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DoD News Briefing with Lt. Gen. Lamb from Iraq


Luke_Wilbur
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The surge -- again, it only came to full power, all 20 BCTs, the 15th of last month. The offensive which followed, therefore, that buildup in time and placement, has now only been going for slightly less than a calendar month. I see progress. I see progress in Diyala and Salahuddin, Nineveh. I see progress in Baghdad, out west and down south.

 

Is there a ways to go? Yes. The surge has allowed General Petraeus, General Odierno, the Corps to go to places where they have not been before, and you've heard that from the ground commanders, and they speak far more eloquently than I can on what that means -- Randy Mixon, Joe Fil, Rick Lynch, Jonathan Shaw down south. It has made a significant difference to our ability to close with the enemy and then pursue him, to be able to in fact take the initiative, which as soldiers we understand is important in the pursuit of this campaign.

 

I think it would be untimely to move what I see as a successful campaign on the security line of operation, north, west, south and in Baghdad itself, at the point we're making progress, that we're pursuing the enemy, forcing him onto his back foot and onto our front foot, to let up on that pressure, to allow him to recover, to readjust, to go to places which he knows well and we pushed him out of. And those places have been a sanctuary for him.

 

You know, the young people, men and women that are out in the battlespace right now are the men and women in the arena... soldiers always fight for their comrades, for what they believe in in the near tear. They're interested in about a square meal, maybe if they could find some linen sheets, which would be novel; courage, doing the right thing, always being tested, never wanting to be the weak link. So I sense that their commitment and mood I find humbling. the Iraqis who are dying alongside them at three times our rate, who are committed to this fight, who believe that we will endure, we will endeavor and we will give this country, you know, a better peace.

 

They see -- which is seldom reported -- you know, some of the money getting through, banks opening -- I saw today -- Hit, Ramadi, Rutbah, Fallujah. They see provincial councils -- I think one in Nineveh has just approved 447 projects at $226 million worth of Iraqi money. It will take a ways to get that done, but they see that. They see water going to people who didn't have it before. They see electricity coming on line. They see stability to the networks. They see all the stuff that no one really portrays. They also see the bombs. Occasionally they see the progress they're making.

 

The mark of a really great nation, a really great army, a really great armed force is its ability to learn and quickly, and I sense that is what has happened. The vacuum that existed that was filled before is now being filled with two things. One is being filled by Iraqis, who are in and now owning the fight. You heard of the Al Anbar Awakening. I saw the awakening in Anbar; I was part of that in the early days. I expected it to take some time to come fruition, to establish itself -- typically cautious British approach. What was surprisingly was how quickly it emerged in a slightly different guise but with the same tenets of the local people, the tribes, the -- wishing to push back against al Qaeda out in Diyala, Salahuddin, Nineveh, down south, even in Baghdad itself.

 

So you have, therefore, people being brought in to the government of Iraq security structures as PSUs trained in a shorter time scale, go through all the back tests and the like, and then brought into the fight local perspective; some of that assisted by people who were in the insurgency, who fought against us -- all of this done with an absolute transparency with the current government of Iraq.

 

So on the one hand, you have therefore local security forces filling that vacuum, that space because we just don't have enough, you know, even the 160-plus thousand troops; I know Iraqi armed force and police it's 350,000-360,000. This is a big country. So you have security forces filling that space.

 

The second thing I'm now seeing, I was in a meeting just recently with Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih, whereby he chaired a meeting where you had Trade, you had minister of Finance, you had Transportation, you had deputies from -- (word inaudible) -- which were looking at in fact how to get services, food, medical supplies, immediate support in behind that. You have people like the Brinkley (sp) group who's out here and the like looking towards how you can start up and establish vo-tech programs, start to look at the opportunities of standing up what were all state-owned enterprises, some which are not hugely viable but they can sustain; but they do employ those others that are hugely attractive -- clothing factories, ceramics factories out in -- out west, and to fill that space therefore with employment and opportunity. That's the difference.

 

And that is, therefore, a combination of both what the coalition is doing, what the Iraqi security forces are doing, what the Iraqi people on the ground are doing, and what the Iraqi government are doing. The sum of the parts is so much greater than where we were before, and the difference should not be underestimated.

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