COALITION PROVISIONAL AUTHORITY UPDATE BRIEFING
GENERAL RICARDO SANCHEZ, COMMANDER,
LOCATION: BAGHDAD, IRAQ
DATE: THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2003
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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
GEN. SANCHEZ: Okay, I think I'm on here. Good afternoon. How are you all doing today?
Let me start out by expressing my sincere condolences to the family and friends of our dedicated heroes who have sacrificed their lives for the Iraqi people, for freedom, for democracy, in the accomplishment of their mission here in this country. Last week we had three killed in action. We had four non-hostile deaths. And we had a total of 49 wounded in action.
There's some great news for you and for the world over the coming -- I'm sorry, over the last week -- and I'd like to highlight some of those key actions that have occurred here in this country that we all ought to take notice of. The first one is the transfer authority ceremony that took place yesterday. And with that transfer of authority, the international coalition continues to grow here in Iraq. Also, Iraqis are increasingly taking on responsibility for their own security.
Yesterday the Polish-led multinational division assumed operational control of the center south sector from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. As we all know, this is the second multinational division to be committed here in Iraq, and essentially the entire southern half of the country is now controlled by coalition forces in two multinational divisions.
The multinational division central south is led by the Poles, and it includes elements from 21 nations. The strength of this force is about 8,000 soldiers.
At this time the coalition consists of 30 countries that have contributed a total of approximately 22,000 soldiers to operations here in Iraq. In addition, we have three other countries that have made commitments to provide troops, and we await their arrival.
With the transfer of authority to the multinational division central south,there is an unmistakable message that is communicated to the people of Iraq and the international community. This message is that the United States is not here as an occupation force; we are here as part of the international community to bring security and stability to this country, and to hand over responsibilities to the Iraqi people as soon as that is feasible, and we will accomplish that task. We will accomplish that task as soon as possible, and we will not stay here any longer than is necessary.
In the area of Iraqi contributions, as I stated, another great week. Iraqis continue to work to secure their own country. Some of the successes we've had are tied to the new Iraqi army, police recruits, and to the civil defense corps, which has been training for some time and has been recruited over the past few weeks.
First of all, there are over 50,000 Iraqis that are currently actively involved in the security elements of the country, providing security and stability over all parts of Iraq. The police forces now total 37,000 armed and trained members throughout the country, and we continue to train policemen everyday. This week we had a graduation ceremony -- as a matter of fact it's today -- for 250 Iraqi policemen here in Baghdad, and this is the third class to graduate out of the 18th military brigades transition integration program.
In the area of facilities protection services, we have almost 15,000 guards that are providing security for ministry buildings, other ministry sites, critical infrastructure, to prevent any destruction or damage to this equipment that might impinge and slow down the economic recovery of the country.
A significant step occurred with the new Iraqi army this week. Seven hundred and sixty recruits of the new Iraqi army completed their initial training, and these soldiers are now on leave, and they will return on the 8th of September for one more month's worth of training before we field them out under the control of CJTF-7.
The Iraqi civil defense corps, as I stated before, will provide assistance under the control of the regional commanders. This force will provide assistance in conducting patrolling, protecting sites, and our interface with the Iraqi people. Today we have over 3,700 recruits; we have over 1,200 that are in training; we have 670 that have completed training; and we have over 900 that are currently operating with coalition forces in the Baghdad area and the 10st area up in Mosul, and also in the 4th ID's zone centered out of Kirkuk.
I got to see these young soldiers two days ago while I was up in Kirkuk in a joint color guard. These are proud young men that are doing a great service to their country, and it is important for the people of Iraq to know that these young men have made a commitment to the stability and security of all Iraqis.
We continue to work on patrolling the borders of Iraq, and we continue to work on building up the capacity of the Iraqi border patrol. We have over 2,000 that have been trained and are working every day to control the major ports of entry into Iraq. We have over 500 of them in training today, and the 4th ID is conducting joint patrols using over 400 Iraqi border patrolmen, primarily in the northeast part of their sector.
The other major accomplishment that occurred this week in terms of Iraqis taking responsibility for their own protection was at Al Najaf in the aftermath of the tragic events of the bombing of the Ali Mosque, Iraqi security forces took charge and handled all the consequence management in the aftermath of that tragic incident. The U.S. and coalition assets were in constant communications with those security forces, prepared to provide any assistance that they might request or need to handle the incident, and they successfully accomplished their task.
We continue to conduct our offensive operations in the country, with over 10,000 patrols and over 250 raids last week, and we continue to be focused on eliminating anti-coalition subversive elements that are impinging on the progress and the successes of the Iraqi people.
With that I will open it up to your questions. Yes, sir?
Q (Off mike) -- from the Associated Press. General, why do you think it's important that a U.S. commander be in charge of any multinational force that is set up here in Iraq?
GEN. SANCHEZ: The issue of command and control of forces here in the country will be determined by the United States back in Washington,and negotiations with the United Nations. It is essential I believe for a U.S. commander to remain in charge, since we are the ones that have the continuity here at this point in time, and this has been a U.S.-led effort up until this point. If there is to be change in the lead nation, that is a decision that will have to be made in Washington.
Q Hi -- (inaudible) -- CBC. I just wanted to ask about the state of civilian contractors in Iraq right now under the Army, and whether there's any plans to use civilian contractors of defense contractors in a military capacity as they are being used, for example, in Colombia and other theaters of U.S. military operations.
GEN. SANCHEZ: If you mean civilian contractors conducting security operations as contractors at this point in time, we have no contractors that I am aware of that are being used in a security role within the country. And right now I have no plans in place that are being pursued to get any contracted security support, other than the contracted security that is going on in support of the Iraqi people here in the city. But not in support of the military.
Q (Off mike) -- Radio France Internationale. You said that in Najaf the Iraqi security forces handled the situation. But we witnessed at the same time quite a number of militias, Shiia militias. Don't you think that the multiplication of these militias could derail the process of setting up peace and stability in the country?
GEN. SANCHEZ: Well, on the contrary, I think the results of Najaf -- we are not supporting the establishment of any militias. But in the case of Al Najaf, I've heard those reports. We have not verified those reports. But in fact the end result was positive in that case.
Our policy is that we not support the establishment of independent militia forces. That is what the civil defense corps is supposed to do. And we continue with that priority.
Q (Off mike) -- Kyodo of Japan, sir. Rumsfeld is reported to have said U.S. might accept a 10,000-strong multinational peacekeeping force. Do you think that you will be needing such a force? This is one question, number one.
Second, considering possible terrorist future threats, probably by neighbors here, would you think that the U.S. might need more U.S. troops here to confront such a possibility? Thank you.
GEN. SANCHEZ: First of all, in terms of additional coalition assets and U.N. forces coming into the country, our position over time has been consistent: that we welcome international participation. What this will do is it will clearly show to the world, and to the Iraqi people more importantly, that this is not a business of occupying Iraq. This is the business of getting the security and stability, ensuring the democracy, a vision of democracy for the Iraqi people, and ensuring their liberty. That is what the coalition will bring to Iraq, and that is what we are after.
In terms of the terrorist force, I've answered the question of whether we need additional U.S. forces. The answer has consistently been that we do not need additional U.S. forces. Given the tasks that we are currently assigned, we have sufficient forces to accomplish the mission.
Q James -- (inaudible) -- with the Times. Just to come back to the Shiia militias, I spoke to the spokesman for the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, and he said that he believed the Americans were deliberating turning a blind eye to these militias, and he said that given the fact that America failed to provide security, his people would be moving into this security vacuum. And you seem to be saying the results of Najaf are positive. We all saw people from the Badr Brigades with guns enforcing crowd control. Do you consider that positive?
GEN. SANCHEZ: The -- you say you saw people from the Badr Brigade. I've gotten -- I've heard those reports in the press. We have not verified that. The fact that you also state that the U.S. failed to provide support -- the Iraqi security forces were offered assistance by the United States and the coalition, and they chose to provide their own security in Najaf.
Q But --
GEN. SANCHEZ: It is not -- wait a minute, you're interrupting -- okay? In Al Najaf it was Iraqi security forces that chose to have responsibility for providing security in that city. It was not a function of the U.S. not providing security there.
Q Can I just come back to the issue of America turning a blind eye?
GEN. SANCHEZ: Americans are not turning a blind eye to any militias that are coming together in this country. We are keeping an eye on it, and if we identify those efforts ongoing, we will take action. We will take the right action.
Q Pam Hess with United Press International. From the podium, you and Ambassador Bremer have talked about the key to winning this peace in Iraq is going to be intelligence. And from what I understand you all are getting a great deal of intelligence. Stuff is coming in. But there seems to be -- at least it's been described to me as a bottleneck, that maybe there are not enough analysts or not enough Arab speakers that are able to turn that over. Could you talk about some of the challenges you have in working with the intelligence you are getting what resources you could use, maybe send a message to Washington of what you need?
GEN. SANCHEZ: Sure. Pam, the intelligence problem, as I think anybody that has been involved with this type of an operation, it's a fairly complex problem. When you look at the number of detainees, security detainees that we have got, it's an issue of being able to process detainees rapidly; interrogate them in order to gain the actionable intelligence that is necessary to conduct operations as a result of that intelligence that you gather from them. At this point in time we have over 1,000 security detainees within the coalition confinement facilities. That is a challenge in terms of the number of interrogators and the native speakers. And we are working right now with Washington -- there is a team here that is providing us assistance in trying to structure our interrogation processes so that we can be efficient and effective at the same time to get that intelligence that we require.
We're also working to fill in some voids in some of the interrogation capacities that we currently have, going from tactical-intelligence-focused interrogators to other capabilities that are necessary given the shifting threat that we are facing.
Sir? Let me go to the end first and then I'll come back to you.
Q Two quick questions. First, it's been four months and four weeks, and it seems you could argue that you've lost the initiative here. And I wonder give the threat that you face, how do you get the initiative back?
And the second one is on the intelligence question. The Iraqi officials that I've talked have complained that the problem is that they are not involved in the sifting and sorting of the information that is coming in, and that the Americans tend to treat every piece of information equally. Whereas they say 90 percent of the stuff is garbage -- we can direct them to the 10 percent that's good, and -- but the Americans don't listen. And I wonder if you could address that?
GEN. SANCHEZ: Sure. First of all, on the car bombings, I think it's clear to everybody that the car bombings are terrorist acts. This is a counterterrorism problem that we are facing with those acts specifically, and the intelligence that leads you to be able to preempt or to defeat a terrorist that is attempting to conduct that kind of an act is difficult to come by. We have professionals that are here. We've stated that over and over again that we have got some terrorist groups that are operating in here that we are focused on, and I will guarantee you that all assets that are able to are focused on trying to preempt this problem. And we continue to conduct our offensive operations across the country, whenever we get a piece of actionable intelligence, whether it's coming from Iraqis themselves or we get it from other means. We immediately take action to preempt it. We have in fact had successes, but those successes obviously don't translate, because it's not spectacular, into the media.
In terms of the Iraqi officials' comments about sifting and sorting and equal treatment of intelligence, it's kind of difficult for them to understand it when they're not inside of my intelligence systems, you know, for them to be making those kinds of assessments I think is kind of ludicrous. I'll tell you that we are conducting very focused intelligence operations. We are seeking additional capability. I've stated that over and over again that my challenge is to get actionable intelligence that I can then turn very rapidly into operations against the terrorist or threat elements that are out there. We'll continue to work that. Our intelligence system is one of the best in world, and we'll continue to function, and we'll succeed.
Q (In Arabic -- translation off mike.)
GEN. SANCHEZ: Okay, I believe that was a statement. (Laughter.) So, okay? Your opinion, ma'am.
Q Can you elaborate on it?
GEN. SANCHEZ: Can I elaborate? No. I don't know where 20 policemen were killed recently other than at the -- (inaudible) -- about a month and a half or two months ago. There were some that were injured recently, but I'm not aware --
Q (In Arabic -- translation off mike.)
GEN. SANCHEZ: Yeah, absolutely, I agree with you. And we are working very hard to relieve the unemployment and the Coalition Provisional Authority is working to bring jobs back to the Iraqi people in order to address the problem that you raise, ma'am. Absolutely, I agree with you.
Yes, sir? I'm sorry, I'll come back to you, ma'am, I'm sorry.
Q Two questions. Can you explain the command structure with this multinational division that has just come in? The Poles basically just take orders directly from you? Can you explain that?
And then the second question. If more multinational divisions come in, what would you prefer? Would you prefer, I don't know, 8,000 French troops or 8,000 troops with little groups of, you know, 100 Kazakhs and 100 troops from Fiji, and 100 troops from Tonga? That doesn't seem to make sense for me. What would you prefer in that case?
GEN. SANCHEZ: The command structure -- the command relationships that exist today in CJTF-7 are crystal clear. We have absolute unity of command. The Polish two-star general reports directly to me, and then he has his own internal command structures that are also as clear as the command structures of an American division. All those forces are -- he's got three brigades underneath him that report to him directly, of different nationalities, and then in turn below him those other countries are operating underneath.
Clearly there are challenges when you have 21 countries that are involved. You have the national interests and you have the national red lines that could play in the conduct of operations. But we are well aware of that, and we conduct our operations with that well in mind.
In terms of my preference for 8,000 Frenchmen or what was the other one? -- 800 Tonga folks I think you said? -- (laughter) -- Fijians and -- what we are asking for is for a coalition contribution that can be effective on the ground. That can come in many different shapes and forms, depending on the missions that they are structured to accomplish here. We have elements that are small that are doing very effective work. The command relationships, whenever we deploy a coalition asset, those command relationships were worked out well beforehand to ensure that the unity of effort, the unity of command, is well in place. I believe that just about any size of a force can make a contribution if its skill sets are right and if we employ it properly in the country.
Clearly when you have a cohesive organization of 8,000 that have trained together, you have as a commander a much greater flexibility in the missions that you assign to it. But all nations can make a contribution.
Ma'am? Then I'll come to you, John, I'm sorry.
Q I'm Carol Williams with the Los Angeles Times. Two questions. First of all, what is the aim of Secretary Rumsfeld's visit to Iraq? And, secondly, if the coalition has sufficient forces now, and the Iraqi security forces are standing up at a good pace, why is it that the road between Baghdad and Jordan is plagued with thieves? And the advice that the coalition is giving to people who need to travel that road is to don't take it?
GEN. SANCHEZ: First of all, the aim of the SECDEF's visit is to get a first-hand understanding of the situation here in Iraq. And that is important for our leaders to understand what is happening from a first-hand perspective, and that my understanding is that that is what he is primarily focused on here. And also he will spend time visiting with our great service members and make sure that America's appreciation for their sacrifices is communicated to them.
On the area of why we still have thieves along the road, on the 700 kilometers between Baghdad and Jordan -- the reason we still have thieves out there is because that's 700 kilometers that can't be watched every kilometer of that road. Clearly if we were to do that it would require a fairly large number of Iraqi security forces, and we are working on building a highway patrol that is operating out there in that part of Iraq. But today we are continuing to build that capacity, but clearly we are not there at this point.
Q Hi, general. A lot of discussion about morale over the past few months -- statements being made out of Washington after VIP visits, and also perhaps on the other end of the spectrum statements being made by troops here on the ground disagreeing with some of those statements. I was wondering what your assessment of morale is among the troops at large, and also how you've reached that assessment at the end of the day. Thank you.
GEN. SANCHEZ: Well, the way that a commander reaches his assessment of his troop morale is by being out on the ground talking to soldiers as often as he can. And you know I try to do that. And in the last two weeks I've been to every region of the country except for the British sector. And as I move around and talk to individual soldiers and leaders, it is very clear to me that our soldiers are focused, they understand their duty, they understand why they are here. They understand when they are going home, which is an important component of this type of a deployment. And also the leadership that comes through and visits with us, consistently, whether it's congressional delegations or senior military leadership, they consistently depart Iraq with a very, very clear focus that the majority of our soldiers are very high on the duties that they are performing, and that they are dedicated and willing to sacrifice at the levels necessary.
I'll come back to you, sir.
Q Hi, Luke Hunt from AFP. I'm was just wondering, can you clarify the 1,000 you mentioned earlier being interrogated and the other 5,000 I presume who are under your control, terrorists, whatever group they are from -- what are the legal obligations in regard to them? Do they come under U.S. sovereign law, or do they come under IHO Geneva Conventions? How are you legally dealing with them? What is the -- can you clarify the legal classifications that they fit under?
GEN. SANCHEZ: There are primarily two -- we have the criminal detainees and then you have the security detainees that we have out there. Clearly the criminal detainees we will put into the criminal system of Iraq, and that is already happening. There are trials that are being conducted. On the security detainees, those are being -- once we've completed interrogations on them, and we complete the determinations on whether they ought to be continued in detention or not, then decisions will be made as to their release.
Yes, sir? And then back to you.
Q Yeah, Andrew -- (inaudible) -- from Reuters. Could you perhaps say a little bit about what difference you effectively make to your troops on the ground if the force became more internationalized, if there were more members of the coalition? Would you expect hostility to reduce? What kind of soldiers would you be looking for? What sort of skill sets? What sort of nations would be most helpful for you?
GEN. SANCHEZ: I think it's kind of hard to predict whether hostilities would drop or not. I think given the types of enemy that we think are out there, the former loyalists and the terrorists, I believe that as long as we have a force in here that is focused on bringing security and stability to the country, that is focused on ensuring that the regime doesn't come back, and as long as the Americans and British soldiers are here, I think there will be an element that will continue to attack. The -- as far as the nations or the types of forces, the nations are essentially not an issue that I worry about. We welcome anyone to make a contribution to the coalition, as I stated earlier, and the types of forces -- it could range anywhere from combat forces to military police or civil affairs, depending on what the nation is willing to contribute. And I am sure we could find meaningful missions for them to accomplish across the country.
Q Yesterday U.S. forces attempted to disarm Moqtada al Sadr's personal bodyguard in Najaf. I was wondering if this is U.S. policy or military policy? If not, why did it happen.
And then I have a second question.
GEN. SANCHEZ: I'm sorry, U.S. forces attempted to disarm Moqtada al Sadr's bodyguard?
Q Yeah, yesterday in Najaf.
GEN. SANCHEZ: Okay, that's a new one on me. I am not aware at all that we were anywhere near Moqtada al Sadr yesterday.
Q There were some kind of negotiations going on in front of his house between the U.S. military and him, and there were three attempts to disarm his personal bodyguard. Okay, if you don't know about it --
GEN. SANCHEZ: I'll have to come back to you on that one. I am not aware of those reports.
Q Okay. My second question is in terms of the explosion that happened at the police academy. Whose responsibility was the security there? It would have been the Iraqi police's responsibility, not the U.S. forces?
GEN. SANCHEZ: No, ma'am. We have -- we, as you well know, we are working with the Iraqi police. We are conducting a lot of joint patrol, a lot of joint activities with the Iraqi police. But the Iraqi police, in a lot of cases, especially here in Baghdad, have taken on responsibility for a lot of their own areas and they have also conducted independent operations that have been very effective here in the city. So, you know, there is an element of responsibility that has to be assumed there, and at this point I don't know that we had any responsibility for that impound block.
Q (Question in Arabic -- translation off mike.)
GEN. SANCHEZ: I'm sorry, what is my condition to delete the forces? Oh, to lead. Okay. Absolutely we would welcome a Muslim framework nation or Muslim forces to come into the country. The actual command and control arrangements would be worked out, just as we are working out any other coalition contribution to the country. It would be done at the national level in collaboration and working through military talks with the respective nations. But I would envision that there would be unity of command, and they would fall -- be under the command of the CTJF commander.
Back there. I'm sorry, let me go to the lady behind you, sir, and then I'll come to you. Okay?
Q (Question in Arabic -- translation off mike.)
GEN. SANCHEZ: The first part of the question again?
Q (Question in Arabic -- translation off mike.)
GEN. SANCHEZ: Well, the fact that there are some reported similarities is a fact at this point. But that doesn't necessarily mean that it's simple to go find the perpetrators. And we have investigations, as we all know, that are ongoing right now on all of these bombings in order to determine who it is who is responsible for them. But those investigations are not complete yet, and therefore I couldn't give you the results of the investigation, ma'am.
Q I'm -- (inaudible) -- from Radio Free Europe. My question will be in Arabic. (Speaks in Arabic -- translation off mike.)
GEN. SANCHEZ: Well, let me first unequivocally state that there is absolutely no intention to disrespect the Iraqi listener with anything that is being done by the coalition. If in fact our messages are three months old -- then you are exactly right that we need to fix that and we need then -- that it a weak way of us to communicate with the Iraqi people.
I will tell you that we are working very hard within the Coalition Provisional Authority and within the coalition forces in order to get a better linkage to the Iraqi people, and that is through media sources, through the way that we communicate on a daily basis in all parts of the country, and this is an area of strategic communications that we know has to be strengthened, and we are working very hard to do that. It is very, very important, as you state, sir.
Okay, I'll come back to you then.
Q (Question in Arabic -- translation off mike.)
GEN. SANCHEZ: Okay.
Q Yes, thank you.
GEN. SANCHEZ: Okay, right, it's a -- there are certain parts of the city and also other parts, other areas of Iraq where there have been -- there was some destruction that occurred in terms of bridges that are still not stood up. There are programs in place. And as a matter of fact today I had a slide that showed -- that I didn't show to you all -- that showed 1st Armored Division putting a bridge in to facilitate exactly this kind of a problem. We are working this issue to try to reestablish some of these alternate routes for the Iraqi people, and we have not been able to get to all of those locations, and there will still be some inconveniences that will have to be borne by the people over time until we can get both the reconstruction effort complete, and that we will continue to work some of the expedient methods out there over time also.
Q General, do you know of any attempts by U.S. forces to disarm independent militias in recent days or weeks?
GEN. SANCHEZ: Not in recent days or weeks, no, sir.
Q My colleague's question was mistranslated, so I am going to ask it again in English.
GEN. SANCHEZ: Okay.
Q He wanted to know if this special force being created in Najaf was going to be the 400 force for the holy sites is going to be under the supervision of the U.S. forces. Who are they answerable to? Who are they --
GEN. SANCHEZ: Sure. There is in fact a 400-man force that is being stood up in Najaf. That force was requested by clerics down there, and agreed to by the coalition. And that force will be stood up. It has been resourced, and it will be stood up under the Iraqi police. It will be a branch of the Iraqi police within Najaf.
Q You said you are working on building a highway patrol. What about the borders? Since this car bomb wave started, many, many Iraqis are asking for the closing of the borders. What you can do in that field?
GEN. SANCHEZ: Well, I think there's a lot that's going on with border control. We in fact have been controlling the borders as an aftermath of the bombing that just occurred in Najaf, where we have in fact turned around hundreds of Iranians who were trying to come into the country. We have border posts that have been established by Iraqis, by getting Iraqis back to work that used to work at those border posts before, and we've got them at major control points all the way from the Jordanian post to at least three in the Syrian border, and then up in the north into Turkey, and then some towards Iran. Not all of those are still backed up at this point, but we're working very hard to get that capacity put back into place.
We're also working the border patrols that will be functioning in between those border posts or those border control stations, and that is an effort that will take us some time to stand back up. But we are working now very hard also with military capability where when required we will post forces out into those zones to assist in the control of the borders.
Q Which border is the most sensitive, please?
GEN. SANCHEZ: Which border --
Q Is more sensitive -- Syria border, Iran border, which one?
GEN. SANCHEZ: Well, both of them are of great concern to me, and both of them are of great concern to me because of some of the smuggling that is occurring and some of the possible movement of terrorist fighters that may be moving from both of those borders.
Q Sir, you have invited Turkey to send troops for the international force. And this creates -- apparently has created sort of strong sensitivity among the Iraqi Kurds. Don't you think that the Turkish presence in Iraq would create problems rather than solve them? Thank you, sir.
GEN. SANCHEZ: No, I don't think it will create problems. We are going to have to work through the location where we will deploy those forces. There are clearly parts of the country where we can deploy Turkish forces very effectively, and we'll have to work with the Kurdish elements to ensure that we are focused on the end state there, and the end state is that all the coalition forces are contributing to security and stability over time, and that's what the coalition will do. All those forces will be under the command of an American commander and will be part of the coalition and will be committed to that end state.
Q General, you've said that you have exactly the right number of troops on the ground to do all the tasks that need to be done, but at the same time there's a push to bring in multinational forces, and you've said because of the message it will send out of the commitment of the world. Does that mean that the push to bring in multinational forces is more political than practical?
GEN. SANCHEZ: No, I think you put some words in my mouth. You said you have all the forces necessary to do all the tasks that need to be done. What I said was I have sufficient forces to accomplish the missions that are currently assigned CJTF-7. There are some security challenges out there that are looming in the future that would require additional forces, and those are issues with the coalition, and with time can be resolved.
Q (Off mike) -- can you talk about some of those challenges that might -- (off mike)?
GEN. SANCHEZ: Sure. There's clearly if you want to establish 100 percent control of the borders, across the entire country, that's a significant commitment of forces. We have a couple of other groups that are out there looming, like KADIC (ph) and MEK that might have to get resolved at some point in time. And then you have the issue of militias -- of militias where an internal conflict of some nature would erupt, which is -- has been surfaced here over the course of the briefing. That would be an additional security challenge out there that I do not have sufficient forces for. So it is safe to say that when you get the coalition forces in here, it gives the commander the flexibility to be able to react to those forces very adequately. Today, if I had to, I could move forces to tackle any one of those challenges, but we would pull forces from an existing mission. And we've said continuously that there is no tactical threat. There is no operational or strategic level threat that is here. And you would just accept some risk in another facet of the operation to be able to accomplish the task that may arise, and we can do that.
Q (Off mike) -- when you talk about the possibilities of an internal conflict, are you thinking specifically about tensions between Sunni and Shiia?
GEN. SANCHEZ: It could be any range. It could be any range of fault lines that exist out there in the country that could create some security challenges in small areas, or it could be greater than that. I think what is clear to everybody here right now, or should be, is that there is a focus on the end state for Iraq among all the people. I have visited, and had regional leaders in the north, in the 4th ID zone, in 3rd ACR zone in the Alanbahr (ph) Province, and just yesterday I had a regional leaders meeting down in the Al Najaf area. And in every case the regional leaders are focused on getting to security and stability and economic prosperity, and bringing peace to their people, so they can get on with living a peaceful life. When you have that kind of a commitment, then there is a great incentive to not let those fault lines erupt. And that's what we all have to be focused on. We all have to be working to ensure that they don't.
Q (In Arabic -- translation off mike.)
GEN. SANCHEZ: Well, I don't know. Someone can help me with the number of how much it costs. I don't remember right off the top of my head. But I'll tell you who pays for it. It's the American taxpayer. Okay. And I can get you the number of the cost. I have got a number in my mind, but I don't know if it's per week or per month, so I better not state it. Okay? (Laughs.)
Q (Off mike.)
I'm sorry? Yeah, that's -- that's the number I've got in my mind, but I've got to verify that before I put it out. Yeah. Did you all hear?
Q (Off mike.) (Laughter.)
GEN. SANCHEZ: Yeah, good, thank you. Do you want to come up here with me? (Laughter.) The reporter's number is one billion a week, okay.
Let's see, I had a question back here. Okay, go ahead.
Q I just wondered -- we get regular briefings, as you know, and it seems that the number of attacks on your forces, the level of them has been fairly constant -- it seems to be around a dozen a day, and it's been at the level for quite awhile. During that time you have been conducting a large number of raids -- 250 you said last week. And why has -- you know, week after week, month after month, special operations such as -- (inaudible) -- why do you think the level of attacks has not come down? How long do you need to keep doing this kind of activity before you see some effect on the bottom line, if you like?
GEN. SANCHEZ: I can't answer that. That's going to be a function of the enemy's will. We'll do it as long as we have to. There has been a shift in the way that the enemy is conducting its operations, and it's shifting towards improvised explosive devices and mortar attacks. And we are shifting our tactics, techniques and procedures to accommodate that.
Q Have you communicated your -- the possible desire in the future to have additional forces here to folks back in Washington? And how did that communication take place, and what channels do you use to express the possible need for additional coalition troops to safeguard future security needs?
GEN. SANCHEZ: Sure. I have communicated very clearly to Washington, to Central Command, who in turn communicates to Washington -- that's the route -- and to senior leadership that has come through here, that I do not need additional U.S. forces. Clearly I have also stated that if coalition forces were to be offered, we would gladly accept them, believe that they are needed for the same -- for the reasons that I already laid out for you, and that we would work with Central Command and Washington to identify viable alternatives with their deployment. Okay.
All right, we'll take maybe two more questions here. Okay, sir, since you're the only one with your hand up.
Q Excuse me, general. There was an operation in Mosul to face and track and catch Saddam Hussein. And then nothing was declared about it. What happened there? What happened in Mosul?
GEN. SANCHEZ: I conduct operations of that nature pretty frequently. I can't tell you what didn't happen. We didn't catch him or kill him. (Laughter.) Okay? But I'm looking.
Okay, last question.
Q Sir, back on the numbers of troops issue. A little bit earlier you said you wouldn't have the numbers to deal with one of these pop-up crises, but you could shift your people. To the layman, I hear that as saying really you need more troops so that you don't have to. Why is that not --
GEN. SANCHEZ: A commander can always accept risk. That's the business of warfare. And depending on where you are at any point in time. As an example, we can move -- and we have done this over time -- we have moved elements out of 101st area, moved them hundreds of kilometers to conduct operations for certain periods of time. We can do that, and we do that on a frequent basis. And there are --
Q I don't want to interrupt -- people get chastised. (Laughter.)
GEN. SANCHEZ: Thank you. And if we had to do that again, we would do it. And then if it was a problem that would be of an enduring nature, then we would have to compensate and ask for additional forces.
Q So why not -- why accept risk? Why not just ask for more troops?
GEN. SANCHEZ: Well, let's see, if I was not going to accept any risk with 100 percent border control, taking care of foreign regime loyalists and terrorist fighters, and all the possible contingencies that are out there, I don't know that we would have enough forces in the coalition to come in here and do that. I mean, that is -- to be zero -- in an operation where you have no risk at all -- it's almost impossible to do that in warfare, unless you completely defeated the enemy.
Q So it's fair to say you have to draw the line somewhere, and that's where you drew it as --
GEN. SANCHEZ: Yes, ma'am, that's exactly right. You have to accept some kind of risk. You are willing to accept the consequences of that risk coming to fruition, and then you continue to operate. And given the flexibility and the combat power that is in the coalition force today, as I stated before, there is no force or no threat out there that we can't handle. You know, I have to that actionable intelligence that allows me to move the force rapidly, concentrate it and strike, and I can defeat any force. That's the key.
Okay, it's been great. No more questions from you, sir. (Laughter.) Okay, thank you all very much.