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Department of Defense Press Briefing by Col. Warren via teleconference from Baghdad, Iraq

CAPTAIN JEFF DAVIS: All right, there he is. Steve, you can see -- hear us, at the very least?

COLONEL STEVE WARREN: I can hear you loud and clear. How do you hear me?

CAPT. DAVIS: All right. Again, apologies, everybody, for all the schedule changes and technical problems this morning.

Steve, if you're ready, we are ready for you. Over to you.

COL. WARREN: I'm ready. Thank you very much, Jeff. I appreciate it.

Sorry. Press Corps, it's great to be back with you, after taking a week off yesterday to brief your colleagues at the United States State Department.

That was a fun briefing, but it's good to be back home. You can see, we've got a new setup here. We're late because Sergeant First Class Gascott and his trusty side-kick Sergeant Sale spent the last hour rebuilding this studio from the ground up.

So, good work, men. Thank you.

So, I'm glad we're back together. It has been too long.

All right, so I want to give you a briefing on two things today. I'm going to give you a by-the-numbers update that we haven't done in a while, and then I'm going to go through a quick operational update, and then we'll finish up with questions, here.

So, here we go. By the numbers. As of 15 December, the total cost of the operation here in Iraq and Syria thus far has been $5.53 billion. That works out to $11 million per day. So far in the air campaign, we have flown 65,492 sorties, and we have conducted 9,782 airstrikes.

That breaks down to 6,516 in Iraq, and 3,266 strikes in Syria.

Since the beginning of May, coalition strikes have killed approximately 95 senior and mid-level ISIL leaders. We have provided basic combat training for 16,715 personnel, and we have put thousands more through various specialized training programs.

And so, talking about training, I brought a training video with me. So, DVIDS, please roll the training video. And then you'll have to tell me when it's over.


COL. WARREN: So, that's an example of some of the training that we're doing here. And now, I'd like to move to the operational update.

So, Jeff or Tom, please bring up the operational map. On your map in Ramadi, which is star, one, CTS forces, along with the 8th Division continued the deliberate clearance of that city. The Anbar police are providing security at the government center and in other key locations.

The ISF have encountered thousands of IEDs across the entire city. We estimate coalition strikes have killed several thousand enemy fighters, and the Iraqi Security Forces have helped rescue more than 3,600 civilians who have been trapped by ISIL.

Moving on to Western Anbar province, around star number five, over the past few days, there have been several gun fights following last week's route of ISIL near Barwanah.

Additionally, coalition forces struck several targets there, including tunnels and two factories. One for VBIEDs and one for IEDs.

Moving on to Syria and the Mara line, which is off the map to the west, on the left-hand side of the screen there. Star number seven, vetted Syrian opposition forces retook several villages as a result of recent offensive operations.

That's star, eight right next to it, the Tishrin Dam, Syrian Democratic Forces continue to hold the dam, despite repeated ISIL attacks.

In Mosul -- which is circle number one, so now we're back over to the right-hand side of the map -- since last Wednesday, the coalition has conducted 47 airstrikes. On Monday, we conducted a deliberate strike against another ISIL cash collection point. This was the second strike in Mosul in as many weeks against ISIL financial targets. We've previously struck eight other cash storage and distribution areas across Iraq and Syria.

We've got a nice video of that one too, which I'd like to show you. So DVIDS, please roll the second video.


COL. WARREN: Finally, before we move on to your questions, I'd briefing address the three American citizens who recently went missing here in Baghdad. The Department of State is in the lead on this. They are working with the Iraqi government. And that's all the information I have on that topic.

So having closed out the number one thing you want to ask about, I will not take your questions. And my understanding is that Bob and Lita are both out. Sagar ?, are you there? Or if not, Jeff? Linda Who's next?
CAPT. DAVIS: Watkins from -- (inaudible) -- Press.

Q: Hi, colonel. Amnesty had a report today that detailed the systematic destruction by Kurdish forces of thousands of Arab homes in northern Iraq and the forced displacement of thousands of residents. Did -- did the -- my question is did the coalition know that the Kurds were doing this? If not, why not? And are you taking any steps to prevent this happening in the future? Is this going to affect U.S. cooperation with your Kurdish partners in the region?

COL. WARREN: Yeah, sure. Well, you know, the report has just come out. We're still reviewing it in detail, so I'm not going to comment on any of the particular findings, but I can tell you that we take these issues very, very seriously. This is a serious matter.

You know, as government forces liberate territory throughout -- whether it's in Iraq or -- or in Syria, there's got to be security for all of the civilian population there. That's what we're here for, in order to prevent these types of actions and -- and to prevent those with power from taking advantage of those without, whether it's for crime, for revenge, for vendettas, whatever the case may be.

These types of actions, if left unchecked, ultimately hurt the fight against Daesh. They increase the humanitarian crisis and they undermine the reconciliation efforts.

You know, we certainly believe that all parties in these types of conflicts should adhere to the laws of armed conflict, the law of land warfare. And should violations take place, then we expect the appropriate people to be held accountable.

This is something that, of course, we're always in contact with the Iraqi government. We're in contact with the Kurdish regional authorities, and our position is very clear on that.

Q: I know you don't want to get into any specifics. It sounds like you're sort of broadly aware of -- well, you're aware of the report. I just wondered, have you -- have you received any -- are you -- are you aware of any, like, particular allegations? And if you could just come back to -- if this turns out to be substantiated, would it affect your partnership with the Kurds?

COL. WARREN: Well, you know, again, we, you know, we have a very small footprint here, right? So we don't have people necessarily in all of these locations. You know, I'm not going to get into how allegations will affect relationships. That's really a question more for Washington. You know, our focus here is to -- is to conduct this fight against ISIL. So that's -- that's really where we live.

You know, that's -- you know, relationships are a diplomatic matter. That's kind of where you have to speak to the State Department. Our focus here is the military component of this operation, is to -- is to find, fix and finish our enemy and that's what we're doing.


Q: Colonel Warren, local reporting in Syria is saying that two U.S. hovercrafts have provided ammunition and weapons to Kurdish fighters in the region of Hasakah. Could you confirm that?

COL. WARREN: I don't know of any hovercraft that we have operating. So I can't confirm that. What I'll tell you is that, as you know, we have conducted a resupply of the Syrian-Arab Coalition. We refer to them as the SAC. We have resupplied that outfit with aerial resupply several months ago. And then I think we were clear that we would continue conducting resupply to the SAC.

So, I don't know about any hovercraft, though.

Q: Well, are you aware of any -- if -- also the same reporting are saying that U.S. special forces are using a military base in the area of Frumilan, south of Hasakah. Are you aware of that?

COL. WARREN: We -- the secretary of defense, and I believe even the president, have mentioned that we will send a small contingent of special operations forces into Syria to lash-up with some of the Syrian Democratic Forces and other partners or potential partners in the region.

That operation is ongoing. But because of the special nature of these forces, it's very important that we not discuss specifically where they're located. And as discussions of where these forces are located bubble up through the press, it puts those forces at increased risk. So I would urge everyone to take an appetite suppressant and not feel like they have to print the rumors that they've heard about the locations of American Special Forces. That puts lives at risk.

Next question.

Q: (inaudible) -- from Reuters here.

Could you give an update on Ramadi? I mean, how much is I guess left to clear? And a timeline of when you might -- think that might happen?

COL. WARREN: Right. Good question. Thank you.

So, the Ramadi clearance process is -- it's slow and it's painstaking. They've literally found thousands of booby-traps, IEDs, buried explosives; houses rigged to explode with a single trip-wire. So it -- it's a very complicated clearance process that goes on -- or that's going on.

They've cleared a majority of the downtown city center and are now pushing east and north into the Sufia district, which is really a suburb of Ramadi. We refer to it as the "shark's fin." If you look on a map of that area, you can see where the Euphrates River cuts north and then quickly south, and it makes the shape of a shark's fin.

So, this -- both CTS and members of the Eighth Iraqi Army Division are moving into the shark's fin area, but I've got to tell you, the slowing -- the going is extraordinarily slow for two reasons. One, because of all the booby-traps and minefields; and two, because they're encountering a large number of civilians that have either hidden from -- from ISIL as they went through and are now showing themselves; or who are -- who ISIL is trying to hold and these civilians are escaping.

So we don't have a timeline, frankly. It will take as long as it takes. The enemy, as we say in the Army, does get a vote. So, that's ongoing. It's important to note that as the CTS or the Iraqi Army clear a neighborhood, they turn that neighborhood, that individual neighborhood over to either the police or to the Sunni tribal fighters, who have been trained.

That's happened in the (inaudible) neighborhood out kind of on the south and west side of the Tharthar Canal. That's happened up around the glass factory already. That's happened to a few neighborhoods inside the city center.

The police are actually holding the government building, the main government building which, you know, to much fanfare earlier in the month was -- was liberated by the CTS. That center, that building complex has now been turned over to police and it's the police who are receiving the civilians that are discovered on the battlefield, policing giving them immediate aid, food, water and then transporting them to a -- to a safer area.

So, don't have a timeline for you, but the process is ongoing.

CAPT. DAVIS: And next to Tara Copp.

Q: Hi, Colonel Warren.

A couple of questions on the cash strike in Mosul. Do you have information on the type of aircraft or munitions dropped? And Fox I believe reported, citing CENTCOM, that about $45 million in cash was hit that day. I was wondering if you could verify that account and just how you were able to assess what -- how much money has been hit?

And then last one would be, what kind of currency was found there? And if you can confirm that this -- I guess, hitting the cash is having a negative effect on ISIL's ability to pay its fighters.

COL. WARREN: Right. Good questions. Thank you very much, Tara.

So, we hit them with the GBU 31s and 39s. What you saw in that video was the second half, the smaller ones, the 250-pounders, the small-diameter ones. You saw three of them go in there in rapid succession.

And you could see two things I thought in that video that to me were striking. One was how the building itself caved in on itself, leaving the -- the other buildings nearby relatively unscathed. And then the extraordinary precision. You know, three GBUs, you know, into the same spot in that roof near simultaneously.

The amount of money, we don't have an exact count, we know it's in the tens of millions of dollars. Whether or not it was in dollars or dinars or a combination of both we're not entirely certain, but we do know that we have impacted their ability to pay their fighters in the immediate term.

So this -- you know, these cash strikes combined with our other strikes against their industrial base we believe are having an accumulative effect. I read recently in the Post that there's reporting that ISIL has had to cut the salaries of their fighters by half. I can't confirm that, but that's what I read in the newspaper.

So we're going to continue to keep the pressure on all of these different lines, these military lines, right, on their -- on their leadership to cause confusion and hate and discontent within the ranks, on their finances to cause them to not be able to continue financing their various operations, whether they're local or more external.

And then on their industrial base, which causes them to not be able to have truck bombs, not be able to have explosives, not be able to generate oil which they then turn into cash to finance their illicit activities, and then of course, certainly we'll continue to strike their fielded forces as well.

Q: Two follow-ups real quick. The type of airframe that dropped the bombs, and then if you can give us any of sense of how you can estimate the amount of money that is hit in one of these airstrikes.

COL. WARREN: I don't know the type of aircraft; I just didn't bring that with me. You know, as you know, we're using bombers and fighters and various types. It was -- it was piloted, I know that. But whether it was a B-1 or an F-18, I don't know.

How do we know? Really, some of it's through -- most of it -- all of it is through kind of our sensitive intelligence system, so I won't give you the details, but we're confident in our assessment.

CAPT. DAVIS: Next, Tom Bowman.

Q: Steve, Tom Bowman with NPR. Secretary Carter said it's likely you'll see more American trainers heading over to Iraq. He's also asking NATO countries to kick in trainers as well. Can you give us a ballpark of how many trainers total will be needed, what will they be doing and do you expect to have them go to existing bases or to new bases or facilities over there?

COL. WARREN: Right. So the reason we need new trainers or additional trainers is because that's really the next step in generating the amount of combat power needed to liberate Mosul. We know we will need more brigades to be trained, we'll need more troops trained in more specialties, right?

So there's two types of training, right? Basic combat skills training and then after that, you know, you've got your commando school, your sniper school, medical training, leadership training, you know, communications, all these different types of specialty training also need to take place in order to create a force that's got, you know, the capabilities needed for this major operation to seize Mosul.

So I don't have an exact number yet, we're working on that. You know, it's kind of a -- it's kind of a give-and-take, right? We see what's in the art of the possible and then we work that into what's required and we come up with a number. So we don't -- we don't have a solid number yet as we continue to work the analysis of the force generation process.

Where located primarily. You know, the two primary training bases at (inaudible) and Taji have plenty of capability, right? Lots of space, lots of ability to do training, and that's really been the two Iraqi army primary training locations. So they would go to existing locations. Also at Al-Asad too, I think. So, yeah.

Q: Just a follow-up. Could you give us a ballpark here? Are we talking hundreds?

COL. WARREN: Yeah, it -- it's difficult to say. Certainly hundreds, but I think that would probably be at the top end. Not thousands, hundreds. But I don't want to commit to that number because really, you've got to work with the government of Iraq and figure out what their throughput capabilities are going to be, et cetera. So it's just -- it's just too soon for a number, Tom.

CAPT. DAVIS: Barbara?

Q: Colonel Warren, just to follow up on that to make sure I understood you, what you are saying is you expect these additional trainers to actually be U.S. troops?

COL. WARREN: No. The secretary of defense is now meeting with ministers of defense of 26 nations, right this very moment in Paris, as a matter of fact, to talk to them about increasing the number of troops that they contribute to the training effort.

So certainly, there will be a U.S. component to it. Additionally, you know, we want to see other partner nations, other members of this coalition contribute as well. The secretary of defense said there are no free rides here. We expect everyone to step up and to contribute as best that they can.

Q: If I could follow up, if you're -- regardless of nationalities, if you're talking hundreds of additional troops, doesn't this then spark an additional requirement for additional troops for support for them? It's not just hundreds of trainers, it would be even more troops than that to support them.

COL. WARREN: Right. I mean, there's always a balance and there's strange tipping points. You know, so as -- a base of support can provide support to a certain number of troops, and then as that troop number grows, that base of support can stay flat for a while, but then at some point, it too needs to expand.

So again, back to my earlier point, it's just too soon to kind of get into the numbers game. What we have to do now is figure out what's in the art of the possible, we have to continue our analysis on the force generation process and then make some decisions on, you know, how much additional trainers, supporters, advisers, assisters, et cetera can be brought in. We just have to come up with a number that makes sense. We're just simply not there yet.

Q: Ask a real quick money strike follow-up question. Are you yet seeing any evidence of ISIS reacting to these strikes on their financial depots by moving their cash around, trying to disperse those financial assets and stockpiles?

COL. WARREN: Certainly we see -- always see reactions from the enemy. You know, this is part of combat, part of warfare. So as we strike the Daesh cash, as we call it here in Iraq, we are going to see them react to our strikes, whether it's storing their cash in smaller amounts in multiple locations or whether it's moving it more often.

We don't want to tip them off to what we see, so I'd prefer to keep that private. But certainly, reaction, action, reaction and counter-action is -- is part of warfare.

CAPT. DAVIS: Courtney.

Q: Hi, Steve. I wanted to ask about something -- (inaudible) -- but just one follow-up on Mosul.

Have you seen any estimates of how many additional Iraqi Security Forces will have to be trained before the operation begins in Mosul? Presumably, this is before the clearing phase of Mosul, right? As opposed to the isolation phase begins that you need these additional trips?

COL. WARREN: Right, so -- right. We think we're going to need, you know, in the neighborhood of eight trained brigades, but that's adjustable.

So, we know, we have got three trained now. There's some others in the pipeline; we're looking for two Peshmerga brigades to coalesce so that they can get trained. So, several more brigades is the short answer to your question.

Q: I know that you said that State Department has the lead on the three American citizens, but just form the U.S. military side, are there -- is there like a quick reaction for or anything that has been stood up, in case the State Department, or the Iraqis or anyone gets word on where these people are, and they need to be rescued and -- is that -- I'm assuming that falls under some rules of engagement that the U.S. military can do that, right?

That you would be able to have the -- you would have the ability, the right to go in and rescue these American citizens? Does that fall under any kind of rules of engagement?

COL. WARREN: Yeah, Courtney, I'm going to have to register no comment on that. I simply am not going to discuss it.

Q: This is the first time you have ever said, "no comment," to a question I've asked.

CAPT. DAVIS: Next, David Martin.

Q: So, Steve, on these strikes against the cash centers. As I recall, the first big one in Mosul required you to accept the risk of a fairly high number of civilian casualties, like 50.

Does this most recent strike require you to accept a higher number of civilian casualties than usual? And if the total now is nine distribution centers hit -- which I think is the math -- is there any estimate on civilian casualties from hitting those cash centers?

COL. WARREN: Yeah. So, every time we receive credible allocations, obviously it goes through the investigation process.

I will tell you, yes, we were prepared to accept civilian casualties, in conjunction with the -- with this cash strike.

It's tragic, and it's not something that we want to do. One of the burdens of command is to weigh the military value of a target, versus the potential for civilian loss of life, and the potential for collateral damage.

So, these are tough decisions the commanders have to make. So, yes, we were prepared to accept some civilian casualties in association with this strike. We -- if there are investigations ongoing, we need to let those continue.

I will tell you, our initial estimate is that, any civilian casualties were extraordinarily low, single digit. So, we're -- we always mourn the loss of civilian life, but we believe that the accuracy and the -- the measures that we take to ensure the lowest number of civilian casualties possible are appropriate. And -- yeah, that's it.

Q: Is that single digit estimate, is that just for this latest strike that we saw, or is that for all of the strikes?

COL. WARREN: That's for all of them.

CAPT. DAVIS: (inaudible)

Q: Hey, Colonel Warren. Can you comment on an Associated Press report that said a 1,400-year-old Christian monastery was destroyed by ISIS in Mosul?

COL. WARREN: I have not seen that report, Lucas. I'm sorry. But what I would tell you is, you know, this enemy has proven time and again its ruthlessness, its barbarity, its willingness to destroy everything from human life to civilian supporting infrastructure, to, you know, cultural artifacts, with absolute disregard for history, for humanity, or for anything that approaches decency.

So, I mean, this really is a battle of savagery against decency. And so while I have not seen that particular report, you know, it would -- it would -- it would meet the pattern that this enemy has established.

CAPT. DAVIS: (inaudible)

COL. WARREN: Yeah, Steve, Andrew Tillman, Military Times.

First, as we talk about expanding the number of trainers for potentially a battle of Mosul, what is the status of the conversations with the Iraqi government in terms of they -- I don't think they have logged a request for that yet, have they? And can you tell us what conversations with General MacFarland and the government have been like?

And also if I could ask you to characterize a little bit of what that operation will -- will look like. I assume it would be moving north from Baiji. Has the Iraqi forces -- are they operating at all much north of Baiji? Or is that a pretty hard line at this point between ISIS and Iraqi forces?

COL. WARREN: Right. So, it is kind of the limit advance right now, just north of Baiji is the (inaudible) mountains, and that's kind of as far north as -- as Iraqi security forces have moved thus far. So it will require a push northern -- an additional push through the Tigris River valley.

The prime minister has asked for additional enablers and so we're working now with him to figure out exactly what that looks like. So, you know, our discussions are daily with the senior leadership of the government of Iraq; not necessarily every day with the prime minister, but you know, through the general staff, through the Ministry of Defense staff. Both the embassy and the military headquarters here are in continuous contact with our partners in Iraq.

So, you know, again, to go back, you know, we don't yet -- we haven't quite shaped exactly what additional enablers, what additional trainers are going to look like. As far as the scheme of maneuver into Mosul, that too is a planning process that's underway. This is going to be an Iraqi plan. Obviously, we'll advise them on that plan, but it is going to be their plan. It's going to -- they're going to fight it in the Iraqi way.

So we're working with them to kind of begin to integrate our air capabilities with their expected ground capabilities. But there isn't yet a final plan for the seizure of Mosul. This is going to be a process, an incremental process. We still need to, like I said, secure and push further north through the Tigris River valley north of Baiji. We -- we still need to create some space up the Euphrates River valley into Haditha, and would like to close that gap between Ramadi and Haditha if it's possible and practical.

–Because what we are doing here are two things, right? It's not only the ability to apply combat power to an objective. We also need to be able to have supply lines that are supportable and that are defendable. So, it is all of these different factors. You know, we've got to plan for space. We've got to plan for time. We've got to plan for distance. So that's all ongoing now.

CAPT. DAVIS: (inaudible) -- follow up -- (inaudible).

Q: Okay. Colonel Warren -- (inaudible) -- from -- (inaudible) -- Media News.

I'm wondering if you can tell us what the members of the 101st Airborne Division, as well as the Second Brigade Combat are going to be doing in Iraq when they deploy in February and late summer?

COL. WARREN: Sure. We look forward to General Volesky and the Screaming Eagles out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, arriving here. They are going to replace the members of the 82nd Airborne Division who have been here for almost one year, or nine months, I guess. So, the 82nd Airborne Division, which has provided the advise and assist and -- well really, they've been the CFLCC, right? -- the Combined Forces Land Component command. They've been the CFLCC headquarters, the two-star headquarters underneath the Joint Task Force.

So, the 101st Division will replace the 82nd Airborne Division. It's a routine rotation of troops.

The Second Brigade, the 101st, is going to be the advise and assist, really, to meet the advise and assist effort here inside of Iraq.

Q: Hi, Colonel Warren, just a couple of follow-ups on Mosul, the cash strike again. Can you confirm that there have been nine total strikes against cash distribution facilities? And then maybe as a take-away, if you could give us kind of a ball park estimate of how much cash you estimate has been destroyed in those airstrikes?

COL. WARREN: Yes. Give me a second. Yeah, so a total of nine, eight plus the one two days ago. That's nine. We don't have an exact figure -- we don't have an exact dollar figure for how much cash has been destroyed. We believe it's in the tens of millions, which is a significant amount of money, particularly for an outfit that has to operate with only cash as this organization has to do.

So, nine total and tens of millions.

Q: The tens of millions is total for all nine airstrikes? Because I think we had said earlier is that maybe the one airstrike two days ago had been tens of millions as well.

COL. WARREN: That's right. So, several tens.

CAPT. DAVIS: Andrew?

Q: (inaudible). Hey, it's Andrew again.

You said that the Iraqis have asked for some enablers. Has the conversation and the request been so specific as for them to ask for combat advisers at the brigade level, and attack helicopters? Or is it more vague than that?

COL. WARREN: It's more vague. –than that we're not quite prepared to announce anything yet. We will as we get a little bit closer. We're just not there yet. So, you know, one thing we know that they're looking for, that they really -- some notable gaps that they have include ISR capabilities and logistics capabilities as an example.

But as far as numbers, and -- and real down to the nut and bolt specifics, we're just not prepared to -- to announce anything yet.

Q: (off mic) timeline to -- it was nine strikes on the cash in how long?

COL. WARREN: I have to go back and look at my opening statement. Hold on.

I don't have that. I don't know. I think it's been -- I don't know. I don't know when we first started hitting cash. I seem to recall, like, coming up -- kind of in the late summer, but I don't have a date for you. Sorry.

We -- I can look -- I'll -- we'll look that up, though, and try to get something -- something back to you. I'll push it back through -- through J.B. or Roger.

Q: I guess increase it -- or is this going to be sort of standard -- you know, momentum?

COL. WARREN: Yeah. This is -- this is standard. I mean -- you know, this is -- striking these cash collection points hurts this enemy, right? Again, they operate on cash, right? There is no credit in -- in ISIL.

So a combination of taking away their ability to earn money by striking oil and taking away the money that they have on hand by striking the Daesh cash really puts the squeeze on them. It hits them directly in the pocketbook.

And -- and again, you know, we've started to see some evidence of -- of that having an impact. You know, we've seen reports just in the newspaper that says that they've had to pay their fighters -- reduce their fighters' salary by half.

You know, we -- so we believe that continuing this pressure on both the oil, on -- on their actual money itself, is -- is going to, over time, really begin to eat away at their ability to continue their operations.

CAPT. DAVIS: And, Lucas, you had a follow-up?

Q: Just a quick one, colonel. How many ISIS fighters, do you estimate, are in Mosul? And will Iranian-backed militias be participating in the ground offensive in Mosul? Thank you.

COL. WARREN: Yeah. So there -- the estimates vary widely on the size of the enemy in Mosul -- everything from kind of a low-end of about 5,000 to a high end of -- as high as 10,000. So it's difficult to tell. A lot of the folks in Mosul are conscripts, right? They're forced to fight. So that number can fluctuate even under pressure, very rapidly.

The -- the Shia militias -- so -- you know, the U.S. government does not have a -- yet a -- a formal position on whether or not the Shia militias should fight in Mosul. This is a decision for the Iraqi government. Iraqi government decides how it will array forces on this battlefield.

We would prefer to see the Iraqi army in the lead. We believe -- it's our belief that the Iraqi army should be the centerpiece of the Iraqi security apparatus. But these are decisions for -- for the government of Iraq to make, in the end.

CAPT. DAVIS: And Barbara?

Q: Colonel Warren, the prime minister's request -- did that cover -- did that request specifically cover both enablers and trainers? In other words, the ISR you were talking about, plus trainers? And you mentioned the need for eight brigades for Mosul. Can you ballpark for us how many troops that would be?

COL. WARREN: Yeah, so 3,000 per brigade, ball park. So, it doesn't -- so, the discussions with the prime minister, not quite as maybe formal as you imagine. These are discussions. So in these discussions, what will emerge from those discussions is we have an interest in additional enablers, for example, ISR.

So it hasn't quite matured to the point where, you know, there's a formal written request or anything like that. You know, we're -- we're in a discussion phase at this point.

And again, these discussions happen on multiple modes. You know, there's the prime minister, the minister of defense, or the acting chief of defense. They kind of all build on each other until eventually we come up with the next step.

So we're not there yet at that next step, but the discussions continue.

Q: And these discussions then also include a potential for hundreds of U.S. and coalition trainers that you spoke about initially?

COL. WARREN: Correct. Every -- you know, every enabler comes with some personnel, of course. So, yes.

CAPT. DAVIS: Another quick follow-up from Tara.

Q: All right -- (inaudible). The cash strikes are both Iraq and Syria? Just to double-check, I believe there was one -- at least one in Syria in May of last year.

COL. WARREN: We have struck cash at collection points in both Iraq and Syria.

CAPT. DAVIS: Courtney?

Q: Just one more quick one on Mosul. Just for perspective, you said you need eight brigades in Mosul. How many were used in Ramadi? Two or three?

COL. WARREN: Yeah, I really -- so, again, so eight brigades for the -- for the assault into downtown Mosul. There will be more in supporting roles. Same with Ramadi. There were nearly 10,000 total troops, but really it was a battalion of CTS that crossed the Tharthar Canal and penetrated into downtown Ramadi.

So the battlefield -- (inaudible) -- gets complicated. But essentially a force -- it's the ball park at, you know, I mean, Mosul is probably four times the size of Ramadi. So, if that helps. There were really two kind of brigades active, you know, fully, really at the kind of leading edge of the fight inside of Ramadi, and we expect we'd need, you know, substantially more in Mosul.

CAPT. DAVIS: Okay. Last call.

Steve, we thank you very much for your time and your flexibility today. We hope we didn't cut into your chow time there and that you're still able to get it. And we look forward to seeing you back here next week.

COL. WARREN: Thank you. Thank you all. I particularly thank Courtney Kube for giving me the opportunity to issue my first no comment on camera.

Thanks, you guys. We'll see you next week.