defense.

Q:  Thanks.

General, so you talked quite a bit about the efforts to get the Iraqi Police force up and running in the reclaimed territory, but can you tell us what has been done in terms of training the SDF for holding and policing territory that's claimed in Syria?  What -- what sort of training, what sort of equipment is being dedicated towards their ability to maintain security in the territory claimed in Syria once that process has been achieved?

GEN. ANDERSON:  So, the SDF is -- in essence, the clearance force and, if you will, the hold force; it's not the police force at all.  But we anticipate -- we have anticipated the requirement, and so have the SDF.

And so, for instance in the Raqqa area, we're already starting to work on something that's called the Raqqa Internal Security Force.  And this will be locals that will work for the Raqqa Council.  So it'll work for local governance, and they'll be ready to establish that policing function, if you will, that safety and security element.

So this is about anticipating that requirement.  So that's a pretty good job of prediction.

It's a little bit more difficult in Syria, as you can imagine, than it is in Iraq, because we're not dealing with a government and established structures, and so we have to be a little bit inventive.

But this is a great idea that the SDF has come up with, and we'll assist them in the training and preparation work for what's known as the RISF, or the Raqqa Internal Security Force.

Q:  Just to follow up, do you have any sense as to how many people are going to need to be trained for that Internal Raqqa Security Force?

You said there'd be 8,500 SDF that have been trained by the coalition.  Is it a similar number for the number that'll be needed to police the territory for the Internal Security Force, or are we talking a smaller group?

GEN. ANDERSON:  Yes, it'll be a smaller number and we're going to have to build this as we go, and that's something that we've learned.  So the order of magnitude is certainly much smaller than the overall SDF.

Think in the order of tens of hundreds, is probably the best way to think of it.

CAPT. DAVIS:  Sagar Engetti, Daily Caller.

Q:  Thank you for doing this, general.

So, since NATO joined the anti-ISIS coalition in May, what specific contributions have you seen in the alliance towards the training effort in the fight against ISIS, and what role do you forecast for the alliance going forward?

GEN. ANDERSON:  Yes, that's a -- that's a great question.

So, when NATO joined to coalition, it actually joined the grander coalition.  And so if you will, they joined Special Presidential Envoy McGurk's coalition as opposed to Lieutenant General Townsend's coalition.

And that's an important distinction.  Having said that here on the ground, there is a NATO training and capability building mission in Iraq that has just stood up.  It's quite small and modest right now, with a focus on a few key areas, counter-I.D. training, civil military cooperation training, some help with security sector reform, civil preparedness, some very, very specific medical training, and it's for evacuation, and offered to provide some teams that can assist with instructing maintenance on former Warsaw pact vehicles.

That's a small, modest but very much required contribution.  We've been working very closely with NATO to make sure that it's complimentary to what the larger coalition is doing.  This is designed to be small to start with, in accordance with the mandate that NATO has provided for this mission.  It may grow over time.  That's NATO's decision to make.  It's certainly not ours.

So far, the elements we have on the ground are having good effect, and the idea is to have a small initial footprint here and to fly over the trainers as they're required.

In fact, it's something that we're considering doing, and in fact, we will do, in the coalition, writ large, over the coming year.

Q:  Just a quick follow up:  How many NATO personnel are involved in this mission?

GEN. ANDERSON:  Right now, that are permanently based here, it's, if I remember correctly, it's three civilians and it's four military.  But those are senior guys that are -- that make sure that they're developing the right kind of capability.

So they -- NATO has conducted I believe three counter-IED courses so far and are betting ready to do the fourth one.  So for that, they would bring over a training team of 10 to 15 soldiers that would be able to produce that.  They deliver the training and then they go back.  This is sort of an expeditionary training model, if you will.

Q:  Great.  Thanks.

CAPT. DAVIS:  Carlo Munoz of the Washington Times.

Q:  Hey, sir, thanks for doing this.

Quick question, going on your focus on local police for the hold force and to kind of foster stability in Mosul once the fight is done.  I know this is a bit of apple-and-oranges, but in Afghanistan we saw the local police actually in some instances cause more trouble than actually did cause -- have a positive effect, you know, when they reverted back to either tribal, sectarian, ethnic sort of -- (inaudible), as opposed to the central government.

How are you guys attempting to address that issue, especially in a place like Nineveh province which is, from what I understand, one of the most ethnically and -- ethnically and diverse areas in northern Iraq?  And I have a follow up.

GEN. ANDERSON:  OK, so there's a couple of ways in which we address that.

First of all is with training.  So the training that we provide for the policemen, conducted predominantly by Task Force Carabinieri, the Italian national police, but assisted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the Czechs so far, is designed to teach them how to be true policemen.  And we've adopted the model of community-based, intelligence-led policing.

And that is one way to make that cultural change, the idea being if you can touch a third of a police force with this kind of training, you will have affected 100 percent change.  And so we continue to do that.

But another part of it is in fact that Iraq is not Afghanistan in so many ways, and I -- and I did serve in Afghanistan.  It's a different problem set.  And you're right, when you characterize it as apples and oranges, because it absolutely is.

What's different here is that Iraq was invaded.  It was invaded by, in essence, a foreign army that seized terrain.  And the Iraqi security forces have done an incredible job of pushing back what is in essence a conventional -- a conventional military threat.

So, this is liberation of their own citizens that have been under the yoke of oppression from Daesh for close to two pretty horrific years.  And so that changes the mind set as well.  So we're actually quite positive that we're headed in the right direction with the police.

The other thing as well is that we're not just training, as they call them, the shurta, the policemen themselves, but we're providing training in terms of leadership.  And I have sensed in my dealings, and I deal a lot with the Ministry of Interior and a lot of senior policemen.  But they understand the requirement -- the number one requirement for policing is respect.  And that's not that the police are respected.  That's that the citizens are respected by the police.  And I sense that they truly understand that.

Q:  Thanks, sir.  And a quick followup.

When you first came on board, you said that you were still trying to kind of get your hands around the training curriculum, how much should be focused on actual sort of -- actual stability operations versus counterterrorism, counter-insurgency operations, which is where Daesh seems to be going after they lose a lot of territory in both Iraq and Syria.

Now at the tail-end of your assignment, sir, do you think you've got that balance down?  And if you do, can you kind of explain how that is broken down versus how much emphasis you're putting on conventional stability versus counterterrorism, counter-insurgency?

GEN. ANDERSON:  It's a fair question.  So, first of all, things won't unfold in a sequential manner.  There's no monolithic element of Iraq.  And so in some places, there's still Daesh -- Daesh 1.0.  They're holding ground.  They're holding terrain and they need to be defeated in the conventional sense.  In other places, they've already reverted into a terrorist-insurgent organization.

And so there's a requirement for the two types of skill sets.  In the beginning 14 months ago, the work was actually to take the Iraqi army, which had been optimized for counter-insurgency and re-optimized for conventional -- conventional operations.  Clearly, we did a good job of that because they have been performing spectacularly out in the field.

They have done some things that Western armies train for and talk about, but actually haven't had a chance to do, like clear a city of a million people; like conduct opposed river crossings with mechanized forces.  It's been very, very, very impressive to watch.

The challenge now is to make sure that we have an opportunity to -- to ensure that they remember, or that we refine their wide-area security operations skills.  And there is a plan to do that, to touch the brigades again to make sure that we're teaching that so those skills are there.

What's good to know, though, is that it's -- it's easier to go from a force optimized for conventional forces to COIN, than it is the other way around.  As most Western armies have actually learned -- have learned over the last 10 to 15 years.  So I think that we've developed the right -- the right kind of training.

What's also interesting is that increasingly the Iraqis are valuing training for its own self.  So for the value of the training itself as a means to perhaps get better equipment.  And so we are currently training a new set of brigades that will be used for follow-on operations after Mosul.  And they specifically ask for more -- more advanced training, for some more leadership training, and to train together collectively at the battalion and the brigade level.

So these are all very, very positive signs.

Q:  Sorry, just one really quick follow up.  You mentioned as the Mosul operation kind of ramps down, you move into the stability, sort of hold phase, the coalition plans to fly in trainers as needed.  Is -- do -- is it fair to understand that by flying in the trainers, there will be no more sort of regular deployments of either U.S. or coalition troops for the train, advise and assist mission?

GEN. ANDERSON:  Yeah, so we're not there yet, right?  So, the fall of Mosul, the inevitable and imminent fall of Mosul does not mean that Daesh is defeated.  There are still some conventional battles that have to happen, specifically in Tal Afar, in Hawijah, and in western Anbar, the sequencing of which, of course, will be up to the government of Iraq.

So we're not done yet.  So it's not like as soon as Mosul falls, we're downing tools and suddenly focusing on COIN.  As I said, the security system is not monolithic in the different provinces.  And so we have to reflect that.

We have a good -- we have a good 10-12 months worth of business just to train the next -- the next set of brigades that we're looking at; training and equipping them for follow-on operations.  So we'll stay in the business in the manner that we are for a long time.

We have to look forward to how we transition from that, though.  If a force is going to be self-sustaining, then the -- the industrial level and basic training needs to be done by the Iraqis themselves.  We need to start adding value further up the training value chain, doing more advanced training, which you can actually do with less people.

So I'm talking about a transition that will happen over the next, sort of, six to 18 months or 12 to 18 months as we continue to test and adjust the manner in which we support our partner forces.

The thing about a by-with-and-through in a campaign in a complex theater is that you have to be as adaptable and adaptive as your partner forces and more adaptable than your -- than the threat that you're facing.

CAPT. DAVIS:  OK.  Elizabeth McLaughlin, ABC News?

Q:  (inaudible), General.

Can you talk a little bit about the holding force in East Mosul, any resistance that they've been facing, and kind of what have been some of the issues versus the successes that you've seen there, and then how that gets replicated in West Mosul once the liberation happens?

GEN. ANDERSON:  East Mosul is nothing short of a miracle.  The -- it's amazing how quickly Moslawis have rebounded their vibrant market life, moving right back into their homes as soon as they were -- as soon as they were cleared.  And things are -- things are cooking along really, really well there.

And the hold force has been doing a good job.  It's a combination of army and local police but increasing the local police are taking the -- taking the forefront in that.

So we've very -- we've very positive with what's occurred there.

Eastern Mosul and western Mosul are very, very different.  Western Mosul is different in its structure and its architecture.  It's almost biblical in its architecture.  It's very narrow streets.  It's very old buildings.  ISIS is, as it's got more desperate, has left more of a trail of destruction behind them.  And so that will be a different challenge in terms of people coming back to their homes, restoring normalcy, et cetera.

But we have the right hold forces in place.  The -- the Iraqis are a learning organization.  So they'll take what they learned in Ramada (sic) and Fallujah and eastern Mosul and apply it to western Mosul.  So I remain really positive about it.

Q:  (inaudible) -- total police forces do you anticipate for the entire city?

GEN. ANDERSON:  I'm sorry.  Can you say that again?

Q:  How many total police forces do you anticipate for the city?  How many are in -- I know you said it's a combination of army and police forces.  So how many, once liberation has occurred, do you anticipate it will take to hold the city total?

GEN. ANDERSON:  Yeah, so if we look to the, sort of, end-state, the numbers that we've looked at, they're based on some -- some pretty detailed analysis.

The expectation is that we're going to require about a total of 25,000 police in Nineveh province in order to the job properly.  And that's one of the reasons we've trained 6,000 Nineveh policemen in anticipation of that requirement to flesh it out.

Wide-area security, which is something that the Iraqis -- actually is their model for security internally, involves all the forces.  So it involves the army, it involves elements of the federal police, the local police which secure the cities, elements of the CTS to conduct counter-insurgency and counter-terrorist operations, and of course in some of the provinces border guards, as well.

So we think we have it about right.  So about 25,000 local police and we've assisted in training 6,000 extra police in order to bring their numbers up.

CAPT. DAVIS:  Next to Thomas Watkins of Agence France-Presse.

Q:  Hello, General.  Thanks for doing this.

You mentioned earlier the Iraqi Security Force -- (inaudible) -- in 2014 and obviously the difficulties are well-documented.  Nonetheless, those -- those troops, many of them had had U.S. training from 2008 to 2011.  What gives you confidence that things will turn out differently three years -- four years down the road, in this instance?

Again, they've had coalition training.  How can you be confident that they're not just going to -- you know, things aren't going to go awry a second time?

GEN. ANDERSON:  No, it's a -- it's actually a very fair question.

So, there's a couple of things.

One is -- is that Iraq now is not the Iraq of 2008 to 2011.  Had a very senior Iraqi tell me that, "We're an ancient society and a brand new country; born in 2012, we've had a near-death experience in 2014."  And that's actually a good lens through which to look at it.

So it's almost unfair to compare Iraq now to Iraq pre-2012, to be -- to be honest with you.

But as -- and as I said before, the -- the Iraqi Security Forces are being optimized for a specific threat, which was to conduct counterinsurgency.  Then they faced a completely different threat, which was to be invaded by -- by a massive army that holds ground.

So we've re-optimized them for that.  And, as I said, we'll make sure that they still have their COIN skills for the inevitable defeat of Daesh in its 1.0 version to make sure that they can -- they can also defeat it in its 2.0 version.

Q:  OK.  Had just a follow-up.

At the very top -- I'm sorry, I missed it but I think you said that IS is on its very last legs.  Was that a reference to just in Mosul?

GEN. ANDERSON:  Well, they're certainly on their last legs on a -- in -- in Mosul.  I think in -- in general, they -- they are.  We -- we can feel it, the pressure has been pretty relentless on them, with Mosul about to fall, Raqqa completely isolated, with them having lost 70 percent of the terrain that they seized at their high water mark, if -- if not more, with 2 million of the people that they had under their oppression since liberated.

So I think that's -- I think that it's fair to characterize that as on their last legs.

We've certainly -- we've certainly maintained the pressure on them.  The Iraqi Security Forces and our partners in Syria have been nothing short of amazing in their ability to continue to keep the pressure on -- on ISIL to the point where it's -- it's incapable of reinforcing from one side to another.  The simultaneity of this has been pretty -- pretty awesome.

CAPT. DAVIS:  Next to Travis Tritten of the Washington Examiner.

Q:  Thank you, General.

I had a question on the police- and border-guards-in-a-box.  How many total shipping containers will the -- will there be, including both police and border guards?  Is this something the United States is funding?  And what is the total cost of the program?

GEN. ANDERSON:  Yes, great question.

So, a police-in-a-box or a border-in-a-box literally uses one box.  So right now the plan is to purchase -- we have already purchased a hundred police-in-a-box and we're in the process of purchasing a hundred.  In essence, what they are is purpose-built or ready -- ready-to-establish border guard posts.  So it's a hundred -- hundred each.  Each of them come -- come with vehicles.

The order of magnitude is about -- to -- to purchase a hundred of either variant is -- is $25 million.  That has been purchased with the Iraq Train and Equip Fund, which is the same fund that we use for supporting all of our partner forces.  Iraq Train and Equip Fund in Iraq and the Syrian Train and Equip Fund in Syria, now known as the Counter-ISIS Train and Equip Fund, the CTEF.  And I manage that on behalf of the C.G. day to day.  Nothing short of an extraordinary ability to respond very quickly to emerging demands.

So yes, it's been -- it's been U.S. funds through ITEF that will pay for the police-in-a-box and border guard-in-a-box.

Q:  So that's $50 million for 200 total containers?

GEN. ANDERSON:  So, I wouldn't characterize it as $50 million for 200 containers.  I'd characterize it as $25 million to establish 100 police stations.  And that is definitely a bargain.  And $25 million is to -- $25 million to help reestablish a border between two countries, which is also pretty -- pretty substantial.

Q:  Thank you.

CAPT. DAVIS:  Next to Corey Dickstein, Stars and Stripes.

Q:  Travis actually took most of my questions, but let me -- let me just kind of follow up on his, though.  You said that the first one -- the first police station-in-a-box had been delivered.  Was that in Mosul?  I might have missed that.

And then the 100 for the police, are those all going to Mosul?  Or are those going across different liberated areas of Iraq?

GEN. ANDERSON:  Right.  So, the -- the first one -- it was a ceremony of divestiture, but it's not really because we delivered it at the training institute at the Ministry of the Interior, and we have the second one at what we call Camp Dublin, which is another police training institute.

This is so we can train policemen on how to work the box.  And while we're at it, it gives us an opportunity to give them some additional training on two things:  how to run a local police station and the law of armed conflict.  So that gives us that opportunity.

The -- the scheme of maneuver right now is 10 to each of the recently liberated provinces.  And then the remaining 50 we're working with the Ministry of the Interior to determine where it fits with their priorities as the security situation unfolds.  So the initial plan is 10 in each of the recently liberated provinces.  So that's Nineveh, Kirkuk, Saladin, Diyala and Anbar.

Q:  And then for the -- (inaudible) -- that go to the border guard, is it the same basic outfit, I guess, inside of each of these boxes?  And then another question on the border guard.  You said, I think, you trained 6,000.  How many border guards do you -- eventually do you need trained?  And are they only going to be on the Syria-Iraq border?  Or are they going to deploy elsewhere?

GEN. ANDERSON:  Right.  So the -- the border guard or border post is slightly different.  It has slightly different equipment and needs to be defensible, and so it has more defensive stores.  It has a tented design -- designed to be the tent in which the platoon would live out of.  The container, if you will, serves as an elevated platform for observation along the border.  So that's kind of the scheme of maneuver.  It still have vehicles, much like the police one does, to enable local patrolling.

And yes, we've trained 6,000 so far, trained and equipped.  We're very much focused on the 2nd Division.  The 2nd Division is a division of five brigades that is responsible for the Iraq and Syria border.  We're about to receive the last two battalions of that division into training.  Once we've done that, we will have trained and equipped that entire -- that entire division.

The -- our priority is the priority of the Iraqi government.  And the government of Iraq needs to reestablish its border with Iraq and Syria.  Its other borders are intact, so that's not -- that's not surprising.  And we'll make sure that that's the border that they're able to reestablish and defend as soon as possible.

Just a reminder, the border guards are not responsible for defending the territorial integrity of the country.  That's the army's job.  The border guards' job is to in essence defend the economic integrity of the border, so countering smuggling and, of course, low-scale raids and counterinsurgent or terrorist movements.

So I think we've got them set up in the right way to do that, specifically in the -- in the terrain that has yet to be liberated along the Iraq-Syria border.

CAPT. DAVIS:  OK.  Jack Detch.

Q:  Thank you so much, General.

One question on Turkey.  It seems that Turkish President Erdogan said yesterday that he didn't have confidence that the arms supplied the SDF from the U.S. and the coalition would be returned.  Have you had any discussions with the SDF or just has there been -- have there been any discussions about how that security assistance might be returned?

GEN. ANDERSON:  Right.  So we're focused right now, obviously, on an appropriate number for the fight.  We understand the policy and the intent, and we're working to make sure that we're able to comply with that.

But the key thing is to, for now, is to enable the fighters to complete their tasks.  The SDF has done some extraordinary work.  They really have.  And they've done it -- they've done it very, very well.  They've done it quickly.  They've done it with a high degree of inventiveness.

We understand the follow-on requirements.  And I know that the SDF is aware of those requirements.  And we'll continue to work that.  This is a trusted partner force and it's trusted for a reason.  They've done exactly -- every single time, they've done exactly what they said they would do.

Q:  OK.  And then just a quick follow up on Iraq, actually.  DOD said that the Iraqi Counterterrorism Service sustained 40 percent loss in combat power in Mosul.  I'm curious how the coalition might rebuild that force and what capabilities might be hardest hit.

GEN. ANDERSON:  So, it's a very timely question.  I just finished attending a one-day summit on the CTS and what they look like in the future and how they go through both refit and re-set.  The Counterterrorism Service has done some truly extraordinary work, and they've taken the brunt of the fighting in -- in almost every single scenario.

We're well aware of the fact that there is a requirement for some -- for some refit and re-set.  The mechanism is in place to assist them with training through their training pipeline.  The key thing is that they're able to maintain the training pipeline without lowering their standards.

The CTS is a world-class counterterrorism service and is doing some pretty extraordinary work.  Have they been bloodied?  Yes, they absolutely have.  But they've been doing it in a -- for a truly righteous cause and we know that, and we have managed to keep them in the fight.  They have exactly the same amount of equipment now as they did when they started the fight in Mosul, which has not been easy to do, and acknowledge that they have taken an awful lot of casualties.

They're very dedicated, though, and they've made sure that they've been able to keep the fighting forces there.  So we have a pretty good plan in place to assist them in refitting and re-setting themselves.

CAPT. DAVIS:  OK.  Next to Jeff Seldin, Voice of America.

Q:  General, thanks very much.

I wanted to get back to what you were talking about with the policing and the intelligence-based policing.

What type of intelligence are you teaching these Iraqi forces to collect?  And how widely is it going to be disseminated or distributed whether within Iraq or even beyond, relationships with Interpol?  Any use of biometrics with any of the stuff they're collecting, given the concerns about the ongoing -- (inaudible) -- ISIS in 2.0 form?

GEN. ANDERSON:  Yes, so, intelligence-led policing is something that we're all familiar with because our communities use it and our policemen use it.  So the idea is that it's not just running around looking for bad guys.  You're actually being targeted towards bad buys, in this case, I mean criminals.

But you -- you have teased at another -- another area, which is intelligence writ large.  So, we are doing a lot of work to try and assist the Iraqis and the Iraqi security forces in developing a more synchronized intelligence system.  There are different types of intelligence.  There's criminal intelligence.  There's national intelligence.  There's domestic intelligence.

And -- and it's not even -- it's not easy even in our own countries to make sure that that's properly shared and adequately shared and that the mechanisms and the policies are in place for that.  So we're working with them to make sure that that's the case.

On the criminal intelligence side, we need to make sure that criminal and technical intelligence leads to things like warrant-based counterterrorism operations by the CTS, as well as enforcement of law and order right on the street in towns around Iraq.  So I think we're on the right track with this.

Q:  Has there been any talk about, you know, plugging them into the Interpol system so that if there are guys who are terrorists, that try and move across borders, that they can share that information with coalition partner forces and coalition countries?

GEN. ANDERSON:  Yeah, there's information sharing and intelligence sharing arrangements between Iraq and many of its partner -- partner countries that it works with, including -- including the U.S.  And we are working to enable them to better manage biometric information, to reestablish some capability that was here before that no longer is.

So we're working through all of that piece.  We understand that it's a transnational threat.  The Iraqis understand that as well.  So as we develop their capability to share internally, it does -- none of that will get in the way of their ability to share with their partners.  And we have those -- we have those relationships in place.

Q:  Thank you.

CAPT. DAVIS:  Carlo Munoz, I think you had a follow up.

Q:  Yes.  I just wanted to follow up on Corey's question about the border force and this border in a box.  Are there any plans to deploy any of these borders in a box to the contested areas near At-Tanf?  And if so, are there any elements within the training curriculum for the border police to address the possibility of forces crossing over from Syria into Iraq?

GEN. ANDERSON:  So, the entire border needs to be established, so -- reestablished, cleared and reestablished.  So, right now the border guards can and do, in fact, through some recent operations, they do control both the Waleed and the Turaybil crossings.  So that's good.  That's a good start.

Specific training for -- for counter-border operations.  I mean, the border guards are there specifically to give indications of threats and warnings to the territorial integrity of Iraq.  And that's a -- that's a matter of relations between Iraq and Syria.  And Prime Minister Abadi has made that pretty clear.

What we're doing is providing them with them with the capability and the capacity to fulfill their function, which is to be able to protect the in -- the economic integrity and cue forces predominately from the army that are there to defeat any threat to the territorial integrity to the country.

CAPT. DAVIS:  OK.  Any other questions folks?  Any other thoughts?

All right, General.  And with that, we appreciate you taking the time to talk to us.  Do you have any final words for us, sir, before we sign off?

GEN. ANDERSON:  Yes, thanks for -- thanks for putting me through the fire one more time.  I now have two Pentagon press corps conferences under my belt.

But on a more -- on a more somber note, I have been incredibly moved by the passion and dedication of the senior Iraqis I've met.  I've met an inordinate number of Iraqi nationals and nationalists who believe in Iraq for Iraqis.  And they've caused me to believe in that too.

And I honor their martyrs and the hard work that they go through.  And I wish the Iraqi Security Forces and the people of Iraq, and indeed the people of Syria, all the best.

Thanks a lot.

CAPT. DAVIS:  Thank you, General.  We look forward to seeing you back on this continent and having a Tim Horton's with you.

(Laughter.)

God speed to you.