COALITION PROVISIONAL AUTHORITY BRIEFING
BRIEFER: GENERAL RICARDO SANCHEZ, COMMANDER OF GROUND FORCES IN IRAQ
DATE: THURSDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2003
GEN. SANCHEZ: Good afternoon. Let me, as usual, start out by expressing my sincere condolences to the families and friends of our dedicated great young men and women who have sacrificed their lives for the Iraqi people, for freedom, for democracy, for the future of this country. Last week we had five killed in action. We had five non-hostile deaths. And we had a total of 41 that were wounded in action.
I'm going to make a very brief opening statement, and then we'll get on with questions. In the area of good news, I think everybody knows that we are in the process of opening up our schools across the country. The majority of the schools will be protected, where required, by Iraqis, and coalition forces will provide additional security as necessary, and as required. But I think may for the first time in a long time young Iraqis will be going to school with a very bright future ahead of them. They will have school supplies that will have been provided by the coalition. They will have schools that have been upgraded by NGOs, military forces, and CPA and other agencies that are improve the condition of the school systems in country to give students a great learning environment.
In the area of security, we continue to build capacity with a battalion of the new Iraqi army right on the cusp of graduation here in the next couple of days. And also this week we've had a couple of great examples of increased cooperation and successes with some haven't appeared in the news, like the major operation we conducted in Tikrit with Iraqi policemen, ICDC and coalition forces showing that we can in fact make progress, we can work together, and that Iraqis are beginning to take responsibility for their future.
The Civil Defense Corps continues to build and here in Iraq -- or, correction, here in Baghdad -- they have also conducted some successful operations independently, and that capacity continues to build at a pretty good pace, and we are very comfortable with the capabilities and the skill and dedication and focus of those great young Iraqis to contribute to the security of their country.
With that, let me go ahead and open it up to your questions. Yes, sir?
Q (Question in Arabic.)
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 (Question in Arabic.)
GEN. SANCHEZ: Okay, for the translator, you're going to need to translate. (Interpretation off mike.) Okay, I think I understand.
Q (Question in Arabic.) (Interpretation off mike.)
GEN. SANCHEZ: Okay, let me see if I understood the question. What are the procedures or other structures that are close to military site -- and I guess the question is what's the procedure when we ask people to stay away from that site -- is that correct?
What we wind up doing in cases where there is a requirement to clear battlespace or clear areas that may be creating problems for military bases in terms of force protection, we go ahead and work with the people to accomplish that. We have done that in several areas where we have had continued problems stemming from attacks that are conducted from either the structures or from the area nearby. We have had areas that we've had to clear in order to provide us the fields of fire necessary to defend our bases. And once those threats have diminished to the point where it's acceptable to allow people to come back in, that's when we'll do that. And in the meantime we'll continue to require folks to stay out of those properties in the interim periods.
Q May I follow? Sorry, not exactly what I mean. (Speaks Arabic.) (Interpretation off mike.)
GEN. SANCHEZ: Yeah, there's -- you know, there are procedures, as we've discussed before, for compensation and claims, and those can be processed, and then those are considered, depending on the requirements. In fact, when we do require areas to be cleared, we take that into consideration, with a very specific understanding or consideration of the fact that in some cases this is the livelihood of the locals.
And on the case of -- on your specifics on Lieutenant Harrell (ph), I wasn't quite sure what the circumstance was there, but I'll be willing to talk to you afterwards and have you give that information to one of my personnel, and we'll dig into Lieutenant Harrell (ph).
Q Radio Free Europe, general. The bombing in Tikrit yesterday, it was only about 300 meters away from the gate of the compound. Are these people coming a little bit too close for comfort, and what can you say about the security measures that you should have taken and didn't, were not taken?
GEN. SANCHEZ: (Laughs.) I like questions that are totally negative. The bombing in Tikrit, that IED that exploded right outside of the gate -- I think what we all need to understand is that some of these improvised explosive devices all that is required is someone with a paper bag or a plastic bag to drop it as a walk-by. I don't know that my security measures or too lax or too weak at this point. I think what it requires is for us to remain vigilant constantly, which is what we are trying to do. It requires us to work with the local population.
There are more than what we'd like in terms of IEDs happening to us out here on a daily basis. When you ask me was that too close for comfort, you know, come on, I'm getting mortar rounds. We're getting our convoys attacked out there on the road. Any attack that hurts my soldiers is too close, and you know that's kind of a question that I'll leave at that.
Q Hi, general, Mark Stone (sp), ABC News. Two very quick questions, if I may. David Kay is giving a closed-session briefing today back in the States regarding the weapons of mass destruction. Can you give us any update here on whether anything has been found, or what's happening there?
Second question is regarding the ammunition dumps around the country, and whether they are secure. I think the Pentagon was saying that, yes, they are secure. Another of your colleagues said that there was no way you could secure them. Can you give us any updates on whether they are secure, and if they aren't whether there's any evidence that weapons from these ammo dumps have been used to attack your forces?
GEN. SANCHEZ: First of all, on David Kay's report, I think it's probably best for all of us to wait and see what David Kay says when he publishes his report later on today.
On the ammunition dumps, I think we've made it very clear that there's so much ammunition in this country that you can't guard it all. There are over 650,000 tons of ammunition in this country, and it is -- you know, if you ask me could some of that ammunition possibly been used against my forces? Of course it's possible. And are they all guarded? No, they're not. Are they -- do we have measures in place to provide some measure of security? Of course we do. We have put up berms against all of these -- or a lot of these ammunition dumps. We have put up patrolling sequences that we conduct, both aerial and ground. We conduct security operations around them. When we find looters, we engage or arrest them. But it's a physical impossibility when you think in terms of the numbers of ammunition dumps that are out there. We find them every day. Every single day we are finding more. You have ammo dumps out there that are 15 kilometers by 15 kilometers. To physically guard every single bunker is impossible. And I'm not going to stand up here and tell you that every one of those is guarded.
Q (Question in Arabic; interpretation off mike.)
GEN. SANCHEZ: I'm not sure I understood the farming question. What is it we're doing? Could you repeat, please?
Q (Speaks Arabic; interpretation off mike.)
GEN. SANCHEZ: Okay, I believe that was a statement. I'm not sure that that was a question. I didn't pick up the question. On both cases we'll look at the next street to be opened, or bridge, in the Al Resafa (ph) district. And in terms of the farming -- I mean, that's what we're about, is trying to get the Iraqis to get back to their normal lives. You know, every day we are working towards that. And sometimes we have to take some measures that will allow us to protect our forces, and that may be -- in this case I'm speculating that that may be why some of those trees were being uprooted, to provide us some additional fields of fire, because that's a fairly dangerous province that we are talking about in this case.
Yes, sir, in the back?
Q General, Kevin Tibbles (ph) with NBC News. On the security issue, I'm just wondering if you could tell us perhaps how encouraged you are by the fact that in some places, like the Iraqi national or central bank, for example, that a staff of security of local people has managed to move in there to protect this installation. But perhaps more importantly they are now training women in order to help facilitate with the security there, up to the point where they are receiving weapons training and the like, and thereby taking that responsibility away from your people.
GEN. SANCHEZ: I'm ecstatic. When I look -- when I look across the country, and look at the total numbers, every single day those numbers increase, and we've got Iraqis really all over the country. And I mentioned a couple in my opening statement where we have them conducting independent operations on their own -- they are out there attacking the law-and-order problems of the country. We are enabling them, we're training them, we're backing them up, and we want them to be successful. We've got women that are contributing not just here in Baghdad, but we have had them in ICDC, in our Civil Defense Corps up in the north. They have graduated women and we've got them deployed out there and they are contributing to the security of Iraq. As we've stated over and over again, that's what we need to do. I am very, very encouraged about it. And there tremendous numbers that are still in the pipeline being trained. I don 't believe we are going to have an issue in the numbers of the Civil Defense Corps as we work to stand up about 18 battalions by the January/February timeframe.
Q Just as a supplementary, altruistically, what sort of example or message do you think that it sends out to the Iraqi people when they see women participating in this role?
GEN. SANCHEZ: Well I think clearly it says that every Iraqi has a role to play, that we are truly about equal opportunity, independent of ethnicity or sex, and that's exactly what we are striving to provide here in this country in terms of a democratic society that will give everyone an equal opportunity to succeed. And I think by those actions very early on here within about five months it's becoming a reality for the Iraqi people.
Q Laura Marlowe (ph) from the Irish Times. General, we hear a lot of complaints from Iraqis about what my colleague was talking about, about land being vacated, damaged, destroyed, whatever, by U.S. forces. Can you give us any idea of the scale of this, how many square acres or square miles? How many people are being displaced? I mean, you must have the big picture of it.
And I'd also like to ask you -- I heard from my own sources that five mortars fell on the runway at Baghdad airport yesterday. Is that -- can you confirm that? And also that the Poles were attacked overnight the previous night in Hilla -- is that true?
GEN. SANCHEZ: That the Poles were what?
Q Sorry, the Polish forces in Hilla had been attacked the night from Tuesday to Wednesday.
GEN. SANCHEZ: Okay. I know that the Poles got into an exchange of gunfire. It was not an attack. So, yeah, there have been some -- a couple of small engagements down there in central south, but nothing that was of major concern to the commander.
Q Any casualties?
GEN. SANCHEZ: No. No casualties. In terms of the five mortar rounds at Baghdad, I heard four loud booms while I was out there at about 14-, 1500 yesterday afternoon, but those were controlled explosions that our EOD was doing, destroying stuff, and I don't have --
Q (Off mike) --
GEN. SANCHEZ: Let me finish. Let me finish. Let me finish, okay? I don't have any reports of any mortar attacks that happened at BIAP yesterday.
In terms of the magnitude of the problem and the displacement of people and farms, I'm sorry I can't give you an answer across the country. I know that it is not extensive. The -- just about every installation that I go to -- and I've been to plenty of them across the country -- we have not unilaterally and arbitrarily gone out there and cleared out Iraqis and cleared out farmland and bulldozed land. That has not happened anywhere. When we do take that kind of an action we are very judicious in that approach, and it just hasn't happened. So you can -- you are welcome to go out into the countryside and look at our FOBs, and I think you'll find out that it's a non-issue.
Q (Question in Arabic. Interpretation off mike.)
GEN. SANCHEZ: I absolutely agree with you that Saddam will not come back. Absolutely agree with you that he's hiding and running away constantly from the relentless hunt that we are on to find him, capture him, kill him. Could he be a part of the attacks? He could. He may still have some kind of means of either financing or influencing or pulling out some kind of guidance. We don't discount that. But what is clear is your first two points: that he's never coming back, and that he's got to continue to hide, because we are looking for him every single day.
Q General, John Raedler (ph) from CNN. When we met this time last week, Amnesty International at that same time was issuing a release, and I'd like just to read a little excerpt from it and have your comment, please. It says in part, "No one feels safe in Iraq now, and not a day goes by without more civilians being killed or injured by U.S. soldiers or by armed groups against total impunity. What is most shocking is that there is no evidence of serious commitment to carry out independent, thorough and impartial investigations into the cases." And it concludes by saying, "It is unacceptable that the coalition forces appear to continue to use excessive force on a wide scale, resulting in civilian deaths. The Iraqi people deserve security and peace, not more bloodshed." Could we get your reaction to that statement, please?
GEN. SANCHEZ: Sure. "No one feels safe"? Give me a break. You know, you go out there into the countryside and talk to average Iraqis, you know, there's a lot of Iraqis out there that feel safe in this country. They feel a lot safer than they did five or six months ago. Are there challenges out there? Of course there are. We're still fighting a war. "No serious commitment"? Of course we're serious about security. Of course we're serious about minimizing civilian injuries. How many times have I stood up here and talked to you all about that? There's a seriousness that exists at all levels of the chain of command. We talk about it every day to our soldiers. We work very, very hard to minimize it. "There's no commitment to investigations"? You know, I've stood up here and given you results of investigations that we are conducting, and we continue to conduct -- whenever an incident like that occurs, we execute them -- go ahead and execute the investigation. We try to be very objective. Our processes are such that I believe they have all the safeguard mechanisms built in to protect the Army, to protect the soldier, to protect the victims and the subjects in there. So -- and we're open about it also. You know, you've heard me stand up here and tell you about some of the bad things our soldiers have done. You know, we don't -- we're not hiding anything. And you've also heard me talk about discipline, that discipline is a centerpiece of our Army. That is what makes our Army great. We take it seriously. And when there is a breach of that discipline, we take the right steps to make sure that we bring our soldiers back into line. We cannot allow any discipline to occur; otherwise we are eating away at the core of our greatness. Other than that, I think it's a great statement. (Laughter.)
Q I have a follow-up, please, general, if possible?
GEN. SANCHEZ: Sure, you can follow up.
Q The oversight, intervention, call it what you will, of organizations like Amnesty International and others concerned with areas of human rights, et cetera -- the bottom line is that helpful to you? Is it harmful to you?
GEN. SANCHEZ: No --
Q Does it not matter?
GEN. SANCHEZ: No, I think there's -- there's -- I'm sorry, I was interrupting you. Were you done with your question, sir?
Q I've concluded. Yes, I've concluded.
GEN. SANCHEZ: No, there's a place for that. I mean, we need to have those kinds of agencies that come in -- because sometimes there's a tremendous benefit, and you know we don't have all the answers. We need -- sometimes we need another set of eyes that can look at what's going on in the formation or can be out there in the country where senior leadership -- because I've got 150,000 soldiers across this entire country the size of California, and if they happen to be in a place where there is something wrong, I mean absolutely I want to know about it so we can fix it. So there is tremendous benefit to those. But it's, in my opinion, you have got to be balanced, and then it makes it very helpful.
Q General, Karen Sloane (ph) from AP Radio. I have two questions. The first was yesterday there was some rioting in downtown Baghdad amongst unemployed people, some of whom were claiming that they had paid bribes to be on a police list to be considered as candidates, and didn't get any jobs. Does the possibility of corruption in the new Iraqi security forces concern you? And is there anything that the U.S. coalition is trying to do to prevent that problem from growing?
The second question is kind of a follow on the discussion about perhaps compensation and displacing people, particularly in areas like the Sunni triangle, in Fallujah, in Ramadi -- are U.S. soldiers out there doing enough in terms of outreach? Doing enough in terms of projects other than pitch battles to try and reach people and change hearts and minds?
GEN. SANCHEZ: First of all, on corruption, absolutely it's a concern, and we understand that that's always a possibility. We monitor every day. We have in fact taken action in different elements of the security forces that are out there. As you well know, the majority of them operate with us in some fashion or other, and where we have found it we have taken the right action against it. It is something that we have got to continue to monitor every day. We've talked extensively about changing the ethic of the security structures in the country, and you know that's something that we still have work to do on. We brought back a lot of the policemen that existed in the past. We recruited a lot of the Iraqi army, previous members. And so there's going to be a transition period here. That's one of the things that we are doing with the Iraqi police -- put them through a transition program to try to change some of the ethic that they had before. We will have to continue to monitor that over time and take the right actions. So it's not surprising that those charges are out there, but where we find them we take positive, quick action.
In terms of the outreach projects, I'd like to get you out to 4th ID at some point here in the near future -- I'll fly you out there and have you go spend a half a day with General Odierno, and he can walk you through the tremendous amount of work that we have done in reaching out to the people in terms of governance, in terms of schools and clinics -- and you name it. With our commanders emergency response funds, we have done a tremendous amount of work across that entire area, and we are getting a lot of focus out to the west also to ensure that we've got the right levels of outreach out there also. So, I believe that we have done a tremendous amount of work there.
Q Shanna O'Brien (ph) from Reuters. There's a lot of talk at the moment about the speed of the political transition when Iraq will be ready to take back sovereignty. On the security level you said that a lot more -- there's a lot more independent Iraqi security operations going on now and so forth, but still with American backing. How -- what sort of time scale are we taking about for Iraqis to be ready to keep Iraq secure, and for American troops to be able to pull out?
GEN. SANCHEZ: Well, that's going to depend on the eventual end states and the national security strategies, the military strategies that the new government decides to put into place over time. When you look at the structure, the projected structure of the new Iraqi army, it is only three divisions motorized. Those are focused on internal -- or, correct, external -- defense, and they will not be sufficient at that point to really be able to do it unilaterally. So the country and the government, the new government of Iraq, will have to make some decisions and build additional capacity. And until they are able to do that, we will have to ensure that their security is guaranteed. So for me to put a timeline on that at this point in time, we don't know. It's dependent upon the Iraqi people.
Q When you say that will be a decision for the new government, you mean once the political process is complete?
GEN. SANCHEZ: Yes --
Q So we are talking about years rather than --
GEN. SANCHEZ: Well, yes. It depends on how long that takes, and definitely will be years. Yeah, we've never said that it's going to be anything less than years.
Q Yes, general, this is Drew Brown (ph) with Knight Ridder Newspapers. There was an incident yesterday in which U.S. troops exchanged fire with a Shiite militia and a group of Iraqi policemen at the Al Bayah (ph) Mosque in southwest Baghdad. Is this -- does this -- does this incident illustrate that you do have a problem with militias, despite the official statements of the coalition that there will be no militias allowed? And how do you plan to deal with this?
GEN. SANCHEZ: Well, I'm not. That's a tough question. And if I say, "Yes I do," or if I say "No, I don't" -- you know, either way I -- you know, you've trapped me. It is clear that there are elements that are operating out there that are creating problems for the Iraqi people, impeding progress, and getting themselves into positions where they are having armed encounters with police and with our coalition forces. I have stated over and over again that our position is that we are not going to tolerate militias operating, and where we find them we are going to go ahead and disarm them. I think what we are doing is we're following our policy. We have encountered elements that are out there that have set up traffic control points that are not authorized, and we've disarmed them and detained them. So what you are seeing here is just another instance of us enforcing policy. And if we run into militias that are unauthorized, we will go ahead and do what's right and get them off the street. And if it requires a firefight, we'll have a firefight.
Q Yes, just a follow-up. But in this incident, there the Iraqi policemen who were there monitoring this demonstration began firing on U.S. troops after the militia began firing on U.S. troops. I mean, does this add a wrinkle to the security problems that you are having?
GEN. SANCHEZ: Well, I don't know. I'm not aware of that. I know that we were looking at that incident, but I'm not aware that the Iraqi police started engaging us. You know, that may be the case, and we'll figure that out in the investigation. And, you know, just like the corruption question over here, we've picked up Iraqi policemen doing bad things before. This is not uncommon. We've picked them up conducting attacks on us in other parts of the country -- guys with Iraqi police cards. So, you know, we've stated this also over and over again that because we went back and brought some of that capacity that existed here in the country before that we knew that we were going to pick up and bring back on line people that were bad. And we may have to cull them out. You know, if that was the case here, this is just another group that we will have to cull out of the force.
Q (Off mike)?
GEN. SANCHEZ: No, we are still working our way through that to get the specific details at this point.
Q (Off mike)?
GEN. SANCHEZ: No, that has -- that has -- you know, we capture -- we've captured a couple of others up in the north during some of the raids we've conducted. You know, we have had the corruption that has gone on. Some of them have been arrested before. You know, we've had cross-fire incidents where policemen get caught up in cross-fires with us. And some of this is what is described here is a very intentional act on the part of the police to attack the coalition forces, in a very overt manner. What we've seen before is a covert manner where guys out of uniform that we eventually determine are policemen have conducted operations against us. If I have overt attacks being done by policemen now, yeah, that adds a different wrinkle, and we'll work our way through that and figure out what really happened there.
Q Sir, you had said earlier that the hunt for Saddam continues. Would you mind giving us an update on the way you are concentrating your efforts now to find him? I understand for example in the area Ad-Amea (ph) was the site of a fairly large search yesterday.
GEN. SANCHEZ: Iraq?
GEN. SANCHEZ: Iraq. That's the answer. (Laughter.)
GEN. SANCHEZ: We are definitely going under the assumption that he's here, and that's where we're focused.
Yes, ma'am -- or, sir, go ahead.
Q (Question in Arabic -- interpretation off mike.)
GEN. SANCHEZ: I can't answer that question. I'm not aware. I'd have to refer that to CPA and find out what the process or procedures would be for getting passports. What I do know is that the passports that existed before are still valid. But in terms of issuing new passports and visas, those processes are not in place. But I don't know the details, and I'd have to defer that question. We can take that on, and if you give one of my -- Colonel Darley (ph) -- your name, we can get you an answer from CPA.
Q Theola Labbe, Washington Post. I want to ask about American troops on duty in Iraq. There was a recent announcement about more National Guard mobilizations, and now the U.S. drafting a new resolution to the U.N. about a multinational force trying to get a firmer commitment about more international troops. What can you tell me about the emotional level of American troops right now, because it's not clear when some soldiers from the rest of the world will start to share more in postwar Iraq duties?
GEN. SANCHEZ: The question is what can I tell you about the emotional state of the American soldier? Probably what I'd tell every visitor that comes into the country, when they ask me what the morale of my soldiers is, and that is that it's -- what you will find is a coalition soldier and an American service member who is focused, who is dedicated, knows exactly what his country needs for him to do. He is not shirking away from his responsibilities to defend his country. He understands the sacrifices that his country are asking him to do. And in some cases he might not like it, but he's going to do it. And he knows that there's no alternative, that if we don't do it here then we'll have to do it back in the United States. And we're not willing to accept that. So in the need the morale and the emotional status of the force is very, very good. And all you have to do is go out there and talk to them, young soldiers every single day out there on the battlefield.
Now, if I can follow up on the National Guard mobilization, this mobilization is part of the normal rotation plan that will have to be put into effect because of the one year that these currently deployed units will have starting in about the December timeframe. And as part of us rotating those forces, as you all have heard me say, the current forces that are deployed are what I need, and therefore in order to backfill the currently deployed forces we have got to go into the National Guard and deploy some of those assets, or to mobilize some of those assets. That's what's going on.
Q I just want to follow up. We saw, with the 3rd ID for example, there was a rotation, and we saw some international troops coming in in the south. And so with a more international force here there would possibly be more rotations in other parts of the country. So I'm wondering how does the lack of a -- not clear when an international force is coming in -- what does that mean for the American soldiers on the ground?
GEN. SANCHEZ: It doesn't really mean anything, because what we have done is we have planned to rotate the American forces. We've made a commitment to the American service member that he is going to be here for one year, boots on the ground. And that's what we are going to live up to. That might fluctuate a little bit, based upon the transportation of getting him home, but it's, you know, it's going to be one year, and then he goes home. And we have to bring in additional forces, and that's what we are doing right now. When you have 90 days to start moving the force, naturally the force providers back home will have to start getting those forces mobilized and trained and ready for deployment. That's what this whole National Guard mobilization is. There will be National Guard formations inside of the divisions that are due to come in here in the springtime, in the late winter, early spring. That's what you're seeing.
Q (Question in Arabic. Interpretation off mike.)
GEN. SANCHEZ: The question is: Is there a plan for the security of Kurdistan? There is a plan for the security of northern Iraq that is centered around 101st Airborne Division. It is probably an area where we have the most Iraqi capacity already working up there along the borders in ICDC and fixed-site protection service -- tremendous cooperation going on up there. We actually have some multiethnic police forces up in that part of the country. So, yes, there is a plan, and that is being worked hand in hand by Iraqis and Americans up there.
Q Tyler Marshall (sp), Los Angeles Times. You started your press conference with the casualty figures -- five killed in action and 41 wounded. You said that we have to remain vigilant and work more closely with the local population. Can you elaborate a little bit or provide a little more detail, or give a little bit of -- is this -- do you look at this casualty rate as something that you just have to tough out until Iraqi forces are stronger and can take more responsibility, or more foreign forces come in? Or are you actively looking for new measures to cut the casualty rate?
And the second question. You indicated that Saddam could possibly be involved in some attacks, as he is running and hiding. Is that a presumption on your part, or is it based on intelligence that you are getting?
GEN. SANCHEZ: It's a presumption. It's an answer to a question that said, Could he possibly be involved? Of course he could.
On the first piece of it, sir, in terms of the casualties, I have repeatedly stated that as long as we are here, the coalition, and specifically the American forces, need to be prepared to take casualties. We are still fighting. There is still some intense fighting to be done, especially out in the West. We should not be surprised if one of these mornings we wake up and in fact there has been a major firefight with significant casualties, or a significant terrorist attack that has killed significant numbers of people. This is still a war zone.
And what am I doing to minimize casualties? Every single day we work to minimize casualties. We look at our enemy, look at what he's doing; adjust our tactics, techniques and procedures every single day. We synchronize our operations with the Iraqi security capacities that are out there, to try to accomplish our mission at least cost. Every single day my focus is to attempt to accomplish that mission very aggressively, but yet be able to preserve the human cost to the American people.
Q General, a follow-up to my colleague's question about Saddam Hussein. Do you have any evidence that you believe that he has been sighted since the war?
GEN. SANCHEZ: There's been a lot of indicators. We think he's still here in country.
Q Care to elaborate?
GEN. SANCHEZ: No, sir. (Laughter.)
In the back?
Q In Arabic please. (Question in Arabic; interpretation off mike.)
(End of available audio.)