Friday, June 4, 2010

DOD News Briefing with Gen. Odierno from the Pentagon

DOD News Briefing with Gen. Odierno from the Pentagon
June 4, 2010

MODERATOR: Welcome, and thank you for joining us this afternoon. It is always my pleasure to welcome back to the briefing room General Ray Odierno, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq. He's been there since, I think all of you know, September of 2009, and --

GEN. ODIERNO: [Two thousand and] eight.

MODERATOR: Eight. Excuse me. Eight. (Chuckles.) I cut a year off there. I'm sure you're going to --

GEN. ODIERNO: (Off mike) -- 2006.

MODERATOR: (Chuckles.) I'm sure you're going to ask him about that too and how much longer he's going to be there. But I'll let him answer that.

But true to his promise when he was here in February, he is back in town and is gracious enough with his time to give you a brief update and take some of your questions on the mission there in Iraq.

So, General, again, thank you very much for joining us today.

GEN. ODIERNO: Have a very fancy prepared statement today, so -- I did want to just say a couple things.

I wanted to start out by talking about the fact that, obviously, the election results were certified on the first of June, which in my mind is an extremely important step in the political process in Iraq. It's taken a little longer than we all would have liked but, frankly, they went through the process the way their constitution dictates they go through it. And so in our mind that's extremely positive.

There was a recount in Baghdad. The recount was conducted. Point one percent [0.1%] was the difference in the initial vote to the recount vote; which clearly labels it clearly legitimate and credible elections. And I think that's important, that they went through that process. There was a challenge; they went through it; they believe the election was right. And so now we're starting to move forward.

It was interesting about -- there's only about 20 percent of the incumbents are coming back now to the new parliament that will be seated probably in the next week to 10 days or so. I think it's a total of 64 out of 325. So we have a lot of new members, a lot of new parties; new parties being developed. New people will now be involved in the government inside of Iraq. We think that's extremely important as we move forward.

In terms of security, actually security continues to move forward at a very good pace. I judge security on a couple of things: the feel that I get as I go around, but also on the statistics that we look at. I look at number of incidents; casualties -- civilian, Iraqi security forces, U.S. I look at high-profile attacks. All of those statistics for the first five months of 2010 are the lowest we've had on record.

Although there has been some violence, there have been some bad days in Iraq, every statistic continues to go in the right direction. That's especially important to us now as the Iraqi security forces have continued to take more and more responsibility and are in fact in the lead now across the country, in Iraq, for security. And they have been now for the last couple months.

In addition to that, over the last 90 days or so, we've either picked up or killed 34 out of the top 42 al Qaeda in Iraq leaders. They're clearly now attempting to reorganize themselves. They're struggling a little bit. They've broken -- they've lost connection with AQSL [al Qaeda Senior Leadership] in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

They will attempt to regenerate themselves. They're finding it more difficult. And these operations -- going after the top al Qaeda in Iraq leaders has been a truly partnered effort between the Iraqi security forces and U.S. forces as we move forward. They've continued to develop their ability to collect intelligence and then action that intelligence. And they're getting better at that every day.

The most -- the other important point I'd like to talk about, that I've been very impressed with, has been the Iraqi military leaders. During this time of vulnerability, as we are getting ready to seat the government, the Iraqi security forces have performed extremely well.

The leaders have stayed neutral. They have shown their professionalism in enforcing the constitution, not showing favoritism toward certain parties. They've continued to execute their operations across the country, from Mosul to Basra, from Diyala province out to the Syrian border.

And I think it has proven a lot to us that they are getting more and more ready to take over full control of security.

Today, in Iraq, we're at 88,000 boots on the ground. We are on track to be at 50,000 by the first of September. We are on our plan.

So far we have moved over 18,000 what we call "rolling-stock" -- wheeled vehicles -- and other vehicles out of the country. We have moved over 600,000 what we call "containerized items" out of the country. All of those are ahead of the schedule we had originally established for ourselves when we began planning this.

We started about a year ago at 500 bases. Today we have 124 bases -- excuse me -- 126 bases inside of Iraq. We will be at 94 by the first of September. We are ahead of schedule as well. And in fact, most of the bases remaining are actually ready to turn over. It's now an administrative issue between us and the government of Iraq, because many of these, they will take over the bases. And we've already done most of the work for those, so we remain ahead of schedule.

The next three to four months or so are very important to the government of Iraq as they go into their governmental-formation process. We all believe this will set the tone for the next four years on what direction Iraq goes. We're encouraged by the talk that they all agree that they need to have a government that has full participation of all political parties that participated in elections. They're talking about establishing institutional reform as they look at forming the government. So I think all of those things are extremely positive signs as we move forward.

There will still be bad days in Iraq. There are still violent elements that operate inside of Iraq.

Their violence is less than it was before, but it's still violence. And we will continue to work with the Iraqi security forces to continue to improve their capacity and capability to deal with the violence and to continue to increase stability inside of Iraq and to continue to increase the capability of the government as we move forward.

So with that, those are the main points I wanted to talk about. I look forward to your questions.

Q I wanted to go over the withdrawal numbers. It sounds like you're going to be withdrawing about 12,500 troops every month over the next three months. Do you have any flexibility with that, to either increase that or reduce that if you need to?

GEN. ODIERNO: Yes, I do. The bottom line is -- you know, it actually doesn't -- we're doing different numbers in different months. I have flexibility within that. If I decide to do a little bit more in August than I do in June, I can do that. We have done several different exercises that have walked through this and show me what flexibility I have. I feel confident in that. We have not even stressed the system that I believe -- overstressed the system that would cause some problems for us getting out. And we have alternate methods of getting out if we have to do more in August than in June. And we've walked our way through all of that.

Yes, sir.

Q Where do you stand on meeting Iraq's request for F-16 fighter aircraft? When we saw you in your office in Baghdad, you said there was going to be an air sovereignty assessment carried out by the Air Force along with their Iraqi counterparts. What did that find?

GEN. ODIERNO: They have done an assessment, and that assessment was given to the government of Iraq. They talked about the need for both air defense and they talked about a need to develop some sort of air capability as they move forward. They have in fact submitted to us a letter saying that they are interested and want to purchase F- 16s.

So that is now within our own system, and we're going through that process to see what it would take for them to purchase F-16s. This'll be an evolving process over the next several years.

Q But they wanted something to be there by the time U.S. combat troops completed their withdrawal at the end of next year. Are you saying that if this is going to take years the U.S. won't be able to meet that request and deny it?

GEN. ODIERNO: Well, I think what they'll have is they'll have some air force capability. They continue to build some capability, not fighter aircraft. The fighter aircraft will come some time after 2011, like we do in many other countries, as we sell them aircraft.

Q Will they be new ones or refurbished?

GEN. ODIERNO: We're still working our way through that, but I think they'll be new ones. But that's information we still have to work through, and it has to be approved by the State Department. We have to go through Congress. So there's [sic] many gates that have to be gone through yet before, you know, we come to a final decision.


Q A 50,000 number, does that include troops who will be in the process of redeploying as of September 1?

GEN. ODIERNO: My goal is that by 1 September we'll be at 50,000 inside of Iraq. So the -- but, you know, could there be a few over because they're getting out at the last minute? Maybe, yes. But the -- my goal is we'll be at 50,000 by 1 September.

Q To that point, you said the next three months are absolutely critical for the government of Iraq and will dictate where it goes. You at the same time have to pull out 40,000 troops over the next three months. In your meeting with Obama this week, did you reassess that deadline at all and maybe say this is something that could be pushed?

GEN. ODIERNO: I don't think they equate with each other, because what I said was the governmental formation process is going to be very important over the next three to four months. I believe the security situation and sustaining security will be sustained even as we withdraw forces because of the improvement that we continue to see in the Iraqi security forces. I believe -- with 50,000 U.S. troops on the ground, along with 250,000 Iraqi army and over 500,000 Iraqi police, who continue to improve, I believe we'll be able to provide the security necessary for them to form the government. Because what's different today than a year ago is the Iraqis are in the lead. We are not. They have taken over the lead. They are -- what we are doing now is, we're training, advising and assisting them. We continue to support our Provincial Reconstruction Teams and the U.N. for civil capacity, and we conduct partner counterterrorism operations. That's what we do today, and that's what we'll do post-1 September.

So they're there. And so I think it's the right time to go to 50,000, and I believe -- it's my assessment that they can provide the security necessary for the governmental formation to be completed.

Q Is there a danger in doing it so quickly? I mean, you're talking about stressing the Army. The Army says they can pull out 25,000 in four weeks. Is that -- is that the way you want to do it? Is it not safer to do it over a longer period?

GEN. ODIERNO: Well, again, I have -- I've done the -- I've been looking at this for a very long time, and we have done an awful lot of work, and I feel very comfortable with what we're doing.

And so I would argue maybe I might -- you know, initially we might want to take a few more on April and May, but because the elections weren't certified, we decided to push a few more to the right. We've done that. But I feel very comfortable with where we're at right now, with that.


Q Sir, how many military contractors does the U.S. still maintain in Iraq right now? And what would -- what would be the number -- post-September, of course?

GEN. ODIERNO: Yeah. I think, first off, we're down around 85[,000] to 90,000 contractors at a high of 175,000 almost a year ago. So we've come down very quickly with contractors as well.

I believe, by 1 September, we'll be somewhere around 60[000] to 65,000 contractors.

We will then go down further, as we continue to reduce our size. They will probably be behind us about one or two months, and I think they will then come down further.

And a lot of the contractors, not only that -- is we're turning them more in to Iraqis who are part of those contracts. So it's also helping develop the economy. But they're also helping us do some of the things that we have to do in order to sustain ourselves and continue to sustain the force over there. Because the 50,000 number is a lot of what we call "tooth." It's a lot of trainers and advisers. It's heavy on trainers and advisers. It's a little bit lighter on combat service support. So we need a -- we'll need some contractors to continue to help us with that. But it -- that number comes down with the number of soldiers coming down, as well.


Q Thanks, General. You gave statistics on the attrition of al Qaeda in Iraq leadership. What is your assessment of their resiliency right now? Can they reconstitute? What is the future threat?

And looking beyond them, as you prepare to hand off command to General Austin, what would you say to him are the major security risks, looking ahead?

GEN. ODIERNO: I would just say that they will, obviously, attempt to reconstitute. The issue is, though, they've lost a lot of top leadership very quickly, and so they're going to have to develop some new leadership. They've made -- they've named some names, but we're not even sure if there's actually people behind those names. We call those names roughly honorific names. They're names that are very common names in the Arabic world. So we're not sure there's actually people behind those names yet. But we do believe they will attempt to reconstitute. We think it'll take them a bit longer, if they're able to.

Now, we continue to put a lot of pressure on them with the Iraqi security forces, to make it more difficult for them to come back. I think as time goes on, most of the security issues will come from what spawns out of the political realm. That's why it's important to have a unity government.

We don't want to see any group that feels it's been disenfranchised and even contemplates moving back to an insurgency.

So what we don't want is, we don't want to see the Sunni insurgency come back. We don't want to see Jaish al-Mahdi and some Shi'a extremists come back because they feel like they're not part of the government.

And I think all the politicians in Iraq realize that. And that's why they're working very closely, to ensure that everyone is involved in the government as we move forward. So those are the threats that I would say that we have to be careful of.

I will never take my eyes off of al Qaeda. We will always watch them. We will -- we're helping to build the capacity in the Iraqi special operations forces that when we leave in 2011, they will have a robust capability to continue to go after extremist elements inside of Iraq. And we're working that very hard, as we move forward.

Yes, sir.

Q General, is there -- are you keeping a QRF [quick reaction force] somewhere handy? And if so, what is it and where is it, if there's big trouble in Iraq?

GEN. ODIERNO: Well, again it depends on the timing. I would just say with 50,000 soldiers, I feel pretty comfortable that that's enough for me to quite a bit.

And again I can't overemphasize enough that the Iraqi security forces -- how much they've improved, how better they are and how much more they do. That's what's different, between now and 2006 or 2007 or even 2008, their continued development.

CENTCOM always has ready forces that we could tap into if we needed to.

Q But there won't be U.S. combat troops there after the 1st of September.

GEN. ODIERNO: Well, the bottom line is, in order -- our mission is to train and advise. But if I need to train and advise combat troops, Iraqi combat troops, I need [U.S.] combat troops to train and advise.

And so they will be in that role. And we'll continue to do counterterrorism operations, so there will be some combat capability, mostly special operations forces that will continue to do counterterrorism operations as well.


Q Sir, you've talked repeatedly about how confident you are and how comfortable you are with the 50,000 number. Do you believe that maybe you should even be lower than 50,000 by the time --

GEN. ODIERNO: Well, I think, you know, it's about assessing risk. And so, you know, because of the formation of the government, because of us moving through the certification of the elections, I believe that the force structure that we've developed with 50,000 allows me to cover and train and advise in the key areas in Iraq, from Basra down through Baghdad -- I mean, up through Baghdad, up to Mosul, in Kirkuk, out in Anbar. It gives me the capability to continue to keep in contact and work with the Iraqi security forces.

For now, if we go under that, we'd have to break contact somewhere. I'm not ready to do that yet. I think that's a decision I'll leave probably for -- we'll look at probably the end of this year, beginning of next year, on when we reduce from 50,000.

The other thing is, as we reduce now from 50,000 and as we turn it over to civilian control, the State Department has to ramp up. So we have to do it in sync not only with the security situation but as we turn over more and more responsibilities to the State Department. And they're going to be -- we're working that now. They'll be ready to do that, you know, in the middle of 2011, towards the end of 2011.

Yes, sir.

Q Sir, can I ask you a bit of a 30,000-foot question here?


Q You are approaching what I think is safe to assume is your last command in Iraq, although a couple times before we assumed that and it didn't turn out to be true.

As you look back on your tenure, can you talk a little bit about this job, surprises on the upside: What has gone easier or better than you thought, but also surprises on the downside: What are you leaving that you're disappointed with that hasn't gotten there? Any mistakes, also, that you've made over this tenure that, as you hand off to General Austin, you'd advise him to avoid?

GEN. ODIERNO: Yeah, I would just say, as the implement -- first -- my first was the implementation of the security agreement that started in January 2009.

I think that's gone extremely well. It's gone better than I think anybody expected. The cooperation that we've had with the Iraqi government, with the leaders, both civilian and military leaders in executing this, has gone very, very well. And I'm very confident that we've maintained that strong partnership which has enabled us to continue to go after the threat, but return more and more responsibilities. So I think that juggling has gone very well.

In terms of -- in terms of things that over the last couple years, I would just say, you know, we could have done a little bit better -- I mean, it always is about infrastructure. You know, I just think that the Iraqi people and the economic development and infrastructure -- we haven't brought that quite as along as fast -- as fast I would to have liked to have seen it.

Now, the Iraqi government obviously has a huge -- that's -- they have a large responsibility in this. And our -- and helping them do that I think continues to be really important. And we have to really now help the State Department, the U.S. Embassy to continue to move forward with this. And I think that would be the one thing that I would continue.

The other thing is, we still haven't truly had complete reconciliation in Iraq. They are closer today than they were before, but we still have some issues that have to be worked through in a reconciliation standpoint. So I think those would be your two things.

Q Is it Shi'a/Sunni? Or is it Kurds --

GEN. ODIERNO: I mean, it's -- yeah. It's the ethno-sectarian -- it's Kurd-Arab issues in -- up in the disputed areas. It's still some issues with the old army SOI [Sons of Iraq]. We're still working our way through that. It's not done yet. I'd hoped we be a bit further along. But we're heading in the right direction on those, but not where I'd like to be.


Q General, a couple of things together. First of all, to start with the question Brian suggested, what are your plans?

When will the transition happen out of Iraq and to Joint Forces Command? And when you get there, what lessons will you bring from Iraq that you think are important to transform the broader force through that role?

And along with that, what are you telling your colleague General McChrystal about what you found to be the keys in Iraq that may also apply in Afghanistan?

And finally, do you think he can do it in perhaps an even more difficult environment --


Q -- within a shorter time frame?

GEN. ODIERNO: Well, first off, I don't know exactly when we're transitioning yet. That will be determined by the Secretary of Defense and the CENTCOM commander and the Chairman. And we'll figure that out here sometime in the next few weeks. I expect it'll be sometime within the next three to four months, five months or so. But we'll still -- we'll work our way through that.

As I look to go into Joint Forces Command, I -- you know, I haven't thought a lot about it, and I have to be honest with you, because I'm very focused on Iraq. But in general, what I would say is, we've learned an awful lot of lessons now. We've learned the importance of -- that -- about understanding your environment and then how do we get the whole of government approach in executing our missions, and there's a lot more we can do that's not military, and how do we get that integrated. It's the -- what we've learned about intelligence collection, what we've learned about conventional and Special Operations forces working together.

It's about -- it's about looking ahead on how we get the maximum use out of the capabilities that we have in our armed forces and how we continue to improve our jointness in working together and maximizing each other's capabilities -- I think there's still some work to do that -- and then the global force management piece -- how do we manage the force in order to meet these -- all these needs that we have in the future.

So I think those are the kind of things I will think about.

General McChrystal and I are very close friends. We've worked together for a very long time. I have incredible respect for him. We pass any lessons learned. We have -- I send teams over to Afghanistan on issues when asked. I think that they understand what has gone well in Iraq; what didn't; what they can do. And of course, it is not, as you alluded to, it's not an easy -- because the environment in Iraq is very different than the environment in Afghanistan. I mean, the tribal environment, the economic environment is just so much different.

But there are some basic lessons that I think that they've taken over: you know, protecting the population; holding ground once you get it; and having Afghan forces be part of everything they do, like we started doing with the Iraqi security forces. So I think they're taking that and working that.

The -- you know, the environment -- again, I am not an expert in Afghanistan. I've spent most of my time in Iraq here. But just the -- you know, the challenges of the economic piece and the challenges of the terrain make it a very different fight. But I have the utmost confidence that General McChrystal and General Rodriguez and his team over there will make this work. They -- they're being -- they now have the resources they've asked for, are getting the resources they've asked for, and I think they'll make it work.

Yes, sir.

Q What evidence do you have that AQ in Iraq will retain its motivation, the interest in stirring up trouble, once the U.S. forces are down to 50,000?

GEN. ODIERNO: Well, you know, again, al Qaeda in Iraq is about establishing -- hasn't changed. They want complete failure of the government in Iraq. They want to establish a caliphate in Iraq.

Now, that's a tall task for them now, as compared to maybe it was in 2005 or '06. But they still sustain that thought process. And it has nothing to do with the United States.

You know, they continue to look around the world for safe havens and sanctuaries. And what they look for is ungoverned territories. And so what they want to have is to form an ungoverned territory or at least pieces of ungoverned territory, inside of Iraq, that they can take advantage of.

So that's what they'll continue to look for. But you know, I believe that they'll have a very difficult time in Iraq in doing that. But they will certainly continue to try.

Yes, sir.

Q General, the counterterrorism mission, is it now or will it be an Iraqi-led mission? And if so, what do you see as the U.S. role in that going forward?

GEN. ODIERNO: It is today an Iraqi-led mission. Every counterterrorism target that we -- is executed inside of Iraq is approved by the government of Iraq. They are part of the joint intel collection, the target development.

We do no independent operations in Iraq. We have not done any for a very long time. So every counterterrorism mission we do is a combined mission, both Iraqi and U.S. And in fact, some now are just Iraqi-only.

So we either have Iraqi-only or combined Iraq-U.S. What we're helping them to develop, between now and the end of 2011, is about how you go after a network. It's just not about individuals. It's about understanding the network, targeting the entire network and having ways to go after that network.

And we're helping them. They have a very -- they're very good at establishing human intelligence. What we're helping them to do is, use that as well as some of the technical intelligence that's available to them, and how they put that together, to go after this network. And that's what we're working on.

And how they within their government go through the process of developing targets, target approval, execution is not the issue. It really is about target development, target approval, limiting collateral damage. And that's what we're working with them on over time so they can be very precise. And they're getting better, and I feel confident we'll be able to transition this in the next 18 months or so.

Q These numbers you used, 34 of 42 top al Qaeda leaders in the last 90 days --


Q -- I mean, that's pretty dramatic. What -- did something happen?

GEN. ODIERNO: Well, we've been whittling away at this for a very long time. But back in December, January -- I get dates mixed up -- December, January, February time frame, we made some significant inroads in Mosul, where their headquarters basically was, and we got inside of AQI. We picked up several of their leaders that did the financing, that did planning, that did recruiting, that did -- some of their lawyers that worked on bringing detainees who were released and bringing them into al Qaeda -- we were able to get inside of this network, pick a lot of them up. And then over time, through just hard work, we were able to continue to get inside the organization, finally leading to the killing of AAM [Abu Ayyub al-Masri] and AUAB [Abu Umar al-Baghdadi], you know, about a month ago or so.

And so -- and we've not stopped. And since then we've picked up two or three more. And we want to continue -- we will continue with our Iraqi security force partners to go after them. But there are still some very dangerous people out there, and there are some mid- and low-level leaders; we don't want them to develop into senior leadership. And that's what we're working towards now.

Yes, ma'am.

Q You said that -- early on that al Qaeda looks like it's attempting to reorganize itself even still. How is that manifesting? And then is -- are you still seeing any kind of role, any influence, from Iran?

GEN. ODIERNO: Yeah, first, al Qaeda -- what they are attempting to do now is they want to keep -- what they have to do is keep attention on themselves inside of Iraq. So I think you'll see lots of announcements made about things that they did, or maybe didn't do but they want to announce it anyhow so people still think they're legitimate. I think you'll see them try to go after softer targets, just to make news. It has really no impact, I think, except as killing innocent civilians. So we're working very hard with Iraqi security force partners to ensure that doesn't happen.

So I think they're struggling now, and I think it's going to be difficult for them to continue to recruit. We always have reports that for the last six to eight months they've had trouble recruiting -- 10 months -- because the Iraqi people have rejected the ideology of al Qaeda. The large majority, 99.9 percent, have rejected it.

So what we want to do is just sustain that pressure on them so it makes it very difficult for them to continue. But they will -- because people -- you know, it's their lifestyle. And I'm not so sure all of al Qaeda now in Iraq is ideologically tied to it. There is some money and power involved with this, as well. And so it's -- although some might be ideologues, there are many who are not. They're what I call opportunists.

In terms of Iran, you know, they continue to be very much involved inside of Iraq. We understand that they're a neighbor, and we want them to be -- have a positive influence on Iraq, not one that we believe to be negative influence inside of Iraq. We know that, you know, they will do -- their goals are that they don't want to see the U.S. have a long-term relationship with Iraq. You know, they don't -- that -- they don't want to see that. So they'll continue to fund surrogates and others who will attack U.S. forces and attack Iraqi security forces who are working with U.S. forces.

Just yesterday, there was a rocket attack in southern Iraq near Amarah, where they killed three Iraqi security forces. And these were Iranian surrogates who conducted these attacks.

So they are not just attacking U.S. forces. They are -- they continue to infiltrate some of their security architecture into Iraq.

The Iraqis are doing -- are stepping up their work at the borders. But they're trying to infiltrate, so they can continue to try to influence outcomes inside of Iraq.

So they make all the positive statements in the press saying, we just want to see a legitimate government, we're for Iraq moving forward. But behind the scenes, they continue to interfere in my mind both from a political, economic and a military perspective.

Q Can I just follow up on that?


Q Can you quantify the Iranian involvement? Is it more or less or about the same than it was, say, a year ago? And specifically on EFPs [Explosively Formed Projectiles] and that technology?

GEN. ODIERNO: I mean, it's different. It's -- I think they've, as everyone does, they continue to change their strategy. They -- from 2007 and '08, they've clearly moved away from a heavy lethal strategy to one that involves some lethal and then some nonlethal, trying to almost gain monopolies in some economic areas as well as through heavy diplomatic and security collection influence inside of Iraq.

So it's shifted a little bit. But there are still EFPs going off in Iraq. There were 30 EFPs that we either found or exploded in the month of May. So they're still there.

There are still Katyusharockets that have been made in Iran that are being shot. They're less than it used to be, but they're still there. There's still training going on inside of Iran, of surrogates that come out of Iraq. So they're still doing it but at a lower level than they were before.


Q The assumption, I think, coming into the drawdown here, has long been that you will need to rely on -- if you don't have as many troops on the ground, rely on things that are frankly in the high- demand, low-density area, ISR, helicopters, CT forces, SOF forces. There's obviously huge demand for that now in Afghanistan as well. Can you talk a little bit about that tension? How are you going to be able to hold on to these assets you need as the footprint goes down, even as those demands --

(Cross talk.)

GEN. ODIERNO: Well, you know -- and again, commanders will always -- never tell you they have enough of anything. You always want more.

But we have -- we have a very good process where every month we review ISR needs in Afghanistan, Iraq and throughout Central Command. And we determine where we think those assets are needed. I have significant input into that process. And I feel comfortable with how the process is working and what I have available.

You know, helicopters -- we had an awful lot of helicopters in Iraq. And as we've gone from 175,000 down now to 88,000 and go down to 50,000 [personnel], we'll have less. But we'll have enough to move the force around and to do the missions that we have to do.

Route-clearance equipment is another one. We have enough to do that. We have route-clearance teams. You know, so we -- we just -- we have to continue to work that. But I feel confident with the system that we have.

You know, the good part is, we continue to bring more and more ISR into the force, and that's made it a little bit easier for us as we've been able to work our way through this. And everything, I think, as fast as we get it, it gets dedicated to Afghanistan or Iraq, or -- and so I'm thankful for that.

I'm not saying -- I could argue I could probably use a little bit more than I have today, but I feel that the risk is -- has been mitigated.


GEN. ODIERNO: Yeah. On ISR, yeah.


Q There's an e-mail scam going out purportedly from the command sergeant major from USF-I [U.S. Forces – Iraq].


Q Guy can't decide whether he's a major or a sergeant major, but some people may actually take it seriously. Is USF-I putting out any guidance saying, "If you receive an e-mail from Lawrence K. Wilson that says he has $20 million in Saddam's money, don't trust it"?

GEN. ODIERNO: Yeah. Yeah, we do. And in fact, there's been people scamming my name for money, as well. And this has been going on for quite some time. You know, I've had several scam artists on Facebook use my Facebook page and then go out asking people for all kinds of money: if you pay $200,000, your son can get sent home early and -- you know. So we're constantly going after these scam artists that are out there. And we are very aware of all of these that are going on, and we have a very robust capability to attempt to take care of it.

It's more about notifying people who get these e-mails. I have this big thing on my Facebook that says don't believe -- "If anybody asks you for money in my name, don't believe it," you know. And we do that for everyone else, as well. But it's a problem.

And actually, since you brought that subject up, I will just say -- you know, one of the things -- you asked me about Joint Forces Command, and one of the things -- one of the things that we have to really continue to work hard is the change that's occurred in terms of global communications and access to global communications and impact on warfare, impact on asymmetric warfare, impact on counterinsurgency, impact on future warfare. It's significant.

We've just stood up a cyber command, which I fully support. I think it's extremely important that we've stood up this command. It's the guy who gets that who they support out in the field. It's absolutely essential that we start really taking a hard look at how we're going to deal with these very difficult issues. And it makes it difficult, because you've got to figure out: How am I going to deal with this issue and still sustain the rights that we want of freedom of expression and information? It's very tough issues that we have to continue to work through here.

Because what I have found, and what's frustrated me sometimes inside of Iraq, is we win, we're doing exactly what we need do on the ground and eliminating cells and terrorists. But if you look on their website, what they're telling their people is completely different than what's really happening on the ground. And they have videos that are years and years old, and they keep replaying them and replaying them and replaying them and saying, "We've killed over a thousand Americans in 2010" and "They're lying about their numbers" and, you know, "We're being very successful. We need you to continue to contribute money to the al Qaeda organization. You need to help come, we need suicide bomber" -- I mean, you know, these are all the kind of things that go on. And so those are real challenges to us that we really have to get after as well as scams and other things that go on.


Q General, when -- do you anticipate having a requirement for riverine forces after 1 September?

GEN. ODIERNO: We -- well, we have a riverine force now down in Basra that's helping to train not only Iraqi navy forces but also Iraqi police forces. And that will continue post 1 September.

MODERATOR: All right. Well, I want to thank everybody, and particularly you, General Odierno, for doing this. And perhaps in your new capacity we'll get you back in here too.

GEN. ODIERNO: Okay. Thank you, and have a great day.

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